The engagement session can a challenging step in your wedding planning process. Where to shoot? What to shoot? What to wear? It can be a stressful process, but the moments captured will be so worth it, and you’ll have a beautiful pictures to hold onto forever! 

engagement session info.

I blend a cinematographic & photo-journalistic approach with a fashion-editorial twist.  I bring creative inspiration from her love of cinema, books, and fashion magazines.  Together, these aesthetics yield some amazing unexpected and unique images.

I will guide you on how to “pose” without looking posed.  She will also get you to laugh, which is a surefire way to calm your nerves! 


I typically schedule the engagement session 6-8 months out from wedding date (depending on production schedule) and photograph the session, on Mondays (limited), Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays starting 2 hours prior to sunset. During wedding season, I have limited or no availability on weekends. 

I would like to begin shooting about 2 hours before sunset.  And shoot through twilight. So the session typically lasts anywhere between 45 -120 minutes  including commute time and depends on the collection you select. Check the following link for sunsetsunset calendar 


I like it when my bride and grooms select their location(s). I encourage you to find a spot that reflects your love and a place you’ll both feel comfortable. And please note that there is no such thing as an ‘ugly’ location....there is beauty everywhere....we just have to find it! I’ve shot pretty much in every location imaginable (dumpsters, septic tanks, graffiti walls, etc), so please know that the location doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty at every corner :) In selecting your locations, keep in mind the more we commute from place to place the less time we have to shoot. In addition, think about lighting when you select your location.  Too bright and/or direct sun earlier in the session can be harsh. So finding a local that is in the open shade of trees or building is great. However, for sunset and twilight photos we will want to be in the open to take advantage of the beautiful light. I can recommend places based on your vision if you would like. We can chat about it further if you would like.

A great place to start is ask yourselves would you like a rural or urban beach or indoor setting? 


Rural: East Bay settings with view of Mount Diablo and many beautiful oak trees even the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek is a creative alternative.

Urban: San Francisco: Pier 7; Belden Ally; Bix Ally; Palace of Fine Arts; Legian of Honor, Presidio

Beach: Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Sutro Baths

Indoor Architecture: San Francisco City Hall, library, loft, warehouse

hair & makeup:

I’m not saying you should do this AT ALL!! However, what I can say is that in my experience shooting sessions, girls want to feel pretty and confident...and sometimes spending a little extra time getting ready achieves just that. If you’d like recommendations, I’d be happy to pass a few a long who’ll take amazing care of you!

wardrobe dos & don'ts:

Please no matchy matchy.  If you don’t normally pick out matching outfits on a daily basis, don’t start with your photo session.  If you want to retain some cohesiveness without being matchy-matchy, set a color pallet and pick clothes from that with different textures and patterns.  Textures, patterns, and layers give interest to your shoot just as those same elements give interest in interior design.

Do stay in the same style group together.  If you’re going formal, you both need to be formal and likewise for casual.  If you’re going vintage, he should too.  Same era, same style. 

The attire should match the location.  Very rarely does a form fitted feminine business suit fit the style of a country road and golden sun filled field.  Of course, rules are meant to be broken, but only carefully with thought. Better to have bohemian in bohemian, and formal with formal.  If you’re going for a theme (say, a retro Pan-Am feel at an airstrip with some old Cessnas) your attire needs to not only match the era, but also the location.

Bring two outfits, or more if you’d like for me to help you choose between them. Flowy dresses for girls are always a big bonus- anything that shows movement will translate beautifully to photography.

Don’t put off shopping until the last minute and don't wear your clothes for the first time on your shoot.  You want to know what you can and can not do in them.  If you feel restricted, it might not be the best choice. We’ll be having fun during your shoot, and you might be running around, running through a field, or dancing in the street.

Your shoes will be shown in photos, so don’t forget about that style! I also like bare feet especially in summer. So ladies don't forget to paint those toesies.

Don’t leave tags on. The less time I spend photoshopping out stray tags, the sooner you will see your images. A photographers worst nightmare is hearing “but you can photoshop that, right?”  from their clients.

In addition, only bring props that you feel are intrinsic to you and that are interactive.  Props that are not able to be interacted with (like that statue) may not translate into photography as well as, say, a guitar.  Or the vintage car, or a swing, or a special quilt.  You get the idea- but the main objective is to photograph your connection.


wardrobe examples:

Typically there are 1-2 wardrobe changes for a total of 2-3 outfits: casual, smart casual and evening attire. But first and foremost, match your outfits to your surroundings.  

Wardrobe 1: Something casual

A pretty but casual look is a must for engagement shoots. Because you have to capture lifestyle, casual, just hanging out vibe.

Outfit 2: Smart Casual

Smart casual would be something you would wear on a date. Think heels or sexy boots a nice blouse, and cigarette pants or skinny jeans.

Wardrobe 3: Something with movement

When you’re picking outfits for an engagement shoot, think movement. How gorgeous are the pictures of girls with fabric blowing around their bodies in the wind? They are way gorgeous. Think angelic! 

Wardrobe 4: Evening Wear (if applicable to location)

This would be your chance to wear that adorable dress you’ve needed an occasion for.  Wear something that makes you feel sexy and confident for this dressy look. Think cinched waists! 

*Bonus Outfit:

Bring a peacoat or long coat and a scarf and boom you have one additional outfit without changing.

fashion bloggers 

check out my favorite fashion bloggers for lots of great fashion ideas.

Caitlyn | instagram @cmcoving | website

Alyson Haley | instagram @alyson_haley |  | website

Stephanie Sterjovski Jolly | instagram @stephsterjovski | website

Erica Hoida | instagram: @fashionedchicstyling | website

Christine Andrew | instagram @hellofashionblog | website

Julia Engel (Gal Meets Glam) | instagram @juliahengel | website

and for your guy...

Cody Andrew | instagram @codywestonandrew | website

other tips:

Trust your photographer, and trust the locations that you have selected.  Remember, it’s all about the light, the connection amongst you two, and lastly, the location.  A boring parking lot can be completely transformed once you step into the best light. 

De-stress beforehand, And don't worry I will guide you.

© 2016 Stacey Pentland Photography