Over the past month or so, I’ve had a lot of questions surrounding the “engagement shoot.”
Do I include one in my package pricing? Is it really worth it? How much more should a wedding photographer charge for the shoot? The list goes on from there.
I’ve gone back and forth on this subject. I know many photographers hesitate to add it into the overall cost of the wedding photography. After all, it’s a whole other day of shooting. You have to travel to the shoot, then it’s an hour or so more of shooting, post processing, etc.
When I first started shooting weddings as a professional, I added it in to my biggest package. Then I took it out : ) Then I made it an add on to several different packages. Now, I’ve added it back in! So you can see, I wasn’t really set on the answer to this question until recently.
Here’s why I think adding the engagement shoot to your pricing is a must.
1. Nothing beats getting to know your couple before the big day.
Yeah, you don’t really need to. As professional photographers, we can show up and nail it. But how does your bride know that? As charming as we can be over email, as many images as we show them in our portfolios, how do our couples REALLY know that we are going to deliver for THEM on their big day? The only way to really assure them is to shoot for them.
2. Besides reassuring your couple that they’ve made the right choice in booking you, you can also get to know their photographic style.
Not everyone is super comfortable in front of the lens. Ok, pretty much everyone is at least a little awkward in front of it :) So why not take this time to work through that initial ice. Better on the engagement shoot than on the day of the wedding.
There might be some really specific things your couple wants (or doesn’t want) in their images. Yeah, you’re the artist and professional, but it’s their day. I’m of the mindset that they should get what they want, and you as the artist, should be able to provide that for them. I once had a bride and groom tell me, quite emphatically, that “NO! They didn’t want to do the dip/kissy thing!” Did their reaction ruin the day? No. Was it awkward for more than a second? No. But if I’d had time to get to know their photographic taste at an engagement shoot, it could have been avoided.
3. Some of the most beautiful images I’ve created happened in this relaxed setting.
It’s a given, pretty much all brides are gorgeous on their wedding day. They just glow with that radiant happiness. It’s beautiful and so easy to shoot. But wedding days can also be stressful. If your bride is wondering if her cousin is going to remember the bouquets, or her mother-in-law is peppering her with questions, she might be feeling a little stressed. The engagement shoot is a time that you have alone with the couple (usually) : ) In that setting, the ease of the couple can shine through and you can capture some truly magical moments.
So, is an engagement shoot absolutely necessary? No. And not every couple is going to want one. But I offer it now as “part of the package” because it’s just one more step that lets me get to know my couples on a more personal level. And I think that kind of relationship lends itself to creating some truly stunning photographs.