Stuck on what to plan for a fun engagement session? While outdoor sessions at a park are an easy go-to, what do you do when the weather is not ideal, everything looks dead outside in the late fall or winter, it’s too hot in the summer, a thunderstorm threatens to sabotage the plans, or when the go-to park just doesn’t seem very exciting. Here are eight ideas for couples and photographers to consider to help get the creative ideas flowing.
Many hotels have really nice common areas with furniture, fireplaces, chandeliers, and staircases that make wonderful settings for indoor pictures. Some hotels will allow photo shoots, some will not. Some may charge a fee and require proof of insurance. Photographers should make sure to contact the location ahead of time so that there are no surprises! The new Bottleworks Hotel in Indianapolis is a really unique venue which offers a great upscale retro setting for a dressy photo shoot.
There are several Indianapolis museums which allow portrait photography. Like most other locations, make sure to call ahead to find out what permits and fees may be required. You may want a nice city scape like this one of Brandan and Madison outside at the Indiana State Museum, (I know, this is supposed to be about INDOOR locations, right?!) but having a backup plan with permission to shoot indoors was a necessary contingency for this session on a cool and breezy spring day! Had the weather not cooperated, there were plenty of nice options indoors with great window light and the permission was secured ahead of time.
Similar to hotels, some libraries have beautiful architecture and decor which make for a great formal setting for a dressy couple. However, some really sweet and casual engagement sessions have been done in the book stacks too! Libraries will require prior clearance before a photo shoot so do plan ahead!
From the formal dinner to the casual cafe, there are many possible looks for couples at restaurants and endless possibilities with restaurant decor. As always, I advise calling ahead! Many places are low key and happy to help accommodate a shoot while other restaurants may be busy and prefer that you just get your pictures and get out of the way. Some may not allow photography at all.
For this shoot with Courtney and Jeremy at Goodfellas, I called ahead, but the person I spoke with was not on duty when we showed up for the session. The staff on duty permitted us to go ahead with our shoot, and it turned out to be a great photo op to commemorate Courtney and Jeremy’s first date. We chose this table just OUTSIDE the restaurant so as not to interfere with the lunch crowd. There were some awesome photo ops inside, but we liked this spot to get the restaurant’s logo.
5. Wedding Venues
Wedding venues can be great places for portrait sessions too! With options ranging from rustic barns to industrial lofts and glitzy banquet halls, there are a multitude of great options. Photographers should expect to pay a fee of anywhere between $25-$100+ for a reservation and may need to submit proof of insurance. Unfortunately some venues do not allow portrait sessions at all so make sure to call ahead.
One venue which is very friendly to photo shoots is Mill Top Banquet and Conference Center in Noblesville. With warm wood and brick tones and string lights, this industrial venue is surprisingly inviting and works well for couples in dressy attire like Kimber and Donny.
6. The Zoo
What a better place to have an engagement session than at the zoo?! Enjoy some carefree moments feeding the animals or take a ride on the carousel or the roller coaster. Stroll through the dolphin exhibit hand in hand, or get in touch with your wild side by racing a cheetah! In cold weather, the butterfly conservatory provides some nice green space and warmth with the look and feel of the tropics! Sarah and Eric’s spring engagement session was in this lush setting while the local outdoor options were still looking dead from winter.
7. Activities and Attractions
Having something fun to do is a great way for couples to have something to focus on other than the camera. Whether it’s as simple as walking a dog, being able to interact with your significant other while doing something can help create authentic candid images and relieve some of the tension of being in front of camera. Other ideas include going bowling, playing mini golf, riding paddleboats, bikes, segways, or skates. But you don’t really need to leave your home. Everyday activities at home can also make for great casual pictures! In addition to walking their dogs and eating out at Goodfellas, Courtney and Jeremy wanted pictures of them making Jeremy’s grandmother’s homemade pasta recipe. This was definitely a way to personalize their session!
8. On the Job
Some of my favorite engagement sessions have been unusual asks. One of these was a session in the Avon High School wrestling room where Brian coaches. Brianna is a very supportive gal who calls “Dibs on Coach Snyder.”