A couple of hours before Kim and Tommy’s engagement session, I headed to Skyline Drive, intending to drive the central section of Shenandoah National Park to check out conditions and scout where I wanted to shoot their session. When I got there, though, park rangers were turning away visitors, citing “snowy and icy conditions.” It’s not unusual for the park to have much colder conditions than the surrounding valleys, but the day was beautiful — low 50s and sunny and I wasn’t expecting to need a backup location.
Fortunately, my grandmother lives on one end of the park — closer to Washington D.C. — and my mom lives on the other (just outside of Charlottesville) and both have beautiful properties worth shooting on. Since Kim and Tommy were coming from northern Virginia, I offered up grandmother’s farm + the little town of Sperryville as an alternative.
We met at the farm and headed down to the lake for the first half of the shoot. There, I pulled out the 30-year-old paddleboat from my childhood and sent Kim and Tommy off onto the lake for a romantic — er humorous — trip around the perimeter.
Then, seeking some mountain views, we drove to a field where Rappahannock County has held their Fourth-of-July celebrations for as long as I can remember. While there, Kim and Tommy broke out the champagne.
As twilight took over, we headed toward Sperryville.
Sperryville is tiny and the last town you hit before heading up the mountain to the Thornton Gap entrance of Shenandoah National Park. It exists, I believe, solely on tourism from park visitors — most of whom are traveling from Washington or northern Virginia. Because of that, even though only about 350 people live there, the town boasts a good wood fired pizza place, a funky bar, a general store, a distillery and several art galleries.
We started at the distillery where Kim and Tommy did a tasting, then headed over to Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen for dinner. As the session drew to a close, they joked that they didn’t know they’d be doing “date night plus Kara.” I laughed, because honestly that’s what I hope engagement sessions will feel like. Relaxed, just the two of you — plus yours truly as the third wheel — enjoying exploring the world together.