We’ve been very excited to post this sneak peek blog!! A wonderful fiance named Shelby reached out to engagement photographer Steven months ago about wanting to hire a photographer to capture an engagement session for her and Mike! However, they wanted the photographer to capture this session during their vacation, which seemed like an unusual request, until we learned more!! We learned that they live here in Florida, however, were traveling to Arizona for a road trip vacation of a lifetime, and wanted us to travel with them to Grand Canyon National Park for their session! We of course thought about it, perhaps for a few seconds, before saying YESSSSS! We love the opportunity to take our talents to a new location, especially into our amazing National Parks around the country! A couple of days into their vacation, we flew into Phoenix, hopped in a rental car, and drove up to meet them at their hotel in Tusayan, and we instantly began planning our session, which ended up becoming two days long! Given our length of daylight remaining, we immediately hit the road, put on our hiking shoes, and began our session at an unmarked canyon lookout location that we love photographing, not listed on the tourist maps!!
Now what’s seriously magical about this moment, is that Shelby and Mike made a conscious effort to avoid looking at the canyon until we arrived, so they still had no idea what to expect! The beauty of our special location is that it requires a 20-30 minute hike from the main road, through beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest, so from there you really can’t even see the canyon until you walk right up to it! They made sure to change into their engagement session attire right before we started hiking on rocks. We had them keep their eyes down as we got closer, and escorted them VERY carefully out onto the point. We had them stop at a perfect viewing spot where they were surrounded by nothing but canyon! There we checked our camera settings, got ready to capture, then told them to open their eyes!! Check out their expressions in these images; such a sweet and genuine moment and emotion that is exactly what our National Parks should invoke within their visitors!! :)
We gave them some time to soak it all in, which isn’t easy considering the vastness of the Grand Canyon! We had the entire place to ourselves as the sun began to set, so we captured some fun portraits of them around the rocks until the sun went down and twilight began! We were having such a great time that Shelby and Mike asked if we could just stop and take it all in one last time for a few minutes before we began hiking back, so we sat in silence and just listened to the wind whipping through the canyon!
Before it got too dark, we hiked back to the car, drove back into town for dinner, and took a break before we packed it up again for the session that we are truly known for!! We drove back to our parking spot again, this time dressed for winter weather, as temperatures quickly dropped to the 30’s and 40’s! We hiked at night (which truly isn’t that bad considering the moonlight we still had), however we definitely always equip flashlights for safety. Once we arrived back at the point, we didn’t realize that even though Grand Canyon Airport was reporting maximum 5 mph winds, we were experiencing closer to 20 mph at our photo location, considering the structure and wind patterns within the canyon. Granted, this made our signature night sky portraits MUCH more challenging, but Shelby and Mike brought all of their patience for these images, and for that we truly appreciate them!! Considering how cold they were as well, we cannot thank them enough for their determination! Notice how we were able to utilize natural moonlight for some of these dark-sky portraits, even we were impressed with how spectacular these developed! As the moon was setting, we watched the sky get progressively darker, with stars and (more importantly) the milky way, emerging in Grand Canyon’s amazing natural night sky!!
We let Shelby and Mike hold still and stare into the sky as we set up our lights and captured their portraits! At one point they both gasped very loudly at the same time (and may have said some words we can’t repeat here!), and we asked “OMG what happened, are you guys ok?” They replied “NO, that shooting star was insane! It flew across the entire sky!!” This is truly why we love taking couples out for night sky portraits; how often do you get the chance to experience a natural dark sky the way our ancestors did for thousands of years before artificial lighting became an issue! Unfortunately, dark skies have been virtually erased around the world due to irresponsible uses of lighting at night where it is either not needed or pointed in directions that don’t make sense. We can all do our part to ensure that our lighting on our businesses and homes ONLY points down towards the ground where it is safest and is turned off or even motion-sensored when not in use! Be sure to visit the International Dark Sky Association’s website for an endless amount of knowledge on light pollution’s effects on human health, wildlife health, public safety, and economic impacts! It’s well worth the read!
This blog post only captures day one of this amazing destination engagement session with Shelby and Mike in the Grand Canyon National Park! Stay tuned for day 2 very soon, for more amazing sneak peek national park photos! Congratulations you two!!Tags: engagement session photography, grand canyon national park, grand canyon wedding photographer, international dark sky association, milky way wedding photographer, night sky engagement, night sky wedding photographer, travel engagement