Reflections : Choosing an Engagement Location


I have opinions. In fact, my opinions have opinions, almost like my mouth is a factory mass producing opinions by the nanosecond. There are times when JD is like, LET ME GUESS YOU HAVE ANOTHER OPINION, RIGHT?! I just feel my thoughts will go wild if they stay locked up in my brain, so cut me some slack!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my clients choose the location for their engagement session and I don’t have much say in the matter…and I prefer it that way. I want my clients to be invested in the shoot and take ownership in how their love is documented.

Last week, however, I received an email from a client who told me she and her fiance brainstormed locations and thought shooting at Santa Monica Pier would be “easy and fun”. Then she asked for my opinion. This is the part where JD is standing somewhere in the distance whispering, NOOOOOOOO!

The minute she asked for feedback, I knew she was still searching for the right spot and needed a little guidance…here’s my response:

Hi Sonya!
What great email timing you have! Love it! 🙂
Okay, so here’s what I think (and please know I’m only ever honest with my clients)…
I will shoot wherever you think is best and wherever you and Eric will feel most comfortable. More than anything I want the session to truly reflect everything you are and how you love. In light of this, if the beach/pier is a place you spend a lot of time and really oozes how you love, then great! Let’s go there.
If, on the other hand, the location is easy to get to and pretty, then maybe we can add a layer to the shoot to personalize it….because sometimes easy doesn’t necessarily mean the best place for
you. If, say, you’re beach goers and it fits your personalities, which beach do you go to? How far do you live from the beach? Is there any way we can find a location that incorporates who you are and how you spend time together? The sky’s the limit!
I’m great with either option, I just want to make sure you know of all your options. Once we lock in a place, I’ll solidify the time (as it’s based on the available light in that given location).
Can’t wait!!!!! 🙂
Stay Fabulous,

The important thing for me was to act as a guide and ensure the engagement session was a true reflection of their love and this is how I did it. Sometimes offering an honest opinion is difficult with a client, but I couldn’t be more proud of her new location of choice. After thinking things through with Eric, they chose the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica to start their shoot, as it was where they celebrated their surprise engagement party.

Educating clients, offering insight, and (dare I say) pushing them to define what they want will yield a better experience and likely produce images that appeal to clients’ sensibilities and sentimentalities. I hope this adds a little more insight into how I work with my clients and engagement sessions. When I started my business, I tried to navigate these sometimes difficult conversations so, perhaps, this might help one person find their voice and grow their business stronger in a shorter amount of time.

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  1. Dana Laymon

    May 31st, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    gosh i wish you could write all of my emails for me! I am sooo not a writer…but thanks for sharing. I’m sure it will help a lot of us out there!

  2. Allie Coyle

    May 31st, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks Jasmine! Great advice! This can be tricky with clients, so it’s great to see how you handle it. Have you ever had a client who really wanted to shoot somewhere, but you knew it was a terrible location? If so, how do you handle something like that? Thanks!

  3. Kasia Dobosz

    May 31st, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    That is gooooood post:) I will rethink my strategy of talking to clients;)

  4. Cassandra Eldridge

    May 31st, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Loved this post. It was so, super helpful to me, because I think this is the one thing I’ve been struggling with when it comes to my clients. 9 times out of 10, they throw their hands up and ask for my help, and I’m eager to lend it.. but I find myself offering locations that I’ve shot at before, or locations that aren’t significant to them at all. Loved how you effortlessly guided them to find the right spot for them. I’ll be doing this from now on! XO

  5. mixedmolly

    May 31st, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    This is helpful! Thanks!

  6. Jenna Evans

    May 31st, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Jasmine – your blogs are so simple and inspiring. Thanks for this specific post & I LOVE the image you posted!

  7. Feather

    May 31st, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you so so much for sharing. This little post and example helps me out more than you could possibly imagine! xoxo for the ever fabulous Jasmine…woohoo! 🙂

  8. Pedro Bento

    May 31st, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Hi JJJ, yes you’re triple J couple 🙂

    I’m one of your big fans, from a couple of months but never get in contact, and have learn a lot with your un-locked thoughts, and these one it’s just precious for a couple of mails I have to answer today. Thank you very much.

    All the Best!!!!!

    From Portugal,


  9. Gingerita

    May 31st, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I love her dress! And I think I see gold shoes that I’m going to love too.

  10. Jill Denny

    May 31st, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Great advice! What if they had wanted to shoot at Santa Monica Pier? Don’t you have to get a permit? How do your broach that subject with your clients?

  11. Barb

    May 31st, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Nothing wrong with opinions if there leading to a greater good. I appreciated your response and it was done with tact and professionalism. Great job! Shows you care about you’re clients. My aim is to work on this side of me, giving opinions if they’re helpful and learning to do it with finesse 🙂 Thank you for the post 🙂

  12. EricT

    May 31st, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Aaahhh… This post came a few days too late. Wish I could re-call my email to my client. Great post though.

  13. Jordan Brittley

    May 31st, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I love this! Thanks a bunch Jasmine 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 okay, okay I will stop with the smilies.

  14. Bret

    May 31st, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Well said, Jasmine. What do you do when a couple wants to shoot at a place that you know will require a permit, guide them elsewhere or keep it low profile and get in and out? Thanks again for the great advice.

  15. Kathryn Denelle Stevens

    May 31st, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Yesss! Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to coach clients, where appropriate! usual..for your insight, Jasmine!

  16. Dee

    June 1st, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Dying over this. It’s rare, well…no not really, but it takes a lot for a pic to get my heart racing and this picture sure does! I’m In LOVE

  17. Paige Overturf

    June 1st, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Awesome insight!! Thanks for the example email…so helpful!!

  18. Sandra Fazzino Photography

    June 1st, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Jasmine, you are so mucho macho. That’s all I could think after reading this blog post. Currently, I’m learning how to communicate positively and effectively – and it’s crystalizing – I’m getting there. I always value your input on the subject. Thank you!

  19. Emma Nathews

    June 1st, 2012 at 5:42 am

    Love this! You. Are. Awesome. Perfect way to communicate what you want from the client while also allowing the client to get what they want from you. PERFECT!

  20. Emily

    June 1st, 2012 at 6:24 am

    I love reading how you interact with your clients because it always gives me ideas about how to interact with the people I shoot. Great Advice as usual, love it.

  21. Wedding Photography Melbourne

    June 1st, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I love your honesty and up-frontness with clients. It’s refreshing, and obviously gets the best results from the situation.

  22. Brianna

    June 1st, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I like the gentle approach to it. 🙂

  23. Adriana Morett

    June 1st, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I just love you so much! thank you for sharing, and sharing, and sharing!!

  24. Dani Davila

    June 2nd, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Thanks for the example email!!

  25. Jenn Prasnik

    June 2nd, 2012 at 4:57 am

    I really like this post. When you have a location that you are set on, like a hotel, do you need to get permission from the hotel to do a shoot?

  26. Fotografo Matrimonio

    June 3rd, 2012 at 8:28 am

    In Italy, unfortunately, as well as advising clients to find the right location, we must face the problem of permits. An example? You can not make beach wedding without tons of documents to be prepared!

  27. Crendo Photography

    June 3rd, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I love your response — great job directing them. Clients around here either have zero ideas about locations, or show up with a detailed list of what poses they want at which specific locations. I’d love to be asked my opinion of the locations, because so many of the ones my clients think are perfect are actually not.

  28. Marissa Nicole

    June 5th, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Fantastic input & advice. I have locations I detest shooting at but clients seem to gravitate there because it is the only place they can think of. I have learned/am still learning the best way to steer a client toward something else. Now I have another bullet in my arsenal to lead them in a more personal direction. Thx for sharing.

  29. James L Dekker

    August 5th, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you for a great post Jasmine.