ESessions, Love Sessions, Beloved Sessions etc etc etc
They are a great dry run to see if you and your clients will mesh on their wedding day and if they like your style.
I have a lot of clients who like the same thing wheat fields or downtown alleys.
I go over their PinBoards with them to see if there is a place that will work, tell them it will take anywhere from one hour to two depending on what we are doing, suggest golden hour times for outdoor sessions.
I usually ask if they have a special date or proposal spot. If they have any hobbies they love to do together: books, dog walking, roller skating, movies, music, food etc.
Remind them to bring flats if we are walking a lot.
Two outfit changes tops or one outfit with a great scarf or jacket to make it look like another one.
If they are doing a change of clothes and it’s outdoors, are they comfortable car camping changing? If not maybe one outfit is best.
Bug Spray and water in the car.
Double check a week out on meet up times and location.
If they are bringing their dog can they bring extra treats (or stock some yourself in the car but some owners are picky about what their puppies eat).
I usually start easy. A simple walking away and walking back shot.
It helps to find a narrative, give them a a character to play “Hey remember While You Were Sleeping? You’re Leaning…”
They actually sell decks of cards that are prompts for you to get real emotions out of your clients during the shoot.
I love to end hot sessions at an ice cream shop and cold ones with cocoa, but that is just me and why I gained 40lbs as a wedding photographer! LOL
I once had a bride request her engagement session at the park near her house. Your usual run of the mill green park. I had met with her in person a few times and she always seemed comfortable and natural. Well for her engagement session she showed up in head to toe black club wear and so much caked on makeup her skin looked thick and chalky. This is why if a client wants to send me texts of their outfits for approval I say hell yes!
A common problem is couples like places that have a photographer fee. So many times I hear, "Can we go shoot at the train museum or the botanical garden?" We can but they charge $150 for us to shoot there. If my couple will cover the cost sure, sometimes if they have booked my top package I will cover the cost.
Be aware of different venue's rules. Offer other similar suggestions.
The local park down the way actually has a beautiful garden and cobble stone pathways, how about that?
It took me time to find that park by the way. Scout locations, ask friends online their favorite spots. I will tell you that on photographers' forums that is the most asked question and the least answered. Most photographers guard their spots so they don’t get over run or end up looking like everyone else's photos.
Call ahead to places to check on rules. Even if it looks like an abandoned barn by the side of the road that is someone else's property. Make an effort to find out whose it is and ask permission. You’ll be surprised most people say yes. Sometime I even give a finder fee to the owner of 25 to 50 dollars as a thanks.
During your shoot, no matter what do not write on anything. Even if it is just sidewalk. Photoshop it in later. A lot of places will not let photographers shoot anymore due to lack of respect for property. There are turn of the century brick buildings that a lot of photographers in town use to shoot at that are permanently ruined by simple chalk. A newer photographer wrote 1 + 1= 3 as a maternity announce onto the wall of one of these buildings. This is old porous brick, it permanently stained it and the owner now will not let photographers on the property.
One of my first engagement shoots I roll up to the Train Museum, pay the entrance fee for all three of us thinking that was all that was need. My couple is beaming. I am excited by the gorgeous light in this Art Deco building. Five minutes into shooting even though we were quiet, out of the way and not using flash, we were escorted out. I did not know you had to call ahead and pay a fee. It was extremely embarrassing for all of us and did not leave a good impression of my skills with my couple.
I had an engagement session where my couple wanted something different. So we decided to make a day of it and drive out to a place called Carhenge. I googled it and it said it was a four hour drive. I figured 8 hours driving an hour shooting. Nine hours would be a long day but worth it. We hop into the car and turn on gps. It then informs me that the drive is 7 hours. I turn to my couple and they say lets do it! 5 hours into this drive across the plains in my small Yaris with bald tires I see a complete wall of white. A freak snow storm like I have only seen in movies. A vertical wall of white reaching up to the heavens with a strange mix go fog to make it seem like any moment the car is going to drive off a cliff. We somehow make it through with a white knuckle death grip on the steering wheel. We get there, shoot for 45 minutes and drive the 7 hours back. Altogether 18 hours for an engagement shoot and I got a speeding ticket.
I had one session with a couple downtown. We walked around in the morning. Great light, all different angles and poses. I gave them 300 photos. The bride got back to me. She didn’t like the ones where they did not fill up the frame, or the ones shot low, or the ones shot high or the ones where they were both not looking at the camera. Out of three hundred shots she did not like one of them. I met with them for a reshoot. Fifteen minutes in front of a brick wall with them both staring at the camera holding hands and filling the frame. I then informed them we were not a good match and tried to return their deposit. They obviously did not like my style. The bride refused and insisted I was her photographer. It was the first and last time I tried to tell a client we were not a good fit. Five years later they now bring me their kids to shoot!
One engagement session that I always talk about. My couple and I were shooting in a field near a new housing development. Nothing is around but a small ice cream shop. At the end of our shoot we look up to realize the sky went dark fast and a funnel cloud is actually dropping next to us. The owner of the ice cream parlor came out and shuffled us into his pantry. We ate ice cream and played 80’s Trivial Pursuit for the next hour. Which really was not fair since they were just babies in the 80’s. After that I changed the names of my packages to ice cream flavors Vanilla, Chocolate Chip, Mocha Almond Fudge and Triple Banana Split with a Cherry On Top. It was fun and easy for my clients to remember. It also was a great lead in to the above story to show how fun and crazy things get!
I was at a Getting to Know You Meeting and they are ready to sign. Mom was with them. We start talking about the engagement session and what they should do. The bride and groom both tell me they are avid skiers. The Mom chimes in with , “Well there you go! They love snow. You can do a snow shoot.” I laugh. Well there wedding is in four months, we will probably be shooting the engagement photos in July, we could go to an ice rink and do a skating shoot?” “Oh no we want a snow shoot. You can just photoshop all the photos right?”
Moral of the story: It is rarely just a simple shoot.