This post is about the top 3 things to consider when location scouting for an engagement session
Engagement photos shouldn’t be solely focused on the location. This is a time to celebrate this milestone you two have reached, and you should have photos that make you say, “WOW, this is so us!!” If it’s a pretty location that gives you the opportunity for some epic landscape “little-people-big-world” shots too, that’s an added bonus. But that’s not always what I look for when location scouting. Sometimes the best spots are in a tiny nook with killer light. It’s what you make of it. You feel me?
BUT…. If you do want some help choosing the perfect location for your engagement session, you can check out that post by clicking here!
Since moving to the PNW, I’ve been doing a LOT of location scouting and a LOT of real shoots with couples. Fun fact: Most of these shoots I actually scheduled sight-unseen. It’s not always possible to location scout ahead of time – especially because I was planning shoots before my move. When it’s a sight-unseen location, I do a TON of research online and learn all about it. (Another blog post for another time.) I then relay the details to the couple and see if they’re willing to go on the sight-unseen adventure. On the day of the shoot, I typically show up 15-20 minutes prior to get a feel for the space and the light.
When the client arrives, that’s when the true magic happens.
3 things to consider when location scouting for an engagement session:
- Popularity of the location. Just because it’s famous on Instagram doesn’t mean I want to take all of my couples there. Especially if they are only able to shoot on a weekend. Parking could be brutal or you could need to wait for the one specific “spot” and only have 2-3 minutes before moving out of curtesy to the next group who wants photos too.
I prefer to find an intimate and quiet setting for engagement sessions that have a secluded feeling for my couples. This is the best way to break down walls and immediately feel more comfortable in front of my camera. It’s just you two, being yourselves without a bunch of on-lookers.
- Variety. I always ask myself if I can get different variety of backgrounds while shooting at the same location. I love to just park the car in one spot and walk from one cool spot to the next. If I can find different backdrops in one location, I’m stoked. I love finding locations that put us in the middle of the woods, open up to a field, have a lookout with a landscape view, or a path down to the water, you get so much variety in just one shoot.
Pro tip: If your chosen location doesn’t have a lot of variety visually, opt for an outfit change to get instant variety in your gallery. Start your session with a casual outfit and end the session (specifically if you’re doing a golden hour shoot!) with a more formal attire (think about what you would wear for a cute little date night).
- Lighting. As a natural light photographer I’m ALL about having killer light for my sessions. This goes back to how much research I put into my online location scouting when I’ll be showing up sight-unseen. I take a look at what’s around the area, if there are hills or trees that the sun will set “early” behind. I will check out if there is shaded options, and I’ll pay attention to which direction the sun will be setting and if that will affect the angle of our desired background, etc. (I really should write that blog post soon.. Promise I’ll do that soon!) If I scout the location in person or come to the spot often, I also know that the lighting could be 100% different one day to the next.
As a wedding photographer – and as a human – I don’t get to change the lighting or the weather. (OMG, especially being in the PNW too. It could rain in July, you don’t really know what you’re gonna get until you show up.) With all that said, I’m used to embracing it. If I get the chance to scout the location prior to the shoot day, or even if I shoot there often, the lighting and weather could end up being 100% different one day to the next.
This is why it’s so important to have a photographer who knows how to utilize all types of lighting situations. Regardless if the sun decides to come out to play that day, if you get overcast skies, or real dark rain clouds.. I’ll make sure that it’s still magic – promise.
Bottom line: Sometimes all I need at a location is a great little nook with great light. In engagement photos, all I really need to see are your cute faces. The rest is just fun, and extra artsy photos for your gallery.
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