Before you shoot an engagement session (or wedding), make sure you know your couple so you can give them photos that make sense to who they are, and that they LOVE! I used to show up to an engagement session not knowing ANYTHING about the people I was about to shoot. I basically just hoped I could read their personalities on the spot, ask them what they wanted on the spot, and use my skills to give them photos they loved in a crunch. BUT WHYYYYY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF? My client experience used to have a lot of holes in it. Like not setting their expectations realistically, not communicating what they can expect throughout the experience, not having a thorough contract that left things up for debate later, delivering quantity instead of quality and expecting them to cull through 1500+ photos themselves, not having a standard workflow ready to go, not having a planning guide for them... THE LIST GOES ON. SO MANY HOLES. But creating questionnaires for them has been the BEST hole filler ever. It gets you on the same page, it helps you understand what they want, and it helps you strategize beforehand how to nail each session! Here are 5 questions you have to ask before shooting your couples! Let me preface this with: I am pretty much always refining the questions I'm asking. Sometimes I take one off, and then later put it back on. This isn't my entire questionnaire, but it's a place for you to start!
1. Describe your personality in 5 words. This is like the cliff notes of understanding who you're about to meet. It helps you know if you should be anal about fixing every loose hair, or if you should let 'em fly and embrace it. It tells you if your couple is going to want to get to an intimate place during their session, or if they just want to have fun the whole time. You need to ask something like this! 2. What are your favorite things to do on the weekend? What is the best date you've been on together? I LOVE this question because it gives me ideas of what we can do during their session. If they love paddle boarding, tell them to bring their paddle board! If they love sipping wine, dude, head to a vineyard! Help give them a vision for a custom engagement session that is meaningful and them.
3. What do you want your photos to say about you? If you don't ask this question, you could totally miss the point of why they hired you in the first place. If they want to look totally in love, make sure you cultivate intimate moments for them. If they want to look like they have fun together, help them have fun together. If they want the photos to show how adventurous they are, go on an adventure. Don't fake it. Give them an experience that creates the kind of photos they want. 4. Is there anything you want to incorporate in your engagement session? Give them ideas! Their dog, their favorite food, their favorite activity to do together. Help them personalize this thing so their photos don't look exactly like your last clients' photos. 5. Is there anything you're nervous or worried about? A question like this will help you avoid awkwardness. Like that one time I asked if the groom could give the bride a piggyback ride (during the engagement session) and he had an injured back and couldn't carry her safely. He felt terrible that he had to say no. She felt terrible that he couldn't carry her. I felt terrible for putting them in that position. Everyone felt terrible. Other things they might mention is that they blink a lot, are insecure about their chin, don't feel comfortable in front of the camera. All of these things are better to know beforehand so you are informed, have a plan, and can reassure them that you have their back.
Put in the work ahead of time to get to know your couples, and the photos that you get will be soooo worth it! Based in good ol' Omaha, Nebraska, we are Jack + Chelsea Archer, a husband and wife wedding photography team. We love to tease each other, explore nature, drink coffee, and raise kind, adorable tiny people (Liam, Nora, and Zoe). We also love being wedding photographers. We are so thrilled to be the Best of Omaha Wedding Photographers 3 years in a row.
We believe in marriage and we love to celebrate the beginning with our couples. We believe that photography shouldn't just be stiff and manufactured. We are all about the candids and capturing the connection between our couples and their family and friends. That means knowing and loving each of our clients so we know exactly how to photograph them. The best photos are when you're just authentically having fun and enjoying each other, doing whatever you do.