For lots of people, preserving the memories of their wedding day is a very close second to actually creating them. And real, meaningful memories come about from having a photographer who truly understands and cares about you. On your wedding day, you don’t want the pressure of not knowing what to expect from your photographer or the worry of not knowing how you have to ‘act’ in front of the camera. You need someone who has made the time to get to know you as a couple and that is where I think an engagement photoshoot comes into its own. I believe that this session should reflect your personality and be relaxed. It should have special meaning to both of you as a couple.

To me the purpose of the session is twofold. Firstly, you get to know your photographer and how they work. Secondly, and I think most importantly, the photographer gets the opportunity to help you relax in front of the camera and allow you to just be yourselves. I love to place people in settings with good lighting and then step back and let them show their true personalities and the love that they share. Sometimes I offer direction initially and quite often I include some props at the beginning of the photoshoot. Again, just to add a relaxed atmosphere but then it is up to the couple to be themselves. Gone are the days of traditional, structured posing for these sessions.

Sometimes my couples use this session to have a practice run with the bride’s hair and makeup stylists and then they can look back at the images and see if it is the look they were after. It is a perfect opportunity to see if the hairstyle will still be in place 2 hours later and for the bride to make sure that the makeup is as she wanted it to be.

Other times the session is used purely for the couple to enjoy a favourite place. This may be somewhere that holds special memories for them. It may be at the beach at sunset, in a park full of Spring growth, in the city with the hustle and bustle of crowds and cafes or simply just at home. Some couples may decide to include children, pets or other family members who maybe can’t make the wedding because of frailty or illness. But even then I always make sure the couple have some time just for them.

Recently there has been a growing trend toward fun, semi-photojournalistic and also ‘set designed’ engagement photoshoots. The important thing to remember is that while a quirky fun element has emerged, it is the photographers’ use of lighting, composition and post production techniques that take these images to a professional level where they truly become something to treasure forever.

As a photographer I like to take the opportunity with my couples during the engagement session to pass on things I have learnt over the years. I tell them tips and hints on posing, kissing and walking that flatter and are simple to remember on the day. No complicated explanations, just quick easy directions that come naturally when you know how.

It is important to know the most flattering way to stand as a bride. I tell them about easy relaxed poses for both the bride and groom to achieve which ultimately makes the wedding day far less complicated. A big thing for me is to give some tips on ‘kissing for the camera’ so the couple don’t end up with squashed noses and I encourage them to practice which I am regularly told later was ‘fun homework’. It always makes for some laughs as we practice the concepts I share and it creates a connection between us where my couples know that I care about them and truly want them to feel comfortable with me.

I personally believe that an Engagement Shoot is very important and more important than you probably realise during your wedding planning. Going through the process will help you end up with pictures on your wedding day that best reflect both of you as a couple and your love for one another. If you have enjoyed yourselves and are relaxed from the engagement shoot, if you have been given permission to be yourselves in front of the camera already, I can assure you, you will have all the skills necessary to completely enjoy your wedding day and end up with the best memories.

Photography by Belinda Fettke Photography

Ms Gingham says: Kind of like trying out a new recipe for the first time … you may do OK but the second effort will be so much better because you know where you went wrong the first time. Since for most, your wedding day is once in a lifetime, it pays to practice!

About Belinda Fettke: I love photographing people and have developed my business ‘BPhotography’ over the last 11 years involving my passion. To me it is not just about a captured moment in time. I think of my work as a woven thread that intricately ties people, emotions, time and place together into a colourful, textured fabric that people want to look at and touch and be a part of … hence my bi-line ‘The Art of Storytelling’.

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