6 Ways to Choose your Ideal Engagement Photo Shoot Location


So you just got engaged and picked your wedding photographer. What now? Most grooms and many brides are less than comfortable with the idea of a photographer following their every move on their wedding day. This is completely normal and almost always treatable. Treatment consists of two parts:

  1. Get to know your photographer and give them time to get to know you
  2. Spend some time in front of the camera when the pressure is off ie. Not your wedding day

Engagement photos are a great way to connect with your photographer and also with each other in front of a camera. Engagement photos are usually a 2-3 hour photo shoot with you and your partner. Between you and your photographer you will need to decide on what location you wish to have your photos taken.

To help you find the perfect location, read the questions for clients and browse over the considerations for your photographer.

Considerations for you and your fiancé

 

#1 What do you want out of the shoot?

Is it to become comfortable having your photos taken, as mentioned above. If you are camera shy, perhaps a more secluded area might be ideal so that any displays of affection are not in front of lots of bystanders? Ultimately you both need to feel comfortable in the location where you want to have the photo shoot?

Luke was uncomfortable in front of the camera to begin. The first image shows one of the initial photos from his engagement shoot, the second image shows one of the final images from his engagement shoot, and the third image was taken at their second engagement shoot. It is not uncommon for couples to request a second engagement shoot, particularly those that are very nervous in front of the camera. Similar to wedding dance lessons, some people require more than one lesson to conquer their fears of the lens.

Is it to get some more casual photos as a couple? As your wedding photos are often more formal in nature this is an opportunity to get some more natural photos of two of you. Some people will then choose to have canvas enlargements or framed prints made from the images on their engagement shoot.

Is it to get some images to use towards ‘Save the Date’ cards or a guest signature board for your wedding day.

#2 Is there a special emphasis of the location or for the photo shoot?

Do you want to highlight the iconic nature of the particular area ie. the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Colosseum in Rome, or the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney. This is usually the case if you choose to have your engagement photos done when in a foreign city or holiday location.

Do you want to the location to be one that reminds of special times? It could be the location where you had your first date or where your fiancé proposed? Maybe it’s the area that you most like spending time together such as park or café.

 

Do you want images that are focused on the best possible connection of the two of you and therefore the location is not as important. In this case the photographer’s ability to capture your relationship and feelings for one another (this could be romantic, affection, best friends, soul mates, mad crazy passionate love, etc) would be more important.

Do you just want to have some fun together whilst still getting your photo taken, and at the same time allowing your photographer to get to know you in a low stress environment. This could include a photo shoot at an amusement park, cycling at a park, paintball, hiring Segway’s or playing with your dog.

Do you want to use this time as an opportunity to have some glamour style photos taken? This is usually the case when you organise for a hair and makeup trial to coincide with your engagement photos.

#3 How far are you willing to walk?

This equates to what footwear are you wearing (well for most women). High heels are not comfortable to cover any distance. If you are prepared to wear flats whilst walking and then change back into their high heel shoes, then this barrier can be overcome.

 

#4 Are you able to traverse difficult terrain?

Not only is footwear a consideration, but also your outfit. Areas such as the Bare Island plateau are uneven surfaces that can be slippery. The photos below are from a Trash the Dress shoot in Italy. The location required a 20 minute hike down some very steep terrain and then getting under the waterfall required a lot of careful manoeuvring of the couple. The clients had specifically requested this location and were prepared for the hike into the location.

#5 Are you willing to get your outfit a little dirty?

Some locations can risk clothing getting dirty due to things such as salty air or walking through terrain such as a rainforest. This was the case for a bride and one of her bridesmaids who ended up with a leech that drew a little blood.

#6 Are you willing to get your outfit wet?

If you are considering a beach shoot can you get wet with the outfit you intend to wear? If it rains are you prepared to continue on with the shoot? Would an umbrella be a viable option to still go out into your chosen location for the photo shoot.

Considerations for your photographer

  • Proximity – How far will the couple have to travel after having their hair and makeup done to the desired location? If they wish to use more than one location, how far is it between each location? As the best light is usually just before sunset until one hour after sunset (2 hour window approx.), it is important not to waste time travelling between locations during this short window.
  • Availability of toilets and/or change areas – Some couples will choose to be photographed in a variety of outfits. If this is the case you need to have a location where the couple can change into a different outfit.
  • Access to food and drinks
    This is a practical consideration to keep hydrated and blood sugar levels up. Access to certain foods and drinks can make for some fun photos as well. Sharing an ice cream cone, a glass of champagne, or even some fairy floss will open up the opportunity for some amazing photos.
  • Weather conditions
    Hot weather can cause makeup to run and couples wearing suits and dresses to overheat and sweat. This does not make for a good photograph. If conditions are likely to be extremely hot I will advise clients to choose a late afternoon/evening shoot and or to find a location either in the shade or indoors.
  • Time of day requested
    Light is a photographer’s best friend. The best light of course being around sunrise; and one hour before, and one hour after sunset. The best time for sunset photos are the hour before sunset for that golden light.

Then the hour after sunset where the sky deepens in display of yellows, oranges, and reds.

Twilight is ushered in with hues of purple and a deep blue colour paints they sky. If you are in a city location, this is when all the city lights appear.

Generally a sunrise shoot is not practical to due availability of hair and makeup artists, and most couples don’t find the idea of getting prepared for a photo shoot a 3am in the morning all that appealing.

  • Privacy
    How many bystanders/general public likely to be present? Public displays of affection are difficult for many couples. In particular certain ethnic groups find it uncomfortable showing any form of affection in a public place especially if there is a lot of bystanders around. Couples dressed in formal attire (and/or bridal wear) with a photographer tend to attract considerable attention from the general public.

Another consideration is that bystanders can end up being in your photographs as a very distracting element. Yes, Photoshop can remove people in most photos. However, the process is time consuming and therefore costly.

  • Ease of public transport
    Do your clients need public transport to get to the photo location? Sometimes public transport can be an ideal way to move between different photo locations during the engagement session, particularly if parking is difficult. Manhattan, New York is a perfect example where you may wish to have some photos in Central Park followed by photos by one of the many piers. In this case, travelling via public transport would be far easier than attempting to park in each location.
  • Availability of parking
    As a gear freak I will often bring a lot of equipment to an engagement shoot. If parking is difficult I will need to minimise the equipment I take. Locations that have easy parking that is close to your engagement photo location allow for the couple to keep wardrobe changes in their car and for me to keep additional photographic equipment.
  • How level is the surface
    Can the location be traversed in high heels and/or slip on shoes? Is the couple and my team able to safely reach the ideal photo location? Bare Island at La Perouse in Sydney is an amazing location for engagement photos. The rock plateau surrounding the island can be a great place to take some photos, however care must be taken as the plateau is highly uneven and also slippery on some of the rock surfaces.
  • Sunset location
    Where will the sun set and at what time at the your chosen location. If the client wants sunset shots with the sun setting over the water, this will limit the choice of locations. Also where the sun sets in relationship to the surrounding buildings will be important if shooting in a city location. Sunset location in an area can be easily found using the Sun Seeker: 3D Augmented Reality Viewer app
  • Availability of nearby shelter for change in weather conditions
    If bad weather conditions occur during the shoot, does the location have an area to find shelter and preferably continue with the photo shoot? If shelter is not available, could wedding umbrellas be used in the location and still obtain quality images for the couple.

 

When Joanne and Bill had their engagement shoot, the weather was miserable. It had been raining on and off during the day. Their engagement shoot was at an amusement park that allowed us to get photos of them on the rides whilst it was raining and then when the rain cleared we were able to get some images out in the open.

  • Availability of a nearby location for a change in hair and makeup
    Some clients that choose to have a hair and makeup trial may wish to remove the makeup and change it for a more natural look to achieve different looks within the one photo shoot. If this is the case, a bathroom with a mirror and a place for the client to change into a different outfit is important. If the client requires hair to be redone, a power point can be useful.
  • Location Fees and/or Permits
    Many locations require photographers to have permits and/or pay fees to use an area for photographing a couple. If the couple/photographer has not paid this fee and/or obtained the permit the location or local council ranger may charge a hefty fine. Fees to use a location need to be paid by the couple in advance.
  • Iconic nature
    Does this photo say Paris or Rome or Venice? If shooting in a foreign city, most couples desire to have many of their photo shoots done with iconic monuments or locations in the background of their photos.
  • Day of the Week
    Saturday’s are extremely busy in most photo locations, especially late in the afternoon as wedding couples and their photographer’s compete for prime photographic locations. Bare island is La Perouse Sydney is very busy with families and fisherman on a weekend. Therefore a weekday would be a better choice if you wished to use this as your photo shoot location.If you are using a location that is a tourist attraction it is best to find a day that they are closed to minimise the amount of tourists. This is important in locations such as the Louvre (closed on Tuesdays’) and therefore the glass pyramid and stunning stone building surrounding have far less tourists to contend with space to take photos.