Tips for Looking Your Best for Your Engagement Session

So you're planning your engagement photos, and you don't know where to start.  There's a good chance you haven't had professional photos taken since your high school senior pictures, and an even better chance that you've never had photos taken with your fiance.  What do we wear? Where do we go? What should we order? When do we do these?  I get it -- this is unchartered territory.  But I will happily walk you through every step of the process and make sure you have the best experience.  Here are some do's and don'ts to get the wheels turning. :)

Get a manicure. Your nails will be showing in lots of images, so make sure they aren't chipped or in need of a fresh coat of polish.  Don't go crazy with them, but make sure they look like "you."

Have your ring cleaned -- make that diamond all sparkly! And if you're reading this and putting the cart just a bit before the horse, head over to Blue Nile to learn more about engagement rings. Their site has a lot of great information about engagement ring styles, diamonds (the 4 c's), gemstones, and sizing.


Choose locations that are meaningful to you. Maybe you frequent a local coffee shop together. Do you take your dog for walks in a park near your home? What hobbies do you enjoy together?  Where did you have your first date?  Is there a special place where you got engaged? Perhaps you want to somehow incorporate an aspect of the wedding like your colors. Talk with your photographer to brainstorm ideas and come up with a couple good locations. Typically my engagement sessions include 2 locations, and often 1 outfit change.


Consider adding a furry friend to your session. Of course, you'll want to clear this with your photographer first, but I don't know a lot of photographers who would turn down a four-legged companion for part of an engagement session!


Decide what all you will use the images from your session for. Are you sending out save-the-dates to your guests?  Do you need new art for your walls?  Are you a fan of coffee table albums?  Maybe you want to purchase digital versions of your images to keep in your archive?  These are all great options -- be sure to discuss your wants and needs with your photographer.  Holly Birch Photography offers all of these and more!

Speaking of save-the-dates, it is customary to send them out 4-8 months in advance, depending on whether a destination or local wedding.  My editing turnaround time for engagement photos is roughly 2 weeks, but photographers sometimes take longer. Take that into account when planning your design & mailing timelines.


If you don't need your engagement photos for any particular reason, the timing is totally up to you!  A mini or full engagement session is included with each of my wedding collections, and you may use those anytime before the wedding, or up to 3 months following the wedding (just in case you don't get to it beforehand!).


Pay attention to your shoes! There's nothing worse than having an impeccably dressed couple with one of them wearing a pair of neon tennis shoes that don't fit the vibe!  Some photos will be full length so dress well from head to toe.

Now for the DON'Ts:

Don't wear large or loud patterns. In Illini country it's common for people to wear orange, but orange generally does not photograph well.  Small prints and/or textures are good however -- denim, lace, ruffles, etc, as well as accessories or layers -- jewelry, scarves, cute shoes.

Don't wear large logos or brands (a small chest logo on a men's shirt is fine!)


Don't wear something that you'll be totally uncomfortable in -- the point is to look like yourself and showcase your relationship in a natural way. Cute shoes can be the exception here though!

Don't stress about posing -- if you've hired a photographer for their posing skills, let them take the reins here! Their job is to coach you into poses with verbal cues and interactive phrases so you don't have to worry about how you look.


There you have it!  I hope you picked up some tips here and are confident going into your engagement session.  Definitely don't stress about it, and be confident in your hired photographer.  Enjoy your time being engaged and planning your wedding! :)

Jenn + Joe | Neighborhood engagement session in downtown Champaign

Jenn + Joe are a super sweet couple that fit together so perfectly. Just from the short amount of time I've spent with them at their wedding consultation and now at their engagement session, I can see that they complement each other so well. We had an absolutely perfect evening to do their session before this oppressive heat hit, and with a mild breeze.  Jenn + Joe live near downtown Champaign, so we decided on the first half of their session in the downtown district with brick walls and such, and then we headed over to West Side Park for the 2nd half.  West Side Park is within walking distance to their place, so they pass through it often.  The locations added a certain personal touch to the session, which I think adds so much meaning to the images.  I'm looking forward to their wedding in July!  Stay tuned for that blog post!

To book your own engagement session or wedding, contact Holly for availability and pricing!

Graduation + engagement photos | U of I campus portraits

I really love when people choose to document their lives through photographs.  Graduation weekend at the University of Illinois is always a hectic time in the Champaign area, but we were able to fit in 2 sessions ahead of all the rush of the ceremonies for these two new graduates.  Though both are from Taiwan, Judy + Adonis met in Champaign and fell in love. They got engaged along the way, and had a small civil wedding ceremony a few months ago. They plan to have a big celebration back home in Taiwan next year.  But for now, they wanted to document their time here in Champaign, so we ventured around campus and hit some of their favorite spots and the places that mean the most to them individually and as a couple.  

Adonis spent most of his time on the Engineering Quad, so we started out there. I love the leading lines that the Electrical and Computer Engineering building offers as a backdrop for Adonis's portrait. The back side of Grainger Engineering Library also worked well since it was super sunny that day on the entire north quad.

Then after a quick change, we did a few engagement-type photos there since they never really got a chance to do engagement or wedding photos before.  We also headed over to Judy's apartment building where we incorporated a couple of Judy's favorite Illini props. :)

We went on to visit other important campus landmarks like the Hallene Gateway, the main Quad, the Alma Mater, the Union, Foellinger, and the intersection of Wright and Green streets.

With all the places we needed to go, we ended up splitting their session into two parts on two consecutive nights.  It worked out well because Judy studied mostly at the Education building and main library, so we went to a different part of campus for her portion. Her parents again met up with us there, and we also got a few headshots of Judy that she can now use as she enters the workforce.

I'd love to document an important time in your life. I specialize in weddings, engagements, elopements, fresh 48 (hospital newborn), and milestone sessions. Hit the "book me" button top right and let's start a conversation and find out if we could work together.