Engagements, Wedding Planning Tips

April 28, 2019

Spring Portrait Session Guide

spring photo shoot tips

Spring Photo Shoot Tips

To kick this one off, I’ll start with the BIGGEST part of this season in the DC area. That’s right, the infamous cherry blossoms!! It’s arguably one of the most beautiful seasons in DC, and for good reason. The Tidal Basin turns into a magical forest of blossoms, and everyone comes far and wide to get a taste.

It also means it’s a busy, busy season if you’re a photographer. I’ll start this guide by sharing a bit about the cherry blossoms, and then I’ll go into regular spring sessions.

dc cherry blossom engagement photo

Tips for Cherry Blossom Photo Shoots

First, if you’re hoping to have the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in your photos, you have to go during peak bloom (or close to it). This can be difficult to schedule, due to the unpredictable nature of the blooms. For tips on how to schedule those sessions, view this blog post about cherry blossom photo tips!

For quick reference, I only take a limited number of these sesssions per year, and they all take place at sunrise. If you’re at the Thomas Jefferson/Tidal Basin, you do need to get a permit, but I can walk you through how to submit it. Also, it can be a bit chilly this time of year, especially at sunrise. On average, I’ve experienced cherry blossom sessions between 25 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so take that into consideration as well when planning your session.

If you want cherry blossoms but don’t want to deal with the craziness in DC, there are other locations around here. Old Town Alexandria has some blossoms, and so do neighborhoods in DC. You’ll still want to time these around end of March/April, but you have more flexibility since you’re not looking to get the peak blossoms on the basin.

There’s also a second set of blossoms that come out about 15 days after the Yoshino cherry blossoms (the most popular ones all over the basin). These are called Kwanzan cherry blossoms, and they’re a little darker pink in color. If for some reason you can’t hit peak bloom for the main blossoms, these are a great option!

spring photo shoot tips

Spring Session Tips

Ok, back to regular spring sessions!! Spring in general is a lovely time of year, especially for the flower lovers out there. There are so many pretty blooms! Everywhere you go is beautiful, and it can be a great time to capture those sweet moments. Whether you’re doing a family session, engagement session or anniversary photos, it’s always a gorgeous option.

One note: Keep in mind, these tips are all based on portrait sessions in Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland. If you’re planning a session in another part of the country, you’ll want to check on the typical weather if you’re not local. If you’re planning a destination session with me, I’ll do the research for you!

Average Session Times

The sun changes drastically throughout this season (end of March through May). You can plan on approximately 5:30- 7:30pm in April and 6:00-8:00pm in May for sunset. Sunrise is anywhere between 5:30-7am depending on your date. I’ll provide your exact start time when booking so you know what to expect!

Top Spring Engagement Session Locations

If you’re looking for flowers, Meadowlark Gardens, the Atrium or other gardens can be beautiful. Old Town Alexandria is always gorgeous in the spring, as there are cherry blossoms and other blooms going on. The magnolia trees are also stunning and can be found in DC in early April. Of course, I can’t forget to mention the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin in Washington, DC

For a list of other favorite locations, check out this blog post:

thomas jefferson tidal basin cherry blossom engagement photo

The Best Time to Book Your Session

In general, the cherry blossoms are always a crazy season for me so I recommend booking early. Many couples and families tend to book for end of April into May, since March is still a cooler month, so if you want one of those dates I recommend booking early. If you choose a March or early April date, it may still be a bit cold especially at sunrise, so I recommend bringing a jacket to wear in between photos.

If you want a cherry blossom session during peak bloom, don’t wait to book! I only take a few of those sessions each year, and there’s often a waiting list.

spring photo shoot tips

Other Tips for Spring Engagement Photos:

In my experience, everything isn’t truly green until end of April. Even if some trees are budding earlier, others won’t so you may have some photos with brown trees in them. I still think it can look beautiful, but I want to warn you in case you’re looking for lots of greenery in every photo. If you really want that, wait until end of April into May to make sure you get it no matter where you go!

Spring can be such a beautiful time! But if you have allergies, you may want to wait until the summer when pollen isn’t as intense. It also is still cooler in the spring, so if you dislike all cold weather I recommend scheduling a little closers to summer (usually by mid- to end of May you’re safe). You might get a gorgeous day in April, but it also could be in the 40s. So it’s definitely an unpredictable season in that sense! 

If you have more questions that haven’t been answered here, send me a note at info@emilyalyssa.com! You can also book your own session here.

Spring Engagement Photo Inspiration

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