An Engaging Photoshoot
Last week, on a blustery, chilly day at a New Jersey lighthouse, I had the chance to do my first engagement shoot!
Kim, the bride-to-be, reached out to me before Christmas. When Liv was taking martial arts, Kim was an instructor teaching Brazilian jiu-jitsu and I photographed her Kima Warriors back in the summer of 2018.
She’s still training and met Kevin through the martial arts. She’s seen some personal challenges over the past few years, and I was thrilled when she reached out to tell me she’s engagement to Kevin and asked if I could shoot their engagement photos.
Of course I said yes! Again, this was before Christmas, so I thought maybe they wanted a holiday-themed shoot. But that was not the case. She gave a few dates in January and we settled on one, as well as a historic location – the Twin Lights Lighthouse – that is special to them, and not far from their apartment in the Atlantic Highlands part of the Jersey Shore.
I have to admit…New Jersey…in January…I foresaw ice, snow, or just really cold weather which would put a damper on things. Or, at least, turn noses pretty red.
As it turned out, we only had to deal with some blustery, kinda chilly temperatures and it wasn’t too bad. (Kevin must have been immune, though – he didn’t put a coat on the whole time where I had on two long sleeve shirts, a hoodie, a down jacket, knit cap on my head, boots with thick socks. Must be his martial arts training.)
Anyway, despite a good breeze (which, actually, came in handy to blow Kim’s hair – made it look like I brought a wind machine!), we did have sun for part of it, and Kim’s infectious smile was on her face throughout.
After about 30 minutes at the lighthouse – we worked quickly but still were able to shoot a few different set-ups – we took a little break. In my truck, I followed Kim and Kevin a few miles away, to a beach path they often walk at. This little pause also gave me the opportunity to use my Instax printer that I had in my truck to pop out a couple of Fujifilm polaroids from the first session for them. It was pretty cool to get out of the truck with two, small square prints to give to them right off!
We had lost the sun by this point, so I just had Kim keep her coat on. No sense in having the bride-to-be freezing!
In in the dead of winter, the Jersey Shore is a pretty interesting place. Loved this rocky beach – reminded me of Maine.
From a production standpoint, this was my first engagement shoot, so, I won’t lie..I was a little nervous. Couldn’t decide if I should take the Neewer strobe, light stand and octo, or just go smaller. In the end, I’m glad I went smaller, using just my speedlight when I needed it. I was trying to keep it moving a long, for the general flow, yes, but also because it was cold and windy. Without an assistant to help hold the light stand down and do all that, it would have just bogged me down.
One thing about this shoot – I decided to rent the Fuji 16-55 mm F/2.8 from BorrowLenses. While I liked the 15-45 I purchased when I got the XT3, I haven’t been super impressed with it. It’s a nice little inexpensive walk-around lens, but it’s not as fast as I’d like. (I have a post coming soon to give insight as to why I felt this.) I knew I needed a better lens for this shoot. The 16-55 was a great lens for this shoot – super sharp and fast.
I liked the lens so much for the three days that I had it that…I decided to purchase it. Look for a post about how that all went down soon.
Despite the chill, this was a super fun session with a great couple. Pre-shoot, I definitely perused my buddy Bryan’s blog as he’s the master of engagement/wedding shoots. I had a full shot list written out and got most of the shots in (somehow forgot one that I wanted to get, and another I did do – with mugs of hot chocolate, just didn’t really come together like I had hoped).
(It’s funny though – Google “winter engagement shoots” and all you find are shoots in the snow. Yeah, good luck with timing for THAT to happen in New Jersey.)
I got to the lighthouse about an hour early to give me plenty of time to scout it all out. I had never been there before! It’s on a small piece of land than I was expecting but I still found some good spots. It was great to incorporate the colors and textures of the little shingled building and the lighthouse rockface. It’s also just a super interesting/historical place. Can’t wait to take the kids back there.
And, frankly, I got lucky with the clouds. The drama of the clouds helped give acool feel to these photos. If it were a warm day with cloudless sky, the photos would have been different. I’m glad the sky was the way it was.
Will this open up new opportunities? Guess we’ll see, but if there are knocks on this new door, I’d be happy to hope it!
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