As a photographer, sometimes you have shoots that just make your day. You plug in your memory card a couple days later, and just can’t help but smile at the results. 

Last Saturday was one of those days. 

Driving out to the coast, girlfriend/impromptu assistant along for the ride, I headed towards Pescadero, California. Turning South towards Davenport, we kept an eye out for a beach I had only heard about. No signs, just a turnout, and a path leading through 10 minutes of sandy dunes to a secluded beach. 

From the moment we stepped on the trail’s wooden walkways, I was completely enamored with the place. I needed to move the shoot I had in an hour to this location. 

So fast forward 20 minutes of driving and rerouting a shoot, and there we were. Athina, myself, and my two engagement clients: Matt and Ashley. We started down the path, and I started shooting. 

I've come to realize that I have a thing for grass.

We worked our way down the paths, their wooden planks firm in contrast to the surrounding dunes, flanked by waist-high shore grasses. In some areas, blades slipped upwards between boards. Through all of this, I was amazed that the place didn’t even have name. Or at least, not a roadside sign disclaiming it. 

As it turned out, sunset wasn’t as fantastic as I had hoped. However, on the up side, we had great cloud cover to provide nice soft lighting. Working with what we had, we began to wind our way up the beach, towards a rock outcropping with a bench. 

About an hour from sunset, I perched Matt & Ashley on beach-side dune, and explained to them the shot. The idea was that we’d go for a long exposure, to really help pull the muted sunset colors out of the sky, and to add texture to the clouds above. We’d also take a couple frames lit by flash, so I could have some flexibility if I needed to composite the two in post.

They were champs, and sat through the entire process. And I think it’s fair to say the reward was probably the best image of the shoot.

2 minute exposure on the sky, blended with a flash exposure to make sure our lucky couple has just the right amount of detail.

Being that this was my first engagement shoot, I truly enjoyed myself. There is just something about shooting happy couples that makes me smile. Not only are they allowing you a glimpse into their lives, you’re getting to know them on a really personal level. You also can’t help but laugh with them when they giggle together, or when one tickles the other to coax a smile. I can’t wait to do more of these shoots, and with all the wedding’s I have booked, I’ll get plenty of chances.

Who say's a photographer can't use a graduated filter and an ultra-wide lens for a portrait?

To put it simply: Happy couples, make a happy photographer :)