J+D – Brewery Hopping Engagement Session | Portland Wedding Photographer


This out-of-box engagement session was one for the books! Let me tell you how this all came to life. Their wedding day was right around the corner and we still hadn’t done their engagement session yet. This may not sound like a big deal, but I always find it so important to do an engagement with your wedding photographer prior to the wedding. Why? Well, it gives us the chance to meet and get to know each other before the big day. More importantly, it allows you to get a feel for my approach to shooting, posing, and how I handle lighting. 

Between our busy schedules, and the fact that they lived a few states away, they weren’t sure they were going to be able to fit in an engagement session before the wedding day. Totally understandable, wedding planning can be a lot! I started brainstorming some ideas to find a way for this work. After reviewing their notes from our initial phone consultation, I remembered that they love to spend their time trying out different breweries, and playing cribbage while they are there. Coincidentally, a few months prior to this, I had just discovered some breweries and fell in love with their fun aesthetic (and their seltzers bc. I don’t like beer lol). Instantly, my creative juices started flowing and piecing together a vision that I lowkey dreamt up a few months ago. I messaged them right away proposing that we meet halfway (in Portland) and do their session at these awesome breweries. They immediately loved that idea for a little weekend away in the midst of the wedding planning busyness, doing something that they love together, and to top it off – Jess was able to schedule her wedding hair and makeup trail nearby, on the same day. So not only was she able to kill two birds with one stone, she also had professional hair and makeup done for her session! 

We spent the first half of the session at Bissell Brothers in Portland. They had a couple drinks to take the edge off (liquid courage is always encouraged), which made for some cute candids with the brewery as a backdrop. A warm Saturday in November had everyone out and about, so once they finished their drinks we hopped over a few streets to Apres (currently my fav place + drink). We started outside on the artsy streets of downtown Portland. Then we were so lucky to snag one of the awesome spots to sit inside so they could set up their game of cribbage. Between little bursts of photos, the three of us just hung out and got to know each other and laughed so much. 

Truthfully, I am so glad this session was able to happen. Not only was it refreshing for my creative soul, but I really got to know Derek and Jess on more of a personal level than I do with most of my clients because we had that time to just hang out and chat. They told me about their story and let me in on some inside jokes, she shared the sentimental story of her grandfather teaching her how to play cribbage as she casually pulled the whole board out of her purse, and we all laughed about how our dads are so similar when it comes to getting them to cooperate for family photos. When their small, intimate wedding day rolled around a month later, I truly felt like I was there hanging out with friends that I’d known for so long and family that I had just heard all about and could put names to faces. 

So, if you’re thinking that you don’t really need an engagement session – let this be your sign to just do it! At the very least, it will be worth it to feel relaxed and comfortable with your wedding photographer on your wedding day. 

And also, don’t be afraid to make your session unique and fun!

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Emily Brianne • January 14, 2023