If you are planning your engagement photo shoot, you and your fiancé(e) can either pick a spot yourselves or you can chat to your photographer and let them guide you on a suitable location. We caught up with professional wedding, fashion and lifestyle photographer, David Weeks, and asked him to share his insights on choosing an engagement photo shoot. Have a read and decide which option suits you best!
Home-based engagement shoot
We aren’t all celebrity super models who are comfortable strutting our stuff in front of the camera in a public place so if you and your fiancé(e) are more comfortable in your own home, this might be the best location to achieve some gorgeous photos that feel relaxed and depict you in your ‘natural habitat’!
Shooting your engagement album at home allows you to mix up your photos and grab some different style shots in different rooms – consider a fun cook-off in the kitchen, some relaxed shots in the living room or garden and maybe a few spicy and intimate photos in the bedroom. You can even opt to include your pets in some of the photos because if you have fur kids, they are absolutely part of your love story, right?
Another perk of shooting at home is that you can do as many wardrobe changes as you like and the hairbrush, beauty products and lip gloss are close at hand for a quick touch-up in between takes.
Engagement shoot at a special location
If your idea of the ideal shoot is at some dreamy destination that feels a little more exotic than your living room, consider a location based on its sentimental value, such as a family farm, or where you went on your first date. Or perhaps you would like to explore somewhere new and fresh that appeals to your appreciation of natural beauty, or striking architecture. If you are keen to shoot at a site such as a hotel or restaurant, David’s top tip is to make sure that you have permission to shoot at the respective venue.
If you don’t have a specific location in mind, most professional photographers have a few winning locations that they would be excited to share with you. David encourages you to share your expectations and ‘grand vision’ for your pictures during the planning phases so that your photographer can guide you on timings, weather-related Plan B’s, wardrobe selection, and so on.
The epic destination shoot
David has considerable experience with destination shoots and has had the privilege of photographing and filming couples who opted for a holiday engagement session. If travel is something that is important to you as a couple, there is very little that can match a destination proposal shoot at a spectacular travel location but there are a few important things to consider. David shares a few of these considerations here:
- Do your homework about the necessary permissions required for your shoot Romantic scenes from exotic destinations flood our social media feeds on a daily basis but getting those pictures in a foreign country may be difficult. Different countries have different rules regarding privacy and shooting rights. When Dave was in Punta Cana, for example, it was difficult to shoot on the beaches, as the beaches were actually owned by the hotels, rather than falling under a public space profile. There were no public beaches at all. This meant that permission had to be granted by the hotels prior to the shoot. In some locations, your photographer may need a temporary commercial licence issued for the period of the shoot as they are deriving an income from the shoot.
- Keep your photographer close It’s advisable to put your photographer up in the same hotel where you are staying. This means that when you decide to shoot, you can easily travel together, and logistics are less complicated. In Punta Cana, Dave was booked into the neighbouring hotel. Because the hotels control all beach access, he was unable to pop in and see his couple, as he was not booked into their hotel, making shooting an impossibility. Eventually, he negotiated with the couple’s hotel and was charged $150 to access their beach and shoot for a morning. A simple rope between the beach furniture separated him from his couple, but if he stepped across, hotel security was right there.
- Time Zones
If you are travelling to a different time zone, you may have to allow for a few extra days to recover from jet lag, so that you look great in your photographs.
- Airport transfer arrangements Dave has found that at some big international airports, Uber drivers are not permitted to access the airport, as this space is ‘hired’ by the taxis (this was certainly the case in Miami). If you are in a different country and are relying on wifi, this adds a level of complication. You have access to the wifi in the airport, which enables you to book your Uber, but as soon as you leave the airport to meet your Uber, you lose contact with the driver, which could lead to misunderstandings and delays. It may be easier to pay a premium and simply use a taxi service. If you still want to use Uber, be sure to tell them that your will no longer have access to wifi when you leave the airport terminal and that you will be the person in the yellow T-shirt, for example.
- Styling Plan your wardrobe before you go. Ensure that you have enough accessories, and that your outfits are co-ordinated and comfortable. Being a stylist photographer, Dave went to his couple on each morning of the shoot and chose his couple’s outfits and accessories should wear for that day’s location and planned activities.
- Send your photographer ahead In the case of a proposal shoot, this is a must. When Dave flew to the Caribbean to shoot a proposal, the client who was about to propose organised for Dave to be met in Fort Lauderdale with an envelope of cash in the local currency, a few days ahead of the couple’s arrival. This enabled him to avoid baggage taxes by purchasing materials for the proposal in the destination country rather than needing to fly them in. Because the proposal was a surprise, Dave set the entire scene up. He went to hardware stores and bought wooden poles, nails, hammers, ropes, fabric, candles, lanterns and cushions. He spent the morning choosing the best location and setting the scene. He arranged a surprise “complimentary” boat tour to collect the couple and take them to the proposal site.
- When far away, you can still include family
A special touch that Dave included in his Caribbean engagement shoot was personal messages from family members. While Dave was in South Africa, he collected video messages from the couple’s families, wishing them well and congratulating them on the engagement. He put them onto a memory stick, for the bride and groom to watch after the proposal. The proposal was such a beautiful and emotional experience and playing congratulatory messages from the family afterwards was the cherry on the top.
When all is said and done, your engagement photos should be a reflection of what is unique to you as a couple. If you choose a place that makes you feel happy, whether this is splashing around on pink pool noodles in your back garden, or exploring an exotic destination in a far off land, this radiance and joy will show in your pictures!
Article by Jacqui Cochran
With thanks to David Weeks Photographic for the valuable insights