engagement shoots | rooftop mosaic

This week I have had the pleasure of drinking coffee, eating cake and chatting to the lovely Gail Kelly of Rooftop Mosaic. She has been giving me her thoughts and advice regarding engagement shoots, which are all the rage these days, and rightly so! Why not have a fun experience with your fiance in front of the camera to prepare for your wedding day! I wanted to get some tips from behind the lens! Gail has plenty of experience, picking up her camera for the first time around 10 years ago "Photography started out as a hobby and developed from there.  I initially used film cameras and developed my own images in a darkroom at school, that’s probably where my love of black and white film started. At that point though I was just using whatever I could get my hands on through college.  I was always drawn to photographing people and after buying some Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Brassaï books I was hooked!  I went on to study Graphic Design at University and I always felt photography played an important role with that.  After I completed my degree I developed my photography more by attending college courses before setting up my own business in 2009, after several requests from friends to photograph their weddings!"

Another advantage of having an engagement shoot is yet again getting to choose a lovely venue for it! Gail took us to Kelvingrove Park in 2011 and she has some great advice for when you are deciding where to have yours, "I like to shoot in natural light, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be outside.  Natural, park locations are always really popular, but I prefer more unusual places like museums, art galleries, little streets that could be anywhere in the world or from any era.  Cute, little, retro cafes. Wide open spaces or rustic or abandoned buildings. A fun fair or carnival, or old cinemas.  If anyone wants to do their engagement shoot in Paris or New York then I would be totally up for that!  I’ve been to the beach too which was fun and also for your own engagement shoot we managed to take over a tennis court!"

Gail took inspiration from Paul and I's recent trip to Wimbledon for our shoot.

Gail has recently completed a shoot in Edinburgh, "The weather was a bit mixed but the snow (yes, snow!) managed to hold off long enough for us to get some great shots, and the sun even decided to make a cameo appearance!  The couple did a great job on the day, staying nice and relaxed and having fun with each other.  I generally try to hang back and shoot on a longer lens, which allows them to pretend that I’m not even there and allows for more intimacy between the couple."

This makes the whole experience really personal and is also a good indication of how Gail would be as your photographer on your wedding day!

So I asked Gail for her tips on why couples should go for an engagement shoot before their wedding; "They are a great chance for them to get used to being in front of the camera.  It provides them with a taster of what to expect on the wedding day, particularly with regards to the ‘formal’ photo part of the day.  It also hopefully relaxes them and helps ease any nerves they have about being photographed.  Similarly it allows them to get to know me a bit better in advance of the wedding day.  No matter how much your photographer stays in the background they are going to be with you for the whole of your wedding day, so it’s nice if you think of them as friend or guest."

Gail also told me why they are an advantage for her as a photographer, which I hadn't really thought of before! "I use them as a chance to see how the couple behave with each other, to see if they're quite intimate and affectionate with each other or whether they prefer to laugh and joke.  This helps me plan ahead for the wedding day and think about the types of images I can create when I get my much loved time alone with the Bride and Groom after the Ceremony."

It's great to know that your photographer is so keen on getting to know you and your likes and dislikes, that way on your wedding day you can be confident that you are going to get the most personal images. It's important to do your research when choosing your photographer and pick the style you like, be it formal or more candid, reportage images. Many photographers (like Gail) prefer to take bright photographs in natural light, and I have seen a lot of online portfolios where the photographer favours a darker, more atmospheric look to their shots. It's down to your own personal preference and remember, you're going to be looking at these photos for the rest of your life (no pressure)!

"I view engagement shoots as a great opportunity to get to know the couple a little better before their wedding day. I am genuinely interested in the couples that I photograph: what their story is and how they plan to reflect that in their wedding day plans.  It’s really just a nice opportunity for us to hang out, have a chat, grab a cup of tea and take a few snaps.  It’s also nice to go to fun or unusual locations, and if the couple bring along any props then that’s great too!"

I have mentioned this before in my post on wedding shows, suppliers are genuinely interested in you and your wedding and helping you make your day as perfect as possible! I firmly believe due to the people that I have met in the wedding industry that they are in it because they love getting to know couples and producing a great service and beautiful memory of their day. Let your suppliers get to know you! It is only going to get you a more personal service.

Lastly, of course I asked Gail about her dream couple to photograph! "I could go on all day here, I’ll try to restrain myself! I know that they were never a couple but if I could have got Gene Kelly and Audrey Hepburn together for a shoot then that would have been a (black and white 35mm film) dream come true!  If I were choosing a real life couple from the same era then it would be Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, they are both just full of old school Hollywood glamour.

If I were sticking with modern times then I would go with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, again not a real couple, but a great movie couple!  In real life then I would go for the lovely Mr and Mrs Justin Timberlake, they have a fabulous retro look."

Thank you so much to Gail for her beautiful images and invaluable of advice! Tip of the day then has to be, go and get your engagement shoot booked!

Gail can be contacted through her website, Facebook or Twitter. Check out more of her gorgeous photographs!