Hampshire Wedding Photography – How do engagement sessions work?


Toby communicates to Louise only through the way he kisses her. No words allowed!

Toby communicates to Louise only through the way he kisses her. No words allowed!

I met a new couple last weekend and got the best question from the groom, Tom. While leafing through a sample of my reception book filled with engagement session images, he said, “How do you get these people looking like this? I mean…do you just say ‘be romantic!’ or what?”

So on the way home I was thinking about this and thinking about how often when I show couples their photos, they say, “wow these are actually really great!” I always wonder what they thought they were going to be like. Horrible? A huge disappointment? I’ve been infront of the camera a fair few times myself. And I can totally get their drift. You hire a photographer based on these amazing images of other people and when it’s your turn, everything can feel so…so very normal. During the session you’re thinking ‘is the magic happening? Are they getting anything good?’

Graham tells Georgie the story of how they got engaged in the third person.

Graham tells Georgie the story of how they got engaged.

It’s natural to think that what you see on my website is just the best of the best. That I hold back and only show you gold. I mean, we’re primed to be untrusting of these things. You order from a menu the most gorgeous ice cream sundae known to man and get brought a bowl of whipped cream with something hidden underneath. And maybe a cherry. But the truth is, this is everything. These very people, themselves, were probably wondering if anything magical was happening during their session, too. Just like you may be when you have yours. And many of them seem surprised when they see the results. As if they never imagined that they could also be like these impassioned couples they’ve seen plastered all over my website.

It’s there. The passion is there. But everyday life gets in the way. It’s my job to shove all that aside for you for an hour or two and give you the chance to look at eachother. Really look. And lavish your love on one another. At a session last week, the bride said, “we haven’t kissed this much since we first got together!”. One couple once told me that after their session, they went home and had the best, longest most relaxing nap of their lives. Sure…. *wink wink*

So how does this happen, then? Most of it is a secret because I want you to have something to look forward to. But I’ll tell you what I told groom Tom last weekend…

Christian and Karen play 'crash'

Christian and Karen play ‘crash’

I use a method called Beloved. You can learn more about that here. Beloved is about drawing a person -or people- into an open place emotionally and giving them a way to cut through the slog of every day life to make a connection with one another. I use it with families, siblings, couples, even single portrait sessions. This happens through the avenue of what we call ‘experiential invites’. I invite you into an experience and then stand back and photograph what happens. This means that when you look at your photos later on, even years later, you can be instantly zoomed back into that place where you were when it happened. Like a time capsule, you’ll remember the sound of crunching leaves, the smell of the forest, the feeling in your loved one’s arms. I, myself, can think of any given engagement session -no matter how long ago- and be zoomed back. I can remember the glorious warmth of the setting sun from Richard and Maria’s Richmond Park engagement session. I can remember what it was like to zone out crowds of heaving people to focus in on Will and Miriam during their Brighton engagement session. And quite possibly one of my favourite moments – the cripy air and light patter of rain on the forest above during Christian and Karen’s Micheldever Woods session.

You know how you’ll never forget where you were and what you were doing (maybe even what you were wearing, what you were eating) during some of the most momentous events in history? This is because in those moments, your senses are piqued. You’re alive and aware of the fragility of life or the beauty of humanity. The Beloved method brings couples into this place. This open place of buzzing senses and connectedness that means you’ll never forget that moment. This isn’t just photography. Beloved changes lives. Come see for yourself – I’d love to take you on that journey.


The Author & Artist

I'm Elizabeth, the photographer behind Gracie May Photography. I've been shooting since my first wedding in 2008 on a borrowed camera.

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