It used to happen much more often than it does now. But every now and again, I’ll have a bride say that she has NO idea where to have her engagement session and needs help choosing a place!! It can feel like a lot of pressure! You would think that the entire shoot depends on WHERE you’re shooting, but that isn’t always necessarily the case. Let me explain…!
A great photographer can take amazing portraits at ANY location. What matters more than the backdrop is the LIGHT! When I show up to your shoot, I will be looking for clean, indirect light bouncing off of white or neutral-colored surfaces (a wall, the sidewalk, etc.) because I want first and foremost for YOU to look amazing. This doesn’t mean we can only shoot where the light is “perfect,” it just means that while the location matters, light is just as great of a factor to consider when picking your engagement session location.
What does this mean in practical terms?! I would say that the best locations I’ve ever shot at for engagement sessions 1) offered some sort of shade (trees, buildings, etc.) to shoot under before the sun got low enough for golden hour, and 2) offered a VARIETY of different picture locations so that the shoot naturally takes up its entire time slot. When we have some “exploring” to do at an engagement session location, it makes it that much more fun for you as a couple to wander around, be photographed in a variety of locations, and really get the most out of your evening!!
Above all, take some time to think about your story and what would reflect you best as a couple. So many of my brides and grooms already know exactly where they want to shoot and it turns out to be an absolutely perfect location because it means so much to them and tells their story in a beautiful way. While light is important, we can make any location beautiful!! What matters most is having fun, feeling comfortable, and being excited about where you’re being photographed together!
I could continue to explain what makes an engagement session location great, but I think it might be much more fun to show you some real-life examples! All of these locations took place within one hour’s drive of Washington, D.C.!
Ryan and Kristen started their shoot in downtown Annapolis (one of my favorite cities to shoot in and one of their favorites to spend a date night at)! We wandered around for the first hour of their shoot and then hopped in the car for their second location, a beach just down the road! Annapolis offered plenty of shady spots to shoot in while the sun was still high and then the open space at the beach was PERFECT for golden hour!
Halie & Mike chose Baltimore as their engagement session location because it’s where their love story began. We actually shot from the balcony at the first apartment complex they lived in together. The sentimental value of having their shoot here in Baltimore was priceless, and being such a large city, it offered so many great photo opportunities! Halie and Mike picked out their favorite spots that they loved to explore together and that’s where we shot!
Colleen and Matt knew exactly where they wanted to have their shoot as well! They live just 20 minutes up the road from this beautiful overlook and knew they just had to utilize the beauty of this location. Now, a good point to make here is that while light matters, it doesn’t ruin your shoot if we don’t have shade to work with while the sun is high in the sky! After so many years of shooting I have learned how to shoot in direct sunlight so that it’s not overbearing. I love how bright and joyful these photos are below!
My last example includes both indoor and outdoor locations!! Matt and Heather made a little trip out of their engagement session and decided to get a room at the Gaylord and enjoy the ice show that evening after we were done shooting. Heather really wanted some more “lifestyle” type photos of the two of them so we started the shoot in their hotel room. I started the shoot a little early to make sure the sun was nice and bright while we were shooting indoors to keep natural light available in the room! Then we were able to do two more outfits, one inside the Gaylord and one outside around National Harbor!! I loved the variety of this shoot!
In conclusion, the bets advice I can give while choosing your engagement session is to think about your own love story and what makes you, YOU. For Justin and me, that was the beautiful city of Cape May where Justin’s family has vacationed for decades (and taken me on a few trips over the years as well)! Don’t hesitate to pick a location that requires traveling, either!! I could do an entire post featuring some gorgeous destination engagement sessions I’ve shot!! Turn your engagement session into a weekend trip away together as a little vacation from wedding planning. You’ll thank me for it!! :) I can’t WAIT to see where all my future brides and grooms choose to shoot for their engagement photos… and if after reading this post you’re still at a loss… we can totally do some brainstorming together!! Cheers to getting MARRIED!!!