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

Before we get too far, however, let me cover one more thing. Harkness is a great option for engagement sessions, but there are plenty of other great options in the area as well, including some for proposing. Ledyard, Stonington, and even New London have so many excellent options.

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.

A man and woman seated on a blanket in a grassy field kiss while their brown dog stands up and keeps watch during a Harkness engagement session.

Harkness Area 2: Behind Eolia Mansion

This next area will also catch your eye: the space behind Eolia Mansion. A quick bit of history: the mansion was built in 1902

If you have followed my work at all, you know that I love to use light. Behind the mansion, there’s a little alcove amongst some dense trees provides a great opportunity for filtered sunlight.

Just to the right (south) of this “tree cave” (great name, huh?) area are stairs that go up the mansion. During your Harkness engagement session, these would be great for sitting on. There’s some great texture here and a range of colors.

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.

A nice wide-angle shot at the coast should definitely be on your Harkness engagement session agenda!

You can also head down to the beach for an actual walk in the water if you want to.

Spring Harkness Engagement Session: Jess and Nick

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 fiancé, 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.

Closing Remarks: 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

Interested in your own Harkness engagement session?

I can help with that! Just click below for more info or my contact page.

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