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Finding an Engagement Session Location

“Where should we have our engagement session?”  This is a fantastic question!  In addition to having the opportunity to get to know your wedding photographer and how they work as they capture you as a couple, your engagement session is meant to celebrate your engagement, a momentous occasion, with beautiful new images.  Therefore, having them taken at a great place is important.  With so many amazing places to choose from, how do you even get started?  I have a few tips for you.

A Meaningful Location

1.  Consider a place that is meaningful to you.  Is this a requirement?  Of course not.  I have found, however, that some couples opt to have their engagement session at a place where they first met, first kissed, spent a lot of time together as they began their relationship, or where the proposal happened.  Sometimes though, this isn’t practical because of distance, availability, or other reason.  If this is the case, there are always other options.


2.  Light is KING.  As a wedding and engagement photographer, I adore photographing my couples in beautiful and unique locations.  The first priority, though, is always the lighting.  What does this mean for your session?   The lighting will determine what direction I will position you so that you will look great in your images.   Lighting also determines the time of day that I work with couples.  Let’s use the beach as an example, since there is generally no shaded areas on the beach.  I absolutely love shooting couples on the beach.  There is a vast difference, though, between shooting at noon and shooting at golden hour in the look of your images.  Consistency in time of day that I work with couples contributes to consistency in the images I deliver from client to client because I care a whole lot about the outcome for my couples. 

A Beautiful Backdrop

3. Here in Coastal Virginia, we are so blessed to have an unlimited amount of amazingly scenic locations that wedding photographers can use for engagement sessions.  There are historic locations such as Colonial Williamsburg, beaches, wooded areas such as Newport News Park, and pristine Main Street city areas.  It really depends on your preference.  For Natasha and Justyn, Colonial Williamsburg was a great option since they will be tying the knot at The Williamsburg Inn, a Colonial Williamsburg hotel, in the Fall. 


4. There are many places here to have an engagement session.  Most outdoor locations are available at no cost and / or formal permission to shoot in.  There are some outdoor locations, though, that require you to submit an application / payment for a permit.  This is not to discourage you from using those areas, but it is important to realize that some locations can take 30 days or more to process.  Planning ahead for situations such as these is key.  You can also opt for an indoor location as well.  Nearly always, you need to plan ahead for an indoor location because most indoor venues will require payment for using their facility.  If it is a wedding venue, it may be challenging to book a weekend session date because the majority of weddings occur on weekends.  If it is your “dream location” for your engagement session, you may need to be flexible with your schedule and choose a weekday to make it work. 

Crowded Locations

5.  Do you want random crowds of people in your images?  If the answer is no, you will need to determine if the location you desire will be busy.  Check their events calendar on Facebook, call to verify if possible, or visit at the time of day you plan to have your session so that you have a good idea of what to expect.  On the day that I captured Natasha and Justyn’s engagement session in Colonial Williamsburg, it was a pretty chilly day in January, so there weren’t large crowds of people there.  Additionally, since I have shot there a lot, I have a pretty good idea of where to go in the area so that there will be fewer accidental photo bombers.