I’m so happy to share this Austin, TX engagement session with you today for so many reasons. I love(d) everything about it — the couple, the outfits, the locations, the light (despite an unusual rainy day), and how everything came together so wonderfully. This session was a dream to shoot, and I’ll explain why.
A great deal of planning went into this engagement shoot. Why is that important? It’s important because the couple took the time to think about how they wanted their images to turn out. They thought about the locations they wanted to shoot at, the outfits they were going to wear, how they were going to get to each location and how much time that would take, and how they wanted their story to be captured.
These are all key pieces of info that help your photographer personalize your session, thereby making your session unique and meaningful to you. When you leave it up to your photographer to choose your location because “they know best,” you leave out some of the most important scene-setting details of your story. That’s not to say that you can’t ask your photographer for guidance or suggestions, but it really helps if you have a starting point to jump from.
I’ll walk you through the planning process for Justin & Kelli’s engagement shoot.
Justin & Kelli pinned down Austin, TX as the geographic area they wanted to shoot in. They told me they wanted a mix of scenic/green/grassy photos and city/urban photos. PERFECT. Now that I had a general idea of what they were looking for, we both set out to do some research for locations and sent links back and forth via email.
Once we settled on locations, next we talked about wardrobe. I offered some basic tips on what I thought photographed well in pictures (basic patterns, bright pops of color, mix/match) and left it up to them. They were going for a semi-formal and casual look, and also had a dressy outfit as backup. Justin & Kelli came back with four different outfits for each of them and sent me pictures of each outfit set to ask for my opinion.
Next, traveling to and from locations. One of Justin’s best men, Curtis, so generously offered to hang out with Justin and Kelli for the day and drive us to all of the locations. Curtis lives and works in Austin and knows the city very well, so he basically became our amazing GPS system, relieving us of navigating duties. He and Justin had already discussed where we were going and the routes we’d take to get there ahead of time, so we were all set. Aside from being the best driver, Curtis was also great company and an even better assistant. He is the reason why many of these photos are so nicely lit — because he held my light reflector for me!
You wouldn’t know it by looking at these photos, but it rained and rained and rained for a large portion of the day while we were shooting. The entire sky was covered in clouds and the sun was nowhere to be found. Enter: huge light reflector and awesome photo assistant to save the day . . . look how amazing they look:
It was also handy to have Curtis around because he definitely helped to make Justin and Kelli laugh, allowing me to capture very natural and genuine expressions. Curtis rocks.
I absolutely loved this location. Do you see all of that greenery around them? So. Beautiful.
Here’s a fun story . . . as soon as we left my hotel to get started, it began pouring. Kelli had planned on bringing some rain boots in case that happened, but forgot them back in Dallas on her drive over, so we improvised and picked up some hot pink rain boots. And boy, was that a good idea. Not only did it keep her feet nice and warm while stomping through puddles of water, but the extra pop of color made these photos even better. I love a girl that can adapt quickly to changing environments and go with the flow.
Justin and Kelli were engaged in October of 2011 and will be married later this year. He proposed to Kelli one morning and kept it very simple, he said. The ring was from our grandmother, who would have been so happy to see it on her finger. Yep! Justin is my cousin.
There’s nothing that brings me more joy than seeing and photographing people so in love. It’s such an incredible honor to be there to document these chapters in their lives.
If any of you know Justin, you know he’s always down for a good time. And Kelli? Well she couldn’t be more perfect for him because she’s exactly the same. They love to have fun, goof around, laugh and enjoy each other’s company. Capturing their loving/silly personalities was very important to them and they definitely communicated that to me from the get go.
Kelli had the prettiest gel manicure and the red polish added some nice subtle color to the photos. Ladies, when in doubt, go red! It’s classic and always looks good.
Once we finished with the scenic shots, we headed into the city to find some of the neat murals and graffiti art. They did a quick outfit change into casual wear and we roamed downtown. There were tons of people around — SXSW had just started — so we did our best to get in and out quickly.
We shot at this little hotel that we weren’t allowed to shoot at . . . we were about to be escorted off the property and Curtis told the guy that Justin and Kelli were getting married that day, and that they were from out of the country so they didn’t know they couldn’t be there. See? I told you Curtis is awesome.
Isn’t Kelli just gorgeous? Justin, you are too ;)
We ended the day in this little area behind a grocery shopping plaza that had a really awesome tree.
To summarize, planning goes a long way and communication is key. Obviously, there’s a reason why you picked a certain photographer to book a session with — you like their style, you like their images, you think you’d get along — so don’t be afraid to have a conversation about what to expect so you both get the experience you’re looking for.
I want to create a big canvas of one of these images for Justin and Kelli’s wedding, but I’m having a hard time picking just one. Which one would you pick? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for an amazing weekend, guys!
Hugs. Hugs always make everything better.