The Engagement Session: My Favorite Locations in Hampton Roads

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Being engaged is so wonderful, isn't it? You're starting your lives together and there are so many exciting wedding details to plan. And you get to kick it all off with a beautiful portrait session! Maybe this is the first time you and your new fiance have ever had professional photos done, so there are a lot of decisions to make. Today I wanted to make one of those decisions a little easier, by sharing some of my favorite engagement session locations in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is a dream engagement session location and well-worth the drive for me! Yes, there may be tourists wandering around the William and Mary Campus and historic colonial buildings, but it is so easy to crop them out of photos! And my favorite spot is a dreamy hedge just off of the main path. View more here: Colonial Williamsburg Engagement Photos.

First Landing State Park

Choosing First Landing State Park for your engagement session gives you access to two different locations: walking trails with Spanish moss and the beach. While the beach access can be busy during the summer, the small parking fee does keep the numbers down enough to make it a great engagement session location. And the side entrance in the fall has some of the most colorful leaves I've seen in Virginia Beach! (Permit now required) View more here: First Landing State Park Engagement Session.

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Francis Land House

The Francis Land House in Virginia Beach is a beautiful historic home with big trees, a cute little garden, and a walking trail through the woods. After business hours, when the house is no longer open for tours, we usually have the lovely grounds to ourselves, making it the perfect spot for a quiet and romantic engagement session! View our most recent engagement session at the Francis Land House.

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Norfolk Botanical Garden

The Norfolk Botanical Garden has just about everything you could ever ask for in a Hampton Roads photo session location: Italian columns, a gorgeous stone bridge, stone fountain surrounded by flowers, a row of beautiful pink crepe myrtle trees, a greenhouse filled with tropical plants and orchids, and acres of colorful gardens. An engagement session is included for all of Norfolk Botanical Garden's couples and other couples can purchase a session there as schedule allows. The wedding team at the garden is fantastic, and they make sure each portrait session at Norfolk Botanical Garden is given ample time and space for beautiful photographs. No matter the time of year, the garden has something beautiful to offer. View two Norfolk Botanical Garden engagement sessions: Spring Engagement Session and Summer Engagement Session.

Pleasure House Point

Pleasure House Point is a beautiful location for sunset engagement sessions in Virginia Beach. Sandy trails through the woods, shorelines with tall grass, and the Brock Environmental Center deck make this one of my favorite Virginia Beach photo session locations. View our most recent engagement session at Pleasure House Point.

Downtown Norfolk

Downtown Norfolk has so much to offer for Hampton Roads photo sessions! We can walk from Town Point Park around Nauticus and over to the Pagoda garden, getting a combination of garden, waterfront, and architectural backgrounds. Or we can wander down Plume and Main streets looking for cool architecture. And believe it or not, you can get some incredible light shooting in a parking garage! And then, you can end the evening with a date night dinner at Waterside District or Granby Street Pizza! View our most recent downtown Norfolk engagement session.

Back Bay Wildlife Refuge

Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is located at the end of Sandbridge Beach. Wooden decks weave along the edge of the sound and through the marsh on one side of the road and, on the other side, a path cut through grassy dunes leads to an almost deserted beach. Having this beautiful space almost completely to ourselves is well worth the $5 entrance fee! View more here: Back Bay Engagement Session.

Ocean View Park & Beach

The Ocean View area of Norfolk has the best of both worlds: park areas with big shade trees and beautiful beaches perfect for photos just before sunset. It's the perfect way to get two completely different looks for your engagement photos without driving between two locations. View our most recent engagement session in Ocean View.

Great Neck Park

Great Neck Park might not look like anything special at first glance, but a trail at the back of the park leads to a deck overlooking the river. Lighting can be tricky on bright sunny days, so I can't wait to shoot there again on a cloudy day soon! And since the park is just a short drive from the beach, it's a great choice for couples wanting two session locations in Virginia Beach. View our most recent engagement session at Great Neck Park.

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Virginia Beach Courthouse

The Virginia Beach Courthouse might sound like an unusual spot for engagement photos, but they have a beautiful garden area! The traditional brick buildings and white stone steps also give a classic background for photos. View our most recent engagement session at the Virginia Beach Courthouse.

Wherever the Fall Color is Best

I always get really excited when couples tell me they want a fall engagement session, and the first thing I tell them is that we need to be flexible on the location. Prioritizing colorful leaves over location is the best way to get show-stopping fall engagement photos, because it is hard to guess when a particular set of trees is going to be really colorful. Some locations we might scout for fall color would be: Colonial Williamsburg, Oak Grove Lake Park in Chesapeake, and First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. But sometimes we just find a really gorgeous tree on the side of the road, and that works too! View more here: Fall Engagement Session in Colonial Williamsburg.


Other Favorites:

Regent University - Students and others with connections to the school can receive permission to use the beautiful campus grounds for portrait sessions. The traditional brick buildings are beautiful and the fountain is perfect for a romantic engagement session.

Redwing Park - If you want a cherry blossom engagement session, this is the place for you! (We have to time the session around the trees and we'll want to shoot from 7-9 am to avoid the evening crowds. It's a very popular photography spot while the trees are blooming!)

Adam Thoroughgood House - The property surround this tiny historic home is one of my favorite places to shoot. There's an incredible magnolia tree and a really pretty colonial garden. Unfortunately, it has been undergoing construction.


We can't really go wrong with our choice of location, because the focus will always be on you and the love that you share. While the location is definitely part of the images, it's just the background!


Want to read more tips for your engagement session?
Choosing a Location
My Favorite Hampton Roads Locations
What To Wear
What Not to Wear
Shopping for an Engagement Session Dress
What Happens if it Rains
The Purpose
Getting to Know Your Photographer
How I Chose My Outfits
10 Final Tips

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