Feb 27, 2023 - Things to Do

How to get the best engagement pictures in D.C.

A couple kissing on the Lincoln Memorial lawn.

A smooch in front of President Lincoln. Photo: Chris Ferenzi Photography

Our city is incredibly photogenic, which means the spring season comes with an influx of couples looking to memorialize their love (and hurry up and get their "save the date" out) through engagement shoots.

Be smart: Axios spoke with four local photographers — Kir Tuben, Terri Baskin, Myron Fields, and Chris Ferenzi — about the best ways for couples to navigate an engagement shoot in the nation’s capital.

  • But even if you’re not recently engaged, many of these tips would translate well for other types of photoshoots, so listen up.
A couple poses at the Kennedy Center.
Who knew the Kennedy Center doors could be so romantic?! Photo: Terri Baskin Photography

👋 Who: Choosing a photographer for your engagement shoot can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Local experience – Are they familiar with D.C.? Can they offer guidance about permits? Have they done previous shoots at your desired location?
  • Wedding date availability – Do you want your photographer to shoot your engagement and wedding pictures? Make sure they’re free on your big day. (Aim to book about a year in advance.)
  • Look at full portfolios – Don’t just rely on a few pictures on a photographer’s website or Instagram to make your decision.
  • Personality match – It’s beneficial to set up an interview ahead of time to make sure you’d be comfortable spending lots of time together.
A couple poses in front of cherry blossoms with the monument in the background.
Cherry blossoms + the Washington Monument = classic D.C. Photo: Kir2Ben Photography

📍Where: The beautiful architecture found in D.C. makes for tons of stunning options. Here are a few favorites among the photographers we spoke with:

  • The Kennedy Center, the Georgetown waterfront (more of a neighborhood feel), all of the memorials, the National Cathedral gardens, the Portrait Gallery, Planet Word, sentimental places (the bar where you met, your favorite park, etc.), the National Arboretum, the Library of Congress.
  • Many photographers offer packages that allow for multiple locations and outfits, so you don’t have to choose just one.
A couple kisses outside of the Supreme Court.
Capitol love. Photo: Terri Baskin Photography

📝 How: If you’re considering a monument or national park, you’ll likely need a permit. Most cost around $150 or less, (but it’s unlikely that anyone checks to make sure you have it, the photographers tell us).

  • Try to keep tabs on whether your desired location is under construction, as many of the older D.C. buildings go through frequent repairs.
A couple poses at Theodore Roosevelt Island.
Love (Theodore Roosevelt) Island. Photo: Chris Ferenzi Photography

🕰 When: Local engagement shoots oftentimes will be scheduled around sunrise on a weekday to avoid crowds and tourists. Sunset is another popular time, but it’s generally more crowded.

💭 Paige’s thought bubble: My husband and I took engagement photos at Union Station and the Jefferson Memorial last year and had a blast. With the right photographer and nice weather, hours of pictures just felt like a glamorous date.

A couple kisses in front of cherry blossoms.
🤩 Wow. Photo: Kir2Ben Photography

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