Couple explores Hawksbill Trail in Linville, NC

Tips for Brides

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I get asked the question almost every time we book a new couple. Where are the best NC locations for our engagement photos? The simple answer is anywhere you want! Daniel & I love making our engagement sessions personal to every couple. However, sometimes you just want a gorgeous location and your boo to snuggle up to! We totally get that! So we’ve compiled a list of our favorite NC locations for an engagement session!

Here is our list of Best NC Locations for Engagement Photos:

Moses Cone | Blowing Rock, NC

Blowing Rock is one of our favorite little towns in NC. It’s quaint with fun shops to explore and tons of great food! It’s also right of the Blue Ridge Parkway! Which is rich with gorgeous mountain overlooks and trails ready to explore!
During Mallory & Peter’s engagement session, we explored several locations. The first was Moses Cone Manor. A beautiful park complete with white Manor house. It’s rolling hills, historic buildings, & walking trails are full of beautiful photo spots!

Couple walking down a hill at Moses Cone Manor in Blowing Rock, NC

Rough Ridge Trail | Blowing Rock, NC

Beacon Heights Trail | Blowing Rock, NC

We drove just a little further down the parkway to the Beacon Heights Trail. This is a much easier hike, with a multitude of places for gorgeous photo opportunities. When you reach the pinnacle the view seems to last for days! If you’re in the right spot you can also expect a pretty epic sunset. Beacon Heights is the best hike vs payoff in the Blowing Rock area.
Couple hugs at Beacon heights trail in Blowing Rock, NC

Couple watches the sunset at the Beacon Heights trail near Blowing Rock, NC

Hawksbill Trail | Linville, NC

If you’re looking for the most epic mountain views then the Hawksbill trail is where to go! This trail is located near Linville, NC. They payoff is big here folks, but with a big payoff also comes a long hike! It’s not an easy hike either so come prepared with water & good shoes! In our opinion it’s totally worth the huffing and puffing it takes to get to the top. Thankfully we stop a lot along the way because the trail is beautiful! So plan a good amount of time if you want to visit Hawksbill.

Couple explores Hawksbill Trail in Linville, NC

Craggy Gardens | Asheville, NC

One of the most popular spots to visit when you’re in Asheville, NC is Craggy Gardens. This is another fairly easy hike with a beautiful payoff! The only downside is it can get busy depending on what time of day or year you’re there. We didn’t mind much tho since we’re use to shooting around people. Plus there were tons of spots around the pinnacle that were pretty empty. When you are at the pinnacle there’s a 360 view of mountains so you can get great shots from every angle!

Couple embraces at the Craggy Gardens pinnacle

Looking Glass Falls | Brevard, NC

Deep in the Pisgah National Forest nestled in a rich green valley is Looking Glass Falls. It’s another popular spot for engagement photos because it’s super easy to access. They have a long staircase that takes you right down to the base of the falls. We got to wade in the cold water and take some pretty epic shots with Liz & Nathen.

Couple enjoys Looking Glass Falls

Couple snuggles at Looking Glass Falls

Black Balsam Knob | East Fork, NC

This is a location I can’t wait to go back to. It’s pretty easy to access off the Blue Ridge Parkway and it apparently has gorgeous 360 views. A cloud engulfed the mountain when we visited with Liz & Nathen. We’re not complaining tho! It made for some completely breath taking photographs! One day we’ll see the views Black Balsam has to offer.

A romantic couple enjoys Black Balsam Knob

A nightime engagement session at Black Balsam Knob

Timberlake Earth Sanctuary | Whitsett, NC

We understand not everyone is as into mountains as we are, so here’s another great option! Timberlake Earth Sanctuary is located just outside of Greensboro, NC. Greensboro in itself has tons of great spots, but Timberlake holds a special place in our hearts. There are thousands of little nooks hidden away on this nature preserve. The ladies who run Timberlake are a joy to work with and we can’t wait to visit it again soon!

Couple frolics through a field at Timberlake Earth Sanctuary

couple hugs in the woods at Timberlake Earth Sanctuary

Downtown Greensboro

The city of Greenboro has the art & culture of a lot of big cities without all the crazy traffic! There are tons of coffee shops, books stores, and alley ways that make it perfect for taking some amazing photographs!

Uptown Charlotte, NC

If you’re looking for a city vibe, then Charlotte is the place to go! Uptown is easy to explore with tons of  architecture and beautiful light. We love when our couples visit their favorite spots like Amelie’s or Bird Song Brewery. Charlotte offers a lot and we can’t wait to explore it more!

NoDa in Charlotte, NC

NoDa (North Davidson St) is the artsy part of Charlotte. In recent years it’s been revitalized and is now rich with color and atmosphere! If you want vibrant and fun NoDa is the best place to go. There’s a beautiful mural at every turn, donut shops in the wall, and eclectic shops and people all over the streets!

Couple poses at the NoDa sign in Charlotte NC for their maternity sessionEngagement photos outside of Abari with Yoda mural in Charlotte, NC

South End | Charlotte, NC

Rain or shine Charlotte is a gorgeous location for engagement photos. It’s also HUGE so to add to our Charlotte list there’s also South End with it’s hipster vibe. Not as artsy as NODA and not as upscale as Uptown. It’s a happy middle for couples.

JC Raulston Arboretum | Raleigh, NC

You wont find a ton of parks on this list. Mainly because they require some sort of permit or fee. Tho we understand why, we’re not huge fans of that. So when we found that JC Raulston Arboretum was fee free we were absolutely delighted! It’s also HUGE with tons of “themed” areas to choose from. We had fun exploring the different gardens with Mary & Jeremy and can’t wait to go back again!

Couple kisses in sunflowers at JC Raulston Arboretum

Couple snuggles at the RC Raulston Arboretum

The city of Raleigh, NC

Another great city for wandering is Raleigh! There’s so much to do! Exploring little shops, eating great food, and taking in the beautiful architecture! They’ve also got some pretty amazing museums and monuments scattered around. When we explored with Mary & Jeremy we found the skyline was getting a facelift, so you may want to check before trying to get the skyline. We were almost interrupted by a building being constructed, but there was just enough left for a beautiful shot!

A couple lounges at the Haymaker in Raleigh, NCAn epic view of the Raleigh Skyline with Jacki & Kris

Mac Anderson Park | Statesville, NC

Okay so I’m a little biased on this one. This park is literally around the block from our house, but LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS?! It’s unique in the fact that it’s a walking park rather than a recreational one. So it’s less manicured and a little more wild. I’m obsessed with the giant pine trees. When the sun is shining through them, it’s magic!

Couple kisses in the snow at Mac Anderson Park

Eskimo kisses at Mac Anderson Park

Your own backyard | NC

There are so many gorgeous spots in NC we have yet to discover. We’ve even found that your own home or backyard can be the perfect spot! I’m obsessed with Lauren & Adam’s beautiful home and yard. They both were immediately at ease in their own home.

Now that you’ve seen some of our favorite locations, what are some of your favorites? Is there a spot in NC that you’ve always longed to explore? Maybe a location that you visit frequently and feels like home. Maybe it is your home! Where do you dream of having your NC engagement session?

XOXOXO,
Mabyn

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Best NC Locations for Engagement Photos

Flying W Airport Medford, NJ Engagement Photography

Engagement

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Destination Engagement Photographers

There is something so wonderful about traveling to a new location that we’ve never been. Daniel & I enjoy traveling, we may grumble about a long drive, but when it comes down to it we love it. Exploring new places, spending quality time with amazing people, it makes for a happy heart!
This time we traveled to the Philadelphia, PA area to meet up with my friends Lauren & Jeff. I’ve known Lauren for years through summer camp friends. It was so exciting when I got to meet Jeff for the first time at another wedding. Something clicked with these two and I knew it was destined for great things! About 2 years later there was an email waiting for me from the lovely Lauren asking me to shoot their wedding! How absolutely perfect!
Lauren & Jeff graciously hosted us the entire weekend. We ate together, laughed together, and drank some great pumpkin beer together too!

Flying W Airport


Our favorite part of engagement sessions getting to know our clients better. Each location Lauren & Jeff chose showed a new piece of what was important to them. We started the day by visiting the Flying W Airport where Jeff chartered a plane and took us all flying! WOW! I had no idea he had his pilot’s license and it was an incredible experience flying over the New Jersey coast!

After our morning in the air, we spent some time at Jeff’s home, which will soon be Lauren’s as well. They cooked lunch together and played music together as we waited for the golden hour of light.

Tyler State Park

Once the golden hour approached, we packed up our bags and ventured over to Tyler State Park in PA. This park reminded me of all the times spent creek stomping at summer camp. Lauren & I reminisced some more as we hiked the creek & trails all around.

Ben Franklin Bridge

To top the day off we ended after dark in Philadelphia at the Ben Franklin bridge. He was all lit up and posed perfectly in the background for Lauren & Jeff!
 
Needless to say we were tired & hungry at the end. Lauren & Jeff took us to their favorite brewery in the Philly area, Tired Hands. It was a delicious way to end the evening & a well photographed day!
 
I cannot wait until next spring when we head back up to capture their gorgeous river side wedding day!
 
XOXOXO,
Mabyn

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Tyler State Park Tyler,PA Engagement Session

Tyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionTyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement SessionBen Franklin Bridge Philadelphia, PA Engagement PhotographyBen Franklin Bridge Philadelphia, PA Engagement Photography

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Tyler State Park Tyler, PA Engagement Photography – Lauren & Jeff

Carolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography

Engagement

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Sometimes I get clients who book me out of the blue “sight unseen” with out even a phone conversation. I get a little nervous when that happens because your first impression is when you’re about to have your first photo shoot. I keep my fingers crossed, breathe into a paper bag once or twice, and hope for the best. I get really self concious and my brain goes a million miles a second “What if they don’t like me? What if my style isn’t right for them? What if they don’t trust my vision?”

Thankfully, Amrita & Vishwan were beyond relaxed and wonderful at their engagement session! We met at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC and casually got to know one another as we explored the hotel. By the time we left for UNC, I knew this couple was my kind of people! PHEW! I’m so glad we connected well and had a ton of fun exploring the UNC campus. We ended the night already great friends and looking forward to their wedding day, which was AMAZING btw! I could just go on and on about how kind hearted, intentional, and benevolent these two are…but I think I’ll save that for their wedding blog since their family & friends did just that!

XOXOXO,
Mabyn

Carolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyCarolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyCarolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyCarolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyCarolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyCarolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyCarolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyCarolina Inn Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyOld Well UNC Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyOld Well UNC Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyOld Well UNC Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC Engagement Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography

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Amrita & Vishwan’s Beautiful Chapel Hill, NC Engagement Session

Engagement

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The wedding journey has begun and one of the first things you get to look forward to in that adventure is your engagement session. I like to call them “You + Me” sessions because you as a couple get to spend some unadulterated time together and you get to know your photographer! Plus is helps reduce the random-creepy-stranger-following-you-around-with-a-camera-on-your-wedding-day vibe (added bonus).

The only problem is you have NO IDEA how to prepare for an engagement session. I mean, where do you go? What do you wear? And for goodness sake WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR HANDS?!

Okay, take a deep breath and release! Don’t you feel better? No? Well keep breathing and reading and your pulse will start to slow and the tightness in your chest will recede. It’s going to be alright! With these few tips you’ll not only be the envy of all your newly engaged friends, but you’ll also create a session that has more depth than just a few pretty pictures. Get ready to dig deep and have a lot of fun!

Tip #1 – Location, Location, Location!

Choosing a great location(s) is key. You could just go to the pretty park down the street, but most people do that. You’ll want to choose a location that expresses who you are as a couple. Okay, granted sometimes that is the pretty park down the street, but most times it’s not. Maybe it’s the place he proposed, maybe it’s an activity you love to do together (i.e. mountain climbing, going antiquing, or just sitting on the couch watching Netflix), maybe it’s a theme that is just perfect for you both (did somebody say Great Gatsby?). Whatever it is, it can be made into a great photo session. Take some time to think about it and always feel free to ask your photographer for input. We usually love collaborating and brainstorming new and exciting ideas!

Tip #2 – Your Style

Choosing the right style and outfits may sound like an obvious thing, but no everyone thinks the way I do so I’ll elaborate. Making sure you have clothes that both fit you well and you feel comfortable in is VERY important. If you’re not comfortable in your clothes, it’ll reflect in your photographs. I typically recommend to my clients bring two outfits. That way it gives you a variety and a fail-safe. That way if you don’t like one of the outfits you’ve selected in your photographs (sometimes clothes photograph differently than what you see in a mirror) you’ll have another outfit that you will like. Having two options will be easier than having to reschedule the whole session just because you feel self conscious in that mini skirt. Added bonus to multiple outfits is contrasting looks (i.e. comfy & dressy, vintage & modern, ect…) and have fun with the different sides of you as a couple!

Tip #3 – Bring Props

Props are totally optional, you and your love is really all you need. BUT, having props will help solve the “WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS?” dilemma. Grab a prop, problem solved! They can also add a little personality into your session depending on what the props are. You can bring things like signs, garlands, create a picnic, have a zombie battle, or slather each other in paint!

 

Tip #4 – Furry Friends

A lot of my clients want to be photographed with their pets, especially their pooch! Animals are another great way to give you something to do if you’re feeling awkward in front of the camera. They’ll distract you from the pressure of that camera in front of your face. Plus you immediately level up in cuteness points!

Tip #5 – Be Flexible

You can’t plan for everything. Sometimes the weather and Pinterest fail us. If you don’t hold tightly to ideas, magic can happen no matter what! Put your trust in the photographer you’ve hired and let them do what they do best! I’m always itching to be creative and if you let me off my leash or give me an unusual circumstance it can often times lead to some pretty incredible photographs! Yes, you want to get some safe shots of you two smiling at the camera (mom & dad eat those up!), but your engagement session should be about your love story. Capturing your love as a couple and how you do life is the goal. So don’t be afraid to think outside the engagement sessions shaped box and have some fun!

XOXOXO,
Mabyn

 

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How to Prepare for your Engagement Session