Engagement Session Recommendations

Session Photography

Our engagement sessions are an opportunity to get to know you and to help you get to know us and our shooting style, so that you will be ready and know what to expect during your Couple's session on your special day. You may only have twenty minutes of Couple's photo time as Bride and Groom that day, so we spend plenty of time during your engagement session seeing what works for you and what doesn't, while also helping you get comfortable with us. You'll be spending an entire day with us, after all - one of the most special days of your lives - and it's an intimate experience! So, by the end of your engagement session, we'll have become good friends, and when your wedding day comes around, it'll feel like we're all just hanging out and having the best time ever!


But while we're at it, of course, why not also get the most amazing images of you as a couple that we possibly can? It'll be handy to have some awesome photos of you before the big day, for save-the-dates and for having on display all over your wedding venue in large print. ;) So, they might as well be gorgeous!

Locations


After photographing over 250 sessions since 2017, we've explored quite a bit! Here are some of our favorite engagement session locations so far, along with the best time of year to shoot in each:


Lake Tahoe (Summer especially): Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake, Upper Truckee Marsh, Taylor Creek, Baldwin Beach, Edgewood Tahoe Resort, Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Zephyr Cove, Sand Harbor, Logan Shoals Vista Point, Spooner Lake, Chimney Beach

Carson Pass (early to mid-May)

Hope Valley (mid- to late October, early November)

Almond Orchards in Woodland (late January - early February)

Sunflower Fields in Dixon (early to mid-July)

Apple Hill (Fall especially, but also Spring): Silverthorn Meadows, Madrone Tree Hill, Boa Vista Orchards, High Hill Ranch, Larsen Apple Farm, High Sierra Iris Gardens (early to mid-May)

El Dorado County Vineyards (Summer and Fall): Saluti Cellars, Cielo Estate Winery, Too Good Winery, Starfield Vineyards

Pollock Pines: Sly Park Recreation Area (Spring and early Summer for largest waterfall flow), Harris Tree Farm (early November for Christmas card sessions), Park Creek Meadow (Fall, Winter, Spring), Fresh Pond (Winter), El Dorado National Forest (All Seasons)

Placerville (Spring, Summer, Fall): El Dorado Trail, Hangtown

El Dorado National Forest (Spring, Summer, Fall): Pyramid Creek Trailhead, North Fork American River, Strawberry Lodge, Caples Lake, Silver Lake East, South Fork American River

Cool Hills Ranch (Spring)

Sacramento Area (Spring, especially): Austin B. Carroll Heritage Oak Grove, Tower Bridge and Old Sacramento, Capitol Park, McKinley Rose Garden, Sacramento Zoo, Land Park, Lake Natoma Waterfront and Trail, Folsom Lake, UC Davis Arboretum

Bay Area (Summer, especially): Bolinas Point, Bodega Bay, Paradise Ridge Winery, Stinson Beach, Oakland Redwoods, Alameda Beach, Monterey Bay Aquarium & Lovers Point Park

San Francisco (Summer, especially): Baker Beach, Lands End Trail, Seal Rocks Beach, Sutro Baths, Palace of Fine Arts, Torpedo Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoint(s), Slackers Hill

Mokelumne River (Summer)

Crystal Hermitage Gardens (Spring)

Sardine Lake (Spring, Summer)

Yosemite National Park (Spring, Summer, Fall): Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, Merced River

Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Spring, Summer)


As adventurers, we love exploring new places, so if you have a favorite spot not listed above, or another location you'd like to take photos at, let us know and we'll be super excited to shoot with you there!

A Few Tips


One reason our "adventure" engagement sessions are often two hours instead of just one is to give us all the opportunity we need to both get you comfortable with us but also to get you the most breathtaking images possible in an amazing location. Of course, as candid / photojournalistic photographer, we also shoot all along the way, capturing every fun-filled moment as we guide you along. We shoot on three cameras: me (Rachel) with a 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens for wider angles among the trees and a 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens for zooming in from further away, making mountainous backgrounds look amazing (but also making for great close-up portraits), and Mark with an 85 mm f/2 macro lens for great close-up ring shots as well as beautiful close-up portraits. If we don't have an epic mountain background, I'll bring my 50 mm f/1.2 lens for absolutely gorgeous portraits with that sweet, buttery bokeh background.


Bring champagne and a blanket for a fun picnic scene, as well as any props you want with your wedding date on them, and/or any other other fun or special items!


Pets are welcome, too! If you bring pets, we recommend also bringing another person to take care of your pets if you can, for when we are capturing photos that don't include your fur babies. That person can also help us get their attention with toys and/or treats. (The same goes for kids if you have them!)


And oh yes, what to wear? Here are a few tips:

  • Keep the weather in mind. If you want to wear a long, flowy dress in 40-degree temps, also bring a warm coat and other warm items for in-between shots. In the case of snow, wear boots! In the case of rain, we have a clear umbrella - but we can also reschedule - no charge, no problem.
  • We LOVE flowy dresses! But - wear something you'll love!
  • Ladies - not a "dress" person? No prob! Just pick an outfit you feel awesome wearing - and you can also bring a change of clothes for a second look (that goes for him, too). When it comes to shoes, if you want to take some pics in some fabulous heels, we also recommend bringing other shoes as we move from place-to-place. Do keep the location in mind when picking your shoes! Flip-flops or no shoes may be better than dress shoes for a sandy, summer beach sunset scene, for example!
  • Guys - a button-up or polo tends to look better than a T-shirt, but you can also never go wrong with a good sweater (unless it's summer, of course; that might be too hot - and not the good kind)!
  • Not sure whether to tuck or un-tuck? Well, here's a general rule of thumb that pretty much applies everywhere, all the time: If you think you look awesome, and you feel comfortable, the more fun you'll have - and the more fun you're having, the better the photos! Luckily, that's totally how it works!
  • Not sure what colors to choose? You could think about these photos being on display at your wedding, if that helps. (Many couples do that!) You can also match the colors with the season - you can't go wrong there, right? (Here's an article to help.)

Scheduling


To get even light, beautiful colors, and those pretty golden sun flares, we recommend shooting during "golden hour" and a bit of "blue hour".  Blue hour is the hour just before sunrise and the hour just after sunset. Golden hour is the hour just after sunrise and just before sunset. The absolute best time is the one hour that includes 30 minutes of each, known as "Magic Hour". So, we typically like to start 90 minutes before sunset and shoot through 30 minutes after, or start 30 minutes before sunrise and shoot through 90 minutes after.


But, there's a catch: the sun "sets" at different times in different locations at different times of the year, of course! We use Google search to find out the time of sunset on the day and location of the session. For example, according to Google, "Sunset May 8 2022 Camino CA" is at 8:02 pm.


It's important to note, however, that in mountainous and tree-filled locations, the sun often disappears from view much sooner! Mountains and trees provide shade and diffusion from sunlight, so to catch the light before it's gone takes a bit more planning. If sunset is at 8 pm according to Google - but we've got mountains and/or trees in the way of the sun - we should start shooting at 6 pm or even 5:30, instead of the typical 6:30 pm start time, so the sun doesn't disappear from view before we begin. If sunrise is at 7 am according to Google in such a location, we'll want to shoot from about 7:30 am to 9:30 am to catch that golden glow as the sun comes up through the trees and/or over the mountain.


Okay - after all that said, we understand that scheduling won't always work around magic hour! If you need a later morning, mid-day or afternoon session, that's totally okay. We'll work hard with whatever the light conditions are to provide you with the best possible images, no matter what. Open shade - areas shaded from the direct sun but still lit with the sky - provides gorgeous light! Even shooting in the direct sun (with your backs to it) can be quite beautiful!


All right, then, let's get you scheduled, shall we?