When we got engaged, it was one of the biggest moments of our lives. We wanted to celebrate the milestone in our relationship, embrace the love we felt and capture it all by taking engagement photos we could cherish forever.
Following our engagement in Sydney Australia, we moved to Santiago Chile in March 2014 for a business grant and stayed there for 7 months working on our startup. We then left Chile for a few months to prepare for our destination wedding in Chiang Mai Thailand. Right before we left, we decided to take a few photos to commentate our engagement.
Why take engagement photos?
Our decision to take engagement photos was very personal. For us, we wanted to celebrate a milestone in our relationship. Taking some time to away from work and other life obligations, our engagement photo session allowed us to reflect on the year we were engaged and to look forward to the next step in our journey; getting married.
We had never taken professional photos before and thought it would be a good idea to practice before the wedding. It was also a good idea since we don’t have any professional photos of us together. The engagement photos were also handy for the wedding preparations. We ended up using a selection of our engagement photos for the wedding invitations, reception (photo presentation and decor) and church booklet, which were all DIY projects.
We also liked the idea that the photos would be based in Chile. Since travel was a major part of our lives and our relationship, taking engagement photos would highlight our life in Chile.
Selecting a photographer in Chile
There are many photographers in Santiago Chile. We used the website called International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers, which highlights some of the best wedding photographers around the world. While searching on this website, we selected our photographer using the following criteria:
1. The Portfolio: We checked out their website for an online portfolio of photographs they’ve taken, specifically viewing engagement photos. We looked at their style of photography, their ability to create interesting photos, the angles, facial expressions and overall vibe of the photos.
We checked if any of the photos were poorly taken, blurry or were not the style we were hoping for. We then decided to contact photographers who had an interesting eye to their work.
2. English Speaking: Since we were in Chile, we knew that many of the photographers would speak Spanish. However, to make the communication more easier for us, we wanted to make sure that the photographer could speak English. We felt that it was essential in order for us to feel comfortable taking the photos and to minimize any miscommunication that could happen.
We ended up emailing a bunch of questions in English to a number of photographers we were interested in to see whether or not they could respond confidently in English.
3. Price: Though the cost was not the most important consideration of how we selected our photographer, it did help determine our decision because we were currently saving up most of our money for the actual wedding in Thailand. Generally, engagement photos can cost up to $300 depending on the location and photographer. We ended up selecting a photographer for $100 which included transportation during the 4 hour photo session.
4. Availability: Consideration had to be made to our busy schedule and the photographer’s availability to do a photo session with us. Due to the fact that we were busy working on our startup, our deadline was short and when we finally got around to planning the engagement photo shoot, we realized that we only had a two week opening before leaving Chile.
We therefore ruled out any photographers who weren’t able to commit to the particular period we had available to do the photo shot.
After many emails back and forth, we finally were happy to go with Loquenoves Fotografías, which is run by a vegetarian photographer named Pia.
Scouting locations in Santiago Chile
Once we finalized selecting our photographer, we were keen to voice our thoughts on where we wanted to take photos and what kind of photos we were looking to take. Basically, we wanted to express our experience of living in Chile with our dog.
We knew we wanted to take photos at our church, Basílica de los Sacramentinos, where we attended mass every Sunday. If we were to get married in Chile, we would of gotten married there. We also wanted to capture a lot of the graffiti and art on buildings. The graffiti is a unique part of Santiago particularly down town, which is where we resided. Finally, we wanted to take photos that showcased the incredible view of the Andes Mountains we saw each and everyday while living there.
The photo shoot on 29 September 2014
The photo shoot ran for 4 hours and we had selected prior to the day a few spots in Santiago to take our photos. At around 4pm, we met up with our photographer at our church, known as Basílica de los Sacramentinos. Pia had come earlier in order to speak with the church to get permission to take photos inside the church. Since it was a weekday, there weren’t that many people praying so we weren’t distracting anyone.
Shortly after, we made our way back to our apartment in down town Santiago to pick up Buckwheat. We wanted to have a least a few photos with him as he was a big part of our lives and our relationship. We then walked to a nearby park filled with graffiti, greenery and water fountains.
Afterwards, we dropped buckwheat off at our apartment and changed into our next outfit. Originally, we had planned to take photos at the open air museum murals near Departmental Station, however upon visiting the site prior to our engagement photo session, we noticed that it was a little dangerous and shady. When we discussed this option as a location for our photos to our photographer, she also feared of losing her equipment. Instead, we made our way to the culture center called GAM and took some photos there using the building structures and artistic backgrounds.
We then decided to walk to our next spot as there was so much traffic in Santiago by 6pm. We stopped by an ice cream shop called Emporio La Rosa and spontaneously grabbed some ice cream after our photographer had mentioned their amazing selection of flavors. Seeing as though we were hungry from the photoshoot, we decided to share an ice cream and use the ice cream as a fun prop.
Our second last spot was the graffiti wall at Bellas Artes Metro Station. Our photographer did an amazing job capturing us among the peak hour traffic. Our last spot was the San Cristobal Hill, but for some reason when we arrived, the guard wouldn’t let us in. Apparently it was closed for a few weeks, which didn’t make sense as we saw a number of people biking and walking inside.
Regardless, we made new arrangements for our sunset photos. Just before the sunset at about 7:00pm, our photographer was able to find a friend in the neighborhood who allowed us to take a few shots on the rooftop of their apartment building. Though we weren’t able to capture the Andes Mountains like we had planned, the photos still came out amazing. This was a perfect compromise as we were not able to get into the San Cristobal Hill as we had originally planned.
Looking at our engagement photos, we were super impressed by the talented Pia and her ability to capture our life in Chile. We loved all the photos we received- all 71 of them! We enjoyed every moment of the photo session and highly recommend working with Pia as her prices were reasonable and her work ethic and dedication to get the perfect shot was beyond our expectations. It was a great way to end the first part of life in Chile and to capture the one year we endearingly called each other fiancé.