Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer | New York Engagement Photos at Kaaterskill Waterfall | Kaaterskill Falls Engagement Photos
For Jade & Andrew’s adventure engagement, we headed to this epic waterfall in Upstate NY | Kaaterskill Falls Engagement Photos
These incredible Kaaterskill Falls engagement photos are the reason I offer adventure engagement sessions. With two beautiful waterfalls, a hiking trail, rocks to cross, picnic areas, streams, bridges, and an outlook, the lovely Kaaterskill Falls in Upstate New York is popular for all the best reasons.
In fact, it got too popular during Covid when hiking was the only safe activity one could do, but that’s when Jade and Andrew, a lovely young couple from Long island, discovered this Hudson Valley waterfall hike. It was a no-brainer to do their engagement photos at Kaaterskill once they’d emailed me about photographing their adventure engagement session.
What’s an Adventure Engagement Session vs. Normal Engagement Photos?
Most photographers do engagement sessions that are 90 minutes or 2 hours, and do very standard poses at a park or garden. As a nontraditional wedding photographer and more creative engagement photographer, I don’t like to offer the bare minimum, nor typical engagement photos. (No offense to those who offer or get them–my clients hire me because of my offbeat style, not a traditional one.)
Therefore, I offer two choices for engagement photos at Kathryn Cooper Weddings (with further customization offered): A 2-hour engagement session, or a 4+ hour adventure engagement session, which allows us to go hiking, get sunrise views, have an adventure such as bike riding or motorcycling, do multiple activities, etc. It’s however you define adventure!
My adventure engagement sessions are definitely more popular post-Covid, and Jade & Andrew never considered anything but this 4-hour session. So off to Kaaterskill Falls we went!
A Stunning Kaaterskill Falls Engagement Session
First off, what better location to take engagement photos than at a waterfall? I can’t think of any, to be honest. And with not just one, but two stunning waterfalls, Kaaterskill Falls makes for the perfect adventure engagement photos.
Located in Hunter, New York, this stunning waterfall is one of my favorites in the state. And in case you didn’t know it, New York State has dozens of incredible waterfalls. We’re most famous for Niagara, though while it’s a sight to behold, I much prefer our slightly smaller but even more beautiful (in my opinion) waterfalls. Plus, it costs $0 to enter.
Many couples who opt for waterfall engagement photos need more time, and this means planning out the timing a bit more than usual. If you do a waterfall engagement session, I highly recommend going early in the day or late in the day. When the sun hits just part of a waterfall, it makes it very difficult to not be blinded by the reflection while still exposing properly for the subjects.
For the Best Engagement Photos, Start Early or Late
That said, we met early in the morning for Jade & Andrew’s session. Though there were already people in the parking lot, the small number of cars was no problem since quite a few trails, waterfall, and vista trails start from the parking lot at which we met.
We started off and trekked down to the lowest part of the falls, where the two of them changed. Andrew wore a black Calvin Klein tux and black sneakers, and Jade wore sneakers and a light pearl green satin dress that she’d had for a while (so she figured she’d give it a good last run). Luckily she didn’t mind it getting wet, because when you’re at the base of a thundering waterfall like Kaaterskill Falls, it WILL get wet.
As soon as I started taking photos, I knew it’d be an awesome session. THIS is why I love adventurous wedding photography and adventure photos! Clients who love to hike and play around in such beautiful places give amazing perspective. They even agreed to sit still for a few minutes so I could get some long exposures with the water having that luscious look.
2 Waterfalls in 1 at Kaaterskill Falls
We then hiked up the stairs to the first main drop of Kaaterskill Falls. Not so easy with all my camera equipment, but not so bad. Jade and Andrew immediately wanted to get behind the falls, so up they scampered and hiked until they were behind the waterfall. Both waterfalls at Kaaterskill total over 250 feet in drops, and add to that many smaller falls, and you’ve got about 300 vertical feet in drops (hence why wearing hiking shoes here is the smart way to go).
Want to have a wedding in Iceland or an Iceland elopement? Come to Kaaterskill waterfall. I always say that a Kaaterskill Falls engagement photoshoot looks like Iceland—only here in Upstate New York you’re drier, warmer, and less poor. Hey, I’ve been around Iceland…I can say this with confidence.
We had a lot of fun taking these shots, and as soon as they came back, the wind tunnel from the powerful water lifted the edge of her dress as she spun, and it was just stunning. After some photo stops on the way up, we stopped by the little river for some more private shots since there were crowds at the falls by 11am. We finished up at the lookout, and by the time we left, there was an hour wait just to get into the parking lot! Crazy. Getting here early was truly the secret to getting amazing shots—and here at the waterfalls, we did just that. Luckily these two were easy as pie to photograph, and we had a great time!
Different Settings = Different Editing
While my style is normally very bold and colorful, I photographed and edited this session a bit darker in order to capture the opalescent colors as light and reflections bounced off Jade’s dress—and to make sure the water and couple were the brightest stars of the show.
If you’re based in New York and want incredible photos at a waterfall, Kaaterskill Falls engagement photos (or elopement/wedding photos!) are THE thing to do. Because I’m not very far from this park and love photographing couples at Kaaterskill, I’m typically open for bookings here.
A few tips for Kaaterskill Falls engagement photos:
- As is always the case for adventure elopements, adventure sessions, or adventure engagement photos, wear or at least bring sturdy hiking boots, sandals, or socks. We hiked a good 2 miles, which isn’t a ton, but that included uneven stone steps, tree roots, stepping into and over water, getting across mossy, slippery rocks, and scampering around boulders. You do not want anything less than hiking shoes, hiking sandals, or sturdy sneakers that can get wet
- Never get near the edge, as there have been accidents with people slipping—and there’s almost always a ranger nearby to make sure people don’t stand where it’s unsafe
- Eloping at Kaaterskill Falls is a fantastic choice, but definitely do so on a weekday as weekends get quite crowded
- If you’re planning on wearing dresses, you’ll want a long dress, short, a skort, or pants since the strong falls and gorge create a lot of wind. If you wear a skirt or short dress, you’ll be flashing everyone
- In this environment, lighter-colored outfits are probably the way to go. If you wear all black, brown, or other super dark colors, you’ll blend in too much with the background. Wearing maroon is probably as dark as you want to go, and lavender, light pink, light blue, white, and light green work well here
Whatever you do, have fun, be safe, and enjoy one of the most magnificent waterfalls in New York State~
Kathryn Cooper Weddings: Hudson Valley Elopement Photographer | Hudson Valley Elopement | Kaaterskill Falls