I met up with Cat & John the morning of our shoot at the Maker Hotel. It was early, around 9am, and the hotel guests were just starting to mosey down from their rooms and grab their first cup of coffee of their day. Cat & John chose The Maker to start off their engagement session because of the cozy and stylish interior of their Cafe. It certainly did not disappoint. The cafe, filled with intimate booths and tables creates such a cozy atmosphere that it makes you want to spend the rest of the day there, reading the paper and sampling any & all of the divine items on their menu (the croissants!). The hotel itself is an absolute dream. The most beautiful rooms you’ve ever seen and the amenities are impressive. To say I was excited to spend some time shooting at the Maker is an understatement. I’ve had my eye on it ever since my first time being in Hudson, New York.
The management was so lovely to work with and they were very accommodating in letting us shoot there. The Maker Hotel often houses intimate weddings and elopements themselves, so the concept of doing a shoot inside is not foreign to them. As with any public shoot, you are bound to cause a bit of attention, but Cat and John were so effortlessly relaxed and seemingly unfazed by the half a dozen or so hotel & drop-in cafe guests that ogled the cute couple getting their photos taken. There is a certain element to shooting indoors, in a public place with all its restrictions that make for really interesting photos. Because you have more of a constrictive space and can’t just run around but instead have to work with what you have in terms of lighting and surroundings.
Although a little bit of a logistical challenge, shooting indoors in places that are public can be rewarding and make for less traditional photos. Here are some quick tips for couples interested in a private space such as a restaurant, bar, cafe, inn (or even something fun like an antique shop) for a session.
Some tips if you are looking to have a photo session in a business:
First and foremost. Always ask if it’s okay to take photos in a private space. These are not situations where you pull a “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission”. While many businesses will be completely okay with it as long as it isn’t super disruptive, you can’t always assume. Some businesses have very strict photo policies requiring an OK from management before shooting and a lot of intimate spaces (restaurants, cafes, inns) don’t allow shoots because they don’t want to disrupt the guests who have paid to be there and have a relaxing experience. You don’t want to be in an uncomfortable situation mid- shoot with a manager or employee telling you to leave.
A quick email or chat with the business a couple days (at least) prior to the shoot is necessary. I say a couple of days because you also don’t want to show up day-of gear in hand and ask them for a yay or nay. This puts a bit of pressure on whoever you ask and can leave a bad taste in their mouth about letting you shoot there, even if they do OK it.
Usually, businesses are thrilled to host the shoot. They might even let you access the space a little bit before they are open to the public, allowing you to get some shots without interrupting anyone or making a scene. Even if they’ll let you squeeze in the doors 10 minutes before they officially open, that still gives you a leg up on getting shots without a ton of people around.
Avoid Peak Hours
This leads me to my next tip: be open to scheduling your session for off-peak hours. Most people have Friday night through Sunday off of work, so scheduling your session for this timeframe increases your chances of being caught in peak hours for most businesses. Be open to non weekend days as well as times when most people are at work.
Mind the Light
Also, choose a time of day where you can have plenty of light. Shooting indoors can be a little tricky light wise so make sure you are willing to have your session in the late morning or afternoon hours to take advantage of the sun being at its highest. Also, make sure the spot you want to incorporate has some type of accessible light. Even if it’s just a window that you can be near. Unless you want your whole shoot to be indoor paparazzi flash vibes, you’ll want a light source. I typically shoot as close to natural light as possible (next to a large window or door) to make sure details aren’t lost in the dark.
Confidence is Key
Lastly, go into your shoot with confidence. It can feel strange at first getting your photo taken in front of other people, in a public space. But it’s only as awkward as you allow it to feel. Most of the time your shoot can be done quietly and discreetly with little disturbance or notice from other people who are around. No doubt, it will attract some kind of attention. But usually people stare for a couple minutes until they get bored and move onto something more interesting to them. Which in New York, where photoshoots/influencer’s making TikToks happen nonstop all the time, it gets uninteresting to people pretty quickly. So relax and enjoy your quick 5 minutes of fame.
Using these tips, you can make most locations a dream spot for a shoot. When you are considering locations for your shoot, think about incorporating places that have a significant connection to you as a couple or places that you spend a lot of time together. I’ve written a little more about why it’s helpful to choose a meaningful location in another one of my blog posts, which you can check out here.