Picking a location for your engagement session is likely one of the first things that you and your photographer will do with each other once you’ve solidified yourselves as an official team. I imagine that each photographer approaches this differently, but I have a feeling many of these interactions start the same way: with the inevitable question,“Do you have any favorite locations for shooting engagement sessions?”
The reality? I have been to so many wonderful locations that are full of promise and possibility. Locations that inspired me to try new things – some of which turned into amazing works of art that I feel excited to look at over and over again. Unfortunately, the second (or third, or fourth) time is never the same. You know that old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt?” We’re wired for novelty – all of us. Photographers are just like everyone else – we find new places and experiences inspiring and enlivening. They help us to see the world in new ways instead of getting caught in the “tried and true” rut.
So, instead of answering this question with a list of the places that have worked well for me in the past, I help my clients start brainstorming the type of place they’d like to do their engagement photos. Are they interested in a natural or an urban setting? Would they like water or trees? Do they have any locations that are special to their relationship, or is there a place that they’ve always wanted to go but have never gotten around to it?
From there, we try to work around my own personal preferences for on-location shooting: somewhere that’s not too crowded, with fairly clean light, that allows for a variety of different scenes all within a fairly reasonable walking distance from each other. Bonus points if there are opportunities for stellar landscape shots. Even more bonus points if I haven’t shot there in over a year.
Don’t get caught up in the touristy part of it. Sometimes, the simple locations are the best. The image above could have been shot in any dry grassy field in almost any state in the country. What matters most is that the couple is happy and comfortable, and that the moment is genuine.
I know that there’s a misconception that a photographer has to have experience shooting in a particular location in order to shoot it well. Well this year, I implore you to throw that belief out the window and, instead, say to your photographer, “For our engagement session, let’s go somewhere you’ve never been before!”