Education for passionate photographers who want to grow their business to a full-time thriving career
If you’re a wedding photographer, you probably already know the benefits of having an engagement session for the soon-to-be-wedded couple. However, there are some reasons why a couple may not want to have an engagement session. If you have a couple who do not want to get in front of a camera before the wedding day, don’t hesitate to ask why. Often knowing why can help you understand and offer the best options for your couples.
Fear is the number one reason that comes up when we ask couples why they wouldn’t want an engagement session. The couple may understand the importance of having their wedding day captured – it’s a big event – it only happens once, etc… but to get dressed up to stand in front of a camera and say cheese for an hour makes them all sorts of uncomfortable. Some people just don’t like being in front of the camera. To be honest, other than maybe when they were a baby or for senior portraits, most people don’t ever work with a professional photographer. So it makes sense they may be worried about how photos of them will turn out when all they see are the unflattering angles of arms-length selfies. The fear of not knowing what to do or being self conscious of what they look like is what frightens clients the most.
Offer a solution to their worry. From our very first meeting, we set the stage and talk up how much FUN an engagement session can be. How we help them every step along the way with location ideas and providing a style guide to help them choose what to wear. We ease the worry of not knowing how to pose by telling them we will teach them everything they need to know. Finally, we let them know an engagement session is a perfect opportunity to learn everything ahead of time so when the wedding day arrives, that is one less thing they will need to focus on because they will be experts by then!
Sometimes, especially in long engagement situations, the couple may already have had photos taken by another photographer or *gasp* a friend! The idea of getting dressed up again to take similar photos may not seem worth the trouble.
When a couple has already had photos, taken I lean on the importance of how an engagement session allows us to get to know each other better before the wedding. We get to learn how they interact as a couple and what their best poses are together. Again, it’s like practice for the big day, so when we tell them we want the groom to nuzzle in – he will know exactly what to do. We also like to use this time to bring up consistency. How lovely it would be to have both the engagement and wedding photos look consistent. Same shooting style, poses, editing, etc… This way if they choose to display their artwork on a wall or album, everything will look like it belongs together – because it does.
We have had couples who lived out of state and chose to get married here in Chicago. Just thinking of the logistics of getting back for a session while worrying about all the other wedding plans seems daunting.
We try to be as flexible as we can while scheduling out of town couples. Offering to shoot a session while they are in town for other wedding obligations such as parties, showers, tastings, dress fittings (you get the picture) can give them options to travel and knock off more than one wedding task off at a time.
On the other hand, perhaps the couple is from a destination that isn’t difficult for you to travel. Offer to go to them. Not only does it make it easier for them, but inspires you to shoot in new locations and show off how far and wide your fan base reaches. If they live in a place you’ve always wanted to visit – bonus points for you! You can choose to charge extra for travel or absorb that cost for the new experience – that is up to you.
There isn’t enough time before the wedding. Some couples may have already sent their save the dates or invitations before they booked you, so, therefore, don’t really need a reason to have them done so close to the wedding. Marc and I had a short engagement and ended up only being able to do our engagement sessions 6 weeks before our wedding day, so I completely understand the reasoning here.
For these couples, I also reiterate the reasons I brought up earlier in this article. The “getting to know them”, “consistent photos”, “practice makes perfect”. I also will add in how nice it would be to have professional photos of them in something other than their official wedding day attire – perhaps something less formal, more comfortable, and more everyday them. I let them know that although it is going to be lovely having all your wedding photos all over your walls, it’s also nice to add some variety of you not in a white dress and a tux.
After addressing their fears or reasons, some couples still won’t see the value in an engagement session – and that’s fine. I would say that addressing the items above as we did will get prove successful in convincing them for an engagement session 9 times out of 10.
Education for Creatives is a membership community for passion photographers who are ready to begin or grow their business to a full-time thriving career.