An infographic stating photographing couples in a forest
Whether or not your couple is getting married in (or near) a forest, they are still one of the most beautiful places for couples portraits. Come rain or shine (or snow), wedding or engagement photos in forests have a magical, fairy tale vibe. Lush greens, a mix of red, yellow, and orange, or just the bare trees buried beneath a blanket of snow – photographing your couples in a forest has the ability to stand out no matter what time of the year or day. Of course, the golden and blue hours offer great lighting, but it’s all about the vibe you and your clients are going for. Dark and moody or light and airy, it can all be done in a forest. And while it’s a great place for couples portraits, there are some things you need to keep in mind before you head out into the woods. Keep reading to get those tips!


5 Tips For Taking Couples Portraits In A Forest

1. Find The Picture-Perfect Spots

A couple posing as the guy walks while picking up the girl
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @breonnawellsphotography


Forests in general are beautiful for photography. But there are some spots that are specifically great for photos. And unless you know them already, we’d recommend that you scout the location in advance in order to not waste time doing that on the day of the photo shoot. Look for places that are surrounded by dense foliage or tall and magnificent trees. But keep in mind that besides a beautiful backdrop for your couple, that spot also has to provide enough space for you. And while you may want to be surrounded by the lush greenery, try to find spots that also have plenty of natural light or enough light to complement artificial lighting. 

Natural paths that already exist are great for leading lines and also great for keeping you from getting lost! Wandering aimlessly in the forest looking for the perfect spot could be hazardous if you can’t find your way back! 

Suggested Read: The Importance Of Location Scouting In Wedding Photography

2. Make The Most Of The Golden Hour

A bride and groom posing for a kiss in the wilderness
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @brandiallysephoto


Beautiful lighting, breathtaking landscapes, gorgeous colors – everything comes together in a forest. And all of this is enhanced even further by that golden hour glow. If you don’t have a lot of time for the photos, then plan the forest photo shoot around the golden hour and decide on a spot where the light isn’t completely obstructed by the trees. Besides taking some classic golden hour photos, you could also try experimenting with some silhouettes. Just make sure that you don’t forget to include some elements of the forest while chasing the light.

Suggested Read: Silhouette Wedding Photography Inspiration From ShootDotEdit Customers

3. Experiment With Angles And Perspectives

A black and white image of a couple posing in between trees
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jperrymanphotography


A wide angle lens is a must for capturing the majesty of the forest. Going wide helps you get the height of the trees and allows the image to be more like art – think teeny, tiny couple against huge, tall trees. You can shoot wide from a crouched position, angled up into the trees, with the couple close to you or far away. You can also shoot wide straight on, with the couple standing close or far. There may be some distortion in this lens choice, but you can adjust the angle to your taste.

A monochrome image of a bride and groom posing
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @kellyiswilde


It’s also worth it to get close up on the couple in the forest and build in some beautiful bokeh – especially if you have light filtering through leaves and branches and rimming them from behind. You can also capture the couple as they approach the forest (before you actually get inside), showing the density of the trees behind them. Another way to photograph your couples in a forest is with a drone – if you can find a clearing and lay your couple down in the clearing, or ask them to dance, you can capture the whole thing from the bird’s-eye view. 

4. Carry The Right Lighting Gear 

A bride and groom posing amidst the wilderness
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto


Forests can be dark, no matter the time of day, depending on the thickness of the groves you find yourself in, the time of year, and the type of trees in a forest. However, you can always find a clearing and use the natural filtered light to illuminate your couple. But sometimes, you may find that the light is directionally coming from overhead in clearings, which can create dark and deep shadows on the eyes. This would be a great opportunity to build in a reflector to send some light back into their faces, or off camera lighting to balance out those shadows.

A silhouette of a bride and groom posing in front of a tree
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jperrymanphotography


A one-light system works in that scenario but can also work even better if you have natural backlight already (from the sun) and just want to light the couple from the front. You can also use a one-light system to create silhouettes and strong backlight. A two-light setup is probably the most beneficial so you have options, like the ability to use both backlight and front light together to really add drama to the photos. 

Suggested Read: Profoto: A Lighting Game-Changer For Pro Photographers

5. Safety First

a monochrome image of a bride and groom posing in a forestImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @lovebyjoemac


While forests are great places for photography, we encourage you to respect nature in all your efforts. What we want to say is leave the forest as you found it. Check for necessary permits, stick to marked trails and paths, and don’t leave any trash behind. Forests can be wild places, teeming with animals and some poisonous plant life, so do a little research on your selected location before you go and pack a first aid kit, water, and a GPS if you don’t think your cell service will hold up! Also, be sure to tell someone where you are headed just in case you don’t make it back.

Celebrate Mother Nature And Your Couples

Nature provides the most beautiful settings for wedding and engagement photos and clearly, ShootDotEdit customers know exactly what to do when they find themselves in a forest. But as beautiful as the photos can be, it’s not always the easiest to navigate through a forest and find spots that are ideal for photography. So before you reach the D-day, we’d recommend that you scout the location in advance. It can prove to be a hassle and of course, a major waste of time, if you keep looking for the right spots on the day of the shoot. Carry some lighting gear with you, but try to take full advantage of the gorgeous golden hour in the forest. If you know your way around a drone, then definitely try to find a clearing that allows you to take breathtaking, unique photos from above. And lastly, respect nature, do your thing, and head back out without disturbing it. 

Further Read: Wedding Photo Ideas: Inspiration From ShootDotEdit Customers

At ShootDotEdit, we strive to help you grow your wedding photography business. We also help free up your time by lessening your post-production workload with our professional photo editing services. To learn more about how we can help, check out our pricing plans.

1 comment

  • Jessica

    I love this. Kinda needed a refresher and this came at the best time.

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