There are a couple of reasons for offering this as a service. None of the reasons has anything to do with selling more prints. The obvious one is the likelihood the couple will retain us after seeing our work. Another is the chance for us to try new techniques and approaches under realistic scenarios, where the results are non-critical. For couples that have already booked our services, this gives us a chance to get the couple used to working with us. We learn more about their personalities and their reactions to each other. An added benefit is a more relaxed couple in front of the camera on their wedding day.
For the couple, there are tremendous benefits from taking advantage of these services. This is a great opportunity to “try before you buy”. You get answers to any questions about a particular photographer’s personality, style, professionalism, etc., over the course of a 1-2 hour session. Before you see what the photographer’s work looks like, you’ll have a good idea if you can work with this person over the course of one of the most stressful days of your life. You also get the chance to practice being in front of the camera for an extended period. You can try different looks and different poses. You get to see just how creative you can be, all while learning how to be comfortable in the presence of the camera.
Naturally, this intent is more than a practice run. The session you have with the photographer you ultimately hire will provide additional images for your families, and your wedding album. Both sets of parents and grandparents will want images of you before you truly set out to begin life as a new family-to-be. You will also likely want “before” images. Even if you don’t make prints to frame, these images make a wonderful addition to your wedding album.
Pay attention to the no-cost engagement photo offers, but only if they come with no purchase obligation. They aren’t exactly free, as the photographer retains the right to use any images from the session for promotional purposes. If you’re not comfortable with that, then don’t take the offer. If you are, then take advantage of the offer, and the situation. Give the photographer and their talents a test run. Give yourself a test run in front of the camera. If you do nothing else, have fun.