THE ANATOMY OF AN ENGAGEMENT SHOOT
…it’s an opportunity to break from the stresses of life and wedding planning.
On Steven: Gingham shirt & Urban Slim Fit Chinos by J.Crew, Cooper Oxfords by Cole Haan, Capeland Chronograph Timepiece by Baume & Mercier
On Samantha: Meadows Of Lace Slip Dress by Free People, Ellie Two sandals by Pelle Moda, Dana Kellin Fiji Mix Long Gem Necklace & Diamond Earrings Provided by Greenwich Jewelers, Bracelets by Rose Gilley Designs
As the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of a luxury bridal magazine for New York City, our lives are all about weddings. We live, breathe, and love all things that lead up to the moment when you say “I Do” and then some. When wedding planning became a personal experience, and not just one of business, we got a taste of the excitement and challenges our readers encounter from this monumental occasion. In anticipation of our own wedding, we paired up with wedding photographer Cody Raisig of Cody Raisig Photography for an engagement portrait session, and gained a lot of insight that goes into creating this photographic event.
The Photographer’s Role
With so much readily accessible talent today, it’s a surprising fact that finding your wedding photographer is harder than one would think. I don’t just mean artistic style or budget. Choosing a photographer is a highly personal decision regarding a complicated relationship. It’s a lot like dating- you know when it feels right. And here you thought you were over all of that stuff because you found a mate with whom to share your life with!
Your wedding photographer wears many hats. They should understand you, make you feel at ease, and know when to disappear or get out of the way. They have even been known to carry the wisdom of a licensed psychologist (or bartender, for that matter). You have to be able to tolerate this person for 8+ hours, and share with them the most important day of your life, so you should find your photographer likeable.
An engagement session is a taste of what is to come. Typically lasting an hour to two hours, the engagement portrait session is an excellent opportunity for your photographer to really understand what makes you tick as a couple. It’s an experience that will help them comprehend what will mean most to you on your wedding day, and with that they will deliver images that will exceed your expectations.
The attire for an engagement shoot is not as defined as the wedding day. You’re not limited to any particular color or style, so the options could seem endless. The best direction you can give yourself is to select an outfit that is comfortable. If you feel good, you’ll look good. Cody recommends dressing in something that you’d wear on a date. Wear something that reflects your personal style, and be sure to coordinate with each other so that you look like you’re on the same date. Comfortable footwear shouldn’t be overlooked either; keep in mind that you may do quite a bit of walking, and you don’t want to look like you’re forcing a smile through the pain during a romantic stroll. Whether you’re wearing your favorite pair of jeans and a classic tee, or a sundress in a color that makes your eyes pop, just be true to your style, taste, and comfort.
Location, Location, Location
There is no better backdrop for an engagement shoot than New York City. Like many New York area wedding photographers, Cody Raisig loves DUMBO in Brooklyn because it has it all: the NYC skyline, cobblestone streets, brick facades, bridges, water, greenery, and murals. If you’re looking for something different, finding a location that has meaning to you, whether the scenery of your first date, or a regular routine setting, can bring a lot of significance to the shoot. Who says shopping together in the produce section of Whole Foods can’t be totally romantic? If you love it while you’re alone together, chances are you’ll love it in photos too.
Just Be Yourself
When you visit the website for Cody Raisig Photography, the first image you will see are the words “Just be yourself.” You may feel that this is easier said than done. After all, you’re about to go in for the best photographic opportunity you’ll have as a pre-wedded couple. The anticipation of this shoot has led you to overanalyze your hair, wardrobe, and the formula for finding that harmonious blend of effortlessly striking and utterly in love. You want your adoration for one another to be captured and defined as honestly and naturally as possible, but you also want to make sure you look damn good while doing it.
It really is as simple as just being yourself. The most beautiful and natural looking photo is always going to be the capture of the couple in their element. Cody advises his couples to forget about him, and we tend to agree. While it’s important to feel comfortable with the person taking your photo, it’s even more essential that you focus all of your energy and attention on your significant other. There’s no room in this relationship for your photographer. The engagement shoot session is a great time to explore the ingredients of your being. By going to a familiar setting that holds a special significance to you, you’re instantly brought back to a happy memory. Recount a private joke that only the two of you find remotely amusing, and you’ll get that genuine expression that is impossible to force. Kiss the love of your life like it’s the first time, and you’ll get so much more than a great picture. The engagement photo shoot isn’t just about getting a great image to share with your friends on Facebook; it’s an opportunity to break from the stresses of life and wedding planning, and rediscover all of the particles that have brought you to this day.
Tips and No-Nos
• Less is more. Keep it simple, and don’t over do it with props. It’s fun to incorporate a silly gadget or pose that you discover along the way, but forcing an apparatus at the shoot could cross the fine line of cute into inauthentic.
• One of the most essential ingredients for an outdoor portrait shoot is the quality of light. Cody points out that rain or shine, the best and most flattering light occurs in the final two hours of the daylight.
• Explore versatility in the shots you take, and you’ll get the most out of your shoot. No one is watching… other than your photographer and the nine million New Yorkers passing by. There are no mistakes. Try anything – be as silly as you wish. Don’t take yourselves so seriously, and play out the goofy aspects of your relationship. Do something fun, wild, or even crazy, and you’ll capture a priceless reaction from one another. Any photo you don’t like, never has to be seen.
• If you know that you want your wedding announcement submitted to The New York Times, your photographer can help you get the photo specs they’re looking for.
• It’s okay to be nervous. You don’t have to be a model or a camera ham to get a great picture. Don’t do anything you’ll regret later like have too much to drink before the shoot in an effort to loosen up. As Cody would say, it’s “not sexy.”
• Look at this as a fun activity, not a chore, or torturous means to getting a good photo for your Save-The-Date. If you forget about the camera, and remember why you’re there, you’ll have a great time. Besides, with hundreds of shutter clicks during this session, the laws of probability will determine that you’ll definitely get several photos to love.
Samantha Ewers is the Editor-In-Chief of Sophisticated Weddings: New York Edition. She will be married toSophisticated… Publisher Steven Sendor in New York this September.
Cody Raisig is the owner of Cody Raisig Photography. View more of his work at: CodyRaisig.com