Same-sex engagement photography in Ann Arbor

Rob and Nick were in town this weekend and I was able to meet them in Ann Arbor, MI to photograph them for their same-sex engagement photographs.  We walked around downtown and then drove out to the stadium.  It was a joy to photograph two people that obviously care for each other as much as these two.

As we walked, we discussed the upcoming ceremony and reception at Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor coming up this summer.  It was a great time to review the timing of the day and discuss the day in general.  We found out that their plans for the day gave us plenty of time for all the elements I need to get them great photos.  Engagement sessions are also nice to let the couple work together some to make the shooting on the day better.

Greg proposes to Michelle – Marriage Proposal photography and video

My pal Greg proposed to his now finance Michelle a bit ago. He had it all planned. Set up dinner in one of the back rooms at The Woodshed in Clarkston, MI. He had the room reserved for “his birthday party” about an hour after the proposal. I went to the bar the day before and planned where to hide the camera with the very helpful staff. I got there an hour or so before the couple and the placement we had for the camera didn’t make any sense. We came with the idea to hide it behind one of the big screens with some Rube Goldberg rigging.



The couple came in, the curtains were closed, I came out from hiding and could see just a bit into the room through split in the curtains. Greg gave me the high sign, I started click with the radio remote.

She said YES!

Summer Detroit Engagement Photography

I photographed this lovely couple in and around downtown to midtown Detroit.  We started in the wharehouse district on Franklin Street, and later moved to the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Summer Engagement photography

I met Kelly and Tim at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills for their engagement photographs before their wedding.  As always an engagement session is a great time for the couple to get to know their photographer.  It can make working together much smoother on the wedding day.

Winter Engagement Session

While reviewing some engagement photographs I realized I have shot quite a few session in the dead of winter.  I typically think of engagements in the summer or fall.  If winter is the best time of year for your engagement session, below are some examples of what I have had the pleasure of photographing.  In all of these shots, the temperature was well below freezing.  Our biggest challenge will be keeping you warm and not letting your noses get too red.

How does the Engagement Photography Session work?

There are many benefits to an engagement session, you can review them in an earlier post.  Here I will tell more about how the session will go.

What will you do with the photos? – Do you have any specific needs for the photos?  Are you making prints, a book, save the date?  Share what you plan to do with them.  It will help you photographer with the way they shoot.

George George fountain Clinton Twp

Where do we shoot?  – The possibilities are almost endless.  If the weather and season allow, outdoors is alway nice, if not you will need to go indoors.  I like to give couples a few things to think about when choosing a location.  Is there a favorite place you have, where did you first meet, where was your first date, are you fond of city and urban, do you prefer open country or water, is there a favorite or shared activity, how about shooting at the ceremony or reception venue?  These are all things to think about and discuss with your photographer.  The photographer should listen to your concerns and desires and help you choose the location(s)that best suit you and will work well for lighting.  I think the photos are more about the couple and less about the location.  The location can act as a graphic backdrop for the loving couple or help set the mood for the images.  Watch out for locations were you might not be able to get permission.  I know Meadowbrook Hall in Rochester, Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills and Mill Race Village in Northville can be very restrictive.

Couple at a stone wall Meadowbrook Hall

When do we shoot? – If the shoot is outdoors, I prefer the Golden Hour.  The Golden Hour is the 60 minutes just before sunset or just after sunrise.  I find the light to be most striking when the sun is low in the sky.  Golden Hour also give a nice warm color to the photos.  The most challenging time of day to shoot and get attractive lighting is when the sun is highest in the sky. If the day is overcast or you are near tall buildings, getting pleasing light is much easier.

Detroit skyline couple

What about wardrobe, hair and makeup? – I always ask the couple to bring at least two outfits, one more dressy, one more casual.  You should certainly wear what is comfortable and what you think you look your best in.  You might look your best in a suit or formal dress.  You might look your best in camo.  I like to have the wardrobe compliment the couple and not steal the show.  I like more muted colors, simpler patterns or stripes.  Think about where you will change, sometimes the only option is your vehicle. The ladies can use the engagement session as a trial run for wedding day hair and makeup.  A little more makeup always looks better in photos.  In any case I find the best results are when the lady has her hair and makeup done at a salon.  You might have you hair up for one look and then simply take it down for another look.  For the guys it is pretty simple.  Watch shaving or trimming and if you are getting a haircut, get it a few days before the shoot and leave bulky pocket items in the car.  I have a “face repair kit” to cover basic makeup, lip gloss and shine issues
falling leaves Stoney Creek Stoney Creek gazebo

How about props or pets or children? – Yes, yes  and yes.  Please bring anything with you that helps tell us who you are.  As long as the prop is not the sole reason for the shot, giving people something to interact with or something to hold makes for more natural looking photos.

Downtown Mt Clemens

What if we are not so good in front of the camera?  – That is why you are hiring a professional.   I (and any good professional) have spent our career working with everyday people that don’t spend their lives in front of a camera.  We know when to direct, when guide, when to just let it happen and we have the wisdom and experience to know the difference.  Typically the first part of the session I will be more instructional and then as the two of you get used to having a camera in your face and we work and play together some, you will feel much more comfortable and look much more natural.  You are having you engagement photos taken for you to show the love and connection with your future spouse.  If you hold that, you are going to look fantastic.  I promise.

Detroit skyline couple

Why Should We Take Engagement Photos?

There are many reasons to take engagement photos. You most likely have never had professional photos together and it is a great opportunity for you and your photographer to get to know each other along with the benefits below.

fall engagement session

Get to know your photographer – On the wedding day one of the most important things for a photographer is to capture natural, loving and sincere expressions, moods and situations of the couple.  The time spent during the engagement session greatly help both the photographer and couple work together a bit, get to know each other some and help get the most genuine photos on what can be a hectic day.

Detroit skyline couple
Help you choose your photographer
– If you are unsure about using your photographer for the wedding, an engagement session will give you the chance to try and see if you click with the photographer and like the images.  You can often book the engagement session only and then roll it into a full package if you like the photographer.  If the situation doesn’t work, you are out a few dollars and a couple hours.  Better to know sooner than on the wedding day.

fiancé kissing fiancée hand

See images of you before the wedding day – Getting engagement shots will allow you to review how you as a couple photograph.  You can review the images with your photographer and plan for poses and situations where you look your best and also discuss and avoid situations where you think you could look better.

Harley motorcycle engagement photography

All the things you can do with the images – Depending on the use rights you and your photographer agree on (be sure you know ahead of time what rights you have), there are a variety of things to do with the images. Post them on social media, post to your wedding website, send to your local paper for an announcement, gifts to family, make fun reception center pieces, use in the wedding program, make save the date cards or reminder magnets and use as a “Well Wishing” sign in book at the reception.  I almost alway have a wedding day surprise for the couple from engagement images.

engagement session photography

Ellen and Alex “Engagement photos”

Ellen and Alex asked me to shoot their weeding and it was coming up in a week or so.  They had never gotten engagement photos, so we got together at Alex’s Dad’s house in West Bloomfield the Sunday before the wedding and shot these.  The home has a wonderful back yard and landscaping and the bright fall day make shooting easy and fun.  Alex has Russian heritage and Ellen has Chinese.  The bringing together of two very different culture in another unique American culture.



Winter engagement session on a farm

Andrea and Joe had me come to the family farm for their engagement session.  It was a pretty chilly day, note frozen pond, that looked more like a fall day.  We had great fun shooting around the farm buildings, silos, bridges and fields.

Fall engagement session Engaged couple Fall engagement session Winter engagement session Engagement session on the farm Engagement session on the farm Fall engagement session Engaged couple Winter engagement session

Emulsion Lift Engagement and Bridal Gifts

I went old school and dragged out the Polaroid Spectra this year.  Towards the end of the summer I brought the Polaroid to a few sessions, shot some images (with limited success) and lifted the emulsion to paper (with limited success).  The result, I think, is very pleasing.  What the couples got was an original piece of art, small, fragile and timeless.  More old school film projects to come in 2014.

All of the couples received a matted image this holiday season.




Bride and groom at Riverwalk at the Detroit Ren Cen

Bride and groom at Riverwalk at the Detroit Ren Cen

Bride and groom at River Walk at the Detroit Renaissance  Center with the Detroit River and Windsor in the background

Bride and groom at River Walk at the Detroit Renaissance Center with the Detroit River and Windsor in the background

Wedding couple Romantic at George George Park, Clinton Township, MI

Wedding couple Romantic at George George Park, Clinton Township, MI

Bridal couple silhouette kiss

Bridal couple silhouette kiss

Engagement photo of a couple at the Conservatory on Belle Island, Detroit, MI

Engagement photo of a couple at the Conservatory on Belle Island, Detroit, MI

Wedding couple in the shade, Waterford, MI

Wedding couple in the shade, Waterford, MI

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