Shot at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach, CA with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a 17-40mm f/4L at ISO 200 f/5.6 1/250

Because of the extra time it takes to travel to, cover, and post produce images from engagement shoots, some wedding photographers are no longer offering engagement sessions in their packages (or they might be the first things to go if they’re trying to fit within a budget). However, our studio (Lin and Jirsa Photography) still believe that they’re almost as important as the actual wedding day and here are a few good reasons why:

1) Getting to know the client – Engagement shoots allow you the photographer as well as your clients, to get a better sense of each others’ personalities. Are your clients fun and flirty? emotional? stoic? Knowing their personalities will give you clues as to what moments to look for during their wedding. In addition, the friendship that you establish will give them the comfort and trust necessary to produce the best product. Put yourself in their shoes, would you have a hard time acting natural in the lens of a complete stranger? Would they feel comfortable with that stranger in their dressing room for prep shots?

2)Marketing at the event – Shooting the engagement allows you the photographer to create a stunning set of engagement pictures that can be displayed at the wedding. This marketing display at their wedding grants you access to the couples’ entire network as their friends and family see what a wonderful job you have done for their engagement pictures. In addition, these pictures also serve as great marketing tools before and after the event. For example the pictures can be used in, engagement announcements, save the date cards, wedding ceremony programs, party favors, thank you cards, or any other products will market your name to everyone who receives them.

3)Word-of-Mouth Marketing – Furthermore, the additional time spent together will help you establish a friendship that will make them more likely to proactively promote and “rave” about your business. In short, you promote a friend’s business much differently than you would an acquaintance, regardless of how good a job that acquaintance did.

4)Practice (for the client) – If your client has never been professionally photographed before, this will be great practice. Many people are shy behind the camera, and the engagement shoot gets them accustomed to the attention. Furthermore, since you don’t have time at a wedding to explain the aspects that bring out their best features, this engagement shoot time is a perfect opportunity to “coach” them before their big day.

5)Understanding the client’s positive/negative features – The session will also giveyou a chance to find out which poses and styles work best for your client. Does he/she blink a lot? If so, you’ll know to watch out for it during the formals and employ the various techniques to prevent them from blinking in every picture. Does he have a double chin when he looks down? There are a million things you can notice during an engagement shoot that will help you photograph their wedding better.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Whether or not you build in engagement shoots into your packages, sell the engagement shoot to your clients. Teach them the same things that you read here to help them understand why it’s important. In the end, if they decide not to purchase the engagement session, it may even be worth it to you to provide them a short engagement session for little or no cost. But, for the reasons mentioned above, it will be worth it in the long run.

Article written by:
Chris Lin
Lead Photographer | Partner
Lin and Jirsa Wedding Photography