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Susanna + Richard

This is one of my favorite engagement sessions yet!! I want to bring y'all along on the journey and process of how this session was planned and executed! This will give y'all a little sneak peek into my process and how the magic happens! So, let's get started.

Always the first step - booking!

Susanna + Richard are lovebird that booked me for their May '23 wedding! With all my wedding packages, a complimentary engagement session is included. It's the best way for us to get to know each other outside of casual coffee meetings and phone calls. This also allows my wedding clients to see how I am behind the camera and what my photography style is in person!

My engagement sessions fall under my "duo" packages on my website! The complimentary engagement session included with my wedding packages is the Duo Pack 2.

Now let's get the inspiration + location!

Susanna really loved the look of the Birmingham Parking Garage session I did with Akia + Deondre late last year! And who could blame her! I'm still obsessed with those photos (over to the right). So we originally were planning on heading back to the Magic City for their session.

As the day approached, I asked Susanna for some more inspiration so we could come up with a second location. With that, she sent me a few open field/nature photos... similar to the one below! (Not my photo by the way)

Being from Huntsville, I didn't know a ton of areas near Birmingham that gave this type of vibe. So of course, I head over to google maps! When searching for a location, I always set my google maps to the satellite view.

This way I can see all the terrain around the area I'm searching. When searching around Birmingham, I wasn't finding anything that was quite fitting my vision... so I started looking back up towards Huntsville!

As you can see by the red circle, most of the terrain just East of Huntsville is pretty (emphasis on pretty) mountainous! A mountain backdrops was a must.

Once I found the mountains, I began searching areas ,5-1 miles off the base. Of course we need to find somewhere public and open. After clicking around, I found Roy B. Rivers Paint Rock River Preserve (I know... what-a-name). This is where google maps is my bestie - you can easily see photos that others have posted from the area! You can also step into street view and circle around the area to see what it's like as well. I've never been to this location before, so I decided to show up a bit early to explore.

Picking a time!

Here's my little recipe for determining what time we should start shooting! When booking, the couple tells me how long they want the session to be based on the package. For Susanna + Richard, we were looking at a 60 minute session. All 60 minutes could have been spent at one location, but we decided to divide it up between 2 - one being the parking garage and the other being the preserve.

When there's travel and outfit changes, I typically add another 30 minutes to the session time. Knowing that the session would take close to an hour and half, I checked when the sun would drop below the horizon to determine when we should start the session. Google told me that the sun sets just after 5pm. I typically back that time up about 30 minutes to insure that the session is all in daylight (you know, in case you get "stuck in traffic"). With all that information, I knew that the session time needed to start no later than 3p. But, since I haven't been to the preserve before, I told them 2:45p!

I arrived about 20 minutes early to scope out the area before getting started! I'm glad I did, because the open field I was planning on photographing in was covered in overgrown prickly dead plants... Such a vibe. The whole preserve wasn't a bust though! There were patches of golden wheat that was really going to bring the vision to life.

Also when planning a session start time with golden hour, really think about where your location is at! We could have started at the parking garage and then ended at the preserve. But since the preserve is covered by mountains, the sun would disappear from sight much earlier than sunset. Sometimes you can get that golden hour feel much earlier than golden hour depending on where you're at!

Session Time - First Location!

Now it's time to shoot! Most of the prompts I gave included a ton of movement. Since they were in casual outfits, a ton of prompts included running, bouncing around, piggy back rides, and more! To the right is a short video clip of one of the prompts. It can seem strange in real life... but trust the process!

Here's a few of the photos:

For all my photography girlies out there, I used my Sony a7iv for my Sigma Art 24-70mm 2.8. This lens is my absolute go to for couple sessions because it provides such a focal range while keeping a low aperture.

Session Time - Second Location!

After we exhausted ourselves of all the poses we could think of at the preserve, we headed over the Green Street Parking Garage for a location and outfit change! When arriving, Susanna + Richard switched into a more formal fit. Although it might not look like it, there are so many options when it comes to shooting at a parking garage. Especially if you have a cool car to bring to your session!

Now here's some photos from that location:

Sign, Sealed, and Delivered!

Also for my photography girlies out there, I used a mixture of Phil Chesters + Dawn Charles presets when editing. I hear often from other photographers that certain presets don't work for them. Although that could definitely be true because of what your editing aesthetic is, presets very rarely can be slapped onto a photo and that be all. I drastically change the preset after I add it to the photo to get the colors and lighting to appear exactly how I want it. Dig into those curves and hues baby!

You can find the full session here -

One thing that you will see from me more often in 2023 is gifs! So, here's a HOT one to end this blog post!

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