Several months ago, our friend Chris, acoustic phonetician, photographer, audiophile, and all-around badass, generously offered to take engagement photos of us. At first, we declined because we figured that without a large wedding (and Save-the-Dates), we wouldn’t need any glammed-up-yet-casual photographs of ourselves. Moreover, I assumed that as the world’s least romantic couple, taking couples-based photos would be an uncomfortable and awkward experience.
I eventually changed my mind about this and decided that engagement photos would be good practice for wedding photography. Chris cut us an awesome deal (a new camera strap and Mexican dinner!), and we roughly planned to take photos when spring hit Champaign.
Unfortunately, Spring of a Thousand Changes happened, and we ran hard up against our date of exodus from the Midwest. This is how we ended up taking our engagement photos in the week that we moved, graduated from grad school, and packed for seven weeks on the road.
Did we buy new outfits? (No.) Did I pluck my eyebrows? (No.) How did my nails look? (Horrible.) Was I totally frazzled? (Yes.)
I cannot believe that I am the only person who approached engagement photos (and couples photography, in general) with trepidation! Does anyone else feel uncomfortable about the prospect of being romantic in front of a photographer? How do other couples look so natural and happy?
[Actually, the Internet will prove that some people are just really bad at taking romantic photos.]
When Chris requested that I send him photos of what I liked and disliked in “e-photography” styles, I basically nixed all romantic poses, including reclining, kissing, embracing, carrying, staring into each other eyes, smiling at each other, and holding hands. Suffice to say, he had his work cut out for him.
I’d like to tell you that taking engagement photos was not awkward, but I’d be lying. It was awkward. We’re not very affectionate, so the addition of two other people–even though they are our friends–made everything feel somewhat forced. Sometimes, I didn’t even want to make eye contact because I’d start to giggle or feel really uncomfortable. When he told us to talk to each other, I somehow ran out of things to say or wanted to gripe about things like the eight-thousand things still left unchecked on our to-do list (No good for engagement photos!).
This is not to say that I think Chris wasn’t an excellent photographer; we’re just bad at being romantic. He was super-professional and didn’t insist that we take photos that we weren’t comfortable with. He basically just let us goof around as ourselves for most of the time and suggested some even cooler shots that we wouldn’t have thought of. He even had a handkerchief on hand when Harrison sliced open his hand on a particularly vengeful tree branch in the U of I arboretum.
And, in the end, his photos look reallllllly good! Within twelve hours, he had edited our photos–no cheesy vignettes or edge-softening. The changes aren’t even noticeable. The photos just look really nice.
Yes, taking engagement photos was a little awkward. At least, it was for us. We’re certainly not styled to perfection, by any means. But we have a collection of colorful photographs that capture us looking happy and honestly like ourselves in one of the most stressful weeks of our lives. And as a bonus, we got to hang out with Chris for a few hours, which was a rare treat in a time of dissertations and job applications.
So, would I take engagement photos again? No, probably not.
Am I glad we did it? Fo’ sho’ yes!
Thank you so much, Chris! We wouldn’t take engagement photos again UNLESS they were with you. You are a great friend, and we will miss you terribly. Best of luck and know that whenever we watch “Inglorious Basterds,” we will think of you.
[Check out more of Chris’ work here.]
And without further ado, photos! (Click to enlarge.)
How do you feel about engagement photos? Did you take them, and what was it like? Are you planning on taking them?