There is something about the transition to fall that causes me to pause and reflect. The leaves burst into vibrant, warm colors seemingly overnight and the crispness of the air brings new life to my soul. I feel both refreshed and reflective.
While walking at the park today with Macie, I took extra care to step on every crunchy leaf I could find and to inhale extra deep breaths of the fresh air. The weather was perfect and it recharged all my batteries for the week ahead. Not to mention my park excursion wore Macie out so for once she is resting peacefully at my feet rather than racing around the living room. Success!
The weather also brought back memories of this time last year, when I was planning for my engagement shoots. I absolutely LOVED the idea of fall engagement photos and was so excited to get the chance to have two shoots! The first was with Steven Mark Stauffer, an up-and-coming photographer who is one of Justin’s childhood buddies (and an usher in our wedding). The second shoot a few weeks later was with Tim & Sasha Rothwell of Rothwell Photography. They were our wedding photographers and are also good friends of Justin’s family. Getting to have two fall engagement sessions allowed me the chance to try out different things and see what I really loved, and I thought I would share some tips I discovered through these two sessions.
1. Find a meaningful location. Our first shoot took place outside my school, a place I dearly loved to work. I loved the view I got to see every day driving in to the parking lot, and it made the perfect backdrop for pictures! The second shoot took place at a local park where Justin and I had our first non-official “date” where we ran the path that circled the park, played frisbee, and ended up playing on the playground for an embarrassingly long time. It was the perfect start to our fun-loving relationship and the perfect place to take engagement pictures. Whenever I look at any of our pictures, I’m reminded of the special memories we have in each location and it warms my heart to think of the meaning those places have in my life. Whether you take pictures in your hometown, at your college campus, at your favorite vacation spot, or in your backyard, I encourage you to make sure at least a few of them are taken in a meaningful location. Trust me, it makes looking back at the pictures even better!
2. Embrace fall’s color scheme… I have a soft spot for bright colors. I have several pairs of hot pink shoes in my closet that I frequently wear. I love to punch up an outfit with pops of bright color, but a fall engagement shoot is not the time to bust those out. In my first shoot, I stuck with warm orange, yellow, gold, and brown tones to complement the surrounding landscape and loved the result! We did swap outfits in our first shoot to add a little variety.
3. …but also be yourself! In the second shoot, I decided to still go with neutral colors, but I chose gray and ice blue as a contrast to the warm fall colors. I then could add a pop of color in my necklace and loved the result! The key to using different colors is to keep it subtle. Now is still not the time for those hot pink shoes.
4. Explore! I firmly believe fall is the best time to discover beauty in unexpected places. In our first photo shoot, we did some wandering (with permission) on the property and found a small shed that made a nice backdrop for a few pics. At the second shoot, we wandered away from the playground area to a pond. We had never walked around the pond before, but when we did we found some beautiful spots for pics!
5. Stay flexible with the weather. Our first shoot was supposed to happen on a Sunday; however, on Friday we looked ahead at the radar and saw it was supposed to POUR! We called Steven up and asked if we could bump up the time. He only had about an hour slot to squeeze us in later that same day but we made it work! I was nervous because it was so last minute and I worried about sunlight, but I LOVED the way the pictures turned out! If possible, try to keep a few time slots open to work around weather situations. This will depend on the schedule of your photographer as well.
5a) If it does rain, don’t panic! While I got lucky with two gorgeous days to shoot engagement pictures, it did completely pour on my wedding day (but that’s another post). Suffice to say, rain happens. We deal with it! If it does rain on your day and you can’t change the shoot, get creative! There are some super cute rain boots and umbrellas out there and I have seen some pictures turn out very well with them! Maybe you can even get a Notebook-worthy kiss-in-the-rain picture. 🙂
6. Consider the fall lighting. When our photographers told us to head to this spot along a river at the park, we thought they were crazy. It looked like just a bunch of weeds to us. But their well-trained eye saw that the lighting was just right for a stunning set of pictures. Check out the ways that light is changing the look of seemingly unordinary things around you.
7. Add personality in the details. Justin loves mullets. (Yes, you read that right). While he thankfully did not grow one out for the shoot, he did wear a belt buckle proclaiming his love for them. And that turned out to be one of my favorite pictures because it totally embraced the uniqueness of his mullet love. I also think the picture of our shoes is a cute way to some some personality. Find ways to get creative showing your true colors in the detail shots!
8. Candid. Candid. Candid. Some posed pictures are fine. Having all your pictures in poses can look fake. Find photographers you are comfortable being yourself around, take a few formal/posed pictures, and then have them snap away! I love the pictures that capture Justin and I in a truly spontaneous moment because those pictures show us in our element. They capture our love for each other way better than a posed picture does.
9. Have fun! I had SO much fun at both shoots! Make sure you are having a good time. It shouldn’t be stressful. It should be exciting and fun! Roll with the punches, don’t try to control everything, and just have a ball! Believe me, I am a Type-A personality and I sometimes have trouble following that advice but I’m so glad I let loose during these shoots. We found this random exercise equipment along a cross-country path on our first photo shoot and we just goofed around on it taking some pictures that now make me smile every time I see them. So choose JOY over perfection and have a great time!
10. Don’t forget that sunset! Fall sunsets are truly the best. Need I say more?