Every local person knows this saying: “Lucky we live Hawaii”. This is completely and undeniably true. There’s no doubt I have my favorite spots here on the island, but what I ultimately want in a photo session location is what my couples and families want. With so much choices and opportunity for a beautiful locale, it can get pretty overwhelming. Here’s a guideline that will hopefully help you in choosing your ideal location.

1. Special Meaning

I debated putting this on the top of the list or the bottom. I was thinking of putting it at the bottom because it was the biggest factor (and also because I want you to read my other points), but ultimately decided to put it as number one BECAUSE it is the biggest factor. Picking a place that holds a special place in your heart is going to provide 1000x more meaning. It adds that extra layer of fuzzy feelings. Here are some ideas of a place that holds special meaning:

A beach you and your loved ones frequent often
A place your person asked you out for the first time
The place where you and your person met
A place that holds childhood memories
Etc. Etc.

Skateboarding and swing dates in the past made this the perfect location for some elopement photos for Andi and Niko.

If you don’t have any particular meaningful place in mind, it’s okay… I gotchu. There are other factors that you can consider in choosing your ideal location.

2. Sunrise vs Sunset

Super duper simple. I mean really, do you like the sunrise or the sunset? I can never predict the colors of a sunrise or sunset, but, typically, sunrise will have beautiful, soft lighting and sunset can produce some truly beautiful dramatic colors. Whatever your preference is, choosing a sunrise session versus a sunset session may determine what location you will want to shoot at. 

As the saying goes, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Whatever your preference is, you will want to choose a spot that is typical for that sunrise/sunset lighting. If your preference is sunrise I would recommend choosing a location on the East side of the island. For example, Makapu’u is always known for its beautiful sunrises. And of course anywhere on Waianae side is known for its sunset. WESTSIIIIIDE!

Haha! I’m sorry, I had to! I’m a Westside girl. Any who, moving on… *ahem*. (In my professional voice) the Leeward coast will always produce a beautiful sunset. 

3. Beach vs Mountain

Aren’t we lucky that we have both?! Heck, we could even do a beach with the mountain in the background. Again… lucky we live Hawaii. Okay this is really simple, so I don’t have too much to add here. But really, beach versus mountain views?

4. Types of Beach/Mountain

Okay, I’m cheating. Just a little. Point number 4 could technically be with the beach vs mountain point. But I felt that would be too long and you needed to figure out your preference first to get into the specific type of beach and mountain right?! So let’s dive deeper.

Hawaii is home to some gorgeous beaches and different variations of beaches. That being said… it comes down to what type of beach vibe do you want. Are you looking for those long sandy stretches or a rocky beach background.

And while most typically think “beach” for Hawaii, we also have some beautiful green and mountain type views. And I’m not just talking about the green, lush hikes we have, but some truly beautiful forest-esque locations. That being said, what kind of mountain look are you going for. Do you want a gorgeous green backgrounds or are you craving more of a forest fall look.  

5. Down For An Adventure?

A lot of locations here are a quick park, step out of your car, and you’re there location. However, there are truly some amazing spots that require just a little more work to get to. Are you willing and able to spend a little more time reaching a more hidden destination… one that will have fantastic scenic views or a beautiful waterfall? This option may not appeal to everyone and that is completely okay! But if you and your loved one(s) crave a little adventure with an awesome view, then this may be a factor in your location decision.

This is a very simple starting point in choosing a location. Like I said, Hawaii has so much options and ummmm… a lot of places have multiple factors! You can get a beach with just a tiny bit of a “forest vibe”. You can get a beach that has both sandy views and rocky views! Ultimately, I want your vision and ideas for location to happen.

I will work with you on choosing a spot and we will make it happen. So what are you waiting for?! Let’s get connected and figure out some locations for your next shoot =). 

Kristen Iwalani of Iwalani Photography is a couples and elopement photographer based on the island of Oahu, ready to provide a chill, yet high-vibe adventure. She loves capturing the real, raw, and messy moments of your story. Contact her today to start planning your island adventure!

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