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Philadelphia Engagement Photographer Iryna Shostak

The Most Romantic Locations for a Philadelphia Engagement Session

Rest assured that in the city of brotherly love, there is no shortage of amazing locations for your Philadelphia Engagement Session. In a city built on American perseverance, a passion for freedom and sheer grit, its cobblestone streets, blossoming cherry trees, and historical buildings set the tone for some of the most romantic portrait settings you could dream of.

Whether you grew up in Philly, or came to love it because of moving here for a job or plan on coming here for a destination wedding, there are many iconic places to do engagement sessions in this wonderful city. Here are just a few of my favorites that are truly romantic areas to consider.

The Philadelphia Museum of Arts

Best known for the famous “Rocky” steps, has been standing as a symbol of American at the northwest end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway since 1928. The stoic columns, the whimsy of the fountain stretched up towards blue skies; there is something especially romantic about capturing your connection in the place where our countries Declaration of Independence was signed.

One of my favorite places for creating some truly original and inspired images is on the sidewalk that rolls to the edge of the traffic on Broad Street. In the day time, it feels like a scene in a movie: two lovers still in the chaos of life and traffic. In the evening, illuminated by off-camera lighting, the fleeing headlights, and the city lights it feels a bit dangerous and romantic.

Philadelphia City Hall

When you say City Hall, it conjures up thoughts of justice, or superheroes, or even politics. However, at Iryna Shostak Photography, all we see is fantastic architecture and adventure! The curve of the stairwell, the power of the spire, and the historical architecture are the kind of stoic backdrop one expects from a strong city like Philadelphia. City Hall is located at the end of Broad Street, so we can utilize both amazing locations.

Independence Hall

The story of your love rings true at the Independence Hall Area. Home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed, this natural park is rich with history and colonial brickwork and rolling lawns. There are benches and stolen, candid moments to be had among the bustle of tourists and travelers.

Called the most historic square mile in America, Old City in Philadelphia is as charming as it is vibrant with history. Home to the Betsy Ross House, and close to Independence Hall and Race Street Pier, Old City is alive with colorfully painted colonial homes, fine restaurants, and old-growth natural beauty. Trendy bars and eateries add a hip vibe to this spot so vital to our country’s fabric.

Race Street Pier

Located on the Delaware River Waterfront is a place of industrial and natural beauty. With the city skyline stretched out beneath blue skies, and under the majestic bridge which rises above you, Race Street Pier is a fantastic spot creating fun engagement portraiture in the sunset or on a bright, sunny afternoon. The layers of greenspaces with walking paths or seated stairs for enjoying the view means there are limitless locations to pick from. The Race Street Pier is ideal for couples who have already fur babies as the area is dog-friendly.

Engagement sessions are my favorite way to get to know you as a couple and to connect before your wedding day. They also help shake off those worries about how you look in photos, and I really believe they help to get the couple excited about their wedding day!

I believe in engagement sessions so much that I include them with every wedding photography package I offer. It’s important to me that you feel comfortable with me, and with being photographed. Spending this time together in Philadelphia taking engagement photos is just the start of having the best wedding photos!

If you’re wondering what to wear, or what’s important to do to prepare for an engagement session, check out some tips that will lead you through every step. I’m always happy to help you with locations, outfits, and themes for your session.

If you’re getting married and seeking a wedding photographer who loves to spend time doing romantic, meaningful engagement sessions, get in touch. I’d love to tell you more

Tips for Your Engagement Photos |Iryna Shostak Engagement and Wedding Photographer

I love engagement sessions because they allow the couple to step away from the craziness of wedding planning and be a couple again. I encourage you to not skip engagement sessions! I think you’ll find it’s wonderful to connect with your partner again, and the resulting photos will be ones that you cherish.

Best Time for Engagement Sessions

If you’re a morning person, then sunrise and the hour that follow it are magical. Not only are there fewer people about in popular spots, but the light is also soft and sweet.

If later in the day is better for your schedule, then the “golden hour” is the hour just before sunset. Just keep in mind that in the fall and winter months, it’s much early in the evening than the summer! Golden hour light is warm and diffused and can appear to almost glow.

Props and Pets

Props can be a great way to personalize your session! Save the date signs, balloons and anything that reflects your personality and love is welcome. I also welcome your furry friends in your photos! If you want to have your pet in the photos, enlist a friend or family member to help by bringing the pet to the session and take them home when we are finished with their photos so you can enjoy the rest of your session without worrying about them.


Please do not worry about poses; I will lead you through them during the session! However, I do want to encourage you to be affectionate. Get up close, hug, hold hands and show off your love! I’ll help with hand and body placements and make sure you look great and not awkward.

Hair, Makeup and Grooming

I encourage couples to treat this session as a time of pampering. Many couples will take the entire day off and go to brunch and dinner together or get massages or go to the movies. Dedicate this day to the two of you! Get a good night's sleep before the session and avoid alcohol, as it can make you look puffy. Get ready for this portrait session like you are going to a cocktail party!

For Women: It’s a great time to do a trial hair and makeup run with the makeup artist or esthetician you are working with for your wedding. You should feel beautiful and confident about your makeup, and it should enhance your beauty, not be too heavy. Manicures should be fresh and neutral, as timeless colors will attract the eye to your ring and won’t be too trendy.

For Men: If you haven’t had a professional shave, it can really be a treat! Make sure shaving is done within a few hours of our session and also have eyebrows tamed, beards trimmed, and any stray nose or ear hairs removed. I also encourage men to pay attention to cuticles and, if needed, have a professional manicure done to remove ragged edges and snags.

Wardrobe Choices

I recommend two outfits for engagement photos, casual and formal. While you can bring more, please be aware that this may add significant time to your session.

I’m always happy to assist with outfit photos! Simply text me some of the outfits you are thinking of and I’ll reply with a helpful opinion based on season and location.

For Women

  • For your formal outfit, think in terms of what you would wear to a cocktail party. Dresses, or skirt and a blouse and fancy but comfortable shoes

  • If we are in a garden setting, wedges will look great but won’t get caught in the grass as heels will

  • Keep your silhouette streamlined and avoid bulky layers

  • When in doubt, go with solid colors. Avoid plaids, florals or head to toe all one color

  • Neutrals like tans, blues, corals, rose and brown always flatter

  • Wear sleeves, and your arms won’t compete for attention with your face

  • Keep accessories simple and classic such as earrings, a necklace, and your engagement ring

  • Have your ring professionally cleaned before the session

For Men

  • Pick color tones that enhance what your fiancé is wearing

  • Natural and neutral colors are easier to match

  • Collared, button-down shirts and sports jackets are always a good choice

  • Pressed dark slacks and dark jeans photograph well

  • Shoes should be polished and closed-toe

  • Don’t forget accessories such as rings, belts and watches will show, so if you want them in the photos then make sure they are in good condition


  • Baggy clothing

  • Shorts

  • Cargo pants

  • Khaki pants

  • T-shirts

  • Shirts with logos

  • Sweats or jogging suits

  • Polo shirts

  • Leggings

  • Athletic shoes

  • Flip flops

  • Men’s sandals

Tips on the Day of the Session

No matter when you schedule your session, be sure to give yourselves ample time to get ready and for travel and parking. If you’re late, it can cause stress that shows in the photos and it will cause your session time to be shorter.

Please make sure all outfits are pressed and bring them on hangers or in garment bags to ensure they are fresh for the session. Leave handbags, phones, and anything in pockets safely stowed away in your car (I’m happy to hold keys and lipstick, etc. during the session!)

Relax! Take this time to reconnect and remember why you fell in love.

I look forward to creating some beautiful photos of this special time in your life. Contact me to discuss your engagement session!

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