10 Tips to Nail Your Mountain

Engagement Shoot

Engagement photos are some of my wife and I’s most cherished photos. They are at at time in your relationship where you are walking on cloud 9 about getting engaged to the love of your life, the wedding is far enough out that you aren’t in the weeds planning the fine details, and its a great opportunity to escape to the mountains and get to know your wedding photographer. How often do you get dressed up and go to the mountains to get professional photos taken of you and/or your fiancée? We used our engagement photos to put on our save the dates, and got a bunch of them printed to put around the reception area at our wedding.

I have been in front of the camera and have had many years behind the camera, and I wanted to put together a list of the most common mistakes or tips for a mountain engagement shoot that I can pass along so that you and your fiancee absolutely nail your shoot!


Its easy to get caught up in trying to find the perfect outfit for an engagement shoot. You could spend hours online looking for the perfect dress or top, but sometimes the best clothes are already in your closet. That one dress or pair of jeans you know fits you well will give you the confidence to crush your shoot. 


2. Check Pinterest and Instagram for outfit ideas

Not sure what to wear for your engagement shoot? Pintrest is not only great for getting home decorating ideas, but also for what to wear to a mountain engagement shoot! Try searching “mountain engagement photos fall” or “summer/fall engagement photos”.  I have boards you can check out for fall/winter outfit ideas as well as a board for spring/summer outfit ideas (<—Click the links to see).

Instagram is another great resource, do the same hashtag search. #mountainengagement #breckenridgeengagement etc.


3. Schedule your session around the sun

The latin meaning of photography is photo - light, graphy - field of study. Everything in photography is centered around light! The best time for engagement photos is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. It is the time of day where the light is most pleasing to the eyes. There is a reason every sunrise photo and sunset pic is beautiful. Use that beautiful light to your full advantage. Bonus tip: In my opinion, sunrise photos are better. It’s hard to talk couples into doing sunrise photos because you have to wake up so early, but there is morning dew, fog and complete calmness that makes the light and feeling of a morning shoot just a little bit prettier than in the evening. Also, there is no one else out on the trails or in the park at that time. When I did my engagement photos with my wife, we did a sunrise beach shoot and it was absolutely stunning.


4. Hire a professional photographer

They know tons of great locations! I mountain bike and hike and constantly have my eyes out for new and interesting mountain views and locations to shoot.  What are you looking for? An aspen grove with a great overlook, red rocks but without the crowd or photo of the same rocks as everyone else, or maybe a beautiful waterfall in the forest? Professional photographers are able to help create your vision of the perfect engagement photo spot.


5. Bring layers and comfortable shoes

It usually takes a little bit of hiking to get to a beautiful spot to shoot, but most of the time the trails are well groomed and easy to walk on, but its always a good idea to bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes. A jacket or layers is important as well. Engagement shoots usually last until the sun goes down, and when it does the temperatures can easily drop 20-30 degrees in a few moments. Walking back in heels and short sleeves, or a dress in the dark can get cold and miserable pretty quickly. 


6. When in doubt, kiss! 

Not much else to say about this. If you feel silly, laughed too hard, or have been staring in your fiancees eyes for too long, kiss!

Caitlin_and_Ryan_ Engagement_Mann_Reservoir_0225.jpg

7. Be present and enjoy the moment

Everyone is nervous when they step in front of the camera. The first few minutes of shooting are always a little awkward especially if this is the first time meeting your photographer or you are not use to having professional photos taken of you. This is a complete stranger shooting intimate photos of you and your partner. Through my years of experience shooting couples in love, this nervousness quickly melts away after the first few minutes. my advice is to cherish and enjoy every moment of the shoot, you’re getting ready to marry the love of your life!


8. weekdays are best

Why? Well, a lot of times wedding photographers are busy on weekends shooting. Also, there are a lot less people on the trails, in the mountains, and in the parks. It happens pretty often where I have done a shoot on a weekday and there is no one else except us. We have the entire place to ourselves!


9. You don’t have to be someone else

An engagement shoot is not about looking like a model or being some sort of Instagram persona. Its about capturing you and your fiancee at your best. As a photographer I’m not making you out to be someone you aren't, I’m creating situations for your personality and love for one another to shine. If your goofy (like me), or romantic, or giggly that trait will show. Embrace and celebrate it!


10. Bring a fur friend or human

Bringing your pup to the shoot is a great addition to your photos. I’ve even had several shoots where a couple brings the best friend for support.


bonus tip: don’t worry about the weather

Every one of these photos featured in this blog post was before, during or after it rained/snowed. If you don’t believe me scroll back up and look at the clouds in all of them. Don’t worry if you keep checking the weather and it shows rain in the forecast. It usually doesn’t last and the breaks in-between or after it rains make the most stunning photos I have ever captured.

I hope these tips help you nail your engagement shoot! Through the years of shooting engagement photos, these are the tips that I would have wanted my photographer t0 pass along so that my photos turn out the best they can.

Is there a tip you think I missed or have questions? whether I’m your engagement photographer or not I’m always happy to answer questions. Drop me a line at hello@austinliberato.com and I will get back to you!