This week we are reaching out to our experienced group of photographers to answer a popular question from couples in our new “Wedding Talk” section. What are popular locations for engagement sessions in Portland, Oregon?
Alice and Josh from Mosca Photo
Engagement sessions are very important for MoscaPhoto. We love to photograph them partly because we get to explore beautiful places in and around Portland, that we would otherwise not see. We will either suggest locations to our couples, or we go with their ideas. Either way, these shoots always end up being a great time! How about the beautiful Oregon coast? Or the majestic waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge? Or perhaps you are a city-couple, who wants posh and trendy and more elegant cityscapes and twinkly street lights and beautiful architecture? We hope to find new and exciting places in the future too, so talk with us about your ideas, ’cause we’re open to them!
The three images by MoscaPhoto included in this article, are a handful of examples of some of these beautiful and varied locations we’ve been to for engagement sessions. There are so many more examples that we could show you! Feel free to email us directly to get more ideas and to see more photos.
The image with our bride and groom walking hand in hand away from the camera, on the two-track road on top of the mountain top, was one of our most “extreme” engagement sessions. We travelled to a trailhead just north of Camas, Washington… then we hiked for an hour or so to the top, where we had a 360 degree view of ALL of the mountains around us. It was an incredible day and one that keeps reminding us of the beauty of the area we live in AND of the dedication to love that our couples have with one another.
The image at the coast at sunset is, of course, Cannon Beach, Oregon. Cannon Beach is a great coastal town to visit, especially if we can pick the perfect weather day (no rain, no wind, yes sunshine)… Sunsets are gorgeous and Haystack Rock is a famous landmark that is always photogenic. This was one of those perfect weather days; the kicker is that it was a December day! We definitely lucked out 😉
The last image we have in this article is another one of our couples, in beautiful, green, tall grasses, with a GORGEOUS sky. The clouds really played a big part of this image… it gave the blue sky some depth, making the bride and groom more of the center of attention within the image. The breeze was blowing just perfectly enough to create the illusion of movement in the grasses, too. It was a beautiful day, and it was just outside of Portland, on Sauvie Island (one of the most accessible, farm/barn/country style places, close to town!). (Alice and Josh)
The Pittock Mansion is a local treasure at the edge of downtown Portland… the grounds are full of beautiful corners for photographing a couple in love! I like this place because the light and the textures give me a lot of options. It doesn’t have to be about the Mansion itself… it’s more about good choices on a personal level. If this is a place you’d like to consider, please keep in mind that you can’t use the interiors at all and that your photographer will have to have a Portland Photo Pass or you will be asked to leave.
Portland is chock full of urban magic… we have one of the coolest train stations ever and there are vantage points nearby to make it a versatile architectural backdrop. You and your photographer should plan on walking all around the edges… there are many opportunities for making interesting pictures. The station itself requires special permissions and may or may not grant you access but the streets around are great. Take some time and explore the possibilities!
Sometimes the very best place for an engagement session is in your own back yard. I always ask my couples where they hang out and, many times, it is just relaxed and unstructured like the dog park or a walk down the street to where they picnic occasionally. What I do know about this kind of session is that many years later, their daughter will play on the same merry-go-round with her parents pushing and laughing and all of the swirling colors will be the same. ;0) (Jamie)
I think a good portrait can happen anywhere, and yes, you can bring your dog. I often suggest we start out our engagement session here at Chez Johnson where there is always a backdrop set up. Sometimes the best background is none! And, I can throw up a sheet anywhere!
I enjoy the personal interaction and intimacy these sessions provide, it’s a nice warm up. Afterwards we are off to any location you choose. While I prefer the pictures to feature you, not the location, I will encourage you to be creative in your choice, and to choose a place that has meaning to you two like your kitchen, a favorite bookstore, bar, or hiking spot.
I like to think of the engagement portrait as a more accurate depiction of who you are in your lives, now, as you are; in love and about to embark on a future together. Of course there will be many more portraits on the wedding day but you will be on a stage of sorts; in costume, with a swarm of attention around you.
But, you will be relaxed with me; we’ve done this before.
All the pictures I show here were done at my home. Did I mention the big backyard? (Rebekah)
I love to take engagement pictures in an environment that is not quite like their wedding venue – for example, if a couple is getting married in a vineyard, an industrial setting might give them a different look and would compliment their wedding pictures. I am a big believer that being in front of the camera before their wedding day is a big plus for a couple – it has multiple benefits. The most obvious is to gain experience being in front of a camera and realizing what works for you and also feeling comfortable on the wedding day. It also creates a great dialog with your photographer that will help make their job easier within the contraints of the wedding day.
Another great advantage of doing engagement pictures is that since time, and location contraints are less of an issue, you get to try some amazing different locations and can really take your time to come up with some epic imagery. Finally, since the couples photography will not be in a tux and a gown, they are more versatile as well. As for locations, a local park during cherry blossoms (Laurelhurst Park), if it is raining, at a hotel (Nines Hotel) or a cool building, or even at your house or your family farm would be a good choice.
In addition, we love traveling for engagement sessions and ask our clients if they want an engagement session at the locations we travel to. For example, this couple were photographed in Istanbul. I also encourage clients to bring their favorite pets. (Evrim)
The image of Rachel and Mick was shot in the Columbia River Gorge last spring. For any couple willing to put on their hiking boots and spend a day on the trails, the picture possibilities are endless.
Portland is an amazing place to shoot engagement photos. There is an incredible variety of scenery to choose from. If you want breath-taking natural views, the area around Portland is world class. From scenic mountains to spectacular ocean views, mother nature offers the height of her true artistry.
But if your preference is urban scenery, go no further than downtown and the Pearl District. I enjoy walking around with the bride and groom-to-be and coming upon whatever we see that hits us. Since the urban scene here is colorful and distinct there are backgrounds at every turn. And the best part is that I get to know the couple and they get to know me as we saunter through the urban mecca known as Portland.
The photo of Logan and Kevin was made while walking around the Pearl District last fall. A random poster of a dog used to cover a construction site brought out the playfulness in the soon-to-be married couple. (Alan)
We encourage our couples to choose a meaningful setting for their engagement images. For example, Haley and Matt chose their favorite spot a late afternoon walk.
Carly and Ben, both natives of Kansas, wanted to share their love of the Portland lifestyle as a way of documenting the first chapter in their journey to marriage. (Amy and JP)
When considering the location for your engagement session, also consider the time of year. Want something really bold? Head up to Timberline and have portraits captured in the snow. In the summer, consider something like Cannon Beach. This time of year, I love to incorporate some of the cherry blossoms into the photos.
One of our favorite locations for engagement sessions is the Pearl District. The location lends itself to a more hip and urban feel to the photographs. Even if you are planning a more rustic wedding, having the added contrast of some more urban engagement photos can be a really fun twist.
The Pearl District. Probably the most popular place in the city for engagement photos, the opportunities are endless. A short walk within a few blocks on Jamison Square (where this image was shot) and your photographer can find all kinds of cool spots.
Multnomah Falls. One of the most scenic and popular places, Multnomah Falls and the surrounding area along the Old Columbia River Hwy is a fantastic place for photos. A short drive from Crown Point to Multnomah Falls with stops along the old road and numerous waterfalls in between will make for a fabulous session.
Your own location! Other than the normal, over populated places that you might have to fight for on a saturday afternoon, finding a place that means something to you is my favorite. Do you like the mountain? Lets go up there. Do you love to ride horses? Lets head to the farm and shoot out there! Less people and a much more personal touch for your pictures.
As you can see, nearly every photographer features the backdrop of Portland, Oregon in a unique way. Such a beautiful city with a diverse range of opportunity for stunning engagement session photos.
If you are interested in finding the perfect photographer for your wedding, we offer a wonderful tool we’ve nicknamed “Datechecker“. It’s as simple to use as picking your wedding day and hitting a button. You’ll be given a list of photographers who are available for your wedding date with links to their websites. No obligation and super easy to use!
If you have any questions, we’re here to share our experience and passion for weddings. Ask away! Inspire a conversation by leaving a comment and share your thoughts about the best locations in Portland for an engagement session.