Choosing an Engagement Shoot Location

Since you got engaged (and, let’s face it, probably before), you’ve gotten a little excited when you see other people’s engagement photo shoots. The perfect kiss; the sunlight just right; the entire set of pictures perfectly capturing the magic of each relationship.

It’s the type of photography project you can get behind, even if you’ve never picked up a camera yourself–because you’re the expert on what makes your relationship special. Now you just have to help your photographer understand how to capture it.

Engagement photo shoots cover a huge variety of settings, poses, and themes. So how do you pick just one (or a few) that really makes the love you feel for one another come across? Some couples embrace a traditional photo shoot with dreamy lighting, soft colors, and perhaps a rose garden bench or a sunset-lit beach.

Some couples take the opportunity to copy some of their favorite famous romantic poses. Other couples decide their love story is better told in a creepy graveyard. The choice can be a little daunting. 

Your first step is deciding what aspect of your relationship you want to convey in your engagement photos. Sure, your relationship probably spans a wide range of emotions. You’re silly sometimes, serious sometimes, and romantic sometimes.

You can convey all of these emotions through your poses and the way you interact with each other in front of the camera, and a good photographer will be able to capture the essence of every mood. However, the location you choose for the photo shoot will be like a third person in the photo, with a mood and atmosphere of its own. Choose carefully!

Consider the Photographic Genre

Like movies, photographs come in genres. There’s a vast difference between a cheerful, brightly-colored vintage kitchen set (where you and your intended are sipping out of straws from the same milkshake, no doubt) and a stark, black and white portrait in front of a nighttime cityscape (where your dancing silhouettes are, of course, mid-dip).

And posed pictures are themselves a far cry from a casual afternoon where you and your spouse-to-be cuddle on your living room couch while your photographer snaps pictures of you in your element. Think about what genre represents you best.

Consider Your Wedding Theme 

Since many couples use their engagement photos on their wedding announcements and invitations, you may want to plan ahead so your photo style matches your wedding (and therefore, stationery) theme. For an elegant, lavish, traditional wedding, ask around at historical landmark buildings and see who’s got the biggest sweeping staircase for the best day rental rate. For a rustic barn wedding, visit the nearest meadow and bring a few hay bales and bouquets of wildflowers.

You can take advantage of your wedding theme even if there are some seasonal difficulties. Let’s say you’re planning a Christmas wedding, but you got engaged in March. Setting up some lights, wrapped presents, and red-striped candy, despite the blossoming flowers all around, could result in a funny shoot that shows off your silly sides. 

Consider Convenience

While you shouldn’t let a remote location deter you if you, your fiancé, and your photographer are all up for an adventure, convenience is usually an important aspect to keep in mind. If you and your sweetheart got engaged in the middle of a backpacking trip through the Sierras, it’s probably not realistic to recreate the scene on top of the exact same cliff top that’s a two-day hike from the nearest parking lot.

Remember, your photographer needs to bring expensive equipment to the shoot–and when the photo’s focus is on your smiling faces, one remote location in the background can look a lot like another one (that’s hopefully closer to the trailhead).

Not only should the photo shoot location be easily accessible by car, but it should also be somewhat close to where your photographer lives or you could incur astronomical travel fees. If you’re planning a destination photo shoot somewhere exotic, it’s more cost-effective to hire a photographer local to the area.

Think about the amenities at the photo shoot location itself. While the background of your engagement pictures should look utterly romantic, it shouldn’t take precedence over yours and your photographer’s comfort during the shoot.

If your outdoor engagement shoot involves multiple outfit changes or waiting for the sunlight to hit just right, location amenities become even more important. Make sure there are bathrooms nearby and a safe place to stageequipment, as well as heat or shade. You may also want to bring snacks. This is more than mere indulgence–the more comfortable you are during the photo shoot, the more your happiness will show through in the photos.

Collaborate with Your Photographer

The best way to decide what type of photo shoot setting you want is to look at other couples’ photo shoots. Ask your photographer to show you a variety of portfolio albums, and do your own research online to see engagement photography shoots from around the world.

Start a folder of engagement photographs that speak to you, and eventually some patterns will start to emerge. Talk it over with your photographer to see how you can choose a convenient photo setting that best conveys your own unique love story.