Your Photographer Decision Matters
There’s nothing more fun than an engagement photo adventure around New York City—especially when the most incredible and creative photographer, Cengiz, from Adagion Studio, is photographing you.
Brad and I knew immediately upon getting engaged that we desired timeless photos of us as a couple around the city we call home.
Best of all, we shared a common vision as to what we wanted from our engagement photo experience—our story told through truly artistic eyes.
In short, we wanted pictures that would make us feel and look amazing.
So the question then became how to identify and hire the right photographer for us.
Our approach was really quite simple: we consulted with friends whose judgment we trusted and experience we could leverage.
I remember the incredible engagement photos I’d seen on the Facebook pages of two of my friends, Skye and Natalie—both of whom hired Cengiz for their respective engagement sessions.
So our next step was to reach out to Cengiz to set up an interview.
Truth be told, we already knew we wanted him for our engagement pictures, but after chatting with him, we were even more convinced.
He is genuine, creative, and edgy.Our first tip is to not underestimate that your perfect photographer may only be a friend or the proverbial mouse-click away.
Social media allows for convenient and instant access to honest feedback. Do ask your friends about their experience to get a sense of what worked for them and, importantly, what didn’t.Our second tip is to lock in your photographer and engagement session date as soon as possible.
We were looking for a pretty day in October, but were well aware of how popular that time of the year can be around the New York City.
Keep in mind that if your photographer is good enough for you, she’s likely also good enough for other couples.
Identify Locations That Are Meaningful To You
We simply couldn’t wait to start creating fun photos that would serve us as a personal memory while kicking-off our wedding planning process in all earnest.
Hey, and what a great way to come away with the perfect save-the-date photo, right?
Engagement photo shoots are an absolutely brilliant opportunity to be playful as a couple. And when you’re having fun, it’s actually hard to get bad photos.
That said, the locations in which you are asked to interact with one another on camera are important. They were to us, and they probably should be to you.
So, as part of the planning process for our engagement session, we compiled a host of potential locations with special significance to us—so to say, our favorite spots around New York City.
We knew that the pretty sandstone arches of Central Park’s venerable Bethesda Terrace would create a stunning contrast with the Park’s vibrant fall foliage while providing an enchanting first setting for our 5-hour engagement adventure.
The Terrace would still be private around the time of sunrise and ever-so distinctive through its Versailles-inspired architecture and colorful ceiling tiles.
Looking back, there was something about Central Park that simply energized us to play, thereby setting the tone for the remainder of what would be an epic experience.
And here are some other locations that worked well for us: Times Square, the Meatpacking District and the Frying Pan Boat near Pier 66 on the West Side Highway.
Interestingly, the more we explored West Side Highway, the more we realized just what a jewel the location is to get fabulous photos.
Let Your Personalities Shine Through With Your Choice of Stylish Outfits & Creative Props
Step two in our planning process? Outfit selection.
Above all, we wanted our attire to reflect our style and personalities.
The idea was to introduce as much variety as possible with a different combination of outfits—ideally one for each setting of our engagement session.
I smartly enlisted my friend, Candice, to help us go through our closets and select combinations that would be distinctive, but also make us feel comfortable.
As you might imagine, I loved the job of selecting suitable foot wear.
Overall, we came up with four fabulous attire combinations.
Stylish clothes were merely half the equation; the other part was to add distinctive props to help energize our shoot and distract us from undesirable camera awareness.
Please do not underestimate the importance of creative props and the time it takes to come up with them.
Our approach centered on identifying props that would enhance the fun and make our imagery unique.
To that end, we combed through a host of available online bridal resources and also drew from Cengiz’s extensive experience.
- One tasty Champagne (for the pre-sunrise photos)
- 3 over-sized 36-inch white balloons (for Central Park)
- Glitter (for blowing kisses on West Side Highway)
- A small bottle “rocket” filled with confetti
- Toy dog (for our stylized proposal picture in Central Park)
Prepare, Practice, Pose
I guess it’s almost cliché to say, “be super-prepared for your photo shoot.”
But thorough preparation extends well beyond the selection of your attire, props, and locations, because it will allow you to get more net photography coverage and enhance the flow of the session.
Remember that an engagement shoot is not a rehearsal for your wedding day.
Instead, it’s a unique opportunity to connect on a more private level than is possible on your Big Day while achieving photos that are distinctively different and complementary to what you can expect from your wedding.
So how then should you focus your preparations?
Here’s what helped us: we wanted to develop awareness of how our interaction looked on film.
So we experimented with multiple poses and made subtle refinements.
It can be as simple as a deep gaze at each other, an evocative look over the shoulder, or a signature dip.
We played around with moving our hands up and down each other’s body.
A Nifty Narrative Of Our Adventure
Believe it or not, we started our shoot even before sunrise at the 72nd and 5th Avenue entrance to Central Park.
It was still pretty dark and took a little scouting for the perfect place to pop our bubbly Champagne. Just the thought of being playful with each other in the darkness was tantalizing …
We sought out the perfect spot: one that would at once …
- Be secluded and dark enough for our SUV’s headlight beams to back-light us
- Offer soft and flattering background illumination from the colorful traffic lights and street lanterns
- Keep our chauffeur and us safe from the nearby speeding cars
The Champagne popping was a tremendous success!
Next up was our favorite part of the day: a deep-dive into Central Park with all its magnificent bridges, lakes, and, of course, the famous Terrace arches adjacent to the Bethesda Fountain (north end of the Mall).
It doesn’t get much more splendid than stealing tasty kisses against the backdrop of New York’s iconic Skyline.
We felt so at ease, which allowed us to connect naturally and make our photos look 100% real.
All other locations were great in their own right, but perhaps the most memorable moment of our shoot occurred when we were about to imitate the famous Sailor Kiss under the vibrant graffiti sailor kiss in Chelsea.
Just at that moment, a carefree UPS driver pulled up with his delivery truck … right in front of our graffiti wall.
He just wouldn’t move. We asked him nicely, but to no avail.
So as soon as the driver was out of sight to deliver a package, we quickly jumped on the front seat of his truck for … naughty photos.
This brings me to my final tip: you will almost certainly experience a few delicious photo opportunities (like the one above with the UPS driver) that are nearly impossible to plan for. Yet, it’s exactly these pictures that balance out your overall gallery.
So be spontaneous and on the lookout for locations in between locations.
Rebecca & Brad’s Story
Brad and I were huge fans of Michael Jackson and always wished we had experienced him live in concert.
So one evening, Brad surprised me with tickets to see Who’s Bad, the longest running Michael Jackson tribute band. It was a romantic evening I’ll never forget. Times Square. We fell deeply in love. The rest is history.
And here’s a special shout-out to Julie for bringing us together.
So, Now What?
We’d be delighted to hear from you—which of these tips do you find most helpful, and which ones make an immediate difference in your own preparations?
And if you’ve already been part of an engagement photo shoot of your own, what’s your #1 advice for coming away with photos that stand the test of time?
Please share your favorite tips and tricks now in our comments section below.
And above all, thank you for your generous support and for making our blog one of the most inspirational places for happy brides.
Also—do you know anybody who might enjoy learning about this love story?
Rebecca and Brad told you how they did it. Now you can show them how to do it by sending them this article.