October 1, 2017
Sarah and Phil were one of my first shoots in California. Doing their Angeles National Forest engagement session showed me a new side of the beauty of the west coast! The setting really matched the mood of their relationship: natural, easy and fun-filled.
Sarah and Phil met at Montana State University at the start of Sarah’s junior year and Phil’s freshman year, and they’ve been together almost five years. The Angeles National Forest engagement site seemed especially appropriate. Montana is so lovely that to be outdoors (with some special guest stars, the deer!) really evoked the roots of their love story.
From day one, Sarah has appreciated how genuine and caring Phil is to everyone around him and was drawn in by his goofy personality. (Which also made him a ton of fun to photograph!) When speaking about Sarah, Phil emphasized how hard-working she is. Her determination to do anything she can to provide for him and their relationship wows him. The kindness between this couple really shines out in the way they speak to and about one another.
Their engagement story actually beings at another person’s wedding! Phil’s dad was getting married in Hawaii, and while they were there Sarah and Phil took an adventure day to hike down to the black sand beach. When the couple made it down, Phil’s family was waiting with the cameras and the drone. Sarah was completely surprised when Phil got down on one knee and proposed! It seems like hiking has been lucky for the couple so far, so starting our Angeles National Forest engagement shoot by going into the wilderness just felt right.
Into the Woods
Sarah studied theater, so she is funny and outgoing. Phil is a little more laid-back but just as friendly, and their energies balance one another perfectly. Even though we were walking through the woods, there was never a moment that felt awkward. Instead, being with them was a lot more like an adventure! My preferred way of shooting in locations like this is to hike in a little, then go back, shooting along the way. That way we don’t end up deep in the middle of nowhere at night!
Another advantage of shooting backward like this is that it doesn’t require the couple to do a lot of athletic maneuvers in their nicer clothes. Phil and Sarah have a relaxed vibe while still being very stylish. I have to get a red hat like she’s rocking in the fallen log photos! But for couples with more lavish outfits or big set pieces, shooting backward can be a real life-saver.
One of the worst nightmares for a photographer is losing the light. Whether by mistiming or an unexpected cloud, lighting changes make a huge difference in the type and quality of photos I’m able to take. While the sudden sunset at our Angeles National Forest engagement shoot initially made me anxious, Sarah and Phil were both so kind and understanding. Their empathy made all the difference. I ended up getting some amazing shots that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, like the silhouetted kiss with the sunset.
Tips & Tricks for Your Engagement Shoot
- Be prepared for the environment you’re shooting in! Whether that’s outside in a forest that requires a little walking, or inside in a location that you want to be largely clear of people, discuss these desires with your photographer.
- Know what you want, but don’t be afraid to go with the flow. Some of the best shots are the most unexpected. As a photographer, I love building a relationship with my clients so that when these unexpected moments come along I can capture what matters most to the couple.