Style Guide | Engagement Session

When planning for your engagement session you will want to consider outfits along with hair and makeup. The first question that I am asked as soon as the engagement session is scheduled is “what should we wear?”  With that being said, I decided to write a guide that will enable couples to make smart decisions that will create the most flattering images.

What to keep in mind…

Multiple outfits: Depending on your personalities and the amount of variety you would like to present in your images, you and your fiancé may want to consider bringing two completely different outfits. Typically, this means one casual outfit and one that is a bit more on the dressy side. Remember, this is an investment in yourself so if you’re looking for a reason to go on a shopping spree… well, here is your excuse! Keep in mind these images will most likely end up as artwork in your home, as save the dates, and/or guestbook so take pride and enjoyment in your outfit selection.

Color coordination: Check out the examples below. You will notice that the couples coordinate but do not match. Choose colors that mesh together well but are not exactly the same. Neutral tones (tan/navy/gray, for example) work well together, as do light versions of primary colors (such as light pink and blues).

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Coordinate styles: Always keep in mind what the other is wearing. If the female decides to wear a nice dress and heels then then her counterpart should complement her attire. Something along the lines of khakis (or nice jeans), dress shoes, and a sports coat would coordinate quite well. Likewise, if the female decides she wants to wear jeans or a skirt with booties then her counterpart can simply wear  jeans, casual shoes (but refrain from running or athletic shoes), a button down, or even a nice fitted (non graphic) t-shirt.

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Type of environment you’ll be shooting in: The location where your engagement session takes place will heavily weigh on the type of outfits you choose. For example, if you decide to do your session on a beach, you might want to reconsider wearing jeans and cowboy boots. Likewise, if you are photographing in a flower field or park setting, you may want to avoid wearing boat shoes and nautical style clothing. Of course, there is flexibility here — you don’t necessarily need to match your environment but you definitely do not want to clash with it. See below for some great examples. Even though the dressier look works well in almost any situation, it truly suits an urban theme best; whereas nautical attire may appear a bit misplaced if spotted in the streets of Manhattan.

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Don’t be afraid to go “too” dressy: If you are like me and look for excuses to get dressed up, go for it! Do what makes you look and feel your very best — bring a suit, one of your favorite cocktail dresses, or those shoes that have been sitting in your closet waiting to be worn. The images below are a true depiction of how nice a fabulously dressed photo comes to life.

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Shoes: This is so important. Ladies will want to wear shoes with heels – whether it be stilettos, booties, or boots. Guys will want to consider nice dress shoes and a pair of casual shoes such as oxfords or a basic pair of sneakers like Vans. Below are some examples of guys’ shoes that I find appropriate for these occasions. Ladies, I am not posting images for you because I am sure you know much more about heels than I do. For ideas, just look through the images in this article as they are all wearing appropriate shoes.

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Correct Fit: Try to keep your outfits slim fitted for the most flattering images. Wearing baggy pants and oversized shirts are not ideal with this goal in mind.

Details: Accessories can really make an image pop. Bring your fashion jewelry, watches, sunglasses, bow ties, hats, etc… whatever it is you like to use to give your look that extra “wow” factor.

Hair and Makeup:

Looking good on camera doesn’t require a makeup artist, but professional makeup tips help. Even if you prefer a natural look, the camera tends to exaggerate flaws and create artificial ones. Who needs that? These camera-friendly makeup tips focus on makeup application that enhances rather than detracts from your looks.

Makeup tips for the camera include an array of corrective and dramatic effects as well as enhancing one’s natural appearance. The key is to consider that images are two-dimensional, so shadows and highlighted areas may need to be emphasized, de-emphasized or even simulated, for the best overall effect.

Skin, The Canvas: Before you apply makeup, start with smooth, toned and moisturized skin. If necessary, give yourself a facial or scrub treatment. This minimizes uneven or artificial-looking makeup application and promotes a healthy, glowing look.

Minimize Shadows: As photos are two-dimensional, the camera ages the subject by enhancing dark, fine lines, and wrinkles. To compensate, gently apply a lighter shade of concealer makeup to darker areas: around the eyes, crevices, and expression lines. Next, using an upward stroke, apply a light layer of foundation makeup over the face including lips. Blend makeup at the edges. Except for corrective work, use foundation makeup colors closely matching the natural skin color.

Bronze or Blush: Various makeup effects can be achieved with blush. Bronzer makeup powder is widely successful and produces a natural or lightly sculpted look, depending on its application.

To apply powder blush: blow off excess from the brush and apply gently to cheekbones and above the outer corners of eyes to the temple. For a makeup application guide, make a wide peace sign with a hand. Rotate 90 degrees towards your nose. Palms out, place the point of the “V” at your hairline and align with the corner of your eye and the bottom finger resting on the cheekbone. Focus color at or one finger below this area on the cheek, and at or above this area around the eyes. Apply a second thin layer on checks and blend lightly at edges as needed.

**Additional makeup tip: Bronzer makeup can also be applied to the sides of the nose to minimize width. And, a darker shade of blush applied under the cheekbones produces more definition.

Eyes and Lines: Unless you like the look or have the eyes for it, avoid harsh lines or the raccoon look, it makes the eyes look smaller and deeper set. Try a smoky colored eyeliner pencil, and smudge a bit if necessary. With liquid eyeliner, an option is to dot the eyeliner next to the eyelash base rather than create a solid line. For a different look, limit liquid eyeliner application to the top eyelid and/or the outer corners of the eyes. Smoky eye shadow applied above the eyelids and blended with the outer corners of the eyes also creates a desirable effect; a highlighted brow area enhances this effect.

**Additional makeup tip: To soften lines, lightly wipe the lid and brow area once or twice with a powder makeup brush dipped in light pink blush.

Lips: Most lips benefit from definition, even when lipstick is not generally used. For a natural but polished look, try a shade or two darker than your lip color, apply lip pencil, smudged lips a bit and use a little gloss or lipstick.

**Additional makeup tip: Apply a lighter lip color or gloss only to the center of lips to enhance a pouty look.

Powder: When Not to Shine – Apply a light dusting of translucent powder over your face to avoid shine and set makeup. Concentrate on the T-zone as necessary, and apply sparingly to lined or dry areas.

Eyebrows: Before applying makeup ensure that the eyebrows are properly shaped as they affect facial expression. For a guide, align a pencil vertically along the edge of nostril and inner corner of the eye. Do the same for the outer corner of the eye. This makes a good start and endpoint for the eyebrow. If the eyebrow arch needs help, align the pencil with the edge of the nostril and the outer edge of the iris to determine the highest point of the arch. Tweeze stray brows outside these areas and use an eyebrow pencil for even more definition. However, it is best to avoid significant tweezing just prior to applying makeup.

Miscellaneous:

Props to consider: Bringing along props is a great way to incorporate your personalities. If your into hiking and camping you could bring a tent, coffee mugs, small blankets, and s’mores to create a mini camp site.  If you like the idea of this, here are some great considerations.

– Bikes
– Skateboards
– Musical instruments
– Balloons
– Umbrellas
– Flowers

Final Thoughts: I hope you enjoyed this compilation of engagement session suggestions pertaining to look and style. Nate Creamer Photography is vested in capturing your truest form – we only hope that your consideration to these tips and tricks will enable you to elevate your keepsakes from beautiful to extraordinary. Always keep in mind the most important tip, be yourself and have fun!