Planning a destination engagement session: Tips and things to consider before you book your flights!
In recent years, we’ve seen such an increase in destination engagement sessions. It’s a trend I’m totally on board with: literally, tell me where we are heading and whether it’s a plane, train, or boat, I’m on board! We love to travel and destination sessions give us the chance to capture our couples experiencing new places together. There are tons of reasons for a destination engagement session: To revisit a vacation spot you’ve always loved, the state where you grew up (even though it’s not the place you call home now), or to document a new journey you’ve never been on in a beautiful way! In actuality though, it isn’t as easy as booking the flights and “boom” you have magical destination photos on a remote mountain somewhere. There is a great deal of planning that should take place before we shoot. Here are some things to consider before deciding on a destination session.
First and foremost, research
Then research, and research some more. There is so much information online. Once you have a couple of ideas in mind on where you’d like to travel, do a deep dive into specifics about certain places. Here is a good plan for groundwork
Does the place you’d like to visit allow photography? Does it require a photographer's permit?
Is the location accessible during the golden hour: (The first hours after sunrise or last hours before sunset).
Has the location been tagged on Instagram or are there posts with that location’s hashtag on Facebook? I’ve had great results reaching out to fellow photographers or even locals that tag the location. I private message with questions about their experience and have been able to find amazing information about places all across the country, some I wouldn’t have found online alone. Someone who has been there before is always the best source of first-hand information.
Know the landscape, how to get to your location, and any seasonal risks/obstacles you might be facing.
Make your decision carefully
Keep in mind that the season of your engagement shoot will matter just as much as the location and weather will have to be taken into account as well. If you’re booking plane tickets and planning this shoot in advance, you can’t really expect the weather to just cooperate. Prepare by purchasing the insurance on your investments, giving you the option to reschedule in case you need it, or make sure you have a plan in place for inclement weather. Kisses in Paris under a clear umbrella would still make for stunning and intimate engagement photos; though that style of session requires some foresight and planning. Also, what is the climate like where you’ll be heading? Will your vision for outfits match the location and climate? What restrictions are you facing by shooting in the Winter that you wouldn’t have issues within the spring?
For this session in particular, at Cecret Lake in Utah, we nearly missed golden hour. First, the hike took longer than we expected. We aren’t local and the altitude difference certainly made the climb more difficult. I also didn’t take into account the fact that on a mountain, the sun sets differently than at sea level. We lost golden sunlight well before the actual sunset. I did so much research about this session before we arrived and that included getting expert advice from a local friend who was an avid hiker and talented photographer himself. Still, some things are best experienced first hand, and until we hiked the trail and experienced the sunset for ourselves, it would have been incredibly difficult to have known. I recommend that couples and photographers, alike, scout the location a day in advance anytime the opportunity presents itself.
Go big or “stay home”
If you’re going to be going through all the trouble of traveling for an engagement session, make sure you don’t just end up in a field that looks similar to what you would’ve gotten next door to “mimi’s house” here in south Louisiana. That would effectively be a waste of everyone’s time and money. Make sure you take full advantage of the location, its landscape, and go all in. If you’re being photographed in Italy, why not be photographed in a gondola or sailing. If you’re hiking to a beautiful remote location, give yourself enough time to make it to your spot with spare time to dress and retouch your makeup. My favorite part about this Utah session is that since we decided on a beautiful lake and mountain landscape, Natalie and Josh were set on taking full advantage of the location. They hiked together, snuggled, and jumped in the lake together. It was freezing cold for them, but pretty incredible for me!!
Traveling isn’t practical for every couple, but if you feel more at home traveling than at home, pick your place and give us a call. All of our equipment bags are already conveniently packed in perfectly measured, standard carry-ons. We are literally READY to go!