All About E-Sessions // Engagement Session Tips for Photographers and Couples

Everyone knows that summer is wedding season in the Pacific Northwest. And If you don't know, now you know. What you might not know unless you're a photographer is that spring is engagement photo season. Here are some tips and tricks for awesome engagement sessions, whether you're going to be in front of the camera or behind!



Unless you have a specific spot in mind for your engagement session that you as the engaged couple or you as the photographer have your heart set on, location isn't really as important as you might think. The truth is, not every photo session needs to be on an epic mountain top or in front of a waterfall. My favorite photos have been from just stumbling upon the perfect spot with the perfect light and not necessarily a planned location. Rather than picking a meeting spot such as a park to spend the majority of the session at, I suggest meeting up and then riding around (or walking if things are close!) together to find the spots you're going to use for photos. I usually try to plan around a nearby open field, beach or park area for ending the session at. Open areas are great when the sun is lowest (HEYYY GOLDEN HOUR) and give you plenty of space for movement in the poses. Now, I'm totally not saying you should go in to it without a plan. Location scouting ahead of time is great. Sometimes I'll go on google earth and look for places that look like they might be good photo locations and then I'll spend a day driving around and checking them out in person. My point is, don't stress yourself out over location too much. An overgrown empty lot with the right light can look majestic af. 



I usually have my couples bring 2-3 outfits, a mix of casual and more dressed up looks. It's important to look like yourselves and wear things you feel comfortable in. If you're not comfortable it will show in your face. I tell my couples to save their favorite outfit for last. By the end of the session you're usually feeling the most comfortable and some of the best photos come out of that last set at the end of the shoot. 


Pre-Shoot Nerves. They're a thing.

The key to great engagement photos is getting out of your comfort zone! Being in front of the camera is scary, I get it. But the minute you forget the photographer is there and start being yourselves, laughing together, cuddling, dancing around, is when your photos go from good to great. Play some music on your drive to the session and get ready to have fun together! I like to keep a lot of movement in my sessions because when things slow down, I feel like couples start to get uncomfortable. Smiles get fake and poses get stiff and awkward. So... if you're shooting with me, get ready to move around a ton and get a little weird. 



Something else to keep in mind. Seattle area weather is unpredictable. Decide ahead of time if you're willing to embrace the rain or if you're more of a fair weather engagement session kind of couple. Personally, I think rainy engagement sessions are super romantic. 





Ashley+Craig // Vineyard Wedding in Walla Walla Washington


Ah, you guys. This wedding. This day was so beautiful in every single way imaginable. From the gorgeous home the bridal party got ready in to the golden sunset later that evening. The venue was goals, flowers were on point, dress was FIRE and Ashley looked amazing in it, details were so perfect for this summer vineyard wedding and most importantly this couple. Ashley and Craig are two of the sweetest and funniest people and it was very obvious that they were SO exciting to be getting married and were having the absolute best day together. 

Just a warning, these photos will make you miss summer. 

Venue: aMaurice Cellars - Walla Walla Washington 
Second Photographer: Casey McFarlen
Videography: Ridgewood Films

Kristan+Arya // Destinatation Wedding in Playa del Carmen, Mexico


Well I'm going to apologize in advance... this is a long one. Narrowing down what images to share from a wedding like this one isn't exactly the easiest thing to do. Casey (my husband and second shooter for anyone new here) and I flew down to Playa del Carmen (Mexico) to document Kristan and Arya's wedding day. It. Was. Amazing.  We had so much fun with this group of people and added some extra time to enjoy a vacation at the most beautiful resort. 

Kristan and Arya are two of the most fun people who are so loved by all of their friends. It was a happy day for all their friends and family getting to celebrate them and they couldn't have picked a better location for it!

I'm bad at blogging, you know this, so I'm going to stop typing and let you look at the photos. 

K bye.  


Lifestyle // Happily Evergreen

When Brenna of Happily Evergreen asked me about doing a hiking lifestyle session for her blog, I knew we were going to have fun and make some cool images together. We spent a rainy fall morning in Port Angeles adventuring in the Olympic National Park and talking about her recent and somewhat spontaneous move from the East Coast to #westcoastbestcoast! 

This chick is rad and her blog will make you want to go get lost in the woods. You can also follow her Instagram @_happilyevergreen HERE

McKenna+John // Seattle, WA Beach Engagement

I'm terrible at blogging. 

But I'm making a promise to myself to be better at it this year.

I have so many sessions to share and rather than being overwhelmed by which to share first, what images to pick from each session, WHAT THE EFF TO WRITE about each session I'm going to just do it.

So here is McKenna and John's engagement session. We hung out at the beach in Ballard. John got very distracted with some ducks that we affectionately named the "Ballard Mallards." I got distracted with airplanes flying overhead. We got into a heated debate with a man on the correct usage of the word "literally". The whole thing was kind of a showcase of adult ADD and it's a wonder I was able to get as many photos as I did. 

But I did. So here you go. 

Very excited to head to Richmond, VA in October to capture their wedding day!

Yay, blogging. 

Styled Halloween Wedding // Manchester State Park

From the planners: 

We had a clear vision for this shoot right away. We wanted dark and moody. We did not want traditional Halloween. Meaning, we did not want pumpkins and scarecrows. We wanted a design that would inspire our dark and edgier brides year round. We were inspired by the whitewashed brick of the Manchester State Park Torpedo building and a salt and pepper diamond ring. This formed our color palette to be black with “pops” of deep reds, golds, and purples. We loved the idea of voodoo witchcraft. Beautiful crystals, tarot cards, and glass potion bottles. A lot of the extra decor pictured in this shoot was brought from our homes. We use stylish Halloween decor for year-round home decor. We are obsessed with the elegant gothic vibe we created for this styled shoot. We hope people are both inspired and taken away by our “black swamp witch” cake table. Our low to the ground ghost table surrounded by plush pillows are perfect for laid back couples who want a comfier dining experience. All of these elements formed our perfect Montana and PNW Hallowedding.


Coordinators: Champagne + Linen @champagneandlinen

Photographer: Samantha McFarlen @samanthamcfarlan

Videographer: Casey McFarlen

Florist: Florals by Keira Grech @keiragrech

Tabletop Rentals: Balancing Balloons @balancingbaloons

Cake Table Rentals: Oh So Chic @ohsochicmt

Calligrapher: August + Stone @augustandstone

Cake: Sweet Geeky Cakes @cgzgak

Hair & Makeup: Magdalena Ayon Makeup Artist @magdalenaayon

Gown: Calla Bridal @callabridal

Ring: Point No Point Studio @pointnopointstudio_

Models: Melanie Lienhard + Blake Gallagher

Leather jacket + boots: Olive & Iron @oliveandiron

Carson+Alex // Snoqualmie, WA Engagement Session

I LOVE engagement sessions. This one was extra special because Carson is a good friend and 1/4 of Bixby+Pine, my favorite wedding planners! We did their session in Snoqualmie, WA with Mt. Si as our backdrop. We got a little bit of moody Washington state weather with some rain but had so much fun taking these photos.

Jessica+Sean // Maui, Hawaii Wedding

Sorry guys, this is a long one...

...but when you go to Maui and photograph one of the most beautiful and FUN weddings ever, it's really impossible to do a short blog post.

I remember the exact moment Jessica reached out to me and asked if I was available for her and Sean's wedding date. 

Then she told me it would be in Maui. I did a happy dance. And then I did another happy dance.

Then I waited anxiously for this day to arrive, as I'm sure they did as well. Naturally, I booked myself a few extra days on that beautiful island as a little vacation for myself. I had no idea that after the wedding Jessica and Sean and their friends and family would be welcoming me into their group, buying me more tequila shots than I probably needed and taking me on adventures around Maui. All of this to say, I'm super thankful I got to be a part of this day and capture such an exciting time for this group of wonderful people.

Sorry in advance for making you crave sunshine and sandy beaches.

Jane+Kyle // Vantage, WA Engagement Session //

I was so excited when Jane asked me to be her and Kyle's wedding photographer and from our very first conversation, I knew these two were going to be a blast to photograph. We decided on Vantage, WA as their engagement session location and OMG... I'm so glad we did. The weather was freaking beautiful and we had so much fun exploring around rock formations and gorgeous desert landscapes. 

Brittany+Matt // Bellingham, WA Engagement Session //

Brittany and Matt's engagement session was so much fun. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, especially considering it was February in Washington State. They picked the most incredible location (a freaking treehouse) in Bellingham, WA. I have known these two since high school so it was so great to catch up and photograph them being all cute and in love!!