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The Wedding Experience

Engagement Session Planning

Now that you’ve picked a date, a photographer and probably a venue as well, you can celebrate! Those are some of the toughest decisions in wedding planning and you can cross them off your list! Hooray!! Now on to the fun stuff…like your engagement session!

We try to have every client of ours go through an engagement session with us because we truly believe it is a VITAL part of the entire process. During your engagement session you’ll have the chance to get to know your photographer, experience how they shoot and handle posing and lighting. This session will make a HUGE impact on the wedding day. Your photographer will arrive on your wedding day already knowing how you two interact, what your best poses are and how to photograph you in a genuine way. What we will learn about you during your engagement session is invaluable. You will feel like such a pro on your big day because of the great practice you had during your engagement session and that’s how it should be!

When & Where


Your engagement session can be scheduled anytime before your wedding day. We normally suggest booking it at least 2-3 months in advance (although most couples opt to book upwards of a year) to avoid stress. Popular dates/months book early so availability might be limited. We start the engagement session 2 hours before sunset (although this may change depending on the location). This will give us the best light to capture the best photographs.

As you start to plan for your engagement shoot, you will need to start brainstorming about location ideas. We love it when couples pick a location that is special or sentimental to them in some way. If you ca’t think of anywhere specific, we can help you decide. As long as the light is great, we can make any location look awesome. Be sure to keep reading to find out more about outfit ideas and inspiration!



It’s always a little intimidating to have your picture taken…even if it’s just a photo on an iPhone that’s taken by a friend. We still want to look our best. We realize that preparing for your engagement session can be a little overwhelming. Here are some tips that will help make the engagement shoot prep little more manageable!


Pick 1 or 2 locations in close proximity. The more we travel to different locations, the less time we’ll have to take photos! We can make almost any location look great – after all, it’s all about the light anyway!


Don’t try to match your outfits – pick colors, styles and accessories that compliment and coordinate instead. Most patterns are actually ok – however graphics are not favorable for portraits. If you’re wearing a pattern, make sure it’s not overwhelming or distracting.


We suggest having 2 outfits: one casual and one dressier. This will give your shoot two different ‘looks.’ We recommend beginning with the more comfortable outfit and then switching to the dressier one when the light is best.

Arrive Early

We believe in the saying “‘early’ is on time and ‘on time’ is late.” The later you arrive, the less time we have to shoot…and nobody wants that! So make sure you give yourself enough time to get to our meeting spot and leave the stress behind.

Have Fun

You’re not a professional model – we know that – and we’re going to give you tips and tricks on the day to help make you look and feel awesome. Enjoy this time together and make a date out of it! 

Empty Pockets

Empty your pockets! Literally. You don’t want to have key chains or phones showing through your pockets (this is especially true for the guys)!


Make sure you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing. We want these photos to be as natural as possible – if you’re stiff or feeling uncomfortable, that will hinder our ability to make you look natural.


Professional hair & makeup (HMU) artists know what looks best for photographs. This is a great opportunity to have a trial hair and makeup done by a professional. We can recommend some if you’d like!

The Ring

Clean the ring and get a manicure! We’ll be focusing on that rock of yours, which means your fingers will get a lot of screen time.

Additional Info for Your Session


 We’re often asked if it’s OK if pets join the session – the answer is absolutely! We encourage you to bring along your pets but only for part of the session (try to schedule them at the beginning part if possible). It’s a good idea to have a friend or relative for that part of the session so they can take the animal home and we can continue shooting. 


Bringing a few props is ok but don’t go overboard. The session is supposed to be about connecting with your photographer and each other. If we’re running around with bags of props and stopping the session from flowing organically, it will really affect what the session was intending. 



 Showing affection in front of a stranger is sometimes hard but we hope you’ll open yourselves up to us. We want to see that spark, that chemistry that exists between the two of you. We’ll sometimes ask you to kiss or flirt with one another during your session – try your hardest to let loose and forget we’re even there. The results will be worth it!


As a reminder, the session lasts about 2 hours and will start roughly 2 hours before sunset. We break the session down into 2 halves, each lasting an hour.

– The First Hour –

The first 5-10 minutes of the session are spent giving you helpful pointers that will make you look even better in your photos. These are things like how to stand properly (it’s all about the posture!), where to put your hands, and a few others. It’s our hope that you’ll take these tips and practice them leading up to the wedding day.

The next 15-20 minutes are spent taking what we call “camera aware” photos. These are more traditional poses where you and your fiance are looking directly at the camera (hence the name). We’ll start with the two of you then do individual shots of each person. We’re not going to lie, this will probably be awkward at first but we promise you’ll be so much more comfortable by the end of the session.

Some might ask “do we really need to do these ‘camera aware’ photos?” and the answer is “yes!” You may think you don’t want these photos but 9 out of 10 times these photos are the ones you’ll end up printing and framing. Besides, if it’s not you who wants them, we can almost guarantee your parents/grandparents do!

Central Park Conservatory Garden Engagement Photos
Orient Point Engagement Photos
Manor Park Engagement Photos

The remaining 30 minutes or so will be spent getting creative and fun photos! Your photographer will be shooting a mixture of wide shots, tight shots, and everything in between. They’ll have you looking at each other, away from each other, at the camera, smiling, not smiling — remember that the point of the engagement shoot is not only to get great looking photos, but to see what works and what doesn’t. No two people photograph the same so this is a great practice run for your photographer!

– The Second Hour –

If you’ve brought a secondary outfit, now’s when we would have you change into it. If we’re near a restaurant or a bar, we’ll have you run in there to make the switch. If we’re out on a field and there’s no home base to change, you may want to consider bringing a large towel to cover yourself. If it’s not too far away, you can always use your car. And if you don’t feel comfortable with any of those options, instead of changing outfits you can always layer yourself and just remove the top layer or accessory to change the look!

The second hour will run identical to the first – shooting ‘camera aware’ photos in your new outfits and then finishing the session with creatives! If you opt to not do a second look, we’ll just continue shooting creatives.

central park engagement photos


– Here are some sample engagement photos we’ve taken to help you while you plan for your session – 


Once the session is over, we’ll schedule your in-studio review of the photos. We’ll schedule something far enough out to accomodate the editing time, which is typically 2 weeks. It’s this part of the process that is the most valuable and the reason we try to get every client to add an engagement session to their package. It’s your chance to critique the images – let us know what images you are drawn to and maybe which ones you’re not a fan of. This is all really helpful for the wedding day because it’s our goal to be extremely efficient the day of the event. Why waste our limited time shooting photos you’re not thrilled about.

Lastly, we’ll show you some of our wall art products and albums so you can see first hand the quality and craftsmanship. 

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The Wedding Experience



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    Michael Justin Studios is a full service, boutique wedding video and photography studio based in New Canaan, CT servicing NYC, Long Island, Westchester, Fairfield, New Jersey, and worldwide. 

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