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I'm Tori, a portrait and wedding photographer based in central New Jersey. Thank you for visiting my little corner of the internet; I'm so happy you're here. Come check out the full galleries from recent weddings and portrait sessions, behind the scenes, personal posts, helpful tips and more. Please feel free to take a look, and let me know if there is anything special you'd love to see in a future post. I hope to hear from you soon!

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Preparing For Your Upcoming Engagement Session

Tori Kelner Photography Engagement SessionOkay, so first things first, I know that this is very likely the first time you’ve ever been in front of a camera in this way, AND that’s totally okay!! Since you’ve probably never done anything like this before, I definitely don’t want you to feel like you’re going into this experience blindly! You’re probably most nervous about looking or feeling awkward in front of the camera, right? Well here’s the thing, that’s MY JOB! 😉 

There is no need to worry about looking awkward – I have got you covered! I know exactly how to eliminate those nerves and capture all the best angles so that all you have to do is relax and have fun with your love! That being said though, there are a bunch of helpful ways that you can prepare to make the experience all-around AMAZING! I want you to love these images for years and years to come, and the only way to do that is to feel like you made all the decisions that felt right for you two!

Tori Kelner Photography Engagement Session

Set the Scene

Having a vision for your engagement session, whether that’s a style, theme, or overall vibe, is SUPER important in creating a consistent and cohesive session! Implementing this will make everything feel REAL rather than forced, awkward, or confusing. Plus, trying to tie together a location, outfits, hair, makeup, and props doesn’t have to be such a daunting task if you have an overall vision established for your session. Now you might be thinking, “Well how do I figure that out?” It’s really simple, just think about who YOU are, not what you’ve seen other people do.

If you KNOW that you want your session to feel playful, wild, and adventurous, choosing a simple garden in a park as your setting might not get that wind-blowing-in-your-hair with an epic view kind of look that you want. Instead, you’re going to want to consider locations like open fields at sunset or a hike up to a stunning lookout point! Ultimately, you want somewhere that there is space to run, jump, play, and just have fun! The best way to find locations like this is to look for those off-the-beaten-path places, rather than your local permitted park!

Maybe you’d rather your session feel super intimate, romantic, and passionate! Consider an in-home session where you’re rocking a pair of booty shorts and an off-the-shoulder sweater while making coffee and pancakes together! If you’re all about that date night kind of vibe, let’s head out to your go-to outdoor bar spot downtown to grab drinks and tacos! Your outfits might have an edgy, chic vibe for this kind of setting as opposed to the more casual, laid-back options of an in-home session. Remember to think about the FEELING and MOOD that you want for your session and your location, outfit choices, and props will unfold from there!

Even if you can’t seem to think of a place to have your engagement session,  if you can figure out the mood or vibe that you want, I can help you find a location that will be the perfect fit!

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2. Choosing Outfits That Make Sense!

The key to creating a session that feels natural is to make sure that it all makes sense! If it’s the dead of winter and you’re at the boardwalk overlooking the beach, it’s probably not the right place to wear a skin-tight mini skirt and heels! Let’s say we’re shooting in your bedroom, maybe we’ll skip the leather jacket and booties for a sweet and cozy option. The point being here, is that your location and setting should guide your outfit choices!

Don’t make yourself freeze or sweat just for the photos; wear outfits that still have the VIBE that you want, whether it’s boho, chic, edgy, or whatever you’re going for, but make sure that whatever you are wearing is appropriate for the season and weather conditions. Cold doesn’t look as cute if you’re genuinely FROZEN; however, it does look cute if you’re cozy and bundled up in an adorable sweater, scarf, boots, and mittens!

This same rule completely applies when thinking about what props to bring to your session! If you bring a bouquet of wildflowers and you’re wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, they might not mesh too well. Although if you pair a springy, flowy sundress and a boho hat with those florals, they could look gorgeous together! If you were envisioning some cozy winter blanket photos, but your session is in the middle of July, consider switching that bulky cold-weather blanket for a light, fringed or patterned beach blanket! You’ll get a similar effect that makes sense with the season! 

The most important thing about choosing your outfits for the session is that you feel like yourself, with a little hint of spice! I want you to look at these images and feel natural and comfy! While our fave pair of sweatpants or leggings and a t-shirt may be super comfy, this probably isn’t the right occasion to be wearing just anything. I definitely want you to stick to your style, but I also want you to be inspired to look your best! All you boho babes, now is the time to stop into Free People, Anthro, or Madewell while you may typically rock those Target deals (sameee)! Spruce up your outfit while sticking to your vibes! If you love a good jean and t-shirt outfit, pick your freshest jeans with some cute booties and a fun top with some color or pattern! You can even add a cute hat or denim jacket to spice it up!

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3. Hair & Makeup!

I find that for some reason, people seem to downplay their makeup for shoots so they don’t look like they’re over-doing it, but I would recommend doing the opposite! The camera has a way of muting and downplaying makeup already, so it is usually best to go a little heavier than you typically would so that it actually shows up in your images!

Getting professional hair and makeup done, even if it’s just a blowout with loose curls and natural glow makeup, will be a TOTAL game-changer for your session! Plus, you will likely only do your engagement session once, so what better time to pamper yourself then this! Spend the day relaxing, getting all dolled up, and feel super confident for your session because you deserve it!

I would also suggest trying to coordinate your wedding makeup trial with your makeup artist for the same day as your session so you can get the most bang for your buck – your trial is done and you look glam for your sesh! Doing this lets you make the most out of your trial by having it documented and you can see how it looks and decide if you like it in photos!

Worried that you won’t look like yourself? Remember to choose a look that fits the vibe! I’ve had ladies get their makeup done even when we’re hiking for their session! It just adds a bit of pop to these special photos! You always have the option to ask your makeup artist for a natural look, even for an in-home session, and the best part is, they will know how to do it in a way that looks best for the camera!

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4. Light, Light, Lightttt!

It’s pretty freaking impressive what photographers can do with light, but to ensure that you get the most magical images, natural light will always be my personal fave! I plan all of my session timing based on the light, which means we will either be shooting about two hours before sunset or two hours after sunrise, to get the BEST golden glow! Shooting in the middle of the day isn’t ideal because the sun is harsh and super bright, so if we can snag that golden hour, that is always the best choice!

Having two full hours allows plenty of time for outfit changes, exploring your location, driving to new locations, and just time to relax and not feel rushed! Beginning on time also ensures that we don’t lose time from your session since we can’t shoot once it gets too dark out.

My biggest tip for ensuring you arrive on time is to plan to leave EXTRA early, this way in the event that you hit traffic, need to stop for gas, or you are delayed in any way, you still have that buffer time to save the day! Plus, running late causes stress, tension, and less time for photos as we are chasing the sun for light, which we definitely want to avoid! I love starting sessions a little earlier so we can chat and hang out a bit before shooting!  It’s also great because it helps you two relax a bit before diving in!

Since I always want you to have the BEST experience, feel confident in the environment, and just love these images so much, there’s always a chance we may choose to reschedule your session due to rain or really bad weather!

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5. Loosen Up Beforehand!

I want you to come to your session feeling as relaxed and in sync as possible! Whatever that means for you, whether it’s yoga, a cuddle sesh, or grabbing drinks beforehand, treat yourself! This is such an exciting time and I don’t want this part of the process to make you nervous or stressed! Look at it like a few hours of just kissing and loving each other, basically the most mushy date night EVER, and you truly can’t go wrong!

Remember to keep an open mind, go with the flow, and all the wild or crazy things I ask you to do! Laugh A LOT, kiss even more, and flirt like you did when you first met!! Don’t worry at all about where to put your hands, feet, face, etc. because I will guide you through everything! Your only job is to be in love, hold each other close, be all in, and have a blast with me! Sound good?

And while you’re at it, why not turn this into the beginning of a date night together! You’re already going to be all dolled up, so plan a romantic dinner or head to your favorite date spot after your session to keep the lovin’ going!

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I hope these help you feel prepared, confident, and excited for your engagement session! Any questions?! I’m here for you! Comment below or email me at torikelner@gmail.com!

Preparing For Your Upcoming Engagement Session

March 20, 2020

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