I'm Joelle, an international Lifestyle and Wedding Photographer based in St. Joseph, MI. I'm also an educator and Photo Editor for photographers interested in growing their business and living life more.
Photo by: Nicole Balsamo Photography
Engagement sessions can be so much fun, but half the job is just figuring out where to shoot. As a wedding photographer, nearly every engaged couple asks me for my suggestions on where to photograph their engagement session.
The first thing I ask my couples when they’re struggling with a location is if there’s a place that holds a special connection to their relationship. Where did you go on your first date? Where was your first kiss? Where did you meet? Your engagement photos tell the story of how you two came to be in the first place, so going back to the beginning and revisiting those special moments can be a beautiful addition.
If none of those questions surface a place you want to photograph at, then think about what you enjoy doing in your spare time together. Do you go for long car rides? Slow dance in the kitchen? Read books together? Determine those things and then recreate them in part of your engagement photos.
The second thing you need to do is determine your couple style. Finding your couple style will help to add more dimension in your photographs. It’ll help you know what additional environment to look for and it will also give you an idea on what to wear.
Figure out your scale of adventure (from amusement parks to sky-diving) and then look at your options. Depending on what season it is, your choices may be limited but there’s always something. If it’s winter, consider going snowboarding. Is it summer? Go for a hot air balloon ride!
Act like tourists and see the sights of your own city or visit a city you’ve always wanted to see together. In the Midwest, Chicago has numerous locations for you to utilize in your engagement photos! Use beautiful skylines as backdrops, visit fun attractions like Navy Pier and the Bean, or see the city from above by climbing to the top roof of a parking garage or visiting the Sears Tower.
Think about visiting a camping ground and setting up camp. Build a bonfire, cozy up, and enjoy hot chocolate together. Do either of you play a portable musical instrument? Incorporate that into the shoot as well!
Do you bike together? Use your motorcycle as a prop. Use graffiti walls as backdrops, visit abandoned buildings (with care), or hit up a local burger restaurant and enjoy some food.
Enjoy a walk on the beach, go for a swim, or relax together in a canoe. You can also visit nearby botanical gardens. Greenhouse engagement photos are romantic and provide gorgeous backgrounds! If you want to be extra romantic, you can put together a candlelit dinner and string up Christmas lights on your patio.
Another option for your engagement photos is to look at places on your bucket list. If it’s within your budget, take a trip and find a photographer in the area who can take some photos for you! They’ll know the area and can suggest places you may not know about.
If you’re on a budget that doesn’t allow for additional expenses, you can still make things fun! Make a picnic lunch and eat it in your backyard. If you have pets then add them into the shoot for more personality (after all, they’re a part of your story too!). The key is to find something that showcases your personality and shares a part of your love story.
Remember, your engagement photos don’t have to be like everyone else’s because your story isn’t the same as anyone else’s. Allow yourself to think outside the box and create an engagement shoot that reflects you. That mindset will leave you with photos and memories to last a lifetime.