Contemplating Engagement Photography

When I started my first go around as a photographer I promised myself I would not shoot weddings or porn. Mostly for the same reason. They pay well, lack creativity and you can be very easily pigeonholed into that genre. I only broke that promise one and a half times. I shot a wedding for a friend that turned bad when the photo processor ruined the film. The half was a shoot involving a tattoo shop, a tattoo covered stripper and another stripper in a nurses outfit. It got out of hand.

Times have changed. Terry Richardson has made a mainstream name for himself in fashion after starting in porn and wedding photography has moved away from the traditional to a very creative hybrid of photojournalism, fashion and fine art. I've seen some amazingly creative photographers during a search for my own wedding.

I have agreed to do another wedding for a friend this April and am looking forward to it in large part due to the influence of the next generation of innovative wedding photographers. People like Fer Juaristi, Jasmine Star and Benj Haisch have caught my attention and I've been reading their blogs to prepare for the upcoming event. I still don't think I am interested in making wedding photography an offering because of some personal reasons and I think there's just too much pressure in that environment. But I am starting to get interested in a related field.

Before I got engaged, I never realized there were engagement shoots. Laurel was telling me we needed to do one. I like being behind the lens, not in front of it so I was definitely dragging my feet. We had a non-photographer friend shoot them with me setting up the shots and coaching her. I also did all the post-production. To my surprise, the engagement session was a lot of fun. Laurel and I had a great time and got some fantastic pictures.

It's hard not to get playful when vamping it up for these sessions.

I recently did and engagement session with my friends Katie and Tyler and enjoyed it very much. The shoot was fun and I enjoyed seeing the playful and affectionate side of both of them come out. There is an easy-going attitude for an engagement shoot that is the opposite of a wedding day. It's just about the couple connecting rather than all the pressure of the "special day" with family, friends, pomp and ceremony, not to mention the pressure of everything being "perfect" for one day only.

Katie and Tyler didn't have a serious moment the whole shoot..

So now I am thinking of doing more engagement session work. I'm just not sure about the feasibility of only doing engagement photos. The interesting thing about it is most wedding photographers try to add the engagement session on the the package after they have booked the wedding (or they sell it as part of a larger package from the beginning). How would I market myself as just an engagement photographer? How would I turn down couple who are happy with my work and want me to photograph their wedding as well? Why would a couple hire two different photographers when one would do both events in a package deal? Those are the questions that immediately come to mind. The easy answer would be become so good at it that couples would want me under any terms I set (that's easy, right?).

Obviously, I am not going to limit myself to one type of photography so I wouldn't have to worry about making a living only in this one niche. So if these sessions come along infrequently, it won't be a big deal. The bottom line is that I get some happiness and satisfaction beyond the image and that counts for a lot. Every type of photography I want to do is related. They are some form of portraiture. I think there is a larger journey in this for me. More of that will come out as this blog progresses.

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