Engagement shoots have been around for several years now and they are so important for so many reasons in the run up to your wedding. They are a great way to spend some quality time together before the big day; they help you and your photographer get to know each other and talk about the final plans for your wedding; they allow you to get some stunning images of you both as a couple saying goodbye to one stage of your relationship before you become Mr & Mrs; but most importantly they allow you to ‘practice’ in front of the camera before your big day meaning you will be sure to get rid of any nerves!

Engagement shoots are great fun and I always recommend we go somewhere personal to you as a couple, somewhere you spend weekends that obviously is beautiful to boot! Everywhere in Norfolk is stunning but I do get requests for the same places over and over, Wells, Holkham, Norwich Cathedral, Norwich City, Eaton Park, Sheringham Park and a few more. All gorgeous and all perfect for your shoot, so how do you make it fun, personal and get the most out of it as a couple…. here are my top tips!

1. Location ~

Think about your location, it is lovely to go somewhere that is meaningful to you as a couple but also has a variety of backdrops to make things more exciting and give you real variety in the images. City centres, villages, fields, beaches, farms, lakes, rivers all make fabulous backdrops so think of somewhere unique to you!

It is a good idea also to think seasonally, if your shoot is in the autumn why not take advantage of the amazing red and orange trees, winter could you do your shoot in the snow, spring in the daffodils or rape seed fields or in the summer the lavender fields or beach? It is also a good idea to think about your history as a couple… if you met in Starbucks then lets start the shoot there over a cup of coffee!

Old and historical buildings make great backdrops, I think Mark and Sarah look like the lord of the manor here…

Of course the beach is always fantastic especially if again there is variety ie: old groins, colourful beach huts and long grasses in the dunes…

Villages and towns can provide some great quirky backgrounds, eclectic or antique shops, colourful doorways and old brickwork look great…

If you have an amazing home or perhaps are hiring a really special bridal suite this can make a great place for some more intimate shots…

Norfolk has some of the most amazing countryside choose fields that go with the seasons and wear colours that make the images really sing, Lavender, Rape seed, corn or even orchards all look great…

2. Activities ~

Activities are fabulous in engagement shoots, they give you something fun and natural to do while making the shoot individual and interesting!

You could hire/borrow a boat on the broads or a rowing boat on a local lake, do you have a horse and could go horse riding, does your dad have a vintage car you could borrow for a country drive or how about a vintage camper, you could visit an antique market, hire a tandem bike, or how about a picnic or trip strawberry picking?

Punting in Cambridge but this would also look great on a rowing boat or perhaps hiring a boat on the broads for the day, I will be with you a couple of hours then you can sail away for some quality time together…

Fruit fields look fabulous and strawberry picking is a great activity that is fun and looks very cute in the images…

Take a picnic to the woods or beach for some really romantic shots….

Ice creams are very English and again anything experience you can be seen sharing makes the images really romantic…

Don’t be afraid to be spur of the moment, James and Charlie decided to take of their shoes and go for a paddle and these were some of my favourite images from their shoot…

3. Hobbies/pets ~

Incorporating hobbies is another way to make your shoot personal to you as a couple. Obviously Zumba and squash might not work but both in cute golf outfits out on the course, boating or perhaps cycling (think vintage bikes with baskets) are great ideas.

If you have a pet this is something we could incorporate too they are after all part of your little family.  Bringing your dog along will be sure to make it a fun experience!

We found this old piano in an outside barn at their venue and it made for some great ‘different’ shots for Matt and Erica…

Masie is a huge part of Scott and Liza’s life and was also at their wedding so she just had to come along to their shoot and featured in lots of their shots…

If you adore your cat we could start at home with a few shots before heading to your chosen location…

Horses or farm animals also look great in the background of your shots int his case they got even closer…

4. Clothing ~

The most common question I get is what to wear and this is really important so here are my tips:

  • Choose colours that go together and keep the same colour palette as this will unify you together in the shots. I also think it is important to wear colour rather than blacks and whites which can look harsh as colour really lifts your photographs.
  • Think about where we are shooting and choose appropriate clothes ie: if we are in the fields in winter wellies hats and scarves or on the beach in summer think sun dress and flip flops.
  • Think classic, no big motifs or wording on your clothes and nothing too fashionable as this will date your images quickly.
  • If we are going to an appropriate location why not dress up a bit, a dress and heels looks fabulous or jeans, a shirt and suit jacket for the guys you will feel amazing and in turn look amazing.
  • Style it up ~ this really makes your photos sing. You could dress in a cute vintage way (not fancy dress!) perhaps a 40’s style dress and jeans and a waistcoat for your guy. If a winter shoot in the park don’t just pop your jeans, trainers and winter coat on… tights a little skirt or tweed shorts, a chunky knit cardigan with a belt, hat scarf, gloves and cute knee high boots and wellies are far more stylish.
  • It is also a good idea to think a bit about your hair and makeup. If you are a bit of a makeup/hair novice why not arrange to have them done professionally. Perhaps you could even arrange your trials for the morning of your shoot? You really want look and feel your very best so if doing it yourself take a little extra time, perhaps buy some new items to make you feel great and remember to wear a little more makeup than usual while still keeping it fairly natural as makeup doesn’t show up as much on the photos.

Matt and Sarah are a really stylish couple and real lovers of the 50’s, it doesn’t take much to really make your images look like they were from another era and this is so cool…

Wellies and boots always look fabulous the more colourful the better…

For me Mel’s outfit really makes this shot she is so colourful the shot looks so much fun…

If you have a venue you can dress up a little why not you will feel great and in the images look amazing…

Think about where your shoot will be and the colours that go with the venue, if you are by the sea then red white and blue is a great combination…

Accessorise, if it is winter wear a stylish hat or bringing colourful scarves will change your look in an instant…

Choose colours within your outfit that go together without necessarily matching these couples below get it really right  and the flash of green and red in Mike and Hayley’s wellies makes them really stand out…

5. Bring Props ~

Think about the kind of props that might go with the shoot you have chosen. Perhaps you have decided on a woodland picnic in which case you could bring a beautiful picnic blanket, hamper, pretty plates, and gorgeous looking food like strawberries, cupcakes, olives. You could bring a vintage tea pot or a posh bottle of lemonade and glasses with fun straws. If you are going strawberry picking bring a pretty basket, a woodland winter walk maybe a knitted blanket to hang round your shoulders and a flask of hot chocolate, even a bunch of flowers looks great as it looks like you are on a ‘date’! If you do decide to bring props make them stylish, sandwiches in a carrier bag do not a picnic make!

I could go on forever about props as they can really ‘make’ a photo, they are also fun and make your images unique to you.

A big balloon always looks awesome in images pick a colour that will work at your location but still stand out ie the beach choose maybe yellow or this red one looks great agains all the cool colours in this shot…

I always bring a pretty brollie as you never know when it might rain, again with Lynn and Fabrice’s outfit this white one looks great…

Bunting always looks amazing in shots, it can be strung on trees, buildings or beach huts and can transform a shot, again choose your colours wisely…

Chalk boards make a great prop and we really had some fun with it in this shoot, it also made a great spread in their guest book for their friends to read…

A blanket draped round your shoulders on a cold winters day again will unify you and it looks so romantic…

This bottle of raspberry lemonade was great on this shoot when we were picking raspberries really added another element to the shoot…

Matt brought his satchel when we shot round the university buildings of Cambridge to give the images a slightly ‘preppy’ feel and it really worked…

These lollies Jon and Faye brought to the beach were such a great idea, colourful and went so well with the beach theme…

Shooting in town we borrowed this basket from the shop behind and filled it with lemons to go with Sarah’s dress…

One thing is for sure if your shoot is with me it will be gorgeous but incorporating some of the ideas above will make it look like it came out of a magazine (think Country Life not Hello!) and make it personal, timeless and unique to you as a couple.  Please let me know your ideas and I will try to help make them come to life!

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