choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & more for engagement photos!

Engagement Session

planning your

- Tony Asgari 

Second, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is signficant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, I’ve taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a few days before the wedding. 

There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session and since I get asked the same things over and over again, I thought it would be the most beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know. 

I’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas and more! 

I am so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that we still get nervous before having our photos taken - and I do this for a living!

I'm a big fan of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how the process works. Timelines can be pretty tight on weddings days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits - which is why I’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time. engagement sessions help to build trust in my abilities as your photographer, ensuring that you have complete confidence in me when it comes to capturing your wedding day memories.

Welcome

One of the most frequently common concerns I encounter is related to couples who haven't experienced a professional photoshoot before or feel awkward or nervous in front of the camera. 

To take the pressure off of this whole thing, you probably will only use one or two photo from the bunch I deliver to you to post online or print for a save-the-date or a frame. The whole point of the engagement shoot is for you to get comfortable in front of the camera and for us to get to know how to work with each other to provide the best possible experience on your wedding day.

You won't find yourself in awkward, stiff, weird poses, or standing uncomfortably for extended periods. In fact, you will be mostly interacting with each other forgetting that I'm even there. I have a lot of fun prompts and silly activities that will illicit moments for genuine laughter to keep the energy going. I won't attempt to mold you into something you're not; instead, I'll provide the space with some guidance for you to embrace your true self. This isn't a photoshoot for Vogue or Instagram; you're far more interesting than that.

Let's Take the Pressure off!

But first!

I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera.

But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day. You will look back at these photos many years from now and say, dang! We looked hot!

The guys

A NOTE TO

Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding. I’ve found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I normally plan sessions based on a particular look and vibe a couple has in mind, spring flowers for example, or based on schedules. 

Photo sessions typically last about two hours. I prefer to begin sessions about two hours before sunset which is called the golden hour. As you see in almost all my photos, I mainly shoot during that time for the beautiful soft glow when the sun is lower in the sky and creates a romantic mood.

Don't worry if the day doesn't bring you any sunshine. An overcast sky or foggy day can be stunning. The time of the day for the shoot does't matter if it's a typical Pacific Northwest overcast day.  

"GOOD" TIME TO TAKE PHOTOS? 

Time & Light: is there a

I suggest clearing your calendar for the day of your engagement shoot for best flexibility. This is in case we need to maneuver around rain, traffic closures, or other factors.

To make sure you have enough energy for the shoot, it's a good idea to have a snack beforehand. Also, don't forget to use the bathroom before we start, because we might not find any toilets nearby.

Logistics

While I shoot most of our engagement sessions between April and late October, photo sessions can take place all year. Most of our couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot. 

A few things to keep in mind during each season:

Seasons

If you’re planning to take your engagement photos during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. I recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running. 

snowfall, hot cocoa and cozy coats

Winter

Even though Spring begins in March, I typically don’t begin shooting for another 6 weeks because the weather in the Pacific Northwest is still pretty rainy. When I schedule spring dates, I typically schedule both a primary date and a backup rain date. 

Spring is perfect for cherry blossoms and when vegetation look fresh.

fresh flowers and sunny days 

Spring

Summer sessions are my absolute favorite! Because of the later sunset, sessions can begin as late as 6pm. Summer also gives a lot of clothing options especially if you're going for a relaxed look.

walks on the beach hand in hand

Summer

Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year in Washington State and because of that my schedule books up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall engagement session, I recommend scheduling it as soon as you book with me! 

colorful leaves and snuggling close

Fall

If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding. 

If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, I recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready. 

Save-the-dates

Your home / Neighborhood
 Hiking
A local coffeeshop
 Sailing / Boating 

You doing You

The above locations are all beautiful but I also love exploring meaningful locations with my couples!

Destination Adventure

Point Defiance Park
 Downtown Tacoma

South SOund

Seattle - Eastside

Seattle Classic

I love when couples choose a location for their session that complements their wedding. For example if you’re planning a chic, elegant wedding, it may be fitting to take your engagement portraits among the classic architecture in downtown Seattle, while a local park or flower-filled fields may be more fitting for a couple planning a more rustic affair.

The best session locations are often meaningful places to the couple; however, I'm also happy to make recommendations. From ski slopes to lavender fields to apple picking and college campuses, the options for engagement session locations are endless! 

My best advice is to select a location without the crowds so that you can settle into the shoot without all the distractions of all the lookie-loos. 

Seattle Area ENGAGEMENT LOCATIONS

Locations

While I take most of our engagement sessions in the Seattle area,  I’ve photographed sessions everywhere around the country like California, the Oregon Cost, and Hawaii. If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let me know because if our schedules align, we might be able to take your engagement photos outside of my normal area.

Travel fees may apply depending on the location and our availability.

Engagement sessions

destination

I'm a dog person! I love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location. Also, your fur-baby might be a bit distracting and could hinder the flow of the photoshoot. 

I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend/family take them home. We won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots. 

 

Pets 

Surprisingly, one of the most common reasons for concern when organizing an engagement or photo session is what to wear. To make it as simple as possible, I recommend two outfits: one for a nice date night and one for a more informal occasion. One clothing change is okay, but any more will break the shoot's natural flow and cut into our photography time. It's also okay if you only want to wear one outfit.

The key is to wear something clean and comfortable that makes you feel confident. That could mean ordering a new outfit. I strongly advise to go through your closet and bring out your favorite and tried & true pieces. Comfort is also important when it comes to footwear. Wear comfortable shoes because we will walk a lot during the session.


TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST

Outfits

on to the next

When picking outfits I recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.

A good rule of thumb: pick 3 or so colors and spread them throughout your attire. Don't be afraid to mix a few subtle patterns or textures (such as linen). 

It's very important that your outfit fits "vibe" of the location as well as your partner's attire. For example, let's not wear a suit to a beach or the woods.

Choosing Outfits

for everyone

Menu

on to the next

Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking or we'll be in grass, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shooting locations.

I love the way larger patterns and textures (like linen) photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.

Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. I love bright, neon dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion. 

Wardrobe Tips

for the ladies

on to the next

Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress. Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs.

And dresses with sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress.

They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!

Accessories

for the ladies

on to the next

Able
Zara
Mango
Sezane
Hill House Home
Reformation
Rachel Pally
Nuuly
Christy Dawn
Rylee & Cru
Clad & Cloth
Ivy City
Shopbop
Everlane

Rent the Runway
ASOS
Morning Lavender
J. Crew
Anthropologie
Free People
Jessakae
Petal & Pup
H&M 
Vici Dolls
Virginia Dare Dress Co.
Baltic Born Clothing 
Madewell
Kate + Grace Boutique

Favorite Shops

for the ladies 

according to my wife, Kate

I think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your photos. Investing in professional hair and makeup can go a long way towards creating photos you love for years. 

Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better in humidity and wind.

If you go this route, I recommend keeping it simple and classic and not experiment. 

If you’re planning to do any spray tans or waxing, schedule those for a few days before the session to give your skin time to recover. Same goes for the wedding day. 

Hair & Makeup

for the ladies

on to the next

You can’t go wrong with crisp button up. Or consider layering a blazer or sweater with jeans with this look. I'm a big fan of shirt jackets.

Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months.

Wardrobe

for the gents

on to the next

Wardrobe

for the gents

on to the next

Rent the Runway
ASOS
 Suit Supply
J. Crew
Zara
Leather & Cotton
Jack Threads
Frank & Oak
Nordstrom 
Cuts 
H&M
Urban Outfitters
Madewell
Lululemon

Everlane
Banana Republic
Mango
Reiss
Alex Mill
Taylor Stitch
Huckberry 
Bonobos
Abercrombie
Rag & Bone

Photo sessions during pouring down rain are just no fun. Unless it's the look & vibe you're going for, wet hair and runny make up is not the most flattering look in photos.

I’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. 

If the weather looks like it won’t be great, we typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance and reschedule to the next available date. I suggest that you clear your calendar on the day of the shoot for the most flexibility.

what to do if it rains

Inclement Weather

If you’re planning to bring props to your engagement session, I recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you and keeping it minimal. That is because you'll have to carry those around during the shoot which could be a pain.

Shots drinking coffee at a local coffee shop would be cute if that’s where you met or coffee shops play a significant role in your relationship; however, trying to fly a kite together when it’s not a part of your relationship may come off as contrived.

props?

should we bring

When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! Like I said before, I will  guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. "Posing" is not about posing at all - it's about getting comfortable being in each other's space. It's kind of like dancing.

If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make the two of you laugh - and that’s the photo I'm actually looking for. 

Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together! 

"what do I do with my hands?"

posing

A note on

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. Which means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!)

The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!

Date Night

I hope this guide covers everything you need to know to prep for your engagement session! However if there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email 
tony@tonyasgari.com or text me. 

THANK YOU!

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