10 tips for natural, non-awkward and real engagement photos

Ready to hear something crazy? Engagement sessions aren’t really even about the photos themselves. The photos are a bonus. Yup, I said it.


So what the heck are they for, then?! And how do we get those candid and unposed moments to our engagement photos? Hint: READ ON…


What are engagement photos really for?

  1. Establishing a relationship between the 3 of us so you don’t have a stranger documenting the most intimate (and stressful!) days you’ve ever experienced.

    Why would you want to have the first time you meet the person you’ll spend the most time with on your wedding day other than your partner, be the afternoon of your wedding?

  2. Building trust… between the 3 of us but also for your immediate family to see photos we took together, to know my style and work in advance.

    Once they do, they will know they can relax on the wedding day and trust us to work our magic and be creative while also capturing everything important to them, as it happens.

  3. Enjoying a lighthearted night out together during the stress of wedding planning.

    An excuse to spend an hour outside together having fun with the person you love the most in this world during one of the most exciting times in your lives? Yeah, it could be a lot worse.


As a wedding photographer who prioritizes real moments, natural expressions and genuine laughter, my goal whenever you’re in front of my camera is to allow you to feel comfortable enough to laugh, cry, smile, kiss, hold hands and embrace the way you would (and do!) when no one’s watching. If there’s anything I hear time and time again, it’s one of these statements:

  1. “We’re really awkward.”

  2. “My fiance doesn’t like having his/her picture taken.”

  3. “We don’t need engagement photos because we already have them / my friend / uncle / sister took them for us right after we got engaged…”

  4. “Where should we take them? We don’t live in Baltimore and don’t know any places that would be meaningful to us.”

  5. “What should we wear? We’re casual people and it’s not our style to get dressed up.”I’m excited to share this list of 10 tips with you so that taking engagement photos doesn’t have to be something you dread. Instead, it can and should be fun, memorable and refreshing. If you think of it as just another date night, wouldn’t you jump at the chance to do it?


Without further ado, here are…

10 tips for achieving candid and non-awkard
engagement photos (in other words, cheesy and overly posed is not my style either)!

Read it, save it and share it… and then read it again right before we meet up. ;)

  1. DO YOU. If you take nothing else from this list, stop putting pressure on yourselves to be models or pose a certain way. None of my clients are and NO ONE KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH THEIR HANDS WHEN THEY START! I’ll worry about how you look in front of the camera and give you tips, direction and confidence as needed, as long as you worry about having fun with your boo.

  2. Wear what you feel best in and you will automatically feel less awkward. If your groom doesn’t go anywhere without wearing a hat, bring the hat (we’ll take it off for a few, I promise).

  3. Put your ‘fancy’ clothes on. I personally feel that we don’t have enough reasons to get dressed up these days (hellooo, people used to get dressed up to ride trains!), but refer to no. 1... fancy can mean whatever you want it to. Maybe it’s just red and cute heels or new and crisp, dark denim!

  4. Bring the champagne. Shake it up… magic! I don’t discriminate though and highly encourage all types of liquid courage to be enjoyed! ;)

  5. Don’t wear your Fitbit. Take off your ️Apple watch. Give me your keys (but just remind me I have them when we’re done)!

  6. Eat a snack before we start but save the meal for after. No one does well with a grumbly belly and dinner at your favorite spot will give you something to look forward to.

  7. Choose your location strategically. Think through the places you’re most comfortable in together and the things you like to do in your free time.

  8. Weave in your personality and story. Did you meet in college? College campuses are THE MOST photogenic. Do you brew your own beer? Let’s start at your fave brewery. Was your first date at a winery? Bring a bottle of that wine to enjoy. Do you run together? Let’s stroll the trails. Do you own a ️boat? Tell me when and where and I’m there.

  9. Don’t bring extras... as in parents/friends. Unless they’re coming to bring home your pup once we’re done with them, I like being your one and only third wheel. Adding others is when it can actually get awkward.

  10. Don’t rush the process. I’ve found one hour to be the sweet spot for getting comfortable and used to having a camera near you, having fun and having a bunch of conversations about anything and everything that will allow your wedding photos to be that much more natural and full of real emotion... because that’s the ultimate goal in the end, right?


After reading all of this, 1. you deserve a sweet treat and a glass of wine and 2. I hope you’re looking forward to your engagement session! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll share my thoughts and answers ASAP!

sneak peeks | erica + josh's moody garden party wedding at ogle hall in annapolis

I have so much love, respect and admiration for these two, their love story and their classically elegant yet moody and romantic wedding day! While planning their Maryland wedding from Massachusetts, Erica always had such a thoughtful vision for the look and feel of their garden party wedding - which made their engagement session even more fun, since we got to explore their venue as part of our time together because it’s so close to downtown Annapolis and I had never captured a wedding there before!


Ogle Hall provided an elegant, refined and historic feel for both their ceremony and cocktail hour held outside on the lawn and dinner under the stars. A clear tent enclosed the brick courtyard that was illuminated by just the right amount with twinkle lights and a chandelier hanging from above. Dancing took place in the mansion’s ballroom which was called the most beautiful ballroom in America by Marquis de Lafayette during a visit he made here (who knew?)!


It was an honor to be a part of this wedding for such a sweet and loving couple! Here are 7 of my top favorite moments from their Ogle Hall wedding in Annapolis, MD:

  1. Erica’s reaction as she saw the bouquet that Pomona Floral designed for her, for the first time

  2. the heartfelt vows they recited to each other at the same time with Erica’s uncle officiating

  3. the way Erica carried her dad with her in a bouquet charm as she walked down the aisle while her mom was beaming at her beautiful daughter

  4. when each of their parents stood up during the ceremony to give their blessing for this marriage

  5. the golden sun that cast a glow illuminating Erica’s favorite evergreen tree on the property, the one they stood under as they became husband and wife

  6. when Erica saw the reception setup under the clear-top tent as everything came together and couldn’t stop saying “this is beyond perfect… this is all so much better than we imagined!”

  7. watching their guests rock it on the dance floor inside historic Ogle Hall as the Loose Ties kept the beat going strong all night


Erica and Josh, you both compliment each other so well, have an impeccable sense of style and a thoughtful, loving and fun spirit that puts everyone at ease while in your presence... we’re so grateful to have been able to document these memories for you!! Congratulations, newlyweds!!! Have an incredible time in Hawaii when you go on your honeymoon; you deserve all the happiness… #yourloveismybrug!



venue: Ogle Hall
florals: Pomona Floral
dress: BHLDN
HMU: Brushed Beauty
band: Loose Ties
catering: Ken’s Creative Kitchen
dessert: Blue Crab Cupcakes
invitations: Minted

sneak peeks | kelsey + bryan's modern gray wedding at frederick douglass

One look at these two together and your heart just melts! The vibrant, contagious smiles on both of their faces stayed there all day; we couldn’t have been happier to be a part of Kelsey + Bryan’s modern waterfront wedding at Frederick Douglass Isaac Myers Maritime Park in Baltimore, one of the city’s oldest existing waterfront industrial buildings.


To say their day was perfect is an understatement! Here are 7 reasons why this September wedding is one I’ll want to repeat over and over:

  1. dramatic clouds with no precipitation, no squinting and no harsh shadows; we had our pick of portrait locations because the clouds provided such even light

  2. a gentle breeze coming off the harbor as they recited their vows on a historic pier between two absolutely stunning sailboats, Lady Maryland and Sigsbee

  3. family that traveled from across the country and the pond to witness the beginning of their marriage together (some had never been to a big city like Baltimore!)

  4. a wedding party that helped us run ahead of schedule the entire time which rarely happens and made me so happy for them and the endless amount of photos we were able to take… my favorite of the day was when we found scooters right in front of the metal doors at Frederick Douglass and this too-cute-for-words couple, hopped on for a photo like it was their JOB!

  5. the ice cream sandwich bar with cookies made by the groom’s mom and ice cream by Taharka Bros… we won’t talk about the mini donut burger appetizers that Copper Kitchen provided during cocktail hour (!)

  6. the bride’s dad built wooden lanterns that were the perfect ceremony and cocktail hour decor filled with eucalyptus, greenery and anemones.

  7. and if all of that wasn’t enough, guests enjoyed a prime view of fireworks across the harbor from the dance floor during the reception (that were completely unexpected and a happy accident, thanks to Fort McHenry’s Defenders Day)!


We are so happy and honored to have gotten to know you two over the last year and hope you have the most memorable and relaxing honeymoon in Key West! Here’s hoping they can make you a Camden Crush to sip on the beach!! ;) Cheers to the new, #marriedmacks!

shoutout to the incredible vendor team!

venue: Frederick Douglass Isaac Myers Maritime Park
florist: Bay Blossoms
DJ: Paul Parrinello
Officiant: Rev. Lauren Muratore
catering: Copper Kitchen
dessert: Taharka Bros. Ice Cream + cookies by groom’s mom
hair: Allison Harper & Co
makeup: Swept LLC
wedding dress: Casablanca
dress boutique: Savvi
groomsmen attire: The Black Tux
groomsmen accessories: The Tie Bar
invitations: Etsy + couple DIY
reception decor: Event Dynamics
transportation: Apollo Transportation

sneak peeks | audrey + todd's intimate intercontinental dc wharf wedding

The first time I visited the Intercontinental Wharf in DC, I fell in love. Being a part of Audrey and Todd’s intimate wedding at this incredible waterfront location left me speechless and more in love... with venues that are exquisitely thoughtful in their design; full of clean lines and modern finishes, with couples that know exactly what they want and know how to bring out the best in each other and with #urpcouples that celebrate by playing 90s hip-hop at their reception all. night. long.

I could have photographed Audrey getting ready in the corner bridal suite ALL DAY. She had such gorgeous taste in her bridal details and they complimented the venue so well; gold, cream and the lightest hint of blush wedding spirit garden roses, cafe au lait dahlias and eucalyptus intertwined along the top of the flower framed chuppah and all throughout her incredible bouquet by B Floral Event Design.

Enjoy some of my favorite early favorites of Audrey + Todd’s Intercontinental DC Wharf Wedding from this weekend!!


Their ketubah was made by Ink with Intent and was absolutely incredible! It was an intricate, minimalist fine art paper cut design made out of one sheet of laser cut paper. At this moment, one of Audrey’s good friends and witnesses to the ketubah signing with Rabbi Evan Krame of The Jewish Studio, made a joke about how she signs her name and the whole room erupted into laughter… it was such a fun way to officially mark the beginning of their marriage.

The talis shown forming the top of their chuppah, was used by Audrey’s parents when they got married and both of the couple’s parents have now been married over 30+ years…


loved working with this talented professional team!

venue: Intercontinental Wharf DC
catering: Foremost Caterers
planning: Event Planning DC
florals: B Floral Event Design
DJ: Bryan George Music
wedding dress: Anne Barge
dress boutique: Love Couture Bridal
shoes: Badgley Mischka
rings: Boone & Sons
hair/makeup: Amie Decker Beauty
invitations: Minted
ketubah: Ink with Intent
officiant: Rabbi Evan Krame of The Jewish Studio

sneak peeks | courtney + dustin's mt. washington tavern wedding

When I learned Courtney + Dustin’s wedding would be held at Mt. Washington Tavern, I knew their guests were in for an incredibly fun and untraditional celebration! While living in Baltimore now, they met at a bar at University of Delaware and both grew up in very different places (NJ and Kentucky), so the start of their married life together was a way to highlight what they love about Baltimore and the design, decor and food/drink options at the tavern were a perfect fit!

Their ceremony was held in the Pimlico Room, cocktail hour at the Sky Bar patio and a ‘strolling reception’ with dinner stations located throughout the entire upper level of this modern tavern. Before the main festivities got underway, they got ready at the Marriott Waterfront and took advantage of the GORGEOUS summer day with a slight breeze and perfect blue skies…


With Courtney wearing an Essense of Australia gown from Amanda Ritchey Bridal that was made for twirling and Dustin in a navy Bonobos suit with a floral Tie Bar tie, these two were an absolutely stunning couple! Their joy as soon as they saw each other at the first look was one of my favorite moments; Courtney gave Dustin the biggest hug and they took some time to soak it all in before we walked to the promenade for some waterfront portraits.


If you missed their engagement photos, you need to see them here since they enjoyed Sagamore Spirit cocktails at Rye Street Tavern and there was no shortage of adorable glances at each other and lots of genuine laughter, my favorite.


Here are 4 reasons why Courtney + Dustin had such a memorable and amazing Baltimore wedding:

1. their date was 7 years EXACTLY to the day they met at a bar on University of Delaware’s campus

2. Ryan, their officiant, was also Dustin’s roommate in college and initially introduced them at the bar mentioned above

3. Mt Washington Tavern’s architecture and design is full of clean lines, bright walls inside and a deep gray exterior that made for the most moody romantic shots in the evening!

4. After a crazy long week of last minute coordination, travel, weather and wedding week stress for both of them, yesterday’s weather was better than any of us would have ever imagined or could have planned for in late August... we had a rain plan for portraits but desperately wanted them to happen outside (or maybe it was just me who was desperate about that) and not only did we take a ton on the water and outside for their first look and golden hour, but we were ahead of schedule every step of the way and that never happens, especially with a 14 person wedding party!


We are beyond grateful to have been a part of your wedding and are so excited to toast to your new adventures as Mr. & Mrs. Parrett, you kicked it off on quite a high note!!!


and working with this fabulous team was such a joy:

getting ready: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront
venue, catering + florals: Mt. Washington Tavern
wedding dress: Essense of Australia
dress boutique: Amanda Ritchey Bridal & Beauty
bridesmaid dresses: AZAZIE
groomsmen attire: Bonobos + BHLDN ties
hair/makeup: The Brushing Bride
invitations: Minted
welcome bags: Benevolent Baskets

5 tips for a stress-free wedding day

No matter how intimate or lowkey your wedding day plans are, if you’re planning a party and celebration with family/friends from many different seasons of your life, it has the potential to be a stressful, whirlwind experience.


After photographing weddings for the last 7 years, I’ve seen the day organized in so many different ways to learn what works best and what adds stress. In order to ensure your photos and your experience on the big day is the best it can possibly be, I’m happy to share the knowledge I’ve gained for your benefit.


Here are five tips to reduce stress on your wedding day (in no particular order)!

BONUS: if you hire experienced professionals, even the wedding planning process will go more smoothly with these tips for a stress free wedding day in mind!

  1. be strategic about your ceremony start time since it will determine the flow of the rest of the day

If you plan it well, you can have beautiful portraits of the two of you together while you’re relaxed and excited, not feeling rushed and your hair and makeup is still fresh by choosing to see each other before the ceremony and take advantage of all the benefits of a first look. Not only is it quiet, uninterrupted time for just the two of you, but then you can enjoy the entire cocktail hour since you’ve paid for it and deserve to enjoy a drink and apps with your guests! We’ll also be able to focus on alllll the candid photos of you two (and your guests) since the formal portraits have been taken care of: WIN-WIN!

Also, if all of your formal portraits are done before cocktail hour, we can spend quality time in your reception space capturing all of those details (florals, place-settings, cake, escort cards) that will be untouched by guests and their stuff before they find their seats.

For all of our winter couples, please keep this in mind! It’s almost impossible to get gorgeous naturally lit photos of you after the ceremony (if you don’t do a first look beforehand) unless your ceremony starts super early in the day - which means an earlier wake up call and start time for hair/makeup, since the sun sets so early.

2. TRUST your photographer and the creative eye that comes with their experience

…and talk through your vision of the day to help you determine the right kind and amount of photography coverage you need!

Do you need 2 photographers?
Generally speaking, if you and your partner are going to be getting ready at 2 completely different locations, you’ll want 2 photographers otherwise moments may be missed while we’re with your other half.

If you have a large bridal party and/or guest list (120+), you’ll want 2 photographers so we can divide and conquer groomsmen/bridesmaid group portraits and then be sure once the reception begins, that one of us is able to focus on candid shots of guests mingling, reacting to speeches/toasts, dancing, etc. while the other is focused on YOU as a couple and the details you’ve spent so long dreaming of and planning for.

Will 8 hours be enough?
9 hours of coverage is the sweet spot for most couples, especially if your wedding takes place in a city where traffic, road closures, races, festivals can/will happen without advanced notice as we travel from the ceremony to reception!

Do you have a special exit planned for the end of the night? …sparklers, a getaway vehicle, petal toss, beach balls, confetti/streamers, glow sticks are all fun options!

Do you have 2-3 locations that we’ll need to travel to throughout the day? ie: getting ready at a hotel/airBnB/your childhood home, a church/beach/park ceremony then a reception at a different venue?

3. The venue coordinator is NOT the same as an experienced and professional event designer / wedding planner

Hire a professional event planner/coordinator who has your vision and best interests in mind, not the venue’s (and let that close family friend enjoy the day as a guest, despite how much she may enjoy helping you plan and is great at wrangling people)!

If they’ve worked at your venue it’s a bonus, but definitely not necessary. What is necessary is professionalism, good communication skills, and a knowledge of local vendors within the industry that can execute your vision or come through in an emergency. If a planner/coordinator is involved, you may not even know that something happened until you learn about it while on your honeymoon ;) but can you imagine how stressful it will be for you or your family members to troubleshoot if your DJ / officiant / caterer doesn’t show up on time? what if a groomsmen’s pants don’t match the rest of the group and/or 1 set is missing? what if boutonnieres are left at the hotel 45 minutes away? what if there’s a sudden flood / snowstorm? what if the shuttle gets lost and isn’t there on time to transport you, your wedding party and/or all of your guests?

Having a planner on your side means it’s THEIR job to worry and solve any and all of the above circumstances!

4. As much as possible, limit how often people are moving from one venue/site to another

This affects logistics like the amount of time your photographer/videographer are contracted for, extra costs for shuttles/transportation, clear communication to your guests to ensure no one gets lost or arrives late. Couples that choose one site for everything to take place from start to finish are always less stressed and have more time and mental / physical energy to enjoy the day… not to mention, you’ll have more photos of all the moments since your photographers won’t be spending precious time traveling from one place to another either!

5. Do the damn photos… as in, take advantage of and enjoy the time you spend on your engagement photos

I know I’m biased, but I have to say, no one I’ve worked with has ever regretted taking engagement photos. You can read the 6 main reasons why I recommend them HERE, but the reason I mention it as a way to make your wedding day less stressful is because there are so many emotions, thoughts, logistics and personalities coming together that day - the last thing you want to worry about is how to relax and be comfortable in front of the camera. No one should meet the person documenting one of the biggest days of their lives (hopefully it’s me!) for the first time, on their wedding day. In fact, my favorite photos happen when we have a relationship that feels like I’m a friend of yours who happens to show up with a fancy camera. ;) Let all the awkwardness work itself out during your engagement photos, not on your #bestdayever.


Regardless of the flowers, dessert and music, at the end of the day, you’re marrying your soulmate and that is all there is to it. The next day you’ll wake up with a whole new adventure in front of you whether it’s a honeymoon, a new house, a new last name, a new family or simply knowing you’ll always have someone to snuggle next to on the couch while you watch Dateline on Friday nights, because you know, #dontwatchalone. ;)


katie + zach | a bmore licks + fells point engagement

When I first spoke to Katie and Zach, one word kept coming up in the conversation: relational. In all honesty, I’d never heard one of my couples use that word as often as they did. After learning how Zach proposed to Katie, hearing how they finish each other’s sentences, and watching them interact together as we started at Bmore Licks for their engagement session, I immediately got it…


Their upcoming wedding at Rosewood Farms is going to be quite the celebration - after you read more about these two lovebirds below, you’ll understand why!


4 reasons why these Fells Point / Patterson Park locations were so meaningful for Katie + Zach’s Baltimore engagement session:

  1. Ice cream with rainbow sprinkles (Katie’s favorite ice cream topping) was part of Zach’s proposal scavenger hunt which started and ended in Fells Point…

  2. Zach proposed to Katie on the same bench we ended at on Bond Street Pier in Fells Point

  3. It’s their favorite way to spend a Friday night: with a walk by the water, ice cream and cuddles. But Katie also added, “as long as … our two future golden retrievers are there”. (#urbanrowpup love at its best)

  4. This last fact has nothing to do with where we took their engagement photos, but has everything to do with how thoughtful Zach is. He designed and created the wooden ring box he presented to Katie WITH her Dad’s help since he is an incredible woodworker and it was something they could bond over and create together, leading up to the proposal.


Katie radiates joy and Zach described it perfectly: “When Katie smiles, she smiles so much that her eyes close shut.” I believe that they’re both incredibly relational as they highly value thoughtful, meaningful moments and gestures in their relationship and it’s apparent as soon as soon as you are around them.


In Zach’s words, how they met:

“We met early on in college at Johns Hopkins. Katie was the star point guard on the basketball team and I rode the bench on the football team (kidding, sort of). Needless to say, I definitely noticed Katie first. We were both a part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at Hopkins, and I distinctly remember telling a buddy of mine “she’s my kind of girl”. I was drawn to Katie from the very first moment.


One night while at dinner with FCA, Katie mentioned that she likes to bring a cupcake to friends for their birthdays. I jokingly (read: pleadingly) asked her if she would do the same for me. Katie, being the sweet, relational person that she is, agreed. She was pretty surprised to learn that my birthday was in fact the very next day! I think the fact that Katie actually brought me one the next day is more of a testament to the person she is than any interest she had in me at the time. Needless to say, I like to think it all started with a cupcake.


…during finals week, she let me meet up with her and walk her home from the library every night. I even surprised her with her own cupcake on her birthday. Finally, we went on a few more dates!”


In Katie’s words, how the proposal unfolded:

“Zach made the decision at the end of his third year of medical school to take a year off so that we would be in the same class and would be eligible to apply for a couples match for residency. It was since we made that decision that I knew I wanted to marry this man and he later asked me to marry him in the most perfect proposal ever: a scavenger hunt to all of our favorite places in the city.


[By the end] I was so stinking excited that all I wanted to do was finally see Zach. I was then given the last clue that sent me back down to Fells Point, to a particular park bench overlooking the harbor that Zach and I have sat and talked at many times. Only tonight, our favorite park bench was decorated with jars of lights and looked even more perfect. It was there that Zach got down on one knee and asked me to marry him and with a great big smile on my face, I said “YES”. We had a few minutes to ourselves to just soak in the moment, walking around by the water before finding our hidden photographer who had captured the whole thing. After that, Zach and I went to a nearby bar where so many of our friends, as well as Zach’s family were gathered, many of whom had traveled many hours to celebrate with us. As Zach mentioned, I am a pretty relational person so it meant so much to me that Zach incorporated not only so many of my favorite things, but also so many of our favorite people in the proposal. All I can say is that he set the bar pretty high for himself for any future anniversary or celebration.”


I have loved getting to know you both so far and admire how heartfelt your relationship is. I already have tissues ready and waiting for your wedding day because I know I’m going to be crying all the happy tears throughout the day as you become husband and wife and never have to say goodbye on a Sunday again… I can. not. wait. for your spring wedding at Rosewood Farms!!!