Shooting Your Engagement Photos in a Park: Featuring Joshua Tree and Paul Douda

We just LOVE seeing engagement photos from fun and adventurous places! Only certain photographers will 'shoot outside the box' and go the extra mile [literally] to create something extra special for you  like these gorgeous photos from Joshua Tree National Park by expert San Diego area wedding photographer Paul Douda.  We asked Paul for his tips [and even his secret spots!] for shooting at Joshua Tree and then Scott Moey from Live Once Live Wild offers us some great visitors info on Joshua Tree National Park.  All images by Paul Douda.... Enjoy! 

Expert engagement, wedding and creative photographer Paul Douda shares his tips [secret spots!!] for getting everything you want out of a Joshua Tree engagement shoot:

Q: What things should one watch for to make this trek safe and fun?
A: Two things when it comes to Joshua Tree. First and foremost, the weather there should be planned for because certain times of year are extreme! (i.e. snow capped boulders are beautiful but the conditions can be cold and harsh. On the flip side it can be stunning when its warm but the sun can be blaring around 100+ degrees). However, planning for the right time of year can make for a much better experience. The best time of year, in my opinion, is late winter, mid-fall. Secondly, don't underestimate how much time could be spent to take advantage of the location. Its a long drive for most Southern Californians and the shifting light of the high desert can offers many different looks through the day. Get there early and take advantage of the time!  

Q: What are the best times of year for your Joshua Tree engagement photo shoot?
A: Late winter or mid-fall. October was perfect and late February and March is good too - the days are perfect but the evenings can get very very cold!

Q: What should one bring along?
A: For the shoot pack anything that brings in your personality. Whether it is multiple wardrobe changes (that include multiple layers) or maybe even a telescope for star sightseeing!  Oh and enough gas and water, hey you should always be prepared. 

Q: Okay spill, where are your secret spots for shooting?  [you know someone loves what they do when they share their secret spots!!] 
A: You want to know our secret spots!? Just kidding! Keys View (highest point for the best panoramic view) - the road to Keys View has multiple turn offs that have very majestic views that you can pull over to the side of the road for equally spectacular views. Everyone tends to head to the Jumbo Rocks but there is a spot before you get there that is about a half mile east on Park Blvd from the intersection of Park Blvd and Joshua Tree National Park Blvd. There is an oval lot there to park and I love that spot.  [what a guy!!]

Q: Where is the best place to park? 
A: Depends on the spot you're heading to. There are many turnouts and lots to park in for some of the popular spots in the park. However, parking is generally not an issue and it's common and acceptable to pull over on the side of the road and get out of your car for your shots. 

Q: How should one work with the light  / is there a best time of day for shooting?
A: Each season has its own best time of day and consideration should be taken differently for sunsets. Despite the season, great light can really happy at the right time of day in any month. We all get there early and work with the light as we are shooting. An engagement session or shoot should be a big deal! We always plan to be together with our couples for an afternoon and evening so we tend to start around 1 or 2 and last into the evening. Time of day totally depends on the couple and the photographer because Joshua Tree is a little more elaborate than a typical park engagement session. We tell our couples to please let us know if they want deep, dark, rich, moody shots that we capture at nighttime, or if their personalities are better suited to the bright daylight of desert, sun, sand, and lots of natural light.....we are always open to whatever the couple is going for in their session. 

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the nation´s largest desert areas that is officially protected by the U.S. government. Spanning an area that is larger than the state of Rhode Island, this desert paradise offers a whole range of outdoors activities, from desert hiking to star gazing.

In his awesome [and very complete] guide to the Joshua Tree National Park, he shares all the information you need to plan a one of a kind trip to one of our nation´s most unique ecosystems. Scott's guide is really a good read before visiting this beautiful and protected area. 

Fun facts and tidbit's from Scott's comprehensive guide to Joshua Tree:

  • The park has over 790,000 acres, making it larger than the state of Rhode Island

  • Over half of the Joshua Tree National Park is a designated wilderness area waiting to be explored by desert lovers

  • The famous band “U2” has an album named after the national park´s namesake: The Joshua Tree

  • The name “Joshua Tree” was given by early Mormon settlers who thought that the tree looked like the biblical character of Joshua who raised his hands to the heavens

  • In Spanish, the tree is called “izote del desierto”, roughly translated as desert dagger

  • Joshua trees are an indicator species that designate an area as a desert

  • The Joshua Tree National Park is unique in that it encompasses two distinct desert ecosystems: the Colorado Desert which is a lowland desert and the higher Mojave Desert which is over 3,000 feet in elevation

  • Over 2.5 million people visited the park in 2016

  • Despite officially being a desert ecosystem, the Little Bernandino Mountains run through a part of the park and can occasionally receive snow fall during the winter months

  • Geologists estimate that the rock formations in the park are well over 100 million years old

  • There are also several oases located throughout the parks where lush green vegetation contrasts sharply with the dryness of the surrounding landscape

It's Marry Me Monday with a Surprise Beach Proposal [spoiler: She Said Yes!!]

Marry Me Monday starts with a surprise beachside proposal at Bird Rock La Jolla. 

Marry Me Monday!

@Bird Rock, La Jolla

Ryan had planned his proposal to Leslie for a long time. Everyone around them knew it was happening but no one knew when. Wedding photographer Johanna Kitzman of Studio Frejya (who happens to Ryan's sister-in-law) had shown up earlier to this beach, a spot that holds special meaning to the couple and to Leslie's family, to put some writing in the sand. Of course a written proposal in the sand ended up being a big attraction for everyone who arrived at the beach and everyone wanted a snap of the message!! 

Says Johanna, "Luckily, Ryan texted me as he arrived at the location and I was able to ask everyone to step away and we instantly had the beach for ourselves. Under the pretense of helping me with a family session, Ryan led Leslie down to the cliffs. Nervous as he was, he barely made it to the spot before he got down on one knee, and with shaky hands pulled out a stunning diamond ring."

It took Leslie a few moments before she realized what was going on and when he pointed at the text in the sand her hands flew up to cover her mouth as she screamed out in joy. A resounding YES and a few tears later they celebrated with some champagne at a spot that will always hold a dear place in their heart.

Congratulations Ryan and Leslie!! 

Congratulations Ryan and Leslie!! 

This Joshua Tree Engagement Session is Just What We Needed Today!

This stunning Joshua Tree engagement photography session with San Diego wedding and engagement photographer Paul Douda is just what we needed today! This shoot clearly went the extra mile [literally since Joshua Tree National Park is over 150 miles from San Diego!] resulting in breathtaking engagement photos, with lots of breathing room and nature's gifts of amazing light and views for miles... well done Paul! 

Photographer:  Paul Douda Photography//Dress Designer:Abyss by Abby//Tuxedo and Mens Attire:Hugo Boss//Other Location:Joshua Tree National Park//

Puppy Love: Engagement Photography Sessions Featuring Man's Best Friend

Everyone knows the saying that dogs are man's best friend, and we couldn't agree more! So, today we want to focus on the newer trend of featuring your best friend in your engagement and/or wedding photoshoots! The idea couldn't be any more perfect: it's a photoshoot that already features two people so in love, that they chose to spend the rest of their lives together.  So, why not include the non-humans that have been there for you throughout all of your ups and downs?  The ones who have sat beside your bedside when you weren't feeling well. The ones who are always so excited when you walk in the door from work. The ones who are just as excited for your wedding day as you are. We are saps for a good love story here at SanDiegoWedding.com, and adding dogs to the mix just makes us melt. Check out our list of top San Diego wedding and engagement photographers who would be tail waggingly happy to do your engagement session with your best furry pals! 

Photographer: MKL IMAGES

MCAS Miramar Engagement Shoot Summed up in Two Words: Elegantly Honorable

San Diego, California is proud to be home to many of our armed forces and those that serve. So today we give our military couples an idea on how to incorporate this large part of their lives into an engagement session.  Engagement sessions are where couples are able to show their true colors through photography and Luke and Regen Ward's true colors just happen to include red, white, and blue! In order to properly show the world what is important to them as a couple, the Wards wanted to have their first location during the engagement session to be where Luke works, MCAS Miramar and we are in awe over how their photos turned out.

Local wedding photographer Brit Jaye Photography  managed to perfectly capture not only the Ward's rugged and patriotic side, but also their soft and romantic side. We salute this gorgeous engagement session and as always say 'thank you for your service!' to all our armed forces and their spouses and spouses-to-be! 

And our most popular Pinterest pin of 2016 was......our favorite too!

And here it is our most popular Pinterest pin from 2016....with 28,711 people loving this photo of "the doggie paw engagement shoot" by Derek Chad Photography ... see the full engagement photo session here.... we get about 38,000 viewers on our San Diego Wedding Pinterest boards each and every month so be sure to follow us here. Thanks Derek Chad it looks like tens of thousands of people love your work as much as we do! 

Modern La Jolla Engagement

The modern architecture that surrounded Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla, was the perfect background for some bold and romantic engagement photos. Of course the couple took advantage of the stunning beach and pier within walking distance as Scripps Pier is a really great location on it’s own for photos, so what a bonus! The variety and color {love that red!} that wedding and engagement photographer Brit Jaye was able to get from these two locations in such a short amount of time, was a stylized dream. No doubt about it, lovely La Jolla is the perfect modern engagement shoot location in San Diego!

Photos By:  Brit Jaye Photography

Vendor Credits:

Photographer: Brit Jaye Photography

Venue: Scripps Seaside Forum

Makeup Services: KC Witkamp

Celebrating Two Years with Their Two Pups

Becca and Jeff have an anniversary photo session every year, since they were married in 2012 [great idea right?!]. This was year 2 of many more to come and took place along the beautiful Del Mar Dog Beach! What a great way to commemorate a lifetime of love together! Check out all our outstanding photographers, and book your annual shoot - bet you get some deals for advance booking too! And as always...how about those doggies!?

Photography by: Tracy vanDam Fotografie

When you wish upon a star... you'll love this Disneyland Engagement Photography Shoot!

When Stephanie and Nicholas told wedding photographer Justin Hulse that they wanted to shoot their engagement photography session at Disneyland he didn't hesitate to say "I'm going to Disneyland!!" 

Stephanie and Nicholas were both were head over heels for each other when they first visited the park together, making Disneyland a truly special and magical place. Disney was always such a big part of their lives growing up so it was only natural that they choose to share the fun and festivities of the magical kingdom together. Nicholas made sure it was something they would always cherish too when he planned a surprise vacation and purposed to Stephanie in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. 

Stephanie says, "Disneyland has always been our special place, the place we run away to when life becomes too much or when we just need to remember to have fun - or even just because we can! It's where we are a Prince and Princess, and where our dreams have come true. We wanted to share that with our friends and family - we wanted to show them the love we have for each other in our favorite place and our true Home."  

We say anyone who can kiss properly on a whirling tea cup is a rock star!! 

San Diego Redwood Circle Engagement Session

Before their engagement session, Stella, Jose and Brit (the photographer) sat down for coffee to plan the engagement shoot, and talk about different location options. Stella mentioned she envisioned her engagement session in a similar location to the Twilight wedding. There is only one place in San Diego even close: The Redwood Circle at Balboa Park.

Not many people know about this secluded spot, but the woods there are excellent for romantic portraits. They started the session in the forest, and made their way through the park, stopping along the way at all of the different locations to get a wide variety of looks and backgrounds.

The variety at Balboa Park is seriously impressive and it’s a great location for capturing your love! Here are more tips on a San Diego engagement shoot!

 

Surprise Engagement Proposals

Proposals are a whirl-wind of excitement, nerves and head-over-heels joy. All that mixed in with tons of action, in a few short moments - it’s no wonder professional photographers are the best choice for capturing the festivities. Having great record of this often emotionally blurry yet pivotal moment is something no couple regrets.

*This may be an article you print out and “accidentally” leave for your future fiance to find.

Photos by: Derek Chad Photography

Be sure to communicate that you want to hire a photographer that will be excited, not terrified and nervous about the proposal. Be sure the photographer is aware of as many pertinent details as possible. Date, time, location, hiding spot and back up plans are all important to discuss.

This is a high stress photo job. Having as many variables planned out and all questions answered before it all goes down will still not fully prepare your photographer. But, hiring someone confident in their skills and having a good understanding of what is about to happen will prepare them to adapt for any situation.

This isn’t about a huge social obligation for guys to spend a ton of money on a proposal. The gesture of getting down on one knee and asking to spend the rest of your days together, is epic enough. It certainly doesn’t need to be completed with a flash mob. Be simple and genuine. Go with something very intimate to you. And later share the incredible moment through your awesome pictures - like these by one of our fave photographers Derek Chad. Check out our directory of amazing San Diego wedding photographers here.

San Diego's Most Adorable Doggie Ring Bearer Revealed....Congratulations Rocco!

On July 31 The San Diego Wedding Party EXPO held a 'Most Adorable Doggie Ringbearer Contest' and we are excited to announce the winner "Rocco" and his proud pup parents Brenda and Martin, photographed by dog, human and love capturing experts Shadowcatcher Imagery.  It was obvious at the July wedding show that Rocco is a real star and this photo shoot proves it!

Winner Rocco with Brenda and Martin at Coronado Landing by Shadowcatcher Imagery

Love is great and dogs make it even better. A Del Mar beach engagement photo shoot with bride, groom and... dogs!

Toby and Daisy are so adorable together! And so are their humans Syd and Zachary who couldn't possible imagine an engagement session with out the whole family. 

Captured by wedding and engagement photographer Derek Chad on the beach in Del Mar, California (just near Powerhouse Park) we think this engagement shoot has all the ingredients for a fun and loving portrait of true love.

A snowy mountain wedding engagement shoot to cool down your hot Summer day!

Photographer Derick Le  of Derick Le Photography is an artist, a professional and well...a bit of a snowman! The inspiration for Nick and Mimi's shoot came from their love for the mountains. Their love began on one fateful day in these very mountains so it only made sense to capture their love at the place where they first fell in love. Nicholas and Mimi met in the mountains, fell in love in the mountains, got engaged in the mountains, then got married in the mountains. Mother nature is so beautiful to them and they wanted to make sure that 'She' was the focus in their photos so here is a shoot so full of warmth and love with powerful scenery that plays an important role as supporting character and loving witness.

Real Couple:  Nick and Mimi

Vendor Credits:

Photography:  Derick Le Photography

Location:  Big Bear

Flowers: Classic Blooms Studio

Hair: Linh Nguyen of Hot Seat Salon

Makeup: Van Nguyen

Dress: Alfred Angelo

Belt: Iselle Design Studio

Suit: Zara & J. Crew

Engagement Photography tips from San Diego photography expert Tim Otto

Local photographer Tim Otto knows engagement and wedding photography! Before you head out to capture your love in an engagement shoot keep a few things in mind for the best results, here are Tim’s Tips for Engagement Sessions...

What to wear....Clothing ideas….
Tim has shot hundreds and hundreds of engagement sessions and recommends that couples wear clothing of similar tones and color harmony.  he suggest that couples avoid attire with logos, distracting patterns or stripes, saying "I want the couple to feel comfortable and wear whatever reflects who they are. Different outfit styles are a good option if we plan to visit a couple of shoot locations – starting with a casual style and ending with a more formal, dressed-up look." He recommends that although you don't need to 'match' couples should make sure there is continuity between their outfits.
 
Adding some fun stuff for style, how props can add to your shoot...
Fun items that reflect your life together can be used in your engagement session. Tim says..." I have had couples bring signs, bikes, pets, motorcycles, guitars and books – I can incorporate just about anything that is meaningful to both of you. Sometimes girls will do a practice hair and make up trial for the engagement session to make sure all is good for the wedding. This is just an optional idea but it can help with the confidence in how you feel being photographed."

Where oh where shall we shoot? Locations For Your Session....
Tim Otto knows his locations for great engagement shoots, (Editor's note: most photographers will keep their favorite spots a secret but that's one of the things we love about  this talented photographer: he's always willing to share ideas to help everyone have a better wedding!) he says "I like to do the sessions at places meaningful to the couple, or I have some favorite San Diego engagement locations. Little Italy is a fun spot it has different-colored walls and storefronts make for great backgrounds. Balboa Park has so many unique areas. It has amazing architecture, incredible doors, fountains, rod iron gates, strange tree roots, wood bridges, botanical gardens… just about everything is there. Windansea and La Jolla Cove are great locations for beach photos with the seascape of rocks, beach and ocean; they also feature some wonderful sunsets. Downtown San Diego in the Gaslamp Districtmakes for some great urban photos.There are so many incredible things to photograph down there, including trolleys, taxis, train tracks, fountains, metal art sculptures, brick buildings and cool doors… lots of great urban texture. It might be my favorite engagement location in San Diego. Centennial Park is another good spot. Located on Coronado, it has a stunning view of the San Diego Skyline. There is also a small little beach that is nice to use. The Historic Hotel Del Coronado makes for another great location with it's beautiful white sand, rocks and amazing sunsets."

All of Tim Otto Photography's Wedding Packages include an Engagement session!

For more info check out our website at www.timotto.com

Tim Otto Photography and The Great San Diego Engagement Shootout

We had so much fun sponsoring this cute contest with some of the area's top photographers! Here are Victoria and Patrick as captured by Tim Otto Photography on Valentine's Day at The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Resort Great Engagement Shootout Contest. 

Victoria's Story:

Victoria was born and raised in Las Vegas and went to Boston University for college. She studied abroad one summer in China and fortuitously met Luke Herman, although she actually found him annoying at the time. :P It wasn’t until the many China reunions back in Boston when they bonded and she fully realized the magnificence of Mr. Herman.

Fast forward to 2011… Victoria was in Australia and agreed to go home one week earlier than planned just for Luke’s birthday celebration in Vegas. He had a Facebook event set up for it, so of course Victoria had to creep and see if there would be any potential cuties there. This dude named Patrick Border stood out the most, and when she met him in person for the first time, it was confirmed—target acquired! ;)

Victoria and Patrick’s stories of what actually happened that weekend will forever differ…but what can be agreed upon was that’s when their relationship began to bud. Patrick insisted on continuing to text Victoria afterwards, despite texts costing her 10 cents per text at the time! :o (Victoria eventually got with the times and added unlimited texting just for Patrick.)

Half a year of long distance nonsense later, Victoria moved to San Diego, and it’s been amazing ever since. Victoria and Patrick are thrilled for this new chapter in their lives and so look forward to partying and celebrating their love with their family and friends.

Patrick's Story:

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Patrick had been to Las Vegas numerous times before but had never really Las Vegas’d before, so when grad school buddy Luke Herman announced he wanted to celebrate his birthday in Las Vegas in March of 2011, Patrick had no choice but to join in. After a long and rough trip in Bar Van, Patrick and Co. arrived in Vegas and were greeted by Victoria in the hotel lobby. After sensing an initial spark, Patrick kept his game face on the entire weekend and didn’t let go of the girl, even after leaving Vegas.

He continued to text and message her, even though she was very clear that she leaving Las Vegas for Chicago and then, who knows where. However, after convincing her to come to LA for a Clippers game, and then later to San Diego for his graduate school Prom, Patrick and Victoria became official in May of 2011, with Victoria finally moving to San Diego later that year.

4 ½ years, 2 moves and a cat adoption later, Patrick popped the question to Victoria in Rosarito, Mexico in September of 2015. After taking her time to respond (she loves to point out that she didn’t say yes immediately), Victoria and Patrick are happily engaged and excited to tie the knot in beautiful San Diego at The Darlington House!

And these charming images showcase exactly why you get professional engagement shots done! Thank you Tim Otto!! 

Source: http://www.timotto.com/

It's the Great San Diego Engagement Shoot Contest! Win a $500 engagement shoot on Valentine's Day!

On February 14, 2016 Valentine’s Day at The Wedding Party EXPO, this ‘Romance’ theme show will have a special Engagement Photo Shoot Prize featuring some of the areas top photographers capturing the love in a FREE engagement session right at the show! 

4 lucky couples will get an engagement shoot right at the show. Each couple gets paired with a top area wedding photographer [like the incredible Tim Otto Photography - see some of his work below]. This photographic artist will spend a little time with you at the lovely Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Resort get to know you a little and to see your unique beauty in person and then do a FREE engagement shoot in gorgeous pre staged areas designed by Lauren Sharon Vintage Rentals! 

Each winning couple gets all retouched engagement photos from the shoot… plus an 11” x 14” print of their fave photo from the shoot … and all images on flash drive……… total value $500! 

 Enter to win just click here!

With decor sponsored by Pop Up Picnic a division of Lauren Sharon Design & Rentals.

Source: http://www.sandiegoweddingparty.com/great-san-diego-engagement-shoot/

Featured Artist photographer Aaron Huniu

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A California native, Aaron Huniu was born and raised in Orange County and now calls San Diego home with with his two favorite gingers (stunning wife Susan and adorable baby girl Hayley Quinn). With 7 years of shooting professionally, Aaron has taken his extensive background in travel, entertainment, and the arts and has combined it with his passion for capturing the most amazing images. His attention to detail and eye for composition and lighting is evident every time he picks up a camera.  Aaron holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California at Irvine, and his thirst for culture and traveling has brought him to over 30 countries and counting!  Aaron is a self proclaimed foodie and wine connoisseur (and wife would say perfectionist). And we can see just how it pays off in his beautiful wedding photography! See more at his site...just click here

Marcus and Matteo's engagement shoot at Sunset Cliffs

Thank you to photographer and artist Amy Millard for this warm and friendly engagement portrait shoot at Sunset Cliffs during, what else, a beautiful sunset! We love the way Amy captured the guys' love, their special bond and spontaneous, fun personalities and the nature around them. Congratulations to Marcus and Matteo on your engagement!!