Inspiration for your upcoming engagement shoot. So maybe you’ve found the perfect photographer and you’ve started dreaming up what your engagement session is going to look like. I’ve been shooting engagement shoots for 6+ years now and I’ve collected a massive list of sweet locations from indoor studio spaces to adventurous outdoor spots to locations that you can enjoy a fun activity together in while you shoot. And as an enneagram type 7, I’m a big dreamer and idea generating machine, so I’m always thinking up new shoot ideas faster than I can use them. So, all you newly engaged couples, these are for you!
And to be honest, what better way to ease the photo shoot nerves than to be able to distract yourself with a fun game or activity am I right?! Ex. indoor rock climbing, eating donuts, building a campfire. Yeah these are that cool. So stick around to see 17 unique locations for engagement sessions around Ontario.
1. Bride 21, Port Colborne
I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve yet to find a couple daring enough to take me up on this idea, but I’m going to keep trying no matter how long it takes. This is a drawbridge that starts fairly close to the water and sits in a small canal. It would be perfect for some easy bridge jumping in the summer and would make an awesome spot for cute swimming photos of you and your love.
2. LOVT Studios, Toronto
If you’re dreaming of an indoor, more lifestyle-type shoot, then this is the place to go. It has three beautiful, mid-century styled studio spaces across Toronto that are perfect for those cozy photos you’re imagining. I recently had my business brand photos taken at LOVT East and fell in love with the old factory windows and creative art around the space. I’ve also shot in LOVT West and of course, it was just as beautiful.
3. The June Motel, Picton
Another indoor option, but this one’s a little less trendy and a little more 60’s Palm Springs. They only accommodate shoots on weekdays, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of documenting your love in this funky motel.
4. McKenzie King Estates, Gatineau Park
Our late Prime Minister McKenzie King’s own estates. They’re ruins now, but gosh they’re beautiful. It’s located in Gatineau Park and quite easy to find, free admission, and these ruins pictured are about a 5 minute easy walk in from the parking lot.
5. Rockwood Conservation Area and Harris Mill Ruins, Guelph
Speaking of castles. This one costs much less to get into (just a general conservation area fee is collected at the entrance) and the mill ruins make a magnificent backdrop for any kind of shoot.
2020 Update: These ruins were closed off for construction when I went this summer. I was able to photoshop the fence out of a couple photos, but it’s definitely in the way, so make sure you call ahead of time to see if that fence is still up.
6. Dundas Peak, Hamilton
With unreal sunset views, the 20 minute hike is absolutely worth it. You’ll want to bring some snacks with you for the top (wine and cheese anyone?) and stick around until the light is almost gone because that’s when the sky gets colourful and the people scatter. Just make sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight for the hike back down.
2020 Update: I’m so sad to say that this beautiful view has recently been blocked by a shiny new fence that is there to stay. This was one of my favourite shoot locations in the area, but if you’re looking for an unobstructed view in the area, check out Rattlesnake Point.
7. Scarborough Bluffs Park, Scarborough
Another beautiful hike out in nature, but this one is equally stunning year-round. I’ve been here in the summer and winter and I’m always surprised how beautiful it is no matter the weather. Sessions by the lake are a really stunning way to capture a small piece of summer even when your photo shoot is in the dead of winter.
8. Little Beach, Port Stanley
The main beach in Port Stanley usually hogs all the attention for itself, but if you’re wanting to avoid some of the crowds and get some cool rock beach photos as well as the sandy beach ones, this is your spot. When I take couples to Port Stanley, I typically start with them at Little Beach, then wander through the town with them (maybe stop for some ice cream), and finish the shoot in the water of main beach as the sun sets behind them. Yeah, it’s as stunning as it sounds.
9. Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge, Campbellford
These two suspension bridges I’ve yet to go to for a shoot of my own, so they’re still up for grabs by an adventurous couple that wants to head somewhere unique for their engagement shoot.
10. The Suspension Bridge, Blue Mountains
This suspension bridge apparently takes 45 minutes to walk across! So we wouldn’t walk the whole thing, we’d just wander a few minutes in and then turn around and get more shots in the forest around. There’s also zip lining nearby this bridge, so hey, if you’re feeling real adventurous, we could add that into your shoot while we’re at it. Why not, right?
11. Chedoke Falls, Hamilton
This waterfall never disappoints, no matter the season or weather. Unlike a lot of waterfalls in the Hamilton region, it’s never very busy, and always beautiful. A word of caution to you if you choose to head to these falls–the hike down is steep and unsteady, especially after or during rainfall. It is not for the faint of heart, go when it hasn’t rained in several days, and wear good shoes. (One of my clients I brought down here was a champ, but she wore sandals and it had rained the day before, so she lost her shoe AND slid half way down the cliff on our way back up. Made for a good laugh, but probably not the way you want to end your session.)
12. Pinery Provincial Park, Grand Bend
There’s a couple directions you could take this kind of shoot. You could camp for a night and include some shots of you and your babe setting up your tent, or having a campfire, going into the lake for a swim, sand-boarding down the dunes, making s’mores, star-gazing, all of the above. There’s SO much you could do at this location, let yourself dream!
13. Junction Climbing Centre, London
Are you guys big into indoor rock climbing? (Or outdoor for that matter, there’s plenty of outdoor locations we could head to for a climbing shoot — Tobermory, Gatineau Park, Rattlesnake Point, etc). Why not include your hobby into your engagement session? Make sure you get permission from The Junction at least a couple days before the shoot so they know you’re coming and they can tell you the best time to come by to avoid getting in the way of any climbers!
14. The Mustang Drive-In Theatre, Belmont
Big into watching movies together? For this location, think cute 90’s date night with your fiance. This drive-in theatre is exactly that and, practically speaking, you could have this be the second half of your shoot (maybe a cute walking-through-a-small-town shoot in Belmont before?) and then cuddle up in the back of a pick-up truck piled with blankets and pillows as your photographer grabs a few cuddly photos of you guys in your element.
15. Donut Monster, Hamilton
I caught your interest with this idea, didn’t I? Yes, I did just suggest you eat donuts while getting your engagement photos taken. Treat yourself to a donut date with your fiance AND get some sweet coffee shop photos of it while you’re at it. Ain’t nothin’ better than a Saturday morning coffee shop (& donuts) date if you ask me — my husband and I do them every week.
16. Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara
Not for the faint of heart (esp. in the winter) since you’ll most likely get soaked; however, this iconic wonder of the world just might be your spot for engagement photos. Getting behind the falls gives you an untouched view of the massive falls that you just can’t experience up top. Not to mention you’ll avoid all the concrete and commercialization of the top.
17. The Buffalo Farm, Calvin
Also a unique wedding venue, this is the perfect spot to snag some sweet engagement photos (and then get married maybe?) and enjoy the scenery of being up north. As always, inquire with these kinds of locations for any fees required for booking.
18. bonus: Pinhey’s Point, Dunrobin
With gorgeous views of the hills of Gatineau across the Ottawa River and historic buildings and ruins that will make you feel like you’re shooting in Europe, this location is a no brainer. There is no entrance fee, so can easily get a huge variety of photos in just this one place (something I’m always looking for in a location). There’s a field of long grass, there’s stone ruins, there’s lots of places to access the water by the rocky beach or a sandy beach, there’s a hillside view of the river and hills across. I’m telling you this place has it all.
19. bonus: Pinhey Sand Dune Complex
Yes, this is what it sounds like. Sand dunes in the middle of Ottawa?! Also surrounded by a pine forest? If you’re looking for unique, this might be your spot. My one caution about this location is that you’ll need a skilled photographer so you don’t get any of the signs in the back of your photos. As you can see in this in iPhone pano, the dunes are mostly blocked off for rehabilitation, but if you are on the edge of the path and in other certain spots, you can avoid the signs (or edit them out after) so they’re not in the background of your images. Like I mentioned before, this spot is surrounded by gorgeous pine forests that would bring more variety into your gallery as well.
20. Want to Talk More Ideas?
Like I said before, I’m a dreamer, thinking of ideas is one of my favourite things to do as a Toronto and Ottawa couples photographer. So shoot me an email and ask about how we can customize an engagement (or couples or anniversary) shoot to your relationship.