I get this question a lot during client consultations. People either love the idea of an engagement session, or they just don't get it. "We have a lot of pictures together, why would we need this?"
It's a good question, and there are quite a few reasons why scheduling an engagement session with your photographer is a good idea.
First and foremost, I want to work with you before your wedding day. This session is a great excuse to get you in front of my camera for an extended period of time to see how you do. Most people are not used to having a big camera pointed at themselves and it can be quite intimidating. Unless you are a model, you probably don't know what to do in front of the camera or are super uncomfortable there. These are totally normal feelings. I don't like being in front of the camera either... that's why I love my job. It's rare that I have to be in any pictures :)
But, like it or not, during your wedding, you are going to be the center of attention, and I will be following you around all day documenting the day for you... so it makes sense to do a dry run right? You do a dry run with your hair and makeup, your cake, your caterer and your dress right? Why not your photographer.
During your one-two hour photo session, you can see how I work. You can see how I gently instruct you in ways to stand together that will give me the picture that I am wanting. You can see if I make an ass out of myself to help you relax more. You can see what it is like to have a camera aimed at you for a extended period of time, and you get to see how fast the time really goes by and why you would want 2 hours of portraits at your wedding day (not just of you, but of you, your bridal party and your family).
Also, during that time, I get to see how you are in front of the camera. Are you shy and need a lot of direction or do you naturally enjoy the camera? Do you tend to blink a lot? Do you have issues looking at the lens? By doing an engagement session, I see these things and can plan ahead for them. You don't want me to realize that you are a "blinker" half way through your wedding day! That would suck. If I know you are a blinker ahead of time, I know to shoot a bit heavier than I usually would because I will have to edit out a lot of closed eyes photos. It's for these types of reasons that I love getting to do engagement sessions.
I also love it because I get to know you better. We get to spend some time together and create a relationship. It's not uncommon to go out for drinks or dinner after our session just so we can get to know each other better. There is nothing better for me or my clients than being friends by the time that your wedding rolls around. Wouldn't you rather spend your entire wedding day with your partner and a friend instead of a stranger behind a camera? I would think so!
The next reason why doing an engagement session is a good idea, is because most photographers offer a custom guest book or frame for you to present at your wedding. The guest book is a book designed from the photos of your engagement session specifically for your guests to sign in and leave notes of love and congratulations. This is a more popular option than the boring book with lines in it and people just give you their John Hancock. This book becomes a treasured keepsake along with your wedding album!
The third reason why to do an engagement session is..... it's a lot of fun, and many photographers include it in their wedding packages for free!
*Reposted from the archives on April 2014. Originally posted on August 2010.