Beyond Wedding Day Photos: The Best Spots for Romantic Shots on Oahu
Don’t miss out on using the rest of the island as a photo backdrop for your destination wedding.
Post Wedding Day Shoots
Everyone wants spectacular destination wedding shots. And sharing on Instagram has only fueled that trend according to Oahu wedding photographer Joseph Esser. But how do you make time for that during the wedding when so much is happening?
“Many couples do a follow up photo shoot a few days after the wedding when guests are gone,” explains Esser. “A post wedding session allows you to be present at your wedding and take pictures with your family and friends. The photo shoot after is about letting go and having fun.”
Oahu is filled with stunning places to capture these intimate moments. “Oahu has such natural beauty in the ocean and mountains. People love this and want to see it in their wedding photos,” continues Esser.
In and Under Water Locations
Esser offers in and underwater photo and videography shoots with couples. “On Oahu’s West Side, we go to Makua Beach which has excellent visibility. On the East Coast, we head to Alan Davis Beach, just under Pele’s Chair. In summer, we do in water sessions at Waimea Bay on the North Shore when it is completely flat and calm.”
Couples often wear less formal wedding wear for these under water sessions and the effect is breathtaking. “We can find really inexpensive bridal gowns on eBay,” explains Esser. “A chiffon dress underwater looks magical.”
Combining wedding day images with the informal ocean shots creates a truly unique wedding album.
Town and Country Venues
Oahu is home to wonderful venues that you can book for a few hours for these informal after-wedding photo shoots. Kualoa, a private nature reserve spread across 4,000 acres of mountains, valleys, rainforests, and shoreline, has several ideal locations: Kaaawa Valley Low Camp, Secret Island, Paliku Gardens, and the old sugar mill. Sunset Ranch is a tropics-meets-the-mountains location with great settings and incredible views. Dillingham Ranch has an iconic plantation house plus a row of royal palms that both provide dramatic photo backdrops.
Nicole Seu of Studio 3511 chooses uncrowded spots with the best light that match her clients’ preferences: “Waimanalo Beach has amazing backdrops with the water, forest, beach, and mountains. Hiking trails on Mount Tantalus overlooking Honolulu are great spots. Pali Lookout provides breathtaking Windward Coast views. We also hike down the Old Pali Road a bit for more privacy. North Shore sunsets at Puaena Point, Sunset Beach, and Pipeline are fantastic. I also love shooting at Waialae Beach near the Kahala Hotel and Black Point Beach in the early morning.”
Dave Miyamoto has some favorite spots as well: “I love to shoot at sunrise on the East Side of Oahu. The light is beautiful and there are not many people up and about then at places like Makapuu Beach, Baby Makapuu Beach, Waimanalo Beach, and Lanai Lookout. At sunset, I’ll take couples to Turtle Bay or Chun’s Reef. It all depends on the conditions. It’s all about following the light.”
Couples can also take advantage of Honolulu’s urban settings. “We do shoots around Kakaako’s colorful outdoor murals,” explains Joseph Esser. “In downtown Honolulu, there are historic buildings with architecture unique to the islands like the Hawaii Theatre in Chinatown, the Old Police Station, and the Old Post Office.”
Surprise Engagements, Adventure Elopements, and Honeymoon Shoots
Couples love to capture special images on their honeymoons and surprise engagements according to Nicole Seu: “After the proposal, the husband-to-be also may also want to surprise his new fiancée with a photo shoot. It’s a very sweet and romantic gesture, but I will often suggest that he let her know about the photo shoot so she can get her hair and makeup done – something that his fiancée really appreciates.”
Adventure elopements are also a trend. “These couples are looking for private, intimate locations and that experience of being truly in nature with your partner. It’s just them, the photographer and wedding officiant,” says Joseph Esser. “Couples might charter a boat and go out to the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar, choose a spot at Kualoa Ranch, or hike in permitted spots like the mountains near Yokohama Bay.”
While everyone finds inspiration in Instagram, not every shot may be possible. “Be respectful of Oahu’s natural environment, stay on the hiking trails, and only go in permitted areas,” says Joseph Esser. “Let your photographer suggest alternative sites if your desired location is not feasible.”
Have fun and make your shoot personal and meaningful. “I’ll bring props like pineapples, sunglasses, and balloons, and suggest that my clients bring personal items that express their interests and personalities,” explains Nicole Seu. “We’ll even borrow a bike for the shoot.”
Get a good night’s rest and stay hydrated before and during your shoot. “Come with an open attitude and trust your photographer and their suggestions,” recommends Dave Miyamoto. “It’s a working collaboration.”