The Seneca @ York Independent Digital Photography Program is a two-year diploma course that prepares students for a freelance career and provides them with the necessary skill set to work in a multidisciplinary studio. Photo Life is proud to partner with Seneca students to document their journey through the school curriculum. This week Kei Miyajima shares about learning to do an engagement photo shoot.
Class: Wedding and Event Photography
Assignment: Engagement Portrait
Student: Kei Miyajima
Professor: Marc Crabtree
Assignment guidelines: Take an engagement photo of any couple that could potentially be used for invitations, with a signing mat at the wedding, and as a keepsake for the couple.
Even though I thought it was just an assignment I had to do and I had no interest in wedding photography at that time, I found this experience to be very fun and useful.
The starting point and also the most difficult task was finding models. As soon as I received this assignment, I wrote down all the names of people that I know and started to think about who would enjoy this type of photo shoot. I narrowed the list down to two couples and sent them a text. Luckily enough, I got a reply from one of the couples, and they were willing to work with me.
Since they work Monday through Friday, we decided to shoot on Sunday after 5 p.m. However, because it was in the middle of summer, I was wondering if I could find any place that has few people on a Sunday afternoon. So the next difficulty was finding the proper place. I typed “engagement photo location Toronto” into the Google search engine and researched many places such as Cherry Beach, Distillery District, Toronto Music Garden, Toronto Island and so on. I realized that I needed to see the location in advance, so I went to the University of Toronto around 6 p.m. to confirm whether the location and lighting was good and if there were fewer people since it was a school in summer. This became my first location hunting experience, and it turned out extremely useful and important for guiding models smoothly and saving time during the shoot.
On the day of the shoot, most things went very well. I wanted to do the shoot not only for my school assignment, but also for the couple. My models are very active and passionate people, so they were willing to try many poses and help me out by suggesting their own ideas. It was such a good experience to create the pictures by communicating with the models and sharing ideas, so that we could achieve something none of us had expected. The only thing that I regretted was that I had not told her to wear comfortable shoes to walk around in.
The woman and I picked the final pictures a few days later. Since both of us like candid images more than posing and smiling-at-the-camera images, we didn’t pick the so-called “portrait” images. That lowered my marks a bit; however my models were really satisfied with the pictures and she used some of the images for her business website.
Although engagement portraits are not what I want to shoot in the future, I learned the importance of knowing the location in advance and how to communicate an idea on the spot.