Sam’s Point Preserve | Hudson Valley Engagement Photographer | Sam’s Point Ellenville NY
For engagement photos in the Hudson Valley, Rebecca & Eric opted to have me capture them in Sam’s Point Preserve: An adventurous New York state park with epic views
Sam’s Point Preserve in Lake Minnewaska State Park is one of my favorite places in all of New York to do engagement photos and elopement photography. As a Hudson Valley wedding photographer, I know my fair share of amazing locations in New York and beyond. I shoot elopements, weddings, proposals, and engagements all around the country and world, but love coming back to Sam’s Point. Why? It’s a 10-minute hike (walk even) to the most amazing view. It has cliffs. It has views, It has side-by-side cliff views. It’s got drama, and sunsets, and nearby caves to explore, and wild berries. It has bears. Porcupines. Deer. Coyotes. Foxes. But best of all, it’s just a short drive away from my home, and I love the feeling of adventure.
It’s no wonder that Rebecca and Eric, who grew up nearby and knew each other when younger, wanted to have their adventure engagement photos done here. They reunited a few years ago, started dating, and here we are now. They’ll be eloping soon out of state, but wanted to document their engagement at this amazing Hudson Valley location close to their home.
People who aren’t New Yorkers are always shocked when I explain that this is New York. Fun fact: New York City accounts for 40% of New York State’s population, but makes up under 1% of the area of the state.
When people assume New York City is all there is to New York State, they’re missing literally 99% of what New York is about! Or heck, at least 60%, people-wise. I happen to love many areas of New York, and have called many parts of NYC, the Hudson Valley, and upstate New York home for years. Many are still surprised to learn that most of New York is full of farms, waterfalls, national forests, amazing mountains, orchards, thousands of lakes, wild animals ranging from moose and bears and porcupines to rattlesnakes and bobcats and [pizza] rats, and much more. It’s truly an amazing state. As both a NYC and Upstate NY wedding photographer, I’m proud to show everyone just how diverse New York is—and Sam’s Point is an excellent example of what’s in our backyard, just a couple hours from NYC.
A Hurricane in New York
Rebecca & Eric’s New York engagement photo session was not without drama. We picked Wednesday, September 1, 2021 for the shoot, and if you’re a New Yorker, you’ll remember that NYC and downstate New York had a hurricane and crazy flooding on September 1.
Yeah, not the best day to pick. Because we both had flexibility and a hurricane here in the Hudson Valley is rare, we postponed to the next day. Thursday was beautiful, and we immediately took out for our hike to the top. Note: Parking anywhere in Minnewaska State Park is $10 per vehicle.
As soon as we got there, we realized there was one main hurricane remnant (aside from all the closed roads, downed trees, and flooding I drove past on the way): Wind. MAJOR wind. As in, I was yelling ideas and directions to Rebecca and Eric, and I was only 20 feet away. They still couldn’t hear me!
Rebecca’s hair swirled in the heavy winds, and I yelled that we’d just have to embrace the hair-in-face gales. Along with those winds came the cold. I had to change into pants and my sweatshirt, and could barely feel my fingers! Considering it was calm, warm, and windless in the parking lot, I felt lucky to not be wearing a dress like Rebecca. She was a trooper though, and after a quick outfit change and a beautiful sunset, we went down to a slightly less windy location.
Eric and Rebecca really enjoyed the view and sunset, and there was admittedly nothing we could do about the wind. Unfortunately this meant that we couldn’t get close to the edge of the rock cliff for the truly epic views, but safety>epic photos every day. Photographing Sam’s Point engagement photos or wedding photos means ALWAYS watching where you’re stepping, not getting too close to the edges, and avoiding the area if icy or snowy, since thin ice can form over actual gaps between rocks. Definitely be careful here.
Sunset Engagement Photos
The end of the sunset was peeking through the trees in a most incredible way, stippling the rocks behind Eric & Rebecca with this amazing red-orange light. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. (And if you know my natural photography work here at Kathryn Cooper Weddings, you know this isn’t enhanced—that rusty red is how it actually appeared on the rocks!). I do love sunrise and sunset sessions, but this type of sunset engagement photos was wild to see in person.
What to do for windy engagement photoshoots
We didn’t know it was going to be windy here since our previous visits were wind-free. If you do know it’ll be windy going into your photoshoot, however, here are a few tips:
- Wear a long dress, preferably a flowy dress with tulle or chiffon, so that the wind makes it look epic, not wrinkled
- If you only have short dresses or blouses/pants, try to wear something structured so that it doesn’t look messy
- Put your hair up, or do your hair and makeup trial with an updo.
- Always bring layers! Weather can change at any moment, so leggings/hoodies/etc. are always a good idea
Sam’s Point Weddings
While Sam’s Point isn’t exactly a Hudson Valley wedding venue (you can see my list here of unique wedding venues in the Hudson Valley), you can, with a permit, get married here at Minnewaska State Park. Eloping at Sam’s Point Preserve in Minnewaska is absolutely possible, especially since Minnewaska is such a huge, varied park. If you were to ask me about the best place close to NYC for wedding photos or an adventure session, I’d say Sam’s Point Area. It’s that beautiful!
Plus, there’s much more here than just this area. Do the real full hike or even part of it, and you’ll encounter a waterfall, wild berries, rolling hills, rock outcroppings with more views and 0 people, or the very nearby (but more popular) Sam’s Point Ice Caves of Minnewaska.
As a Hudson Valley elopement photographer and adventure elopement photographer all around the country and world, I would love to photograph vows atop this beautiful vista! You can email me directly at info@KathrynCooperWeddings.com, or just fill out my contact form here.
I really enjoyed doing Rebecca & Eric’s engagement photos at this most beautiful location, and despite the weather challenges, we eventually made it back to the parking lot by nightfall and definitely enjoyed the warmth of our cars on the way back home.
Adventure engagement photos are awesome, but being prepared is always smart.
Adventure engagement gear:
Whether you’re the photographer (like me) or the clients, you want to be prepared. In addition to my camera gear, my adventure engagement and adventure elopement gear always includes:
- Layers (shorts, long pants, t-shirt, windbreaker
- Water in my Nalgene
- Snacks. Even a 2-hour shoot could turn into much longer if you were to get lost or extend
- Flash. You never know when you’ll need it!
- Hiking boots or at least hiking sandals (Keen) or sneakers
- Thin gloves. These can be a lifesaver just for warming up my exposed hands!
- Sunscreen. Even if it’s 40 degrees out, I’m guaranteed to get sunburned
- A comb or brush, which Rebecca used many times in the crazy wind
- Hiking socks. If there’s rain or cold, good wool socks will make a huge difference
And that’s it! Have a blast on your adventure engagement shoot, and always feel free to reach out to me with any questions about local and destination engagement photography. And if you’re in New York’s Hudson Valley, Sam’s Point in Ellenville, NY is as beautifully easy as it gets ~