One of the most common questions I get from my couples is: where should we have our engagement session? That’s a loaded question, because the options are literally endless in the DMV area. Whether you’re looking for the beach or the mountains, city vibes or open grassy fields, it’s all here within a short drive. Below are a few of my favorite options, what I love about them, best times of day to shoot, and and permit fees you might need to consider!
A note before we dive in: in my opinion, it’s not necessarily WHERE you are that we’re aiming to document during your engagement session, but WHO you are. This is all about capturing your relationship and personalities, so try not to get overwhelmed by the location selection process!
Constitution Gardens | Washington, DC
Featuring a beautiful panoramic view of the Washington Monument and abundant weeping willows, this is my favorite “off-the-beaten-path” location in DC! Foot traffic is usually fairly minimal compared to other locations, and street parking is generally pretty easy to find on Constitution Avenue. There is a $140 permit fee required by the NPS to shoot in this location, and the light is best in the early to mid morning.
View a Constitution Gardens engagement session here.
Lincoln Memorial | Washington, DC
The Lincoln Memorial is a classic Washington DC portrait session location for a reason! The classic white marble and sweeping views of the National Mall will give your portraits a romantic, elevated feel. However, the popularity of this location means it will be crowded! Weekday sunrise sessions are the best way to minimize crowd impacts, although later in the day can work here as well – just avoid weekends at all costs. There is a $140 permit required by the NPS to shoot here.
View a Lincoln Memorial engagement session here.
Tudor Place | Washington, DC
If you’re dreaming of a destination European engagement session but don’t want to leave DC, Tudor Place is the perfect location for you. Nestled in the heart of Georgetown, this beautiful historic property will make you feel like you’ve been whisked off to France. The sprawling gardens and architecture are to die for! There is a $200 photography fee required to shoot here, and I like the light best in mid-morning or early afternoon.
View a Tudor Place engagement session here.
Tidal Basin | Washington, DC
The Tidal Basin is another classic and VERY popular Washington DC location – and even mores during cherry blossom season! Because of the ongoing construction at the Jefferson Memorial the past few years, the views from this location are a bit limited at the moment. It’s a great location to pair with the DC War Memorial, which is just a short walk away. The light is best at the Tidal Basin at sunrise, and there is a $140 permit required.
Please note that if you’re hoping for cherry blossoms, they typically bloom for 4-5 days in late March or early April, and it’s impossible to predict more than a few weeks out. Plan on being flexible with the date, and a weekday sunrise session will be a must!
Click here to view more from a Tidal Basin engagement session.
DC War Memorial | Washington, DC
The War Memorial is one of my favorite locations in DC! It’s like a mini Jefferson Memorial, but without the crowds and more conveniently located. This is a great option for couples that love the classic white marble architecture of DC, but want a more private location than the more traditional monuments. There is a $140 permit fee to shoot here. The light is great just about any time of the day, but it’s worth noting that elopements often take place here, so it’s important to check the schedule with NPS before committing to a session date.
Click here to view a proposal at the War Memorial.
Yards Park | Washington, DC
For the couple that wants something a little different in DC, I suggest Yards Park! Located just around the corner from Nationals Stadium, this park features a beautiful pedestrian bridge that connects the park’s green space to a few waterfront restaurants. Be sure to grab dinner or a drink after your session to celebrate! There’s no permit fee required to shoot here, and I like the light best in the late afternoon or early evening.
View more from Yards Park here.
Georgetown Waterfront and Canal
Another fun option in DC that’s off the beaten path! The Georgetown canal and waterfront are absolutely beautiful at sunset. There’s also endless options throughout the residential areas of Georgetown too, just a short walk from the canal. There is a $140 permit fee required at the waterfront park, but not at the canal or the residential areas.
View more from this Georgetown engagement session here!
Historic Old Town | Alexandria, Virginia
For a classic and beautiful option right outside DC, Old Town Alexandria is the perfect choice! We’ll start on the historic cobblestone streets, then head down to the waterfront for stunning river and garden views. It’s about a mile of walking to hit all the best locations, so be sure to pack comfortable shoes for while we’re in transition. This location can work at any time of day, but I love it best in the afternoon and evening.
View more from this Old Town engagement session here!
Green Spring Gardens | Alexandria, VA
For more of a natural aesthetic, Green Spring Gardens offers beautiful wooded space and floral gardens just outside DC. Note that the park is open from dawn to dusk, but the parking lot gate closes at 5PM – so plan accordingly! I like the light best here in mid-morning, though early afternoon is great too! When shooting in a dense forest, midday is great option to ensure more light makes its way through the trees overhead.
View more from a Green Spring Gardens engagement session here.
Jefferson Patterson Park | St. Leonard, Maryland
For my fellow Southern Maryland couples, Jefferson Patterson Park is my first choice! Located just ten minutes from my house, this park offers so much beauty all in one location. You’ll find grassy fields, beaches and boardwalks, tree lined country roads, and all the green space you could want here. I regularly shoot here at any time of day, though I do love it best in the late afternoon or early evening.
Greenwell State Park | Hollywood, Maryland
Greenwell is another Southern Maryland favorite! This location features a historic white manor house, beautiful green space, horse pastures, and water views. I love it at any time of day, but afternoon light is my favorite here!
View more from Greenwell State Park here.
Solomons Island, Maryland
I can’t share my favorite portrait locations without mentioning my hometown of Solomons Island, Maryland! If you’re looking for portraits that include southern Maryland’s most iconic landmark, the Thomas Johnson Bridge, then Solomons Island is the perfect location for you. There are tons of hidden locations where the light will work at any time of day, but I like it best an hour or two before sunset.
View more from Solomons Island here.
Downtown Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis is one of my favorite places to shoot, not only because it’s so centrally located within the state of Maryland, but there are so many beautiful locations all in one place! When shooting in downtown Annapolis, I like to begin near the State House where there’s ample blooms, green space, and architecture. Then we can head down Fleet Street to visit the iconic bike mural pictured above, as well as the other beautiful residential streets downtown.
The light is best in this area in mid-morning or about an hour prior to sunset. It’s totally possible to shoot here anytime, but some areas of downtown Annapolis can be quite tricky in the middle of the day unless it’s overcast. For example, in the photo above taken around 3PM, we were waiting for clouds to briefly obstruct the sun in order to shoot here without having sun in their eyes!
To view more from this Annapolis session, click here.
Annapolis City Dock | Annapolis, Maryland
For those that love the water, Annapolis City Dock is a beautiful choice! The dock stretches along Spa Creek, with ample parking available along the dock. It’s often quite crowded on the weekends, so a weekday session is best! I love Annapolis best at sunrise/mid morning or about an hour before sunset, generally avoiding it during the afternoon due to the way the light moves. However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to shoot here in the afternoon – just that we’ll need to be strategic and wait for clouds!
To view more from a session at Annapolis City Dock, click here.
Fells Point | Baltimore, Maryland
Heading a little further north to Baltimore, Fells Point offers a beautiful backdrop of the city and water views! There are ample cobblestone streets and red brick architecture, with very little green space. There should be plenty of street parking in the Fells Point area, but it’ll be best to choose a weekday to avoid crowds. I prefer to shoot here in the morning when possible to take advantage of the best light!
Click here to view more from a Fells Point engagement session.
With so many great choices within the DMV, it’s impossible to have shot at them all! With that in mind, here are a few more locations that are on my bucket list. Please note that permit fees may apply at some locations.
Library of Congress | Washington, DC
US Capitol | Washington, DC
National Cathedral | Washington, DC
Larz Anderson House | Washington, DC
Great Marsh Estate | Warrenton, VA
Stone Tower Winery | Leesburg, VA
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards | North Garden, VA
University of Maryland | College Park, MD
Springfield Manor | Frederick, MD
I hope that this has been helpful! To inquire about booking an engagement session or your wedding date, click HERE.