Choosing a location for engagement or anniversary sessions is one of my favorite processes. With wedding photography, the venue and location are usually set. But for portrait sessions, there is more freedom in choosing a location. I often scout out different locations around downtown Seattle, or different hiking trails within the Washington area. It is important to think about the authenticity of the location to you and your fiancé, and the atmosphere. Basically, the location should reflect your interests and your relationship. If you both love concerts, and being in the city, then planning an urban setting engagement session, and ending the session at a cocktail bar, makes sense. It is a natural date night atmosphere for you both, and you will be comfortable in that environment.
Picking a mountain view location may be pretty, but if you don’t hike together, the location will be just a pretty backdrop. Here are some examples of how the location for an engagement session, also reflected the story of the couple.
For Megan & Erik they chose a coffee shop for their engagement session. Their real life meet cute was that they met while in law school and both interned in the same office and were the only two coffee drinkers in the office.
Chet proposed to Shanae at Snoqualmie Falls. So they loved the idea of having a waterfall engagement session. We wanted the ambience to have less people, and so we chose a less popular waterfall hike for their engagement session, but the location still reflects their proposal story.
Discovery Park is where Rob asked Marina out for the first time. They also just got a puppy together and will be spending more time together at this park and others in Seattle as their dog gets older.
These locations have meaning to the couples and tell the story of their relationship. Selecting locations and activities that are meaningful to you both will be not only more inspiring for your photographer, but I love to create photos in a cherished environment that encourages originality.
And for those of you that like lists (me included!) here are 5 tips for choosing your portrait session location:
- Choose a place you can be comfortable in and that has meaning to you both. If you both have a passion for hiking, lets hike. If your preferred dates are spent at your favorite brunch spot/coffee house, let’s go there! Do you love playing board games? Let’s incorporate that into the session. What’s important is that the place is unique to your interests as a couple. So whether it’s walking your dogs at your favorite park, or getting dressed up to go out to your favorite cocktail bar (or maybe even both!), I’m gonna be excited to photograph you in that environment.
- Consider the level of privacy you want in a location. If we are shooting at a populated area, for example Pikes Place Market, there will be lots of people, and lots of cars. That is just the nature of that area, and it is unavoidable. If you like the hustle and bustle, and having your photos taken snuggled up together in a busy public setting won’t be distracting or off putting, then these types of locations are absolutely and option for you! And it can be really fun. But you know yourself. If that description sounds like an anxiety attack, instead of a dance party, then you might be more comfortable in a less populated location.
- Do you want variety in locations or consistency? I have some couples that want their engagement or anniversary session to be a completely different type of location than their wedding day photography. Something they wouldn’t have time for with the logistics of a wedding day, like a hike to a glacier lake. I have other couples that want their session to reflect or match the style of their wedding day. If it’s a rustic wedding, they want a rustic portrait session to keep the same mood of the locations consistent. Decide what you would like for your session.
- Let your photographer choose the timing for the best light at your location. If your location is on the waterfront facing sunset, than most likely you’ll want to be out there within the last few hours of that glowing low horizon lighting. If you are out in the mountains, your session might need to start earlier as dusk sets quicker after the sun hides behind the mountains. Let your photographer help navigate the timing and lighting for your location choices. Trust their insight and timelines.
- Decide on the season. Locations change in dynamics and lighting based on the season. Maybe you want fall foliage in your location? Or if you want cherry blossoms in your location setting, that limits your options, and is a very short season. Be willing to schedule this with a tentative date, and be willing to go on short notice when your photographer can fit you in once you know the flowers are in bloom!
After you have considered these tips, if you still don’t know exactly what location you would like for your session, you should at least have a good idea of what your preferences are. Share those desires with your photographer, and let them help pick a perfect location for you.