Engagement Session Location and Light
We've covered what to wear for your session, if you missed it you'll find it here. The next question that comes naturally when talking about engagement sessions is the "Where". I feel like there's this unspoken "myth" that in order to have beautiful pictures then you must find the most beautiful location. While the turquoise waters on the beaches of Hawaii or a view overlooking the mountains in North Georgia never hurt - just because your session may not take place in a location as beautiful as one of these doesn't mean your pictures will be any less beautiful.
I believe your engagement pictures should represent your story and this current time in your lives while you're busy planning the wedding but also enjoying being engaged. They should be more than just beautiful portraits but images that capture who you are, what you love and the (emotional) love you share.
Here are 3 things I encourage my couples to consider when deciding on a location.
- It could be the place of your first date, your favorite coffee shop where you go to relax and talk about life, your favorite trail you walk with the dogs or even the place he proposed. For my couples I often find myself on the road or on a plane traveling for destination engagement sessions allowing them to bring things like baseballs, local wild flowers, the family farm, a place where they've vacationed together or destinations where they were engaged. It not only makes the pictures unique but provides another opportunity for adventures and memories to be created but this time for them to be captured and told through fun and beautiful photographs.
10 feet vs. 2 acres
- While 10 feet might be a minimal amount of space for creating a unique collection of images it might come as a surprise that you can get much of the same variety regardless of how big the location is. Granted with a larger area I'll be able to pull back and capture the surroundings with a wider angle but both situations we'll still have plenty of opportunities to create diverse imagery together.
For the image below we loved the wall and the vine growing up high the problem was it was a parking lot and there were cars parked right in the middle of what we wanted to use. With a little creative composing, use of light and the right lenses we removed the cars and still made the most of the background we wanted.. even as the valet continued to park cars around us!
Earlier in the day we were in an area where we had much more room to move and navigate around in. While this allowed us to take a diversity of shots in the same area you can also see how these two compositions changed but their location did not.
Setting (fields vs. urban landscape)
- While wearing something that's normal or unique to you is important, I also feel it's important that the location selected for the session is equally reflective to your personalities and lifestyle as well. If you live in the city or find you spend much of your free time there and love urban landscapes, busy streets, lots of people and the overall business the urban scene brings then shooting in an urban, downtown or developed location simply makes since.
- If you find yourself drawn towards boots, sundresses, wide open spaces, trees and trails then having a portrait session made in the city streets just wouldn't jive likely with your design style nor your lifestyle. Fields, mountain trails, rivers, wild flowers, and non-manicured laws and fields may be the perfect setting that best reflects your life, love and life.
- I love asking lots of questions when it comes to finding a location that matches with what the couples vision is but also with what matches their personalities and life. While they may be drawn to a park in the city because that's where they've seen some of their favorite pictures made it doesn't mean it's the right location for them and their session.
Industrial vibe in a little alley.
Considering the Light for your Session
- The most important factor in taking a small and seemingly "un-impressive" location and creating something remarkable is harnessing the light. This can be available light or modifying it if necessary to create something the naked eye doesn't see. If you're one of my couples you've likely either heard me say "Light trumps Location" or seen me get giddy with excitement when coming upon some gorgeous, awe inspiring light on a sunny day.
Cloudy Days vs. Sunny Days
- Another misconception about light is that cloudy days are better for picture than sunny days. I couldn't disagree more! While for some this may be true as cloudy days do offer some incentives to their counterpart of clear skies and sun I welcome and prefer sun! Shade is also something that is nice to retreat to when you it's hot or you'd like to create something different but I also love using some of the direct sunlight or what others may refer to as "harsh" light to create the most striking and unique images full of vibrant color, light, contrast and a beautiful sun kissed glow.
This session is a great example of two vastly different types of day and light. The first day we were chased out by those big dark clouds that only grew darker and closer as we continued to shoot. Once the storm arrived and we were rained out by the gully washing downpour type of rain we decided to reschedule.
Times for your Session
Sunrise and Sunset are typically the most preferred times of day for a session. Early in the morning you'll get to harness the beautiful direction of the light coming over the horizon as it basks cooly on your smile and gaze while in the evenings you'll see a warmer more "Sunkissed" glow. If these times of day don't work with scheduling for your session don't worry as I've found even late morning and early afternoons to work beautifully in creating dynamic and diverse images you'll be sure to cherish and love.