Everything You Need to Know About an Engagement Photoshoot in London
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Being full of history, culture, amazing parks, and architecture, London is one of the most romantic and diverse capitals in the world, so I can’t imagine a better place to be a London engagement and wedding photographer than here. And I couldn’t agree more with Paddington Bear who once said: “In London, everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in.”
Countless couples – both local and visiting – choose London as their engagement photography location. Whether having the photoshoot in the colorful streets of Notting Hill or cool and funky Camden Town, or the hidden Neal’s Yard, or just simply hop on a ferry along the Thames, it’s an incredibly romantic city to have a photo shoot in. Despite all the hustle and bustle of a city that’s always on the move, I – Janis Ratnieks photographer am stopping the time in the most beautiful of ways.
How to Plan an Engagement Photoshoot
To stick to an Engagement plan we need to have one. To get you started, here are some tips on how to turn your engagement photo ideas into reality.
How to choose a location for your Engagement photoshoot in London
If London is your place of choice for a photoshoot, first you need to decide which direction to go – are they the countless Londons iconic landmarks you’d like in your photos, or if you prefer something off the beaten track for your photos? Here I’ll propose some options for both.
6 Engagement Photo Session Location Ideas in London to Consider
1. The place where the first something happened (took place)
If you are or once were a Londoner, or you’ve just visited it a lot, then there definitely is a place in this great city, that means a lot to you. It can be a place you saw each other for the first time, or where you held hands on a cold winter day, or where you proposed to her – anywhere – if the city means something to you, there has to be that special place. I’ve got one, no, two, no – I’ve got many more.
2. Your favorite place to hang out together
It can be your favorite cafe where you sip your latte in late Saturday mornings. Do you prefer a tea? Let’s go with tea. It can also be your favorite park or street with the architecture you love. Like at the top of Primrose Hill or Point Hill in Greenwich, you choose.
3. At home
Home sweet home if you call London your home. Home is the place where you feel most relaxed and at ease. This is the feeling we need to get the most natural portraits.
4. Go places you’ve never been in London
I bet there are so many interesting places in London that you’ve never been to. I’ve discovered some new spots I never knew existed. One of my absolute favorite hidden gems is the bombed-out ruins of St Dunstan in the East. I’m sure people who have lunch there to escape their office canteen know of it, but not many more.
5. Most photogenic Landmarks of London
London is full of great and photogenic landmarks. There’s a list of the most popular ones, but you should take the following issue into consideration when planning your photoshoot in London – there are many locations where you’re not allowed to take photos professionally. When I say professionally – it’s either taking photos with cameras on tripods or having a big crew, with say hairstylists and makeup artists with their trolleys. This is why I prefer to work alone or with a discreet hairstylist/MUA. Some locations are easier than others, so let’s plan the shoot together in order to be able to shoot in locations we want.
Top 28 Best Photo Locations in London – in a Random Order
- St Paul’s Cathedral – the outside part of the cathedral, front stairs. This location works very well during the rain and early mornings when there are fewer tourists around.
2. Leadenhall Market – perfect during the night time, but not too late.
3. Tower Bridge – most areas around the Tower Bridge are restricted for professional photography, but there are some exceptions.
4. Heals of London
5. Richmond Park – recommended for more casual shoots, if you’re lucky we can meet some deer.
6. Notting Hill and Portobello Road – excellent for photos with people. If you want to be in the crowd, that’s the place to be.
7. The Churchill Arms – just outside Holland Gardens, a unique pub.
8. Piccadilly Circus – the full London experience
9. House of Parliament – also a restricted area and the Elizabeth Tower is still being reconstructed – this will be an excellent backdrop for photos in about 2 years.
10. Westminster Bridge
11. Kew Gardens – a place to be in spring
12. Canary Wharf
13. Millennium Bridge – with Tate Modern at one end and St Pauls at the other, we can choose which way to face, with a longer lens both look excellent.
14. Camden Town – it’s just Camden, special in a way.
15. Hampstead Pergola & Hill Garden
16. Westminster Cathedral – can’t shoot in front of it, just from a distance.
17. Primrose Hill – one of my favorites – any time of day, be it early morning or late afternoon – the look over London is magnificent.
18. Sky Garden
19. Madison Roof Terrace
20. Lancaster Road
21. St Lukes Mews
22. Holland Gardens – excellent location for photos in springs when everything is in full bloom.
23. Regent’s Street & Soho – love this place in the dark, when street lights are on, that’s the time to be there.
24. Liberty London
25. Kynance Mews & Southwell Gardens
26. Kelly street
27. Covent Garden
28. Victoria Embankment – love this place because of its classic-looking benches and a view over the River Thames and London Eye. A busy afternoon is my go-to time for this location.
There are many more – just pick some of them, add some of your own and I’ll make a plan what light works where, and where we’ll go first and last. You should always consider the light, time of day, and traffic – it’s important to use time wisely, not sitting in a traffic jam.
6. Rent a beautiful hotel room
If you’re an admirer of a good interior design, then you will like some of your engagement photographs to be taken in one of London’s best design boutique hotels. I’ve prepared a shortlist of my favorite London hotels for this occasion.
TOP 17 London’s Best Design Boutique Hotels from a Londons Engagement Photographer’s Perspective
- The Rookery
- Batty Langley’s
- The Zetter Townhouse
- Dean Street Townhouse
- One Aldwych
- Covent Garden Hotel
- Church Street Hotel
- The Goring Hotel
- The Connaught Hotel
- Twenty Nevern Square
- The Stafford London by Kempinski
- The Portobello
- The Gore
- No 11 Cadogan Gardens
- 40 winks
When is the best time to take Engagement Photos in London?
Well, if you’ve chosen to take photos near landmarks or other busy places then my answer would be to wake up early to be the crowds, preferably on a working day, as during weekends and bank holidays streets are packed with people. But then again, there are always people in London, so we just have to work with them. If we stick to mornings, we can take the advantage of the beautiful morning light. Every morning jogger will attest to that. late afternoon is also excellent for shooting – although streets will usually be more crowded than morning, the late afternoon light has its charm when the sun goes lower, colors turn more golden and the direct light gets diffused in the pollution. It sounds harsh but looks good in photos.
Nighttime engagement photoshoot
If you’re after night photos then I recommend shooting later in the autumn when it gets dark sooner and is not that cold yet, or during the winter when everything is set and lit up for Christmas – that’s a great time for engagement photos – festive lights just add to the feeling of pictures. Although a bit chilly, but if you dress up properly, then the weather shouldn’t be a problem.
Spring is always a good choice – with everything blooming usually starting in March throughout April and early May – parks are in full bloom and the weather is generally dryer. If you ask me, I’d recommend doing engagement shoots in March, April, May, all summer, September, October, December.
What to Wear for Engagement Photos in London?
What to wear on any particular event is a dilemma we all, especially women face almost every day. So deciding what to wear for your engagement photo shoot is no exception. Here are some style tips I as an engagement photographer will recommend for you.
1. Engagement theme
The theme or concept of your engagement photoshoot is one of the most important things to consider. This will influence all of your other decisions including hairstyle, make-up, and clothing.
Your theme can be anything you desire. You can start with a simple concept, such as “A romantic picnic in a park” – from there we can already decide to go with something casual but romantic looking outfit. Romantic pastel colors, skirts, and dresses for the bride or jeans or other fabric trousers for the groom-to-be. Natural makeup and hairstyle. The location is a park, say Primrose Hill, nothing too complicated; you simply generate an idea and then organize everything else accordingly – to match your vision of the feel necessary.
2. Be yourself
Forget the rules, if you like something, wear it. After all, I’m taking photos of you, and, if that’s who you are, I’m totally fine with that. You should feel comfortable and act normal, you should look and feel yourself but give me your best. Outfit choices that are outside your comfort zone will make you appear and feel more nervous in photographs.
3. Choose Vintage
Vintage suits London as London is full of history. So wearing a part of history might suit the photoshoot location perfectly. Pair your vintage cloth with some modern accessories and you’ll look very unique but not weird. Or, in contrast – pair your modern clothes with a unique vintage accessory like a hat, purse, scarf, tie, or jewelry. There are many pros of wearing vintage on your engagement photoshoot not even mentioning that Vintage is more sustainable than fast fashion.
4. Don’t match. Coordinate.
Don’t match your clothes in the sense that you are not twins or one of you forced another one to wear something he/she (maybe let’s stick with “he” :)) doesn’t like or doesn’t suit him.
5. Think about the weather.
London’s weather is unpredictable or must I say – it’s constantly changing. You can get three different seasons in a day – a foggy morning, a rainy day, and a sunny afternoon. Go figure what to wear. I suggest considering at least two different outfits for your photoshoot. You can get changed in a car or in a hotel. I always recommend taking an umbrella to your photoshoot in London, not the one with a Heineken ad on it, but something solid and beautiful. The best ones are Queen’s favorites – transparent ones – they don’t mess with the color of the skin, they don’t add any color cast to your face.
How much does a London Engagement Photographer Cost?
Prices vary depending on the necessary hours of shooting. A typical engagement photoshoot costs from £900 for a three-hour session to £1700 for a full-day photo session. We can also split a photoshoot into two parts – have one part in the afternoon and evening and the second part early next morning. This way it’s less tiring for you, we have more variety of light and in case of bad weather, it has more time to change.
How is the final set of photos presented?
The result comes in two parts – first, you will receive a sneak peek about a week after the photo shoot. This usually contains 50 to 100 photos. Sometimes more, to be honest, I don’t count them, we just go with the flow, go through our favorite shots and prioritize them. The final set is ready in about 6 to 8 weeks. The number of retouched photos varies depending on the length of the photoshoot – usually between 300 and 600 photos. Photos are uploaded to a password-protected online gallery and shared with you from there. You can share the gallery with your family or friends, or whoever you choose to. You can order prints or download full-size files from there. Galleries are active for 6 months after they’re published.
How to book an engagement photoshoot?
First of all, get in touch with your preferred date. If your chosen date is not available, then we’ll agree on another one, as with engagement shoots clients are usually flexible when it comes to dates. Then we agree on the theme, service, required hours. The following step is to sign the agreement, pay the 30% deposit and I’m all booked for you. The final balance is due a week before the photoshoot.
Can I print an album for my engagement photoshoot?
Yes, of course – there are several options that I provide – Asuka Book and Queensberry are among my favorites. As you’ll have the full-size files, you can design and print an album by yourself. Not a problem.
Book now for 2021 and 2022
That’s it for now – I hope you’ve found this article helpful! I’m open for bookings for your engagement photoshoot – both in London or anywhere in the UK. Feel free to get in touch and check with any questions you have. Bookings for 2021 and 2022 are open.