Our brilliant betrothal

2013-11-23 00:00

WHEN Luis dos Santos and Nicole Carreira decided to mark their engagement with a photo shoot, they dressed up to the nines and were snapped in an “enchanted forest”. Doctor Sbu Thusi and pharmacist Martha Knight posed in an operating theatre. And Natalie Haswell’s love of all things Christmas led her and her husband Matt Haswell to dress up for a shoot with a “Nutcracker” theme.

All three couple’s “e-shoots” were done by wedding and portrait photographer Jacki Bruniquel, who said they are a “relatively new phenomenon which has hit the wedding world by storm”.

“They have been all the rage abroad for quite some time but have really only taken off in South Africa in the last three to four years. They are done some time between when a couple first gets engaged and when they say their I do’s.”

“Most people aren’t natural models and are quite camera shy so, engagement shoots are a great way for couples to get to know how their photographer works so that they aren’t nervous on the big day.”

Umdloti Beach-based Bruniquel has a background in fine art and describes her style as a combination of “creative portraiture and wedding photojournalism. I love to tell stories with images so I like to create themed engagement shoots, which are based around each client.”

Choosing a theme to make the shoot more colourful is part of the global trend. Bridal Guide website features engagement photos inspired by topics as wide-ranging as Harry Potter, a zombie invasion, a water balloon fight and patriotism.

Dos Santos and Carreira live in Mount Edgecombe. He said they did the engagement shoot in June because “we wanted to document our love for each other in a unique way. We both like to live the high life but at the same time we are down to earth and love being outdoors. We spoke to Jacki and she instantly had a concept of this enchanted forest where we would be dressed extremely formally.

“We had great reviews. People were shocked at how over the top some of the pics were and how different Nicole’s make up made her look, but overall they loved them.”

Natalie Haswell said she and Matt chose their Nutcracker theme because she loves children’s books and Christmas. Her name means Christmas and Matt proposed on Christmas Day on Christmas Hill near Johannesburg. They were married in 2012 and live in Umhlanga. She said family and friends “got a fright” when they saw the photos. “They’re very different. But they know what we’re like. We’re both creative.”

Bruniquel said she takes time to understand each couple before embarking on an engagement shoot so she can tell their story through images. “One needs to come up with a theme, outfits and a location and in order to ensure these are all authentic, one needs to do a bit of research.

“We have done lavish styled shoots involving costumes, miniature horses, crazy hairstyles and lighting effects and then we have also done much more simple shoots. Not every theme is right for every couple and I adapt everything accordingly.

Gillitts-based wedding photographer Neil Cuninghame, who’s been doing e-shoots for about four years, said he likes them because they allow him to get to know couples without the pressure of the wedding day.

“My favourite use of e-session photos is to design an album with the photos specifically for the reception. It acts as a guest book that guests can sign in and write little notes to the couple. It also gives the guests an opportunity to see a more relaxed side of the couple.” His average wedding package is R18 000, with an e-session costing R1 500.

And his most interesting job? “I’ll be doing an e-shoot in December with cheetahs and lions out in the bush. That should be exciting!”

* Surnames not supplied

• See www.jackibruniquel.com and


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