Hastings, MN Engagement Photographer | Jessalyn and Matt

photocrati gallery Love travels great distances

It took me a few read-throughs of Matt's initial email inquiry to make sense of his request. You see, Matt is a Cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, and he wanted to schedule engagement photos In Minnesota. Simple, I thought. His fiancée must be from Minnesota. Nope. Oh and one more problem. He wasn't engaged either. He wanted to surprise Jessalyn with a proposal.

It turns out Matt and Jessalyn share more than a love for one another. They're woven into to the fabric of the U.S. armed forces. Jessalyn grew up all over the world in the military family, so when it became time to go to college she wanted to find a school as close to family as she could back stateside. She ended up in St. Paul. And though Matt figured a wedding would happen in his home state of Florida, he wanted to have an engagement photo session in Minnesota so that Jessalyn could always remember this special time in their lives. Aww ...

Once I figured it all out, I loved the idea and couldn't wait to meet up with the couple in person. Matt did indeed surprise Jessalyn with an unscheduled visit with the ring in tote. She giddily said yes and two weeks later the engagement photos above were made!

Matt's vision for the session was simple: he wanted it to be outdoors without a huge focus on where they were photographed. Instead, he wanted the love he and Jessalyn have for each other to take center stage. We chose Spring Lake Regional Park in Hastings, MN as the setting as the fall colors were at their peak. In addition we were greeted with a dramatic sunrise upon our arrival, which made me even more excited.

We quickly drove to a farmer's field and captured the first few frames before we even introduced ourselves! I didn't want to miss the gold and magenta hues of the freshly harvested corn set against deep blue sky. After a quick warm up in the car, we finally had a chance to introduce ourselves and plot out the rest of the engagement photos. I think it's pretty obvious Matt's vision came to life. The two were so great to work with, and so clearly enamored by each other's presence that it made simple work for me. I'd love to know what you think. Please comment on or share this post if you like what you see. Thanks for viewing!

— Dan

Stillwater, MN engagement photographer | Kayla and Justin

photocrati gallery As a photographer I always have to have an open mind and be ready for any challenge that comes my way, whether it be equipment failure, difficult lighting or an unexpected thunderstorm. Working on location means something can pop up to test your expertise at any time. Mental challenges also have their place in the world of professional photography. If my creativity is failing or my client is having a bad day it can make all the difference in the finished pictures. Few people realize how much a stunning image relies just as much on a trusting relationship with the photographer and the model as it does technical and artistic skills behind the lens.

That's why I was a bit apprehensive when the day came for Kayla's and Justin's engagement session. Kayla had had a lot of bad experiences with photographers in the past and she was cautiously optimistic about her engagement pictures. She had done her research and was a fan of my work, but still had plenty of mild warnings for me: "These had better not suck," I believe was one of them (at least to paraphrase). To make matters worse we had not had a chance to personally meet before the photo session, so building that trusting relationship I prefer  was several steps behind.

Fortunately, all of those uneasy feelings quickly washed away once we started working. We chose beautiful downtown Stillwater, MN as the backdrop for Kayla's and Justin's engagement pictures since it's a place the couple has frequented throughout their relationship. Above and beyond that, though, was how open these two were to all of my suggestions and I to theirs. The session time flew by, I was having a blast, and I think Kayla and Justin really got caught up in their emotions. It's plain to see how much love these two have for each other in the pictures. The icing on the cake was the beautiful make up on Kayla from the talented Brooke Fleetwood and an amazing full moon that put an exclamation point on the day.

Kayla and Justin were thrilled with their finished engagement pictures and we added a lot more trust to that photographer-model relationship. I'm so looking forward to photographing their wedding celebration down the road. I'd love to hear what you think of the photos. Please feel free to comment using the link at the top of this post. Thanks for viewing!

Hometown Love Affair

Engagement Gallery: Erin & Charlie Erin and Charlie grew up just miles apart, and even went to the same high school. However, it wouldn't be until after the two left their hometowns that they would come together. To honor their roots, we chose the downtown and surrounding rural areas of Dundas, MN for the couple's engagement photos.





What's always fun is discovering what's hidden in plain sight. Though Erin had grown up mere blocks from where the bulk of the engagement pictures were made, she and Charlie had never explored some of the locations where we held our session.

Erin and Charlie might want to switch careers to become models. Throughout our time together it seemed as though the couple does this sort of thing on a daily basis! They were so at ease and had such wonderful expressions. That being said, capturing the emotion of their wedding day will be even more exciting and is sure to lend itself to creating even better photos. I can't wait!



Love in Bloom

Engagement: Steph and Wes

Wes has been working at the Montgomery Orchard since he was a teenager, so it was a no-brainer when it came to picking a location for engagement photos with Steph, his bride to be.

With those years of experience, Wes also knew when it would typically be the peak moment to capture all those rows of apple trees in full bloom. However, with an unusually cool Minnesota spring, much of the orchard was behind schedule this year.

When it came time to create engagement pictures the apple trees were far from being at their showiest. However, the orchard's vast stand of plum trees was in full bloom and helped to set the scene (and perfume the air) for a dreamy photo session.

Steph and Wes will be married at the orchard in September, when the landscape will be ripe for even better pictures.