Springtime is here and that tends to mean one thing: ahead of the wedding season hitting its peak lots of couples are talking to their wedding photographer to arrange an engagement/pre-wedding shoot. But when it comes to the engagement shoot there’s a key question that needs a little consideration: where should it take place?
Many couples plan for their engagement shoot to take place at the same venue as the wedding is to take place and that’s certainly an understandable instinct. After all this is the place that’s soon going to play a huge part in your lives and having some photos there in your normal clothes might be really lovely. It’s a chance to try out some shots with your photographer and see what locations work best in preparation for the big day which is surely useful for the photographer too… or is it?
The trouble is that what practicing the shots beforehand in the same location as the wedding means in reality is that you end up with two almost identical pictures except that one features you on your wedding day and so is bound to be more important to you. Your engagement is a really special time in your relationship and deserves to be marked with some great photos to remember it by. Using your engagement shoot as nothing more than a practice run is surely something of a waste.
Great photography is not about recreating the tried and tested, it’s about feeling the moment and capturing the emotion in a way that feels right at that point in time with that particular lighting, with that particular look in your eyes. For many photographers knowing the shots in advance simply stifles creativity and takes away any spontaneity of the images. Once an image has been captured that idea is gone and in the past and it’s time to move onto discovering the next killer shot, and that’s hard to do if you’re having to attempt to recreate an idea you exhausted maybe months before the wedding in light that worked better at that time.
So if not shooting at your wedding venue where should you choose? Well (depending on your photographer’s individual preferences) the choices are more or less unlimited. You might want to try a place that has a particularly special meaning to you, a place that you feel comfortable in and where you suit the environment, perhaps even the place where the proposal took place! This can really help to make you feel relaxed and give the photographs more meaning.
On the other hand you might want to go on a little adventure and see what magic is created as you explore your environment. Taking a day out somewhere fun and exciting is bound to create some special memories and magic moments to photograph and in this way you can make it not just a cool photo-shoot but a genuinely special day in your relationship marked by some awesome photos.
For the real photography lovers there’s also a fourth option: give the photographer free reign. Find a starting point that works for you all then go in search of the light following nothing but the photographer’s instincts. This can lead to some unbelievable shots but it’s also likely to be a very experimental day with lots of location changes and to make it work you need to be fully committed to the cause and willing to accept that it might involve a bit of waiting around and the chance that the photographer may just declare that a particular location isn’t working for them.
Every photographer works differently and so it’s important to keep an open mind and discuss possible locations with your photographer. They might have a particular idea they want to try or you might have a place that’s really important to you that you want to have captured. There’s no right or wrong answer, the only important thing is that if you’re going to have a pre-wed shoot you make it count. Don’t make it nothing more than a rehearsal, make sure your engagement/pre-wedding shoot provides you with some photographs you can treasure every bit as much as the wedding photos themselves.