The locations you decide for your engagement and bridal portraits are very important to the final outcome. Hopefully, you'll find a location that fits your personality, style, or theme of your wedding. There's a lot of great options out there, and an experienced photographer will help guide your decision. Here's some things to consider ahead of time!
There are so many types of places to shoot, it might be helpful to break it down into a few categories. The most obvious and common places are public spaces such as parks, state houses, and universities. You can search online for parks near you, and you may be surprised how many are around. Around my city of Columbia, SC, I have access to public parks of all types that offer large pastures, beautiful architecture, rivers, lakes, nice bridges, waterfalls, and beautiful gardens. There's also private property. If you or someone you know has a farm, a vineyard, a particularly beautiful yard, or lake-front property, see if they would allow you a couple hours to photograph there. Then there are locations that will charge some type of fee to shoot there. From my experience in Columbia and Charleston, SC there are tons of historic homes, plantations, and privately-maintained gardens that offer perfect portrait conditions. Also, wedding venues are a great choice for bridal portraits. Most wedding venues will allow their clients access on a weekday for bridal portraits at no additional charge.
One thing I consider most when choosing portrait locations is how many "scenes" a location offers. Some locations offer a lot of great opportunities, and others are more limited in their variety. For instance, one property might offer a large field, an old barn, and a creek with a bridge, while another is just a large field. Try to pick places with a nice variety of features, which will give you and the photographer more options. Consult with your photographer, but don't be afraid to travel outside of your town. I love exploring new places, and have traveled as far as 3 hours away for engagement portraits! By doing so, I've been able to shoot portraits from the mountains to the beach, and everywhere in between. Even if the photographer charges a small travel fee, it would be well worth it.
With the right equipment in the right photographer's hands, beautiful photos can be taken almost anywhere! So choose a place that is beautiful, but also fits your personality. If you live a country lifestyle, maybe a rustic setting would be great for you. I'm sure almost every photographer in the south has access to at least one farm. Maybe you're looking for a chic, downtown look to show off your urban style. Perhaps you could do engagement portraits at the place you met, or he proposed, or your first kiss. I just met with some new clients two nights ago and learned that she is a softball coach, and they both played in college. So we decided to do some of our engagement session at a baseball field.
I offer my clients a list of locations that I've assembled through the years, perhaps your photographer does as well. Also look through your photographer's portfolio and if you see a location that inspires you, ask if that is an option. If you're doing engagement and bridal portraits, you'll probably want to choose a different location for each. Keep all of these points in mind while doing a little research about your local options, and I think you'll be very happy with the final results! If you have any questions or input, comment below!
Thanks for reading! I'm Trevor Mercer, a wedding photographer from Columbia, SC. I've been photographing weddings for over 10 years, and as a second-generation wedding photographer, I literally grew up in the business. I'm now providing wedding photography and videography for weddings in my state and well beyond, and I'm a 2016 winner in the Knot's Best of Weddings. I decided to start a blog and share everything I've learned about weddings through the years, and I hope it helps make your wedding planning a little easier. Learn more about me at www.TrevorMercer.com. Please subscribe, share, and comment with your input or questions!