This year, I sought new inspiration for outdoor engagement portrait sessions. When it comes to outdoor photography, I can’t always control circumstances like how harsh the sun is. I can, however, recommend ideal times and game plan. At Barnsdall Art Park, we did not have a huge outdoor space to work with. Amateur me, ten years ago, would have panicked a bit. Older (current) me resolves this with two steps.
When couples find me, they always bring up the candid photos in my body of work. Engagement portraits are obviously more posed, but there is a certain spontaneity in them that I strive for. Maybe it’s an age/experience thing–in self-reflection, I find that tighter planning makes for more natural moments at the shoot. I find myself game planning more often and nudging couples to game plan with me. In this instance, I mapped out sunset like I usually do and I arrived early and scouted. I split the portrait session into four time slots between two general areas and it never felt like I was ever running out of ideas as a result. The sun didn’t set the way I expected, however, and I fell back on my muscle memory to adapt and spontaneously create in the final half hour or so.
The other part of my game plan to this shoot was envisioning a few must-have compositions. If you must know, I rarely capture these photos exactly the way I plan to. Mike Tyson has a quote about everyone having a plan, though he was referring to boxing, haha. We go through multiple takes for a scene/pose until I feel confident I have what I’m looking for. Below are the shots that made the cut for me!
In the widest crop photo, inspired by cinematic aspect ratios, we have a glimpse of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory. Orangey purple sunsets always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for a pleasant evening on that day, Los Angeles.