So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 4
ALL ABOUT ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY
Engagement photography can be a matter that potential clients and I may discuss quite early into a consultation for wedding photography.
An engagement shoot typically costs13% – 15% of a selected wedding photography package (see Part 3 for average costs). For some photographers, engagement work is included in certain or all packages. Other photographers leave it as a completely separate package that can be added if a client prefers.
Can you have access to your engagement portrait before the wedding so that you can display it at the wedding? The short answer is, yes. These days, a “no” is rare. Specify this during consultation so that it can be worked into your quote.
Nine-point-five times out of ten, an engagement shoot will be carried out on a date before the wedding day, so please carefully consider Parts 2 and 3 of this blog series.
For Modes of Flight clients who want to display their engagement picture at their wedding, it is highly advised that clients arrange for engagement photography to be done at least one full week prior to the actual wedding for sufficient post-production, framing and delivery time.
Why wouldn’t you want to show it off? You may have gone through who knows what in your life to finally find the one person in this whole wide world who can make you feel smart, strong, desirable, wanted, needed and protected all at once.
Maybe you’ve listened to a hundred people insist that it’s unrealistic to expect one man or woman to dedicate themselves to only one other person forever. Something deep inside; nevertheless, convinces you that you just don’t subscribe to their point of view. You simply have no need to share your life with anyone else but one person, and that special person feels exactly the same way about you.
Originality and Creativity
You’ve probably thought of, heard of or seen how some guys and gals get their friends or a videographer to record their actual proposal – totally unrehearsed, and upload the videos to YouTube. This has also become part of still photography wedding bookings. All emotional reactions are real; nothing contrived at all. If the betrothal ends in a “yes”, the resulting shots will be some of the best memories you’ve ever had recorded live. It still requires the groom or bride to consult with a photographer/videographer ahead of time, and take quite a risk.
How should you dress? Most people in North America dress casually for an engagement shoot but some do get all gussied up. It all works. Feel free.
It’s excellent for you to ask questions of your prospective photographer, just as a photographer ought to be asking you questions beyond the finance and business aspects.
Whether your preferred package may or may not include an engagement session, in a consultation. I want to hear your story. Knowing this helps me to get a sense of the personalities involved, and conceive how I’m going to photograph your wedding if you choose me.
While details are important, and you may have to break out of your shyness, you don’t have to share everything. For example, when I proposed to my wife, I was wearing nothing but a smile and towel. That’s all I have to say about that.
Yes, this is business but for the sake of creativity I want to emotively connect with the romantic and affectionate chemistry between the pair I’ll be working for. If you’re hiring a photographer to tell your love story through imagery, you should share even the backstory.
Do you want to be creative with your engagement shoot? Then, you should express yourself to your satisfaction. Costumes and regalia that you already have can work well aesthetically without overburdening your photography budget. Location is excellent to think about. Most of my clients leave this up to me but I like it when they have direct input for places to shoot. It feels more collaborative. Maybe they can easily get access to the roof of a skyscraper that I can’t. Set it up, and I’ll make you look like you’re on top of the world!
Can you see the possibilities?
Engagement parties are usually attached to big weddings. Events in which the number of invites of the big day is easily expected to exceed 400, although I have shot parties of weddings with a little more than 100 invites. When this is foreseeable, a party is held sometime before the actual wedding to celebrate the engagement of a couple and bring future wedding guests together. It may very well be the first real introduction of the parents, siblings and other family members of the wedding couple. Make sure there are less potential issues down the road when the knot is to be tied.
If you want to record your engagement party. A consultation is a great time to make certain that your photographer will know the date, location and length of the party and who to photograph.
This Bridal/Engagement Boudoir Photography Thing
Alright. Now that we’re all warmed up . . .
These days most people know what boudoir photography is; a fascinating mix of pin-up, glamour, portrait, fashion, erotic and sometimes fetish photography. A little less familiar is its sibling boudoir engagement photography, otherwise known as bridal boudoir, bride boudoir and engagement boudoir photography. It’s done in the same style as ordinary boudoir but surrounding a wedding engagement theme. It is still not as common as conventional engagement photography but it is growing in popularity in, at least, North America and Europe.
Does terminology really make a difference between bridal boudoir photography and engagement boudoir photography? I think most photographers will tell you that they’re exactly the same thing. Some others will still insist that the technical difference is that bridal is all about the girl, while engagement may include the groom.
Fair enough, except that while the term bridal works for lesbian pairs but engagement seems kind of like a blah label for male couples. If you prefer, try to neutralize it by calling it wedding boudoir (good luck with that).
You can certainly call it a tradition where brides are concerned. It’s mainly women with a grand sense of adventure and self-assuredness who seek to have engagement boudoir photography done. This type of photography is extremely rare when guys, gay or straight, get in front of the lens but even then, it’s a possibility. One has to be willing to try something nontraditional and beyond the comfort zone of most others.
Any kind of boudoir photography is for the girl or guy who feels saturated with sex appeal. He or she wants to show it off in this particular pop-cultured way. The final outcome is usually a special wedding gift to the future mate (I’ll talk about morning after photography another time).
The aim is to create images that depict romance, intimacy and seduction all at the same time. Models can be nude but do not have to be. In fact, total or partial nudity is rare in this artistic genre. Lingerie, costumes, bed linens, tapestries, fashion accents, fetish gear and plain clothes tend to be frequent features.
Wedding boudoir is certainly quite popular but I personally do not get many requests to do it. If asked, would I? Yes, I would but I usually leave it up to the couple consulting me to request it. Those truly interested in it are bold enough to open up the discourse on it. Other clients are likely too embarrassed, and I never want them to feel that way.
Engagement boudoir doesn’t mean that a couple has to give up their more conventional engagement photography either. One type can be proudly displayed at a wedding or in the home in a way for everyone to see while the other is likely to be shown off under much more restricted conditions.
It’s a very special and creative way of expressing one’s desire for another.
In spite of the engagement connotation, a wedding boudoir shoot can just as easily be executed sometime before or after a wedding. I offer it as a separate shoot, with its own price tag and agreement, to be added to a customized wedding photography package. This way, it’s easy to deduct the cost from a package if a client decides to not go through with it. This is totally understandable.
It can be a downright creepy and frightening experience acting sexually seductive for a photographer you barely know.
What will not happen with me is a hardcore pornography shoot. It’s understandable that most people still don’t know the difference between erotica (a.k.a.: “curiosa”) and hardcore. To many, it’s all hardcore and offensive. I won’t get into the details here but in short, erotica, which boudoir is associated with, actually is recognized as fine art in the Western art world. Hardcore is only recognized as one of the lowest forms of commercial art. Whether actual or simulated, and it’s usually actual, hardcore mainly differs from erotica due to its featuring explicit sexual imagery. This is not characteristic of erotica.
Pursuing engagement boudoir photography takes time, and will likely affect your budget so think about Parts 2 and 3 regarding when to search and book, and average pricing for a professional wedding photographer. If you’re really daring, consider what I said about “student and noob shooters”. I bid you good luck if you’re considering the prospects of “DIY and/or relying on guests”.
Apart from time, costs can rise if you aren’t prepared to do your own hair, makeup and wardrobe if you want a certain look. In such circumstances, I will subcontract a make-up artist and anyone else required, and defer those costs to my client. Maintaining client modesty and privacy is extremely important to me (despite the growing popularity of boudoir, people still undeservedly lose their careers, damage deep personal relationships and develop awful reputations just by starring in this type of imagery) but discounts are possible if I am able to use such images from a shoot for self-promotion.