engagement session Archives - photographybyjo.net


Everything you need to know about planning a Staunton Wedding, and all the vendors that can make your dream day happen.

Wedding Vendor Guide

Staunton Virginia

featured blog post





browse by category

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

filed in


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.

Learn more about Photography by Jo’s wedding photography experience.

View reviews for Photography by Jo.

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

filed in


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!

filed in


It’s July of 2015, and I know my husband (I mean, boyfriend) is hiding a little black box somewhere in his dresser. The fact that I know for certain there’s an Emerald engagement ring in there is a long story for another time. And what am I doing with this information? Scoping out photographers for our engagement session, because I *know* fall is going to be booked up if we drag our feet (you know, as soon as I finally get to wear that ring!). My friends are rolling their eyes *typical Jo*.


Why do I love engagement sessions so much? Why do I not even offer a single package without them anymore? Lately engagement sessions have been boiled down to photos to post on Facebook with an announcement, and a nice image for your save the date cards. But they are SO much more — a SUPER valuable part of the wedding photography process, and will mean more to you than you think!


Here I am, two years later, and my favorite engagement photos are still framed, front and center in my living room. Why not my wedding photos? Why not something more current?


I am tempted to say it’s because my dogs are in them, and it’s a little true (I love them so dang much!).


It’s the sentiment. Those photos were the first nice photos of the new Mahaney family. (whoa! Didn’t think about it like that, did you?) Those smiles – all giddy from imagining the rest of our lives together – they’re from an amazing season of our lives that we can’t get back, but I can frame it and put it on display. That’s college Jo and night shift John working REALLY HARD so we can own the house that now displays these frames. That’s “photography is just a hobby” Jo who is falling in love with everything weddings.


Those kids have come a LONG WAY, and I get to celebrate that every time I catch a good look at those photos.


Beyond the sentiment… A more practical reason I am offering way more engagement sessions next year is to serve my couples better. I see a noticeable difference in the wedding portraits of clients I have worked with before. They’re at ease, their smiles are natural, they look drawn to each other and unaware of the camera.


Have you even seen a portrait and thought “wow, that posing is a little awkward.” You know, stiff? The placement isn’t quite right? Reminds you of 1990’s studio portraits on the blue backdrop? We all know the one.


That’s just nerves. Everyone acts a little differently on camera, and part of warming up to my clients is learning what cues, posing, and prompts they respond to best, and how they feel in front of the lens. It’s my job to make everyone look their best, and I am confident I can do that! Even the best of wedding timelines sometimes only leave us with 15-20 minutes for portraits of just the bride and groom. That really doesn’t give me much time to let my couples get the nerves out and learn how to make them look like their happiest selves.


That’s why engagement sessions are such a crucial part of my client process! Even if you never use your pictures (but, you’ll want to!), the result is wedding portraits that are a true representation of the two of you and your story. That “what do I do with my hands?!” feeling is gone, because we’ve done this before. You’re pros at it! Plus, you’re so busy celebrating being married, you hardly notice I’m there to photograph it all. It’s easy, it’s natural, and far better than meeting you for the first time on your wedding day.


In 2018, every couple who books with me is getting a complimentary engagement session – no matter which package, no matter how many hours. It’s my gift to you to make your wedding photography service the best it can be!


Engaged and looking for a photographer? I’d love to talk to you about becoming a Photography by Jo couple! I am honored to be chosen for each couple’s special day. Plus, there’s a bunch of perks, including your complimentary engagement session and free Wedding in a Box gift, worth over $2,000 with tons of offers from local vendors! Email me at hello@photographybyjo.net with your name and wedding date to receive more information.


Until next time… happy planning ya’ll!


Just getting started planning? You need my wedding day timeline templates, built for all seasons and kinds of ceremonies! These are tried and true guidelines for having a stress free wedding day schedule, while still capturing all your must-have photos. I’ve used these to coordinate dozens and dozens of weddings, and rarely need to make a tweak. 

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline Templates


Ready to set up your consultation?

A personal message regarding selecting your wedding photographer

Grab my free guide to plan the perfect timeline for your day. 

Grab Your Guide