shooting an engagement session in a crowd | wedding wednesday

it happened. my worse nightmare! i shot an engagement session a few weeks ago, and because of the venue timeline constraints, we had to shoot a few hours before sunset. not two hours. but FOUR hours before! i was a little nervous because i knew it was going to be bright…but i also knew we could find a lot of shade and shoot there. well i arrived to the venue for my session and another nightmare was awaiting me….a special event at the venue that was open to the public! so now i was going to have to worry about sun, very bright sun and then i had to worry about crowds! not only crowds…but crowds with kids and strollers everywhere!

once my couple arrived, we went in and checked in at the front desk, told them we were there for an engagement session and we went on our way. i knew i needed to find shade that would complement my couple as well as the venue my bride chose for their session. the venue is absolutely gorgeous, so that wasn’t hard! i did have to do a little maneuvering with myself while shooting to be sure to use trees and my couple to block people in the background. i will share a few tips for your next session that is in a crowded area!

one} shoot with a prime lens! i absolutely adore prime lenses because of the soft bokeh that they produce. even though i was shooting in full sun, i knew a prime lens would help me choose which distractions i wanted to keep out of the portraits!

two} shoot a longer focal length. this one seems like a no brainer, but i typically shoot 95% of my work with a 50mm. which is so beautiful and the bokeh is creamy and just beautiful! but sometimes, a 50mm lens is not the best option for a crowded location. my 85mm was absolutely perfect for this specific place. i was able to get a few full body shots of my couple, while including some of the elements of the venue, while also blocking out a few people in the background 🙂

three} watch the flow of the crowd. is the crowd moving in a specific direction? is there a big gap here and there? we really lucked out because we shot during the last hour of the special event, so families were in the process of leaving the location and taking kiddos home! we were able to go to the back of the venue and start shooting, and follow behind the crowd on the way out. this tip would be helpful for a place like a park with an event, but maybe not something as busy like disney world.

four} be patient. there will be people jumping across the walkway while you’re shooting, just smile and wait for them to move. they don’t realize that where they are, they might be in your shot. sometimes, they just don’t care. they paid to be there too, so it is best to just be nice and wait for them to move. if it looks like they aren’t moving, make a mental note to come back to that spot and shoot once they’ve had their fill of that spot!

five} have a backup plan. if you go to a spot that you know is going to be crowded and you just cannot get it to work…have a backup plan. a second location. this will guarantee that even though you have shots at the other location, you can get those portraits without any distractions!

six} my last and final tip is to work quick! if you have a spot, that is “people free” and in the shade and will work for your shot, explain what you want from your couple before you place them! that way, once they’re in the spot, they can pose or go from your cues, you can work quickly and move on. this will also help you to get a little more variety if you go from spot to spot and maximize your time without the crowd!

here is a little sneak peek at my engagement shoot that i arrived to a little bit worried and left so happy! CLICK HERE

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