Top 7 Engagement Photoshoot Locations in The Hunter Valley, Central Coast & Highlands
So you’ve started down the road to planning a wedding? Congratulations! I’m so excited for you (I love weddings, big surprise). I am sure by now you’ve realised, it isn’t as easy as you thought? Of course it isn’t! This is the biggest day of your life! You don’t want to make any mistakes (don’t stress, you will make some, we all do). Forget what Susan from accounting told you about weddings, she is outdated and you can’t stand her anyway! If you’re here, you probably want to know more about engagement sessions, and obviously the best engagement photoshoot locations in the hunter valley or on the Coast?
But how can you make wedding planning easier Jimmy? Less stressful you say? One of the biggest and baddest ways would be to do an engagement photoshoot with someone you would consider as your wedding photographer. There are numerous reasons for this. For more information on how an engagement photoshoot could be the best thing you do for your wedding, read here. This post is purely about the best engagement photoshoot locations though! Photo Porn (not real porn you pervert)! So get ready, these places are going to get pretty! These are my Top engagement photoshoot locations in the Hunter Valley & Central Coast (as well as a few for you Sydney folk).
1. Watagans State Pine Forest
Nothing quite as beautiful as the sunset, peaking through the trees of a Pine Forest, spilling rays of light across the forest floor is there? Of course not, Duh! Well, there is pizza and beer, but let’s focus here! Located up in Olney State Forest, this beautiful Pine Forest provides the perfect backdrop for a more moody engagement photoshoot location. With it’s tall trees, denser canopy of leaves and dark oranges tones throughout, it really does provide some amazing contrast in your images.
Let me start this by saying that you should enter from the Martinsville Road side. If you enter from the other side, make sure your car is well suited to off road. Once you get in here, there is a little carpark and you can simply walk into the middle of the forest. This is one of those locations that really is better suited to wide open, expansive, panoramic shots. Don’t get me wrong, the close ups are soft, moody, and really bring on the feels (I always cry, I am such a bitch lol), but with the sun billowing through the tall pines like that, how could you not want to capture it all?
Once the sun goes down though, the trees will start to become really dark, retaining a lot of shadow and not a lot of highlights. This is the perfect time for that close up photo. Get in really intimate (if you are still embarrassed then your photographer is not doing their job right).
Before you leave, take a minute and just stare at your surroundings. Embrace nature. The forest is dead silent. It won’t be long before you are back in the Urban jungle, so enjoy this while you can! For obvious reasons, this is one of my absolute, all time favourite engagement photoshoot locations around the Hunter Valley & Central Coast.
2. Snapper Point, Munmorah
This place quickly became one of my absolute favourites since moving up here. There is something about it, the way the point wraps around and you can always be shaded or in the direct sun, waves crashing below you that is simply peaceful and relaxing. Frasers Beach sits just off your shoulder, and you can watch the surfers rolling in through the waves, yet they can’t see you. It is complete peace and quiet. What better place to do a photoshoot with your fiance, right?
This place has a plethora (it’s a real word, I can be smart too you know?) of amazing shots, in every direction, at every time of day! In fact, it is my most photographed location, as chosen by my couples. Many of whom actually have enquired about hosting their ceremony on the cliffs edge. If you love the water, and you love the Australian landscape, this is the place for you.
How to get here? Enter the Munmorah State Park from any of the 2 entrances, and head towards Frasers Beach. when you hit that turn off, go straight and follow that road all the way to the very end, down the bumpy dirt track. You will hit a little carpark, sitting on top of some hollowed out caves…welcome to paradise. You don’t need a 4wd, but I usually would recommend my clients without a 4wd come with me, as I have seen people get in trouble, particularly when it is or has been raining.
Best time of day to shoot here? Well that depends on what time of year, but ideally, being raised on a cliff, you will get about 15 additional minutes of sun. So in Winter, I would start shooting here at 3.30pm, and in Summer, probably around 7pm. Regardless, stay a bit longer, have a drink and maybe a bit of a picnic, because you won’t be in any hurry to leave this slice of heaven. No points for guessing then, why this is one of my prime choices as an engagement photoshoot location in the Central Coast. Check out Brooke & Alina if you need more convincing on this amazing location!
3. Wybung Head
Very similar actually to Snapper Point…since it is actually just down the road! But it offers something completely different…strange that! With a large point that juts out into the ocean, this place is even more remote (and slightly more difficult to reach). Having climbed down a steep rocky track, you will come to the pass which takes you out onto the point. It is like being on the edge of the world. On either side of you, pristine ocean and cliffs. Waves crashing into the rocks below you and birds flying overhead. If you are looking for privacy, well you found it!
In order to get here, same directions as Snapper Point, but half way you will see a fork in the road, turn right towards Wybung and follow this dirt road until you get to the very end. Park up, get out and start walking towards the water, down the track. You will know you are in the right place if you se a sign stating the number of deaths at this location in the past 12 months. Don’t be put off…you are about to find the end of the rainbow. It is steep and rocky and can be very slippery, so be careful. Once you get to the bottom, you have the entire place to yourself (usually)!
Best time of day to shoot here? Well that depends on what time of year, but ideally, being raised on a cliff, you will get about 15 additional minutes of sun. So in Winter, I would start shooting here at 3.30pm, and in Summer, probably around 7pm. As the sun starts to set over the cliffs, you will get this amazing soft light hitting you, and it simply looks divine. It can look like you have done 2 totally different photoshoots if you shoot during the sunset and then into the dusk hour.
Providing the absolute best of both worlds, take a guess as to why this is one of the most idyllic engagement photoshoot locations around the Hunter Valley.
4. Caves Beach
Completely different from the last 2, this place is special very much so in it’s own right. I will caveat this by saying, I think this is a sunrise place, so if you find it difficult to get up early, and are unwilling to try, maybe skip this one (also, don’t be lazy get your ass out of bed and make it happen!). But if you are willing to get up early (c’mon don’t be lazy, I already told you), this can easily be one of the best locations for an engagement photoshoot, anywhere on the East Coast.
With stunning beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, and a plethora (calendar of the day..I won’t use it again I promise) of cool little caves scattered along the beach to explore and shoot in, this place has it all. Turn around and it looks like a cool rocky Cliff shoot. Spin the other way and nothing but ocean and the sun peaking up over the horizon. You are going to wanna get to this one early. I recommend at least 30 minutes before the sun rises, so that you have a chance to wake up, get into it, and be ready for those stunning shots. Word of warning, in winter, it is going to be cold down here, and to get to the caves you will need to get into the water up to probably your knees. Thankfully getting wet and dirty is half the fun…so enjoy it!
This one is easy to reach though. Just drive to the Caves Beach SLSC and walk down onto the beach and go right towards the cliffs. You have arrived. Just take a look at the shots below, and tell me you don’t believe this is easily one of the top engagement photoshoot locations around the Hunter Valley & Central Coast.
5. Bombo Quarry – Kiama
If you are looking for a sunrise engagement photoshoot location, this is where I would bank my money! It’s a little bit of a trek, but then again, nothing easy in life is worth doing (except ordering pizza online…right?). The same goes for photoshoots. The more difficult the location, generally speaking, the more spectacular the outcome. The trick with Bombo is to get there about 30 minutes before the sunrise, this way you allow yourself time to walk all the way down to the Quarry. Once you get down there, on your right you open up this unreal world of rock formations, with huge swells smashing into them. In stark contrast, on your left you have wispy long grass fields which make you feel like you are in Country America. This location gives you the best of both worlds.
By getting there a little early, you get to enjoy 2 different styles of lighting (I know, boring photographer stuff, but hear me out). Initially, it is very flat and quite dark as the sun hides behind the clouds and giant rock formations. This gives off a really stunning ‘softer’ finish to your images. It really can be great for creating some highly emotive close up shots that will blow your mind.
Once the sun peaks over the rocks however, you will be blasted by this golden orange hue that floods the area. Here is where you get to enjoy the more vast scenery by getting more wide open shots! As you can see from the images below, they can look quite different, and gives you a lot of variety. As an added bonus, this will give you a great opportunity to see how your photographer shoots in differing lighting conditions, which will be a very important thing on the wedding day (they will be shooting from broad daylight, all the way into complete darkness of night).
After the shoot is over, do yourself a favour and head down to the Hungry Monkey Cafe in Kiama for a Nutella Mocha (or Hot Chocolate) and some brekky. You’ve earned it!
6. Cape Solander Clifftops – Kurnell
An absolute stunner if you are looking for a sunrise engagement photoshoot location. Upon arrival you will wind through the National Park for 5 minutes along the beautiful coast line. Out of nowhere, it will completely open up and you will be staring along the cliff lines. You’ve arrived. The beauty of this spot is, it goes against the rule discussed in location number one; this one is so easy to get to, and still, the shots are spectacular! To be honest, you can’t go wrong.
There are a few spots that provide the best angle, but it is hard to explain in writing. If you go there a bit early you can take 5-10 minutes to scope the area out and find them yourself (or just hire a photographer who knows the location). I need to say a word of warning here though – this location is a bit risky. At times the swell and the winds can really pick up, and people standing too close to the edge have fallen over the cliffs. As a result, knowing the best spots means being able to create angles that look like you are standing right on the edge, when in fact, you are 5 metres from the edge (safety is cool kids).
The same applies at Kurnell as does at Bombo Quarry about the lighting. In the 20 minutes before the sun comes up, you will get stunningly soft light. This kind of light is really emotive, and can create a very moody effect. And as it tends to do, when the sun comes up you will get this beautiful golden light spill over you. This contrasts so beautifully with the blue of the water below you. It will allow you to have so many contrasting, varied images it will look like you did 2 photoshoots!
Photographer jargon aside, it is a stunning engagement photoshoot location. Clients often stop and stare, in awe of how amazing mother nature really is. If you want a beautiful sunrise, but don’t want to leave Sydney, what have you got to lose?
After your shoot is over, head down Prince Charles Drive to Cook at Kurnell for a nice hot coffee and a beautiful view of the water. What more could you ask for?
7. Garie Beach – Royal National Park
Talk about a trek! Make sure to plan out your shoot with your photographer as you get no reception down here. From Sutherland, turn off towards the National Park. Make sure you either have an Annual Pass, or a day pass ($12 I believe) before you continue on to avoid a fine. Continue driving down through the National Parks winding roads, past Audley, up past Wattamolla, until you get to the Garie Beach turn off. Another 10 minutes down this winding road to the bottom of the valley where the beach is. Enjoy the drive and the view (unless you are the drive, in which case enjoy the view of the road only), it really is spectacular.
Once you get to the carpark you will be faced with a beautiful, calm, quiet beach (even in Summer it is quiet) tucked in amongst large cliffs. This truly is one of my favourite engagement photoshoot locations for a summery sunset shoot. It almost takes you back to the olden days; no reception, no phones, just good company and a lot of laughs. On top of this, there are so many beautiful spots to shoot down here.
Firstly you have the beach. When the sun is yet to fall behind the mountains, this is perfect for that perfect backlit shot. From here, move along the cliffs, down to the rock platforms. Be careful here. The waves are nothing to worry about, but take a few minutes to watch them and ensure it is safe. If you do venture out, it does make for some really spectacular panoramic shots out to sea. Now walk to the right another couple of hundred metres and you will reach another small beach, which is shadowed by a grassy hill pointing out to sea. From here there are ample photo opportunities (see images below), but I usually aim to be up here after the sun has set behind the cliffs to give it that more moody emotive appearance.
Whatever you do with this location, remember, you will have to walk along a rock cliffside to get to these locations. It isn’t a requirement that you be peak physical fitness, but be prepared to get a light sweat on. Take a look at the photos below. Worth it? We think so!
8. Mount Box Lookout – Leura
Whoops, I lied! I know I said my favourite 5, but let’s face it, ‘My top 6 engagement photoshoot locations’ doesn’t have the same ring to it does it? Thats right! Now, do you want to hear about probably the coolest of all these locations or not? Let’s do it!
This one is by far the most difficult to reach, but remember rule number 1, it is going to be worth it! This is a perfect sunset location, so meet in Leura 90 minutes before sunset. I highly, highly recommend a 4WD for this one, even my Forester was a bit worrying. You will not make it in a Sedan so do not try it. It is about a 30-40 minutes drive from Leura out to Mount Box. There are a few iffy narrow bends that have no rail so take it very cautiously. You will eventually come to a 3-4 car carpark right on the top of a cliff. Park here and start your walk (it is signposted) towards the mountain. Be very careful as it is very rocky and uneven for the first few hundred metres.
Once you get out into the open fields which run alongside the mountain top, you will truly be able to appreciate how breathtaking it is. Believe me when I say, you will probably be the only people out there for at least a 10km radius in any direction, so you have the entire mountain to yourself.
This is another location with a variety of shots. Are you sensing a trend here? I always shoot in places where there are a variety of backdrops. This keeps it interesting for you, and gives your images the variety you want. As you walk around the mountain (again the path is pretty clear) you will come to a clifftop which is the perfect spot to get a photo as you and your partner stare out into the vast canyon, completely alone, just the two of you (and your photographer, probably 100m away).
As far as scenic locations go, this one takes the cake. It has everything! If you are feeling up for it, bring a picnic and meet there early, you won’t regret it. On your way back (it will be pitch black by now, so take it easy on the trail) I highly suggest heading in to Katoomba and grabbing a well earned dinner with your partner. You absolutely cannot go wrong with an old fashioned, family owned pizza at Papadinos Pizza. My wife and I end every engagement photoshoot with a pizza here, so you know it must be good.
Engagement photoshoot locations – what do I do with all this information?
So now you know. You know where all the top spots are for your engagement photoshoot. So what do you need to do with all this information? Well first and foremost, choose a photographer. No good going to these locations if you plan on taking selfies is it? So pick your photographer carefully. There is a range of factors to consider when doing this. If you want to learn more about how to avoid picking the wrong wedding photographer, read more here.
Now you simply have to pick which location works best for you. Do you prefer sunrise or sunset? Beach, forest, or Urban? The choice is yours. However, if you have no idea, speak to your photographer. They are professionals and will easily be able to help you select the right location for you. If you have any questions, or would to like to talk about engagement shoots, always feel free to contact me. But most of all, be excited! This is a huge time in your life, and you will want to enjoy every second of it. I can’t wait to hear from you!