oregon engagement photographer

When should you take your engagement photos?

When should you take your engagement photos?

Wondering how long to wait after the proposal to take those engagement photos? I'll give you a hint: there really is no right or wrong answer. But in the video below, I break down all the things you should consider when booking your session to get the most out of your time. From weather and personality traits, to technical aspects, you can find all of your answers here!

My Favorite Engagement Poses

It goes without saying that no two engagement sessions are the same. Because no two couples are the same! Something that is disheartening to see is couples expecting that their engagement photos will be a cutout of what they saw on Pinterest or what they were told was expected of them, instead of allowing their natural relationship to influence the session. 

Something that I've learned over the years is that not every pose is going to work for every couple. Sometimes my favorite pose just isn't working one day for whatever reason. Or the pose that I think would work well might not be all that exciting to my couples. So it's important to be adaptable. A common trap in engagement photography is to keep a backlog of poses to revisit each session. And not that every session can't include specific "winning" poses, but it's all too easy to get into a routine and forget the client behind the pose. Which is NOT GOOD! 

Something that I challenge myself to do is to stop looking at old poses that I've done, or poses that I see other photographers doing, and focus on letting the moment guide my decisions. If the couple hasn't had time to warm up to the camera, I would want to allow them time to get comfortable by adding in movement like walking together or holding hands and swaying. If they are feeling giggly and silly, I would want to use that to my advantage and pose them in natural positions and give them cues to make each other laugh. 

It's been a great benefit to me because I stop trying to recreate somebody else's moment, and give my clients a unique session that they will personally enjoy. All that said, these are a few of my favorite poses from the past year that highlight the couple in their own element. This is why lifestyle photography is such a great fit for me, because I can use my creative eye to design a pose, but also allow the couple to be candid and take the pose wherever they want it. 


Plan a "Destination" Engagement

Oregon is a unique state, filled to the brim with adventure and opportunity. Those of us who live in the city of Portland often find ourselves making up excuses not to leave our marvelous parks and sidewalks, especially when it comes to taking photos. When it's time to plan your engagement session, it's easy to think of places within 20 miles that are "good enough" for your photo visions. But have you ever thought about what is outside that perimeter?

Instead of having a "good enough" location for your engagement photos, plan for a destination. I'm not saying catch a plane and have your session in Tokyo, I'm saying choose one of Oregon's fantastic and unique parks or landscapes to make your photo opportunities grander and more delightful. Here are my favorite places outside of Portland to have a destination engagement. 

  • Cannon Beach, 80 Miles
    ow lucky are we to live so close to a beach? And not just any regular beach, but a Pacific Ocean beach. We have rocks, and cliffs, and incomparable views of the ocean. There are private and lesser known nooks along the coastline that are easy to take advantage of when wanting to take engagement photos without a bunch of people to get in the way. 
  • Smith Rock, 142 Miles
    River, cliffs, and fields, Smith Rock is a stunning backdrop that will make you feel very far away from Portland, without an obnoxiously long drive. If you're a lover of state parks and an incredible view no matter where you stand, this is the spot for you
  • Government Cove, 53 Miles
    It's the closest of destinations, Government Cove allows you to enjoy the Columbia Gorge without the extreme winds we get near Hood River. With options to photograph by boulders, trees, or water, this location has Oregon written all over it, without looking too overdone.
  • Trillium Lake, 60 Miles
    Already a favorite camping spot, Trillium Lake is also a great place to take engagement photos. Whether you stand on the lakeside, or take a stroll through the fields, you can't be disappointed! With a stunning view of Mount Hood in the background, you know you're close to home, even if it doesn't feel like it. 


Let's Start Planning: Engagement Sessions

Now that the holiday season has officially come to an end, we have written out our resolutions, and you got engaged, it's time to start planning the wedding. Last Tuesday I wrote out the first steps to take when looking for vendors. If you're well on your way to organizing your big day, that's great! But I want to pull you back for a second and talk Engagement Photos. This is either the most dreaded, or most anticipated part of getting engaged. If you're on the fence, or are just searching for more reasons to add an engagement session to your wedding package, take a peek at the guide below. 

I've outlined four reasons why taking engagement photos will be one of the most important decisions in wedding planning. If you're nervous about being on camera, or have an upcoming session to prepare for, check out my Wedding Planning tab and click the images that says Comfort on Camera. There I offer my guidance as someone who is incredibly camera shy, but also wants to look and feel great for my images. 


If you're in Portland, Oregon or in the Seattle, Washington area and searching for an Engagement Photographer, I have started booking sessions for the winter and spring seasons! My sessions start at $300, but are included in all booked wedding packages. Reach out to me via the contact form, or email me at info@katiedessinphotography.com to receive investment information.

Erika + Kurt: Oregon Coast Engagement

It was the hottest day of the year in Portland. A record-breaking 107 degrees. I jokingly expressed my thanks to Kurt and Erika for planning their engagement shoot on this very day, and choosing to have it on the coast. The thermometer sat at a comfortable and cool 76, paired with a slight coastal breeze. It was easily the best way I could have imagined spending my evening.

When I arrived to the beach, I found the couple sitting on a piece of driftwood looking out at the surfers battling the waves, trying to find the perfect ones to glide on. At first, I didn't want to break the moment because it gave me a short glimpse at who they are together: thoughtful, relaxed, and deeply loving.

The session took place at Indian Beach, just a short distance away from Cannon Beach, but with less land, and more privacy. It has a beautiful balance of sand, sea, and rock that make it unique and easy to work with. But also, if you make sure to look around, you'll also find a quiet patch of greenery near the parking lot which can transform the session as a whole from being only a beach shoot, to showing the true nature and beauty of our Oregon Coasts.

The session itself was one I found easy to fall in love with. Pair a gorgeous couple with sweet eskimo kisses, dress twirls, and a little giggle or two, and I've been won over. But, it's hard to describe a session so wonderful, when it can truly speak for itself.

"We were snow shoeing in a pass up by Sisters that was pretty secluded with multiple feet of snow. Towards the end of the hike he tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around and he was on his knee and asked me to marry him. It was perfect and wonderful and the view was breath taking. (I wish I could insert a picture of the view because it really was beautiful)."
"[On our first date} we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant in McMinnville (Tequila Grill which has the best burritos) and spent the rest of the evening watching This Is The End. Which is a terrible movie but we bonded over laughing at the poor acting. Thus started our tradition of Mexican food and bad movies."
"[These days, our date nights consistent of] taking our puppy Nellie on a walk, going on long hikes, and of course date night for margaritas."
"[Our relationship is] fun loving. We have a hard time not laughing around each other."
"I love his kindness. He's always willing to lend a helping hand. He's the type of guy when we've gone out for dinner makes sure to buy a meal for a homeless person as well. He's the guy you can go to for anything and he'll lend a helping hand." - Erika
"I love spending time with her. There is never a dull moment when we're together and she is always willing to try new things. She is also very patient and kind." - Kurt
"[The best part about the engagement session was] how easy it was. We have never been a very photogenic couple and we usually avoid the camera. But Katie made it so easy and fun that it didn't feel difficult at all. It felt like we were out with friends and just happened to also be taking some pictures."
"[In marriage, we are most looking forward to] becoming a stronger team and getting to go through life with my best friend."

Courtney + Kendra: Columbia River Gorge Engagement

Courtney + Kendra: Columbia River Gorge Engagement

Early risers and dog owners are my kind of people, but I knew Courtney and Kendra would be good company even before their engagement session. They are bright, welcoming, and will bring joy and laughter to any situation. After meeting them for coffee for their consultation, I knew to expect this for their photos, but I wasn't sure how much considering we were scheduled to start shooting just after sunrise.