Hudson Valley adventure engagement at Lake Minnewaska by Krystal Pratt Productions

What are Hudson Valley Adventure Engagement Sessions and are they Right for You?

Have you ever heard of an adventure engagement session? It’s the latest trend in engagement photos and is perfect for any couple getting married in the Hudson Valley looking for that different and unique experience.

So, today instead of showing you a real Hudson Valley wedding, we’re going to give you a glimpse of what an adventure engagement session can be. But, first things first…

What is an adventure engagement session?


Krystal Pratt, owner, and photographer at Krystal Pratt Productions says, “An Adventure Session is a photography session that creates more of an experience than your typical sessions. It allows you to do something out-of-the-ordinary while having fun and creating memories…It’s basically a mini-date with your own personal paparazzi!”

Basically, they’re sessions that take you away from the typical posed shots and get you out and about doing something you love so that you’re more relaxed in front of the camera or trying something new and ‘adventurous’ to get a really expressive, in-the-moment feel.

What activities would be good for adventure engagement sessions?


“Typically”, says Pratt, “An Adventure Session is outdoors in nature and involves some hiking and exploring. Most adventure sessions involve some kind of epic view at the end of it and we take photos along the way up to the ‘main attraction.’ ”

However, if nature and hiking or exploring aren’t your thing, there are still a ton of activities you can do to create your own adventure session. The easiest way to decide what to do is to simply make a list of what you enjoy doing together and speaking to your photographer to see which one would be the best for a great session. Still stuck? Here are some ideas:


    * Wine or beer tasting at a Hudson Valley vineyard, brewery or distillery

    * A cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America

    * Taking an art class

    * A 5K, marathon or fun-run/mud-run

    * Cutting down a Christmas tree or decorating your home for Christmas

    * Sledding or playing in the snow

    * Spending the day at your favorite amusement park or county fair

    * Kayaking or sailboating

    * Pizza and game night

    * Going to your favorite coffee shop or ice cream stand

    * Working out

    * Having a picnic at a park or along the shores of the Hudson River

    * Going camping

    * Rock climbing

    * Antiquing or attending antique car shows

    * Going apple picking or carving pumpkins


Below are photos from a gorgeous styled shoot at Lake Minnewaska, taken by Krystal Pratt Productions, to show you how amazing and casual adventure sessions could be. What do you think? Are you in?




Photographer & StylistKrystal Pratt Productions

Hair – Gina Damiano of Hair by Gina

MakeupIman Thomas of Beleza Artistry

Male Model – Justin Osterthaler

Female Model – Olivia Malian

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Cold Spring engagement photos Lin Pernille Photography

Marathon & Ice Cream-Themed Hudson Valley Engagement Shoot in Cold Spring

What do you do when you’re a couple who loves the outdoors, running marathons, and ice cream? You incorporate that into your engagement photos, of course! Lucy and Phil, who are planning their Hudson Valley wedding this December at The Garrison, had their engagement photos taken in the cute historic village of Cold Spring.

“It was such a delight to photograph Lucy & Phil’s engagement photos… The two of them made each other laugh and smile the entire shoot and it’s clear to me that they’re going to have a marriage filled with lots of laughter and happiness,” says their photographer, Lin Pernille Kristensen, owner of Lin Pernille Photography. Both Lucy & Phil are avid hikers, runners, and bikers and knew they wanted their wedding to be located in the Hudson Valley, surrounded by mountains and nature. We chose to take their engagement photos near their venue The Garrison in an adorable village on the Hudson River – Cold Spring, NY. Coming from a military family, Phil also thought it was awesome that US Military Academy at West Point was located right across the river! After exploring the town and getting an ice cream cone at Moo Moo’s Creamery, they finished up the shoot with a jog along the trail, sporting their Chicago Marathon t-shirts.”

Engagement photos are the perfect way to incorporate your passions into a fun and memorable shoot. Check out these photos for inspiration that’ll surely put a smile on your face.

Photo Credit: Lin Pernille Photography

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Krystal Pratt Productions Lake Minnewaska Engagement

Breathtaking Winter Engagement photos at Lake Minnewaska

Tell me about your love story?


Alexis: “Our first date was at an Applebee’s close to my college. We met in a parking lot by school to drive together to the restaurant and Steven got into my car with no shoes on! He recently came from a run and was trying to quickly change. I was kind of alarmed since this was our first meeting and I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. After getting to the restaurant we talked the whole time and laughed about how we ate at the same speed. We both new this was something special after our first date. As our relationship continued to grow we faced different challenges. We lived two hours apart from each other and we were both in college, so finding time to see each other was not always easy. We overcame the distance and fell in love with each other and created so many new memories traveling and pushing each other to try new things.


I knew Steven was the one because I could just see how much he cared for me and how special he made me feel all the time. I knew I could tell him anything that was on my mind and he wouldn’t judge me or laugh. He would always listen and always made me feel safe.


Tell me about the proposal?


Steven: First, I asked her mother for her blessing. Then, I met with her father to get his blessing as well. Once they both said yes, I felt excited moving forward with the planning. I started doing a lot of engagement ring research at different stores and on the web. During the planning, I had to casually find out her ring size without her getting suspicious and also find out what type of diamond she liked most. After a lot of shopping, I finally designed and purchased an engagement ring. The next step was to determine where and when I was going to propose.


Alexis brought up an idea to go to the Mohonk Mountain House to celebrate our three-and-a-half year anniversary, so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity because she planned the trip and she wouldn’t expect a thing. The week leading up to the proposal was full of excitement and nerves for me as I kept the ring secretly stored in our room without her even knowing. The morning of the proposal, we made the trip up to the Mountain House and started the day with breakfast.


As we walked around Lake Mohonk, I was trying to determine when and where I was actually going to propose. We then did a tour inside the house and during that tour I decided that I would propose at the Skytop Tower later that day. We climbed up the tower and I was planning on proposing on the top, but once we got up, it was raining extremely hard and was extremely windy. There were a few people on top as well and I wanted it to be private so we went back down and started to walk around by the base of the tower. I tried to inconspicuously make Alexis walk in front of me so that I could pull the ring out and surprise her. She kept turning around but I was able to have her look the other way long enough to pull out the ring and get down on one knee. I was very excited and nervous and forgot the speech I had planned. She was very excited and said ‘yes’!


Alexis: About two weeks before, I had told Steven that I wanted to go to the Mohonk Mountain House for the day. Little did I know he was already planning something special but didn’t have an exact plan. We had a 9:30 am. breakfast reservation and while we ate we brought up topics about the future and even marriage. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and relaxing interior. We did a tour and walked around the grounds where we even saw a bald eagle! Later on, we started to hike up to the Skytop Tower where we enjoyed the beautiful view, but the weather was getting pretty rainy and windy. We made our way to the top of the Tower and we could barley keep our hats on. Steven suggested going back down and walking around the lake near the tower. He kept telling me to walk ahead because he wanted to take a picture but, the nosy person I am, I turned around too soon and saw him taking the ring box out of his pocket. I immediately started to cry and of course said ‘YES!’ We stayed in that moment for a while and later shared the news with our loved ones.


Why did you pick Lake Minnewaska for your engagement photos?


Steven: We picked this location because the Hudson Valley is an area that we’ve spent a lot of time in and have gone on many adventures in including hiking at Minnewaska State Park. I proposed to Alexis right next door at the Mohonk Mountain House and figured that Minnewaska State Park would be the perfect place for our photos, especially with beautiful mountains, lakes and views surrounding it. Also, Minnewaska State Park was the first place I ever took Alexis hiking and was so happy to share that adventure with her. It made picking it as our location even more special.


What was your favorite memory of your engagement photoshoot?


Alexis: My favorite memory was just being in the moment and being able to be as cheesy and in love as could be. I love being in Steven’s arms and being able to do this on top of a mountain is something I will never forget.


What is your favorite image from your engagement?


Alexis: I love the close up of Steven! I love how Krystal captured his happiness in a photo and it is one I will always cherish. My other favorite includes the one of us kissing with the whole lake in the background. I just love how perfect the landscape was captured but still focused on us as well.


Steven: My favorite picture was close up, where I am standing behind Alexis with my arms wrapped around her and Lake Minnewaska is in the background. In the picture we both have the biggest smiles and I love how it captures our true happiness and love for each other.


Did you include any DIY projects in your shoot?


Alexis: I created a double sided wood slice sign into our photos. My side read “Love you more.” It was always a saying that we said back and forth to each other and it means so much to me. The other side I designed for Steven it said “In it for the long run.” Because Steven is a runner, I thought it fit perfectly.


Can you describe the photo shoot for us?


Alexis: The day was beautiful. It was windy and my hair was flying everywhere, but I couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was also extremely icy, which I think made the shoot even more fun and challenging.


Steven: The day of the shoot we got lucky with a nice sunny day and not too cold. It snowed there a few days before, so there was snow around which make the pictures even more spectacular, especially how Lake Minnewaska was completely frozen. There was ice on some sections of the carriage roads which limited our photo locations slightly, but made it fun trying out different spots. Overall the shoot was great, starting from nerves in the beginning to feeling like a natural in front of the camera at the end.


Do you have advice for anyone else planning their engagement photo shoot?


Alexis: I would say definitely pick a location that is special to you both. It made our photo shoot so much more meaningful because we were creating more memories on top of the old ones we already had. Those memories included conquering fears and trying new things together in our relationship. It just made every photo so much more special.


Steven: Definitely pick a location that has an important meaning in your relationship, that way the moments created in the pictures will be so natural and full of love.


How/Why did you choose your photographer?


Alexis: I worked with Krystal in the past and knew the quality of her work was incredible. Her attention to detail is amazing and she really creates beautiful pieces. I also loved how she communicated with her photo subjects in the past and I knew she would be the perfect photographer for our first photo shoot.


Photo Credit: Krystal Platt Productions



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Crystal Stewart Photo Untermeyer Park Yonkers

Gorgeous Garden Engagement at Untermeyer Gardens in Yonkers

Natalie and Alek met in college where they were both studying biology and discovered they shared a fierce passion for public health. “We met at college in Organic Chemistry lab,” says Alek. “We were partners. I was a senior she was a sophomore. I always thought she was hot but she didn’t give me the time of day. It took a while.”


They let their relationship naturally fall into place. Alek says, “Well we really let things fall into place from the beginning. It felt so natural, we were just really attracted to each other. We met trying to attain the same biology degree so we really respect each other’s dedication to our respective fields and enjoy having deep conversations about that and life.”


Alek knew Nat was the one when she told him the story of why she wouldn’t talk to him at first. He says, “Months later, she told me the only reason she never gave me the time of day was because she was in a relationship, but she was really into me all that time in the lab. At that point I knew I could respect her. But I knew I loved her when I wrote out our first Valentine’s Day card. Somehow those words explained exactly how I felt to her and to myself.”


Their photo shoot, according to photographer Crystal Stewart, of Crystal Stewart Photo, was at Nat’s favorite place, Untermeyer Gardens. “Her favorite place,” says Stewart, “was this gorgeous private garden that is normally sprawling with vibrant color. This winter was brutal in the northeast, so upon arrival, we noticed that there was not even one pop of color. Initially very sad, the couple decided to just trust me and we really got some gorgeous images. Throughout the session, this couple was playful, joked around, dotted over one another and really showed how much they understood each other.”


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Hiring a Wedding Photographer? 6 Red Flags You Need To Be Aware Of

Today’s author is Kathryn Cooper of Kathryn Cooper Weddings


When planning your wedding, many couples spend quite a bit of time researching venues, tasting foods, and listening to bands. But given that the photos from your day (and video, for a percentage of couples) are the only real keepsake from your wedding, it’s vital that you research and find the right photographer for you two.

I’ve worked for years as a professional photographer, and have shot well over 100 weddings all around the country and the world. I absolutely love what I do, and when I’m not working for myself, I’m working with and for other photographers in New York and beyond. In my time working with dozens of other normal and, shall we say, quirky photographers, I’ve seen the good, the bad, the lovely, and the downright rude! I’ve seen photographers throw temper tantrums, yell at couples, and get drunk. There is a vast range of styles, personalities, prices, delivery options, and more to be on the lookout for when hiring a photographer for any event, and when it comes to your wedding, it’s more important than anything that you get it right.


Now then, here are some red flags you should be on the lookout for when hiring your photographer for the day:



Photographers can sometimes be pushy, rude, or just plain bored and uncreative. See how open the photographer is to your ideas, and how friendly he or she seems to be on the phone. Meet in person or even on Skype if possible, and make sure your personalities match. Remember: This person will be with you all day long during one of the most important—and often most stressful—days of your lives, so it’s important to go with your gut.

Is the person responsive to what you want and is he/she lending promising ideas? Would the person get along well with guests? I’ve worked with photographers who have actually yelled at crowds or gotten angry at people, and quite frankly, that’s unprofessional. We’re there to provide amazing shots and experiences for you, not instigate your guests! I’ve also seen shooters bring their significant others to weddings, start fighting, and really make everyone uncomfortable.

Similarly, you want to make sure your photographer captures YOU. A bored photographer will shoot each wedding in the same way. You’ll get good images, but they’ll sometimes seem average. A good photographer will manage to capture you: Your smiles, your reactions, and your interactions with the people you love around you. Take a look at a full wedding gallery or recent wedding on each photography site (almost all have these) and make sure you see the kinds of images you desire. I always make sure I’m listening carefully to my clients so I can guarantee they’re having a wonderful time! It’s extremely gratifying to have grooms come up to me and say, “I was stressed out and thought the photos were going to be an awful experience, but you made it all so fun!”





Hudson Valley wedding photographer Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Photo Credit: Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Even if you know nothing about photography equipment, it’s important to know a few factors. And don’t get me wrong—you definitely don’t want to question every lens and piece of equipment your photographer has. But one point that is quite important is that your photographer have TWO sets of equipment. Like all gear, things can break, stall, or just suddenly stop working at the most inopportune times. Imagine you’re about to walk down the aisle and your photographer runs up to you saying his camera is broken and he can’t capture anything. What would you do? Make sure the person you choose to work with has a backup camera or a second shooter because it’s too easy for equipment to just go on the fritz.



Make sure you know the final price before signing any contract. Many photographers add a tax on top of the packages offered or try to upsell you with prints, second shooters, or albums. If you’re interested in an engagement session and album or have a large wedding that’s great, but if you’re not, make sure you choose a photographer who isn’t pushy and can provide a package that matches what you desire. Is your photographer going to make you pay for every photo you want on top of paying for time? Know what you’re getting into before you commit.

Shooting Style:


Though many people know a bit about what they’re looking for, the majority of people don’t know just how different photography styles can be. Look thoroughly at each person’s portfolio, and make sure you know how your photographer describes him or herself. I’m a creative photojournalist, for example, but there are many types out there. Examples of photography styles include photojournalist/documentary, fine art, film, film/digital hybrid, artistic, traditional, and more. Just make sure you know if you want your day documented with lots of reaction shots, posed with a lot of lights, or something else entirely.

Red flags to watch out for can be seen in many portfolios, and they’re styles that are, well, never really in style. Too many tilted or skewed photos can look amateurish, and colorized photos—for example, a rose that’s red while the rest of the photo is black and white—look very amateurish. Do the photos have a lot of weird shadows (indicative of a poorly used flash)? You want your photos to look classy decades down the road, so make sure you’re not hiring an amateur, a student, or that random hobbyist your Aunt Betsy used to work with back in the ‘60s.



Editing Style:


Hudson Valley wedding photographer Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Photo Credit: Kathryn Cooper Weddings

In terms of editing styles, there are so many different ones: Dark and moody, film-like, natural, light, and more. I edit minimally and with a very natural editing style, but some photographers Photoshop your face to look like a porcelain doll, so to me, that’s a red flag. If you’re looking for a high-fashion model-like wedding experience, then maybe that’s up your alley, but hey, that’s just me.

Almost every photographer has a unique editing style. There are even many people who edit using colorization similar to Instagram filters, so if you’re into that, great—but make sure you truly love the photographer’s final style! If you’re having a ceremony in a castle and are hiring a fine art photographer to take fancy portraits, that person will probably also edit you and your face to look quite different. Verify that you desire that, and that you’re not hiring someone who is going to make you look and feel like someone you’re not!

Image Delivery:


It’s hard to trust reviews since many review sites can be doctored these days. I also know plenty of great photographers who have almost no reviews or testimonials—there’s very little correlation! What is important, however, is that customers are happy. One thing customers often get unhappy about, however, is late delivery. I know photographers who still haven’t delivered images 9 months or a year down the road, and I’ve heard in forums of clients having photographers disappear on them. This is of course quite rare, but make sure you have a contract that states when the images will be delivered, and approximately how many images you’ll receive.

There’s really no excuse to wait for images for 6 or 8 months. 1-3 months is average because all of the organizing and editing from a 10-hour wedding day takes quite a long time. Still, no one wants to wait a year to see wedding photos! You might speak with a former customer first, look at the contract, or ask how long it will take to get your final images.

In general, having your wedding photos taken should be fun, not stressful. I don’t love having photos taken myself, so when I have clients who feel the same, I empathize and make them as comfortable as possible. I try to be upfront and myself with all my clients throughout the process. If you feel your photographer is moody, bossy, uninterested, irresponsible, or bored, your photos will likely reflect that. Choose a photographer who will capture incredible photos for you two to treasure for the rest of your lives!

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. This is not a sponsored post. Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked photography questions. 

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Featured Engagement: Kaila & Jeff

Their love story…


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

Kaila and Jeff met on a dating website. Kaila says, “I guess those algorithms really work!” But, you can say it was their favorite number, 28, that really started the ball rolling.

“We spent a few days messaging back and forth on the site prior to him asking for my number,” says Kaila.  “After that, we texted for a few more days. About two weeks after, I called Jeff one Saturday morning with all intentions of seeing if he wanted to hang out since we were getting along pretty well via texting. I spent the next two hours trying to convince Jeff that we’d probably have a really good time if we just spent the afternoon together. He was super hesitant; he was so terrified of dating it was almost comical. Finally, he goes ‘alright, what’s your favorite number?’ I, without hesitation, said 28. It’s always been a very significant number in my life and most of my major life events happen to incorporate the number 28.  Little did I know, the same was true for Jeff and that’s how I got him to agree to hang out with me that day. I guess, as they say, the rest is history.”


The proposal…


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

Christmas Eve is always a magical time and it was super magical for Kaila, as she had no idea Jeff was about to propose! She describes how the whole proposal went down after everyone opened presents. “My whole family was down at my sisters’ lake house on Sleepy Hollow Lake,” she says. “We were all gathered around the tree and, in true Kaila fashion, I was the one orchestrating the gift exchange, so I was standing up and handing out gifts.”

She had just finished handing out the last gift to her mom, which were framed photos of her and her siblings. “I was so engrossed in giving her these gifts,” she says, “That I didn’t really realize what was happening around me. I gathered up the last of the gift wrap that was on the floor and I said ‘ok, that’s it!’ Then I see Jeff come around the side of the tree. Again, was still completely oblivious to what was going on. He cutely says ‘There’s one more gift..’ and he pretends to reach under the tree and then gets down on one knee and opens the ring box.”

After that, Kaila suffered from what I affectionately call ‘Proposal Amnesia’. Something that I think almost every woman goes through, including yours truly. She says “Honestly, after that, it was kind of a blur. My hands went up to my eyes and I started crying. I’m sure he said some really sweet stuff, and thankfully my cousin got the last half of it on video, but I mostly remember him saying that I make him the happiest he’s ever been, and thankfully I did comprehend the ‘Will you marry me?’ part, and ecstatically agreed.”

What are they most excited about…?


With their wedding a week from tomorrow, Kaila says “I’m looking forward to our first look. I can’t wait for that intimate moment where we see each other for the first time. I think it’s so sweet – to be away from the crowd, just the two of us.”

Advice for engaged couples?


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

Kaila has some of the best advice. She says, “Never doubt yourself.” How perfect! Here’s why she says that. “We’re having a superhero themed wedding. It’s quirky – some would say down right bizarre – but it’s what we want and it’s what we’re big, geeky fans of,” she says. Did she have doubts about her theme? Sure! “I’ve definitely had the thought in the back of my head during this whole planning process of ‘Will people think this whole theme is pretty juvenile?’”, she says. “But you know what? So what if they do! We are downright obsessed with the whole thing. My best friend designed our comic-style wedding invites and I cannot tell you how many of our guests have said how unique and fun the invites were.” Kaila says “So, basically, just go with what YOU want and what’s going to be a real reflection of you and your fiancé. This is your day, after all.

Why are there only 28 photos in this post? (added question because this is so cool)

As you know, 28 is both Kaila and Jeff’s favorite number, and the fact that there are 28 photos is a magical coincidence that they both love.

According to Jeremiah Shaffer, the photographer who took these amazing photos, the skies opened up right in the middle of their engagement session at the abandoned Catskill Game Farm. It was POURING rain and he, Kaila, and Jeff had to run for cover in an old concession stand for a good hour while the rain passed. While inside, Jeremiah continued to take photos. Once the rain let up, they continued to explore the grounds but because of the rain, they ran out of time to explore the grounds as fully as they had hoped.

Kaila says “Jeremiah texted me the day these engagement photos were ready stating that we got 28 awesome photos. It still freaks me out sometimes how often it comes up, but I also feel like it’s our little sign that everything is on the right track.”

Photo Credit to all: Jeremiah Shaffer

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Featured Engagement: Adam & Eve

Their Love Story…


Love finds us when we least expect it. “I just moved back from Florida in January in 2009 and was at a point in my life where I was comfortable with who I was as a person,” says Eveleese (Eve) Campos, from Liberty, NY.  “I didn’t anticipate meeting anyone and was more than happy being single and working on my education.” She had just recently enrolled in classes at Suffolk County Community College and Adam was listed on her schedule as her softball teacher. Eve was excited to see his name since she was friends with his sister, who had introduced them just a few months prior at a BBQ. That introduction made quite an impression.  “I even remember the outfits we were both wearing- me with short shorts, a GAP T-shirt, and brown converse and Adam was wearing a Parks & Rec shirt with jeans and work boots,” says Eve.

After that BBQ, Adam’s sister told Eve that Adam was asking about her, so Eve was really excited to see him on campus. Unfortunately, that never happened. The first day of class, Eve found out Adam had taken a full-time job somewhere else. But fate works in mysterious ways.

Bummed about Adam, and needing to kill some time before her next class, Eve headed towards the computer lab. Eve says, “I went to the computer lab and was surprised because he inboxed me on Facebook and started a conversation.  When I had to go to class we exchanged numbers and it was history ever since.”

The Proposal…


Fast forward to 2014. A lot has happened: New careers, new babies…new bling! Their proposal happened took place in the middle of a snow storm, the day before Thanksgiving and one day after they found out they were pregnant with their second child. Adam left the Police Academy (his new career) early that day because of the snow and told Eve not to shovel or do anything, that he would take care of it when he got home. “When he got home,” Eve says, “He did all the snow removal and came inside.  Still in his academy clothes he kept on calling our two and a half year old daughter into the kitchen. Finally when he got her to stay in there,  he called me in to the kitchen.  They were standing side by side and he pulled a box out of his pocket.  He said, ‘I know you have been waiting for this for a long time.’  He got down on one knee and the rest was a blur… I knew it was a beautiful speech and with tears, I accepted.  We both cried and hugged as a family, and of course, afterwards, my daughter wanted my ring for herself.”

What Are They Most Excited About?…


“The part of the wedding I am most excited about,” says Eve, “Is when we first see each other.  I think it’s going to be a beautiful experience and full of emotion.”

Advice For Engaged Couples…


“My advice to a new bride who is planning her wedding would be to  pace herself and elicit help from your closest friends.” Eve says,  “Try to get as much stuff done in a timely fashion so you aren’t overwhelmed at the end.”

Check back in a few months when we circle back with Adam and Eve to see gorgeous photos from their wedding this November at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor and hear all about their special day 


Gallery Photo Credit: Jessica Grund Photography


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Engagement Photos: What Hudson Valley couples want you to know

Thank you for joining us in this last of our three-part series


The period of engagement is a really special time in a couple’s life, and it’s usually the shortest time in a couple’s life as well. We’ve already explained why the experts say engagement photos are important and explained how to prepare for your session and what to expect during your session.

Today, we wanted to give you two stories, from real Hudson Valley couples like you, explaining why they had engagement photos taken and what their experience was like. If you are still on the fence about engagement photos, these awesome stories might encourage you.


Kimberly & Andrew


Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Let’s first start off with Kimberly and Andrew. While originally from the Hudson Valley, Kimberly being from Union Vale and Andrew from LaGrangeville, the couple is currently living in Virginia, where Andrew is stationed with the United States Navy. Andrew has been in the Navy for seven years and is currently waiting to hear on a deployment date; because of that uncertainty, they don’t have a wedding date yet but are thinking sometime in 2018 in the Hudson Valley.

Kimberly and Andrew had their engagement photos taken with Hannah Servidio, from Hannah Nicole Photography, and are the sweet couple featured in the behind-the-scenes video in Part 2. I asked them why they decided to have engagement photos taken, and Kimberly said they knew it was something everyone does; and since they have a bit of a wait before their wedding day, it was something special they wanted to do sooner rather than later.

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography


They got engaged on December 23, 2016, and just a few weeks after, they had their photos taken – not only to capture the moment, but also because they wanted to get them done before Andrew was deployed.”It’s possible Andrew may be deployed before we can have our dream wedding, so it was really important to me to have professional pictures taken before then,” she said. “I wanted memories I can look at in my home and for him to take when he’s abroad. I’ve tried to print photos from my phone before but it’s always a major disappointment; they never print well! That’s why I really wanted a professional shoot.”

Their photos were taken in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), part of Brooklyn. So, remember the experts said couples like to take photos in spots that have meaning to them? In this case, DUMBO was the second choice. They originally wanted snowy pictures in the Hudson Valley, but the only snow on the ground at the time was the crusty brown snow found along the edge of roads – not very pretty. So, since Kimberly went to NYU and DUMBO was a location that offered different views of Manhattan, that’s where they went.


Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Andrew, admittedly, wasn’t quite sure what to expect at first, but found the whole ‘being photographed’ process very simple, self-explanatory, and he said they were coached very well. “Hannah was great at coaching us through different poses that we hadn’t thought of before and was great at communicating the small things that can make or break a photo: where we were supposed to look, placement of hands, how to do the close embrace, and more,” he said. “She was so professional and put us at ease. I also feel like we now have training for when we take our own photos from here on out.”


Their Tips


Some tips they have for couples is to make sure that your photographer is a people person, because that characteristic is really what is going to put the couple at ease. Again, this goes back to what the experts say about being able to mesh well with your vendors. Another tip, especially if you are doing a winter shoot: Be prepared for a lot of wind and dress warm!

They also realize some couples decide not to get engagement photos done because they are too nervous or because it costs too much money. They say it’s nice to be coached on how to be photographed and what poses look good. It’s also nice to have the moment of engagement captured, so you can look back on that feeling and always have a glimpse of how you felt at that time.

Nora & Dan


Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Our next couple is Nora and Dan from Cold Spring. Their story is a little different than that of Kimberly and Andrew. Nora and Dan are getting married in September 2017 and had photos taken with Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography. Unlike Kimberly and Andrew, they were skeptical, at first, about getting photos done and went back and forth for a while. They really wanted to have them done, but weren’t sure if they could afford it, originally thinking they would have family members take their photos. Ultimately, they decided to have them done professionally because being engaged is a real special moment in time, and they wanted to make sure they captured the magic of being engaged. Plus, with Erica, they realized it was more affordable than they thought.


Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

“I think that cost was the number one deterrent at first, but after researching photographers and finding one who offered it within her package, we jumped on the opportunity,” Nora said. “When you’re engaged, you are spending so much time thinking about the wedding day itself, but these photos capture a moment in time that still celebrates your relationship in a really fun and meaningful way. Plus, they are so useful for practical reasons including save-the-dates, invitations and wedding websites.”

They, like most, were nervous and awkward at first, because like they said, “How often do people get photos taken?” However, once they began to loosen up, interact with each other and with their photographer, cracking jokes with each other, they began to loosen up and feel more comfortable.

They see the photos as being really practical because you can use them for so many purposes: to celebrate the fact that they are engaged; for a wedding website, save-the-dates, or to print out and hang up.


Their Tips


Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Nora and Dan have some great tips when it comes to choosing a photographer. They suggest getting recommendations from people you know about photographers they’ve used and what their experiences were like. They say don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations and, just like what our experts said, don’t be afraid to reach out to lots of photographers (and vendors) to see what you get for your money.

They also say having the same photographer do both your engagement and wedding photos will help because you because you will have already met the photographer, gotten to know them and how they operate, which will put you at ease the day of your wedding.

In terms of what to wear, they suggest wearing colors that work well with your surroundings. They got engagement photos taken in the fall, so Nora wore red to pop with the green in the trees and the very slightly changing colors in the foliage. “We were doing our photos outside so I knew there was going to be a lot of greenery, and I wanted to pick something that I knew would play off those colors in a nice way,” she said. “Second, wear something you are comfortable in and feel good in! We all have colors and even specific pieces in our closets that make us feel confident. You don’t necessarily have to buy a new outfit for the photos because you likely own something that is perfect.”
Did hearing from these couples help you make decide on engagement photos? Did their tips help you? What tips do you have for couples?

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5 tips you need to know for awesome engagement photos

Join us for part 2 of a 3-part series


By now we’ve hope you read our article on why engagement photos are so important and have decided to book your engagement session. If you are still on the fence, take a few moments to read why Hudson Valley photographers say they are a must-do.


Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

If you’ve already booked your engagement session, congratulations! Now, you’re probably thinking, what’s next? If you are like me, you might have no idea what to expect. Sure, you’ve seen people get photos done before, but how many times have you actually been the subject of those photos? For me, whenever I thought of getting professional pictures taken, my mind conjured up a funny scenario a la Austin Powers with Beyoncé, fans blowing my hair and a photographer yelling “Yeah, baby” and “I’m spent.” Why I thought that, I have no idea, but it still makes me laugh to this day to know that’s what I thought they’d be like.


Let me tell you, engagement photos are NOT like that, though I’m sure if you asked, your photographer might be able to make it happen…just kidding, but who knows.


If you’ve booked your session and are wondering what it will be like, let’s take a moment to step back and think about the first time you did anything: the first time you rode a bike, your first kiss, the first time you left home, or your first job. For some, the thought of doing anything for the first time is extremely scary and nerve-wracking. That’s normal. Why? Because you don’t know what to expect. It’s all new.

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios


If someone told you what to expect prior to doing anything for the first time, it would probably make you feel better and give you more confidence because the anticipation of what would happen is already known, and you will know how to prepare for what is to come.


So, with that, we have expert advice on what to expect, to eliminate the “unknowns” and help you feel more confident, excited and ready to rock your engagement photo session.


What can I expect the atmosphere to be like, and how will it differ than my wedding day?


In a word…RELAXED. Unlike your wedding day, which is formal in nature, emotional and slightly rushed, engagement sessions are way more relaxed and calm. Hannah Servidio, Owner of Hannah Nicole photography in Poughkeepsie, says it’s a very jovial atmosphere. She likes to joke and have fun with her couples, mainly to put them at ease.


The video below, created by AW’STRUCK Studios for Hannah Nicole Photography, really gives you a good sense of how calm and easy an engagement session is.



Notice how Servidio shows the couple, Kimberly and Andrew (who you’ll hear more from later in this series) how to pose. Any photographer you choose will do the same. Rupert Rogers and Kellie Walsh of 4 Eyes Photography in Nyack and Manhattan says, “We’ll direct couples on what to do, so they’re having fun and relax. We like to shoot the engagement shoots with one photographer and an assistant, so that bags and equipment can be watched while the photographer works with the couple.”


How long does an engagement photo session last?


Engagement photo sessions typically don’t last too long, but the length varies per photographer. Of the photographers we spoke to, you’re looking at anywhere from one to three hours. You and your photographer can pick the day and the time, and most photographers tend to shoot in the late afternoon (depending on the season) because the sunlight exposure at that time is awesome.


Where do you get photos taken, and how do you choose your locale?


Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Mark Greenstone, owner of Majestic Studios in Hopewell Junction, really likes to give his couples ownership and buy in as to where to have photos taken and encourages his couples to think about both the engagement photos and wedding photos as a whole. He explains couples need to think about whether they want to choose a site similar or different than where you plan to get wedding photos taken. For example, do you want the Hudson River in the background of both? He also encourages his couples to think about how the photos are going to be used. As mentioned in Part 1, think about if you want to use the photos as part of your wedding day (guest book, website, save the dates) or if you just want them to display around your home.


Erica Leman, owner and lead photographer at Sweet Alice Photography in Poughkeepsie, actually has a Pinterest board of Hudson Valley locations to choose from, if the couple is really stumped. “It’s really helpful to my couples,” she says. “About half (of couples) already have great ideas on locations outside of my help (usually, places that are meaningful to them and their story), and others like to peruse the board and choose from there.”


Once you get to a location, the possibilities are endless. Rogers and Welsh say once they get to a location, that spot usually ends up leading to more spots during the session. “We like to pick one area and then walk around, selecting lots of different spots for shots as we go.”


Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

When do you get engagement photos done?


As we mentioned earlier, thinking about how you want to use the photos can determine when you get them done. If you want them for elements of your wedding, such as for save the dates or a wedding website, you should get them done months in advance. If that’s not something you plan on doing, then timing doesn’t really matter. Rogers and Walsh say, “It can really be anytime – a year in advance or a few weeks before the day. Sometimes it’s nice to be in a different season to your actual wedding, so you have a whole fresh ‘look.’ ”


What do you wear?


This is the age-old question. You can be staring at a closet full of clothes and still have nothing to wear, right? However, what you wear determines a lot. Greenstone says what you wear gives the photographer a better sense of who you are as a couple. He’s had couples come in everything from jeans and sneakers to dress-wear. But most importantly, he says to make sure you wear something that you are comfortable in.


Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

“We always tell people to wear their favorite clothes – what they are comfortable in,” say Rogers and Welsh. “You’ll be moving around and posing in lots of positions, so you’ll want to be comfortable.” But they caution couples to stay away from white clothes, heavily patterned clothes, and anything that’s very tight.

Leman encourages couples to look at what each person is wearing and coordinate that way. “Couples should wear clothes that they feel comfortable and confident in, and err on the side of caution regarding patterns.” She says. “If one person is wearing a pattern (such as a plaid or floral), the other person should wear a solid. Corresponding colors are good, but totally matching can be a little cheesy. I just let couples know to bring their awesome self, and to wear clothes that they are comfortable and confident in. I recommend that women get hair and makeup done, but it is totally not absolutely necessary – just a nice added touch, if wanted.”


Servidio recommends couples bring two outfits: one that’s comfortable and casual, and one that’s a bit dressier, giving you a variety in the look and feel of the photos.


How are you preparing for your engagement session? What are you wearing? When and where are you getting them done? Have a question about engagement photos? Send them to


Stay tuned for the last in our series of engagement photos when we interview two amazing couples about their engagement sessions and why they chose to get them done.

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Hudson Valley Wedding Photographers Share 6 Reasons Why You Need Engagement Photos

Join us for part 1 of a 3-part series where professional Hudson Valley wedding photographers share their expertise on engagement photos.


From the moment you get engaged to the moment you say “I do,” wedding planning becomes the single most important aspect of your lives for however long you are engaged. That means that day in and day out, you are looking at a long list of to-do’s and trying to check as many off as you can before the big day.


A long list of to-do’s also means in between planning, you are trying to manage work, life and your bank account and may find yourself asking the question, “Is this something we really need?” time and time again.


Perhaps you are going back and forth about engagement photos. Are you struggling to find the value in them, or can’t figure out how you are going to make time to get them done? Don’t worry, you are not alone.


Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

In fact, I was one of those brides that thought we didn’t need them. My husband and I got engaged at Walt Disney World, and if you have visited the parks within the last several years, you know they have photographers staged throughout the parks taking your photo at different scenic locations. Our photographer captured every step of the proposal, so I thought we already had our engagement photos taken care of. Wrong!


When we met with our photographer, he explained while those photos were awesome because they literally captured the exact moment we got engaged, traditional engagement photos were truly different. He educated us as to why we should reconsider, and I want to share the same knowledge with you.


So, we asked experienced Hudson Valley photographers to share their thoughts as to why engagement photos are really a necessity and should not be dismissed so easily:


Reason #1 – It’s an Investment

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

It’s very easy to get caught up in the mindset your wedding is a transaction. I get it: You are paying a person or company to provide you with a service or product. It’s Economics 101. However, your wedding is not a transaction. Every service you render for your big day is investing in lifelong memories and experiences.


Erica Leman, owner and lead photographer at Sweet Alice Photography in Poughkeepsie, says, “At the end of the wedding planning process, when the day is over, the biggest items that a couple has from their day, beside their precious memories, is their marriage license and their photography.”


Reason #2 – You get used to being photographed before your wedding day


Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

How many of you get your photos professionally taken regularly? Probably not many. Hannah Servidio, owner of Hannah Nicole Photography in Poughkeepsie, says couples aren’t in front of the camera every single day, so your engagement session gives you time to get to know what you’re comfortable with, giving you and your photographer a sense of how you work with the camera.


Mark Greenstone, owner of Majestic Studios in Hopewell Junction, says an engagement session is usually the first time a couple has professional photos taken. It’s a good chance for the couple to see how the photographer works, how they are being posed, and gives couples the chance to feel more comfortable on their wedding day because they will know what to expect having worked with the photographer already.


In other words, engagement sessions are a great way to get comfortable with having your photo taken. “Most people need a little time to get used to the process, and we always try and make it a fun, relaxed way to ‘practice’ being photographed and prepare you for the hectic schedule of the actual wedding day.” Says Rupert Rogers and Kellie Walsh of 4 Eyes Photography in Nyack and Manhattan.


Reason #3 – It gives you and your photographer a chance to connect


We know how important it is to connect with your wedding professional before hiring them. Your photographer is one of the professionals you will be working with the most throughout your whole planning experience. Working with your photographer prior to your wedding day assists in the day-of wedding photography because, as Leman states, it “feels like less of a transactional act and more like a partnership.” Who doesn’t want a partner on their wedding day?  It’s “extremely important to get to know your photographer because you are going to be spending the most time with them during your day,” says Servidio.


Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Greenstone agrees and adds engagement sessions give you the opportunity to see if you like the photographer and gives the photographer insight into what you are like, what personalities you have and what your comfort level is. He’s right, having a connection is key with not only your photographers but all your vendors. You are going to be working closely with them all throughout the planning process and being able to get along and like each other makes things much easier.


Reason #4 – Photographs have multiple purposes


“It’s great to have professional photos of the two of you in regular clothes, that you can use for announcements, save the dates or for a book or frames at the wedding,” says Rogers and Walsh. You really want to take a look at what you are going to be using the photos for. My husband and I, for example, just wanted really nice photos we could display around the house. We both hate getting our picture taken and would prefer to be behind the lens, so having really nice professional photos was important to us. We decided to go photo-free for our save the dates and our website focused that more on the event and not us since everyone knew us already.


Reason #5 – Give you an opportunity to make sure you like the work


Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Think of the engagement session as your photography test drive. Greenstone encourages couples to really size up the photographer to make sure they like their engagement photos, as well as the photographer’s communication style. He encourages this because you want to eliminate surprises on your wedding day.


If you are not happy with the photographer once you see the finished engagement session photos, you need to reconsider your choice of photographer before signing a wedding contract. Aesthetic is not going to change for your wedding day, and you need to choose a photographer that matches your style.


Reason #6 – Captures magical moment in time


Being engaged is usually the shortest part of any relationship. I look back at our engagement photos and am instantly transported back to a time that really was such a special time in our lives. Engagement photos, as well as wedding photos, are so much more than a person snapping photos. It’s about capturing a moment in time, says Servidio.

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Leman says, “Being engaged is so unique and different and beautiful. This period in a couple’s journey together has a certain element of whimsy. The wait is what makes the wedding even more exciting. It is a special part of a couple’s journey. And this period of waiting deserves to be captured.”


We want to hear from you. Are you on the fence about getting engagement photos done? What are your concerns about them?


Join us for part 2 when our experts prepare you for your engagement photo day. Learn what actually goes on behind the scenes to help put you at ease and help rock your session. 


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3 Beautiful and Often Overlooked Photo Spots in Poughkeepsie, NY

If you are getting married in the Hudson Valley, you know what a beautiful place this is for wedding or engagement photos. With its majestic mountains, grand river, parks, and nature preserves, there’s no shortage of great spots to get photos taken. However, in each city and town, there are beautiful spots that sometimes get overlooked.


Your wedding photographer will have a good idea of places to go based location and the time you will have, but ultimately, the decision is up to you. It’s good to know ahead of time, where you would like to get your engagement or wedding photos taken. Ideally, it’s best to keep photos grouped in places that are different, but also geographically close by. We’d like to showcase some of these areas in towns across the Hudson Valley, starting with Poughkeepsie. Here are some spots we love that you may not have thought about.


What are your favorite photo spots in Poughkeepsie? Do you know of a spot in the Hudson Valley that would make a great location for engagement or wedding photos?

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