Almost a year ago my little brother asked me to shoot engagement photos for him and his fiance. They were just married last month and their wedding had a fun world theme to it, with a map for guests to mark where you have roots, a map on one tier of their cake, etc. She is Scottish-American and he is of course half Korean like me, so their wedding rings were engraved with “heart” in Gaelic and Korean, and they visited Scotland during their honeymoon to see her family. They must have had that world theme in mind before even planning the wedding because when they asked me to take their engagements they chose 3 cities to do it in: Las Vegas, Seattle and NYC.
At the time I was extremely nervous and stressed. Obviously I had minimal experience and no plans to get into portrait photography. One year later as I look at these photos I see many things I would change, but they also remind me of the ways I’ve learned and grown since. I’m sharing the Las Vegas photos today because they are my favorite. The thing about Vegas is that even in the wintry cold (this was New Year’s) it can look like spring, and plus I was able to get there early enough to scout out spots, which was a huge stress-reliever. Vegas is most iconic at night, but also quite gaudy, especially for engagement photos. Luckily they felt the same, so I was able to comfortably search for some prettier scenery off the strip. After a large amount of online research looking for ideal photo spots, I settled on two that were just what I wanted. I had a lot of help from a sweet photographer couple Susie + Will. They were such a breath of fresh air after having met with some rude photographers in the area, and their work happens to be my #1 favorite that I came across. I hugely recommend following them on Instagram for inspiration. I’m sharing one of the spots they helped me find, as well as a few more that I came across while researching; hopefully they are helpful for your next Vegas trip or photo shoot. Check back for when I share NYC next.
1. Las Vegas LDS Temple: temple grounds are always kept pristine and are perfect for photo shoots. When we went, my little brother had me hide the engagement ring in my camera bag and we told his fiance we were going to take some “practice shots.” At the end of the shoot I purposely changed lenses so that I had an excuse to open my bag and get my bro to help me (aka hide the ring box in his jacket), and then voila! That’s when he made his official proposal, it was quite nice. If you take a walk around the grounds there are several beautiful spots for photos, just remember that temples are considered sacred, so keep noise to a minimum and be respectful.
2. The Smith Center for the Performing Arts: there are a few great spots here as well. I loved the above outside passageway framed by trees and lights. The symmetry is so satisfying to my inner OCD. There’s another great passageway with a different background, as well as some nice benches, etc. Just make sure you check the performance calendar so you don’t find yourself there when it’s flooded with people. And just across the street from the center you’ll find one last spot…
3. Symphony Park: at night they have strings of lights (at least when I was last there) across the garden that would look beautiful at dusk, but we took advantage of these colorful…things. Haha, no idea what they are, maybe just an art piece, but they are a fun backdrop. Little bro called these photos “the crowd-pleasers.”
A few more spots that I didn’t check out but are worth a look:
4. Springs Preserve Botanical Gardens: I decided against this one because of the price tag, but it looks like a beautiful spot, and if you’re a Nevada native I think it’s much cheaper.
5. Caesar’s Palace: I’ve seen some great shots taken in the gardens in front of this casino. I opted against it because I didn’t feel like braving the strip over New Year’s but it could be worth it.
These were my personal favorite spots. Many people also go to the neon boneyard, old Vegas, etc. but in terms of softer photos with good natural light, these were what stuck out to me. Hope you like the list.