The months of February and March have been booming for engagement shoots. With wedding season starting to ramp up in April, these first few months of the year are ideal for engagement shoots, and is a sign of a couple that is on top of their wedding planning tasks. The shoot of Courtney and Rich happened at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery in mid-March. This location is really a great hidden gem for taking engagement portraits. It has areas of tall green grass great for photos, landscaped walkways and striking trees, some still with yellow fall leaves on them. If you are a Sacramento or Davis area photographer or wedding planner, I would definitely recommend you keep this park I mind for engagement shoots for your couples!
On the day of the shoot, at 2:00 PM, a heavy rainy downpour was under way in the Sacramento area and the shoot was planned at 4:00 PM. But I looked down at the weather app on my phone and saw that the weather was supposed to clear up shortly, and I prayed that for once my phone would prove correct. And it did! The engagement shoot went through, on schedule with no rain!
To break the ice with Courtney and Rich, we started with a simple “V pose”. I call it a “V pose” because the couple takes a simple head on picture slightly turned towards each other forming a fat V shape. That is a pose that most people are familiar with and always helps people get in the mood of photo taking.
After that first initial shot, we began to walk through the park area. At one point I looked up towards the tree branches, and I noticed a soft light shining down through the trees hitting the yellow leaves creating a sort of glowing atmosphere. I truly believe that outdoor photoshoots are the best studio you can have if you know how to read the natural light. In my mind, I realized that this was the perfect time and place to capture my “awkward pose”. Now, I call it the “awkward pose” because I ask couples to face each other head-to-head and stare into each other’s eyes, which always feels incredibly awkward no matter who you are staring at. Then I make it fun by challenging them to see who can make the other laugh first. In this case, Richard cracked a joke and Courtney couldn’t help herself but laugh. My camera was there to capture that genuine moment of laughter.
There always comes that point in an engagement shoot when as a photographer you want to make sure the couple has an opportunity to show off that engagement ring. Whenever possible, I like to take three variations of a picture to make sure I get the shot and also to provide the couple with options in creating their albums or save the date cards.
We continued our walk through the park area and stopped every now and then to capture some of the more traditional couple poses that you typically see in engagement portraits. I like to make things casual on these shoots, allowing couples to walk together and stop where it feels natural. I and my assistant usually tag along behind them snapping pictures as we walk and evaluating where the best lighting and angles are.
I do, however try to direct couples to areas that will provide particularly appealing background settings for photos. That is how we ended up near a tree with branches extending along the ground and providing a natural bench for Courtney and Rich to lean on and take a few shots.
With all the walking we were doing, we were all starting to get tired and I wanted to make sure Courtney and Rich were relaxed for the final photos of the day, so I had them first lean up against the tree and take some fun casual photos.
Nearby there was an area of dry leaves that covered the grass. Courtney proposed taking a photo in the area, and I always like to encourage my couples to get involved and suggest locations/poses, etc. Plus, I thought this was an excellent idea. I posed them down on the floor, so that we could make sure we got the full effect of the dry leaves in the portrait. Rich wasn’t sure about sitting in the leaves at first, but I think he did it for Courtney. Love is a powerful thing! And I think the photo came out pretty darn good! So good call Courtney!
That’s all I got for this one, until next time everyone …