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Picture perfect



Something just clicked when wedding photographers Amanda Olivia and Mekina Saylor met two years ago at a mastermind. “We are complete opposites,” began Mekina, “But we developed a friendship and we both like to give our clients the best possible experience.” That friendship has continued, and recently Amanda Olivia shot Mekina and her fiancé Nick Pennetti’s engagement photos on Hilton Head. “I call it an engagement ex perience because my sessions are an experience. I don’t want it to be 10 minutes and done,” said Amanda Olivia.

“For each client I send them questionnaires asking them what they like to do and personality traits both individually and as a couple. I want my clients to be able to look back at their photos and it be meani ngful and unique to the couple.” Amanda Olivia, a film photographer, and Mekina, a digital photographer, provided a checklist for anyone saying, “I DO” TO ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS. 


pictureperfect3When choosing an engagement photographer, think about establishing a professional but friendly relationship. Not only look at the photographer’s portfolio but interview the photographer. Is your photographer someone you would want to have coffee with and vibes with you and your partner?

“You want to have a photographer you’re comfortable with because if not, it will show in your pictures,” said Amanda Olivia.

“Also, you are going to spend time with your photographer and you should. You want your photographer not to be intrusive but to understand you as a couple and capture that,” said Mekina.

Both also agreed it is best to use the same photographer for your engagement photos as your wedding photos.

“It’s like test driving a car. During the engagement session, as a photographer, you get to see how the couple interacts. What they like and don’t like. So, on the wedding day [the photographer] knows what the couple prefers. You want familiarity on your wedding day to eliminate stress,” said Amanda Olivia.


Engagement photo trends aside, do some soul searching on what photos would best reflect you and your fiancé. Do you like to bike together? Do you like to cook together? Do you co-parent a pet?

“Look at your engagement session as an event. Have a vision board for the location or locations. Makeup, hair, outfits, movement, props — have it all picked out,” said Mekina, who added, “Weather is the only thing you cannot plan but go with the wind and know your hair is not going to cooperate.”



“You don’t want your engagement experience to be rushed,” said Amanda Olivia, who encourages her clients to allocate an entire day to their session. “You want to be in the right head space and enjoy it much like a date.”

“Plus, it enables you and your fiancé to really feel engaged,” said Mekina, who paired her engagement experience with a food tasting to select items to be served at her wedding.


Engagement photos can be integrated into the wedding in a myriad of ways. Ideas include a coffee table book, save-the-dates, decorations, welcome gifts and the wedding guest book.

As Mekina panned the wall of engagement photos (taken by Amanda Olivia) behind her, Amanda Olivia pointed out, “Most engagements are a short experience and engagement photos help you live in the moment.”