Thursday, August 26, 2010

Engagement Shoot Preparations, Or Lack Therof

Yesterday, I was trying to find a night that worked for dinner plans with a girlfriend. After checking my calender, I could only offer her one of two dates: October 1 or 2. That's right, until early October, I am fully and completely booked. My job is in overdrive. My life is in overdrive. I don't have time for laundry, let alone the wedding planning items on my list. And so, despite all my best intentions, I am finding myself entirely unprepared for our engagement shoot this Sunday. Here I am, four days out., sans pretty dress, sans hairstyling options, and sans makeup. Oh, and sans giving a d*mn.

To be fair, I've never thought of the engagement shoot as a big deal. Aside from using those few hours to get to know your photographer and for them to get to know you, it seemed unimportant (Since our photographer, Kelly Prizel, is based on the East Coast, a get-to-know-you engagement shoot wasn't an option.) I don't love portraits, since I prefer my photos to have context (ooh! remember when we went hiking in Santa Ynez? Oh my gosh, that 80s rocker themed birthday party was a complete blast), which isn't really achieved during a photoshoot. And since we decided to use email save the dates (free, eco-friendly, and the easiest way to collect some important information) and we could give a fig about newspaper announcements, there's not really a media/product-related purpose to having official "engagement photos."

So why are we even bothering with engagement photos in the first place? It's a combination of factors. I have extreme anxiety about photography (memories of fights over family holiday photos still make me shudder because I hated having my picture taken, even then) and I thought it would be a good idea to work on that before the wedding. Also, we're excited to help a talented emerging artist friend get more photography experience. Because of that photo anxiety, I was actually looking forward to a laid-back, no expectation session with a friend. And I had planned to thoroughly prepare to thwart my anxiety with a pretty new dress (I don't have any summery dresses that fit, since losing some weight), a sleek blow-out, nice makeup, and healthy eating.

Instead, life happened.  A LOT of life happened, leaving me without time to find a flattering dress, without time to book an appointment at the Dry Bar for a blowout before they got fully booked, with way too much stress to bother eating well (my stress-diet over the last week has included copious amounts of lemon cake and cookies, to give you an idea of where I'm at), and with a lingering cold and the associated unfortunate skin. On the plus side, I already own some nice makeup. On the minus side, I'm still in the process of learning how to handle it all and I don't have time to really learn before Sunday.

So today, after the third phone call in which I managed to ADD eight things to my to-do list instead of crossing them off, I gave up. I'm letting go. I'll get as done-up as I do for a nice night out, and that will be good enough. I'll ignore those extra five pounds the same way I ignore them every day of my life. And I'm just going to have fun on Sunday, running around neighborhoods I love in downtown Los Angeles with my partner and a good friend. I'm going to take a day off to cavort, and the camera can do what it pleases. I'll be eating cupcakes at Babycakes LA and getting a drink on the outdoor patio at Banquette and running around the perimeter of the architecture joy that is the Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall. I will be having a fabulous Sunday with friends, and that's going to be enough for me.

So I'm not going to worry that this shoot won't look like the sorts of engagement sessions with props and costume changes that I've gotten used to seeing on blogs. Because that was never the point. I don't care about getting blogged. I don't care about using these photos for anything in particular. I care about having fun and helping a friend. And strangely, I'm suddenly betting that these photos will be just about perfect, or at least a whole lot more meaningful, relaxed, and more objectively "good" than if I run around Saturday looking for the perfect dress, trying to learn about smoky eye makeup and worried about practicing photogenic poses.

 
Personal photos from another time we ran around the Disney Concert Hall and downtown Los Angeles, taking photos with a point-and-shoot, and just generally having a blast. Yes, I think this Sunday's "engagement shoot" will be just about right.

20 comments:

  1. You know what? It's gonna be great. As long as you both are there, and happy, and in love, the pictures will be great. 1/2 of our engagement shoot was done at our house, no props except for our dog, and those were my favorite pictures of all. You don't need a vintage typewriter, oversized ballon, or a pinwheel to make a good picture - just some love and a photographer with a good eye! You two will be great!

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  2. YOu guys are going to have a blast, mostly because you're doing what you would be doing anyway. I don't know anyone who packs up a picnic with balloons and flowers and takes them out to an orange grove.
    As you know, we hired our photographer 3 weeks out, so our engagement shoot was just us running around Long Beach, where he's based. It had no meaning for us but he caught the emotion of our engagement. Nothing too staged, just us having fun. That's what it's about.

    http://throughmylenscoco.blogspot.com

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  3. I don't even know if I wore make-up to our engagement shoot! I didn't get a new dress and there were no props...Just the two of us on the beach, that's it...We thought of it as a way to celebrate and capture our happiness over being engaged, nothing more!
    And as you said, it's good to practice in front of the camera so you're not totally awkward for the actual wedding photos! Can't wait to see how yours turn out!

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  4. I totally agree with Runrgurl10—think of it as practice, and don't stress out about it too much. You guys look so happy and in love, it's going to be a total breeze!

    PS: Make sure you post those photos - can't wait to see them!

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  5. Seems kind of crazy that engagement shoot photos are categorized into either blog-worthy vs. non-blog-worthy.

    How about a 3rd category: "Let's take advantage of an opportunity to have photos taken of us without our usual person-with-the-longer-arm-holds-camera-and-one-of-our-heads-is-cut-out-of-the-shot".

    I had never even seen or heard of engagement photos before recently. But I like that people use them for different reasons, some of which you wrote about above. My hubby and I used ours as a way to make funny movie posters with us as the leading actors: Brian dressed up as a zombie and I was decked out in a 1950'outfit. We did a whole "I Fell In Love With A Teenage Zombie" thing (because we're weird like that). Bad makeup, so-so costumes, silly poses, and LOTS of fun our photographer friend! The photos are not for any blog (except my own); they're just for us to have and and laugh about.

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  6. It'll be great! AND it doesn't hurt that you guys are both gorgeous either! Funny stuff- your list of places sounds like our list of places (for our engagement shoot that never happened) We used to live above banquette and our first date involved a glass of wine (or 3) there! :)
    Can't wait to see the LOVE! :)

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  7. OOOH! How fun! I bet it will be a blast and the photos will turn out fabulously. And authentic, not too staged. :)We didn't get the chance to do engagement pics, and I am now hoping for some one-year-anniversary pics, just to have fun and get some good, "artsy" photos of us during this stage of life. Enjoy the day!!!

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  8. I think getting used to being photographed is a great reason for an engagement shoot. Practice helps with problems like feeling stiff and blinking at the wrong time and inadvertent goofy faces.

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  9. don't sweat not having new shit for the shoot -- i think these things are best when people look like and are "playing" themselves anyway. Plus, it will be a huge help with feeling comfortable with your man in front of the camera. And once you get the photos back , they will be in context -- of an awesome cupcakey afternoon with friends, like you said! what more could you want.

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  10. you guys will do just fine. Especially if your photographer helps you to interact while he/she is shooting. Our photog had us answer questions while she shot us -- one was, "what historical figure would Mike be" -- and the first thing that came to mind was Otto Von Bismarck, and he said I was would Boadicea -- and after we said it, we burst out laughing and our photog was able to get shots that were less portrait-y, and more in the moment.... even though we were technically posing for the camera. She had a bunch of other great tricks that helped us relax during the shoot. Another was telling us to jump to a different spot every time she said, "GO" -- and Mike and I kept bumping into each other and laughing and it was a blast -- and i almost completely forgot we were taking pictures. So I think your approach to this weekend's shoot is just right -- you will be out having some fun with friends. Just run around downtown telling jokes, laughing and being in love. the rest will come naturally then. have fun!!

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  11. I seriously cant wait to see! Just enjoy it and they'll be perfect :)

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  12. You know the same shit happened to me. I wore an old dress. I didn't blow my hair out straight and I just wore my every day makeup. We did bring one change of clothes because JCP suggested it and that was it. Nuttin' fancy.

    But here's the thing, it totally helps with the picture taking anxiety because I have it too. Not as bad as your sounds, but I definitely do NOT like my picture taken.

    We call my photographer the Little Ninja. He just tells you to hang out and be with each other and he disappears for a few minutes and then he's back and suggests moving elsewhere and then he does the same thing.

    I think that's why I don't mind him taking pics of me anymore - I know he's going to do my right. I'm sure yours will too. And the best thing about NOT having the blow out or the fancy new dress? You will have professional yet casual pictures of you and your honey. Your folks will LOVE you for it. Promise!

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  13. It sounds awesome. And even though you don't need it, sometimes Dry Bar will fit you in if you go hang out. I've stopped by and begged and left my cell number and then gone and drunk coffee in La Provence for a while. Although it sounds like your coffee drinking and waiting time is in short supply these days! I feel for you.

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  14. You're going to have so much fun! I have similar photo anxiety and being with a professional who makes you feel comfortable and natural makes all the difference. And then, you get awesome photos that look and feel like you.

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  15. I was in the same position (I was less busy, but I was lazy). I didn't know what to wear, I didn't buy any new makeup, and I didn't have my hair done. And I had an acne breakout (OF COURSE).

    But I went out there with my typical makeup, with my hair sorta-done, and with my then-future husband, and we had a ball. The pictures are fine. Better than fine. They are the memories of our engagement shoot (which, yes, would have been more interesting had there been some kind of context besides, well, we're getting married in 8 months or so).

    I think you'll have a blast doing this, and I think you'll find that you didn't need any of that extra stuff anyway ;)

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  16. But you are so cute! Oh pshaw to everything else:).

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  17. @#$% Blogger keeps eating my comments.

    We didn't get an engagement photo package as part of our photography package, but I've been wondering about adding something. Tony has this grimace he uses in lieu of an actual smile in photos, and a little practice might help so that my groom is not wearing WTF (thanks, Lyn) in our wedding photos.

    You don't need to worry about props and dresses and Special Hair. I like the pictures you posted.

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  18. i love these shots! can i just say i'm so glad you have pics of yourself on your blog!!!

    and you don't need a fancy camera to capture lovey dovey. :)

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  19. I _love_ that last picture! That's all you need!

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  20. For those who are on the fence about engagement photos, I say go for it if it works for your budget and schedule. It definitely made me less camera shy. We got our proofs during an exceptionally stressful time, and it was such a boost. There is so much joy, love and sheer fun captured in our pictures. They remind me how good we are for each other and that you can't fake that kind of emotion. I think our engagement photos are some of the prettiest photos I've ever seen of myself, and it's not about my hair, makeup or outfit. I'm normally very self-critical (aren't we all?), but seeing myself so happy with my partner makes me feel beautiful. I'm trying really hard not to sound cheesy here, but I think I failed!

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