Because we have been operating a wedding and engagement photography business in the Washington, DC area for several years now, it sometimes feels like we have taken pictures of clients at every venue in the Nation’s Capital. Not that that is a bad thing! Familiarity with the settings most frequently used for taking couples portraits helps a photographer to know instinctively where to put future brides and grooms so that they will look their best in the resulting images. So having photographed future spouses at the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the National Gallery of Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the Netherlands Carillon and a host of other iconic Washington, DC area sites means that we can use those experiences to deliver stunning photos to our future clients as well.
That said, we always do enjoy the opportunity to discover fun new places in the Washington, DC metropolitan area where we can help couples tell their love story with our cameras. This particular pair of future brides exposed us to one of these great venues in suburban DC. The St. Benedict Monastery just outside of Manassas, Virginia, is a beautiful site for capturing images of brides- and grooms-to-be. The monastery, which has been the motherhouse of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia since 1901, is set on a spacious expanse of property that offers lots of green space that gives couples portraits a very rural feel even though the venue is mere minutes from a bustling Washington, DC suburb.
The highlight of the St. Benedict Monastery, at least from a photographic point of view, is the elaborate classical labyrinth near the back of the property. In fact, this feature was the reason that these two brides-to-be chose the site in the first place. If you are like us, then when you hear the word “labyrinth,” you probably think of a maze-like structure. In modern times, the two terms have become somewhat synonymous. In antiquity, however, a labyrinth was an intricate design in the ground or floor made by carving, laying tiles or planting stones. It is not possible to get lost in a classical labyrinth. Instead, people start at either end of the path and follow it as it winds back and forth toward the center.
The labyrinth at the St. Benedict Monastery had personal significance to these two future brides, and they wanted to incorporate it into their engagement photos. More specifically, they wanted us to capture images of them starting at either end of the labyrinth, slowing making their way along the stone pathway and meeting in the middle. We got some great shots of them getting closer and closer to one another and then finally embracing when their paths intersected.
After taking pictures of them walking through the labyrinth, we had them wander the grounds a bit and pose for some more conventional couples portraits. This particular image was our favorite. Their engagement session was in January, so it was pretty cold and windy, and they were hugging each other tightly to keep warm. There was so much love and tenderness in their body language, and we feel that shows through on film.