Guest Blogger :: Melissa of Tangled Lilac Photography

For our second guest blogger we have some tips from Melissa Dunstan of Tangled Lilac Photography giving us some tips on engagement photography.  Thanks Melissa!
Engagement Sessions
One piece of advice I always give my wedding couples is to do an engagement session.  There are a few reasons:   it’s a great way to get to know your photographer before your big day, a way to get used to being in front of the camera and most importantly, can be a fun experience and lessen a lot of the anxiety for the wedding day.  It also can provide the couple with some great images for their wedding Save the Date cards and their reception.  
But, before you schedule the session, there are a few things to consider:
Location, Location, Location
Most photographers will offer a choice of locations and be up for most anything you can image.  Whatever location you choose, make sure it’s meaningful to you and your fiancé.  Think of where you first met, where he proposed, your favorite places to travel together, and what activates you do together. 
One of my favorite engagement sessions involved hiking out on the Arizona Trail, just north of Flagstaff, AZ, where the couple would spend days of mountain biking together.  Essentially, this is where they fell in love.  The location was extremely sentimental to both of them, and you could tell from the photos just how relaxed they were and how much they loved this special place. 
Another favorite engagement session was a session in a downtown, more urban area.  This couple had met at a popular bar downtown and wanted to reflect that location somehow in their photographs.  So, a $20 tip later to the doorman, we found ourselves up on the rooftop of the fabulous Monte Vista.  I think this will be a photo they’ll love forever.

Can’t decide on one location?  Most photographers will offer two locations for your session as well.  Most of my couples tend to gravitate towards a combination of a natural landscape and a more urban area for their photos, each lending to different opportunities for final moods for the photos. 
The right time of the day

I usually have my engagement sessions start about 90 minutes before sunset.  The best light, in my opinion, is the beautiful glow right before the sun dips beyond the horizon.  Everyone looks fabulous in this light!  Of course, if you’re going to be working in an urban environment, scout out the area you want to use first and see where the shadows are falling.  You’ll want your whole body to be in the shade, or to have the sun at your back.  Backlight is one of my favorite lights and I use that as often as I can in photo sessions!

In the case of a snow engagement session, you can usually do your photos anytime.  This is, of course, a little trickier to predict, but the effect cam be amazing.  During a snow storm, the sky is filled with constant clouds that cast a nice diffused light on everyone’s skin.  It’s like having a giant soft box traveling with you on location! 
What to wear

At our studio, we get asked this one a lot…“What should we wear?”  We always tell our couples to bring a couple of outfits for each location, one a bit dressier than the other.   It’s best to compliment each other’s outfits, but don’t try and match the colors you’re wearing exactly!  That goes for white and black shirts too.  I have never, ever seen two white shirts that match up perfectly.  In addition, a white shirt can compete with a person’s teeth coloration and the whites of their eyes, making them look dingy and off white. 
Think about the environment as well.  If you know you’re going to be in the forest, stay away from anything the same color as the grasses and trees to avoid blending in with the environment.

Can can be a fun way for you to show a little bit of your personality in your photo session.  Bring a favorite cowboy hat, a funny scarf, or simply a card with your date of your wedding on it.  And, if your dogs are family, bring them along as well!  Look around the environment and pick a pretty wildflower, that can easily become a cute prop.  Some of my clients go as far as bringing an old car along!  Also, don’t forget that your engagement ring is the ultimate prop!

And lastly…
As super cheesy as this sounds, just remember to have fun!   The time between the engagement and the wedding goes SO fast, so breathe it in and enjoy!  Congratulations to each one of you reading!!

Beautiful images!  Thanks again Melissa!  Hope everyone enjoyed a day or two off this Holiday weekend!

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