With portrait season starting again and my calendar filling for the summer, it seems like the perfect time to recap a few of my FAVORITE engagement session locations in Maryland, DC, and Virginia! We’re so lucky to have such a variety of amazing locations located within an easy drive. It can be a little overwhelming to choose though, so hopefully, this guide to my favorite locations will help!
The Tidal Basin
The tidal basin in the spring is hard to beat! However, this is a tricky place to shoot due to permit requirements and throngs of tourists. Definitely plan for a sunrise weekday session to shoot in this location, but I promise – it is 100% worth the early wake up call!
Keep in mind that there’s a $140 permit required to shoot anywhere in DC, and it takes 2-3 weeks to receive approval. Definitely coordinate with your photographer well in advance if you’re wanting to shoot anywhere in the district! It’s impossible to nail down exactly when the cherry blossoms will be at peak bloom – and it only lasts a few days – but late March / early April is a pretty safe bet for blooms.
If you want cherry blossoms but don’t want to pay $140 for a permit or fight crowds in DC, Founder’s Park is the answer for you! Located in historic Old Town Alexandria, this tiny park offers cherry blossoms, waterfront views, AND easily accessible street parking. That’s a win-win-win! Located just a few blocks away from the classic cobblestone streets, which brings me to…
There are several cobblestone streets and alleys in Old Town, but this one is my favorite! The light is wonderful, there’s beautiful ivy and greenery, and it’s relatively secluded compared to other cobblestone locations. Don’t forget that while the cobblestone streets are cute and charming, they are actual streets and we don’t want to be holding up traffic for a photo shoot! This alley does have homes on either side of it, but at least there’s no traffic!
If the Tidal Basin is just a little too crazy for you, head on over to Constitution Gardens! Park right on Constitution Ave and it’s just a short walk over to this charming pond and sprawling willow trees. You’ll still have the beautiful views of the Washington Monument, but without quite as many tourists to contend with.
For dockside portraits with classic nautical vibes, consider downtown Annapolis! My favorite place to start is Susan Campbell Park, pictured above. From there it’s about a 15 minute walk or 3-4 minute drive up to Maryland Avenue which offers beautiful views of the state capital building. Don’t forget to visit the iconic bike mural on Fleet Street, which is usually in great light on overcast days!
Terrapin Beach Park
A 20-ish minute drive from Annapolis is Terrapin Beach Park! I love this location because it’s relatively secluded – you literally have to drive through an industrial park to find it – and it offers both beautiful greenery and beach views in one location. Be sure to leave plenty of time to account for Bay Bridge traffic!
Jefferson Patterson Park
This is my favorite southern Maryland portrait location, and it’s just 10 minutes from home for me! I love Jefferson Patterson Park because it’s free to visit, easy to access, and offers such a variety of settings in one location. There’s sprawling fields, lush greenery, white washed fences and barn walls, and even a secluded beach and boardwalk area!
Solomons Fishing Pier
If you’re looking for a classic southern Maryland location, this is it. The Solomons Fishing Pier offers sweeping views of the Thomas Johnson Bridge, the most easily recognizable local icon. It’s a public pier that’s free to access and offers bathrooms on site, perfect for wardrobe changes. The light can be tricky here, so I typically plan to use this location in the morning or on overcast days for best results.
Greenwell State Park
Located in Hollywood, Maryland, I love this park for its variety of settings all in a relatively compact and secluded space. However, it’s definitely a favorite for local photographers! My favorite location is this little cove tucked away on the edge of the park, but the manor house and horse fields offer beautiful views as well.
Sotterley Plantation is a gorgeous choice for an engagement session! There’s this gorgeous flower garden that’s just perfect for meandering through and creating portraits. I especially love the park in the fall, but I can only imagine it’s stunning any time of the year! I believe there is a $7/person fee to enter the park and portrait sessions are only allowed during park hours, so definitely have your photographer coordinate with the staff in advance.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
It’s a bit of a hike to get to SMCM, but it is so worth it for that sunset! I love when alumni of the college ask to have their sessions here, because it’s such a fun way to incorporate a meaningful location into your engagement portraits.
Location Bucket List
These are a few locations around the DMV that I haven’t worked at yet, but that I’m dying to! If you’ve got a location in mind that isn’t on this list, don’t be afraid to suggest it. I love working in new locations, and it’s so fun to add new favorites to this list!
- Meridian Hill Park
- Georgetown Waterfront
- Washington National Cathedral
- Lincoln Memorial
- Rawlings Conservatory