Formal sessions tips & tricks:


When you’re prepping for your formal session, there are a few things to keep in mind. This is supposed to be FUN! This is the shoot with no pressure. On the wedding day we’ll be crunched for time, your dress won’t be able to get dirty and there won’t be time to chat and get to know one another.  Your engagement session is your chance to get to know me, get comfortable with how I work and have FUN in front of the camera. Now don’t get me wrong, your wedding day will be a BLAST! But it’s so helpful to have a great engagement session before the big day so that you know what to expect! My couples that have an engagement session before the wedding are PROS by wedding day. 


If I had a dollar for every time I heard.. "I'm not very good in front of a camera.." I'd be a millionaire. None of us are professional models, and I don't expect you to be one at your session! I DO want you to let loose, have fun, and enjoy yourselves. I promise I'm fun to hang out with, and hopefully I'll be able to get a few laughs out of you during the session! 

2. Make a day out of it!

The last thing I want is a grumpy groom and a hungry bride. I want you to come to the session relaxed and ready to have some fun! If you are hungry the whole time- it will show. If you got in a fight before the session, it will show. I can do my best to get you to laugh and smile and have fun- but you've got to be willing to work with me on this! I highly suggest eating before the session. You can grab something quick, or even stop by and grab a smoothie on your way over! I promise I'll do the same so we don't have a hangry Chelsea on our hands! Nobody wants that. 

3. Schedule your session around the sun.

You may have heard that there are certain times of the day that are better for photos and that’s all because of the light! Golden hour, which is that beautiful time of day just before the sun sets is when you want to shoot if you’re looking for that glorious, golden light in your photos. It’s important to be aware of when the sun is going to set so that you have plenty of time to shoot before the light is gone. The early afternoon may sound like a good time for photos schedule-wise, but keep in mind that the light is much harsher at this time because the sun is directly overhead. Early, early morning light can also be magical, so you may want to consider a sunrise session where you arrive at your first location just as the sun starts to rise. My shoots typically start 90 minutes before sunset or 15 minutes before sunrise. 
The best way to know what time that would be would be to google it. Google knows everything. Example:   What time is sunset on August 25th in Newport Beach? answer: 7:26pm (plan on starting at 6pm.)
As much as I LOVEEE golden hour, my favorite light to shoot in is blue light. This is the light that we get from the sky after the sun has set or just before it is about to rise. This is why I start when I do :)

4. Wear something you’re comfortable in.

Choose outfits that make you feel like a million bucks.If you choose clothes that are too tight or clingy, you’ll spend your whole session picking at them or covering up. If you choose something you’ve never worn before, you’ll be worried about how you look in it or may discover it’s actually terribly uncomfortable, which can come across in your photos.
As much as you consider how your engagement outfits make you feel, think also about how they’ll photograph during your session. For the ladies, we recommend choosing pieces that flow nicely as you move, especially if you’re doing your photos outdoors. 
The BEST advice I can give about outfit selection would be to try to COORDINATE instead of matching. Try to stay away from really tiny patterns, they won’t show up in your images.
Also, think about your location when considering outfits. If you are shooting in a busy location, try to wear simple outfits. If your locations is pretty simple, spice it up with some fun colors and patterns! 
Oh! and don't forget your jewelry! (no, I will not photoshop earrings on later) ;)
Feel free to browse my "What to wear to engagements" guide! HERE.

5. Steam or iron your outfits ahead of time!

Speaking of what you wear, be sure to de-wrinkle your clothes before your session. A photographer’s least favorite question is “can you just Photoshop that out later?” and oftentimes having things like wrinkles retouched in your photos comes at an additional cost per image. Save yourself the stress and get wrinkle free ahead of time! I also suggest not wearing a dress in the car on your way to the session. The best tip I can give you for wrinkle free dresses? Put it on when you arrive to the location :) 

6. Be on time.

This is really important. What most couples don’t realize is that natural light photographers are 100% dependent on the sun and if their couples show up late, they will lose that amount of time during their session due to the lack of light. Now I realize that things happen beyond out control like massive amounts of traffic and accidents.  If at all possible, try to be on time so that you don’t lose any of your shooting time and pretty sunlight! 


7. Consider professional hair and makeup for your shoot.

I HIGHLY suggest getting your makeup done before your session. If you’ve never done makeup for photos or you aren’t really sure what to do with your hair, you may want to hit up the salon before your engagement shoot. Photos require slightly more saturated makeup than your every day look so that you don’t become washed out. Haven’t done your hair and makeup consultation with your wedding day stylist yet? It can be a smart move to schedule that consult the morning before your session.
I do edit skin as much as I can, but a professional makeup artist just makes my images stand out so much more! Here are some artists that I recommend: 


8. Trust me.

Remember that I don't expect you to be a pro at this. I work with normal, everyday couples ALL the time.  It takes a good 20 minutes to warm up at the beginning of their shoot, and too be 100% honest with you, I usually don't use the first 20-30 images I take because they are usually the stiff nervous photos ;) So relax and have fun! You’re going to be great at this! Trust me, and allow me to be creative and you’ll have an amazing shoot!



Can we wear more than one outfit? 

Yes! I love when my couples bring two options! BUT, keep in mind... changing outfits will take up shooting time, so please make changing outfits quick! Keep in mind that a lot of places I shoot at do not have bathrooms or changing rooms. You may have to change in the car, so be ready to do so! 

Can we go to two locations?

If the locations are within 15 minutes away from each other, yes. If not, you will have to book an additional session.

Will you get candids?

My sessions are 90% candids and 10% smile at the camera! I am a big believer in laughter and fun in pictures over stale smiles. I understand that the smile pictures are necessary, but the laughing pictures are the ones you will cherish forever. 

Do we reschedule for poor weather?

This is totally up to you! I actually love shooting in the rain and snow! But If you are not down to shoot in this kind of weather, please reach out to me 48 hours before your shoot so we can reschedule. 

What happens if we are late?

My contract states: "If, for any reason, the Client is more than 30 minutes late for scheduled shoot, the shoot will be determined cancelled and there will be a rebooking fee of $150 to book an additional shoot. " 

Can my mom come?

I don't suggest they come. In order for you to loosen up in front of the camera, and feel comfortable with each other.. I suggest it only be the three of us. 
If you choose to bring someone to the session, I can't have them photographing anything, and I can't have them standing over my shoulder telling me suggestions on what to do next ;) ;) ;) 

Can we bring our dog?

OF COURSE. Please bring a leash, and make sure your location allows dogs.