Finding the right locations for wedding portraits

High mountain tops, vast sandy deserts, small figures amongst the tallest trees, deep in snow, against midnight skies in Iceland…These are some of the incredible portrait locations we see on the internet coming to us from all over the world and I wouldn’t blame any couple that finds it a little overwhelming.
These locations undoubtedly make stunning portraits but what if you don’t live in these epic locations or you don’t have a guest list small enough that everyone can travel? Chances are you’re organising your wedding somewhere that’s really important to you, like the small country town you grew up in or a little church in the city you call home.  The great news is that these exact places are the best locations to create epic portraits. The most important element in creating epic images is being with the person you love, your family and your friends. To me the love in an image is more powerful than anything else I can put into that frame. Maybe you have a plain background or maybe you have landscape views, your images will be beautiful regardless because the people who mean the most to you in the world are in it.

We have a venue, how do we decide on portrait locations?
So you’ve found a little venue in the city/hillside/by the beach etc. and now you need to decide on a good location to take some portraits. My biggest advice is to keep it simple. Stick to one or two locations to avoid adding unwanted stress to an already busy day. The more time we spend at one location, the more we can get into the groove and the more relaxed you will feel. When you are relaxed, the photos will show exactly that, happy, calm and in love.
When thinking about locations it’s great to think about what kind of photos you like and what represents you best. If your wedding is in the city we will get great city photos but we can also achieve other looks too. The below portrait was taken in a park right in the middle of the city and gives you a completely different look. The trick to getting great park photos is finding areas with big trees and long grass, often areas that aren’t overly maintained work well. Grasses and branches add depth to an image and as a photographer I work with those elements to give the idea that you could be deep in a forest or field.

Melbourne gardens wedding

In the City

If you love city photos, simply walking the streets and capturing all that cityscape goodness can create beautiful, dreamy images with soul! We open ourselves up to finding great locations and interesting nooks of light as we wander around. Light changes so quickly in the city, with fun reflections bouncing of tall glass buildings, it gives me a great opportunity to create a variety of images.
When I scout for city locations I like to keep things simple. I look for backgrounds that won’t overpower the couple, so graffiti is generally a no go because of its busyness and bright colours. I keep an eye out for interesting things like neon signs and heritage buildings that will add a little charm, history and story to your images.

Black Tie Wedding Melbourne free the bird-408 Collingwood wedding photographer

At the Beach

The beach can often be a troublesome spot for taking photos. The sand is hard to walk in with shoes and heels, there’s no protection for you from the wind and weather and the white sand reflects light everywhere so the scene is super bright.
Taking all of that on board, I’ve been able to create some amazing beach shots when we can control a few elements. Portraits need to be shot at the end of the day when the sun is starting to lose its intensity and the heat is dropping off. Planning ahead and bringing flat shoes to change into and maybe a drink or two can help. If you do decide to go to the beach, be ready for the adventure, for your hair and dress to be blowing all over the place and to be at the mercy of the potentially dramatic elements. All these things can create epic portraits too, so don’t worry and be prepared.

wedding photography melbourne

 In the Forest or Country

The number one thing to remember if you are getting married in a country or forest area is always bring some comfy shoes to walk in ready for finding the best spots. What I love about forest photos is the ability to create depth and mood because of the endless trees and the way the light gets caught up in the tops of them. Similar to the city, the light changes constantly and gives me an opportunity to play with textures, colours and different looks.

yarra ranges wedding photography melbournemodern romantic wedding photography melbourne

In the Desert

If your wedding is in the desert, it is good to remember to bring plenty of water when we are walking around and again, flat shoes. The desert can be a bright place to shoot and usually offers little to no shade to hide from the sun. So planning a desert shoot is best in the late afternoon.
Deserts are so beautiful but the weather can be unpredictable and change fast. It’s a good idea to think about a backup plan if the weather turns for the worst.

New Mexico Destination weddingFINDING THE RIGHT LOCATIONS FOR WEDDING PORTRAITSfind good locations for wedding photos


I love shooting indoor portraits probably more than anywhere else. I love creating moody and intimate portraits and I do this by controlling the available light. I try to always get a few portraits of the bride just after she puts her dress on and do the same for the groom when he is ready to go. This gives me the ability to capture all the emotion and suspense in a quiet moment without worrying about the weather or distractions. If we run out of natural light we can always find another light source that works for us.

Daylesford Convent Gallery Wedding free the bird photography

There are so many different options out there and it’s my job to work with every element that is in front of us to create epic portraits. We can work with light and weather and timing to get us to the best possible place for portraits. Your job is to think about images that you connect with and location ideas that best represent you. After that, just be ready for the adventure that comes with creating images that mean the world to you.

Leave a comment

  1. Laurence says:

    Beautiful images, great advice. Thanks!

  2. Beth Alison says:

    Beautiful photos, great advice ^.^

  3. Morgan Vandermark says:

    Awesome Jai!
    This is such an interesting article!
    I follow you on Instagram and I have been a big admirer of your work for a while, it’s great to hear some insight on how you create these beautiful images. Especially at the mercy of the ever changing environments.
    Keep it up Jai. Your tips and tricks are useful and inspiring.

  4. DK says:

    Great advise, exactly what I needed to read at this point leading up to my first wedding season…thanks for sharing!!

  5. Rolan says:

    Amazing advice as always Jai!
    The light, colours and tones in your photos are always spot on.
    Very inspiring!

  6. Mark says:

    Wow you always produce such amazing work Jai ?? it’s great to get some insight into what goes into planning where to take those special photos both for the couple and for you as the photographer.
    Should really help ease the nerves knowing that you are so prepared for anything!
    Love your work

  7. Bianca says:

    all of thiiiiiiiis! what a post… I definitely need to work on educating clients more, thanks for the inspiration!