Engagement Session Guide



So, congratulations!!!! You’re not only getting married but you also selected J. Michael Imagery to partner with you to create some amazing engagement images. I have decided to complete a short guide for you to ensure you get the best images possible for your engagement session!


Wardrobe is always one of the hardest things to decide on. What’s key here is not just what to wear but how what you wears fits your personality and blends with the venue you have selected. I know the status quo is to get into your Sundays best to take images and if that’s your vibe then let’s do it! However, if you’re a little more reserved and relaxed let’s not feel pressure to be anything but yourself.

Wardrobe generally will fall into two categories:

Formal – This generally includes suits, cocktail dresses, ball gowns, and the like. This is what I call the classic engagement session styling that we have grown to know as the norm. 

Source: J.Michael Imagery

Casual – Everything but the above ! No seriously, anything considered “business casual” and below. I’m talking chinos, button downs, turtlenecks, sundresses, rompers, etc. This is a little less traditional and fits clients who aren’t the dressy dressy makeup type.

Source: J.Michael Imagery

After that, we have to discuss colors. Please avoid the urge to match to the tee. If you really want to, I am happy and willing to photograph that for you, but your images will be so much more visually interesting and appealing by mixing your colors. Now I don’t mean mixing colors that clash, but mixing colors that compliment each other. The most basic theory of this is embodied in the colour wheel. Here you want to match colors near each other or directly opposite each other. That is a simple approach to this. Colors opposite are complimentary colors (i.e., the look good together) and colors near are analogous colors (i.e., they look good together).

My preference is to use this as a starting point but I love earth tone colour palettes. I just believe that earth tones tend to look good on everyone and generally will work with most outdoor and indoor venues.  Just choose any colors from the palette because they all work wonderfully together.

Find clothing that not only fit you well but you are comfortable wearing. This will make you more relaxed during the session and make your final images more genuine and unique to you. If you guys are in joggers and a white tee all the time, then let’s work with something in that realm. Conversely if you guys enjoy ball season then let’s dress to the nines. I promise you meaningful and beautiful images can be captured regardless. We are there to capture the story of your connection and that goes beyond the wardrobe in a sense. The more comfortable you are, the easier the entire photography session will be.


When it comes to your engagement session there are plethora of options ranging from classic studio work to on-location venues.  Here are some pros and cons and key differences between going with a studio/in door location versus and outdoor venue.

Studio or Indoor Location

Pros – No issues with weather though BPL may rain on our parade (); Timing can be more flexible; Focus on the couple exclusively.

Cons – Lack of context or depth in shots; Not many different backgrounds/looks can be achieved; Typically, more costly to rent indoor locations.

Outdoor Location / Venue

Pros – Most locations tend to be free with budget friendly options available; Depth in the images; Greater background variety so more scope for clothing changes to get a completely new vibe.

Cons – Weather can be a factor; Less leeway for late starts as natural lighting is important; Depending on the location, may not be as private if a public venue is used.

No location is perfect but they all offer unique benefits and above all it is possible to get great images either way! My advice is always to pick a venue which you guys enjoy and try to not do what the crowd does. Everyone doesn’t need a luxurious hotel or resort grounds to create beautiful and meaningful images. Step 1 to getting unique images is not doing what you saw someone else do.

If your idea of a good time is snuggled up on the couch watching a movie, lets create that vibe and shoot those images for your session. These will be more meaningful and unique to you and your specific story.


What is the best time for a session? I really believe this only applies to outdoor venues. The reason being, indoor session can be lit with flashes and strobes to achieve the desired look pretty much at any time so its less critical here. Outdoor session on the other hand should be scheduled closer to sunset and sunrise (if you can get up).

The reason is very simple, this is the best time to get flattering light on a client. The higher the sun is in the sky the deeper and harsher shadows will be. In addition, it will limit the directions to shoot because no one wants pictures squinting because the sun is in their eyes. Lastly, working the Bahamas, the sun can get HOT! This is not a very comfortable situation for an engagement session, just trust me on this one.

Can we create beautiful images at earlier times, of course! But the best time, is really about the ease of creating beautiful light. As a result, planning for around sunrise or sunset is absolutely ideal.


Now we have made it to the best part of the guide; Matching wardrobe choices and venues. This is all opinion based, but I believe certain venues just lend themselves to pairing with certain clothing. Visually it looks more cohesive:

  • Formal Wear – Works best for studio, indoor venues, Hotel/Resort Grounds, Historic Monuments and Buildings
  • Casual Wear – Beaches, foliage/forest, homes, outdoor urban scene

Now I know there are exceptions to the rule. Can certain beaches give you great images of your formally dressed attire? I don’t doubt it. But logically, is formal wear what you would expect to a beach? The key here, is that the wardrobe, venue, and time must all blend together seamlessly to create unique and realistic images.

The key point here, is that certain wardrobe choices are accentuated by certain venues. Being mindful of that will help your images to be the best that they can be.

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