Sip & Style Workshops

We are so excited to announce that we will be hosting a series of styled shoot workshops for photographers along with Sweet Tea Photography. Join us at our first Sip & Style Workshop on March 15th at the beautiful Blenheim Vineyards in Charlottesville, VA for a day full of styling, photography and networking. Register here:



Guest Blogger: Natalie Franke on Why You Deserve an Engagement Session

Photo by Natalie Franke Photography

I’m so excited to be guest blogging today for Dogwood Events and I hope that today’s post offers a little insight into the benefits of having an engagement session with your photographer!

 Last year, I married my high school sweetheart and best friend of seven years – which gave me the opportunity to see the wedding planning process from a bride’s perspective! As a photographer who has been capturing weddings for over five years, I absolutely loved getting the opportunity to experience what my brides go through during the wedding process – especially when it came to the engagement session!

Why Every Couple Deserves an Engagement Session – Photographer’s Perspective:

1) Getting Comfortable In Front of the Camera:
There is a little piece inside of each and every one of us that is camera shy. Even the most confident models have moments of anxiety when it comes to having their lives captured on camera… And having an engagement session is the perfect opportunity to get comfortable in front of the camera. I want the first time you step in front of my camera to be outside of the wedding day chaos. I want you to pick a location that you love or a place that is sentimental… I want you to dress up in your favorite clothes, to be yourselves. And having a chance to genuinely open up, feel confident and comfortable comes with practice!

2) Getting to Know your Photographer + His or Her Style:
Having an opportunity to bond and build a friendship with your photographer is absolutely crucial to an amazing wedding photography experience! My photographic style aims at capturing a couple’s emotions, their laughter, the intimate details of their lives… and getting a chance to know them better over an engagement session, allows me to arrive on their wedding day as an old friend rather than a hired professional.

Engagement sessions give my couples the chance to get to know me and my shooting style. It builds trust between us. It creates a safe space to be goofy, to laugh, and to love. By the time their wedding day arrives, they have already spent an hour or two in front of my camera – they know my quirky jokes, my hopeless romantic streak. And I know how they met, their love story… And this makes me even more excited to capture the next step in their journey together!

3) Documenting this Special Time in your Lives:
You have found your soul mate… You are in love with your best friend and you can’t wait to get married! This special time in your life will fly past in the blink of an eye and I’m a big advocate of documenting each and every moment! Whether you are looking for photographs to use in your Save the Dates, to hang in a frame, for your engagement announcements, or just to share with family + friends… An engagement session is the way to go!

You deserve beautiful images of this special time! You deserve to show off your gorgeous engagement ring and celebrate being engaged to your best friend!  This is one of the main reasons that so many of my couples (at least initially) want to book an engagement session and I couldn’t agree more!

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Why You Deserve an Engagement Session – Bride’s Perspective:

1) Spending Time with your Best Friend:
After weeks of wedding-related conversations, stress, and the toils of daily life, my husband and I hadn’t taken a moment to simply be together. Our engagement session was the first time in weeks where we really slowed everything down. We walked the streets of Annapolis together holding hands. We whispered sweet nothings. We were goofy and silly. And by the end, I realized that I was falling even more in love with my best friend. Those two hours together were exactly what we needed in the midst of wedding planning!

2) Learning How to Look and Feel Confident in front of the Camera:
Like many other photographers, I absolutely hate being on the other end of a camera. I feel awkward, a bit self conscious, and I know that so many of my friends + clients share in this sentiment!

Having an engagement session was precisely what I needed to gain confidence in front of the camera and learn how to rock a flattering pose. After a few minutes had passed in the session, I could literally feel my nervous energy fading away! I’m so happy that I could get the pre-camera jitters out before my wedding day!

3) Images to Cherish Forever:
I realize that I am sort of using this point twice, but I wholeheartedly believe that everyone deserves gorgeous photographs during their engagement! The past seven years of our relationship have flown by so quickly and I know that the next seven will disappear in the blink of an eye… I can’t wait to look back in fifty years and remember the way it felt to be young and engaged. Life is so quickly fleeting… and we feel so blessed knowing that we have photographs of this special time to carry with us for the rest of our lives.

If you have been on the fence about booking an engagement session with your wedding photographer, I hope this post inspires you to take a leap of faith and do it! I absolutely love capturing engagement sessions for my clients and I recommend it to every bride that inquires!

Natalie Franke is a Maryland wedding photographer and one of the Co-Founders and Editors of Bayside Bride and Life by the Bayside.

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