Unique Engagement Photos August 7, 2009
Kristen Wheeler – As a photographer, I find it most important to connect with my wedding clients on a personal level and find out about their own unique “Love Story.” I always say that I never met a client who wasn’t also my friend. I try to find out where they like to hang out together, where they first met, where they went on their first date, where they had their first kiss, etc., so when it comes to their engagement sessions we can make it very personal and unique.
I see a lot of photographers that take their clients to the same place for every single engagement shoot, and that’s ok…for them. I find it much more appealing when the photographer takes the time to get to know them and finds out where THEY want to shoot and how they want to set themselves apart from everyone else. Me personally, I like to shoot at a different place every time. If they don’t have a favorite or significant place I will try to create one for them. I might discover it, my clients might discover it, who knows, that’s part of the fun! I tend to do a lot of research before a shoot of this nature. I will look up locations on the internet or I’ll travel and scout out different areas. My clients might even come across a place I haven’t yet discovered and call me to say “we found the perfect place!” Or when we are talking about their own story they might have met at a unique location or had their first kiss somewhere I haven’t shot before. Those are the things that intrigue me the most.
For example, I had one couple that I had asked what they like to do when they go out on a date and their response was that they liked to go to the movies, play video games, and go shopping, so we did just that. They also had two little girls so we had to do something bright and colorful as well. I took them to a place in Orlando where we had all three and told them to come dressed to go on a fun date. We even went inside the IMAX movie theatre for some great unique shots. Then I gave them some quarters and told them to play some videogames while I photographed them interacting with each other. I even got some popcorn for them to throw at each other! They were so happy about the shots and we got such natural expressions because they were very genuine and they did not feel as though they were being photographed. Then my clients feel more like I am just hanging out with them rather than a formal shoot…..we’ll save that for the wedding day.
I am also big into themed shoots. My husband and I are into movies and had a movie themed wedding ourselves, red carpet, real actors, movie poster for people to sign and all! So when a couple tells me they want to do a little something different, I say let’s do it! Recently I had a couple who are East Indian that wanted to do a “Bollywood” themed shoot. So we got together one day before the shoot and sat down to watch some Bollywood movie clips they put together for me for inspiration. We then worked out our own story for a Bollywood movie starring them! We picked a location that would suit what we needed and then we were off! We went to a state park where there were old cypress trees, shallow fresh water, and rolling hills…..absolute perfect setting for this theme. We even went as far as making their own movie poster! The shots that we got out of it were just incredible and at their engagement party everyone just raved about how unique they were and how much they wanted to do the same thing!
Another couple I have worked with are very much into the retro culture, as I am, so we connected right away. His hairstyle and look was all from 1950′s and Rockabilly and hers was very Marilyn Monroe and pin-up, blonde bombshell and all! I took them to a very retro-inspired area in a small town and got so many great shots. Lots of texture, unique signs and backdrops, old buildings. He was also a bass player so I had him bring it for the shoot so we could incorporate it in. I always tell couples that, bring props if you have them! She wore retro inspired clothing and they just looked great together because they got to be who they really are, not just a made-up couple who wore matching khakis and polo shirts and sat in front of a white backdrop and propped on stools.
My philosophy is to always “be unique, be creative, make each shoot different, and always get them to laugh even if you have to wear those big plastic sunglasses and a clown nose”…no saying cheese here! You will have such genuine photographs that way and a client who in turn is genually extatic with their images because you could capture them as if you were just part of their everyday life even only for one day.
So my suggestion to brides and grooms before hiring your photographer is what kind of style are you looking for? Do you want something that everyone else does or do you want to be creative?? Think about a theme or something you would like to convey in your images. What do you like to do together that makes you unique? Do you like to do sports together? Then do that. Do you like to go to the movies and out for dinner….then do that. Be creative and most of all BE YOU. Tell your love story through your pictures with someone who can capture just that, you will want to remember it forever!