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Of all the places to take engagement photos in Philadelphia, Longwood Gardens is one of the most magical. The diversity of lush, colorful plants flourishing year round make it a perfect place to celebrate your love. I met up with Adie and Jax in January to photograph their engagement session on film and digital. Here are some tips for capturing beautiful Longwood Gardens engagement photos!
Longwood Gardens is the biggest botanical garden in the United States. It includes over 1,000 acres of meadows, gardens, and woods. The outdoor gardens sprawl over the space. Each is meticulously cultivated and, in some cases, themed. In the springtime, the wisteria garden fills with clouds of white and purple blossoms. Topiaries make you feel like you’re at an Italian estate, not in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
When you’re getting your Longwood Gardens engagement photos, check out the incredible water features throughout the gardens. They range from the elegant to the whimsical. Water lilies line reflecting pools. Fountains spring from Italian-inspired architecture. Longwood Gardens is famous for its fountains, and they’re everywhere you look. You can even catch the Illuminated Fountain Performances in the summer. The staff synchronizes the Main Fountain Garden to lights and music.
The outdoor gardens are amazing, but you can’t miss the conservatories. Longwood Gardens has four conservatories and greenhouses that are breathtaking any time of year. When I photographed this engagement session in January, it was incredible to step from the dead of winter into a vibrant orchid house full of flowers. Photographing in these buildings really felt dream-like, and that feeling translated so well into film photos.
Longwood Gardens is located in Kennett Square. It’s a little over an hour outside of Philadelphia and a half over from Wilmington. You could easily spend an entire day in the gardens. Kennett Square also has a cute walkable downtown with restaurants. You can turn your Longwood Gardens engagement photos into a whole day trip.
The time of year you schedule your photo session for will impact which locations you use in the gardens. They’re open year-round. When you choose your date and time, be mindful of holiday celebrations and special events. Here are tips for every season.
Longwood Gardens has some good resources for accessibility. They have a social guide with sensory tips and tips for preparing for your visit. Their mobile map also shows which pathways are accessible for people with limited mobility.
When it comes to picking outfits for your Longwood Gardens engagement photos, I generally share three “rules” with clients:
Want examples of different styles and tips for choosing colors and patterns? Check out this blog post: Engagement Photos Outfits – Including LGBTQ Examples!
Unlike some gardens, you don’t need a permit to take your Longwood Gardens engagement photos. All you have to do is pay the entry fee.That makes arranging everything with your photographer a bit easier. It’s worth noting that Longwood Gardens doesn’t allow weddings. That makes your engagement photos here all the more special.
While I definitely enjoy taking edgy, editorial portraits, my posing for engagement photos tends to be more movement-based. I’ve found that when people are moving with their partners and interacting with the environment around them, they tend to have an easier time relaxing in front of the camera. The same applies to your Longwood Gardens engagement photos. You can see in Jax and Adie’s images that we spent a lot of the session having fun and exploring.
Because there is so much to see at Longwood Gardens, your engagement photos are bound to have a lot of variety. Even if you’re limited to the conservatories like Adie and Jax, you won’t run out of new backdrops. The different landscapes are visually beautiful and give your photographer opportunities to create interesting compositions. With so many plants around, it’s possible to create layered images with a lot of depth. You’ll end up with images that you’ll want to print out and hang on your wall.
The most important thing with your Longwood Garden engagement photos is that you take the time to connect with your partner in this incredible space. My philosophy is that your photos should be unapologetically you. If you’re able to have fun with your favorite person, your personality will come through in the photos. It also gives me a chance to learn what you like and don’t like before your wedding day arrives.
Both Adie and Jax found me on TikTok and were drawn to my mix of film and digital photos. I was excited that they wanted to incorporate film for their Longwood Gardens engagement photos. Film has a dreamy, nostalgic feel that fits perfectly with the otherworldly atmosphere in the conservatories. These photos of Adie and Jax almost look like they’re out of another time, but they don’t feel dated.
Since film has such a unique aesthetic, I edited the digital photos from this session to look more like the film images. They look really cohesive with softer edges and clean, inviting colors. The plants in the conservatory were so colorful that it took some careful editing to make everything look right. Creating that unity between the digital and film images was well worth the extra time spent!
When Adie and Jax reached out to me about wedding photography, they knew they wanted Longwood Gardens engagement photos as part of their package. This lush location has special meaning for them because it’s where Adie proposed.
Jax told me the story: “In general, we knew it was “time”. We went ring shopping together and agreed that it was something we wanted. Adie was adamant about “doing something romantic” and connected with a mutual-friend-couple to help scheme. They texted us to join them on a double date for dinner & light show at Longwood Gardens because ‘they had planned on going with another couple who had to back out last minute.’ Now there is a cute little grotto with a magical purple waterfall that has some extra special memories for us!”
The possibilities for beautiful, meaningful engagement photos at Longwood Gardens are really endless. From the drama of the fountains and flowering trees to the quiet magic of the conservatories, it’s an incredible place to document your love. I can’t wait to go back!
Would you like me to take your Longwood Gardens engagement photos? I’m a Philadelphia wedding photographer who specializes in film photography with forever in mind. Get in touch!