New York City Engagement Photos on Film

January 11, 2023

Engagement photos are most meaningful when they reflect your relationship as it really is. I love when couples are willing to ditch traditional portraits for an experience that feels like them. Doing it in your neighborhood makes it all the easier to create candid images. When Jess and Matt reached out to me, they said, “We love to have fun and love love love film photos!” Fun and film ended up being the key ingredients for their New York City engagement photos. We spent a relaxed afternoon exploring the West Village. I documented the day on a mix of film and digital.

Jess and Matt hold hands and walk away from the Christopher Street subway station.

Carefree New York City Engagement Photos

Even though Jess and Matt plan to get married in the Philadelphia area, they currently live in New York. I was excited to meet up with them at The Little Owl. This restaurant is located in the building that was the exterior of the iconic apartment in Friends. It’s located just off Christopher Street. The Little Owl ended up being an easy place to grab some drinks before walking around the neighborhood. Sometimes it’s nice to ease into a session instead of immediately jumping in front of the camera.

Jess kisses Matt in a subway station stairwell in their New York City engagement photos.
Matt and Jess kiss in the stairwell of the Christopher Street subway station.
Jess and Matt are blurred in a film engagement photo.

These New York City engagement photos are full of movement and candid moments that feel really authentic to Jess and Matt. They describe themselves as “the most non-weddingy-wedding couple you’ll ever meet.” I wanted their engagement photos to reflect that aspect of their personality as a couple. The images are a mix of playful and romantic in-between moments.

Matt holds Jess's hand as the cross a street in the West Village.
Matt and Jess run down a street in a black and white blurry film photo.

Instead of posing Matt and Jess in one spot for a long time, I gave them space to explore like they normally would. They were able to get comfortable in front of the lens, and their interactions are very organic as a result. Whether Jess and Matt were cuddling on the steps to the Christopher Street subway station or racing across the street, every smile and laugh was a real reflection of their excitement at being together.

Matt carries Jess on his back.
Jess kisses Matt's cheek for a New York City engagement photo.
Jess and Matt point at a New York street sign.

Walking around the West Village gave us a chance to get a variety of images. Aside from creating opportunities for different backdrops and poses, it gave me the chance to find interesting lighting. The buildings created awesome pockets of direct sunlight for us to work with. The light gives these New York City engagement photos warmth and energy.

Matt smiles over his shoulder at Jess who is wearing an engagement ring.
Jess and Matt smile at each other while they talk on a New York sidewalk.

The West Village on Film

Film really suited the breezy, energetic feeling of Jess and Matt’s New York City engagement photos. Film photography has a different quality to it than digital does partly because it comes with imperfections. You might get a light leak or unexpected blurry effect. Those imperfections can be what actually captures the feeling of a session better than any technically perfect photo could. The blurred film photos of Matt and Jess running around the West Village give you a sense of what the afternoon was really like. Even when they’re sitting still at a pizza place, the blurred passersby remind you of how New York is constantly in motion. 

Jess and Matt stand outside a vine-covered brick building for their New York City engagement photos on film.
A close up shows Jess facing Matt who is leaning against a black fence on a West Village street.
Matt and Jess lean against each other in front of a brick building.

Nothing says “New York” quite like giant slices of pizza. Stopping at Bleecker Street Pizza was the perfect way to end Jess and Matt’s New York City engagement photos. They love bonding over casual food like french fries, pizza, and chicken fingers. For their wedding, Jess shared that their goal for the reception “is that no one is wearing shoes and everyones eating grilled cheese on the dance floor.” A stop at the pizza shop portrayed that fun, comfortable side of their relationship.

Jess and Matt cuddle on the steps of a brownstone in their New York City engagement photos.
Jess and Matt lean against each other on the steps of a New York apartment building in film engagement photos.
Matt puts his arms around Jess's shoulders on the steps of an apartment building.

The film images from this portion of the session are especially charming. Film has the ability to convey such nostalgic, unfiltered emotion. Little details give context, like glimpses into Jess and Matt’s life together. The folded slice of pizza on Matt’s plate and their shadows against a city wall come together to tell the story of the afternoon. That story is more tangible on film. Film images aren’t edited either, so moments documented on film feel very honest. And what’s more timeless than New York pizza? 

Matt and Jess stand in front of a pizza restaurant during their engagement session.
Jess and Matt sit behind a sign for Bleecker Street Pizza in their New York City engagement photos.
Matt and Jess lean back in chairs on the patio of a pizza restaurant.
Matt and Jess kiss at the table of a pizza restaurant for their film engagement photos.

Would you like me to photograph your New York City engagement photos? I’m a Philadelphia wedding photographer specializing in modern images with vintage appeal. Reach out to me!