Insider’s Advice | Engagement Session Planning

Portraits, Tips, Wedding

November 1, 2021

I’ve created this guide to help you with your engagement session planning and to get the most out of your session and photos! By the time you’ve read through this, you’ll have all your questions answered and feel more than ready and prepared for your session. Then I’ll take care of the rest! Your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot, and let us create photos you’ll love forever.

Choosing the time & date:

I’m a natural light specialist because I believe that natural light, from the sun and its reflections, creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless, and truest to you. I begin most sessions two hours before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. Use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Then, just subtract two hours to figure out your start time.

Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your engagement session date, especially if you’re taking off work or have evening plans afterward. To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. We’re only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing one, arrive at that.

QUICK TIP: Weekends fill up fast and far in advance, as does the fall season. You can get a Fastpass to the front of the line by scheduling mid-week or off-season.


Selecting the right location:

The location of your portrait session is up to you! Most of my clients choose to showcase the natural beauty of our home state. For most engagement sessions, outdoor, open-air environments are always my first choice. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is divine, especially during the golden hour. There are great options all around the state, so even if you’ve never seen a photograph in a specific spot before, I’m always up for exploring a new spot together!


Think outside the box:

This is the time to think outside the box! I encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club, or resort. Maybe it’s a family ranch, upscale hotel, or even a boat, airplane hanger, or rooftop view. The sky is literally the limit!

Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around. You’ll be surprised with what you come up with. Plus, if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! My clients have secured permission to some pretty amazing places in the past. I have some great go-to locations around town that we can always hit, too. Just let me know which type of session you’d love and we’ll go from there! Easy peasy.

Your engagement session includes travel time anywhere in the 50-mile radius of the Salem area. If you’d like to go somewhere outside the city, I’m up for the adventure! I love traveling and am actually on the road quite a bit. I’ve done different types of sessions from coast to mountains, everywhere in between, so if I’m already going to be in or near an area you’ve always dreamed of doing your photos, and we can coordinate our schedules, let’s set it up. I’d love to make it work! If you’d like me to meet you in a destination outside of Oregon for your portrait session where we don’t already have plans to visit, just let me know and I can get you a custom quote.


Styling your session:

Want your photos to look more editorial? Bring a little extra something with you! Fresh flowers bring an extra “wow” factor to just about everything, especially when they’re attached to
something else, like a bicycle basket, tree swing, tent, picnic basket, balloons, or car bumper. Whether you want to incorporate larger items like classic cars or bikes, or smaller ones like blankets, hats, champagne – even planning for just one extra styled item could be a fun way to make your session more unique.



To get more wedding planning tips check out the extensive guide I have made just for you: The Guide

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