Day in the Life – A Documentary Engagement Session

When Lauren emailed me to inquire about wedding photography, she said that what appealed to her about my wedding gallery is all of the stories the photos hold. She wants to remember her wedding day as a story as well as see the little bits of stories that happen at her wedding that she never sees. When she became a client, she gained an engagement session as well…. a documentary engagement session to be precise.

 

Here’s the backstory to my photography approach:

Being married almost 6 years, I now am able to look back on life with my husband before babies. It all seems like a distant memory now as our home is filled with the noise (lots of noise) of our two children (a 4 year old sassy sweet girl & a 2 year old boy that I’m convinced is part dinosaur). Back then, we could be selfish and do what we wanted, when we wanted. Life was calm and quiet. We could wrap ourselves up in each other all day with no interruptions. We lived dreaming of babies, a perfect (bigger) home, and taking the steps to make our passions become our careers. Fast forward to today and I can see how we’ve grown as individuals. I for one have more confidence. I’ve embraced this role as an entrepreneur. Dave has matured into a caregiver and provider role to our family that I find sexy as hell. We were always best friends, but we’ve grown into creating this divine partnership in love and parenting that can only come with time. I want my kids to know that part of us that lived before they were in our world. And for my engagement clients, I want to help them preserve their own unique stories. Engagement sessions are not all about the snuggles, kisses, and love show for the camera… it’s about the foundation to their marriage: friendship and life together so far.

It all began by sending Nick and Lauren a series of questions. I used the Couple’s Questionnaire and Personality Worksheets for this session. In my communication, I tell them it may seem like overkill on the questions, but I promise it’s worth it. The more I’m inspired by their thoughts and stories, the more I am inspired as the photographer. The more I feel a connection to them, the more I’m able to draw out not just moments, but personality traits… and that is a huge factor in documentary photography. They fulfilled my request and even mentioned how they had fun filling them out and listen to each other’s responses… kind of like a date night.

Upon receipt of the questionnaires, I’ll bet you can guess what happened next…. full inspiration was born. I learned so much about them, but the highlights that I felt would be most memorable to their story (and the things I knew would change throughout the years) are what I pitched to them during our brainstorm session. They were hooked. The date was set. And so it began….

 

A Day in the Life Engagement Session

It all started at Nick and Lauren’s condo. They are avid boaters and in the couple’s questionnaire they mentioned how they love to take an early morning boat cruise around the lake. I arrived shortly after dawn to begin. After the boat cruise, it was time for breakfast. Then, working on a wedding decoration that they will also keep in their home after the wedding (a sign with lights that spells out LOVE). Then, they parted ways while Lauren baked an apple pie + did some dinner prep while Nick was in his workshop area to work on another wedding decoration. It’s important to me to show a bit of their individuality in their sessions too.

Later, they invited two couples (both of Lauren’s siblings and their spouses) over for dinner, because in the questionnaire they mentioned they love to entertain. It was a perfect way to give them photos truly unique to their story. At the end of the day, before the whole crew headed out to a haunted house, they played the game Celebrity together. The laughter, the characters, the togetherness…. the perfect way to sum up this story, don’t you think?

The lenses used in this session were primarily my 50mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm (only a few), and 100m Macro (for the rings). Ok, so the rings are not so much documentary as they are set up shots, but I love encompassing details that help remind them of this time in their life. And that’s part of the beauty of being our own self as the photographer, you can shoot however you want. I do give my clients a couple of portraits (not shown below), because who doesn’t like a great photo of their faces once in awhile? The rest of the day, entirely documentary.

 

See for yourself how Nick and Lauren’s before-marriage story was told:

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So there you have it.

A documentary engagement session. To learn more on how I get clients to ‘act’ natural and feel at ease during their session, click here. To grab the questionnaires that filled me with knowledge to inspire this incredible story, click here.

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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