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  • I'm Shalese, and I'm a wedding photographer for old souls & hopeless romantics. I prefer vinyl records over iTunes, prints over JPEGs and snail mail over email. I believe that art happens in little moments, and I can't wait to tell your story.

Wedding Tips: How to Choose an Engagement Session Location

My clients ask me all the time, “Where should we do our engagement session?”  It seems like such an easy thing to decide on, but when you really sit down to choose a location, it can be really tough to think of the perfect place.  The thing is . . . I don’t want to pick your engagement session location — I want YOU to pick!  It’s so important for the location to be a place that’s meaningful to you as a couple.

Years from now, you don’t want to tell your kids or your family, “Oh yeah, we did our engagement session here because everyone goes there for photos.”  You want to say, “This is our favorite running trail where we got engaged,” or “This is us in the window of the coffee shop where we met.”

So, when my clients ask if I have a location in mind for the e-session, I start asking them some questions about what they want from their shoot.  Of course, these sessions are first and foremost about us getting to know each other and getting you comfortable in front of my camera, BUT the session is also about getting some great shots!  Here are a few things to think about when brainstorming about locations:

What do you want your photos to FEEL like?  Do you want it to feel cozy, like the weekend you spent at a ski lodge warming up by the fire?  Your session could happen in front of a nice cozy fire under warm blankets with hot cocoa.  Do you want it to feel luxurious, like the evening you spent at the ballet for a fancy night out?  You can dress up for your shoot and head to the stairs of the Capitol for a shoot that looks like royalty.  Do you want to capture the way it feels to spend a lazy Sunday baking in the kitchen?  Your session can happen in your kitchen!  It takes a little imagination, but this is a great way to start thinking about what you want from your shoot.

engagement session locations

Where do you love to BE?  Personally, I love to be outside and surrounded by mountain views.  My own e-session (someday, ha!) might take place at my favorite Skyline Drive overlook or on my very favorite porch.  It also might happen at JMU because . . . there is no place better!  Don’t be afraid to think out of the box!

engagement session locations

Is there a place that’s MEANINGFUL to you as a couple?  For Brett & Elyse’s engagement session, we went back to New Kent Winery where they got engaged.  Brett had planned this whole big surprise, so it’s quite special to them.  For Lindsay & Robby’s session, we tossed around the idea of taking some shots in front of their apartment because it’s where SO many memories are happening right now.  It’s the place where they’re planning their future and their wedding together and taking all these big, grown up steps!

Now, a lot of my couples will say, “But will that have a good light?  Will that be pretty?”  I get a little giddy every time my clients care about light.  Light is everything.  That’s why I suggest coming up with a few ideas and then using my final tip for this week . . .

engagement session locations

. . . TALK IT OUT!  I always say that most great ideas come out when people are talking together, thinking out loud and bouncing around ideas.  I say grab your significant other, grab your photographer (that’s me!), grab some coffee, and start talking location!  Then we’ll worry about how much light will be available, logistics, permits (if necessary, such as at places like Maymont or DC monuments), etc.

Happy brainstorming!

Be sure to check out other Wedding Tip blogs here!

Engagement Session Outfits

5 Things You Should be Doing Right Now to Plan Your Wedding

Love Letters for Your Wedding Day

Clean the Rings!

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