Adventure Engagement Photographer | Hiking Engagement Photographer | Fun Engagement Photos
Hiking engagement photos are an amazing way to get beautiful, epic shots away from the usual. Skip the popular spots filled with tourists, the standard romantic and up-close engagement photos, and do something in a gorgeous location, any time of year!
Why take outdoor engagement photos when I can just take them in the local park?
You absolutely can take your engagement photos in your house, at a park, in a garden, or on vacation. They’re all great, and give you a chance to get to know your photographer—or at the very least, what it’s like to have professional photos taken! But for many couples who find me, incorporating their love for getting away from it all, or showing off a different environment, is really important. Hiking engagement photos are a simple way to have fun, feel more yourself, and get epic shots.
Throughout the pandemic, hiking has been a saving grace for so many. And since I’m an adventurous creative wedding photographer, I love when couples come to me wanting wedding or engagement photos that combines their love with their love for the outdoors.
My style at Kathryn Cooper Weddings is very candid, adventurous, colorful, and fun. Many of my couples are travelers, hikers, LGBTQ couples, sarcastic folks, and/or explorers who are more the “let’s have an adventure” type than the “let’s get dressed up” type. I get all kinds of clients, but going hiking is very natural for many of my couples, so it’s nice to showcase that part of them (especially if their wedding is in a more formal venue away from mountains/woods/waterfalls).
Outdoor engagement photos are my favorite, and since I love being unique, offering hiking engagement photos is gaining in popularity. Whether 1 mile or 10, many of my couples are excited to take shots somewhere beautiful, new, and/or much loved. For some it’s finding a new perspective at a place where they’ve spent time.
Take Romi and Jon, who spent time in Mammoth Lakes growing up. They’d never been on the trail above this specific lake, though, so for their California hiking engagement photos, we hiked this beautiful trail and got incredible views. See more of their photoshoot here.
What to bring when doing hiking engagement photos
- Boots: Go for function, not looks. Your feet and body will thank you! Make sure you’ve broken them in before your photoshoot. Hiking experience is a good idea anyway! If you don’t have boots or don’t want to bring them, hiking sandals or even sneakers will do
- Nice shoes: If your feet are definitely going to show, bring a change of shoes in a plastic or fabric bag. You can easily switch out once you reach your photo location(s)
- A small towel: If you’re taking hiking engagement photos, chances are you’re going to need to sit down to change shoes, relax, or even have a photo op on a fallen log. A small towel gives your tush a clean place to sit so you don’t ruin your outfit for photos!
- A sweat rag: Yeah, we all get sweaty. Make sure you bring a handkerchief, tennis wrist band, or sweat rag so that you can clean up (and have a few minutes) before you start on photos
- A change of clothes: While you want to avoid carrying tons of items, a change of clothes is important. Things get dirty. You could easily get cold or hot. Or, you just may want a second look since most engagement photos do 2 looks. So bring socks, a shirt/hoodie, and pants/shorts/skirt, plus flip-flops or something similar
- A comb: No matter your gender, hair can get matted with sweat or wind-swept at the top of a mountain. If you’re doing hiking engagement photos, a comb or brush will help calm wild hair
- Powder/sunscreen/makeup: If you’re wearing makeup, powder will help combat shine. Sunscreen will prevent damage. When you’re in Colorado or places with high elevation, the sun’s rays are more powerful, so make sure you’re covered either way!
- Water: Unless you’re strolling around a pond, always have water on hand. I make sure clients take water, and I take water for myself, when doing any kind of hiking engagement session or hiking wedding photos. You never know when you’ll go further than expected, or it’s hotter than expected. Water can literally be a lifesaver, so please stay hydrated (especially in dry locations like Arizona, Utah, Idaho, etc.!)
- Snacks: Even if you just ate, always have snacks with you. A few granola bars or jerky weigh very little, but can be lifesavers if anything were to happen. Also, 4 hours of hiking deserves (and needs) a power-up. Always have nuts, a piece of fruit, a sandwich, or even M&Ms to pop into your stomach for a quick boost of energy
- A headlamp: I love my Black Diamond, which has different colors of lights for hiking, biking, alerts, or fun. I often need this when I stay longer for sunset than I intended, or hike out before the sun comes up.
What should you expect to spend for a hiking engagement shoot, which is more of an adventure engagement session?
Engagement photos pricing: Most full-time, professional (insured, backups ready, not-your-cousin’s-iphone) engagement photographers charge anywhere from $400-$750 for engagement photos. For hiking engagement photos—which tend to not only take longer, but take more skill, more prep time, and a higher fitness level (try lugging 30 pounds of gear up a mountain!), you can expect to pay a bit more.
If you do hiking engagement photos in a park or location with extra fees, such as Yosemite (which requires passes, permits, and a lot more time commuting/accommodations), you can expect to spend anywhere from $750-$1200 for your adventure session. They’ll often be longer as well, and many couple devote a half-day or day to it. By the way: Yosemite engagement photos often involve hiking, but don’t have to! Check out my list below of great engagement photo spots without the hiking. There are tons of spots everywhere from Utah’s Arches National Park to the White Mountains of New Hampshire that offer amazing views without the hiking. That said, you’ll always have more authenticity, more of an adventure, and fewer people when you do engagement photos while hiking!
Where are the best places for engagement photos with mountains, waterfalls, and hiking involved?
There are SO many amazing locations, but here are a few I love in the USA. Keep in mind that many of these are also incredible for elopement locations. Some locations need permits, so always look this up or ask your photographer before heading there.
- The Catskills of New York, with waterfalls all over
- Valley of Fire State Park, Arizona
- Taft Point or Sentinel Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
- Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii
- The Finger Lakes, New York (many waterfalls)
- Ram Head Trail, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
- Delaware Water Gap, New Jersey/Pennsylvania/New York
- Samuel Boardman State Park, Oregon
- Pictured Rocks, Michigan
- Joshua Tree National Park, California
- Secret trails on Big Island, Hawaii (many with waterfalls/beach!)
- Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
- Sedona, Arizona
- Charles Bunion Trail, Great Smokies National Park, North Carolina
- Starved Rock State Park, Illinois (waterfalls + rocks)
- The Big 5 National Parks of Utah, plus so many more gems
- Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana
- Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado
I have so many favorite and secret trails I haven’t listed here, so feel free to email me at info@KathrynCooperWeddings.com with ideas. Or, simply fill out my Contact form here.
What to wear for your adventure engagement photos?
If you’re just hiking, wear what you would normally wear–but preferably with a change of clothes and nothing that will show sweat stains. Darker is probably better, if rain or mud is likely. Always bring layers!
Most couples have 2 sets of clothing for their hiking engagement photos: Their typical hiking wear (hiking boots, wool socks, shorts or pants, a dry wicking shirt, and a windbreaker/hoodie); and a dressier outfit (for any gender, slacks or a vest, a nice shirt, a sundress or maxi dress, a skirt and blouse, and close-toed flats with some grip). I recommend long dresses and skirts since wind can often be an issue, and you really don’t want to flash everyone who’s arriving to the peak.
Early morning or late afternoon are the best times of day so that you have the right sun angles, but enough light for hiking up and down. Bright, jewel-tone colors work much better than muted ones, and you generally don’t want to blend in with your background. Taking photos in a forest? Don’t wear green or brown. Taking photos on the ocean? Don’t wear blue. Be bold, whatever you do!
Want to take hiking engagement photos to the next level?
|You don’t ONLY have to hike. Split your time by doing some hiking and some while having a secondary adventure. Or, hike one way and be creative in the other direction! Here are some engagement photo ideas:|
|Hike up and snowboard or ski down|
|Enjoy time with your dog|
|Try skydiving or bungee jumping|
|Go hiking AND go on a high ropes course|
|Hike up and take a mountain coaster down|
|Zipline your way down a mountain|
|Enjoy a refreshing kayak ride after your hike|
|Have a picnic up top, or pop champagne|
|Keep with the outdoors and tandem bike ride|
|Go cliff jumping at the end, or go get in a waterfall! (I am a cliff jumping addict and have a waterproof case for underwater wedding photos, so I will literally jump in besides you for amazing photos|
|Do an underwater session after your hike!|
|Take a different mode of transportation one-way, then hike the other direction. Think helicopter rides, hot air balloons, mountain trams, ski lifts, and more|
|Off-road in your Jeep since you might as well be sweaty AND dirty. Sedona is an amazing place for this!|
|Do a mountain biking photoshoot on the way down|
Don’t want to hike, but still want beautiful views? No problem.
Look, hiking engagement photos aren’t for everyone. Many people don’t like hiking, or can’t hike due to health concerns, or have a partner who hates hiking. Whatever the reason, if you still want that view without the effort, there are many locations where you can do engagement photos with a view.
- Cadillac Mountain, Maine
- The Blue Ridge Mountains
- Glen Spey, New York along the Upper Delaware Water Gap
- Any beach in Florida, especially secluded beaches in Key West
- Highway 1 in California, including the famous Bixby Bridge
- Oregon’s Coast
- Driving through Olympic National Park, Washington
- Joshua Tree allows you to drive right up to cacti and cool rock formations—no hiking required
- Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park is a long drive but about 2 minutes of walking
- Lake Placid, New York
There are tons of beautiful locations, from South Dakota to Texas, that offer beautiful views without moving far from your car. There will likely be more people, but it’s a great option for those with disabilities or those who just can’t/don’t want to hike. Look up state parks and national parks, beaches, and gardens for ideas.
So there you have it! Tons of ideas, tips, are locations for taking adventurous hiking engagement photos. As your photographer, I’ll hike with you, enjoy the views with you, and probably grab an ice cream with you afterwards to cool down, too. Ready to book your engagement or wedding photos with a view? Fill out my contact form here, or scroll to the bottom of this page and fill out the simple questions.
Now go out and have an adventure!