Having engagement photos taken can be a lot of fun, but it's also a great way to get to know your photographer before your wedding day.

Couples don't often get the opportunity to see their vendors in action before their wedding day, instead relying on recommendations and samples.

But engagement portraits offer something many other vendors cannot. Before the wedding day, couples get the chance to see the photographer in action and then review their own unique final product. The session allows the couple and the photographer to develop a chemistry that will carry on throughout the wedding-planning process.

"We love shooting engagement sessions, because it helps to cement the relationship," says Lauren Ewart of Barefeet Studio. "We've already gone through the steps of getting comfortable with them."

The different ways to capture the love and excitement of a soon-to-be-wed couple are endless, and luckily for those in Columbus, the city doesn't disappoint when it comes to possible shoot locations.

"Columbus is really nice because every 10 steps, you have a different backdrop," says Garrett Martin of Martin Digital Photography. "You can be shooting in one direction and have greenery and nature and turn around and have the skyline in the background and that urban element."

The abundance of parks and gardens located throughout the city make for a beautiful natural background, and a distinct metropolitan element can be captured from the architecture of Downtown. Some of Martin's favorite spots to shoot around the city are the Olentangy River, Goodale Park, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the West Main Street Bridge.

But beautiful engagement shoots don't always require grand locations.

Ewart once shot an engagement session in a couple's apartment, allowing more intimate and unique pictures of the couple interacting in their own space.

To help inspire exciting ideas that represent the couple well, Ewart, who works with husband Andy, gives couples a questionnaire to fill out before their first meeting. Along with a way to get to know them, the questionnaire also acts as a great jumping-off point to come up with location ideas and activities. Ewart has shot everywhere from Kings Island-before it opened for the season-to a drive-in movie theater and the Book Loft of German Village.

For couples who need more guidance on what they want for their session, simply talking about their history as a couple offers personal and fun ideas. Common interests, the place the couple met and their first date can be used for inspiration when coming up with shoot ideas.

"I always say, 'Find the photos that you love,' " Martin says. "If someone has come across my website and fallen in love with my photography, it's about picking a photographer that matches your personality."

And if couples falls in love with a photographer but can't afford their work for both the engagement session and the wedding, Kasey Skobel-Conyers of Bliss Wedding & Event Design recommends booking one photographer just for an engagement session. This isn't ideal, she says, but for her clients who are out of state-many of whom reside in New York and Chicago-it's the best option.

"It sounds a little crazy, but you're able to get the best of both worlds and not break the bank," Skobel-Conyers says.

Looking through the engagement portraits of friends and family members is another great way to come up with ideas or simply find inspiration for a location or activity.

Julie Linz of Julie Linz Photography loves shooting engagement sessions in the opposite season of the wedding to get a different feel. She's also shot sessions for couples in more urban locations as a contrast to their country-club-style weddings.

Linz typically asks brides to show her their Pinterest wedding boards so they can discuss where they'd like to go for both the engagement and wedding pictures. She also directs couples to her blog, where they can find further inspiration for their own shoot.

But without a great relationship between the couple and photographer, pictures can come out looking less than spectacular. And-since most people haven't had their photo taken professionally since high school-it's important to feel at ease with the photographer.

"A lot of people find comfort when I'm able to give them suggestions or tips right on the spot … because that shows I know what I'm doing," Linz says. "Planning ahead really helps. And I always have my own ideas so we can get them in the right place and go from there."