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Reasons for an Engagement Shoot

Reasons for an engagement shoot:

By offering both engagement and pre-wedding shoots, as a  West Sussex wedding photographer, I like to ensure that couples have a comprehensive and personalised photography experience leading up to their big day. From building connections and creating memories to exploring venues and perfecting the bridal look, these shoots add value and excitement to the wedding journey.

I often hear people suggesting that they don’t need this aspect of the service, and I totally understand the reluctance. However, once people have experienced it, they always feedback that they were so so glad they did.

For those sitting on the fence, I thought I’d prepare a little dive into some reasons for an engagement shoot:

Reasons for an engagement shoot

Connection Building: An engagement shoot provides an opportunity for the couple to bond with each other and with the photographer. This helps in building a comfortable rapport before the wedding day, resulting in more natural and intimate photographs. Believe it or not, our work is very relational… we want to know more about you and what makes you tick as a couple. This will help us capture your true vibe on your wedding day! It also helps us to discuss in a relaxed space any tricky or awkward dynamics that may come up on your wedding day and how we can help you navigate them.

reasons for an engagement shoot

Practice Session: It serves as a practice session for both the couple and the photographer. Couples can get accustomed to being in front of the camera, while the photographer can experiment with different poses, angles, and lighting setups. We will be a mine of information on how to pose, what to do with your arms and legs and how to make you look more natural in front of the camera. It also help to break the ice so you’re accustomed to PDA’s and being photographed without awkwardness and feeling self conscious! It’s better to get this done in a relaxed environment so we’re not wasting precious time on your wedding day covering the foundations to make you comfortable. Honestly, we’d rather you were having more fun with your guests on your wedding day, then endless shoots!

reasons for an engagement shoot

Personalised Experience: The engagement shoot can be tailored to reflect the unique personality and style of the couple. Whether it’s a romantic stroll on the beach, a playful session in a park, or a cozy indoor shoot, it allows for personalisation. This sessions is about you! Taking you to your favourite place, or a significant spot in your relationship journey just adds to making this a service for you. Just this time for you both as a couple is enough reason for an engagement shoot!

Reasons for an engagement shoot

Save-the-Date Cards: The photographs from the engagement shoot can be used for creating stylish and personalised save-the-date cards or wedding invitations, adding a personal touch to the wedding preparations. Some people have used the images to decorate their wedding venue as part of their visual journey together. I guess what I’m trying to say here, is use them!!! Get your faces out there! Its you we’re all celebrating after all!

Reasons for an engagement shoot

Memorable Moments: Capturing the love and excitement of the engagement period through photographs creates lasting memories that can be cherished for a lifetime. These images serve as a beautiful reminder of the journey leading up to the wedding day. So often the focus goal is your wedding date, but don’t forget, this journey is important too! Let’s capture it!

Venue Exploration: A pre-wedding shoot provides an opportunity to explore and capture stunning photographs at the wedding venue or other meaningful locations. This allows the couple to envision their wedding day and discover the best spots for photography. We are well versed in shooting in both the familiar and the unfamiliar, but if an opportunity arrises to shoot in your venue, then this is a real bonus!!

Reasons for an engagement shoot

Trial Run for Hair and Makeup: If timings and diaries align, it can be a chance for the bride to do a trial run for her hair and makeup, ensuring everything looks perfect for the wedding day. Seeing how the makeup translates on camera helps in making any necessary adjustments. What better way to be picture perfect than have a professional tending to those details too! This doesn’t have to be a chore, let’s turn it into a treat for you.

Relaxed Atmosphere: Unlike the wedding day, which can be hectic and fast-paced, the pre-wedding shoot offers a relaxed atmosphere for capturing beautiful moments without any time constraints. It allows the couple to focus solely on each other and enjoy the experience.

Reasons for an engagement shoot

Guest Book or Wedding Album: The photographs from the pre-wedding shoot can be compiled into a guest book or used to create a stunning wedding album. This provides a unique keepsake for the couple and their guests to look back on and reminisce about the special day.

Reasons for an engagement shoot

Capture the Proposal: Some of you may even be thinking way ahead! This is great… having a photographer actually capture your live proposal will make for beautiful memories to look back on! We love getting involved from the very beginning and sharing this journey with you! An incase you worry about being ousted by a hovering photographer, don’t worry… we’re great at hiding in bushes!! Here’s a blog about a “family shoot” that was a secret proposal… Matt & Jen | The Live Proposal 

Best engagement photographer west sussex

I hope these reasons for an engagement shoot have convinced you! It’s worth doing, you definitely won’t regret it! I’m so on board with this myself which is why I include a complementary engagement shoot with every wedding collection. 

If you’re neck deep and overwhelmed in your wedding planning journey, do check out my other helpful blogs: How To Plan a WeddingHow to Choose Your Wedding VenueHow to Choose Your Wedding Dress

Good luck! I hope to see you on your wedding quest!
xX Fiona Xx
Reasons for an Engagement Shoot

West Dean Gardens Photographer | Engagement Shoot | Caroline & Geoff

West Dean Gardens Photographer | Engagement Shoot | Caroline & Geoff

When Caroline told me she and Geoff wanted to do their Engagement Shoot at West Dean Gardens I was super excited, I’ve been meaning to revisit for a long time. I hadn’t been there for many years when my sole purpose was to sketch and draw the sculptures for an art project… I wasn’t paying that much attention to the flora and fauna (although, were you to see my final sculpture based on my visit you’d be fooled into thinking my attention was on point!)

West Dean Gardens Engagement Photographer

As is the norm for an Engagement Shoot we spend the first 15 mins or so bedding in (pardon my horticultural puns there!) to get relaxed with the camera and each other. It is a great opportunity to break the ice and get those nerves out of the way before the wedding day itself when the last thing a couple want is to feel they are on an endless photoshoot rather than celebrating their wedding day!

West Dean Gardens photographer

Caroline and Geoff were pro’s, a couple so visibly comfortable with each other it was an honour to be brought in to that fold. Geoff mentioned he had been awake since 7am the previous day, he was a trooper. Never once complaining or passing out from tiredness! A true professional to the end!!

Geoff & Caroline West Dean Gardens8

Geoff & Caroline West Dean Gardens10

West Dean Gardens are beautifully landscaped grounds centred around West Dean House, a place of artistic and creative education as well as hosting fabulous events throughout the year (I would personally recommend the Chilli Festival). The whole location is just made for a photoshoot!

Geoff & Caroline West Dean Gardens7

There is this gorgeous Edwardian Pergola that has been extensively restored that cries out to be photographed. It was springing into bloom as we visited. Caroline and Geoff sprung to action being the perfect models as we traversed it’s 100m length, pausing at the pool to catch a calm reflection.

West Dean Gardens photographer

best west dean photographer

The Sunken Gardens are also a must visit, and for the foodies out there, the Walled Kitchen Garden as a source of inspiration for allotment growing (sadly, I have not inherited my Mother’s amazing green fingers, but greatly appreciate the abundant crops shared with me!)

Geoff & Caroline West Dean Gardens4

As we strolled around the grounds together it was very hard to not just stop at every corner to take another snap. As a photographer at West Dean Gardens I was in my element. There are huts, nooks and crannies, green arches and endless fields all begging to be included in the shoot. We had planned to be there for an hour or two…. Four hours later we realised how absorbed we had all got, but it was certainly worth it! We talked about wedding plans, work, life, kids etc, it was hard to make this day feel like work!

west dean gardens photographer

As you can see from the images, Caroline and Geoff were true naturals during their Engagement Shoot at West Dean Gardens, their love and warmth for each other just shining through. I’m really excited for their post-wedding shoot when we can revisit in all their wedding outfit glory and create some stunning Newlywed portraits.

Geoff & Caroline West Dean Gardens9

I can’t wait for next year and their April wedding!

Fiona xx

FionaMillsArt | West Dean Gardens Photographer | Engagement Shoot

Jess & Sos | The Engagement Shoot | Chichester Cathedral

In the normal timeline of events, having your Engagement Shoot just 5 days before the wedding is pushing it, but with this transatlantic couple it was the only way! Jess and Sòstenes met on soil foreign to both of them. She is English, he Brazillian. They both live in Portugal but were coming back to Bognor Regis for their wedding. We had booked in a morning to do a location recce and capture some shots of them together to practice their pouts and posing for their big day. The Engagement Portrait Photography Shoot spanned Chichester Cathedral, Bishops Palace Gardens and somewhere a little closer to home, Hotham Park.

Chichester Cathedral Wedding Engagement 16

Chichester Cathedral Wedding Engagement 34

Jess and Sòstenes have a wonderful combination of characters; Responsible, flamboyant, expressive, fantastical, fun and generous. I cannot wait to see these characters combine to create, what I truly believe, will be a unique, colourful and expressive wedding!

Chichester Cathedral Wedding Engagement 67

Jess really wanted to incorporate some comforts of home into her wedding day so off we headed to the beautiful grounds of Chichester Cathedral for the first leg of the Engagement Shoot. The Cathedral and its grounds will be a fantastic setting for the fairytail wedding that is being organised. With the dramatic, gothic architecture of the Cloisters and the soft and colourful secret gardens leading towards the beautifully landscaped Bishops Palace Gardens we will certainly be spoilt for choice for portrait opportunities!

Chichester Cathedral Wedding Engagement 48

Chichester Cathedral Wedding Engagement 5

To bring things closer to home, Hotham Park will provide a simple and accessible backdrop for some family group shots….however, for the purpose of this visit a little more childlike fun was enjoyed (as you can see from the lower images!)!!

Chichester Cathedral Wedding Engagement 52

Chichester Cathedral Wedding Engagement 62

Chichester Cathedral Wedding Engagement 66

I cannot wait for their wedding on Saturday, the colour, the themes, the love and the marriage that will be combined to create a flamboyant, fun and emotional day….I’m hedging my bets on Sòstenes being the first to shed a tear!!


Fiona xx

Liz & Jack | The Engagement Shoot

It’s been quite an exciting summer as yet another set of friends prepare to tie the knot this year and I have the pleasure of being their photographer. I have known Liz and Jack for a number of years now, but since they’ve been a couple, with Jack being at University in Canterbury, Liz in Chichester and their time together precious, I haven’t had the chance to really hang with them as a couple and get to know what makes them tick together. The engagement shoot in preparation for their wedding was a great opportunity.

Liz & Jack

To start off we visited a place close to Liz’s home called Brandy Hole Copse in Chichester. As we were trekking through brambles, warding off wasps and kicking playing toddlers off picturesque benches, Liz and Jack shared with me why this Copse was so special to them. It was where they had their first date, first kiss, where Jack asked Liz to officially be his girlfriend and then later asked her to be his wife! I mean, seriously! How romantic can you get?! To top it all off, Jack had even drawn Liz a picture at random (pre-dating) of the same clearing with a pond, trees and a couple hanging out before he had visited! Meant to be or what?!

Liz & Jack

Liz & Jack

Liz & Jack

I loved the light flares created by the dappled woodland when shooting into the light, and natural framing of the shots emphasised by the surrounding foliage. I could have spent far longer exploring, but the couple of hours at Brandy Hole Copse doing a photo-op recce was definitely rewarding as we plan to return on their wedding day and really come full circle in their dating journey. We detoured via Liz’s house to grab some much needed lunch in preparation for the next stage….Boxgrove Priory & Ruins.

Liz & Jack

I came to realise during our time together that Liz and Jack are an incredibly tactile couple. I decided to use this to my advantage as it made for some really romantic shots. The ruins are a wonderful backdrop for romance. As they are having their wedding reception at Boxgrove Village Hall it will be perfect to return here with all their wedding day finery and attire to capture some more portraits.

Liz & Jack

Liz & Jack

Liz & Jack

I’m hoping too, to be able to inject some youthful spirit into the wedding day photos as we are planning to bring the bridal party – consisting of their best friends, here for some fun shots!

Liz & Jack

The last part of Liz and Jack’s engagement shoot consisted of an impromptu trip to Bognor to visit the sea. Jack and Liz really got to know each other in Bognor at Opengate Church that we all attend, so they have spent much time at the beach or walking the prom together. As they will both be moving to Canterbury after their wedding, Liz really wanted to get some photos of them together at the beach, capturing those precious memories.

Liz & Jack

Liz & Jack

Again, I had great fun playing with light flares and rebelling against the photographers’ golden rule of not shooting into the sun….especially during the Golden Hour!! One of my favourite moments from this part was the moment Jack lost his footing on the moving stones as a wave rushed in whilst he was paddling and holding a shrieking Liz! They soon made up….as you can see!!

Liz & Jack

Liz & Jack

Liz and Jack

The beach in Bognor, along Aldwick Bay, was a lovely, quiet spot to finish the day. It was lovely to hang out with Liz and Jack and really get to know them better, as well as priming them for a whole day of being papped by two of us on their wedding day. I can’t wait!! Roll on September 6th!!

Liz & Jack

CJ & Jon | The Engagement Shoot

Having known CJ and her family for many years, to say I’m excited to be shooting her wedding next month is an understatement!! I’ve been really blessed to have developed a great friendship with CJ and her fiancé Jon over this last year. Also, knowing the family, I have often had inside information and exciting tidbits about developments within their relationship that are yet to happen!The biggest secret so far has been “The Proposal”

The Trundle Spin
You spin me round round, baby right round….

Jon is an avid mountaineer and decided to combine his passion for CJ with that of scaling great heights. Last year, Jon went on a trek to climb Ama Dablam, a mountain in the Himalaya range in Eastern Nepal. Asides from doing the climb to raise money for charity and because he enjoys it, there was another mission. To carry and keep safe an engagement ring with which to propose to CJ. At the summit of Ama Dablam, Jon took a picture of the ring flanked by snow capped mountains. Upon his return, this ring picture was printed into a canvas and hidden from CJ for a WHOLE MONTH before presenting it to her, gift wrapped on Christmas Day. Needless to say, she said yes!! How cool is that!!

Ama Dablam heights
A proposal with a difference

So, when we discussed what kind of Engagement Shoot they wanted we decided to combine both of their loves. The Trundle near Chichester, West Sussex was chosen as although not a mountain, it is high (for me). An Iron Age Hill Fort that boasts spectacular views of West Sussex and Hampshire. Jon, being from Bristol, hadn’t been to The Trundle. We also decided to go to the beach in Bognor Regis as it is a place that CJ is often to be found, relaxing, walking, paddling & hanging out with friends and family. The beach is a place close to her heart so it seemed the perfect place to capture her with the man who heart she holds.

CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Feeling On Top Of The World

The Trundle was a great place to take pictures. With fabulous views for miles and scenery awash with different shades of green it felt incredibly peaceful. It was also pretty low on human traffic. That gave us a great chance to slowly meander our way around pausing here and there to take pictures, look at the flora and fauna and have a general natter about the forthcoming wedding.

Sitting in the glory
Watching The World Go By
CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Trying hard to ignore the creepy crawlies
CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Happy Faces

After we’d exhausted The Trundle and tried to locate our homes in the views we set off back down to Bognor Regis and the beach. Rather than diving straight in, we had a coffee and ice-cream break. This gave us time to plan the finer details of the wedding day that will be happening at Opengate Church in Bognor Regis and Southend Barns in Donnington. It also gave the tide the chance to retreat some more!

CJ & Jon on Bognor Beach
Watch out for those rocks!!

The great thing about the beach is there are a plethora of backdrops and natural props to use. Fishermen leave their boats up on the stones, families lovingly decorate their beach huts and nature has blessed us with sand, sea, pebbles and giant rocks!! We unanimously decided we’d have a shorter session on the beach as the air had developed a windy chill and our tummies grumbled louder for food. We couldn’t resist, however, pausing to take pictures with this fabulous beach hut that gave a cheerful end to a lovely day of photos and wedding talk.

CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
The lingering smell of the fisherman’s haul is not off-putting at all, no really…
CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
Summer Lovin’
CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
Salty Kisses, Summer Wishes

Roll on August 28th!!! Can’t wait guys!!