Winter on the East coast can sometimes bring with it a less than exciting landscape as we're treated to months of browns through much of our states. Over the past several years of shooting engagements and weddings in the winter, we've started to keep a list of great places that offer a lot of great views, even some color, even during the winter months.
Otts Exotic plants
Address: 61 Gravel Pike, Schwenksville, PA 19473
Ott's Exotic Plants is a plant greenhouse and store where we can take pictures. Since it's a big greenhouse, it remains consistently warm throughout the year, so it makes for a great option during the cold winter months. Inside, there is an abundant of flowers and other plant life, which will bring a pop of color to your day (and photos!). This is a great location all around. Just keep in mind there is a permit fee to have engagement photos here.
Hickory Run State Park
Address: 3613 PA-534, White Haven, PA 18661
There are several great hiking trails we go to pretty frequently for engagement photos around Hickory Run State Park. One thing we really love is the abundance of evergreen trees and waterfalls in the area. It makes for great backdrops year round.
Address: 1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348
Longwood Gardens is a beautiful place. While it's most vibrant outside during the warmer months, there is still a lot to see during the winter. There is also the added benefit of Christmas lights that are set up around the property during December, which really pack a punch for photos taken around sunset. The large conservatory is also a great option to warm up and take some photos indoors with the many blooming flowers inside.
*2020-2021 Update* - Unfortunately, due to pandemic related restrictions, the conservatory is off limits for photo sessions. Longwood has changed the flow of this area to make it 1 way in, 1 way out AND is also doing renovations on a large portion of the place as they are expanding it for the 2022 season.
The winter months can sometimes seem a little daunting for engagement pictures, but it's made so much easier by having a good location to work with. Like we mentioned at the start, we're always on the look out for places that can offer a little color during this often bland season. These 12 winter engagement photo shoot locations are all great choices.
Merrill Creek Reservoir
Address: 34 Merrill Creek Road, Washington, NJ 07882
Merrill Creek Reservoir is a little known area for taking casual walks through the woods along a lake. There are several spots that look particularly great during the winter months. One of the best features is the lake itself, which (as you can see in the picture above), can also mirror the sky - which adds a lot of color to photos even during a blander time of the year with brown grass and trees. In another spot, there is also this "fluffy grass" (for a lack of better words), that photographs well even during the winter month.
Lehigh University Campus
Address: Alumni Memorial Building 27 Memorial Drive West Bethlehem, PA 18015
Lehigh University is a great option for winter engagement photos for good reason - less reliance on plant life, and more architectural backdrops. Fortunately, the architecture here is pretty amazing. The campus is quite large as well, with many hidden gems that make for great photo spots.
Historic DOwntown Bethlehem (the Christmas City)
Address: Bethlehem, PA
Taking a stroll down Main Street in Bethlehem, and the various side streets nearby, is a great way to have engagement photos in the city. We're in this area pretty regularly, and still are constantly uncovering new locations we love. Drop in behind The Sun Inn, visit the Library overlook of South Bethlehem, take photos in front of the storefronts on Main, check out the buildings in the Moravian Courtyard, and visit the Historic Bethlehem remnants behind Hotel Bethlehem - there's so many options. During the winter, the city comes to life with an abundance of Christmas decor too - one of the biggest reasons to make this place special during December - January.
Address: 400 Belfast Rd, Nazareth, PA 18064
Jacobsburg State Park is a reliable engagement session location all times of year. The quaint historic buildings and river access makes it particularly great even during the winter months.
Ricketts Glen State Park
Address: 695 PA-487, Benton, PA 17814
Ricketts Glen State Park is best described as epic for engagement photos. The "falls trail" is a great choice even during the winter months since there are so many great waterfall backdrops along the scenic path. Outside of waterfalls, we've also come across many evergreen trees and an area of dense green moss that made for some great alternative spots, too. While the early portions of the trail are fairly flat and easy, as we head down the hill towards the largest fall in the park, it can get fairly steep - so we always suggest bringing along proper footwear for these hiking excursions!
Slateford Creek Falls
Address: National Park Dr, Bangor, PA 18013
Slateford Falls is an amazing spot in the Delaware Water Gap. We love Pennsylvania's waterfalls and woodlands that are dotted with evergreen trees like rhodadendrons (you can see them in the background in the above picture). Engagement photos here are really hard to beat. The waterfall seen above is very easy to access (about a minute walk from the parking area). For more adventure loving couples, there are 2 other really cool water falls that can be reached with a little bit of hiking. We love this spot!
Princeton University Campus
Address: Princeton, New Jersey
Since checking out Princeton University for the first time during a past engagement shoot we did, we've come to really adore the place. We went back just to grab some coffee and walk around one morning, and we're glad we did. The architecture around campus is really amazing. The nerds in us really love the Harry Potter vibes we get.
Philadelphia (all over the city)
Address: Philadelphia, PA
The city of Philadelphia is always a great location for engagement sessions. We know a ton of great spots throughout the city. You can read our more extensive post about Philly engagement photo locations here. To keep it short here though, you have historic streets, beautiful artistic murals, views of the city skyline, and so much more as options.
In Home Session
Address: Your place :)
In home engagement sessions are particularly popular during the winter months. Few places are more cozy and warm than home. We've seen couples make these sessions their own by incorporating things they love doing together - whether that's sitting at the kitchen table and sipping on some coffee, playing video games together, getting cozy on the couch, and more.
What do we look for in "winter friendly" photo locations?
Before we dive into our engagement photo location recommendations for the winter months, we wanted to spend just a little time talking about what we're actually looking for in these places.
Most importantly is having the opportunity to get some pops of color to break up the monotony of just browns. Most of the outdoor locations we suggest have evergreen trees like rhododendrons that stay vibrant green all year round.
With these outdoor options, we're also looking for locations that have more to offer than just plant life - things like waterfalls, lakes, unique architecture, murals, etc. all are great backdrops even in the middle of winter.
Another factor during winter is (of course) cold temperatures. We personally don't mind the cold at all (we've even gone into freezing water for photos before because it offered us a better angle - lol), but we know others may be a little more sensitive. During the winter months, we also have some indoor locations we can suggest if you want to keep things cozy and warm.
These are the biggest things to keep in mind while reading through this list. Now, without further ado!!
How does snow change engagement photo locations?
Since the winter time often brings snow with it, it's a good thing to keep in mind when it comes to your engagement photos. In our experience, snow is consistently amazing and can bring to life even the blandest environment. One thing that really helps with snow photos is to wear a color that really pops by contrasting with the white snow. A vivid red dress, an orange sweater, etc. all do a lot to create a really dreamy look.
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Whether your already in the middle of planning for your big day or just getting started - we're open books and open ears, happy to help you and show you how photography can compliment your day - beautifully!
Hand and Arrow is a wife and husband photography team serving couples in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and tri-state area.