One of the biggest challenges to setting up an engagement session isn’t what time (sunset, of course! golden hour is THE most flattering light!!!) — and on a weekday (my weekends are reserved for weddings and family) — but where are we gonna do this?
The first thing most people say to me is, “you pick the location, I trust you!” — oh I’m so flattered, but please…don’t trust me with this! Not because I can’t pick a photo worthy location, not because I don’t know of a ton of things in the area– but because this is your engagement session. Finding a location that fits your personality as a couple and something you’d want to have in pictures to share with family and friends shouldn’t be up to anyone but you! Making the location completely personalized by making sure it’s something YOU love is what is going to photograph best.
Please- before you call me a lazy bum…haha…this is not an attempt to get out of location scouting. And with all do respect, this is not part of my responsibility as the photographer– I say this with love!!! If I was setting up a styled shoot with a theme, then it would be something I need to do on my own because it’s my vision then. Although I could technically try to schedule in location scouting time even with a busy schedule, who I am scouting for? If I see locations that I want to shoot at eventually, that doesn’t mean they would fit the particular couples who are due for engagement sessions in the near future. I read a blog post by Jasmine Star (here and here) about locations, engagements, etc about a while ago and that’s when I realized I need to educate my clients about the following things: time of day, wardrobe (what to wear and how many outfits), the importance of being on time and location. And today, we focus on location.
Here are some tips of finding a location that works best for YOU as a couple and for your photographer as well:
**You can literally make this scouting thing into a date day for the two of you. I had a couple recently use a day off together to enjoy lunch and location scouting for their engagements, which made them even more excited for the session! They picked locations that fit their personalities perfectly and they rocked it out on top of being proud that they were the reason for the beautiful backdrop!
**Make sure you have permission or a permit is not required to shoot
**If the area is public (oceanfront, city, etc) check to make sure there are no large events (marathons, etc) happening on the shoot dates! (Dates plural because there is a regular date and a rain date usually set for couples sessions)
**Outdoor settings only – some photographers prefer natural light settings only for engagements because to us, they are the most flattering and complimentary! If you are requesting to shoot indoors, check with your photographer first and additionally finding a location that has plenty of natural window light is key for this.
**I only allow two locations for engagement shoots (works best when shooting so close to sunset, you can’t shoot once the light is gone!) so shooting in the location with the most shade first is best! For instance, if I’m shooting an engagement session and one of the locations in on the bay…I know the sun sets on the bay so that’s where the second half needs to be.
**What kind of couple are you? Do you love going to the beach together and not minding getting a little dirty? Are you the kind of the couple that loves fishing and would shoot on a dock somewhere? Do you absolutely hate nature and would prefer urban? Don’t push yourselves to be someone your not for a location, you won’t appear as comfortable! I’ve shot so many sessions in downtown Norfolk and Waterside because they love that there is so much light there with the docks but they don’t want to be in the sand or surrounded by trees. Be true to yourselves!
So when it comes to locations, I know photographers who don’t choose and some who LOVE to choose locations, but for my business is works best when the couple makes it their own. I always trust my couples and they never fail to come up with the best spots, especially when they personalize it by choosing their own location! So many of the spots people have asked me about are actually privately owned property and family farms, etc…which makes them even more unique and beautiful! Also, feel free to take pictures of locations you’ve found and text/email them to your photographer to get their opinion if you have any doubts or questions. That’s what we’re here for! 🙂 XOXOXO