A (Almost Cancelled) Dreamy Winter Engagement Session with Ryan and Nina

If bright blue skies set against a wintry backdrop of white snow isn’t enough to make you fall in love, Ryan and Nina absolutely will. We met this sweet couple in February to take their engagement photos on the trails in South Lake Tahoe, but we almost had to cancel because of all of the (massive amounts) snow! Thankfully, as the sun started to peek out, we decided it was worth it to brave the snow - and Ryan and Nina agreed!

The couple, who met six years ago on a company softball team, got engaged at Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove near Monterey, California. Planning an outdoor fall wedding, the couple is (thankfully) adventurous, which means they didn’t hesitate to trek out into the deep snow with us in order to capture some seriously gorgeous shots.

Although we all fell deep into the snow at some point or another (sometimes all the way up to our hips!), we knew that since this was just a mini session (only 30 minutes) we were all going to be okay.

The couple dressed perfectly for the day - his bright shirt popping against the fresh snow and her gorgeous skirt (which she made herself!) being the perfect amount of statement-making formal you want for such a special occasion. Even Ryan and Nina’s dog joined in on the action (and wore the cutest red doggie sweater).

We loved meeting this fun couple and are so glad they were up for a snowy hike!

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Snow Fights + Wardrobe Changes at Chalet View Lodge: Jess + Rio’s Engagement Session

To say we love our work is an understatement; we’re seriously obsessed with what we do. Not only do we get to spend time adventuring outdoors, but we also get to meet super cool couples in the process.

Case in point: Jess and Rio.

The two native Californians, who plan on tying the knot this April (we’ll be photographing that too!), met over six years ago and both agree that it really was love at first sight. Looking for creative photographers who love the outdoors as much as they do, it was a great fit for all of us.

We ventured to Chalet View Lodge for the engagement session, the couple packing a few outfit changes so that we could capture all of the vibes they wanted. (Jess went from a weekend casual sweater to a gorgeous off-the-shoulder velvet gown to a cozy cardigan + boots.) Because the couple stayed at the property for the weekend, they had gotten familiar with a few of the places they wanted to have photos before we even got there.

Together, we explored the gorgeous mountain property, enjoying the fresh snow on the ground and strolling on a picturesque riverbank. The towering trees helped to filter the sunlight as it started to set - a cool effect especially with all of the natural textures we came across.

The couple really allowed their personality to come through as we worked, which made the day  even more enjoyable!

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5 Insider Tips for Perfect Engagement Photos

For most couples, engagement photos are the first step when it comes to wedding planning. Although we’re sure you already know, these photos are important. Not only do they set the tone for your wedding, but it’s how many couples choose to officially announce their plans to get married, which means they’ll be seen by everyone. In order to have a great engagement photo session experience, there are a few big things to keep in mind.

Here are the top five tips every soon-to-be married couple should consider when planning their engagement photos.

  1. What to Wear. Any search online and you’ll see that couples differ greatly on what they believe to be “appropriate” wedding attire. And, while there’s a way to make most outfits work, the biggest concern is making sure that you and your significant other are comfortable - and happy. Considering how important these photos are (only second to wedding photos), you’ll want to make sure that you love what you are wearing. Whether you choose to go formal (with maybe a long flowy dress and a nice dress shirt) or casual (perhaps your favorite pair of jeans and a t-shirt), above all you should make sure that the clothes reflect who you are - on your best day. Yes, we love casual, down-to-earth couples, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put some thought into the clothes you wear. (And please, don’t wear matching shirts and jeans - coordinate instead.)

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2. When to Shoot. Photographers love working with light when it’s at its most magical, which usually happens early in the morning (sunrise) and just before sunset. Of course, the time of your shoot will depend on the season. While you can (and should) absolutely choose the general time frame for your photos (like desired weeks or month), let us help you decide when is best to shoot depending on location, season, weather, etc. The best advice we can give you is to clear your schedule for the day and make a DAY out of it. Go out for breakfast and spoil yourselves before your session or plan a nice dinner after - you’re all dressed up anyway.

3. Save the Date Cards. Most couples decide to use their engagement photos for their save-the-date cards, which means that the timing of your engagement photos needs to align with when you need to send out your cards. If you don’t have a date set yet, then this won’t be a problem. But, if you’ve already booked a venue and selected a date, you’ll want to be sure that we can get you your final pictures well before you want to send out your cards. Nothing is worse than feeling pressed for time or sending out save-the-date cards too late.

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4. Location Options. Just like what you wear should reflect your personality, so should the location you choose. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask your photographer to come to your backyard or take photos of you at your favorite restaurant. However from our experience, getting outside and into the wild helps to bring couples together in a fun and exciting way. Even if you’re not super outdoorsy, finding a beautiful overlook or tree-filled grove can help to make your photographs feel special. And, if you are super outdoorsy, show it! Most photographers are more than willing to accompany you on hikes (or whichever adventure is your cup of tea) in order to help you capture that perfect shot.

5. The Perfect Photo. Speaking of the perfect photo, movement is absolutely key. Time and time again the best shots are those that capture couples interacting and moving with each other because they are the most natural. Avoid photos that look staged or static at all costs. Have fun together and don’t feel weird about starting a random dance party while you’re out. Kiss, laugh, hug, run, jump, simply have a good time and good photos will follow - guaranteed.

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And, before you book your engagement session, be sure you do a thorough dive into your photographers gallery and portfolio of work. If you don’t love the photographs you see, there’s a really good chance that you won’t love the pictures you get back. In our experience, the more you can connect and relate to your photographers, the more likely it is your pictures will be ones you’ll treasure for years to come.

Surprise Full Moon Adventure Session with Melissa, Brennen and Snowflake

We’ve gotten to know Melissa and Brennen over the last year and have discovered that they are two of the kindest, most down-to-earth people we know. They LIVE for adventure and get outside whenever they can - and, living in Tahoe, that’s almost always. Gearing up for a year-long South American adventure, we decided to drop everything practical and spend the day together hiking and shooting.

As we imagined, everything about the adventure shoot was perfect. The lighting and surprise full moon was wonderful, but the best part of the day was getting to soak in their positivity. They even brought their long lived travel mascot, a stuffed horse named Snowflake, along for the fun!

Our hike was filled with beautiful nooks and views, which we took full advantage of during the session. We burnt through the daylight and perched ourselves to view the sunset together, which lived up to the legendary Lake Tahoe status Lake people talk about. To our surprise, there was a full moon! We did what we could with the extra light and captured a few of our very favorite shots right at the very end.

Although we hiked our way out in the dark, we left the shoot feeling uplifted and energized. We’re so excited to see what the future for this incredible duo (plus Snowflake) holds! Best of luck in South America Melissa and Brennen!

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