Photographers dish on their favorite Central Ohio photo shoot spots.

If an engagement photo is a story of soon-to-be newlyweds, then the location of the shoot is the setting of the entire book.

“I try to encourage my couples to pick places that are meaningful to them,” says Hillary Ferguson of Hillary Ferguson Photography. This can be where a couple met, went on a first date, got engaged or simply a place where they spend a lot of time.

To aid your location search, look for a photographer with knowledge of the area and an eye for architecture and other backdrops that look interesting. A good photographer can help undecided couples find a location, suggesting new and creative shots tailored to each couple's style.

Luckily, Columbus has a wealth of incredible locations for a meaningful engagement shoot perfect for any local couple.

Two local favorites are German Village and the Short North. With brick streets, ever-changing murals, boutique stores and plenty of interesting architecture, both neighborhoods offer a variety of backdrops.

“Couples love the area, the atmosphere, the people,” of those neighborhoods, says Gina Lovelace of Brett Loves Elle Photography.

Though the brick streets do give your photos character, it's not always easy to get a shot in the middle of the road. “Clients love the brick streets but don't necessarily account for the cars and people that are lining them,” says Dan Buckley of Dan Buckley Photography.

Couples can escape the traffic and get a different kind of shot with a visit to the staple neighborhood parks—Schiller in German Village and Goodale in the Short North—if the season is right. And season is an important consideration when choosing your location. Those beautiful roses in Clintonville's Whetstone Park of Roses will be dead and dry in winter, but that doesn't mean an engagement shoot is impossible. During colder months, couples should take advantage of Columbus' great urban cityscapes instead.

“Columbus is very industrial, very urban,” Lovelace says. Explore that theme with a trip to the Arena District. Take shots under the old Union Train Station arch at McFerson Commons Park (also known as Arch Park, thanks to the structure), then take advantage of the area's nightlife to get perfect date-night-style snaps.

When scoping out a location, try looking around the corner. Ferguson found one of her favorite engagement shoot locations just down the street from the Scioto Mile in a part of the city currently being rebuilt. The area is in transformation and filled with murals painted on rustic brick buildings.

“To somebody else it might look run down, but the photos are amazing,” Ferguson says.

Another Columbus favorite is the Ohio State University campus. Couples seek out shots at the Oval and even the campus library.

Then, of course, there's the Ohio Stadium. For OSU alumni or avid football fans, an engagement shoot in the 'Shoe is an exhilarating experience. Couples can call ahead to reserve a time slot when the field is not in use.

If that seems like too much hassle, fun photos can be taken around the stadium's exterior as well, with just as much significance to the couple.

No matter what location you choose, the most important thing is to have fun. For many, this is the first time getting photos taken by a professional photographer and the process can feel intimidating.

Buckley says it's OK for nervous couples to have a drink or two before the shoot to help relax. “Just don't overdo it,” he adds. “I've had that happen.”

Trust your photographer's guidance, and don't be afraid to ask for suggestions or hints of what to do. Also, try laughing away any unease, even if at first it's simply nervous laughter.

“Sometimes some of the best images are where they're laughing and feeling silly,” Ferguson says. “That's when we see their real selves.” œ

Fact Box:

Know Before You Go

After you decide on a location, plan ahead for the best photo shoot possible. Call, email or meet with your photographer ahead of time so you can get to know each other and discuss your needs. Then, plan a time and a date for the shoot, keeping the following considerations in mind.

Catch the Golden Hour

“I always start my engagement sessions two to three hours before sunset,” says Dan Buckley of Dan Buckley Photography. “This will always provide the best lighting and allow me to get those sunset shots with the lens flare effects that couples always want.”

Watch the Weather

An overcast day isn't necessarily an engagement photo shoot disaster. “It's actually perfect for lighting and will offer more choices due to the lack of hard shadows,” Buckley says. Likewise, rain can make for some interesting shots, but your photographer may choose to reschedule the shoot or move indoors to protect his or her gear.

Plan Your Props (or Pups)

Many dog lovers opt to include their pets in their engagement photos. The furry companions add an entirely new aesthetic to the photo shoot and can help a couple to feel more relaxed. But unlike inanimate props, dogs can add an extra layer of difficulty. Be sure to bring a friend who can hold the leash when the puppy portion of the photo shoot is finished, allowing you to get some couple-only snaps.

Dress Accordingly

Buckley suggests avoiding small or high-contrasting patterns, which may distract viewers, as well as contrasting too much against each other to avoid exposure issues in bright light.

“Bringing items necessary to address hair and makeup during the shoot is also very important,” Buckley says. “If the shoot is on a hot day, a wardrobe change might actually be a necessity.”