I live in Utah as a wedding photographer and I LOVE it! I’m blessed with many different backdrops from the epic Rocky Mountains, to red rocks, and even lovely lavender fields. I also photograph a lot of LDS or Mormon weddings, which result in quick engagements. Why? We don’t believe in living together before marriage, hence the speedy engagement periods.
So when an April wedding pops into my inbox and it’s only three months away, it’s time to get creative!
Photographing an awesome engagement session in the dead, barren cold of winter starts with thorough planning. These things don’t just happen. You, as the creative, need to CREATE it! Which means, trying. I know I know… sometimes we just want to “conveyor belt” our photo sessions and collect the cash, but I’ve noticed in my own body of work that when I put in the extra effort, it really pays off!
A Lifestyle Engagement Session
For example, this bride and groom had a summer wedding planned, but needed their session shot in March. March in Utah is not lovely. The snow has finally melted, leaving an abysmal layer of crushed yellow-brown grass and bare trees. So, I did some creative thinking. I sat and thought and looked at Instagram and Pinterest to gain some inspo and came up with an idea to do a “lifestyle look” inside my friend’s house. I was lucky enough to have a friend whose house looks like it came out of a Restoration Hardware catalog, but I would suggest reaching out to your social media friends. You’d be surprised by how many people want to help you on your journey if you just ask. 🙂 I also communicated my vision with my bride so she could plan her wardrobe to match the look.
This session would not have been a success without my awesome Sigma lenses. No joke. I recently added the 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN lens to my arsenal and it rocked this session! There were rooms and angles that needed that wider focal length and there would be no other option than to bust out this baby! This lens is also SO helpful when I’m shooting birds-eye angles, which is how I shot this image:
In this photo, I wanted to show some drama with the sun coming through the blinds, so I plopped them on the ground and stood directly above them. This lens rocked it! I was able to get a wide shot with very minimal distortion if any at all!
The Lovely Greenhouse
Each year I make my pilgrimage to the greenhouse, and I am never disappointed. This is an absolutely PERFECT spot to get the bright green looks in the middle of the brown late winter. This specific greenhouse charges a minimal fee and has multiple looks that work great. Most greenhouses are amping up for the spring rush of gardeners and Mother’s Day gifts, so they should be bursting with annuals and spring flowers that will make your images look like they were shot in the middle of full spring instead of the fierce winter.
Again, I communicate my vision with my couple so they can coordinate wardrobe. I usually like the bride in a floral flowy dress and the fella in a stylish suit or similarly dressy look. At the beginning of my photography career, I hesitated to tell my clients what to wear, but I soon realized that they need a little assistance. Honestly, they’re just babies in this, and you’re the master and commander. Take the reins and require professional hair and makeup (and maybe a new wardrobe from J. Crew). I promise they almost always want you to tell them what to do.
These sessions would be NOTHING without my beloved Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. Oh… 35mm lens… how I love thee. If I only had one lens, it would be you, my lovely lover.
Sessions like these call for my Sigma Art prime lenses like the 35mm, 50mm or 85mm f/1.4. Engagement sessions are easy to use only fixed-focal length lenses because you don’t have the pressure of needing your zooms. You have the distance and time to easily switch between lenses. In the greenhouse, not only will you want the 1.4 for low light purposes, but the dreamy delicious bokeh you get from the 35mm f/1.4 will have you jumping up and down with excitement! That’s a regular occurrence for me after I see the yummy results. I drop down to f/1.4 when I’m shooting candid or more artistic shots, but then I bump it up to 2.0 for the traditional “look at me and smile” shots. TIP: Keep their noses on the same plane so their faces are both in focus.
Sandunes For Dayz
This client had a December wedding date, which placed their engagement session smack dab into autumn leaves season. I’m not the biggest fan of fall leaves, and lucky for me my bride wasn’t either. It also didn’t fit the color scheme or theme of her modern wedding. So we took to the dunes! Again, Utah is home to some pretty amazing backdrops. At any time I have access to dried lake beds, evergreen mountainscapes, red rock canyons, and in this case some rad sandy dunes. So while everyone else was headed to the aspens we went to central Utah to get some minimalistic lines and dreamy silhouettes.
My Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens was my right-hand man for this session. I LOVE the focal length for close-ups and because I had all the distance I could ever want, I was able to pull back and get some wider looks too without switching out lenses. This lens created bokeh blur on the dunes that was EXACTLY what I wanted/needed.
Sigma has been incredibly important in my photographic journey. My first Sigma lens was the 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and I paid full price for it. And it’s worth thousands to me! That moment was such a HUGE turning point for me. My images instantly looked more professional and attracted higher-paying clients with epic style and sass. I have been an advocate for Sigma lenses and have pushed Sigma to every new and seasoned photographer I meet. In fact, each time I pick up one of my Sigma lenses I feel like a boss. They’re beefy and solid. I can’t really put into words the little thrill I get when I twist on and click a new crisp Sigma lens onto my camera. Boom! So good! Ready to work.
In conclusion, my friends, slow down and start creating. Spending time before the shoot to have a vision and purpose will translate to an elevated portfolio. You’ll be proud to show off your Instagram and feel like your artistic voice is being heard loud and clear. Thank you Sigma for giving us the tools to show off how freaking awesome we are!