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Welcome to my blog, a source of inspiration for your next event, plus planning  and design tips from the pros! 

From the desk of carri tanner

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Engagement Photo Tips from the Pros

Recently engaged? Thinking about taking engagement photos soon? We sat down with our good friend and incredibly talented Jill Osteen of Aaron and Jillian Photography and got her expert advice on what to wear, how to look natural, and more tips you won’t want to miss!

When is the best time to schedule an engagement shoot?

It’s totally up to you and what you’d like to use the photos for! If you’re wanting to use a couple for your Save The Dates, we’d recommend shooting your session 8-10 months before your wedding! However, if this falls during the heat of Charleston’s summer or the desolateness of the Winter, we’d recommend shooting them a little bit earlier! If you’re not planning to use any of the photos for your Save The Dates, schedule your session anytime! We just photographed an engagement session for a couple from Canada 3 days before their Charleston wedding this past weekend! 

What is the best time of day to shoot?

Well this really all depends on your photographer’s preference! Some photographers LOVE to shoot in the last hour before sunset to get that romantic glow, however because our style lends itself to a light/bright and airy feel, we try to start our sessions 3-4 hours before sunset! We typically shoot for 1 hour unless our couples have chosen 2 locations which happen to be more than 20 minutes from each other. In that case, we have them add on a second hour of coverage! 

How do you pick the perfect location? 

We always want our sessions to be personal to our couple’s stories, so when we shoot engagement sessions for Charleston locals, we typically shoot somewhere that they hung out when they were dating! However, since most of our couples are coming to Charleston for a destination engagement shoot or destination wedding, we ask them what they love about Charleston! From the words they tell us, we are able to guide them in the right direction for a backdrop that fits them and their story! Most of the times our couples say to us, “We trust y’all completely! Just take us wherever you think is beautiful!” Some of our favorite spots to shoot engagement session are within the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter in downtown Charleston, under the Live Oak Trees at Magnolia Plantation and amongst the gardens of Middleton Place Plantation!

What to wear? 

When we’re scheduling our client’s engagement sessions, we send over a helpful PDF that we created that gives them all sorts of tips and tricks for what to wear, what not to wear, and how to make their engagement session personalized to them and their story! Some of our most helpful hints are:

  1. Get fancy and rent a dress from! Who doesn’t feel AMAZING in a gorgeous dress!
  2. If you’d rather wear something you already have in your closet, chose an outfit that your friends ALWAYS compliment you on when you wear it!
  3. Stay away from all white or all black shirts, only because they create sort of boring images.
  4. Make an appointment to have your trial hair and makeup session scheduled for the same day at your engagement session! Having your hair and makeup professionally done will give you tons of confidence AND create gorgeous photos!
  5. Dress appropriately for the weather! If it’s the dead of winter, a sundress may not really be appropriate! We can’t Photoshop away goosebumps!
  6. Remember to clean your ring! 

We also recommend that our couples grab a drink together before their session to help loosen them up and then have a restaurant reserved after their session for a little date night! Why not take advantage of being dolled up, right?!

As far as outfit changes go – We always tell our clients, “If y’all can change outfits in your car in under 5 minutes, then YES! 2 outfits is a great idea! However, if you’ll need to change outfits in a local restroom and takes 15-20 minutes to walk to the restroom, change outfits and walk back to the car to put away your bags, we’d recommend staying in 1 outfit to take advantage of the hour you have us for!

How do you get clients to relax in front of the cameras?

Before we even start shooting, we chat with our clients for a couple minutes about posing tips, what to do with their hands, how to pop a knee for the gals or lean all your weight on your back leg for the guys, etc! By the time we snap the first photo, they’ve been through our “Engagement Session 101 talk” and are ready to go! Plus, we don’t ever try to over-pose our clients! We want it to look like they hired us to follow them around town for the day, capturing them, naturally, so a lot of our directions are, “Get nice and close to each other and walk towards us!” It’s really that easy! Even our most shy and timid clients open up within a couple minutes of being with us! I think because we’re always offering them tips to make them look more comfortable and complimenting them when they’re doing something awesome, they feel taken care of and begin to relax, which allows us to get some beautiful shots!

How do you feel about themes? 

Themes are ADORABLE and we love them! Most of our couples chose to keep things classic and timeliness, but once in a while, we get a creative risk-taker who wants to spice things up! We had a beautiful couple come down from Raleigh, NC for their engagement session at Magnolia Plantation. The bride to be had purchased a gorgeous blush sequin gown and her fiance was in a tuxedo – SWOON! They had brought a picnic blanket, basket, a bouquet of blush florals and a custom Champagne bottle (it had their names and wedding date inscribed on the label)!! We plopped them down on their picnic blanket under the Live Oak Trees and Spanish Moss and had so much fun! Their photos are SUPER romantic and some of our favorites to date because they took the time to really plan something that would be special for them!


Photographer | Aaron & Jillian Photography |

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