Wedding Planning Tips

June 3, 2019

Summer Portrait Session Guide


Summer Photo Shoot Tips

If you know me, you likely know summer is my favorite season. I’m one of those people who is ALWAYS cold, so warmer weather is always the best. If I could, I’d live right on the beach. And poolside is always the right side to be on. When it comes to portrait sessions, it’s also a beautiful time of year! So I thought I would share a few of my top summer photo session tips!

One note: Keep in mind, these 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!

summer photo shoot tips

What to Wear

It will likely be warm and/or hot at your session, so I recommend dressing as comfortably as you can. Ladies, dresses are perfect for this time of year! Gentlemen, I still recommend dressing up as much as you can since it does make a big difference in how polished the final photos look. But you may opt for a lighter shirt, linen pants or something similar so you can still stay cool. I do recommend staying away from sandals for the guys (unless we’re on the beach), since close-toed shoes tend to photograph much better. Ladies, heels or dressy sandals are perfect for this time of year. 

Find more engagement session outfit ideas here.

Summer portrait session guide Shenandoah Skyline Drive Engagement Photo

Average session times

Sunrise start times range from 5:30-6:30am and sunset start times range from 5:40-6:45pm depending on your date. If you have to get to work that day, sunrise sessions are a great option since we’re usually done by 7:30 – 8:00am. I know it seems early, but it’s always worth it in city locations!! Later in the day it’s always more stressful finding parking and dealing with all the crowds. At sunrise, we have the whole place to ourselves, and you’ll love the calm, peaceful atmosphere. There’s something magical about the monuments at sunrise that never gets old!

If you truly don’t want a sunrise session, but you want some city vibes, I highly recommend Old Town Alexandria. It works well for both sunrise and sunset.

Summer portrait session guide northern Virginia engagement photographer

Top Summer Engagement Session Locations

The good news is there are so many beautiful locations in the DMV area, you really can’t go wrong!

Summer is one of my favorite times of year for shoots in the city. It’s much cooler at sunrise, so you can wear whatever you want and not worry about colder temps like you do in the spring and fall. A few of my top DC engagement locations include the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, the National Arboretum, DC War Memorial, Meridian Hill Park, Union Station, Dupont Circle, the Capitol Buildings or local neighborhoods.

Nature locations are also gorgeous this time of year! There are plenty of parks, waterfront locations and more all within a 1-hour radius of the city. A few of my favorites include Sky Meadows Park, Great Falls Park, Great Marsh Estate, local wineries, Jones Point Park & Lighthouse, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens and Morven Park.


If you’re looking for a mix of nature and city, I highly recommend Old Town Alexandria or Georgetown.

Another option is to go on an adventure outside of the DMV! Shenandoah National Park is a great option (Skyline Drive is my favorite). Kent Island is also a wonderful choice, with Terrapin Beach just across the bridge. I also love exploring new places, so we could plan for something on the Eastern Shore, other locations in Virginia like Richmond or Williamsburg, or a different state entirely! Additional travel fees may apply if we decide to go this route, however, I do have special offers if you’re the first couple to pick a bucket  list location. So don’t hesitate to share your ideas and see what we can come up with!

Summer portrait session guide


The Best Time to Book Your Session

June and August are my two most popular summer months! Since the sun sets much later in the summer, it can make it easier to schedule your session in the evening after work. Sunrise sessions tend to be earlier, so that’ something else to keep in mind! If you’re hoping to have your photos taken outside the DC area, I recommend booking early to ensure I can travel.


Other Tips for Summer Engagement Photos

Think about your personal comfort level. The summer is ideal if you enjoy warmer weather in general, or if you want to wear a dress and not risk being a little chilly. If you both have different preferences, you have a few options! Sunrise sessions are cooler than afternoon sessions, for example. You could also choose a location by the water as those tend to have a nice breeze that can help.

Another option is to hit the tail end of spring or the beginning of fall when the temperatures are shifting a bit. As I’m sure you know, sessions in July are HOT around here. But if you pick a date at the beginning or end of summer you may find the milder temperatures are perfect for you.

If you have more question about these summer photo shoot tips that haven’t been answered here, send me a note at You can also book your own session here!

summer photo shoot tipssummer photo shoot tipssummer photo shoot tips

summer photo shoot tips

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