"Take my hand. We will walk. We will emjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere."
Thich Naht Hanh
Congratulations! You're Engaged!
Now, let's start telling your love story!
The engagement session gives us the opportunity to help you become comfortable front of the camera, so that when your wedding day comes, we're just like friends hanging out - and you can totally be yourselves, because you trust us to get amazing images from the best angles for light and composition.
Plus - you'll get some TOTALLY epic images of your authentic love in a beautiful place!
Below are a few tips to help us get started with planning your session!
Where to Go
We have a lot of spots we love right here where we live in Pollock Pines and in the surrounding El Dorado National Forest, good at any time of the year, with evergreen pines, lakes, rivers, trails, meadows and mountains. Some of these spots include: our backyard (literally), Park Creek Meadow, Fresh Pond, Pyramid Creek Trailhead, North Fork American River, Strawberry Lodge, Caples Lake, Silver Lake East, South Fork American River, the Sly Park Recreation Area, and more.
Below is a list of some of the other locations we have photographed all over Northern California, as well, if any of them call to you. I categorized them by "ideal" season - but many of these places are great in more than one season, too. You can also search our Galleries by location to see sessions at most of the locations below!
Carson Pass (early to mid-May)
High Sierra Iris Gardens in Apple Hill (early to mid-May)
Cool Hills Ranch
El Dorado Trail
Austin B. Carroll Heritage Oak Grove
Tower Bridge and Old Sacramento
McKinley Rose Garden
Lake Natoma Waterfront and Trail
UC Davis Arboretum
Crystal Hermitage Gardens
Yosemite National Park (any time)
Fallen Leaf Lake
Upper Truckee Marsh
Edgewood Tahoe Resort
Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe
Logan Shoals Vista Point
Sunflower Fields in Dixon (early to mid-July)
Bluestone Meadow in Apple Hill (lavender orchard, mid-to-late June)*
*We haven't shot at a lavender orchard yet, but we'd love to shoot at one. They're only good two for weeks out of the year!
El Dorado County Vineyards:
Cielo Estate Winery
Too Good Winery
Lands End Trail
Seal Rocks Beach
Palace of Fine Arts
Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoint(s)
Paradise Ridge Winery
Monterey Bay Aquarium & Lovers Point Park
Mt. Tamalpais State Park
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Hope Valley (mid- to late October, early November)
Apple Hill / Camino:
Madrone Tree Hill
Boa Vista Orchards
High Hill Ranch
Larsen Apple Farm
El Dorado County Vineyards:
Cielo Estate Winery
Too Good Winery
Almond Orchards in Woodland (late January - early February for blossoms)
El Dorado National Forest (December - January for snow)
What To Wear
We recommend considering the weather and the terrain, then think about style and color.
You can bring a change of clothes and shoes - but keep in mind that we'll be photographing the entire time as we move from one spot to the next, so if you have a backpack or bag, you may want to set it down here and there along the way to get some shots without it.
If you want to wear a long flowy dress but it's a little chilly (because who doesn't LOVE long flowy dresses?!), you can always wear a cute jacket, shawl or even a blanket that you can toss off for some of the shots, and/or wear leggings underneath.
If you want to wear heels, but we're hiking or walking on grass or dirt, you can wear shoes that you can take off and replace with the heels once we are at the ideal spots.
If it's summer and we are going to spend time at a waterfall, lake, river, or the ocean, wear shorts or a shorter dress so you can splash around, and bring sandals!
As far as colors, it's always nice to match colors to the season:
Fall - Darker yellows, deep oranges, dark reds, maroons and browns (think maple trees in Autumn)
Summer - Light blues, yellows, pinks, corals, oranges, tans, white (think beach sunset)
Spring - Light greens, yellows, pinks, purples, lavenders, reds, oranges, blues, white (think wildflower meadows)
Winter - Greens, white, blacks, blues, purples, reds, browns (think snow scenes, fire and ice, pines)
Or, you could match your wedding colors, especially if you plan on displaying the images at your wedding!
When it comes to style, definitely wear something that you feel awesome in. If you look in the mirror and you love what you see, and you feel great - perfect!
Okay, still need more help? Feel free to bring different outfits, and I can always help you pick right there!
Kids & Pets
If want to bring dogs and/or kids, please feel free! We recommend also bringing treats and toys to keep them attentive and happy.
It's also helpful to bring a third person who can take your dogs and/or kids for a portion of the session so we can work with just the two of you. We have four kids and three dogs ourselves, so we know how hard it can be to focus on anything else when they're around, and we do want to get some time with just the two of you, if possible!
When it comes to cats, the answer is yes! We can always begin our shoot indoors at your home (or outdoors, if your cat is allowed to go outside)! That goes with your other pets & kids, too, if you want to get them in some shots with you at home before we go off on our adventure. There's no time limit here, so we can just start earlier if needed!
Activities & Props
Wanna go somewhere that offers a specific experience, like a zoo, ranch, farm, winery, brewery, museum, etc? Let's go! And/or you can bring activity items like a blanket for a picnic, champagne or wine & glasses, or anything else you'd like to do or incorporate. For save-the-dates, you can bring signs with your date on them or we can display your date in other fun ways. And, we invite collaboration with sample images if there's anything you've seen online that you'd like to re-create!
Our sessions are never about posing or "making" you do anything you don't want to do. We really do just want you to enjoy yourselves, whatever that looks like and feels like to you. Every couple has different things they like to do together, so please feel free to explore whatever options you want!
When to Shoot
Unless it's a sunrise session, we like to start 2 hours before sunset and shoot all the way through sunset. During the first hour, we are helping you get comfortable with us and in front of the camera. The last hour is when the magic happens! (For a sunrise session, we just fast-track the magic, lol.)
To sum this all up, here are the all steps to take in getting your session fully planned, in whatever order works best for you:
- Lock in the date and location(s). We shoot only one session, wedding or event per day, so that date's yours!
- The shooting date will determine what locations might be suitable, or, the location will narrow down the best time of year to shoot there. If you want the images for save-the-dates, we should shoot no later than 7 to 9 months before the wedding, so you can send those out by 6 to 8 months prior. If you want the images for invitations, we should shoot no later than 5 to 7 months prior to your wedding date, so you can send out invitations by 4 to 6 months prior to the wedding date. If you don't need the photos for either of those, but want to print them for the wedding, then lets shoot no later than 2 months prior to the wedding, if possible. But even if it's the same week as the wedding, then at least you got to spend some time with us and feel more comfortable in front of us on your wedding day!
- If you don't know where you want to do your session, think about what scenery and/or "vibe(s)" you want to go for - Meadow? Lake? River? Ocean? Forest? Wildflowers? Sunflower field? Lavender field? Orchard? Fall colors? Spring colors? Summer beach? Winter snow? Epic mountaintop? Foggy cliffs? Downtown? Bridge? Winery? Brewery? Museum? And how much travel do you want to do - little to no travel, or anywhere in Nor Cal? And are you okay with doing a long walk and/or hike - or not?
- Decide what you want to do at the location(s) - explore and go with the flow? Hike? Champagne picnic? Play with your dogs? Stroll on the beach and splash in the water? And determine what "props" and/or items you'll want to bring, like a sign with your date, any special items that speak to who you are as a couple, champagne bottle, glasses, picnic basket, blanket, water, and even snacks. Hey, you might get hungry!
- If you want to incorporate your pets or kids, think of the best way to do that that works for everyone involved, and enlist a helper if that seems necessary and do-able.
- Decide what you want to wear & if you want to bring an outfit change (or 2 or 3). We can help plan the best place and time to change and help you decide what to wear at each location. And we can help decide how much time we'll spend at each location, if we are doing more than one. This is important so that we are ready for the most amazing images 30 minutes prior to sunset through 30 minutes after - this is not the time to be changing clothes or driving! That's magic hour!
- We'll help you determine the best start time for the session based on the location(s).
- If you want, put together a Pinterest board or shot list before your session day and/or share sample images with us for anything you'd like to re-create! You can also just show us during the session if you want!
Let's chat more about all of this over the phone if you'd like. Just text me (Rachel) at (760) 468-0398 and let's schedule a call at a time that works for both of us - or, we can text back and forth. Whatever is easiest for you!