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Golden fields are my love language. I don’t think Terri knew this when she booked her anniversary session, but she I think she does now since I probably said “oh my gosh, this is so pretty!” about one hundred times. I love to no end how anniversary sessions are becoming more popular. Why not celebrate your first year together? I believe the honeymoon phase is such a sweet season that should be cherished at every opportunity, so I was thrilled when Terrie contacted me. These photos have everything I love to see in photos: gorgeous light, lots of love, and a beautiful marriage. Congrats to Terrie and Jeremy on one year!

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I had been itching to do a maternity session that while very natural, had a touch of preppy to it. Luckily, I came across the beautiful Jamie who was the perfect model for this! I love how these photos are both airy and little bit bold because of the pinks and blacks. But visuals and colors aside, this momma has a heart of gold and you can just see the sparkle in her eyes– pregnancy is gorgeous on this woman. I don’t know Jamie very well, but I know she’s going to make an amazing mother. Thank you for stepping in front of my camera, Jamie! I cherish these images.

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This shoot is currently one of my favorites. Shot off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, these photos capture my heart’s love for the romance the Smoky Mountains exude. I grew up visiting these mountains, and when I return it still feels the same. The cold, dewy air that floats in billows of fog in the morning around green mountain peaks, the regular rain showers at five o’clock, and the artistic communities you can find lingering around the restaurants, galleries, and farmers markets. I remember once when I was ten years old we were leaving North Carolina to go back home – and I started crying. I didn’t want to leave. And typically, I still feel that same way every time.

This shoot was difficult to plan being out-of-state. There were multiple times when I almost cancelled. Now that I have these images though, I’m so glad I stuck with it. I have to give a huge thank you to Amanda from Amanda Blair by Design as she was my more-than-willing model. Her quiet confidence throughout the shoot calmed me and allowed me to slow down and really capture what I was envisioning.

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I had literally just started working on ideas for this post when I got an email from one of my brides with an upcoming e-session. In essence, she wrote the frequently asked question that I hope to answer today: what do I wear to my engagement session?

Engagement sessions are important because they allow me to get to know my bride and groom-to-be. It’s during this session that I see how the couple interacts, as well as how comfortable they are in front of the camera. Also, this is the time when my clients will get the chance to experience how I shoot, pose, and interact with them while taking their photos. Without this session, the wedding day pictures could possibly feel a little more awkward for the both of us, just because we’re still getting to know each other! This is why engagement sessions are key. That, and because you need these photos to tell everyone your exciting news: you’re getting hitched!

Engagement sessions are relaxed and very fun. I want to create an experience that my bride and groom-to-be can really enjoy during the session and realize that they need to take this same kind of time during their wedding day to stop, enjoy, have fun; slowing down and taking the time to relax and get comfortable in front of the camera together is often the recipe for getting those amazing shots.

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I think picking outfits for an engagement session seems easy until you start laying all the options out. Then, suddenly, you feel like you have too many options but also need to go buy some more options, too. You want something that makes you look great, but also something that defines you as a couple. That’s a tall order to fill. So, after gathering some inspiration images of engagement session outfits via Pinterest, I wrote out my best tips to keep in mind when dressing for your engagement session!

Choose a Theme or a Color Palette: Maybe this sounds a little intense, but I use this concept every time I’m planning a styled session and it really helps me to figure out a vision for what I’m wanting. Having a theme or color palette in mind can really help you narrow down what kind of outfit elements you should be looking for or trying to match up. For example, if your engagement session is happening soon this fall, maybe you want to go with something rustic that reflects you and your fiancé’s love of camping. You could consider this your “theme” and go from there, picking out a color palette of natural, earthy colors like browns, oranges, and greens. Or, a more general theme might be something as simple as the word “elegant.” From there, you could just look through your closet and try to find items that seem to fit this theme. When looking for a color palette to match your outfits to, try to just pick just two to three colors from that palette to work with. You don’t want to overwhelm the scenery with your clothing choices.

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Incorporate Neutrals: In my opinion, you need to have some neutrals in your outfits. Whether it’s your guy’s light tan slacks or his cream colored shirt or your long, alabaster tulle skirt, there’s got to be something. I’ll get technical about why I say this. In art, they teach you about something called “whitespace.” Also known as negative space, this is the part of the artwork that is unmarked. Rather than seen as just boring, blank space, this part of the artwork is an element of the design– it is actually what enables all of the other parts of the art to exist at all. (Technical art talk over). Think of your outfits like a canvas. You’ve gotta have the whitespace so that colors can pop and so people don’t get distracted by the color wheel on your body.

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Pops of Color and Pattern: While you do want to have some of those neutrals in your outfit, don’t be afraid of a pop of color. The key word here is “pop;” while you don’t want to overwhelm the scene with various bright colors, sometimes having a nice bold red makes an image stand out. Likewise, throwing in a pattern can also look awesome matched with a more subdued, plain piece of clothing. My personal favorites are a striped shirt, or a floral pattern. The unique, feathery pattern in this example image really makes this image eye-catching.

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Casual vs. Formal: If you know you like to get fancy, an engagement session is a great time to do so! Go ahead and pick out your nicest dress and heels or suit. If you’re not about that life, it’s okay to dress down. Just don’t get too cozy. These are images that you will be sharing on Facebook, with family and friends, and probably at your wedding. You want to look nice! A great option if you’re not sure if you want to go formal or casual is to do both! I see couples do this a lot. We’ll start out with the more formal option and then change into the casual option so that they have different image choices. You never know what you might love best. The number one rule though when considering whether you want to go formal or casual is to make sure you and you’re fiancé are dressing on the same level of formality. If you’re all decked out but he’s in tennis shoes, it might look a little off!

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Consider Layering: Adding layers is a great way to add interest to your outfit. And, the best part is that with layers, you can always remove something like a cardigan or outer shirt and have another look. Layering items can vary from button up shirts, jackets, scarves, cardigans, to suit jackets. I would even consider hats a kind of layering element! You don’t want to “bulk up” your outfit or put on items that don’t work with each other, but instead, find items that pair well together and can look cohesive with your outfit without being necessary for every single shot.

Side note for the guys: my wonderful, future photo shoot men, I know that finding the perfect outfit for you is just as important as finding your woman’s! If there is one tip I can suggest for you to look especially dapper, it’s this one! Skip the tennis shoes or baseball cap and opt for something more formal. If you’re more of a casual guy, try a v-neck with nice jeans, but then bring a jacket in case we need to spice things up. Beanies are always fun if you’re a little more rugged, but most importantly, wear nice shoes! And don’t be afraid to look on Pinterest for inspiration… Or just let your lady pick your outfit for you. 😉

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Coordinating Colors: Often, when couples think about matching outfits, they tend to think about wearing the same color but in a different form of clothing. The problem with this is that it can look a little too obvious, which can then possibly become distracting depending on how rich of a color we’re talking. Sometimes it looks awesome, and sometimes it’s just too much. When in doubt, bring a second option to your shoot and let the photographer help you decide. If you feel like you want some coordination to your outfits as a couple, consider making it something small. For example, if your fiancé is wearing a blue shirt, maybe you could slip on a bracelet or some shoes that is near the same shade. However, realize that you don’t actually have to wear any matching colors at all. Colors that are complimentary to each other (think about those palettes) work just as well. Also, please never ever both wear plaid. Please.

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Keep It Simple: I know after all of these tips that maybe none of this process sounds simple, but keep in mind that the biggest engagement outfit mistake is simply that the couples’ outfits are distracting. Like, you can’t even focus on their happiness and love because all you see is the craziness adorning their bodies! By choosing each element of your outfit with some thoughtfulness, you won’t feel like you’re bringing your whole closet to the shoot, and more than likely, your images will translate better because they will be focused on you, not as much what you’re wearing (even though that part is still important, too!).

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Choose What Gives You Confidence: You should look like you in these photos. If you like a little boho, throw in that flower crown. If a tie makes you feel dapper, wear one. If heels make you act a little more “I’ve got this,” then break out the stilettos or whatever. Wear something that makes you feel special and stand tall that day, because you are the beautiful centerpiece of this session!

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Make it Timeless: These photos are once in a lifetime. Hopefully, you will be showing these images to your children and grandchildren someday. Who knows, maybe they will be in frames at your 50th anniversary! With this in mind, choose something that is timeless. Trends are fun and can make for a great image, but be sure to include an outfit that you know you will love in thirty years just as much as you do now.

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I hope this helps in your venture in finding your perfect engagement session outfits! Have fun and enjoy the process!

xoxo,

Shelby

With a maternity session, you have an extra accessory you don’t have at other shoots: a baby bump! If you’ve been following along with Shea Brianne Photography, you know that I have been working on a Motherhood Project and shooting lots of baby bumps lately! If you haven’t gotten to check it out, go to my Facebook Page for a peek!

This post is meant for my mothers-to-be or preggo ladies out there considering doing a maternity session! Dressing for a maternity session can feel a lot different than picking out at outfit for any other session because you want choose something that is flattering, but also something that shows off your bump. I have noticed with the Motherhood Project that the biggest questions or concerns that my mommas have are about clothing options for their session. So, I decided to break it all down in this post!

Honestly, an outfit can sometimes make or break a session in my opinion. I have shot a couple of maternity sessions where the weather was lovely and the momma was all dolled up, but the outfit was just a little distracting from really displaying the heart of this season of the parents’ life. If you have a maternity session coming up, here are my tips to consider when picking out your outfit!

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When clients ask me for outfit advice for any session, I always start by suggesting some neutral options. I know to many people neutrals probably seem boring, but consider these colors as a blank canvas. Wearing an un-distracting color such as white, grey, cream– or even a lighter shade of maybe blue, pink, or purple– allows people to truly see YOU and not just your outfit. These colors usually compliment every skin tone and can even make your location/background look more like a gorgeous pop of color behind you (see the image on the right). You could take this color and go formal or casual; maybe something like image on the far left is too frilly for you– you could totally just do a long, comfy grey T-shirt dress, wrap your arms in a creamy-colored knit cardigan, and then layer on some gold or silver necklaces! Perfectly stylish, but still using those neutral shades to let your natural beauty be the focal point. Not sure where to look to find something like this? You really don’t have to break the bank if you don’t own something like this. My favorite spots to look are Forever 21 (especially for maxi dresses like these – you can find them super cheap!) or, if you have a larger budget, try Lulus or ASOS.

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Not everyone is a die-hard romantic like me, I know. But there is a time and a place for everything and personally, I think the time and place for a feminine outfit like these examples is a maternity session. When I am shooting a maternity session, there is something (no matter what the outfit looks like) so strongly feminine about the images. Nothing displays your womanhood more than becoming a mother. I truly believe that. So when a woman with child slips on a dress that she is confidently displaying her femininity in, I literally get goosebumps! Long, flowing pastel dresses like these really compliment that vibe, but also compliment the scenery. The colors aren’t distracting, but really play into that feeling of softness, nurturing, and what it means to be a mother. Dresses that play well into this might have flowy sleeves, maxi-length skirts, some tulle, easy-moving fabric, or even some lace detail. Need inspiration? Some of my favorite spots to look at dresses like these are Free People and BHLDN. But be forewarned; the dresses on these sites are gorgeous, but pricey! If you’re on a budget, check out Rent the Runway, or do what one of my favorite maternity clients did– borrow a friend’s bridesmaid dress!

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This outfit option is totally based on your taste. Some mommies-to-be love the idea of having photos of their actually belly, and some think it’s weird. Let me say this though: if you want to do it, go for it! There are some really fun and beautiful ways to show off your real baby bump, whether it’s popping out of a lace crop top or showing through a thin fabric silhouette. I am always extremely careful to keep things very tasteful with my clients when we do these pictures, and I have always loved how they end up turning out. For these more intimate shots, we usually shoot inside the studio or right outside of it so that my mommas can feel confident and like they have ultimate privacy. For these shots, I recommend picking something out that is sheer or see-through. This allows your bump to be seen without you needing to pull any clothing up or off. Some options include bathing suit cover ups (there’s some way cute ones out there!) or even boudoir/lingerie items. If you’re thinking you want to go a little more casual, consider something like the image on the right here: maybe a lace shirt without a cami, or even a dress that has a slit in it for your bump to poke out of. I have had multiple mommas even just bring in a sheer floral robe which looks fantastic! My favorites are from Plum Pretty Sugar.

Those are my best tips to consider when choosing outfits for your maternity session! Remember that if you’re just not sure you’re on the right track that you can bring lots of options to your session for us to look at and decide on! But more than anything, pick something that makes you feel really beautiful and confident and happy. If you don’t love any of these styles at all, don’t wear them. Choose what makes you feel proud to be a momma-to-be. I often hear from my momma-clients after their session how thankful they are they booked simply because they hadn’t felt beautiful or confident in a long time. Pregnancy is a beautiful miracle, but it comes in a package that can look more like gaining weight, having morning sickness, and needing to go pee all the time. If you’re on the fence about maternity sessions, please don’t doubt the beauty that happens in the two hours we spend together. It’s not just about getting pictures with your baby in your stomach. It’s about you as a woman, your undeniable beauty, not to mention your strength and bravery. Maternity sessions are pretty and they’re fun, but the reason I love them most is because I watch clients walk away seeming changed and impacted in some way–whether it’s that it’s sinking in that they’re about to be parents, or feeling that they, underneath the giant bump they can’t see their feet under, are truly, truly beautiful inside and out.

Ready to book your maternity session now? Shoot me an email!

Shelby@sheabriannephotography.com

xoxo,

Shelby