Arica and Joe already have a wedding photographer since they are getting married out of state. However, I photographed their friend’s wedding (shout out to Kelsey and Blake!), who recommended me for these nostalgically romantic bar engagement photos. I am so glad they did because this happens to be the perfect material to reveal the trick to booking your engagement session at a bar or restaurant (it’s not as easy as you may think!) Do you have a dream photo location that’s hard to book? Try this strategy!
When they first reached out, Arica and Joe mentioned wanting to do their engagement session at a bar—but not just any bar. They envisioned an engagement session at one of their favorite bars, which happens to be inside Soho House, an exclusive club known for turning away photographers. None of us are members, but you can go to Soho House cocktail bars like Fox Bar without a membership. However, I cautioned Arica and Joe that booking a photography session might be a different story. We put our heads together and managed to make this dream of a shoot happen! Here’s how:
How to Book a Photography Session at a Bar or Restaurant
While I’m all about the legwork to make things as easy as possible for my couples, this is one situation that requires a bit from you, the couple. I, the photographer, cannot ask to book a session there. Unfortunate, I know. The bar or restaurant often turns me down or requires a hefty permit fee. However, if the couple reaches out and explains why they would like to take photos there—it’s hard to resist a sweet love story—you’re more likely to get a “yes” (sometimes without a permit fee!) For example, this is one of Arica and Joe’s favorite local bars they’ve frequented while dating.
If you go this route, most restaurants start prepping before they open to the public, so they may let us into their space early, which means we have more access to interesting spaces and the best light. Without patrons filling the booths, I am free to flash my camera and move us all around for those amazing shots you want.
The Trick to Booking Exclusive Photoshoot Locations
Your best bet for gaining access to exclusive locations like bars, restaurants, and the like is to be genuine and ask nicely. Be their loyal customer, tell them your story, and explain how excited you are to celebrate your engagement at their location because it is meaningful for you. People, including businesses, love to be seen, acknowledged, and appreciated. That genuine connection goes a long way. Now, you have a unique location for photos that hold significance and fond memories for you. It’s OK if the place of interest was not your first date—or any date, for that matter. Even if the location is just a bar that gives off great vibes, letting the business know why you love their establishment and what it would mean to you will likely help your case.
Note: Living near Los Angeles and Hollywood, local establishments are accustomed to filmmakers and photographers looking for the perfect location for their production. Utilizing these tactics won’t guarantee access or waived permit fees. Our desirable location makes higher permit fees more likely, especially for trendy photoshoot locations and hotels. (Sometimes hotels will waive the fees for guests—why not book a relaxing weekend getaway while you’re at it?!)
Book Your Dream LA Engagement Session with Hanna
So far, even here in LA, we’ve had a high success rate at tricky locations when couples simply connect with the establishment and tell them their story. Remaining flexible and courteous of their hours and events helps, too. They’re more inclined to welcome us if we’re cognizant and mindful of their business.
In short, scoring an exclusive photoshoot location involves kindness and a good love story. 😉
Love these bar engagement photos? Let’s get the ball rolling and make it happen!