Engagement photos are one of the, mostly fun, tasks a couple checks off their wedding to-do list. These photos can be used for save the date announcements, thank you cards for after the wedding and, of course, social media profile pictures and posts. Kelly here: as someone who never enjoys photos of themselves, engagement photos are one of the scariest parts of planning. As part of my maid of honor duties, I went with my friend to wrangle her pug pup during her engagement shoot. If she was nervous, she didn’t show it, and the end results had me envious of people who can stand in front of a camera and look comfortable.
A lot of that comfort has to do with the photographer. We visited with New Orleans photographer Mike Lirette for advice on getting the best engagement photos.
Let Them Eat Cake: When should a couple pick their photographer and plan their engagement photos? (I.e., like right when they get engaged, a year out from the wedding, more than a year out from the wedding, etc.)
Mike Lirette: Let’s be real, New Orleans is a top destination city for weddings. If you find a photographer, or any vendor, that you connect and vibe with, book them. The longer you wait, the more likely they’ll be booked on your date.
LTEC: What should a couple look for in a photographer to make sure they get the best photos?
ML: I feel that ‘best’ is going to be very different for different people. Some people want super staged, posed photos. Some people are more into the ‘in the moment’ images. Find a photographer’s portfolio that is filled with what you are looking for and communicate what you want and are expecting. If you’re expecting something that the photographer doesn’t show in their portfolio, you might be making the wrong decision.
LTEC: Is there something the couple should remember to tell the photographer before a shoot? (For example if they want to bring their dog to participate in the shoot or if there are other seemingly unusual requests or circumstances.)
ML: Open communication with your photographer goes a long way. I would hope that somewhere in your talks leading up to your engagement shoot, it would come up that you’re planning on bringing the pups along!
LTEC: Is there anything important the couple should remember when preparing to take their engagement photos?
ML: Honestly, wear clothes that fit and are comfortable. Be yourselves. Relax. I want your engagement photos to be something you can look back on in 20 years and remember those good, and sometimes silly, moments from your shoot.
LTEC: Who picks the location and how or why and so forth?
ML: We work out the location(s) together. I love when couples choose locations that have special meaning to them and are more than just some place their photographer chose.
LTEC: How much time should the couple ask the photographer for to shoot the photos?
ML: This is going to differ from photographer to photographer. My engagement shoots generally last about an hour.
LTEC: Would you suggest a change of clothes and maybe more than one location? (Or would you advise against it, and if so, why?)
ML: If the couple wants these things, absolutely. It’s their photos. What I recommend against is carrying around a change of clothes and/or props of any type during a shoot. For my shoots, I find it is best for the couple to stay in the moment. We keep things pretty fluid and there is often a lot of movement. Having to constantly pick up and put down ‘things’ messes with that flow. Not to mention, things have a way of ‘disappearing’ in certain areas if we’re not watching closely.
LTEC: What advice would you give to a couple who thinks they take horrible photos or get awkward in front of a camera?
ML: Communicate that with your photographer. Nine out of 10 times, at the beginning of a session, I’ll hear a comment like this. But we keep it light and fun, and my sessions are less about being perfect and more about capturing a moment and memory. Perfectly imperfect, if you will.
LTEC: Where in the city is your favorite place to shoot engagement photos? And why?
ML: I have my favorite spots, sure, but I am honestly more about finding those places that are my couples’ favorite to spend their time. We’ll schedule the session around the best available sunlight and go from there.
What we gathered from all of Mike’s responses: find a photographer who shares the same vibe as you and your partner and remember that communication is key.