RACHAEL HOUSER » photography for couples & families

Beware, this is a long one – BUT it’s full of valuable information and if you’re preparing for your engagement session, it’ll be a life saver!



Engagement sessions are usually done about 6 months before the wedding. Sessions are typically done on a weekdays in the evening. Weekdays will ensure that most public places will have less people and be more accessible for shooting. If a weekend dates is needed, please contact me at least two months before the desired date to check on available weekends.

Figuring out when to book is largely based on what/how your will be using the images. If you just want them for the experience, you can choose whatever season and feel you are going for. Many couples use the engagement photos for save the dates. These are usually sent 4 months before the wedding. In this case, you would want to book the session about 6 months before the wedding to make sure the editing and printing can be finishing in time to send the save the dates. If you want to make a guest book to display at the wedding, you’d want to book at least 3 months before the wedding.


To get pretty, golden light, we will be shooting during the “magic hours” (an hour or two to sunset). So, please be on time. Since I’m a natural light photographer, the sun dictates how long I can photograph you.

Make proper considerations for traffic, hair delays, and fashion emergencies. An average shoot lasts 1.5-2 hours… if you show up 30 minutes late, the session is not extended, bunt rather, ends at the regularly schedule time. Please don’t think ill of me… I just want to be honest in advance and let you know I want the BEST photography experience for you – and being on time achieves exactly this!


Two hour sessions allow for two locations. If you already have locations in mind, great! That’s where I’ll put my skills to good use and find those perfect little pieces of heaven. Is there somewhere sentimental to the two of you? Take me there! But if you need suggestions, I have them!

Not all locations are created equal. It’s part of the “professional” in my “title” – I can make any location “work”. Some locations, however, don’t need any assistance from anyone or anything to be beautiful. Those are the locations that will really make your session feel effortless. Some locations have great light, some locations have great backgrounds. Some locations have both – let’s find those locations! (yet another Wedding Wednesday post coming soon!)


Stay away from anything with too much pattern or colors too heavy in the red/orange range b/c they don’t register as well on camera. Embrace the season’s color scheme but also be yourself. I recommend one dressed-up-casual look like skinny jeans or capris with a nice top and one more formal look like your favorite Sunday dress. I would love to see him in a button down with dark jeans or grey slacks. But above all we want these pictures to feel like you guys, so think of it as your style just dressed up a little.

Guys should wear long pants or dress shorts. This means dark socks should be worn by men if they are wearing long pants. Ladies can wear skirts, capris, sun dresses, and/or pants. Just a reminder to consider the length on skirts and dresses because you will likely be sitting on the ground at some point. All the jeans should be the same tone. Dark jeans or light jeans. Khaki’s can usually be different tones. ALL clothes should be ironed. NO graphics or word art.

+ Matching perfectly – coordinate, don’t replicate.
+ T-shirts, ill-fitting, or outrageous clothing.
+ Colors that wash you out or that are too similar to your skin tone.
+ Anything damaged or worn out.


Don’t skimp on the accessories. Accessorizing your outfits with things like headbands, hats, jewelry, jackets, and boots can create a very stylized look. Color, texture, and layers are important. Layering it up adds tremendous depth to the photographs. So, instead of wearing a shirt and jeans, try adding a scarf, jacket, and some fun accessories!

Ladies, it’s also a great idea to get your engagement ring cleaned right before the session so it’ll be extra shiny and sparkly! I’ll be getting up close and personal with in and you’ll want it looking its best!


Some ladies will have their trial run for hair & makeup for the engagement session. This helps them feel a little more “done-up” for the session and boosts their confidence. I’m not saying this is a must at all.

However, what I can say is that in my experience shooting engagement sessions, ladies want to feel pretty and confidence…and sometimes spending a little extra time getting ready is all it takes! If you’d like recommendations, I’d be happy to pass those along.


It’s always fun to bring along props. I want every engagement session to look like it could be in a magazine, so feel free to bring things along that really reflect your fantastic personalities. If you like wine, bring a bottle to enjoy during the session. If you like books, grabs a few favorites. The list is endless! Some suggestions are: bids, camera, magazines, books, picnic basket, desserts, records, etc. Whatever feels like you! Some couples bring their dogs – which is a great idea! Just make sure that you also bring along someone who can take the dog when it’s not needing in a shot (there’s only so many posing we can do that will include it).

That being said, if you aren’t including your dog in the session, please don’t bring any observers. You will have a much more comfortable experience in front of the camera if you concentrate on your sweetie and the gentle guidance I will give you. Once their an audience, clients tend to get self conscious and distracted.


Let’s face it – most men don’t LOVE being in front of the camera. For many couples, this will be the first time they’ve spent in front of the camera in such a substantial way. Most guys find it incredibly beneficial to be shown a few engagement sessions from my blog before hand so they can get an idea of what they’ll be asked to do. The evening before, pull up a couple of your favorite sessions to peruse – the more comfortable he feels, the more comfortable you’ll feel :)


Your sneak peek will be posted to the Facebook page the following business day – sometimes I’m able to post it the same night as your session! At least 80 images will be chosen and edited with very minimal retouching, if any, and ready for viewing through your very own online gallery (next’s week’s Wedding Wednesday is all about it!) within 2 weeks. All high resolution images will be delivered through digital download via your online gallery with rights to print your images anywhere your fancy. That’s what makes me a shoot and SHARE photographer :)

Finally, come to you engagement session ready to relax and have fun! This is a carefree time that you should be excited for! It’s an excuse to spend the evening with your fiancé celebrating your future together. Often, couple will make a night of it – going out to dinner or a movie afterwards. Come ready to be affectionate, laugh, and play!

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Katie & David met in a Murray State general education class years ago. The wonderfulness that is Facebook joined them together later after finding out they had so much in common. He was going to see a movie, alone, and she couldn’t let him do that, alone. So together they saw a movie, and had their first date. They’ve been together ever since, inseparable.

Sunday was the hottest day we’ve had so far this summer spring so we played it cool and shot their session in the shade as much as possible. BEST IDEA EVER. I’ve done dozens of sessions on Murray State’s campus but never had that limitation… which lead to us finding some beautiful locations!! I can’t wait to try them out again! And I can’t wait to photograph Katie & David again for their July wedding!


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Yesterday, our church held it’s bi annual Child Dedication ceremony during each of the three worship services. It’s an exciting time for the families of children being dedicated, but also for the congregation and community of the church. A Baby or Child Dedication is a ceremony in which believing parents, and sometimes entire families, make a commitment before the Lord to submit a child to God’s will and to raise that child according to God’s Word and God’s ways. When  my nephew Kolton was still a baby, he was also dedicated into the church. My niece Khloe, just 4 months old, was dedicated yesterday, along with our sweet friends Lexie & Bryan’s infant Braxton. Of course, being a photographer, I won’t pass up any opportunity to document an event for our family!


After the service was group/family portrait time! Below are Lexie & Braxton and Kelly & Khloe. Khloe’s big brother Kolton has already arranged the marriage between Braxton & Khloe… how sweet!


The little family: Kolton, Clint, Khloe, & Kelly. Kelly has two younger sisters and they are known for their three-sisters-pictures: Keisha, Kelly, Khloe, & Kortney.


The grandparents! Jimmy, Terri, Kolton, Clint, Khloe, Kelly, Debbie, & Tim.


Kelly’s side of the family: Harrison, Kortney, Kolton, Clint, Khloe, Kelly, Matt, Granny, Debbie, Keisha, & Tim.


Clint’s side (aka, our side): Jimmy, Terri, Tim (yes, another one!), Amy, Kolton, Clint, Khloe, Kelly, Neil, and myself :) I am now noticing how well (NOT) my skirt held up during church. Ironing doesn’t last long enough, y’all.


The star! Just look at that little tongue! She almost always has it sticking out…. too cute!


I just want to sweet her cheeks right off her face! Is that a weird thing to say? lol


Child of Light, I bless you!
I think of you,
I pray for you,
Not in terms of what I think you need or what I think you should do or be or express.
I lift up my thought about you.
I catch a new vision of you.
I see you guided and directed
By an inward spirit that leads you unerringly into the path that is right for you.
I see you strong and whole;
I see you blessed and prospered;
I see you courageous and confident;
I see you capable and successful.
I see you free from limitation or bondage of any kind.
I see you as the spiritually perfect being you truly are.
Child of Light, Khloe, I bless you!

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By the title, you’d think that this post is an in depth look at me as a person, a photographer.


Some day I might write a post like that (most likely), but today is not that day.

I have a Board on Pinterest titled “This is Me” and on that board I pin anything and everything I come across that screams THIS IS SO YOU OMG! And because I’m all about getting to know my brides (and grooms!) and for them to get to know me, I thought I’d share a few of them today :)

Y’all know I’m from Kentucky, right?? You’re welcome :)

361b27350be70b9a21c75cefa0e784a6PINIMAGE Love this postcard! It highlights a beauty of Kentucky… also, Greetings from Paducah :)


 White Haven, our visitors center in Paducah. I’ve not come across another visitors center quite as lovely as ours.


 I bleed blue!


 I WANT this t-shirt!


I think this would be an awesome t-shirt as well, or maybe a poster? I love that Paducah is purple! (High school colors were purple and gold)


Another t-shirt I love. Too funny! “Kentucky, Other States”

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View More: http://allenadamsphotography.pass.us/connectretreat2014PINIMAGE

Another MONTHS have passed since I’ve done a monthly snapshot but LORD it is SO needed this month! Can you tell by how often I CAPS a word??

I had one wedding in March and one in April so technically, my wedding season has already started. BUT my wedding season REALLY starts this month! If you follow me month to month you will see how this year is the year of travel for me!

+ 4 weddings (Mayfield KY, Lebanon TN, Cadiz KY, & Paris TN)
+ 3 engagements (Murray KY, Chattanooga TN, & Murray KY)

SOOOO excited!

Um… nothing! Haha! No seriously, I have one get together with friends but other than working at the hospital I don’t have time to do anything else! This will be my life for the next… 6 months? Yup. 6 months. So if I drop off the face of the earth, you’ll know why ;)

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