Does anyone else think it feels like spring lately?? I keep seeing plants starting to bloom everywhere and it’s been so sunny here in Salem lately that yesterday I had all of our windows cracked open! I was totally enjoying the cool springlike breeze floating through our house and it got me thinking about our all-time favorite engagement session locations. These locations are versatile and great for those of you who are adventurous at heart, and those of you who are maybe a little more like us and don’t mind sticking close to home. Read on for seven of our favorite session locations ideas!
– GETTING OUT OF TOWN –
1. Escape to the Oregon Coast!
If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that the Oregon Coast is my happy place. We post so many photos of the coast on our Instagram because it’s literally my favorite place to visit (#sorrynotsorry). Even when it’s cold, it’s so serene and romantic, and we escape to the coast any chance we can get! And what better reason is there for a trip to the coast than an engagement session!? Two of my favorite beaches are Cannon Beach and Heceta Head Lighthouse, and I’ve recently come to LOVE Cape Kiwanda since moving to Salem. But there are so many more beautiful places on my bucket list and even more amazing spots that I’m sure I haven’t heard of yet.
If you want to head to the coast for your session, make a day trip of it! Drive out early, have lunch, and spend an hour or two enjoying the local shops before you head down to the beach for your session as the sun sets. Or, plan a lifestyle session where we explore the shops together before heading to the beach for a few more posed images. Sounds so perfect, I might just try to convince Ted that we should go this weekend!
2. Columbia River Gorge, East of Portland, OR
Easily one of the most beautiful parts of Oregon, the Columbia Gorge truly has something for everyone. If you love to hike, the Gorge is the perfect place to visit. It’s filled with so many trails, hidden waterfalls, and stunning views. An amazing setting for those of you who love to adventure and be outdoors! Pack a picnic lunch, get lost in the beauty of the woods as you hike the trails, and then stop at a secluded waterfall for some incredible portraits among true PNW scenery.
But even if you don’t enjoy hiking, the Gorge can still be an amazing – and breathtaking – session location. Rowena Crest, Vista House, and Multnomah Falls are some of the most iconic stops along the Gorge, and a perfect place for a session if you want easy access (read, you can drive all the way up to it!) with an amazing view. This part of Oregon is beautiful any time of year, so feel free to go during the off-season if you want to avoid the crowds.
3. Smith Rock, Bend, OR
Smith Rock gives me all those high desert vibes I sometimes crave after living in Idaho for nearly five years. The size of Smith Rock alone, with its jutting basalt peaks, is enough to leave you speechless. But the surrounding sagebrush, evergreens, and brown earthy toned scenery make it the perfect location if you want photos with a different vibe than we usually get here on the western side of the state. If you’re getting married in one of the greener parts of the state, traveling east is a great way to get a distinct yet complimentary look for your engagement session. Hike down to the river or enjoy the views from the top, either way, it’s an incredible experience! And when you’re done with your session, drive into Bend for a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants or pubs, Deschutes Brewery is one of our favorites!
– STAYING CLOSE TO HOME –
4. Your Favorite Coffee or Ice Cream Shop
An amazing option for those inevitable rainy spring days in Oregon, having your session at a cafe or ice cream parlor speaks to a cozy, comfortable, and fun vibe. These locations also lend themselves to more candid images; sip coffee, snack on some baked goods, eat some ice cream and chat about your future together as I work to document your relationship and the sweet moments you will share. We’re still exploring all the cafes and small eateries in Salem, but one of my favorite spots so far is Archive Coffee. No worries if you’re not local to Salem, just pick your favorite spot or look for a place that has big windows, lots of light, and a well-styled interior.
5. Mary’s Peak and other Nature Parks
One of the most amazing things about living in Oregon is all of the protected and preserved nature parks and wildlife habitats we have! If you’re looking for a natural backdrop, grassy hills or fields, lots of trees, or a beautiful view without too much driving, I guarantee I can find the perfect location for you! Some of my favorite locations for this type of vibe are Stephen’s Meadow, Graham Oaks Nature Park, Mary’s Peak, or Mt. Pisgah Arboretum. All four of these locations are excellent options for a variety of backgrounds with an overall natural and organic feel.
6. Downtown Urban Locations
I love sessions that take advantage of the local scene! This is one of those session locations that can be completely tailored to you. Stop by your favorite shops or foodie places, grab some coffee or ice cream, and then stroll the streets of downtown while I capture your love. Or better yet, relive the first moments of your relationship by visiting some of the places you went on your first dates together. What a sweet way to commemorate the city you fell in love in! Dress casual or formal for this locale and be prepared to do a little urban exploring as we find a variety of architecture and backdrops for your portraits.
7. In-Home Sessions
Okay, so you’re more likely to stay in and binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix, rather than head out to a busy restaurant? We totally get that (and we feel the same way)! For all of you homebodies like us, in-home sessions are a beautiful way to capture you, where you feel the most comfortable. Plan to make a special treat, meal, or beverage, and then relax in the comfort of your home as I capture portraits for you that are truly unique to who you are
Well, there you have it! 7 of our absolute favorite session location ideas. Obviously, we’re big fans of making your engagement session a date night (or date day)! It’s a big moment and we want you to treat it as a special occasion, rather than another thing you can check off your to-do list. I love the versatility of all of these locations and the way you can make each one work for any vibe you’re looking for! Do you think there’s an amazing engagement session idea that I left off this list? Let me know in the comments!