Wondering if you should take engagement photos? There are many advantages! First, it’s a great way to get to know your photographer and warm up to posing for portraits. Think of it as a practice run for the big day! Second, you will have tons of beautiful photos to use for all of your wedding planning. From Save the Dates to invitations to guest sign-in books / canvases to table numbering, the photos from your engagement session can be used in all kinds of ways! Third, it can be the perfect way to shake things up before the big day. For instance, use a totally different type of location than your wedding venue so you’ll have two completely unique galleries.
Choosing a Location
There are so many gorgeous locations throughout Southern California! As an LA native, I know about all of the popular spots as well as some hidden gems. For a rustic feel, my first suggestion is usually Malibu Creek State Park. For the beach, it’s normally El Matador State Beach. There are several other magical locations all over Los Angeles: Culver City, Marina del Rey, Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Griffith Park, and Pasadena. My favorite spots are lush with nature and full of color & texture. Let’s explore somewhere together and make some beautiful photos!
There are SO many options all over Los Angeles! I always love to hear about areas that are important to you — those always make a wonderful backdrop! Some of my other favorite local spots are Solstice Canyon, Placerita Canyon, Griffith Park, Franklin Canyon, Temescal Canyon, Eaton Canyon, and the Los Angeles Arboretum. Basically, lots of parks & canyons, hehe. And every single one of those spots is whimsical and dreamy in its own way. Mt. Baldy or the Angeles National Forest is perfect for a more adventurous couple seeking some epic mountain views. There are some cool spots in the heart of the city, too! From central DTLA to the arts district, there are plenty of unique urban settings.
Hair & Makeup
Your engagement session can be the perfect time for your hair & makeup trial. Kill two birds with one stone, and then you can see how everything looks on camera. For a little twist, you can do a more casual hairstyle specifically for your engagement photos (and keep the big one for your wedding day). If you’re doing your hair & makeup yourself, I suggest keeping things natural & flattering. Most makeup artists will apply a bit of extra makeup all around, as it tends to look less intense in photos as it does in person. A little extra eye & lip makeup especially makes a difference!
Outfits & What to Wear
I always recommend wearing something that you’re comfortable in. The last thing you want is to feel weird — that’s just no good! Long, flowy dresses and neutral colors go with any location. If you’d like, you can wear a couple of different outfits. Perhaps one casual and one formal? One that’s cuter and one that’s dressier? Of course, just sticking to one look is totally fine, too! Just keep in mind that ideally, you want complementary colors for both of your wardrobe. Shades of blue and floral prints look fabulous anywhere. And always bring a comfy pair of shoes for walking around!
Posing & Being Awkward
Not sure how to pose and what to do with your hands? No worries, I got you! My style is to first get everyone in place with a flattering & natural pose. From there, I engage you with fun conversation & little prompts to get candid reactions flowing. Then everything evolves in a beautifully organic way and we shoot away! Some of my favorite types of photos are “action” shots: walking, dancing, and twirling!
Using Nature & Sunset
Nature makes for a truly stunning backdrop. I absolutely love the contrast of skin against green; it’s so cinematic and flattering. Add in some magic hour sunlight — that amazing golden glow right before sunset — and you’ve got a recipe for some GORGEOUS photos! For an extra special touch, plan for your engagement session during Spring: everything will be extra green and all of the wildflowers will be blooming!
Adventure Engagement Session
Want to go somewhere deep in nature? There are SO many awesome spots within a short drive of Los Angeles. Vasquez Rocks, the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica Mountains, Mt. Baldy, Lake Arrowhead… The list goes on & on! An adventurous engagement session mixes epic nature with your couples’ photos. We can hike, climb, and explore together while taking beautiful portraits!
Want some photos that look like they’re out of a magazine? Perhaps with a GQ, Vogue, or Vanity Fair feel? If so, a studio engagement session may be perfect for you! Instead of braving the crowds & elements outside, we can do the entire shoot within the comfort of my home studio. I have a variety of backdrops, props, and furniture pieces. We can mix & match lighting styles; I especially love a moody artistic portrait.
Trying to put together a Pinterest board of favorite photos? I’d love to see! It can also be useful to break down the poses that you like in your head. Study how their arms are placed, where their feet are grounded, and how they’ve turned in to each other. And/or just send me the photos and I’ll do all of that for you. 😉
Samantha Turchin is a creative Los Angeles wedding, portrait, and lifestyle photographer. Based in the San Fernando Valley, she specializes in elegant, classic, and artistic photography. With a vibrant, dreamy, and romantic aesthetic, she creates unique photos that are both modern and timeless. Engagement | Elopement | Maternity | Family