we are Mike and Nat,

husband and wife wedding photographers in the SF Bay Area. We are passionate about authentic moments and developing a great connection with each couple.

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Engagement Sessions


This is the first of our 4-part mini series: “Your Stress-Free Wedding”. We’ve put together our best planning tips from 11 years of experience.
These ideas will help you to enjoy the day and be in the moment as much as possible. Read the rest of the series here!


As you plan and prepare for your wedding day, Engagement Session are one of the best way to become comfortable in front of the cameras.

Your photographers will be closer to you than almost anyone else on your big day. You probably don’t want unfamiliar people with you for all the intimate moments. After an engagement session we find that most couples become more relaxed and comfortable with the cameras. This experience also helps the photographers get to know you and your interaction style (are you shy, silly, serious, etc?)

It’s common for people to feel a little tense and hold their breath a lot at the beginning of these sessions. There’s even a common joke among photographers that it’s not necessary to put the film in the camera for the first five minutes of the session as no good photos are  going to come out anyway. Practice time in front of the camera will help you to feel more confident and relaxed on the big day.

As we get to chatting, joking, and talking through the poses we see people start to breathe deeper, relax, and take the masks off. That’s when we really start taking pictures.

Seeing your finished and beautiful engagement portraits allows you to have more confidence and trust in the experience. You’ll know that even if he/she asks you to do something silly the pictures are going to be worth it and your most flattering and authentic expressions will be captured.

The photographs then become almost more of a fringe benefit :) Many couples even prefer to print their engagement photos for their walls because the the pictures are more versatile (you are not dressed in wedding clothes).


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 Picking a Location

The images we’ll create for your engagement session are focused on you as a couple. Because of this, we suggest choosing a place where you will be able to relax in front of the cameras and be comfortable to express yourselves with each other. Beautiful locations are a good idea, but the backgrounds are actually less important and we usually don’t suggest picking any landmarks (Golden Gate Bridge, etc.). The focus in these photos is on YOU and not on the backgrounds.

To narrow down your list of locations, we suggest choosing between a nature or an urban setting. Nature settings are usually easier for relaxing and getting into the groove as there are less passersby. Urban areas can be fun, but there will be more people around while you interact and express yourselves to each other.

We’ll be happy to help you choose a great setting – contact us for some great locations. We can photograph in the shade at any time of the day, but the best light for outdoor nature portraits are usually the last 1-2 hours of the day.



We suggest wearing comfortable clothing without many distracting patterns. Casual clothing will allow you to relax and feel like yourself. If you usually don’t wear skirts and high heels, your portrait session is probably not the time to experiment. Please don’t wear clothes that might make you feel awkward. Be yourself! If your session is in a nature setting, heels are not a good idea because we are going to be walking on the grass and we may even ask you to sit on it if it’s dry.

Please do your best to try to judge the weather correctly. Cold people don’t look happy! Bodies can tense up, noses and ears will turn red, and all of this can show in the photos.

We also ask that you don’t bring along a purse or anything to carry unless it’s something that you’d like to have with you in all the photos. We’ll move around A LOT so it’ll be more comfortable if you don’t have anything in your hands.

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0 Comments January 23, 2017

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Mike and Nat are a husband and wife photography team based in San Francisco Bay Area. Their relaxed style allows them to capture authentic moments while creating a stress-free experience. Choco Studio photographs weddings throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including Napa, Sonoma, Carmel, and Monterey.