How to plan your Boise engagement session (2023)

Whether you are newly engaged, considering becoming engaged, or simply planning for the future, there is something special about imagining your dream engagement. If you are considering getting engaged in Boise or the surrounding area, check out this guide below. With a little forethought, you can create a day you and your partner will never forget.

Planning your Boise engagement session

Are you thinking about having engagement photos done and feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone in feeling this way! I have put everything I have learned from helping couples plan their engagement sessions into a guide to help you create a stress free Boise engagement session.

Before we jump unto planning your session, I want to touch on a few reason why engagement photos are important:

  • Being engaged is such a fun season of your life! Having your photos taken during this period will document the excitement and love you two are experiencing together.
  • Engagement sessions give you a change to ‘practice’ being photographed. Engagement sessions are a great way to gain confidence in front of a camera and learn how to be photographed as a couple.
  • Engagement sessions are an opportunity to work with your photographer before the wedding! If I have done an engagement session with a couple, it feels like I am photographing an old friend from the very beginning of their wedding day. If I haven’t photographed a couple before their wedding, it takes 30-40 minutes before they feel comfortable enough to let their true personalities shine through. 

Now that we have talked about why you should have engagement photos done let’s jump into how to plan a Boise engagement session!

Hi, my name is Autumn!

I’m an elopement photographer + planner

I help couples create experience focused elopements in the mountains of Idaho. I’ve photographed 65+ elopements and hiked 100’s of miles in Idaho’s backcountry. I’m a Leave No Trace aware photographer and lifelong outdoor adventurer.

Book you photographer

If you’re reading this I hope I am your photographer 😉. But if I am not, here are a few tips for choosing an Idaho engagement photographer for your session.

My biggest tip is to choose your wedding photographer and then do an engagement session with that photographer. The main reason for engagement photos is to document this amazing season in your relationship but they are also an opportunity to have a ‘trial-run’ with your photographer before your wedding day. This gives you a chance to get to know each other and also gives you some practice being photographed before your big day.

If you are looking for a wedding photographer make sure you look through multiple photographers websites, Instagram and Pinterest to get a feel for what you like. Once you have found a style and photographer you like, inquire with them and schedule a phone consultation. I am a firm believer that you need to connect with your photographer on a deeper level than just emails and a website. Your wedding photographer is the vendor you will spend the most time with on your wedding day, so you really need to make sure your personalities vibe and you genuinely like each other.

Couple dances together during their snowy engagement session in Sun Valley.

Choose your engagement session date

If you are planning to use your engagement photos for save-the-dates you will want to schedule your session 8-12 months before your wedding date, so your cards can go out 6-8 months before your wedding day. If you aren’t doing save-the-dates, you will want to schedule your session at least 6 months before your wedding day. This will give you time to have your photos back to use for your invites.

Most of my couples do their engagement photos in the fall or winter months. I personally love winter engagement sessions!

Couple runs through the snow during their Boise engagement session.

Plan your Boise engagement session activity

It’s so much easier to relax and enjoy having your photo taken when you’re not in a ‘photo shoot’. My number one tip for having an amazing engagement session is planning an activity to do with your photographer instead of just meeting somewhere and taking an hour of photos. Doing an activity removes ‘photo stress’ because it focuses your attention on your partner and the experience you are having instead of worrying about posing or looking good together.

Doing an activity as part of your engagement session is important to the relationship you are building with your photographer as well. It gives you time to relax and get to know each other before the ‘client-photographer’ relationship begins. I like to spend the first 30 minutes of a session just hanging out or doing an activity (hiking, snowshoeing, etc.) before my camera comes out. This ensures we are comfortable with each other before a camera is added to the dynamic! Cameras make everyone nervous but the more comfortable you are with the person behind the camera the better your photos will look.

When you are thinking about choosing an activity for your session, think about what you love to do as a couple. Do you love hiking, kayaking, or going out for coffee? The biggest thing here is to choose an activity that has meaning to you! Not just something that might be pretty for photos! It should be something you would enjoy doing even if you aren’t accompanied by a photographer.

Elopement couple walks together during their before wedding session that was part of their elopement package in Idaho.

Outdoor Boise engagement session activity ideas:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Mountain biking
  • Skiing
  • Picnic dinner with wine/Champagne/beer or your favorite beverage

Date night engagement session activity ideas:

Maybe planning something that involves your favorite restaurant or coffee shop is more your speed. Plan your favorite date night and bring your photographer along.

  • Coffee shop or ice cream date
  • Brewery or winery date
  • An evening at the county fair

Pick your Boise engagement session location

After you have decided what you would like to do for your engagement session you can pick a location! This is the fun part and something your engagement photographer should be involved in. As part of my services, I help my couples find locations that are photo pretty and inline with their vision for their engagement photo experience.

How to choosing your location

If you are choosing an outdoor, adventure location you want to consider when that location will be at its best. Your photographer is a big resource here! I use software that allows me to look at a location and see its position to the sun. This means I can tell my couple whether the location will look best in the morning or evening. I personally love sunrise locations because everything is peaceful and you don’t have to share your location with other people.

My number one tip is to choose a location that will have few people in it. Having to share your location with others just isn’t a relaxing and comfortable time. Some of the best engagement sessions I have photographed have been in locations we had to ‘work’ to get too. When you get off the beaten path you won’t see others and you will have a fun experience adventuring together. Whether you are planning to hike or head to your favorite brewery for your engagement session, do some research and pick a time/location that will allow you to have a private experience.

The salmon river is an engagement photo location outside of Boise.

Outdoor Boise engagement photo locations:

  • Boise Foothills
  • Camel’s Back Park
  • Old penitentiary
  • Eagle Island Park
  • Boise River
  • Boise Botanical Gardens
Autumn Lynne Photography offers adventure session elopement packages.

Engagement Photo Locations Near Boise

Interested in adventuring for your photo session? You can see a full list of some of my favorite engagement session locations in Boise, McCall and Stanley by clicking here.

How to choose the right time of day for you AND your location

Are you a morning or an evening person? Whatever you answer here will help you know when you will be at your best for your engagement session.

Sunrise and sunset are your best friends when it comes to your engagement and wedding photography – the light is low to the horizon and this makes long shadows, soft light and deep color tones. Generally speaking, you want to start taking sunrise photos 30 minutes before the sunrises and you want to start taking sunset photos an hour before sunset. You can take beautiful photos at sunrise or sunset, so I would encourage you to schedule your session when your location will have the best lighting AND when you will be at your best.

Couple laughs together during their Boise, Idaho engagement session.

Choose what to wear for your Boise engagement session

Choosing what to wear is probably the most stressful part of having your photos taken. I know I spend way too much time thinking about what to wear and laying out different outfits on the bed when I am having my own family photos done. I think the key here is to not stress! Pick 1-2 outfits you like and just go have fun hanging out with each other and adventuring with your photographer.

If you are adventuring for your activity, dress in photogenic activity clothing for hiking and then change into your engagement session outfits when you arrive at your location Doing this will give you nice looking hiking photos and keep your session outfit clean for photos at your location. You can then hike out in your engagement outfit and stop along the way for photos on the trail.

Here are a few tips to help you pick out clothing for your session:

Wear clothing you’re comfortable in

What you choose to wear for your photos will have a big influence on your mood. You want to pick clothing that makes you feel beautiful and that you can move in easily. What you wear for your engagement session should also be something you would wear outside of a photo session because you will feel more confident in it. For example, don’t go buy a romper for your photos, unless you wear rompers or jumpsuits in your everyday life. You will feel most beautiful in clothing that is true to your vibe and lifestyle.

Couple throws snowballs during their snowy engagement session in McCall, Idaho.
See more of this snowy McCall engagement by clicking on the image.

If you do go shopping for a new outfit for your engagement photos, take it for a test drive before your session. Wash it, make sure it fits comfortably and wear it for a few hours. If you love how it makes you feel, then wear it for your session!

Start with your outfit and then build your partners

Unless matchy-matchy is something that represents your relationship, you want to avoid matching each other. Instead you want to complement each other. Start by choosing your outfit then take a color(s) from yours and include it in your partner’s. The image below is an example of this. Her shawl was the starting point for their outfit. The gray from her shawl was brought into his outfit using gray pants. He also has a dark purple shirt on that complements the green in her shawl. The goal is to use colors to bring your outfits together without ‘matching.’

Couple kisses in the snow during their Boise engagement session.

Keep patterns and prints to one person

Patterns and prints should be kept to one person. When two people are wearing different patterns in the same frame, your eye doesn’t know what to look at first and the result is a distracting subject in a pretty image. The image below is an example of a good way to use a pattern. He wore a patterned shirt with jeans and she wore a solid colored outfit. She is ‘matched’ to him by wearing a lighter blue shade that complements the dark blue in his skirt.

Couple kisses on a river bak with mountains and trees reflecting behind them during their engagement session in Boise, Idaho.

Larger patterns tend to photograph better than small, tight patterns. I love how large floral prints photograph! There is something so beautiful about a flowy dress with a floral pattern.

Think shades of primary colors

When you are choosing outfits try to keep your color palate in the shadows of primary colors. Think burnt orange, instead of pumpkin orange. Navy blue, instead of sky blue. Burgundy, instead of brick red. If you want a little extra help choosing colors that work well together, go to the paint section of a hardware store and look at paint samples. Also, look at wool blankets. They are usually printed in a complementary color palate.

The image below is an example of using shades of colors inspired by a wool blanket. The burnt orange and blue in the blanket was used as the starting point for their outfits. The burnt orange in her cardigan goes with the blanket. His dark tan pants complement her cardigan and the light tan color in the blanket. His jacket goes nicely with the blue tones that are present in the background and also the black striping in the blanket.

Engaged couple embraces on a dock at Redfish Lake in Stanley, Idaho during their engagement session.

It’s also a good idea to think about how your color palate will mesh with your location. Earthy tones photograph nicely in nature because they fit into almost any background. Shades of blue are another nice color tone that does well with nature because there are a lot of blues present in the sky, water and trees. If you are having your session on a beach or in the desert bold colors will contract nicely against a monotone background.

Dress for your engagement session activity

Dressing to match your engagement session activity is kind of a no brainer but you want to make sure you are dressed appropriately for whatever you are planning to do. If you are hiking make sure you have hiking boots, weather appropriate outerwear and a backpack. Choosing adventure appropriate clothing that is photogenic is important too! Avoid neon and bright colored activewear. Try to choose shirts and jackets that aren’t branded with words or logos.

Choose weather appropriately clothing

Always dress to be warm and dry first! If it’s cold, you can take off warm jackets, hats and gloves for a few photos and then put them back on to warm up. Layers are your best friend if you’re photographing in freezing temperatures! Wear leggings. Get those peel and stick body warmers and hand warmers. Be prepared and your time outdoors will be way more enjoyable!

Don’t feel like you have to include props

If you look around on Pinterest you will see a lot of cute styled engagement session ideas. If this is you, then totally style the sh*t out of your session! But don’t feel pressured to bring a bunch of stuff to your engagement. Your favorite can of beer or the donuts you love to eat say a lot more about you than any prop idea on Pinterest. Just be yourself and don’t stress!

Couple touching noses and laughing during their boise engagement session.

How to include your pet in your Idaho Engagement session

If you have a fur baby you should definitely include them in your session! Your pet is part of your family and life, so you should definitely consider bringing them along. Including your pet will help you feel more comfortable and it will give you something to interact with. Some of my favorite images are of couples playing with their dogs!

Here are a few tips for having a great session with your pet:

  • Look for a location that won’t have a bunch of people and other dogs in it. Your pet will do much better if they aren’t distracted or wanting to play with someone new.
  • Bring a leash! That way you can tie your pet up or I can hold them during photos they aren’t included in.
  • Remember treats and wag bags! It’s always important to follow LNT when adventuring outdoors!

Interested in working with me for engagement photos?

Reach out to schedule a free consultation to learn more.