Ok, well, let me just start by saying that even though I said this is for engagement shoots, this applies to basically any portrait session that you want to book. Whether it be couples, headshots, engagements, maternity, whatever… these are just good spots, ya dig? (haha) I’m just a Wedding and Couples Photographer from Washington, D.C so naturally, Engagement shoots are where my head is usually at most of the time.

I digress… Here’s a quick list of some of my favorites, hope you can find some use! I’ll share some tips along the way for special advice based on each location.

Brookside Gardens

Brookside gardens is located in Wheaton, Maryland and has probably been the one location that I’ve shot at more than anything that’s why I chose it to be the first to mention. It’s really close to my house so whenever a couple says they want flowers, “outdoorsy”  or a park this is usually my first suggestion.

The site has plenty of room, and lots of different greenery and places for your photographer to make some creative compositions. There's an area with a japanese garden, another with a pond location and lots of walking trails, gazebos and even some benches to sit down and take a rest (since there can be a bit of walking involved.)

The place technically requires a permit, but, I’ve personally never had one and people have never mentioned anything to me (trust me when i say I’m basically a regular at this place.) If you choose this for a more commercial shoot or a wedding, maybe then I’d look into their permit.

Cascade Falls

This spot was one that as soon as I saw a friend, and fellow photographer shoot at I knew right away that I wanted to give it a go.

Cascade falls is definitely a more unique spot, as it’s fairly difficult to navigate to BUT if you navigate to the swinging bridge (ill drop a link after this) the trail starts up the stairs that are directly Left of the bridge, they're marked “cascade falls trail” so...ya really can’t miss it.

Swinging Bridge: https://goo.gl/maps/V4ryB9cgBKGguM6S7

Once you start up the trail its maybe a 5 minute walk (5/10 difficulty) to the falls. Now, we’re not talking niagara… but this is Maryland, and close to Baltimore, so they're cool enough to make for a good shoot!

Shenandoah Overlooks

If you’re a big fan of the mountains, but, maybe not so much the hiking type - BOOM - overlooks! You get all the perks of the great view with none of the downside (other than the long drive most likely.) 

A Few of my favorite Overlooks are:

Bears Den Overlook - Sunset

Hazel Mountain Overlook - Sunrise

Ravens Roost Overlook - Sunset

Now, you may be asking, “Jay, why have you noted sunrise or sunset beside each of the locations.” and I’d tell you, “because some of them face east and some of them face west!” You want to be facing the sun as it's going down for all that AMAZING golden light, sooooo, male sure you choose a location that is conducive to your ability to stay up late or wake up early!

Jefferson Patterson Park

Gotta show love to my southern Maryland folks! This is one of my favorite spots (im saying that for all of them im sure but REALLY this time) for multiple reasons:

  1. It’s huge!
  2. There's a little bit of everything
  3. Trees
  4. Water
  5. Fields
  6. Buildings
  7. Wooden piers 
  8. There’s usually not a ton of people

Because of these reasons, it’s pretty nice to be able to get multiple looks, especially for those of you who are looking to have a couple different outfit changes. You can do one outfit in the big field, maybe another down by the water, and then another on the small fishing pier. Get creative, your photographer will have a field day!

Washington D.C National Mall

I saved this one for last because, well, I feel like it’s obvious, but, we gotta mention it. There’s really so many places you can shoot at the national mall, and even I take this place for granted over and over again for just how special it is. 

From the Lincoln memorial to the War memorial, The Capitol building to the Supreme Court steps, there’s really just too many compositions and avenues to go after as a photographer. I recommend choosing 2-3 monuments that you’re a big fan of and let your photographer know. That way you guys/gals can plan out a route that is most time efficient for getting to/from each monument.

I hope you got some value from this! I’ll be sure to come back and add some new locations once I try some new ones out. These are definitely my favorite spots as of November 2020 though!

If you have a spot I should know about, let me know below in the comment section. Or reach out to me on IG @for_us_photo - Go ahead and Follow me While you're at it!