choosing the perfect time, location,
outfit & more!
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
I’m so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having my photo taken – and I do this for a living!
I’m big fans of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how I pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on wedding days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits – which is why I’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time.
Second, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is significant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, I’ve taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a few days before the wedding.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session and since I get asked the same things over and over again, I thought it would be the most beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know.
I’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas, and more!
A NOTE TO
I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first, you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day.
TIME & LIGHT
Is there a "good" time to take photos?
Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding. I’ve found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a couple has in mind, spring flowers for example, or based on schedules.
Sessions typically last about an hour to an hour and a half and when I can—I love to begin sessions about two hours before sunset. I prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.
I schedule sessions during what I believe will be the best light of the day – which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before I’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets harsher as it rises.
While I shoot most of my engagement sessions in spring and fall, sessions can take place all year. Most of my couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot.
A few things to keep in mind during each season:
MARYLAND AND DC ENGAGEMENT LOCATIONS
I love it when couples choose a location for their session that complements their wedding. For example, if you’re planning a chic, elegant wedding, it may be fitting to take your engagement portraits among the classic architecture in downtown New Orleans or Baton Rouge, while a local park or flower-filled fields may be more fitting for a couple planning a more rustic affair. The best session locations are often meaningful places to the couple; however, I’m also happy to make recommendations.
Baton Rouge/Denham Springs/North Shore Area
Nottoway Plantation in White Castle – $400 for Bridals
Downtown Baton Rouge – Covington, Denham Springs – FREE
Abita Springs Brewery – tour fees
Fountainebleau State Park in Mandeville – $3 per person in the vehicle
LSU Ag Center Botanic gardens – $75
Windrush Gardens – $70
Rural Life Museum – $70
Windrush & Rural Life – $140
Shaw Arts Center (outside) – FREE
Old Governors Mansion – $200
Old State Capitol – contact (225)342-0500 for fees
Sidney Hutchison Park – Walker – FREE
Avery Island (Jungle Gardens) – $50
Rip Van Winkle Gardens -Bridal photos are $100.00 per hour.
All other photos are $50.00 per hour
Lake Martin – FREE
Thibodaux – $50 Travel Fee
Laurel Valley – FREE
Downtown Thibodaux- FREE
Dansereau House – $150 for 2 hours
Oak Alley in Vacherie – $125 for Engagements, $400 for Bridals
Audobon Park – FREE
City Park – $50 permit fee
Audobon Zoo – $14.95 admission fee PER PERSON
Aquarium of the Americas – $100-$125 fee
Longview House – $160 for 2 hours
Race and Religious – $200 first hours, $100 each additional hour
French Quarter – Surcharge will apply for day and night sessions to cover parking fees
Houma – $50 travel fee
Adyronne Plantation – $100 hour
Downtown Houma – FREE
Twelve Oaks Plantation Bed and Breakfast – $50 grounds only/ $100 inside AND grounds, OR $25 grounds only/$50 inside and grounds allowing Twelves Oaks rights to your photos for advertising
Mississippi – $100 Travel Fee
Winsor Ruins – FREE
*FEES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE
It is the couple’s responsibility to contact locations and private residences for sessions, It is also the couple’s responsibility to obtain any permits that are required by certain locations.
the above locations are all beautiful but I also love exploring meaningful locations with my couples!
Destination Engagement Sessions
While we take most of our engagement sessions in the Maryland area, we’ve photographed sessions everywhere from Richmond to New York City to Austin, Texas. If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let us know because if our schedules align, we might be able to take your engagement photos outside of our normal area.
Travel fees may apply depending on the location and our availability.
Used for Mobile – Dont delete
Our dogs are a huge part of our family, which is why I love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that you’ll need to choose a pet friendly location.
I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. I won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots.
If you’re going to bring a pet, I recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot.
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
When picking outfits we recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
Generally, couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. I recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session when couples usually feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And don’t forget to bring a few accessories! Statement necklaces, cute shoes, and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits.
what to do if it rains
I’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for an engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let me know what works best for the two of you – but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, I typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance.
When I can, I always try to take a photo of your ring during your engagement session – so it’s a good idea to have it cleaned or clean it yourself before your shoot! To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.
champagne is always a good idea
If you’re planning to bring props to your engagement session, I recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you. Shots of drinking coffee at a local coffee shop would be cute if that’s where you met; however, trying to fly a kite together when it’s not a part of your relationship may come off as contrived.
"What do I do with my hands"?
When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make the two of you laugh – and that’s the photo I’m actually looking for.
Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup, and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. This means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!)
The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!
Used for Mobile – Dont delete
When to Expect Your Images
Unless I have a holiday closure, you can expect to receive your engagement photos between 2 and 3 weeks after your session.
I know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your engagement session! However if there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email