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  • Writer's pictureJulie Rappazzo

Express Your Love Story: How to Plan a Timeless Engagement Photo Session.

As a Maryland wedding photographer, I have helped countless Maryland couples plan their timeless engagement photo session.


I find engagement sessions to be very important for couples. Especially when they are done with their wedding photographer, which is why I include them in most of my packages.



You see, engagement sessions are the perfect opportunity for you to get a taste for what your love story looks like through your wedding photographer's lens. It also helps you to get to know your wedding photographer, and for them to get to know you. When I work with my couples for their engagement session, I get an idea of what poses they prefer, what images they like. I learn what they want to show off and what they want to hide. Plus, it's also fantastic practice for the big day, which is an immense relief to couples who aren't comfortable posing for photos!


Tip: If you're deciding between photographers, trying them out for an engagement photoshoot could be a way to decide!


But how do you personalize your photos?

The beauty of social media is that we've never had so much inspiration at our fingertips, but this same benefit can also be very overwhelming! After hours of scrolling on Instagram and Pinterest, you may feel you have too many ideas. You may want something timeless, but you also don't want it to be generic... because afterall, your love story is anything but generic! It's easy to feel discouraged and decide to skip it all together. But have no fear! I've been doing this for 18 years and I know exactly how to direct you to plan a personalized, engagement photoshoot that is also timeless. The fact is, there are so many ways to make your engagement photos unique to your love story! Does this sound complicated? Yes! But it really isn't—I promise! Let me show you how my couples personalized their engagement photos with their shared connection so you can make the most out of your time with your photographer.


First, Pick an Engagement Photo Session Location


Location is everything for photography. But for engagement shoots, the location can mean so much more. Think about the place where you first met, where he proposed, what your passionate about or where you both love to spend time together.


  • Are you both hikers? Lets go to a park that you love!

  • Did you meet at in college? We have two options: go to where the magic happened or incorporate your college colors!

  • Passionate about flowers? Let's go to a garden!

  • Are you in the Navy or into sailing? Let's go to Annapolis!


Then, pair it with the right outfit

Once you pick a location, it's time to decide on your outfits. I always recommend a style change. Transitioning from casual to formal attire provides a chance to capture different moods and styles, reflecting the personality of your unique connection.


My styling tips for the best photos:

  • Opt for complementary outfits, rather than matching, you want to harmonize in style and color without being identical.

  • Don't forget to consider the setting of your photoshoot as it can influence your outfit decisions, with flowing fabrics for beach shoots and sophisticated looks for urban environments.

  • To add interest to your outfit, you can layer with coats, scarves, or statement jewelry to add flair to your photos, and pay attention to footwear, as it can alter the overall vibe!

Tip: never be shy about sending your outfits to your photographer for input—that's what we're here for!

Find more detailed information about styling in my free downloadable guide, located here.


Finally, Add an Activity

Posing is fun and all, but in all seriousness, it can feel too serious. Many people don't feel 100% comfortable in front of the camera, unless they have had professional training as a model. So adding in an activity is a little hack that will loosen you up and help you feel comfortable, more quickly into your engagement photo session. But what kind of "activities" are there?



Practice Dancing

Dancing allows you to focus on each other instead of the camera, plus it's fun! It also will make your movements and expressions more natural. This is a favorite "activity" of mine since you don't need to bring anything!



Pop Some Bubbly!

Champagne and celebrations go hand-in-hand. And what’s a bigger celebration than deciding to spend the rest of your life with your significant other? A champagne toast can add a festive vibe to your shoot. This is a chance to get stemware for your wedding or finally try that bottle popping shot! Remember, this is an accessory, not a focal point. You don’t need to invest in Moet Chandon, but you should pick a corked sparkling wine in a dark bottle with a simple label. Skip anything too busy or with a screw top.


Golden Retriever sitting in front of a man and a woman in formal clothing, on a brick walkway in Baltimore City.

Did you adopt a dog together? Let's grab the leash and go to a park that you love!

Believe it or not, your pets can add a lot of personality and charm to your engagement photos. They’re part of your family, after all, so why not include them in one of your most significant moments? I love to incorporate playtime with your pets into your photoshoot. The candid moments often make the most meaningful pictures.


Tips for bringing your dog along: bring a friend to handle your pet between shots. Make sure that you are prepared with lots of treats, poop bags, water and a towel for dirty paws.


Putting it all Together


It's hard to envision how your idea will turn out, so let me show you some examples from my actual couples in the Maryland, D.C. and Virginia region. I walked my couples through these steps and here are their results!

 

Chesapeake Bay with Megan & Patrick

Stevensville, Maryland

Megan + Patrick are both advocates for the Chesapeake bay, so we went to the bay shoreline at sunset. They packed a sundress and button up for the "date vibe" and jeans and a top for the casual look! We walked through the trails to get to the beach at sunset where they walked the shoreline hand-in-hand.




 

A Dog Walk in the Patterson Park & Date Night in Fells Point

Baltimore City, Maryland

These two are Baltimoreans through-and-through. They live in Baltimore City and spend a lot of their free time here. We went to their favorite spot, Patterson Park, in sandals and a casual cotton dress, followed by a jersey dress in cobalt blue for their Fells Point portion of their photoshoot. They brought their dog along plus some friends to keep her company between shots!




 

Emily & Chris's Engagement Photo Session on Campus

Blacksburg, Virginia

Emily and Chris met in college at Virginia Tech, so naturally they wanted to having their engagement photos there. For the casual look, Chris is wearing a cream 3/4 zip sweater and Emily is wearing a white belle sleeve swiss-dot top with dark blue jeans. The white and creams complement the stone facades and pops against the lush landscape. For their second look, Emily is wearing a rose-colored dress with lots of texture and Chris is wearing a blue dress shirt with khakis. This color combination works beautifully with their surroundings and shows off their personal style!




 

Date Night in on the Waterfront with Sam & Matthew

Annapolis, Maryland

Sam and Matthew chose Annapolis so they could make a date night out of it after! For colors, they beautifully pulled together this palette of greens ---all of which coordinated with Matthew's flannel and complemented the colors of Annapolis and its harbor!




 

Logan & Jessica's Fall Hike

Fairfax, Virginia

Logan and Jessica wanted to be in nature for their engagement photo session. The park they chose had these beautiful rock formations and since it was the end of Fall, we had had some leaves still clinging to the trees! The black in their outfits added a nice contrast against the stone and so did her red jacket! Packing a jacket for an "outfit change" is always a smart move for a hike since there is not always a place to change... plus who wants to change when it's cold out??



Did these examples inspire you for your own engagement photoshoot?

I hope this blog will help you plan your timeless engagement photo session. Just remember, your engagement photoshoot is about you and your partner. As long as you focus on your connection and express it in a way that feels natural, the beautiful pictures will follow! If you’re looking for a wedding photographer and planning an engagement photoshoot in the DMV region, contact me. I offer engagement photography with my wedding packages. I have traveled all over Maryland for weddings, from Taneytown to the eastern shore. Check out my wedding photography style through my portfolio and through my Instagram!


And if you're looking for even more help to plan your engagement photo session, don't forget to download my free guide!

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