Bride-to-be Blogger Carly: Our Awkward Engagement Shoot

Candid is hard.

Carly and Sean, during their engagement photo session on Pier 9.

After some debate over whether or not we should have engagement photos taken, we decided to go for it, thinking that we would like to have a few cute photos to create our save-the-dates. Little did we know that smiling and kissing for a few pictures—something that should feel so natural—would actually be quite awkward and uncomfortable!

A few weeks ago, Sean and I headed to the Race Street Pier to have our engagement photos taken. We had set the appointment with our photographer to take the pictures just three days after our engagement party. However, with my major focus on planning our party, I hadn’t thought much about the pending photo sesh. When Tuesday evening came around, I found myself nervous and with nothing to wear. (Why hadn’t I bought something for this occasion? I love buying occasion-specific outfits!)

As I rummaged through the dresses in our closet to find something that I wouldn’t look back on and cringe, Sean searched for a shirt, any shirt, that wasn’t wrinkled. Finally, I settled on a dress, finished touching up my makeup and handed Sean the closest thing to a pressed shirt I am capable of (we don’t even own an ironing board!). We hustled the few blocks to the Pier and tried to let some of the stress of our poor pre-photo shoot planning escape us. Soon after, Dario, our photographer, and his wife Amy arrived and scoped out some spots where the lighting would be just right for the pictures.

Having gone to college during the early days of Facebook and photo-sharing, I’ve developed a go-to pose: hand on hip to slim my arm and popped knee for skinny legs, shoulders back for good posture, topped off with a head tilt. Girls, you know that I’m talking about! But as ready as I was to strike a pose, I was not prepared to look natural, casual, and completely oblivious to any snap and flash of a camera.

But the thing is, when it comes to my engagement and wedding photos, I really prefer the candid look; photos where it appears that the moment was captured rather than posed. This, however, is much harder than it looks. I’m telling you and, if you don’t believe me, ask Sean.

Poor Sean. He was a great sport, and for that I love him that much more. But this whole experience was pretty darn awkward, and for those first couple photos I’m sure it showed. In fact, I know it showed and we (Amy, Dario and I) made no mystery of that by telling Sean to stop acting so awkwardly over and over again. Lucky for me, Sean’s discomfort somehow helped me overcome my own, so I was smiling and laughing away while he tried his very best to do the same.

Of the number of things we failed to consider pre-photo shoot, one of the biggest was that taking our pictures in a public venue meant that some of the public might be there! (Duh!) So adding to the awkwardness of pretending to be au natural while our photographers were there, we also had to ignore the stranger’s eyes watching our every un-pose.

Sean and I may not have felt picture perfect, but the pictures turned out to be really awesome! Dario captured some really great moments between Sean and I, and Amy got some really cool shots using Instagram on her iPhone. What we discovered was that having a photographer we are comfortable around and trust (Dario and Amy are not only our photographers, but also our friends; more on that later) was central to getting photos that appeared as if we were just two lovebirds strolling on the Pier, even if it’s clear that neither Sean nor I have any chance at a future career in modeling.

Putting the photos to use was the easy part. Dario sent us the picture file a couple days later and we were able to upload them on to create our own save-the-date magnets. (They should be arriving within the next week and I am ecstatic!)

Looking back on this experience, Sean and I definitely have something to laugh at ourselves about. Looking forward, we should probably consider practicing our un-posey poses for the Big Day.

Did you get engagement photos taken? What was your experience like? Harder than you anticipated or were you just naturals out there?

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