ENGAGEMENT SESSION GUIDE
I am so excited to be your photographer and get comfy with each other through an engagement session. Not only are you going to get some bomb photos but you can see how fun your wedding day will be and how I work. I promise it’s easy peasy. This guide will help you with location suggestions, outfit help, and other tips that will make your session go smoothly. Make sure you read before filling out the engagement session planner!
DISCLAIMER PLEASE READ ON CHOOSING A LOCATION:
Location is ultimately your decision, however, I’m here to help guide you along the way. There are countless places to plan an engagement session. My overwhelming advice to you when it comes to choosing a location or locations: pick a place that means something to you or speaks to you as a couple.
If you’re not outdoorsy, don’t drag yourself through farmland because I will ask you to sit on the ground and heels just don’t jive with dirt. If you’re not city peeps, for the love don’t ask to go to downtown Detroit. It will be loud, there will be people around (unless it’s 7am then YAY), and it will be ever-changing.
So pick a place (or two) that is meaningful or a reflection of you two. If you like to eat or drink and you had a first date at a brewery, cool, let’s go. If you just love urban settings, Detroit is the best. If you love barefeet and wildflowers, let’s go outside. I’m up for anything and will tell you if something won’t work or if we need permission. The following is just a compilation of ideas and examples to get you thinking. Since everyone always asks for suggestions, I decided to compile a list from all those emails I was sending and ta-dah here you go!
how this works
Review this guide for help with locations. It’s ultimately your choice, but I am here to help. If you aren’t sure, email me or schedule a call to discuss your vibe and I’ll help find the perfect spot.
Fill out the engagement session planner to let me know where you’d like to go, as well as tell me a little more info about you two so I can prepare for your session!
I’ll reach out two weeks before your session to confirm details including where to meet, start time, and any other info we need to go over!
CITY OF DETROIT
Detroit is a really popular location. Since the city is quite large, there are lots of options when it comes to locations. Detroit is perfect for architecture vibes, art, skylines, and just a general urban feel. It looks good in just about any season!
Downtown is truly the heart of the city, and is fabulous in all seasons. Many engagement sessions take place downtown because there’s so many spots to choose from and you almost cannot go wrong no matter where you turn. From Parker’s Alley to the Belt to Greektown to Campus Martias to Hart Plaza to the Riverwalk, there’s really so many choices!
Eastern Market & Dequindre Cut
Great for art lovers and great to pair with Eastern Market Brewery (very photogenic location!). If you don’t like people, avoid on Saturday mornings, which is market day! Also great to pair with Dequindre Cut, which is a short walk away. The Dequindre Cut has great art and graffiti, as well as greenery.
Mid-Town is home to Wayne State University, as well as many museums, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Public Library, and the Detroit Historical Museum, among others. It’s important to note that going inside the museums must be approved (the DIA does not allow sessions inside, but the Detroit Public Library does with permission and sometimes the historical museum does too).
Belle Isle is a very popular location for sessions and it’s great in any season. It has a great view of the skyline, a beach, a conservatory, the casino, bridges, willows, a beautiful marble fountain and nature areas. The island requires a $50 permit for your session. If you’d like to visit Belle Isle, make sure to let me know at least a month in advance so we can secure the permit.
Other Detroit Options
Corktown – Great for brick lovers, Grand Central Station, viaducts, etc.
New Center – the Fisher Building (great indoor location), Cass Ave Viaduct
Coffeeshops, breweries, some restaurants/bars – you need to get permission but it’s possible!
Warehouse District – a little more grungy, some hidden gems I can take you to
other urban areas
Ann Arbor + University of Michigan
If you’re a University of Michigan alumni, what better place for an engagement session? Ann Arbor has great spots for sessions, including campus, the Law Quad, Nickel’s Arcade, downtown Ann Arbor, the Arb, Gallup Park, etc. You really can’t go wrong!
Deanna & Amanda at the arb and Nickel’s Arcade in fall
Sarah & Brandon at the University of Michigan
Cory & Ryan at the Law Quad, Nickel’s Arcade, and Bluff’s Nature Trail
Lauren & Bill at Gallup Park
Robert & Elizabeth at the Arb
Mychelle & Jared at Gallup Park
Michigan State University
Did you meet at Michigan State University? It’s a beautiful setting for an engagement session. Take me to your favorite spots or we can visit some of the more popular locations including Beaumont Tower, the horiculture gardens Spartan Stadium, or the riverfront.
Birmingham is such a perfect downtown area for a session. It’s small enough where you can get some urban vibes but also take some time in nature at nearby parks.
Other Urban Ideas
-Downtown Royal Oak
Nature + Outdoors
Maybury State Park – Northville
Maybury is one of my favorite nature locations. For the couple who enjoys a large field, pines, trails, water, and open fields, Maybury is a perfect fit. It’s small enough where we can cover some ground, but also large enough where all of your photos don’t look exactly the same.
Best in any season and pet friendly!
Rochester Municipal Park – Rochester
Easy to get to the best shooting locations, Rochester Municipal Park may seem like it’s too small or not “cool” enough, but this park is great to pair with some urban shots of Downtown Rochester, especially the brewery which has great brick. There is a bridge, some rocks, a pond, a dirt trail, great greenery, and absolutely beautiful in the fall. Great for those who don’t want to pack it in to all the good spots and want the nature/urban vibe. Also, I have a super secret river spot I love!
Best in spring, summer or fall and pet friendly.
Stoney Creek Metropark – Shelby Township
Known for the infamous tall pine trees, Stoney Creek is a beautiful metropark to shoot at. With great trails, a field of tall grass, and a lake, there are many spots in this HUGE park to explore. Also, this park has excellent sunset golden hours and has a perfect spot along the lake.
Best in all seasons and pet friendly.
Indian Springs Metropark – Pontiac
Indian Springs has rolling hills and has great tall grass for a true “safari” look. There are trails and wooded areas as well, making it a great spot for nature lovers, particularly during the fall color explosion in late October. Indian Springs is a great spot to watch a sunrise due to the elevation of the hills.
Best in spring, summer, fall. Pet friendly!
FAQs & OUTFIT TIPS
HOW MANY LOCATIONS CAN WE VISIT?
I suggest 1-2 locations. If we are going to downtown Detroit, we can sometimes get in three if they are close. I prefer to not run around the entire session with you…it creates stress and my sessions really focus on creating a comfortable atmosphere to capture your connection.
HOW MANY OUTFITS CAN WE WEAR?
You can change one time during your session. I suggest doing one location, changing, and then traveling to the other if you are doing two locations. I suggest one casual outfit and one dressier outfit, but you are welcome to just wear one outfit the whole time. It’s really up to you, what you like to do, and your overall vibe,
WHEN WILL THE SESSION TAKE PLACE?
We all want the BEST light possible for your session, so it works best to have your session in the evening hours (especially in the summer when the days are longer), but in the spring and fall, I also schedule morning sessions. This often means your session will start in the two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset.
If you’ve decided to have an in-home session, it will take place mid-day, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for best light.
If you’ve chosen a location that requires permission or to start at a different time, please contact me so we can make arrangements.
WHAT SHOULD WE WEAR?
Firstly, don’t fret, I bet you already have everything you need for your session! The biggest thing to remember is that you don’t have to MATCH, you just have to GO. Most clients worry the most about their outfits, but I’m sure you own everything you need! Below you’ll find my quick tips, but please visit this blog post for more specific tips!
1. Pick a color palette you like and coordinate based on that. Find pieces that compliment each other (navy and mustard yellow; brown and burnt orange, etc.). If in doubt, a neutral, soft palette always work really well. Olive greens, navy, white, cremes, these all ALWAYS photograph well and everyone looks good in them.
2. Layers always photograph well. Cardigans, headbands, vests, necklaces, these all work really well!
3. Fashion and function. We will move around during your session! Please make sure you wear something comfortable enough to move around in the location we’re headed to. For instance, if we’re going to a field, wearing heels just isn’t a good idea!
4. Patterns are okay as long as everyone isn’t in them! One or two patterns per every three people is perfectly fine. Floral prints, polka dots and plaids are great prints for everyone. Avoid large logos, as they distract from your beautiful faces.
5. Though your feet are never the key part of a photograph, they can stick out like a sore thumb! I advise wearing neutral-colored shoes. Avoid characters, athletic shoes and bulky shoes. Brown, black, white shoes all work!
HOW ABOUT PROPS?
My sessions center on the connection and interaction of you and your partner For that reason, I like to keep props to a minimum. I usually always have a blanket with me to use if we decide to. If you have any special props you’d like to incorporate into your session, please let me know, but no need to buy anything special!
WILL YOU POSE US?
I always try to get a few photos of you both looking at the camera and smiling, but my hope is to capture genuine interactions between you both. I’ll direct you through what to do, not to worry, but the important thing to remember is that you can be yourselves, talk, play, giggle, make jokes, whatever you’d like!
AFTER YOUR SESSION
After your session, I usually post a sneak peek on social media within 48 hours. For the rest of your images, you can expect to receive your digital gallery via email in 2-3 weeks. Within the gallery you can download high-resolution copies of your images along with a PDF of the printing rights. You can order professional prints and other products through the gallery as well (the only way I can guarantee 100% color accuracy).