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Bloom Photography Retreat in Waco, Texas: Part 2

Engagement Session Along the River

In March 2022, I spent a weekend with seven fellow photographers at the inaugural Bloom Photography Retreat hosted by Anna Kay Photography and Emily Anne Photography. The second day focused on capturing engagement sessions, led by Anna. Our model couples met us that morning at our AirBnB to get ready since they traveled to Waco for their photo shoots. While they did that, Anna reviewed her session flow with us and answer any questions we had before arriving at the chosen locations.

The first location with our first couple was along the river at Doris Miller Park. One of the main education point from the engagement sessions was photographing couples in harsh lighting conditions. Many photographers (like myself) choose to photograph people during morning and evening golden hours, close to sunrise or sunset, when the sun is low and the light is soft. I like this time of day because the colors and lighting work well with my editing style which tends to be darker with more contrast. Photographing later in the day when lighting is brighter is great for a lighter editing style (usually called "light and airy" though lots of styles fall under that category). Shooting at 10 am was a new experience for many of the photographers at the retreat. I'll go into lighting more in my Part 3 blog post.

Another focus from these sessions is using architecture to create interesting compositions as well using your surroundings to aid in lighting. In Part 3, I go over how we used buildings and trees to place our subjects in shade so they are evenly lit. This session had a variety of architectural elements to aid us in composition. The park had the river, trees, a bridge, and a monument that we could utilize as backdrops for our couple.

But first, let's start with the beginning of the session. Anna arranged to have the Boozie Babe Mobile Bar meet us at the park so our couples could start their session off with iced coffees and mocktails. (I also had a coffee and it was very good.) Having something for your clients to do when they begin their session is a good way to help them relax in front of the camera. Having a drink (alcoholic or non) is a great option because it not only gives them something to do with their hands, it can incorporate a favorite thing of theirs - whether it be a favorite restaurant or bar or a drink they enjoy having together.

After enjoying some coffee, we strolled behind the couple towards the waterfront. This gave the couple more time to become comfortable in front of the camera and move around. Walking shots are great for getting out any jitters and letting loose, while also letting the photographer move around and get a variety of photos that show off their surroundings. We used the trees to frame our couple and the bridge in the background to add some structural interest.

The park had a beautiful memorial artwork that provided a great backdrop for our couple and provided shade. I loved the sharp metallic shape in contrast with her soft lacey dress. The blues reflecting from the water and sky in contrast with her red hair was also beautiful. Before moving on to the last spot, our couples enjoyed some mocktails for a few more glamourous photos.

Then we moved on to the Bridge. We lucked out in that the bridge was closed to traffic for construction because even though it meant equipment on the bridge, it also meant no cars. We were able to place our couple right in the middle of the road to frame them within the bridge. Here we got to place with leading lines. Using the lines from the bridge as well as the road. I was able to check a shot off my Wish List, too, where the road's yellow lines lead to the subject. Had to sit as low as possible under all of the other photographer's cameras to get that shot.

Location: Waco, Texas

Host: @Bloomphotographyretreats

Lead at Session:

Assist at Session: @emilyannephotography

Photos by Oh, Tannenbaum Photography

Are you ready to book your next couples photo session? Visit my services page here. If you're interested in being a Model Call couple for Oh, Tannenbaum Photography the next time I want to try out a new location, theme, or idea, let me know by emailing me at to get on my list of interested persons.


Laura Tannenbaum is a San Antonio family and portrait photographer. She loves capturing real life, loving moments between loved ones and showcasing personalities. To learn more about Laura visit her About Page.

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