Introduction: Harkness Engagement Sessions

With 230 acres and a sweeping view of Long Island Sound, Harkness Memorial State Park is a sprawling piece of public land that’s great for photography. In this post, I’ll give you some tips to make the most of your own Harkness engagement session. This will include three suggestions for areas of the park where you should take photos.

A Quick Word on Engagement Session Locations

Harkness is a great option for engagement sessions, but there are plenty of other great options in CT as well, including some for proposing. Don’t forget that you can also get married here. Actually, I consider Harkness to be one of the top 10 wedding venues in CT.

Harkness Area 1: The Paved Path and Grassy Area

The first Harkness area that should be on your radar is the paved path next to (east of) the parking lot (PDF warning). This is a long stretch of asphalt that’s perfect activities on wheels. But, it also adds a nice contrast element to this outdoor location.

Just to the right (east) of the paved asphalt path is a large, open, grassy area with trees along its edges. Because of its size, the background is far away and makes for a nice backdrop.

An engaged Connecticut couple mock-fights with lightsabers during their fall Harkness engagement session.

Harkness Area 2: Around Eolia Mansion

This next area will also catch your eye: the space behind Eolia Mansion. If you have followed my work at all, you know that I love to use light. Behind and around the mansion, there are many little alcoves providing nice filtered light.

And I can’t forget to mention the gardens. Especially in the summertime when the majority of the flowers bloom, the garden at Harkness is a really popular spot.

Harkness Area 3: Along the Water

And here’s the best for last. If you find yourself partaking in your own Harkness engagement session, be sure to get down to the water. There are also park benches, adding some variety to the beautiful horizon in the distance.

Interestingly, next door to Harkness is Waterford Beach Park. This is another engagement session location to consider if getting right next to the water is a goal of yours.

Kristi and Will’s Fall Engagement Session at Harkness

In the fall of 2022, I had the pleasure of helping Kristi and Will with their autumn engagement session at Harkness Memorial State Park.

An engaged man and woman pose in front of Eolia Mansion during their Harkness engagement session.

Surprisingly, this engagement session ended up getting featured on the Daily Dog Tag blog due to their awesome dog, Youtiao!

Spring Harkness Engagement Session: Jess and Nick

A couple enjoys a kiss while kneeling and holding their dog during their Harkness engagement session.

After I photographed her sister’s wedding, Jess reached out to inquire about booking me for her spring 2022 wedding. We were on! Wanting to keep with the seasonal theme, she and her fiancĂ©, Nick, opted for a spring session at Harkness.

It’s funny how wedding photographer referrals work sometimes. Who knew that these two, who were dancing the night away during a pandemic backyard wedding, would eventually end up in front of my camera again?

Now believe me: I tried to convince them to go somewhere else other than Harkness for their engagement session. But I’ve learned that sometimes as a photographer, you just shut up and go with what the clients want. In the end, they were right, because their photos turned out perfectly!

Summer Harkness Engagement Session: Shana and Tom

A man and woman sitting on a blanket kiss as their dog watches guard during a summer Harkness engagement session in Connecticut.

You’ll recognize these models, Shana and Tom, from some of the Harkness location photos earlier in this post. In the summer of 2019, I ended up becoming their photographer through a referral from a mutual friend. The four of us (their dog, Logan, included) had a good time at Harkness.

My first time shooting a Harkness engagement session, I learned something the hard way. Harkness is BIG! At one point, an equipment failure caused me to run back to my car. Yeah, I’ll admit that I was out of breath by the time I returned.

This session was great! I loved that they incorporated their dog, Logan, as well.

Yes, Harkness Is Pretty Awesome

As I’ve addressed elsewhere, Harkness Memorial State Park is one of the most popular engagement session locations in Connecticut. It’s big, has tons of variety, and is very accessible. I highly recommend it as an engagement session spot!


I used the following references at different points in this post:

  1. Google Maps
  2. State of CT DEEP, “Harkness Memorial State Park”
  3. Friends of Harkness

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