Did you know destination engagement sessions are a thing? Well you do now!
As booking season for engagement photos approaches (Fun fact: Almost every couple who hires me for their wedding also goes in on an engagement session), I thought this would be a great time to remind everyone of this hidden option that I wish more folks would take advantage of!
Meet the cooler, lesser known and less stressful version and of a destination wedding.
So, what exactly is a destination engagement session?
For me, it’s any session outside of the Pittsburgh metro area.
Does that mean Ohiopyle? Nope!
…Erie or Cleveland? Yes!
Most of my destination sessions go far beyond the 412, and always have a significant meaning in your relationship. Maybe you met in Boston, or fell in love in NYC, or adventure to the Adirondacks every summer to escape in the woods. Wherever you want to tell your love story, I’m down to follow along!
I’ll never forget my destination engagement session with Thu and Chad in New Orleans. What originally started out as an adventure shoot slash girls trip with my photographer friend Maria Palermo turned into an engagement session after finding out our model was engaged!
After seeing how cheap flights were, a plan was hatched with Maria to go down and get some gorgeous engagement photos somewhere new and fun after a long and tiring off season. Maria does tons of destination work, so being able to work together on this shoot was awesome.
Getting to watch Maria do a lot of the legwork and coordinating all of the moving parts that make a destination session happen allowed me to see what worked and didn’t. I realized how much more research goes into this vs. a local Pittsburgh session.
The planning involved for a shoot in a city that isn’t ours, adjusting for travel, and even working around the temperature dropping 20 degrees and a rare cloudy weather forecast in a usually sunny city challenged me in such new and exciting ways. I had done some solo destination sessions in Philadelphia, but I grew up there, so it wasn’t such a foreign location to me. This…was all new!
NOLA required a lot more thought and scouting, and we arrived in the city a day early so we could find our spots, check out lighting and scope out the limitations and strengths of the location. It was so much fun, but also so much work! We didn’t just land and shoot.
Another challenge? If the weather is crappy during the time you’re there for a destination session, you can’t just postpone a week! Getting to see the hard parts and unexpected situations made me so much more prepared as I took on more destination engagement sessions.
Anyway, let’s talk about all of the ways The and Chad crushed their NOLA session.
First things first: I LOVE A GLAM LOOK! Their fashion, styling and vibes were all working for me.
The next big thing with destination sessions? The trust involved. Thu and Chad really let us do whatever we wanted: Maria and I chose all of the locations, consulted on wardrobe, and crafted the shoot vision long before we landed.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Pittsburgh engagement sessions, but this experience goes far beyond the “we want a bridge” requests, and requires much more photographer input than my average session. And that is what makes my destination sessions so special!
The couples who travel outside their comfort zone (literally!) give me a lot more control over where we go, send me their outfit photos leading up to the shoot, and let me flex my creative muscles a little more. In turn, these photos have an extra layer of magic that goes into them! It’s the Dawn Derbyshire experience, but in a new and foregin space.
It sounds pretty bougie to travel somewhere just for a few pictures of you and your boo, but don’t let it scare you. You could even make a trip of it!
For Loren and Nick’s session in the Adirondacks–pre-Covid!–they invited a few friends, went hiking, and spent a few days adventuring in the mountains, hitting up some breweries, and enjoying everyone’s company. Not only is this a great way to get killer photos, but the shoot itself is a chance to make fun memories together during your engagement!
And! It can totally be a workable thing during a pandemic. Plans can be modified to keep your distance, like switching to Air Bnb over a hotel, or exploring parks instead of big cities. I’ve even seen couples doing sessions at Getaway Cabins, and a few years ago I booked a session with a couple who took theirs while camping!
In 2020, I traveled to Boston–a destination for me!–but for them, it’s the city where they fell in love, got engaged and made a life together. It sounds so extravagant, but it’s really just a more ‘out of the box idea’ for your session!
Sure, you could also just hire a photographer who is local to the place you’re visiting, but only I can bring the Dawn magic. And if you’re a 2021+ couple of mine, you probably already have an e-session included in your package! All I’ll need is a flight out, and we’ll be capturing your story (and some amazing memories) for everyone to save the date!
Sound like something you’d love to do?
Dawn Derbyshire Photography loves love.
I strive to create an inclusive, welcoming space for my employees, vendors I work with, AND my clients of all races, religions, sexual orientations and identities. All of my clients (and their love stories) deserve respect, are cherished, and are valued by me and my business. You are welcome in my business, my life, and my heart.