The Ultimate Guide to Your Engagement Session


When? Usually set an hour and a half before sunset depending on season and location.

How long? Depends on location(s) & outfits. Usually about 45-60 minutes of shooting + drive time.

How many images? Around 80+ High Resolution edited images.

Turnaround time? About 2-4 weeks.


Engagement photos are great to use for save-the-dates or to send in your invitation. If you’re planning on using them for your save-the-dates, it’s best to plan your session asap so you have time to send them out. TIP: wear colors that go well with your wedding if you plan to have prints out at your wedding. 


I recommend two different scenic backgrounds for engagements. A general rule of thumb is the more locations and outfits, the less images…but the more variety you’ll have! If we’re doing your session on the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo county has so much beauty to offer [pictured on the right]. But that doesn’t mean we have to do your shoot here. I’ve photographed in Big Sur, Carmel, Orange County, San Diego…I’m always up for something new!

Pick a place that is meaningful to you or that represents your relationship. Can’t think of anything? What is a place that you both find beautiful or makes you feel romantic? I’ve photographed some pretty epic scenery but I’ve also photographed in coffee shops, cafes, venues, wineries. I really want to represent you as a couple.


I arrange our locations within your engagement session by timing of the light. Super open areas without shade cover do better as the sun is going down, places with trees look better with light coming through them. I always start at any location with buildings or walls involved first because I am placing you in direct shade.



I recommend 2-3 outfits to change into when we change locations. Pick something that makes you feel good standing in a 360 degree mirror, as you’ll be photographed in the outfit from lots of different angles. Make sure you feel like you! And most importantly, TRY IT ON! Take a photo of yourself and see how you like it.


Your hair will fall as the session goes especially if we’re shooting in the wind or by the ocean, so use extra hair spray. Have your make up done a little heavier than normal, as the camera will wash you out. Feel free to bring lip touch-up to reapply after all that smoochin’ ;) If you’re wearing false eye-lashes, bring extra glue in case they loosen.

This would be a good time to use your make up trial! Some of my favorites:





If you’re wearing heels, bring comfortable shoes for any traveling between locations.



I try to keep the focus on you as a couple and the beautiful scenery. But if you have a meaningful set-up [like a charcuterie picnic or coffee date] make sure you have all the items you need.


Blankets need to be at least 8 ft wide to do a “wrapping” photo but can be pretty much any size if you’d like to sit on it. I have a few to pick from to sit on if you don’t have a favorite of your own: cream textured, solid dark gray, dark gray mexican, dark green mexican, pink & orange mexican.


I can’t wait to meet your fur baby! I love including “the whole family” in your photos. If you’d like to bring your dog we need to make sure the location allows it and that we all the important things for your pup like a leash, potty bags and water. TIP: Leather leashes tend to photograph the best.


If you’re bringing something on location, make sure you have a bottle opener and glasses. If you’d like to grab a drink somewhere as part of your session (a bar, winery or brewery) your ID is a must!


It’s gonna be great! I freeze in front of the camera like I’ve never had my picture taken before so trust me I know exactly how you’re feeling. If you’re a little anxious about this whole “picture” thing, you’re not alone. Your engagement session is supposed to be fun and relaxed and not forced or awkward. Besides, I’ll be the most awkward one of us all so I’ve got you covered. My couples are constantly surprised by how relaxed and comfortable their session is.


1. I highly recommend sitting down together and going through 2-3 of your favorite engagement sessions. Scrolling through photos will allow you to gauge & discuss expectations.

2. Allow for plenty of time to get ready for your shoot so you aren’t rushed. There is nothing worse than having an argument on your way to your photo session. That is definitely going to put you both in a bad mood and add unnecessary stress.

3. Bring drinks or order them as part of your session to help ease any tension. Guaranteed to help you loosen up, plus you get cute cheers photos!

4. And remember to have patience with each other and don’t assume that your partner isn’t going to have a good time… I think you’ll be surprised how much you will both enjoy your session!

5. Plan to enjoy a night out since you’re all dressed up! See my San Luis Obispo date night guide!

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San Luis Obispo Wedding photographer specializes in destination weddings across all of California and beyond, Jessica Sofranko Photography, established in 2009

I document love stories, without exception.

All races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and identities welcomed and celebrated.


When life brings you lemons, make whiskey sours.

(805) 305-1427

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