photo of barn through fence.
May 30, 2013

Engagement Portrait Scouting


Eric and I have scoured the corners of Larimer and Boulder Counties while on assignment for the various papers we worked for. It always surprises me that while scouting for engagement photo locations, we always seem to run across a place that’s familiar but seems startlingly fresh.

While scouting around Horsetooth Reservoir I was reminded of the many feature hunts I went on while at the newspaper in Loveland. Photographers were often sent out to come up with a pretty photo to fill a hole in the paper. These photos usually had little news value, but they were always fun to look at and made the reader think about their world a bit differently because of the way I framed a photo or the way the light fell in the frame. These feature hunts helped my skills of observation and forced me to look at the world that everyone else sees and show my audience what developed from that vision.

Tuesday’s engagement portrait scouting put me right back there in that frame of mind I had at the paper with one difference: I was looking for the perfect place to take our happy couple, Jamie and Chris, and their little one Cole. But I wasn’t constricted by the rule that governed us as photojournalists to not interfere with the moment you are trying to capture. I didn’t have to find the perfect spot along a trail and wait for hours for a hiker or mountain biker to come by to fill the frame perfectly. Now that we’re in full control of the portrait, we can look for that spot and then plan to meet the subject when the light is right.


I guess that’s why the locations we scouted seemed fresh. We were looking at it with the eyes of portrait photographers, not just photojournalists. We know we’ll get great photos because we’ve scouted the spot and know the best time of day to be there. It’s a luxury we seldom allow ourselves but it can make all the difference especially when shooting somewhere you’ve never been. And even if we’ve shot there before, we usually go back before the shoot just to remind ourselves of just how the light will fall on the day we want to shoot.

We can also look out for potential problems with a location. We’ll be shooting at this particular location on Father’s Day weekend so we built in extra shooting time to navigate around the holiday revelers. Also, if you want a beautiful red sandstone cliff in the background but can only shoot it while the cliff is in full shadow, we can visualize the potential pitfalls and fill you in on the possibilities.

If you have a location idea for an upcoming engagement portrait, senior portrait or family photos, give us a ring. We’d love to chat about your idea and get the ball rolling because photo location scouting is one of the best parts of what we do.

Chris Stark
Wedding Photojournalist at Stark Bellamy Photography
Chris Stark is an award-winning photojournalist and former news photographer who honed his craft at several Colorado newspapers. Documentary wedding photography translates perfectly into Chris' fly-on-the-wall style. Chris lives in Longmont, Colorado with his wife and daughter and spends his free time on the bike or hiking with his family.