Elizabeth and Dennis Engagement Portraits at Sparks Lake Meadow

September 18, 2023 Portrait Photography

Engagement Portraits at Sparks Lake Meadow

Elizabeth and Dennis at Mt. Bachelor for their portraits

My system of doing wedding photography and portrait photography has changed to match what a person gets in a professional portrait studio. For wedding photography I shoot, edit, then print the top 25 images for a couple and do a mock-up of a large wedding album for them to see and think about. I don't shoot-and-burn weddings anymore.


Because people enjoy photographs in a portfolio box, an album, and hanging on their walls to enjoy. Because I've been editing pictures since the early '90's and am pretty good at picking the winners from a wedding. Because you can't hang a hard-drive on a wall and say "See our wedding! Wasn't it fun!" Because shooting-and-burning is lazy on the part of the photographer and leaves you, the customer, with the hassle of editing AND printing your own pictures.

Why hire a photographer to do half the job for you? Legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams called the negative the score, and the print the performance. If you get a song from iTunes or wherever, you get the finished product, you don't get the sheet music so you can sing it yourself. When you hire me you get prints ready to frame and hang, not a pile of pictures you now have to look through and pick and print the winners yourself.

This diatribe brings me to Elizabeth and Dennis. They're a wonderful couple living in Madras and met through their jobs as social workers. They like to go motorcycling on a Harley, so we put that bike in some of our pictures. I always love working with people willing to try different ideas for pictures. I rarely do the same pictures over and over again. Except one: I love "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer (1665). I do and re-do that picture and that light as often as possible. Every face is different. The light is always slightly different. It always looks good.

But I digress.

Elizabeth and Dennis came into the wedding photography space where I talk to people, saw the matted prints on the shelves, the sample wedding albums, and the portfolio box and basically hired me on the spot. They wanted to make sure I can take pictures, but the wedding and engagement pictures in the room tell that story.

So we scheduled our session in late July up to the west of Mt. Bachelor in the Sparks Lake Meadow. I love this location. Looking east with the setting sun you have amazing natural light with Mt. Bachelor in the background. Looking west just after the shade from the western hills takes over you have amazing glowing light surrounding them. Combined with my Profoto they're just taking a light shower on a warm evening.

PLUS.... They were willing to experiment. I had them sit on the bike together when we first started and used my Profoto umbrella XL translucent to act like a scrim and block the sun from smacking them in the faces along with a small umbrella to camera left to pop some light on them. Mt. Bachelor bathed in sunshine was just behind them. While shooting it, with all that stuff going on I was thinking it wasn't going to turn out. But what do you know, it was a winner! Yay!

Then the sun went behind the hills and I had them sit on the log to the right of the small parking area and used the shadow of the hill to be a black background to make them pop out. The Profoto was of course used to light them nicely.

Then the sun went down and the natural light combined with my Profoto and some nice broken stratus clouds in the sky really made a beautiful scene for them to be a part of in the portrait. I don't do a ton of "small people, big background" pictures," but this one came out well.

When it was getting slightly dark we tried for some pan-blurs of them on the bike on the Cascade Lakes Highway. That's a tough shot. We got a couple, but I liked this one when the sky went red. I used two lights, one on each side of the road, to give them even lighting.

So now we're off to this summer and their wedding. Yay!