When it comes to engagement photoshoot locations, Washington DC has more to offer than just the monuments, memorials and other tourist destinations. The region also has a surprising number of gorgeous green spaces. The parks and gardens are so pretty and plentiful that you almost forget you’re in a major metropolitan area! In addition, there are many historical sites that make great spots for awesome engagement photos. Some celebrate lesser-known figures in US history; others pay homage to the city’s own fascinating past. Are artsy engagement portraits more to your liking? Many of DC’s neighborhoods have quirky little nooks that will give your pictures that vibe. One of our favorites is Blagden Alley, a fun celebration of local art tucked behind the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Its cool murals brighten up any portrait, and Blagden Alley engagement photos are some of the most creative imaginable!
Why Blagden Alley Engagement Photos Are So Popular
Blagden Alley’s main draw as a location for engagement portraits is the aforementioned series of murals that decorate many of the walls and garage doors in the space. They are part of the DC Alley Museum, a broader city government initiative with the goal of supporting local artists. The program has given these muralists “canvases” in Blagden Alley and the surrounding Shaw neighborhood. Their artwork has livened up the area and given it a distinctive character.
Perhaps the most famous of the murals is “LOVE” by Lisa Marie Thalhammer. Using an anti-hate design she created in 2016, the artist painted the word’s four letters on four garage doors in Blagden Alley. Since it debuted in 2017, the work has quickly become one of the most popular spots for Instagram pictures and (naturally) engagement photos. Thanks to its bright colors, message of equality and celebration of (for lack of a better word) love, it’s not hard to understand why!
LOVE is by far not the only location for beautiful engagement portraits in Blagden Alley. Many of the other murals also make great backdrops. As does an unusual “grassy” wall behind a local business. La Colombe Coffee Roasters, a cafe right in the heart of Blagden Alley, is a cozy spot that is perfect for more intimate shots. It’s also a nice option for taking a break when the summer heat or winter cold get to be too much!
Sofie and Michael’s Awesome Blagden Alley Engagement Session
Given Blagden Alley’s potential for spectacular engagement photos, we’ve been wanting to do a session there for a while. So when Sofie and Michael, a cute couple from Philadelphia, suggested doing their engagement photoshoot there, we jumped at the chance! (Though the bride and groom are getting married in the City of Brotherly Love next year, Michael is originally from DC, and the couple are frequently in the Nation’s Capital.)
We met Sofie and Michael in Blagden Alley on a sunny but blustery November morning. Unfortunately, the first chilly day of the winter happened to coincide with the date of their engagement photoshoot. Fortunately, the uncomfortable weather didn’t make any difference at all. We could tell almost immediately that this couple had the sense of humor and “up for anything” attitude to make great portraits in any situation.
Because they had specifically mentioned wanting pictures by the LOVE mural, we started their session there. As we did the few “warmup” shots with which we begin most engagement photoshoots, we saw that this was a couple who didn’t need any time getting comfortable in front of the camera. The way they held and teased each other made it clear why they were together. Their chemistry and comfort with one another were obvious.
Cool Artistic Engagement Photos Inside La Colombe Coffee Roasters
Sofie and Michael were so easy to photograph that we spent a really long time creating different portraits of them in front of the LOVE mural. So long, in fact, that we all started getting a little cold. So we popped into La Colombe Coffee Roasters for a quick cup.
Housed in a long, skinny, industrial building that is rumored to have been a horse stable, the cafe has some elements that make it a cool spot for engagement photos. For example, the building has several large windows on its long end that look out into Blagden Alley. Across from one is “Space Is the Place,” a very unique blue, green and purple mural celebrating the artists Erykah Badu and Sun Ra. The layout of the cafe and positioning of the mural make it very easy to create shots of a couple “reflected” in the mural. As we did for Sofie and Michael!
Nature Engagement Photos in Blagden Alley? Yup, You Read That Right!
Once everyone finished their coffees, we headed back out into Blagden Alley. When scouting the location before Sofie and Michael arrived, we were particularly intrigued by the aforementioned grassy wall. (For lack of a better way to explain it, it was literally a freestanding wall in the alley that had grasses growing on it. And we’re still not sure what it was for or why it was standing outside!) Anyway, we always like the idea of creating portraits with a “nature” vibe in an urban setting. This was a perfect way to marry the two. The poses we chose for this part of Sofie and Michael’s engagement shoot brought out their sillier sides, and we got lots of beautiful shots of the two of them cracking each other up.
Creative Portraits In and Around the Walter E. Washington Convention Center
One of the most fun things about wedding and engagement photography is looking for new ways to document each couple’s love story. And that often means finding the creative possibilities in locations that don’t seem very photogenic at first glance. In this case, that turned out to be the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which is a few blocks from Blagden Alley.
Washington DC’s main convention center is clearly built more to house large events than to be a backdrop for engagement portraits. Nonetheless, there are still a lot of really cool spots. for photos. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of changing perspective. For example, photographing Sofie and Michael in the huge open area between the conference spaces in a conventional way would have been dull. Instead, we asked them to lie down on the blue and red carpet. From that angle, the background changed from boring and corporate to creative and colorful.
A Few More Fun Blagden Alley Engagement Photos
To close out Sofie and Michael’s engagement session, we brought them back to Blagden Alley. We found a nice open space and had them do two of our favorite “poses.” In the first, we had the future groom dance with his bride-to-be. In the second, we had the two of them “drunk walk” towards us. The latter has been a favorite of just about every one of our couples. By pretending to be drunk and stumbling, they get to have some fun and a bit of a laugh. More importantly, it gives them a way to make a part of the shoot more their own. Every couple does the drunk walk a little differently.
We thought we’d seen most of the possible interpretations at this point, But Sofie and Michael’s take managed to surprise us in a positive and hilarious way. Partway down the alley, Michael stopped and pretended to vomit in one of the alcoves. We were laughing so hard at that point that we almost didn’t get that priceless moment on film! (We very much wish we were the ones who came up with the drunk walk idea. However, all credit goes to the incomparable Two Mann Studios for originating it and teaching it to us!)
Thank you, Sofie and Michael, for one of the most enjoyable engagement sessions we’ve had in a while! We know your wedding at The Curtis Arboretum in Philadelphia next year is going to be just as fun. We can’t wait!
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