What is a Paris Engagement Session?
Today, the concept of an engagement session means different things to different people. The most common type is a 1-to-3 hour photo shoot of an already engaged couple celebrating their relationship; it’s about brilliant fun with memories you’ll love forever.
Expect your engagement photos to make for stunning Save-the-Date cards, sign-in books, and other fabulous printing solutions.
And, with a little preparation—and an engagement photographer who cares—you will be well on your way to documenting the priceless real connection with your loved one.
Of course, when you come to Paris, your expectations should be high since the City of Lights just so happens to be the hottest place known to mankind.
Plus, Paris is blessed with an almost absurd abundance of inspiring photo backdrops in addition to the ever-so-iconic Eiffel Tower, and photos simply look incredible regardless of the weather or time of day.
Paris Engagement Session vs. Paris Engagement Adventure
Happy couples come to us from every corner of the world to have their photos taken. They appreciate that their artist—for better or worse—wields a real influence over their photography experience and, by extension over how they’ll remember Paris.
They’ve already spent plenty of time, resources, and money on coming to Paris and hiring a professional engagement photographer … and as a result, they prepare well and typically commission more photography coverage for their photo shoots; a 4-to-5 hour Paris engagement session is really nothing unusual for us.
That said, every year, we get a handful of adventurous couples who simply want it all. All the great locations. The most flattering light of the day. Multiple outfits and props. And even the best cafés and macarons …
But let me level with you: it ain’t easy to pull off the perfect Paris engagement adventure—not for you … and not for us.
It actually helps if you’re a little crazy, and here’s why:
- it takes stamina to get along on little-or-no-sleep as you journey the City of Lights for up to 24 hours;
- engagement adventures last longer and require even more editing than most weddings. That’s why they are priced more similar to weddings, and present a real investment for our couples—ask us to price a custom Paris engagement adventure for you!
- getting from one location to the next while minimizing fatigue and allowing for fast and easy access to your outfits and props is a logistical challenge, and requires careful preparation;
- it also means that you, your partner, and photographer need to be equally
crazycommitted to doing things that most people simply wouldn’t attempt. But hey, if you want photos that nobody else has, you need to be prepared to do things that most people wouldn’t.
Meet Ramona & Anthony
Let us introduce you to Ramona and Anthony, whose magnificent Paris engagement adventure may have appropriately been coined ‘24 Hours in Paris’ considering its near full-day duration.
If we had to sum up their Paris engagement experience in just three words, we might say: “stylish, fun, and beautiful.”
We could have just as well described it as “exciting, romantic, and discovery,” or “magic, playfulness, and adventure.”
In the end, neither three nor nine words are enough to characterize the inspiring true love story between two happy souls who chose to brighten the City of Lights.
But First, Here’s Why We Love the Paris Engagement Adventure
The City’s photographic appeal has to do with its contagious romantic energy, trend-setting art & fashion, and charming architecture, which, collectively, awaken our senses and allow us to dig deeper into our creative treasure chest.
Paris is indeed built on romance, but here’s why I really love the engagement adventure: when you and your photographer tour Paris for up to 24 hours—the boulevards, cafés, restaurants, parks, landmarks, and shopping—the relationship you share simply evolves to one of higher emotional connection: it may just start out as a client-photographer dynamic, but we invariably conclude as friends for life.
And how could we not? After all, it’s an incredibly intense, bonding, and fun experience for all of us.
An Open Letter to You
When you come to Paris for an engagement adventure, you and your loved one will have a rare opportunity to play, laugh, connect, and celebrate in beautiful concert, and come away with memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.
That said, it does take two to tango … in this case three!—you, your partner, and your photographer. And as already suggested, all of us need to be ridiculously motivated, and take our preparations seriously.
You’ll frequently hear us talk about our proven 6-STEP PROCESS on “how to prepare for your Paris photo shoot like a PRO.” We emphasize that there’s plenty you can [and should] do in anticipation of your Paris engagement adventure to enhance its fun & flow, get the photos you desire, and look and feel amazing.
After you book with us, it’s time to move forward in all earnest with your inspiration board.
Pinterest is our preferred method to document photo session ideas, because its boards are easy to share with your artist, and allow for convenient interactive feedback.
Plus, the sheer exercise of creating such an inspiration board will ensure that you and your partner take the necessary time out of your busy lives to invest in your photo shoot.
Locations, starting times, meeting points, logistics, and props are all important.
Kiss Like a Grand Master
We encourage you to go even further with your engagement session preparations. How about deepening your skills in the high and delicate art of kissing [and connecting] even before you arrive in Paris? Trust us—it’s sublime homework for a Friday night.
There is indeed an art to kissing in front of the lens of a relative stranger—hey, it’s not every day that you’re asked to believably display affection [in public] with your loved one.
Our favorite kisses are those that are real, feel so right, taste delicious, and leverage the chemistry you share as a couple. It is a common misconception to think you need to kiss in a certain way for the photo, because by doing so … you are invariably thinking of your photographer instead of blissfully connecting with the person in front of you.
An important factor in pulling off a kiss that will take people’s breath away … is to feel comfortable breathing on each other. You’d be surprised how often we observe couples who hold their breath, which is unnatural and against the idea of chemistry. Stay hydrated before and during the shoot … and consider bringing mints or anything to keep your breath fresh.
Our Paris engagement adventures require a healthy dose of kissing stamina. So prepare accordingly!
There are many more nuances to brilliant kissing [on photos]—especially when it comes to silhouettes and body language—but that’s for another time and place.
Dress to Impress
And while we’re already revealing our most guarded 🙂 secrets, let us remind you to dress to impress: formal wear is by no means required for your engagement session, but style is! If you feel challenged identifying suitable attire, it may pay to consult a style expert, who can comb through your wardrobe or go shopping with you before you arrive in Paris.
Ramona and Anthony understood that outfits and accessories matter: their attire was perfectly consistent with sophisticated Parisian fashion codes: Anthony impressed as a true Homme de Style with impeccable looks that could have come straight from the pages of an haute couture fashion magazine.
Parisian women never forget to stay seductively elegant … and neither did Ramona: the verve and versatility of her dresses lent themselves to a vast range of looks and attitudes.
In the Beginning …
Paris in the Morning is Beautiful. ~ Woody Allen
We started our day at Café du Trocadéro, a popular eatery best known for its abundant outdoor seating and unmatched proximity to the Eiffel Tower. The idea was to loosen everyone up before kicking-off the Paris engagement adventure.
Connecting With Your Photographer is Crucial
We like to break the proverbial ice with a warm-up chat, where it’s all about easing couples into their engagement adventure. Ramona, Anthony, and we enjoyed a serious olfactory delight comprised of thick hot chocolate, colorful and richly layered latte machiato, and a taste-bud-riveting double espresso.
One important lesson we’ve learned over the years is that typically the first few pictures of an engagement session tend to be a little less impressive than the rest. Think about it … just like a vintage car engine requires time to warm-up, so do people.
So we recommend saving some of your top locations for later in the shoot.
And that’s exactly what Ramona and Anthony did: after a few playful pictures around Trocadéro, we made our way down to one of the two iconic carousels (merry-go-rounds) near the Eiffel Tower.
Listen up photographers—let us point out that great photos that include the Eiffel Tower + a carousel + two happy people, are deceptively simple to take.
It’s really not as easy as it looks considering the speed of the carousel, the herds of tourists, and the fact that the merry-go-round is moving in an [unfavorable] counter-clockwise direction.
We had to be a little imaginative to make things work and actually had Ramona and Anthony straddle their horses backwards.
Getting Around Town
The next destination was Musée d’Orsay, where we intended to capture a silhouette of our couple standing in front of the museum’s iconic clock [photo by John Harwood].
We like to emphasize that Paris photo sessions often entail plenty of walking. The advantage—besides for the great exercise—is that you and your artist can be more opportunistic and spontaneous about the locations “in between” the planned locations.
Yet, heavy walking can cause foot discomfort. So plan for strategic café breaks even before fatigue sets in.
We said it before, but it bears repeating here: please bring a pair of comfortable shoes you can easily slip into as you transit from one location to the next.
Since the Musée d’Orsay is located in the heart of Paris, we chose to commute by subway, or Métro as the French say.
The Paris Métro is quite modern when compared to, say, a New York subway and actually an experience in itself.
Just before entering the subway station, we grabbed a few fresh almonds croissants and Nutella crepes.
Some people feel invincible on the wings of happiness. Anthony was no exception as he had us take his new Facebook profile picture on the Parisian railroad tracks.
The Secret to a Brilliant Paris Engagement Photos
Our advice for memorable Paris engagement sessions is to let stress go, be playful, have a good laugh, and enjoy the ride. Trust in the process and your preparations, and let your photographer do what you hired her for.
One reason Ramona and Anthony’s photos engage is because the couple managed to tune us out and completely immerse themselves in the moment.
Have you ever realized that kids always look great in pictures whether they are aware of the camera or not? It’s because they have not been conditioned over a lifetime to be self-aware.
And that’s the trick friends, for it’s very much about exploring your inner-child.
Those couples who achieve this higher state of awareness will be rewarded with an other-earthly engagement session experience.
Alas, when we arrived at the Musée d’Orsay, its entrance lines were so long that we decided to proceed to the next stop, Galeries Lafayette—the self-proclaimed department store world capital of fashion.
Galeries Lafayette is widely known for its glamorous window displays and stained glass cupola. What’s less evident is that its rooftop terrace—which is freely accessible to the public—offers an unobstructed 360-degree panorama view of Paris.
At this point, you may be asking yourself how we managed to clear out the department store’s busy rooftop for priceless one-on-one pictures?
Well, we simply asked the bewildered tourists to step aside under the pretext that Galeries Lafayette commissioned us to do a model shoot. Perhaps a touch naughty, but doesn’t love justify harmless white lie :-).
The Parisian summer is so much about color. And if someone asked me where the city’s epicenter of color is, I’d probably point to Galeries Lafayette’s ground floor.
More specifically, I would single out the store’s 2,500 square-meter women’s beauty section, which apparently houses the largest and most stunning perfumery in the world.
It was quite befitting then that we would have our stylish couple have connect surrounded by reflective glass, radiant perfumes, and even exotic fish.
Preparation + Liberated Emotional Expression + Imagination = Photos to Die For
Paris in the Afternoon is Charming. ~ Woody Allen
Our next stop was none other than the world-famous Gothic cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris, located on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité.
The idea was to capture the backdrop of one of the Cathedral’s leering gargoyles overlooking Paris.
Alas, good fortune was once again not with us, for we arrived just as Notre Dame was closing its doors for the day.
That said, there are plenty of delicious photo opportunities to be had within the immediate vicinity of the Cathedral.
And so we asked Anthony to buy a bouquet to add some spice to our next photos; he didn’t disappoint, surprising us with an eye-catching assortment of (fake) sunflowers.
The bouquet may have lacked in fragrance and floral couture, but served our purpose perfectly.
Let’s briefly digress from our story to appreciate why the photo above works; it’s not about exposure or composition.
Instead, it’s about two individuals, deeply in love, who chose to have fun and allow for liberated emotional expression.
The second component has to do with imagination, creativity, and a willingness to put yourself in an unusual situation for the greater good of unique imagery.
Sometimes we’re surprised why schools don’t teach this … but let us introduce you to our very own Kiss Me in Pris equation on how to achieve phenomenal engagement photos:
Preparation + Liberated Emotional Expression + Imagination = Photos to Die For
Paris in the Evening is Enchanting. ~ Woody Allen
The picture above allows for at least three observations: first, it’s now evening, which according to Woody Allen is when Paris is most enchanting.
Second, our couple literally oozes attitude and comfort before the lens.
And third … Ramona is now sporting minimalist golden sandals … since her finely pedicured feet ultimately succumbed to the rigors of our Parisian adventure.
But Paris after Midnight …
Is Magic. ~ Woody Allen
It’s hard to believe, but Ramona & Anthony showed preciously few signs of wear despite what truly was a Parisian marathon [besides for Ramona’s feet of course].
Forget about jet lag, forget about foot aches, and forget about laryngitis, which Anthony would be diagnosed with the day after our Paris engagement adventure.
Was it the bright lights of Pigalle, the magic after midnight, or simply two soul-mates energized by their love for one-another?
Who knows and who cares.
When people are happy, time flies, right? … it was now 2:30 AM by the way.
Anthony, well aware that we’d rendezvous at the Eiffel Tower for pre-sunrise silhouette photos just hours later, appealed to cooler heads: for the first time, he overruled Ramona, who had still enthusiastically proposed concluding our magical night with reflection photos in front of the Louvre Museum.
… 5:00 AM …
If you’re asking yourself why we would resume our Paris engagement shoot at such an ungodly time on less than two hours of sleep, keep in mind that it’s the only way to enjoy those iconic Parisian landmarks before a daily tidal wave of tourists hits the scene.
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