Calluna Tips

All About Engagement Photos Part 2: Advice from a 2021 Calluna Bride

Thursday, September 24

We’ve already shared why we love engagement photo sessions, why they are so important and what your photographer wants you to know. (Read about it here!) Still on the fence? We’re sitting down with real-life bride Rachel who recently did a photo session with her photographer Ashley Sawtelle and her fiance Connor. We dive into what you need to know and her honest opinion about the experience.

What did you look for when choosing your photographer? I was looking for a photographer that not only captured a natural connection between couples, but could also connect the couple to the landscape around them. All of Ashley’s photos are so light and airy; they are natural and elegant at the same time!

Why did you opt for an engagement session? I originally didn’t want to do an engagement shoot since I had decided not to use a photo for our Save the Dates, but both our photographer and wedding planner highly recommended it to help my fiance, Connor, and I get comfortable being in front of the camera. After having done it, I couldn’t agree more! Not only was it fun and gave us some great professional, but casual, photos together, but it was so helpful to figure out what positioning we did and didn’t like and what our awkward tendencies were in front of the camera. We now feel so relaxed about getting amazing photos on our wedding day.


What was important to you in an engagement session? I wanted it to represent us as a couple and include beautiful scenery, but still be different enough from the landscape of our wedding venue. We love the mountains, but also love to be out on the water, so Lake Dillon ended up being the perfect location. We had beautiful mountain views at Sapphire Point, and Ashley also found us the perfect “beach” spot on the water for a second look.

How did you prepare for your session (if at all)? I tried on mayyyybe 100 outfits, ha! My photographer, Ashley, was so sweet to let me send her numerous texts of outfit options so she could give me her expert opinion of what would photograph best. I also got a Silk Peel hydrating facial a few days prior so that I felt my best and my skin looked glowy!

Did your photographer give you any tips on how to prepare? Yes! Pro-tip: use your engagement session as hair and make-up trials for the wedding. Shout out to Brittani Estes and Liz Wegrzyn for making me feel so confident during the engagement shoot!


Were you nervous? Was your partner nervous? We were both a little nervous because professional photographs can be quite the investment and we wanted to make sure we made the most of them. But, the minute we met up with Ashley on location, she made us feel so comfortable and we laughed so much that even Connor said afterwards, “That was fun!”


How was it posing in front of the camera? Alone + with your partner? So much better than I imagined! Ashley’s presence was so natural that it never felt forced when she asked us to stand this way or that way. Her direction helped us to navigate what poses felt most like us as a couple.

Do you prefer to be positioned / posed, or keep things super natural organic? A little bit of both worked for us. There were a few times that Connor and I were walking or standing casually with each other, and Ashley worked off of that organic chemistry. She’d have me slightly tilt my chin or reposition a hand to make the shot go from pretty to beautiful.

Would you recommend an engagement session to other brides? Absolutely. Not only was it helpful to get comfortable with our photographer and with being in front of the camera, it was also a fun way to connect as a couple. We ended up spending the weekend after the session in Breckenridge, which felt like a pre-wedding mini-moon!


Is there anything you wished you did differently? Not really! It did rain right before the session, but the post-rain haze in the sky ended up giving us beautiful cotton candy colors, so I can’t complain!

Do you plan to do anything with your photos? We are ordering prints to frame in our home, and will use them on our wedding website. They also make a great gift for the future in-laws!

You’re getting married next summer. Why an engagement shoot now? We got engaged in November 2019, so the 2020 session helped to break up the long 18 month engagement and give us something to look forward to. Also, summer is my favorite season so it made sense for us!

What are you most looking forward to for your wedding? Getting to dance all night in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with our friends and family! Oh, and Connor finally seeing me in my dress, I can’t wait!


Thanks, Rachel. We love you and Connor and can’t wait for July 2021!

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