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skipping stones on the beach engagement photos seattle washington

5 Tips to Choosing a Meaningful Location for your Engagement Photos

Wedding Planning Tips

One of the biggest factors that will determine the vibe of your engagement photos (besides your photographer’s style and your outfit choice) is the location you & your photographer choose. My best advice to couples in all aspects of engagement session & wedding planning is always stay true to you.

If you want meaningful photos that reflect who you are as a couple, choosing a location that is special to you will create more meaningful photos than a location that’s just pretty. A truly skilled photographer will be able to make almost any location look good, so be sure to let your photographer know what your ideas are! Here are my top 5 tips for choosing a location for your engagement photos.

1. What do you Enjoy Doing TOGETHER?

skipping stones on the beach engagement photos seattle washington
Skipping stones on the beach

When I am first discussing locations with my couples, I ask them what describes you as a couple and what they enjoy doing together – do you looooove being at the beach together, or maybe even surfing together? A beach location would be perfect for you! Maybe you hate sand – the beach would be a silly location for you. If hiking, biking, and outdoors recreation is your thing, a mountain or lake location can be really fun! Here are the location categories I give my couples to choose from, then I can make suggestions based on the category:

Chic & Elegant Location Ideas
Botanical Garden
Private Mansion/Estate
Monument or Landmark
College Campus

Rustic + Adventurous Location Ideas
National Park
Sand Dunes

Playful + Laid Back Location Ideas
Arcade, Carnival
Intimate + cozy at home
Wine tasting
Champagne Sipping
Coffee Shop
Art Murals
Ice Cream Shop
Sports Stadium

2. Make it meaningful

Think of the meaningful events in your relationship that led you to where you are today.
Where did you meet?
Where was your first date?
Where do you spend the most time together?
Is there a recreational activity you enjoy together?
Where do you often go on dates?
Where did your groom propose?

These places that have played a part in your relationship will create more meaningful photos from this season of your life that you will really enjoy many years from now! 

2. Keep timelessness in mind. 

Think about your family’s heirlooms. When you are old and grey telling your love story to your great-grandchildren, what parts of your love story would you like to visually show them? 

3. Is there a destination you love travelling to as a couple? 

Consider bringing your wedding photographer along for a day or two to document your romance on vacation (you’re also more likely to be relaxed + having an incredible time while on vaycay, right?) Usually you will cover your photographer’s travel fees, and usually photographers love the opportunity to hop on a plane and document love stories in new locations. (PS – Check out this two-part anniversary session that I photographed for a couple on their 5-year anniversary vacation in Ireland – Part One: Ireland Estate & Mountain Anniversary Photos in Connemara + Part Two: Wild Atlantic Way Oceanside Anniversary Session in Ireland)

4. Is this location a popular destination? 

Will you be able to get photos without other people in the background? If it is a popular destination, ask your photographer what time of day is best for avoiding crowds AND best for lighting. Not only will the photos look nicer when it’s just you two in them, but being in front of a camera in a crowd can feel very uncomfortable for some people. Hint: if your location is a busy one, choose an “off-season” date (like November for a beach session), and schedule it right after sunrise to beat the crowds. 

This location is a popular tourist destination and is often very crowded. We chose to book their session the moment this location opens to the public in the morning to avoid the most crowded time of day.
A beach that is usually packed with crowds in the summer was relatively empty in February, and we still got a beautiful golden hour glow.

5. Don’t forget to consider the time of day.

 If your photographer specialises in natural light photography, don’t forgot to ask them what time of day is ideal for capturing your photos in the most flattering light. Hint: it’s probably going to be the 2 hours before sunset or the 2 hours after sunrise that photographers refer to as “Golden Hour”. This time of day when the sun is lower in the sky creates a beautiful, warm glow in photos and the power of the sun is not as harsh. Midday sunlight can create unflattering shadows and bright spots in your images. “Blue Hour”, the 10-20 minutes just after the sun dips below the horizon, is a beautiful time for portraits as well – it creates soft, romantic light.

Stinson Beach Sunset Moonrise authentic engagement session couple at beach cafe
“Blue Hour” on the beach during a moonrise engagement session

Has this guide been helpful for you?

If you loved reading these tips, you will love the worksheet I’ve created for couples to brainstorm a location + plan that will make for beautiful photos that truly capture this season of life for you! Grab it here.

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