As a professional New Zealand wedding photographer, I have captured well over 300 weddings around New Zealand and overseas. I would say that less than 5% of my wedding clients would have done engagement photoshoots with me. So I think the question in a way, I have just answered the questions above. However, this is from my personal experience, and the way I approach wedding photography and the brides and grooms. Every New Zealand photographers are different, so I will try to argue the pros and cons against the need for wedding engagement photography.
Why you SHOULD do engagement photoshoots?
While most enjoy would love to have good images of ourselves, the majority of us do hate being in front of the camera, trying to strike that pose with the perfect natural smile. For couples to be married, love is in the air and happiness is everywhere. Sure they can goof around and enjoy a good laugh. The moment a camera shows up, they get terrified. For the girls, they worry about the double chin, the wrong angles, the wrong side of the face, the dress, the unflattery poses, the wrinkles, and the list goes on. For the guys, and especially the rural blokes who basically just as relax as one could be, they just have no idea what to do or how to behave with a photographer. And being told what to do and waiting for instructions are the last things on their mind.
Beside having the chance to celebrate the actual engagement, most couples want engagement photos as an opportunity to practice and get used to the camera, as well as the wedding photographer and to develop a relationship that will carry on throughout the wedding day. As you can imagine, your wedding photographer will be the vendor whom you will spend the most time with on your wedding day. Being able to share a laugh or two is definitely the best way to be relax and to be yourself. My philosophy as a wedding photographer has always been that if I can provide the most fun memories for my wedding brides and grooms, they will always love photos no matter what.
Wedding photography is one of the biggest wedding cost in the budget, and of course the only physical things that you have left after the wedding celebration has long finished. For many clients, spending a little bit more for the engagement photos in order to have that piece of mind is totally worth it. For wedding photographers, the photoshoot would also give them a good idea on how to approach the wedding day, and style the day to suit the clients. Thus, the benefit goes both way. This is why many wedding photography packages do include engagement photos as part of the deal.
Why you DON’T NEED to do engagement photoshoots?
Given the reasons above, you might be asking exactly this question as to why I don’t offer engagement photoshoots as part of my wedding photography packages? I guess this is just a personal approach that has been adopted by many other New Zealand photographers also. Wedding photography is very much so a personal experience, and this starts from the first initial enquiry from the clients. They may have heard me from others, or seen me in action. They would have been through my website, read my descriptions and looked through my wedding images. All of these little steps would have given them a pretty good indication as to the type of person I am and how I view wedding photography. If my clients do go ahead and book me as their wedding photographer, it is because they want similar experience and similar style of wedding images. Thus, the relationship and trust formed are already pretty well established, even before the big day.
On the day, during the getting ready in the morning with both the boys and the girls, this provides an excellent opportunity for everyone to have the chance to mingle and have a feel for each other. I am lucky that I do enjoy mingling with people and have a good laugh. By the time the ceremony and bridal shoots come along, it always feel like one big happy family having one big happy party. This is what weddings are all about ain’t it?
So do you recommend engagement photos?
If your wedding budget does allow it, why not? It is always fun to be photographed and have beautiful images and celebrate the milestones. For my brides, its a 10+ years journey just to get the ring, so it can be a pretty big deal. Use the opportunity to remind yourself that you have hired a great photographer to document your love story, and learn to leave all the technical stuff to them, and just concentrate on that special person opposite you, and just simply have fun, and lots of it. You would also have beautiful images to use for your wedding invites. so thats a bonus.