Your engagement photos are a great keepsake that memorializes a time before you get married, yet celebrate your union nonetheless. Why not make them unique with a fun and festive backdrop that’s a bit more casual than formal wedding shots? We always love to see engagement photos at the State Fair, because they are colorful and the background lends itself to playfulness. Couples don’t have to take themselves too seriously, and you can often see their true relationship through those photos. Photographers love shooting there for the very same reasons. Here we take a look at some great shots from the MN State Fair, get tips from experts who have shot there, and list more vendors that would love to shoot there, so if this is something you’re interested in, you know who to contact.
Jodi Carr of Jodi Ann Photography loves shooting at The MN State Fair for many reasons, “The colors are amazing, there are endless prop ideas, and the rides, backgrounds and different landmarks are a great way to show my couples’ interests.”
Becca Dilley loves shooting there as well, “The state fair is an amazing conglomeration of all things Minnesota, with a neon-tinged kitschy edge. If you love the state fair, taking engagement photos there is the most natural thing in the world – colors and people and a totally vibrant crazy vibe! Plus hot dogs and Ferris wheels.” What’s more fun than that?
Lauren Kirkbride embraces the uniqueness of shooting at the State Fair, “It’s so different than your typical city photo setting. It’s casual and really allows the couple to feel natural and comfortable and have fun together walking around. It’s bright, it’s colorful, and best of all you get to eat and drink while getting your photos taken!”
You can also bring multiple outfits to maximize the shoot. “Depending on what areas you visit you can easily wear something more casual or dress it up a bit,” says Carr. Maurissa McNellis, owner of Mind of Mo Photography encourages wearing bright colors so you’ll pop against the “chaotic” background. With no restrictions on the dress code, the possibilities are endless. Dilley has a key tip though before you pack a suitcase. “Bring as little as possible. Have empty pockets and nothing in your hands. You want to be able to jump onto a slide or eat a bucket of cookies without worrying where you are going to store your jacket!”
Keep in mind that the State Fair is always a busy place, so this is not the best backdrop for a shy couple. McNellis says crowds are inevitable,” it actually adds to the esthetic of your session. If you’re REALLY hoping for some photos without blurred individuals in the backdrop, aim to start your session right away at 6 AM, when the fairgrounds open – by 8 AM, the foot traffic has already tripled.”
Dilley agrees, “The best time to shoot there is at times with fewer people – weekday evenings, first thing in the morning, or the last Monday it is open. Weekends are brutal and always crowded – it gets to feel like a lot of work to just move around, and you definitely don’t want to feel like you are doing work for your engagement photos.” On the other hand, as Carr points out, “because there are so many people attending no one really pays attention when you’re doing a shoot. Early is better if you’d like to have fewer visitors around but that usually doesn’t last long.” She advises choosing your spots within the fair intentionally, “Try to pick some things you both love about the fair. It gives more meaning when you make it personal for the two of you.” To be honest, it actually adds to the aesthetic of your session, anyways!
It’s important to know the rules of the fairgrounds before going to shoot there. Warns McNellis, “The Minnesota State Fair has strict policies on what can and cannot be brought into the fairgrounds – so your best bet is to not plan on bringing any sort of “props” along to your shoot. You can bring a drawstring bag with a change of clothes, so if you’re looking to do multiple outfits, you’ll be just fine. That being said, EVERYTHING at the Fair costs money (including parking and entrance tickets – these two items can be purchased in advance for a slight discount, either through the State Fair Website or Cub Foods). Having cash along gives you the option to purchase items like food, beer, ride tickets, or other items that will add to the overall aesthetic of your photos.”
We asked several shooters when the best time to shoot is, and most agree that just before sunset is a great time to start. “I like to shoot when it’s around the golden hour time (probably 6:30 to start). That allows plenty of time with daylight but starts to have the sunset a bit to bring out more booth signs.” Carr advises.
No matter what time you shoot there, embrace it says McNellis, “If you’re doing engagement photos at the State Fair, chances are that the event itself has some special meaning to you. Maybe your significant other proposed there, it was your first date, or some of your favorite memories together were forged at the Fairgrounds. Whatever the reason, embrace all things State Fair! Buy some corn dogs, head to the Midway and jump on some rides, and swet some goats. You want your photos to SCREAM State Fair, and the more “cliché” you can get, the better!”
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