est. 2008

why plan an engagement session?

Mary Dougherty

posted by

ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories





Browse by Category




You’re engaged and the date is set so it’s not just a “yes!” and the most beautiful ring you have worn but a countdown to a real date. You probably had a few hurdles to get to this point in the planning, and it feels good to move on to more of the fun stuff. You shop for shoes in between breaks, think about what weekend you might get your bride’s side together for a weekend of fun and find a few too many ideas you resonate with on pinterest. They are all so good!!

As you discovered there is a lot you know (or know you don’t want) and a lot you don’t know. Engagement photos might be on the list of things you aren’t so sure about, but if you are taking them, let me assure you it’s one of the best decisions I think you could make. The benefit on your wedding day will be exponential, so let me explain why.

black-white-stylish-engagement-photoThe purpose of an engagement session could be broken down into three parts :

building trust

Since I place a high value on getting to know my couples and interacting with them on a personal and not just professional level, an engagement session is where we first really get to spend some time together. The reason I love this interaction is because I have seen the difference it makes when a wedding comes – everyone feels much more at ease with both inviting me in to this life changing moment and knowing that I will capture what is necessary on the day. Trust is such a huge part of photographing anyone, and I know that when a couple really trusts me I will be able to do a better job making those split decisions that are a necessary part of any wedding day to capture what I need.


getting comfortable with being photographed

On the opposite side, many couples don’t exactly trust themselves to take good pictures. In fact, I would say that about myself! I don’t feel like I can step in front of any camera and look good, know what to do or end up liking what we capture. I think the same is true for a lot of other people. When you aren’t used to being photographed, or you have seen a lot of terrible pictures of yourself from an iphone, you become a lot more unsure of what will happen. Eliminating that anxiety is essential to a better wedding experience, and of course enhances it when you both trust your photographer and trust yourself. new-york-film-engagement-mary-dougherty12The majority of the time one person in the relationship is not looking forward to the photos/doesn’t like having their picture taken/thinks it might be terrible. Usually there is some preconceived notion about having to stand in one place holding a pinwheel looking stupid the whole time. Proving that taking pictures is not that certainly helps, so all of those fears about what will happen aren’t stored up until the wedding and released day

capturing this specific time in your lives

Finally, this time – this fleeting moment when you are engaged and the world is full of possibility and wonder and transition – is a very specific moment in your lives. It’s likely that you have never taken professional photos together as a couple, and documenting the two of you in a more natural state than your wedding day is something I think you will value looking back on. Engagement sessions are flexible so that you can bring your dog who is more like family, capture images in the place you met and currently call home or find a way to go on the date you’ve dreamed of. Walking away with gorgeous images from your life is a way to tell your story not just as you prepare for the wedding, but as you build a future and a family together.colorado-springs-film-engagement01

So, with the purpose of an engagement session clearly set out, these are the goals we aim for :

  • have a sense of what you should do in front of the camera (when working with me)
  • feel confident that you will take good pictures
  • trust having me work closely with you on your wedding day

What do you think? Did I leave anything out? Do you agree and think it’s beneficial? Join the conversation in the comments or on instagram at @mary.dougherty

Comments Off on why plan an engagement session?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse convallis tellus ut venenatis interdum. Integer ut elit sollicitudin, aliquam orci a.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse convallis tellus ut venenatis interdum. Integer ut elit sollicitudin, aliquam orci ac, malesuada.

A classic Cape Cod wedding never goes out of style, especially at the Kittansett Club.

A Chautauqua wedding is stunning no matter the size. Karen and Walker pivoted to host the most amazing micro wedding at this historic American retreat.

Looking for a Catskills wedding venue? Browse Jaclyn and Scott’s photos to see what makes a Full Moon Resort wedding so special.