Engagement Session Guide – Haley Katherine Photography

You’re engaged! How exciting! I am so honored to be your photographer and am looking forward to capturing all the magical images of you and your soon to be spouse. This blog post is designed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding preparing for an engagement session, and will also offer some styling tips. I hope you find this Engagement Session Guide helpful!

Picking Your Location:

The first thing to decide on your engagement session once you have confirmed a date on my calendar is a location. While there are much more detailed categories of options, there are four major categories I list to couple’s looking at locations:

  • Nature Locations
    • These will be parks, nature preserves, spots with lakes/ponds/waterfalls, botanical gardens, and open green spaces.
  • Urban Locations
    • These locations are downtown areas, coffee shops, or areas with murals and brick.
  • Studio Rental
    • There are several studios in DFW that I use often. They contain clean solid colored backdrops, exposed brick, and furniture that can be used during the session. This option requires an additional fee for the rental cost.
  • Sentimental Locations
    • These locations have sentimental meaning to the clients. Where you got engaged, where you had your first date, or a frequently visited location.

Choosing which type of location works best for you and your fiance is a personal choice, The only option that requires additional cost is renting a studio, but the upside of choosing a studio location is you do not have to worry about weather affecting your session. If you are worried about wind, rain, heat, or cold, booking an indoor session might be a good fit. There are also situations where urban areas are connected to green spaces or parks so you can walk from one to the other. Here is a link to my blog post outlining some of my favorite local locations.

What Season Should You Book Your Session?

North Texas has a broad range of seasons, and they dictate the look of your images (excluding studio rental sessions).

  • Spring – Green and fresh. Most people think as soon as March arrives everything will be lush and full bloom, that is usually incorrect for our area. The sweet spot for North Texas for making sure the winter has been shaken off properly is usually April-May. Mid-April to mid-May is usually your best shot at wildflowers, though the timing an length of the blooming season shifts a bit every year.
  • Summer – If you are doing your session from June-August it is going to be veryyy hot. Your best bet to not be super sweaty by the end of your session is to schedule it for sunrise versus sunset.
  • Fall – While technically September-November counts as fall, it does not truly start to cool off until mid to late October. If you are hoping for fall foliage, it varies from year to year, but the best time in my opinion is the last week of October – the first 1-2 weeks of November for peak fall colors.
  • Winter – December-February is definitely when I do the least outdoor sessions, due to the cold weather and the lack of green in foliage. There are spots with trees that stay green year round and tall tan grass in the nature preserves that can look nice, it just is a different look.

What Time of Day Will My Session Be?

I photograph morning and evening sessions for 95% of my engagement sessions. The time your session is scheduled for is dependent on the season/date you schedule for. Evening sessions start anywhere from 4:00pm in December to as late as 7:15pm in June. Morning sessions can start right as sunrise to as late as one hour after the sun rises. I do most of my sunrise sessions in the summer to avoid the signature Texas heat. Once you select a date I will send you the optimal time and we can go from there. I usually schedule engagement sessions on Sunday’s but can also accommodate weekday sessions as well. Usually Saturdays are reserved for weddings.

Engagement Session Guide Styling Tips:

All engagement sessions include an optional outfit change, so feel free to go for two separate vibes. Have fun with it, and make it your own!

  • Don’t be scared to dress up! You only do your engagement photos once, so feel free to be fancy. There is no such thing as “too much”.
  • Clean that ring! I will definitely get close ups of your sparkly new friend, so make sure she is clean and shiny as possible. If you do not have a jewelry cleaner on hand, some warm water and mild dish detergent on a soft bristled toothbrush is a great way to get into the crevices. Just rinse and dry once you are done with a gentle scrub.
  • When thinking of the colors you want to wear, I most colors are totally fine. I generally tell clients to avoid neon shades. To elaborate, the neon colors I am referring to are hot pink, lime green, neon orange/yellow. I am all about bright and fun colors, but when they are extremely bright/saturated they can cast color onto your skin that will show up in your images. There are exceptions to this rule, but feel free to reach out to me if you have your heart set on something that is primarily in a highlighter tone.
  • Another thing to keep an eye out for is small/busy patterns. Examples of this would be tiny polka dots, small plaid, or small stripes. Small patterns can read odd when photographed and can look muddled or blend together in certain images. Bold patterns and simple patterns are generally safer options. Again, let me know if you are unsure!
  • Matching your outfit with your fiance doesn’t have to be a headache. You don’t have to wear the same color (though you are welcome to). Finding complimenting hues or tying in your colors with things like accessories (ties, jewelry, shoes, etc.) is a way to keep things complimentary without getting too matchy. You can always check Pinterest for lots of great ideas on complimentary color palettes as well.
  • If wearing a button down dress shirt, be sure to steam or press it before the session. I also suggest wearing the undershirt only in the car and putting the button down on when you arrive to the session location if you are concerned about wrinkles on the car ride over. This also applies to linen, rayon, or any material that wrinkles easily.
  • If you are wearing heels (especially stilettos) consider bringing a pair of flat sandals or flip flops to wear when walking between locations. While we don’t have to hike to any of the locations I suggest, some of them include a quarter mile walk or more. We don’t want your feet hurting or the heel getting dirt/mud on them.
  • If you are unsure when narrowing options, feel free to bring options to the session and I can help you make a call on what might go together best. Bring 10 pairs of shoes or all your accessories if you need to!

Rescheduling Your Session

The most common reason engagement sessions get rescheduled is for weather. Know that is it ultimately your decision whether or not your session gets rescheduled due to rain or high winds, but we usually don’t make the call until the day of. Texas weather is volatile and it changes often. Being worried about the weather 3-7 days in advance of your session is wasted worry. If I am concerned about the weather I will reach out the day before to discuss options and a deadline time to make the call on whether we think the weather will work out or not. I will generally reach out if the rain chance is higher than 40% or if the winds will be higher than 15mph. If you have hair/makeup scheduled and the weather is not looking good, we can usually find a last minute studio rental, but that is not always a guarantee. I am flexible and happy to work with you.

If you need to reschedule for personal reasons, no problem, just let me know as soon as you know you won’t be able to make it. If you are feeling under the weather please reschedule. While I know that no one would deliberately get me sick, catching something from a client is detrimental during busy seasons and can really get in the way of me showing up for other weddings/sessions.

Additional Engagement Session Guide Tips

  • Bring props if you want. Blankets, a bottle of champagne and a few glasses, matching sunshades, or any significant or silly item.
  • Pets are welcome! I love to have fur babies as part of sessions, you will just need to bring a friend or family member to wrangle your pup when they are not in the photos.
  • If you plan to pop champagne at your session, bring 2-3 cheap bottles (no need to get pricey when we aren’t drinking it). While sometimes we get it in the first shot, I want to make sure we have several attempts.
  • Let me know if there are any specific shots that are important to you before the session. Texting me screenshots of inspiration is helpful. Note that many photos you find on Pinterest/Instagram have very different backgrounds/lighting than where your session will be, but we can create our own version.
  • If you have a makeup trial for your wedding, your engagement session might be a great time to use it! You will see how it photographs and you get to look a little extra fabulous for your session.

I hope this Engagement Session Guide helps you prepare for your upcoming session. Feel free to reach out to me with any additional questions/concerns you may have. There are no silly questions and I am always happy to help you prepare in any way I can. Can’t wait to see how great you and your fiance look in your images!

Looking for more summer wedding inspiration? Check out the blog post below!

Winfrey Point at White Rock Lake Engagement Session

Haley Katherine Photography is a Dallas Wedding Photographer specializing in weddings, elopements, destination weddings, and engagement sessions for couples seeking authentic, timeless, and cheerful imagery. If you would like to see more of my work, please visit my portfolio.

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