Why I Don’t Feature Many Engagement Shoots…

Photography Credit: Blue Lily Photography (Full shoot coming up soon!)

I’m often asked by wedding photographers what I look for in engagement shoots. You see, unlike many wedding blogs I actually feature very few pre-wedding shoots – in fact since January this year I’ve actually only featured 30 (out of approximately 780 blog posts in total!)

So why do I feature so few? Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE engagement shoots and I am a strong advocate for every single one of you having one before your wedding. They not only help you to get to know your wedding photographer before the wedding, but they give you a practice run for what it will be like to be photographed on your big day. For most of you, your wedding will be the first time you’ve been professionally photographed so you’re likely to be nervous. A pre-wedding shoot will help you to a) see that it’s actually not that scary and b) relax you about the whole thing before the wedding.

Now, don’t kill me, but the thing with engagement shoots is that often they are a lot more interesting to the actual couple and their close friends and family than to anyone else – i.e having a simple shoot of you and your beau is amazing for you guys and will give you some fabulous photos to put on your wall (or display at your wedding – I love this idea!) However to people that don’t know you, or anything about your relationship, seeing yet another anonymous couple frolicking in a field or enjoying a vintage picnic is, forgive me, a little dull.

…OK maybe ‘dull’ is the wrong word actually…overdone would be better. On Rock n Roll Bride I want to inspire my readers with new ideas, and let’s be honest, we’ve all seen these kinds of photo shoots before haven’t we?

My job as a wedding blogger is to share inspirational and aspirational wedding related images and not all engagement shoots fit that criteria. (Again, I am going to repeat myself on this one because the last thing I want to do is offend anyone that’s having a vintage picnic engagement shoot…seriously, at the end of the day, who cares what I think!?)

This is actually quite a hard post to write without making you think ‘Oh Kat’s an engagement shoot snob and if it’s not good enough for her shes not going post it.. that must mean that my engagement shoot is crap. My God she’s such a bitch…’ So I’m just going to reiterate one more time that this is the not the case at all and the only reason I’m actually putting this down on paper is because I’ve been asked the same question by wedding photographers so many times.

Anyway, I started thinking, after being asked this same question again last week, what it really is I look for. It’s actually pretty hard to put into words what exactly it is that makes me go ‘OMG that’s amazing’ except to say that I want to see something different and something inspiring. It can be a little crazy (remember this zombie engagement shoot?) or it can be sweet and tender, but ultimately it needs to be creative, inspirational, different, unique and a true reflection of the couple. If you and your fiance regularly go on picnics then maybe a vintage picnic theme is for you…however if you’ve just seen the idea on wedding blogs but you’re more of a minimalist, elegant and modern couple, why do you want to have photos of you drinking out of mismatched teacups and devouring cupcakes?

As I said, it’s hard for me to put into words why I pick the engagement shoots I do, so I thought I’d share some of my all time favourites to give you a visual idea of what I like. Ultimately it’s about creating a shoot that reflects the couple and their relationship in a creative and often exaggerated way…

♥    ♥    ♥

I loved the unusual location and the bride’s incredible vintage dress and hat. The groom used to spend his Summer’s at this place (it’s his Grandmother’s house) so the location evoked real sentimental feelings for the couple.

Photography Credit: Svetlana Batura. See the full shoot here.

Zombies! this was the first zombie shoot I saw (I’ve seen a few copies since) but as the first one it was a really unusual, crazy and funny idea. The execution was also exceptional. It’s not tacky and the make up and styling is done perfectly.

Photography Credit: Amanda Rynda Photography. See the full shoot here.

The storyboard feel of this shoot made it a really substantial feature. The fashion choices were also unusual, cute and had meaning to the couple.

 

Photography Credit: Everywhere We Shoot. See the full shoot here.

Again, great styling from the couple and this is how the dress in everyday life – it’s not just been ‘put on’ for the shoot. The bride owns a gothic cake shop so they had black cupcakes and they even had a smoke machine (which they also had for their wedding). Sold!

Photography Credit: Devlin Photos. See the full shoot here.

INCREDIBLE styling. They’re dressed as flippin’ fast food…The costumes are out of this world. It made me laugh and it shows that the couple clearly don’t take themselves too seriously.

Photography Credit: Love Me Do Photography. See the full shoot here.

As you can see, I love a great costume and unusual ideas! Wolf heads in the snow? God yes…

Photography Credit: Love me Do Photography. See the full shoot here.

Elsie & Jeremy clearly put a lot of thought into their gorgeous and creative comic book idea. Elsie is a DIY nut and the shoot tells the story of their relationship. So again, it really fits who they are as people.

 

Photography Credit: Arrow & Apple. See the full shoot here.

The urban and industrial setting really worked for this shoot and I love that they dressed up in outfits made of paper!

 

Photography Credit: Duston Todd Photography. See the full shoot here.

To see all the other engagement shoots I’ve featured, click here.

♥   ♥   ♥

So, what do you think? After all this blog is for you as much as me so I want to know your opinions on this subject.

Do you think I should post more engagement shoots?
Do the ones I feature inspire you or do you think I’m missing a trick by not feauring as many as I can?
Maybe you want to see more vintage picnics and couples in fields? Will you get anything out of these kinds of shoots or do you see enough of them on other wedding blogs?
What are your favourite engagement shoots you’ve seen online?

Go on, my opinions are nothing without yours…

38 comments

  1. Ju

    I agree totally, I want inspiration from your site and not to look at endless shots of couples in fields. Keep up the good work x

  2. Georgia

    I completely agree with you Kat, when I see an engagement shoot posted on other wedding blogs I actually skip past them and ignore them. Its a shame, because, like you said, it will mean so much to them as a couple, but I really only ever look at the engagement shoot if, at a quick glance, it looks very different to the norm.
    Great subject to write about, thank you for giving us your opinion and reasons for not posting many engagement shoots. I love all of your posts, and I wouldn’t necessarily like to see more engagement shoots on your blog because I think the balance between everything is great as it is. Maybe there could be a better way to blog about engagement shoots (just throwing ideas around). I don’t really have any ideas how, but I am sure you could think of some awesome crazy rock and roll way to blog about engagement shoot which give them a whole new light to your readers.
    Keep up the good work! x

  3. Ruby

    I read your blog for inspiration on weddings and things that ultimatley could work for me. So I too agree with you, however exceptional ones are always lovely to look at.

  4. I love engagement shoots – but that is probably because I am a nosy rubbernecker and people watcher. So, I see it like gorgeous photographic documentary. Totes get your reasoning though, but the people watcher in me just can’t get enough of them.

  5. I think they can be fun and all but I don’t really understand them. I mean the zombie one was just fantastic and the comic book style of telling their story through the pictures is brilliant (my fiancé told me he loved me… via World of Warcraft – Night Elf love!).
    I just don’t really have the money to pay for another shoot, find it hard to get a good price for a photographer for my own wedding as it is, let alone an engagement shoot!

  6. Post author

    Petitmom – just so you know, most photographers include an engagement shoot in their packages as they are just as useful for them to get to know their clients before the wedding too!

  7. Think you’ve got it in one and make fair comments about it. They are all very samey at the moment, but lovely, but it does make for more interesting reading when you see something that makes you go wow or cringe or smile!! The thing is do what’s good for you – you’re the only ones looking at the pictures with your kids 20 years later!!

  8. I think if the shoot relates to the season and the themes around the time of year then it awesome but then i love to have a nose as it give me inspiration for photo but then I was lucky enough to have my engagement shoot blogged by Kat when we were getting married so maybe I’m biased!

  9. Totally agree Kat. Worth including if it’s different it inspirational. But plain shots of a couple you dont know, what’s the point?! I think you might find people would visit less if you started doing that. I visit because I know it will be interesting.

  10. Post author

    thanks for all your great comments guys! i really appreciate you taking the time to write them and its awesome to know im on the right track :-)

  11. Nicole

    I think your attitude towards engagement shoots is totally understandable and agree 100%. You wouldnt blog stock standard boring weddings so why would you blog stock standard boring engagement shoots? Thats not what your site is about. I read your blog because i want to see something different and this is inspiring me and giving me the courage to do be different in my own wedding planning. If it want to see stock standard i’ll have a look at one of the myriad other wedding sites or magazines that give you a recipe of all your white on white requirements to help your day look the same as every other wedding youve ever been to – but with different coloured chair sashes.
    I expect the same in relation to engagement shoots! (please :) )

  12. Spot on Kat – your engagement shoot should be about you as a couple, people have enough to plan for their wedding day without an overly styled e-shoot as well. If that is bang on for the couple then fair enough, but in most cases it would make the couple uncomfortable, which kind of defeats the object…..

  13. This is a great post Kat – completely agree with you!

    Love the comic book one (might be a bit biased though as i am a big fan of Elsie’s blog!) and the wolf heads in the snow are so awesome!

  14. Alison

    It was a pre-wedding shoot that helped me pick my wedding photographer: she’d shot a couple in a park 10 mins from my house that I particularly love.

    So of course there was a personal element there because I knew the location even though I didn’t know the couple, and I could immediately picture myself in a similar photo…but having said that, if I had found a photographer from the other side of the country I fell in love with, I might not have been able to resist…

  15. This post is really fair Kat, in that you’ve given your opinion (totally justified) and also explained to your readers why you don’t feature all the engagement shoots you get sent. If it’s all about leading wedding inspiration, then you have to find something different. I totally agree. I think there’s room for all kinds of things – blogs that feature similar-style shoots, because they reflect the style of the blog itself, as well as blogs that are always trying to push new ideas in weddings. And the best thing about the shoots you feature is that they really do bring totally new ideas. Maybe not all couples will go out and do something as adventurous or different, but having the option of seeing how other couples have expressed themselves is just bloomin’ great.

  16. Inspirational shoots are what you show best! Keep up the good work. I’m wracking my brain, and have been for months on what to do for ours….

  17. What great shots. I must say that the house in the first shot is amazing and a love the way the bride and groom told their story in the shot with the pizza

  18. I totally agree. I LOVE looking at engagement shoots but only if it’s something different and unique to the couple and you can see the love between them shine through in the images, and I love the vintage shit, but I am TOTALLY over the whole “vintage picnic” vibe of most of them. After I read your tweet about this post, Wedding Chicks tweeted a post about a vintage picnic engagement shoot…I had to laugh. :)

  19. Honestly???/ Who cares.. it’s your blog and you post what you think is appropriate. It’s your baby and you make what you wish out of it. I submit 100 of sessions to different blogs around the country.. and maybe (MAYBE) one will go though.. I’m not upset, it makes me want to strive for more and better things. All other people that ASK should stop asking and start spending more time creating :) Happy WEEK everyone.

    Pasha

  20. I completely agree with your sentiment. The reason why your blog is one of three wedding blogs I follow is because of the weddings featured are not the run-of-the-mill type weddings. I think everyone has the right to have whatever kind of wedding they want but I just get tired of looking at the same old tired things rehashed day after day. I really love engagement shoots and I hope this post inspires more innovative shoots to happen!

  21. I have to agree, i think the reason the zombie shoot works so well is because its almost a parody of the picnic engagement shoot and it’s something that is amusing and gives us as readers and strangers more of an insight into the couple and their sense of humour! and thats the sort of engagement shoot people want to see!

  22. I’ve got to say, I agree with your comments and I do tend to skip over engagement shoot postings purely because it’s just some (albeit lovely) photographs of an unknown couple. In my mind, engagement shoots are purely for the couple involved. I know I probably wouldn’t subject everyone to mine!

    Saying that, I don’t mind seeing the odd photograph for inspiration. So I’d probably say keep them coming, although I like the layout in this blog post where you’ve taken a photograph from different shoots. That way we get to see something inspiring but we’re not overloaded like a lot of engagement shoots tend to do.

  23. I’m not sure I agree with a number of the points here. As a wedding photographer, the vast majority of people who choose an engagement shoot do so for one of 2 reasons; one, because they’re really nervous about being photographed, or two, that they appreciate photos of themselves and want to come out of the process with photos that show ‘them’ in an artistically appealing picture. The couples who dress as (for example) fast food or wear wolf heads, I think, are in the minority, and most couples don’t want anything so quirky. I may get shot down for this, but in some cases I would argue that the people who go for styled shoots of that nature DO take themselves pretty seriously…the shoot becomes more about ‘look at us- how cool are we’ rather than ‘this is us.’ An inspirational shoot, for me, is one that shows some real emotion between the couple whilst at the same time brings some level of aesthetic/artistic appeal. I want engagement shoots to be more about celebrating relationships, not about making statements. I looked at the wolf head photo shoot and read that the reason the couple are wearing the masks was because the photographer wanted to put them in the shoot…so that doesn’t really point to them being personal to the couple. The same with the fast food shoot..the write-up says the concept was driven by the photographers, and so again, it’s not personal to the couple in question, even if they were of the nature where they were willing to dress up. I don’t have a problem with that, but I don’t think people should be so quick to shoot down engagement shoots that are more ‘normal’…it’s about the people more than any concept.
    I think we need to remember that we’re talking about ‘engagement’ shoots. Dress as wolves, clad yourselves in paper, but I’m not seeing any real emotion in those shoots shown here, and so for me the styling has become primary.

  24. Totally agree with all the above …. It’s your blog. You do it your way and I don’t think we miss out because of it, I can fill my boots with looking at other e shoots on lots of other blogs, which I really enjoy, but I think your point is completely justified … keep doing what you do Kat …. It’s working just fine !! Xxx

  25. i love engagement shoots.. maybe because i am not married yet and havent had one myself… haha

    while i do love the picnic engagement shoots, and wanted one of my own, you have definitely made me think more about it, because we never go on picnics, even though we would like to, and maybe our first date location would suit us better as a couple, or somewhere we actually visit….. hmmm.

    good post kat!

  26. Ingrid

    I know I’m going to get slated for this comment but I do completely respect everyone’s opinions and comments.

    I agree with you Kat that engagement shoots typically lack the colour of craft and quite often are just good quality portraits, but nothing spectacular or original. I think the shoots in your examples here are great trail blazers.

    Most brides and grooms are new to photography as an art and profession and haven’t studied it nor seen the multitude of works that can and should be produced. By featuring ingenious shoots you are definitely rising the tide which lifts all boats; photographs and couples alike. Inspiration is great but it’s to easy to fall into the trap of copying.

    I agree that most of the time when you visit a blog you will see what is now the “run of the mill sit in a field or stand in a dirty alley like statues” engagement shoots and photographers are doing a great job, but, I believe bloggers can help photographers push boundaries and keep the ideas fresh. It’s all going a bit stale. Yes there are many photographers producing quality work that has been done for many years now, and that’s just it, it’s been done before and I am sure I’m not the only one who is bored.

    But this doesn’t just apply to engagement shoots, I really feel this applies to weddings too. It is absolutely fair to say that there are certainly gems of weddings that come up that are boundary pushers but not often enough.

    More so often blogs really do feature the same vintage style wedding, and it’s like being knocked in the face with said homemade jam jars every single time we see them. With their vintage style editing techniques, they are surely nothing of inspiration anymore. You may say I am missing the finer details of the wedding and missing the individuality of the couple and tarring everyone with the same brush but it’s quite fair to say this.

    In a nut shell, I’m saying that a lot of the weddings on RNRB should not be featured for the reasons you write in this post which is in essence a contradiction.

  27. Post author

    Christian – totally. I agree with what you’ve said and of course I’m not saying people shouldn’t have low key shoots at ALL. what I am explained however is why I personally don’t feature them.there are PLENTY of other blogs featuring them if this is the kind of inspiration they want

  28. allie

    I have to agree a lot with Christian, but also say that I’d love to see more engagement shoots here.

    It’s strange to hear you say, Kat, that you won’t feature engagement shoots that have been “done” when I’ve seen so many of the same thing in weddings on this blog (flower bouquets, vintage dresses from the same handful of stores, fake moustaches everywhere). Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE this blog and the weddings it features, but there are some wedding aspects that have appeared so many times they serve as a kind of de-inspiration in that so many people have done it, I would never consider doing the same thing.

    And of course, you’re not going to not feature a gorgeous wedding just because the bride has a button bouquet and you’ve already blogged about a wedding with a button bouquet, but it seems odd to give that reasoning for not featuring engagement shoots.

    Then again, I also very much agree that an engagement shoot is a lot more for the couple and close friends/family than anyone else.

  29. Effie

    I agree with it getting overdone, im feeling the same about mustaches! I cant take anymore novelty mustaches…. new trends please!

  30. You’ve got it right as far as I’m concerned – if it doesn’t excite you it probably won’t be exciting for us either….I know it must be hard & there ‘must’ be times when you feel like you’ve seen it all before & it’s extra hard to find exciting stuff, but that’s why we love R&R Bride, because you make that extra effort & really care that what you’re posting is inspirational & interesting to your readers. Keep doing what you’re doing, sorry if I went a bit off the point there !

  31. I read all my blogs on google reader (and increasingly so on it on my phone) and I ALWAYS skim straight past them. If find them inspirational for planning a photo shoot but I don’t see any value add to them for me on weeding blogs.

    they are a great idea in principle though….just keep them for personal enjoyment!

    Jo x

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *