Introduction

If you’re here you’ve either booked an engagement session or youre considering it!  Maybe youre a bit nervous to be in front of the camera. That is normal and that’s why we do these before the wedding day. Youre wondering what to expect and how to prepare.  Well cover all that!  Lets all get excited for your engagement session with Wes Craft Photography! 

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What is the engagement session all about?

Your engagement session can be one of most memorable dates you’ve been on! There will be many pictures. During the session we’ll make intentional space for you two to focus on one another. Your personalities will be illuminated as, together, you stop time in places that bring you joy.  How awesome is that?

On the practical side, the engagement session is an ice-breaker with your wedding photographer before the big day itself. When the wedding day comes around you’ll be as comfortable and confident as possible.

It’s going to be fun, relaxed, classy, creative, and maybe even an experimental experience.

We love personal portrait photography and serving our couples with meaningful artwork.  We’ll talk with you to arrive at the right balance between relaxed authentic vibes and more fine-art editorial images.  Heck, we’ll do both with you out there.

Wes Craft HAS Goals

  • To make photos that you two will love. I want you two to like how you look in the photos and how you felt while they were being made.
  • To make photos that we will love. I want to get my creative juices flowing and have interesting things to show future clients.
  • To learn what works and doesn’t work for you.  People come in all shapes and sizes so it’s great when we can play together in a relaxed way without the tight time constraints of the wedding day.  I can come up with ideas and approaches to best flatter your body types and how they fit together.  The shoot will not exceed PG-13 so don’t get any ideas.;)
  • To get a feel for your personalities so that we can be more in touch with that during your wedding day.
  • To get you accustomed to being photographed. We want you to be able to relax and have no fears on the wedding day. 
  • To have FUN.  We love getting to know you and these sessions are something we look forward to.  We trust that a sense of fun and adventure we bring will allow you to open up and have great time together.

 

Engagement Session FAQ

 

HOW SOON SHOULD WE Schedule our session?

  • 2-4 weeks before the wedding – You could have your session close to the wedding as a warm up.  Getting printed products turned around as well can be a challenge when we wait this long however.
  • 4-8 weeks prior to the wedding – This gives us plenty of time to turn around your digital set, for you to pick favorites, make prints for your reception or home, and order one of our guest sign in books.
  • 6-12 months – If you want to use photos in your save the date cards then schedule your session to occur 4-6 weeks prior to your target mail date.
  • Anytime – Do it during your favorite season 18 months before your wedding date or a week before your wedding. We’re flexible if you are.  Some of our out of town couples have done it on the week of the wedding while they were in town for the big event.

When do you shoot engagement sessions?

Since we’re shooting weddings on most weekends we try to schedule engagement sessions on weekday evenings.  We recommend that you take a half or full day off work so that you’ll have time to freshen up and have time to prepare yourselves.

There may be weekend options in any given month depending on our schedule.  Get in touch with us to coordinate schedules!

 

Where SHOULD we photograph our session?

I have many favorite Chicago and suburban spots ranging from gardens to gritty alleyways.  For couples who want general conceptual spaces let’s chat about your goals and pick some spots.

That said, I’m an advocate of planning a totally personal and unique shoot with you.  You may choose to have your session where you first met, the location of your first date, or proposal site.  You may have a climbing gym, a campus building, or a park where you spend a lot of time. These are just some ideas you can kick around with us.

Left: Zenny & Eric at the bar where Eric works. The art there was vibrant and fun. Right: Milana wanted colorful murals so we hit Pilsen in Chicago. I identified this mural that had her colors in it.

These two met at The University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and spent a lot of their college days in the Mathematics Library studying…I promise they were just studying!

These two climb together at Vertical Endeavors in Glendale Heights, IL. We spend 1/2 of their session here before hitting a local park.

Perhaps a personal place feels right to you.  See some of our other engagement posts later for ideas.

If you booked a one hour or “Local” session then it must take place with 10 miles of our Naperville studio however the 2 hour or longer sessions may be anywhere in Chicagoland within 50 miles of Chicago. You can add an hour to your 1 hour session for $250 which will unlock Chicago.  We can work also outside of the 50 mile radius for a modest travel fee based on extra miles travelled. Just ask!

Above: Starved Rock Park ended up being 50 roundtrip miles outside of our travel radius ($150 travel fee).

 

What if we want to go to two different locations that aren’t very close to one another?

You may want to get a great skyline shot from the lake but also want to hit a neighborhood that’s 15-20 minutes away.  That would be a situation where 2 or 3 hours of time will be required depending on commute times between locations.  3 hours will give us the most variety in lighting with daylight, dusk, twilight, and night to play with. 2 Hours is our most popular session length for its versatility and volume of photos we can create in that time.

We can do quite a bit in a single hour however we’ll have to stick to one garden, park, or neighborhood for the duration.

Weather & Rescheduling

Cloudy days, even overcast days with low percentage chances of rain, are most likely going to be great sessions due to the soft even lighting. When the sun does peep through then there is much drama in the sky and that’s cool too. Clouds are nothing to worry about.

High chance of thunderstorms, high heat indexes, and sub freezing temps with arctic winds are NOT good conditions for an engagement session. We suggest rescheduling sessions in such predictions.

 

Chicagoland is too erratic to trust forecasts more than 48 hours so I don’t reschedule until the last possible minute.  We’ll make the call on rescheduling your session sometime between 24 and 3 hours prior to your session start time depending on your flexibility. There are no fees for weather related postponements.

 

NON WEATHER RELATED RESCHEDULING (Fee may be assessed)

If you’d like to reschedule for non-weather related reasons then that is no problem either. Let us know as soon as possible.

No fees with 10 or more days notice

6-9 days notice – $100 rescheduling fee

5 or less days notice – $200 fee

What should we wear?

TIP: Coordinate colors with your partner using 3 or fewer colors that work together.  One technique that works especially well is finding two complimentary colors and a 3rd accent color that is contrasting the other two. As an example; Navy & Denim Blue are related and a soft Pink is an opposite that will accent or contrast.  Or, in the photo below a burnt orange compliments the blues.

On your engagement session you can coordinate without matching exactly. I love the navy and orange here.

On your engagement session you can coordinate without matching exactly.

Neutral colors like browns, blacks, grays, or white don’t count against the three color rule. Use your best judgement what neutrals are going to vibe with your colors.

For floral prints or other patterns like checks Try to choose a pattern with 3 or fewer main colors (don’t count shades and tints of a single color) and then tie in with your one of your partner’s solid colors.

Avoid Neon colors! The color will reflect onto your partner and cast garish colors onto their skin as well as your own chin.

Solid colors or neutrals are always good bets.

Dress up just because! Wearing a dress, a jacket, accessories, a hat. Style it up!

 

Color Picking TOOL!

Adobe has a great tool for color coordinating outfits or design projects. https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/?base=2…

I recommend using their “upload a photograph” feature. Use a picture of the main outfit pieces that you want to wear. Copy it from the company’s official product photo on their website if you can (it will be more color accurate than your cell phone snap). Once you’ve uploaded it to Adobe’s color picker you can sample the colors and let the site show you colors that will pair well with it!

Neutrals can be so classy. I found earthy yet formal settings in Chicago for these two.

One of two outfits these two sported was a formal gown and tux. I loved the pop of color and the flow of the fabric so jumped over to the Pritzker Pavillion’s wavy metal gray backdrop.

Neutrals and a pop of simply patterned color played timelessly here.

What should i wear on my Feet though?

We’ll likely walk a lot in 2 hours.  When we’re in parks or gardens I like to go off trail sometimes. Be prepared to walk around a bit and possibly get your feet wet or dirty. If you opt for heels then have some other shoes or sandals to walk around in if you think it’ll help. If you can trounce through sand and/or grass in stilettos then again, by all means, wear them the entire time.

Wear heels or take them off in the sand. Coordinate cool and warm colors.

Wear heels or take them off in the sand. Coordinate cool and warm colors.

What about a second change of clothes?

In the 2 hour or longer sessions there will be ample time for a wardrobe change up, often conducted between location changes.

What works great is having a casual & a dressy outfit.

I recommend leaving the wardrobe in your vehicle where possible or have a friend accompany you to carry bags and changes of clothing while we walk and shoot with your hands free.

Natural Fall Setting Chicago Engagement Wes Craft Photography005

This bride brought some fall color into her sweater. We were able to tie in that color as a backdrop here. The groom’s jacket was a thicker material and helped him to stay warm on a chilly Fall evening while still looking sharp.

Chicago Engagement in Alleyway

Jeans and jackets. Business meets rock and roll. Warm and cool colors working together.

Should I bring anything else?

We’ll be moving around a lot so it’s best to keep it as simple as possible in terms of luggage. Again, having a friend along as your personal assistant can be a great touch to aid with this. When I have an assistant it’s mainly to carry my extra equipment and I can’t guarantee that we can lug extra.

Have some fun. You could bring a PROP or some item that is unique to you two. My brother in law brought a yukalelee to their session and we used it with him playing it for my sister.  I’ve worked with frisbees, balloons, umbrellas, pets, bicycles, wigs, a trumpet, a clown nose, you name it. Please don’t force it but if something inspired comes to mind then bring it along!  This leads me to this next question.

Can we do x, y, or z?

Let’s make photos that other couples will want to emulate.

The conversation usually starts with, “…so I saw a really cute [insert: Pinterest or Instagram idea] that had the bride and groom holding [insert: balloons, chalk boards, umbrellas, prop du jour] and thought we could do THAT!”

The short answer is YES, we can do what we saw another couple do on their session. I want record images of you two having fun and loving one another and if something has inspired you then I want to know.

Let’s make sure it makes sense for you two though.

Unless you’re a school teacher who met your fiance at your school then what are chalkboards really doing for your engagement session?

There are unique things that you two share.  If you or your fiance is a helicopter pilot then let’s go for a helicopter ride or shoot in a hangar because that will get us closer to personal and unique parts of your relationship.

In short, I’m an advocate of doing unique and personal things with  your shoots where there is a context for it. I think we should make photos that other couples will try to emulate.

This bride asked for us to recreate a shot she'd seen on a wedding blog of leaves with the fall wedding date on them. We took care of that for her but also encouraged them to do something personal. They chose to visit Chez Joel, a spot that they frequent for a romantic date.

This bride asked for us to recreate a shot she’d seen on a wedding blog of leaves with the fall wedding date on them. We took care of that for her but also encouraged them to do something personal. They chose to visit Chez Joel, a restaurant that they frequent for a romantic date and I like the shots of them at the restaurant so much more!

Permits & Fees

If there is a photography permit required for your location then you will be required to acquire and pay for that. If any special parking permits or city parking is required then we will keep the receipts and invoice you for that after the session.

When will we see the photographs?

We aim to have sneak peaks from your session up in under a week.  Those will be posted on our Facebook page as well as possibly appearing on this blog.  The whole set will be shared with you within 30 days, typically within 2 weeks.  Rush turnaround is possible for instances when your wedding is sooner.

Have your session about 2-3 months prior to your wedding if you'd like us to make you a guest sign-in book.

Consider having us make you a guest sign-in book with up to 20 favorite engagement photos printed with space for signatures.

In Chicago Christmas is a cold but beautiful time to have engagement photographs.

In Chicago The Holidays are a chilly but heartwarming time to have engagement photographs.

Is there anything else you’d like to see answered? Email, Text, or Call Wes.

Check out more of our engagement photographs in this gallery  or in the engagement category on our blog.

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