When you meet a couple as adventurous as Stacey + Mo you obviously have to go on a snowy adventure engagement session with their pup Georgia.
We headed out to Edison Snow Park near Mt. Bachelor after more than two months of serious snow fall. Even though most folks in the Central Oregon were over the snow by the new year, we were ready for more fun, post-holing, and snowball fights. We even found an igloo!!! The sun was shining, but you could see the snow clouds that encased Mt Bachelor and occasionally sent a flurry of snow our way. Georgia was having lots of fun running around and having snowballs thrown for her, but she couldn’t understand why we would stop for several minutes at a time for some lovey dovey photos. “Come on guys! There’s more snow up the trail!!!”
Before heading back for lunch we warmed up on the gate of the truck with some hot tea. …woulda been the 40oz of hot chocolate that I brought, but Mo + Stacey were on a no sugar cleanse. Which sounds like the saddest type of cleanse on the planet, but hey whatever you need to do to feel tip-top is good by me.
I can’t wait for their wedding this July on the McKenzie River …with silent disco. Yes, this is happening.
What a fun way to explore a little of Mt Bachelor’s summer side!
I first met Jess in Corvallis after she relocated to the area and joined a ladies business group that I was in. She joined with her own small business, JessBFit, which as you might guess from the name is focused on fitness training …but Jess isn’t your average fitness trainer. Jess believes that physical activity should never be used as punishment – drop and give me 20! – but that instead it should be considered a reward for dedication and hard work. Through play, natural movement, and exploring the outdoors she guides others to their goals of physical freedom. I met Aaron on a training hike up Marys Peak in the Oregon Coast Range and could instantly see how they complimented each other.
Fast forward a few years we moved to Bend and discover that Jess and Aaron had also been pondering moving to Bend! Hooray!!! A few short months later and we’re riding up the lift at Mt. Bachelor trying to not get run-over by mountain bikers as we cross the trails to find epic views of the Cascades. This was also my first opportunity to see the softer side of their relationship with lots of snuggles in between playful bouts and piggy-back rides.
I can’t even begin to say what a blessing it’s been to have these two in Central Oregon. They are community focused and have been monumentally helpful while we prepared for John’s recent foot rebuild. I hope that the four of us can have some snowy adventures this winter and summit some mountains next summer!!!
A photographer always starts getting extra excited for the wedding when they have a super adventure time engagement session…
It was so much fun working with Ally, Patrick, and their fur-baby Benji, around Tumalo Creek and Shevlin Park on a perfect sunny day in late June. We originally planned to go to Tumalo Falls, but when I got there to scout locations a little early it was totes cray with all the people there to look at the falls and take pictures. Pro-Tip: When utilized popular tourist locations go on a weekday. We decided that privacy and a more natural look would work better for us and went down stream to a small rock beach. On our way back to the main road we saw this huge bolder; I inquired about their climbing skills. With a little bit of effort both Ally and Patrick were looking down at me from a solid 10-12 feed up!
After our more rugged adventures we took it down a notch with some nice poses and cuddling around Shevlin Park. Patrick’s sisters were on Benji duty and what a blessing they were, since Benji let me know several times how he felt about me being closer to his mom and dad than he was. lol!
What’s the deal with engagement sessions?
First a story: Once, while getting a manicure, I over-heard a very disgruntled woman talking to her friends about how ridiculous engagement portraits were and how obviously the photographer was just gouging them (parents of the bride) for more money. She was really upset and it literally took all of my self control not to say anything to her. I knew that no matter how calmly, eloquently, or excitedly I explained the many benefits of having an engagement session that she would hold to her opinion. So instead I sat there, letting my hands soak in pretty smelling water, and really reflected on why I love engagement sessions so much. I encourage all of my couples to also book an engagement session with me when we first sit down over coffee or skype to talk about their wedding photography. Some couples already know that they want one, while others need a bit more convincing. …recall that I said encourage, not force, not demand, not guilt trip.
Here are the reasons that I encourage all of my couples to book an engagement portrait session:
- It gives me an opportunity to learn how you respond to the camera before your wedding day. Believe it or not people can get weird the second a camera comes out. Known as “camera awareness” and my mortal enemy, the concept is pretty straight-forward in that people can become awkward when they anticipate being photographed. An engagement session helps us break down that awareness so that you can get into the moment with your special person. It’s also really helpful for me to see how you naturally interact with each other, how you smile, if you’re a blinker, or maybe you have some bad selfie habits. These are all things that I really should know before one of the most important photographed days of your lives together.
- Learning vocabulary. An engagement session is measurably more casual than our portrait time on your wedding day. This makes it a great opportunity to learn some vocabulary and posing basics so that things can go more smoothly when we’re more pressed for time and everyone is full of wedding adrenaline. V-shape, turtle, compress, and “give me your chin” are concepts that I want to sit in your brain and turn into natural muscle memory.
- It’s an opportunity for you to give me feedback. Many couples have never had professional portraits taken before so they really aren’t sure what they want or how they work best with a photographer. All the pinterest boards in the world aren’t as good as actually experiencing something; this holds true for portrait photography. Too much direction, not enough direction; more candids, more formals, you see where I’m going. Again, this is feedback and expectations that we want communicated before your wedding.
- They’re fun! …and useful. An engagement session is your opportunity to tell your friends, family, and guests all about yourselves as a couple. Where you live, where you met, where you got engaged, what you like to do together, how you get all googly-eyed and silly when they look at you, express your style and interests, and maybe show off the fur babies. I tell my couples to think of these sessions as a date for three… you’re going on a date and I’m there to be your visual voice. Engagement sessions also offer visual variety and an important time stamp to mark the season and changes that will occur over the course of your engagement. Thinking about using a photo for your save the dates? Boom! Want to string up photos of the two of you, that aren’t just selfies, at your wedding reception? Bam! Gramma been wanting a portrait of her favorite grandbaby and bae? Done!
- Establishing trust and confidence.There’s one thing that makes any given portrait look a million times better… confidence. Unfortunately we live in a really critical culture where everyone is a hot mess for the internet to poke at your insecurities. 🙁 I’m going to do everything in my natural super powers to make you look your very best. Posing, lighting, helping choose outfits, etc I want you to feel great while you’re having your portraits taken and I want you to trust that I have my eyes on everything. I have a very light hand in my post-processing, I’d much rather fix something in person than in photoshop. Pro-tip: It’s software, not magic. I had an engagement session last summer that turned out beeeeeautifully! I found out later that they whole time the bride-to-be was reminding herself that her BFF’s engagement and wedding photography that I did the year before turned out great and to trust me. “She knows what she’s doing, she knows what she’s doing…” because lemme tell ya sometimes the things we need to do to make something look great, don’t feel great. 3D humans vs. 2D photography. Of course she looooooved her portraits and now she knows from her own experiences that she can fully trust me and she will look beautifully confident on her wedding day!
Awesome couple? Check.
Perfect view of Three Sisters Mountains? Check.
Lovable pair of Boxer dogs? Check.
I had a brilliant session with Heather and Tyler a couple weekends ago to get them warmed up for their wedding next month. I’m just going to let the photos do the talking on this one. Enjoy!
It was soooo hot.
Literally it was 99 degrees in Portland that day with a fair amount of humidity and we all felt like we were not so slowly dying.
That being said Katie + Zach (especially Zach) were absolute troopers through our afternoon engagement session in Portland. We started out time together at the Stumptown Coffee shop downtown. It has these big west-ish facing windows that let in tons of natural light, with historic brick walls, a window people-watching bar, and air conditioning. It wasn’t at all difficult to get these two love birds to cuddle over their respective cups of iced coffee.
Zach and Katie grew up in our mutual hometown of Corvallis (GO BEAVS!), even lived less than 5 minutes apart, and enjoyed the same parks & rec programs during the summer. …but Katie went to a private school while Zach was stuck in the trenches of public school. They finally met, through a mutual friend, in 2010 after they graduated and have been together ever since. Fast forward to last February and Zach had gotten them a romantic weekend in Cannon Beach for a Christmas gift. He wanted to “enjoy the beach with snacks and a bottle of 2010 wine” but Oregon does what she wants and it poured all weekend 🙁 “Let’s go look at Haystack Rock…” he would say hoping that the weather would cooperate. It did not. Finally they had dinner reservations on Saturday night; even though Katie was starting to get an idea of what was going on here, she went along with it until she felt the box in his coat pocket. Panic! They both played it off cool until Zach officially asked the next morning, it was still raining, and Katie replied with an enthusiastic, “Of course!!!”
Back to our extremely warm engagement session…
After coffee we briefly wondered around downtown then headed to the Washington Park rose garden. It was in full bloom and also full of tourists. Nobody seemed to mind or even notice us, except for a few cheers when I had them kiss on the big terraced stairs. Katie showed me all their wedding colors in the different roses in the experimental garden. I love how she loved all the textures and saw the subtle differences in pinks and whites. We worked until we could no longer tolerate the heat and desperately wanted to get back in the car with AC.
As I mentioned in a FB sneak peek post, Zach’s Dad (Todd) was my very first photography teacher. I remember when Zach was just a little dude with his younger brother at the grocery store. It is such a privilege to capture his love for Katie and their upcoming wedding. I once beat Todd in a photography competition and I look forward to blowing his mind yet again. haha!
It was a GLORIOUS Saturday in Eastern Oregon when I met up with Marissa & Russ for their engagement session.
We started out with a picnic in the John Day Fossil Beds with the green and gray cliff formations behind them, surrounded by low sage and fragrant juniper trees. It was challenging to work in the full sun with little to no shade available to lessen the sun’s intensity, also challenging to work around Russ’s red gym shorts since he accidentally brought a pair of Marissa’s jeans to change into (oops!), …not to mention that Marissa is still recovering from a 4-wheeler accident she had in early April that badly broke her wrist. But even with all that they were a ball of giggles and kisses all afternoon!!! They enjoyed cheesecake filled strawberries, cider, snuggles during their picnic before we headed back down the hill to explore other areas. We ended the session at the Painted Hills – though we didn’t go all the way to the official overlook so that we could ensure that we would have these stunning red, orange, stripped hills to ourselves.
At the end of April my Dad and I drove to Missouri for my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary party.
The drive was loooooong and not always scenic, though some of it was very very scenic, but it gave us lots of time to talk about …everything. In addition to seeing/meeting a boat load of family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10+ years, I also got to discuss wedding photography plans with my cousin’s daughter and her fiance. I remember when Haley was BORN! …and now she’s getting married. The universe can be pretty crazy sometimes. Haley and Kaden were originally planning a late October wedding, but with his deployment dates constantly being revised they decided to move it up to 4th of July weekend and go with a Red, White, and Blue theme. During my April visit we also had the opportunity to do an engagement session at her folk’s house and in Downtown Lamar. These two are sooooo cute together and I can’t wait to see everyone again in just over a month!!!
Sometimes there are couples that just want a nice casual day exploring some new outside spaces for their engagement session.
Allison + Derek are THAT couple. We originally planned on an engagement session at a garden on the coast because that’s where Allison’s favorite flowers can easily be found, but they weren’t blooming (typical Oregon) by the time our scheduled date came around so we took advantage of the open day to explore some new areas in Central Oregon. It was really a win-win… I got to try out some new spots that I had been scouting since moving here on New Year’s Eve and they got a day trip that included lots of snuggling, kissing, and milkshakes. See? Everybody wins.
I’m so excited for their intimate wedding this April in Eugene. <3
Last year a couple things came around full circle for me. One of those things was an opportunity to teach at the OSU MU Craft Center. I took my very first B&W darkroom class there more than half my life ago, worked at the front desk when I was a student in the photography program, and spent countless nights developing film under the safe light. When they needed another instructor I was excited to return years later as an instructor. That’s where I met Amanda (Manager Amanda, I’m Photo Amanda). After connecting on facebook I got to see photos of her freaking out when her man arrived home – unannounced SURPRISE! – after months abroad playing/teaching basketball. My first thought was, “Yaaaaaaaaay!!! Happy Day!!!” My second thought was, “Damn check out the height difference on those two! That would be a bitch to photograph…” Which promptly lead me to asking her if she and Calvin wouldn’t mind helping me work on posing and directing a couple with an extreme height disparity (such as themselves) by modeling for me. Double bonus points for me because they also had never had professional portraits done and I would get even more practice working with folks who have little to no experience being directed for photography.
We stayed on Oregon State University campus for their session. It’s a beautiful campus, it’s where they met, Calvin played many a game at Gill Coliseum, and it’s where Amanda will graduate from later this year. The thing I loved most about working with these two, besides that they’re just the sweetest ever and follow directions beautifully, is that they laugh together. …like a lot. And Amanda has a loud, itself hilarious, wonderful laugh and Calvin loves to make her laugh. Awwwwwwww! Now I can only hope that if these two crazy kids ever decide to get engaged that whoever does that asking will know to have me hiding in a nearby bush/garbage can to capture the whole thing. ::cough:: hint! ::cough::