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Couple poses for engagement photos in pollinator garden at blandy experimental farm in front royal virginia

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When Carla and Glenn mentioned going somewhere with classic Virginia mountain views, field, or blooms for their engagement session, I had just the place in mind. Blandy Experimental Farm is a free, expansive, and gorgeous place for engagement photos! We caught the end of the summer season, with the pollinator garden still full of color. The location was a perfect reflection of what they love, and exactly what they’d opt for on a weekend off.

A candid-heavy, relaxed engagement session

These two, like most couples, had some reservations and nerves about dressing up and being posed for their engagement photos. Most people only hire a professional photographer a couple times in their life–senior portraits, graduation, engagement and wedding, family milestones. But we treated it like a date night, and just look at the results! Blandy farm was a place they were familiar with, and we spent the first part of the photo shoot just walking around and getting more familiar with one another. It took a dozen frames or so, but we figured out what worked best for them, and the rest of the session was a synch!

Love, laughter, pollinators, deer, and Virginia landscapes!

This session has everything. First of all, they’re adorable. Carla cannot stop laughing at Glenn! I mean, I get why. But they are too cute. And we had lots of precious animal guests along our session. First bunnies and pollinators in the garden. Then, turtles, birds, and even a deer friend that didn’t seem at all bothered by our presence! I had to include them in the engagement photos, of course. They were all part of the process, and it’s fitting they make the final gallery.

Ready for your own engagement photos?

Maybe you landed here looking for a photographer, or maybe you’re just looking for outfit or location inspiration. Either way, I hope you love the photos and get something out of this! If you’re searching for a wedding and engagement photographer, I’m here to help! Here are some helpful links.

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Couple enjoys the cherry blossom trees at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Virginia for their engagement photo session.

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Having spent most of their dating life in and around DC, Emily and Ron knew they wanted their engagement session during cherry blossom season. We opted to skip the busy tidal basin and opt for the more private, scenic Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna. Spring engagement photos in Virginia were just what I needed to spark my creativity after a long winter! Despite the rain threatening us all day and the blossoms not being at their peak, I have to say this is one of my favorite sessions to date! Emily’s flowy pink spring dress was the perfect fit for the gardens. Plus, their smiles when they look at each other are pure joy. I am so grateful they chose me to capture their wedding and engagement photography!

Preparing for their engagement photos

Before this engagement session, we talked about different locations in Virginia that might give us the classic cherry blossom look without being on the national mall or tidal basin. Meadowlark was our first choice because of the variety of blooming flower we’d have the opportunity to see! The spring colors were perfectly timed.

Before I drove up to northern Virginia for their engagement photos, we talked about what made them feel most comfortable. During engagement sessions, I aim to learn how to make the couple most relaxed so that wedding portraits can go smoothly too! Emily and Ron let me know that their first kiss at their wedding would be their first kiss EVER! They had never kissed before! So, I challenged myself with some alternative posing and prompting. To my surprise, it was not difficult to avoid at all! And, I think depicting intimacy in other ways was a nice, creative break.

Congratulations to Emily and Ron Buzon, Engaged and Married in northern Virginia!

Both this wedding and engagement session are one for the books. I’ll get to tell more of their story in the wedding blog. But, I just enjoyed their authentic connection, genuine full belly laughter, and general nerdiness. These are my kind of people!

Kind words from my clients

Emily says:

“If you are considering having Jo as your photographer for your engagement shoot, wedding shoot, family shot and more.. DO IT! Jo is incredible at what she does! My now husband and I never kissed until our wedding day and she helped us feel comfortable with each other and have fun at the same time. She is so easy to work with, on time, super professional but not stiff. She is so relational and kind. Her quality of work is out of this world! Do it. Do it. DO IT! YOU WONT REGRET IT!”

Looking for an engagement photographer?

Whether you’re looking for engagement photos in Virginia, or somewhere else along the east coast, I would love to chat! I believe in making sure every client is the best match, and I’m exactly the kind of photographer to best serve you. Contact me, and we’ll schedule a call!

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Picking an engagement session location can be a tough decision. There’s literally endless spots out there to choose from, and you want a place that’s meaningful to you two, photogenic, and fits with your style and wedding theme. A good photographer can make any location look great, so pick the spots that are most meaningful to you. Not sure where to start? Here’s some fun, out-of-the-box ideas!

  1. Have a picnic in your backyard
    You don’t even have to leave your property to have a lovely engagement session. Pack a blanket, a basket, and some cute glass soda bottles and make it a picnic day!

  2. Take your photographer on a date
    Want to walk around your downtown? Maybe grab coffee at your favorite little spot? And go for a movie after? Pitch the idea of an actual date for your engagement session, and your photographer is sure to love it! With me, you get up to three hours, so that’s plenty of time for a stroll, a cup of coffee, and a movie. After a while, you won’t even notice me, and the real you will show in your engagement photos 🙂

  3. Visit your favorite professional team’s home stadium
    Did you know that most professional teams allow private tours of their stadium? For example, this coming spring I’ll be shooting at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. Better yet, schedule on a day when you can stick around for a game, and make a whole date day out of it! You’ll have way more fun than your friends who went to the local park for their engagement session.

  4. Visit your proposal location
    We ended up changing our plans, but John and I originally wanted to do our engagement session in Warm Springs, VA, near a waterfall where John’s dad proposed to his mother. Lots of couples like to visit their own proposal spot, or a location that has family history.

  5. In your own home – lifestyle photography
    Your engagement session can be about you two, doing what you do every day. Making coffee, snuggled up watching Netflix, decorating your Christmas tree, playing with your dogs in the yard, making dinner together. Search for “in home lifestyle engagement,” and you’ll see countless examples of adorable engagement pictures about everyday life.
  6. Ask your photographer!
    If you’re still stumped, your photographer is the expert. If you know your style and what kind of images you’re looking for, she probably has a list of scenic, historic, urban, or natural locations in your area. Every couple is a little different, and she can help you find a location that makes you excited for your engagement session.

Remember that any location can be photogenic if you’re willing to give it a try. Wedding photographer are experts at making beautiful artwork on the fly. On wedding day, we pull up to a venue that we may have never seen before, and make every moment of the day look pretty and elegant – from wedding details and rings, pictures of your wedding party getting ready, to posed portraits and the reception dance floor. We don’t get to choose the venue or the lighting, so we’re experts at making it work with whatever we’re given. So when you’re planning your engagement session, choose meaning over pretty. We can make your living room or an abandoned factory work just as well as a pretty park or historic downtown. No one location is superior to another, as long as you’ve chosen a photographer you have confidence in.


Have some fun ideas of your own? Tell me! Where are you planning your engagement session? I would love to hear!


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