The Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina has a wide range of options for engagement photography. We’ve put together some of our favorite spots for engagement sessions but in no particular order. The great thing about Raleigh is that all these spots are within a short distance of each other, and each of them offers unique settings.
Pullen Park is the oldest park in North Carolina, and it has lots of recreational spaces spread out over 66-acres of park space. It features a concessions stand, carousel, a pond with pedal boats, which make excellent photography scenes. It’s also a beautiful location for photography in Autumn when the leaves change color and in the evenings. The park requires a permit, and it gets quite busy over the weekends.
JC Raulston Arboretum
JC Raulston Arboretum is a botanical garden known nationally for its diverse flower gardens and exceptional plant collections. The gardens have different themes, with the Japanese Garden, Paradise Garden, and the Winter Garden being the favorites. It offers a vibrant backdrop in any season and a variety of colors and flowers to use. Entry and parking to the Arboretum are free, with spring and fall being the busiest seasons.
NC State University
The campus is known for its beautiful architecture, mature landscaping, and the serene atmosphere that makes for excellent engagement photos. Some of the attractive spots to take engagement portraits include the Free Expression tunnel with its graffiti, the wolf sculptures, the historic 1911 building with its Victorian architecture, the lush landscaped lawns, and the iconic Memorial Bell Tower.
Historic Oak View Park
Historic Oak View County Park offers a picturesque backdrop to have bridal and engagement portraits. The park is a historical 19th Century farmstead with a Greek Revival farmhouse that is the centerpiece of the park, a cotton gin barn, livestock barn, and a tenant house, all preserved and maintained in the style of the period.
Aside from the buildings, the park features an orchard, a small cotton farm, and a pecan grove. We love the authentic rural setting and that it has a variety of compositional elements of architecture and nature to create a colonial country theme. The park requires a permit for your photoshoot, but entry and parking are free.
Historic Yates Mill Park
Historic Yates Mill Park is even more lovely than Oak View as an engagement session location, that is if you love water backdrops. It features an 18th Century fully restored gristmill, which is also one of the oldest buildings in Wake County and the centerpiece of the park. Surrounding the mill is a lake with a long wooden walkway over it and extensive hiking trails and gardens around that provide beautiful backgrounds, especially in the fall season. The park is also a wildlife refuge, so they don’t allow dogs, and they require you to get a permit before the photoshoot.
Historic Downtown Durham
Downtown Durham is a national historic district that offers a mix of early 20th Century architecture in an urban setting. Photographing in this location is so much fun because you get a wide variety of scenes to use for your engagement photos, and it also allows for stunning golden hour shots. The most notable place to shoot here is the American Tobacco Campus located within the district.
WRAL Azalea Garden
The Azalea Garden is one of the most beautiful spots in Raleigh, especially in spring, when the azaleas are in full bloom. That also means that it gets busy at this season, so weekdays are the best time to schedule an engagement photo session. The gardens feature an exquisite collection of azaleas and other plant varieties to create a gorgeous background for a wedding venue, in case you’re looking for one. Entry and parking are free.
Downtown Raleigh is another perfect location for engagement sessions. It’s great because you can always get an impressive background for your shots in any season. Moore Square is a charming space that features a square park with an acorn sculpture surrounded by mature trees and flowers. It is a mix of Old World cobblestone streets against modern buildings, which makes a beautiful place to photograph in the winter months.
The NC State Capitol Building, also located downtown, is another perfect place to set up an engagement photoshoot. The building is a perfect example of Greek Revival architecture with masonic influences. It has mature oak trees around it, and it is a favorite place for many couples who love classical settings.
In contrast, the Warehouse District features repurposed industrial buildings converted into a mix of commercial and entertainment spots. The architecture is contemporary, and the scenery is casual with arcades and craft beer breweries. It’s a good location for engagement photos with a nerdy concept.
UNC-Chapel Hill campus is spectacular in the Fall and Spring seasons. It features beautiful buildings, mature oak trees, and lovely flowers, as well as the iconic Old Well. The scenery is pleasant in the evenings with the sunsets and colors, and it gives us plenty of backdrops to set up your engagement sessions.
For an outdoor engagement session, our clients can reasonably expect between 60 and 80 finished images. At Eivan’s Photo and Video, we believe that giving our clients quality images is more important than quantity. Some of the factors that determine how many great photos you can expect to get includes;
- Location – Outdoor engagement sessions have more variety than indoor sessions, which means there are more opportunities to get interesting shots.
- Lighting – Quality of light is necessary to achieve clear and bright photos. Outdoor sessions have lots of natural light, while indoor locations usually require enhanced lighting to get bright images. On the other hand, too much natural light, such as you would have in the middle of the day, will deliver fewer images, than let’s say, a late afternoon engagement shoot when the sunlight is not as intense.
- Creative Control – Allowing your engagement photographer creative control ensures that you get quality images that capture your vision for the session. It also helps the photographer direct the photoshoot to deliver more usable images, especially if you’re naturally shy in front of the camera. When your photographer works in a controlled environment, they tend to produce images with less variety, which may not meet your expectations.
We recommend meeting with your Raleigh engagement photographer before the session to define your objectives and expectations. It also helps discuss the creative style of the photographer and the location of the photoshoot in advance for adequate preparation. You can check our availability for your engagement session here.
How Much Should I Spend on a Raleigh Engagement Session?
On average, the price of an engagement photo session in Raleigh-Durham will cost between $250 up to $860 for a 2-hour session. For most couples, the engagement photo session is also a time to assess if they like the photographer and their style for them to be their wedding photographer.
In this way, it becomes cheaper to have the same photographer for both events. At Eivan’s Photo and Video, we offer attractive wedding photography and videography packages to suit every one of our client’s needs. You can check our attractive packages here to book your session.
How to Prepare for your Raleigh-Durham Engagement Session
In many ways, the engagement session is a test run for the big day. It is a chance to find out if you click with your photographer and if their style will work for the wedding photos. During the session, you can experiment with your hair and make-up to see which style brings out the best of you. Our engagement photographer will also help you discover your best side and stance.
The location you choose for your engagement session should be an environment that reflects your personalities and interests as a couple. Remember that you’ll use these images for your wedding stationery, so you may want to communicate your wedding theme in advance with these photos.
Your engagement session will be more fun if you’re both dressed comfortably. More outdoor locations require some walking, especially in the parks and gardens. Coordinate the style of your outfits, but don’t match them.
Finally, have fun with your session. It’s about you and your love story. The objective of the engagement session is about communicating love and commitment to your family and loved ones and creating memories of a significant time in your life.