Danielle & Andy in Milwaukee

Who doesn’t an adore engagement session where we get to have some styling fun art directing!? It’s hard not to have a great time with creating a unique design and setting a scene. The task: create a beach engagement session in Milwaukee.

When Danielle and Andy shared their first date story that took place in a coffee shop and their subsequent date nights and bonding over their love for coffee, we all knew we had found an element that needed to be included in their engagement shoot. Danielle suggested we start our inspiration using her late grandmother’s antique coffee service pieces and a unique picnic basket she had. When I saw photos of the elements she was mentioning, I was 110% in. We put our heads together with Renee Breanne Design and decided on a location.

couple walking on sea shore with guys arm around her

Location for a Beach Engagement Session

As a wedding photographer, I look for photoshoot locations that have a level of neutrality to them. We want the focus to be on the couple so we look for neutral tones and some visual of uniformity. Uniform can be a series of old-world buildings with intricate facades in neutral tones (like you might find with white marble or stonework in old world Europe) or we might look for something like a neutral beach…with pale sand, water and sky. For Danielle and Andy, we went with the latter. This was a perfect engagement session location in Milwaukee. (Looking for perfect engagement session locations? You may love our post on Best Engagement Session Locations in Milwaukee.)

beach and sky with a break-water

Styling an Engagement Session

With blankets and toss pillows in tow, Danielle and Andy met us at the beach along the Great Lakes. Renee began styling the sea of linens on the sand. The picnic basket, the gorgeous amber pitcher and even my favorite pair of Julius Meinel coffee cups then got layered in, all taking their place and feature. Danielle and Andy moved from a beachy and romantic lounge scene to a stroll on the pretty sand beach. We made our way over to a stone break-water and finally created a still moment for them to enjoy the view. The whole shoot had an air of calmness and sereneness. It was slow paced (a little different than our norm). Their easy-going outfits lent a poised, but flirty, element to the beach engagement session in Milwaukee, on shores of Lake Michigan.

couple drinking coffee on beach
coffee pot warmed by candle with two cups
couple laying on beach and drinking coffee

Why Set a Scene

Setting a scene gives couples something to anchor to. By having beautiful props and elements with which to interact, couples engage their hands, their expressions become relatable and they relax on camera.

I am very careful to ensure that couples don’t need to act or, what would be worse, over act on camera while they’re in their scene. Instead, what we want is for couples to have something familiar to engage with. Everyone knows how to drink a coffee, everyone knows how to sit/lounge/lay and relax, everyone knows how to write their name in the sand. By setting a scene like we did for Danielle and Andy, we were able to help them relax, give them something to react to, engage their hands, get them to enjoy a cup of coffee that is such a symbolic beverage in their relationship. This was our nod to a beach engagement session in Milwaukee, let us know what you think.

waves on beach shore with gulls

couple writing name in sand at beach
name written in sand

couple laying on beach

couple kissing on beach

couple eating strawberries on beach
couple kissing on beach sitting on blanket
waves in shallow beach water

couple kissing on beach
couple walking on sand beach


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