Outdoor Adventure Wedding Engagement Photography: Dana & Joel

From hiking to the top of a mountain together to boating with their pups then pitching a tent and roasting s’mores– every moment of this extended engagement session was an adventure!

I thought this would be a sweet ring shot for a couple who is happiest in their hiking boots…

Dana and Joel reached out to me after checking out Fearless Photographers in search of an international award-winning wedding photographer in their area.

Dana shared, “We started reviewing Fearless award winners in NJ, PA, and NY area. When we came across your profile and looked at your website we were immediately drawn to your work because of how unique, crisp, and vibrant your photos are. We also loved how your photos define the couple!”

She continued, “Each session is personalized and tell a story. We could just see our story being told. Also all the different angles and lenses you use to make them not just your everyday photos are amazing and unique, but you also do superb traditional photos, too.”

Dana and Joel began their session in a rowboat.  It wasn’t what we had planned, but Joel, who tends to be the spontaneous type, noticed the boat rental.  I loved the idea and so did Dana and Joel’s dogs, Peanut & Fluff.  Dana, who tends to be the super organized type, actually had doggie life jackets along and was game, too!

The act of rowing the boat itself spoke volumes about their relationship and personalities!

Joel dove right in with rowing, but wasn’t exactly sure how to do it and began rowing the boat backwards! Dana tried to explain, but ended up “taking the reins” rowing the boat “properly” which Joel found both annoying and slightly amusing. After a minute or two they were rowing in sync, laughing and enjoying the water with their dogs.

Dana explained, “This is exactly what happens in our daily lives and how/ why we work so well together. We give and take, eventually it just works out when we work together as a team.”

This photo shows Dana digging in her oar and leaning in to avoid the brush ahead, haha, while the pups are perched so sweetly on the back of the boat…

Family photo!!!

Dana explained, “We wanted to get some shots with Peanut and Fluff because they are part of our little family :). We are very active with our pups – we take them kayaking at the lake where we live, so going on the rowboats with them was second nature for us and we knew they would love it.”

Here are more traditional portraits of the pups…

And of course a more classic portrait of Dana & Joel as well.  I used a shallow depth of field to allow the forest (and a trail blaze) to be in the background, and allowed leaves to cross into the foreground to add some visual interest.

Dana’s maid of honor was awesome and came along on the trip, watching the pups as Dana Joel and I hiked to the top of a mountain and manning the fire and tent (yesssss those pics are coming up soon and so much fun)!

As we leave the lake behind to start the hiking part of their adventure, I’ll transition with this photograph…

Dana shared, “The Appalachian Trail has a special meaning to us because we have hiked many parts of it. Dana hiked the entire length of the AT in NJ one summer with her parents and Joel has done pieces in PA, NY, NJ.”

Dana said that the Appalachian Trail passes through not only their engagement location, but their wedding venue as well.  I asked if she could circle the location on the map using her ring– here it is!

Throughout our time together, I noticed how well-matched Dana and Joel are– there was a lot of laughter, team work, thoughtfulness and trust.

Dana elaborated, “Joel and I share many common interests and that’s what originally attracted us to each other. Joel is a very hardworking, caring, and loving person and always has our best interest at heart.”

I love all of the vibrant foliage, intense light and shadows in this photograph…

Joel shared, “Before I met Dana, I struggled a lot with self confidence, I kept to myself as much as possible. But since we’ve been together, I’m willing to go out and adventure a lot more.  Where I lack she excels and vice versa.  I love how strong she is!  I’m so happy to have Dana in my life!”

I like the symmetry in this photo!  I think it really shows the balance in their relationship…  it also shows off the trail blaze, hehe:

Dana agreed about balancing each other out, “We pretty much fill in each others weak areas and complement each other.  We fit together like a puzzle, we belong together.”

This has to be one of my favorite photographs from their session as it really shows Dana and Joel in their element, having a blast!

When Joel sat on the log Dana was whipped up into the air, haha…

Dana shared, “It was like being on a teeter totter it took trust and teamwork and was so much fun!”

As we neared the summit, there were so many rocks and nice places to stop for a few moments…

They climbed to the top while I stayed below.  I had this shot in mind with it’s vibrant colors and dramatic lighting…

Wow!!!  What a view!!!  Hold on tight, guys!!!

Just incredible– I like how the sunlight is creating rainbow colored orbs that are delicately through the scene.  It gives it such a warm, emotional feel…

They have been through a lot together and support each other, they also have a very bright future ahead of them.  I think this photo really captures that…

The sun was getting low in the sky and I really had wanted to be back at the water by sunset…

We made it!!!

They headed to the campsite…  They shared that one of their life goals is to visit every national park in the USA!

Dana shared that her parents instilled in her a love for the outdoors, that she has been to more than 20 National Parks.  Joel added the he is an Eagle Scout and spent a lot of his time outdoors as well.  Dana explained, “Our shared love for the outdoors was part of the reason we fell in love!”

Here they roast s’mores while wearing their favorite national parks sweatshirts, I like how you can see the warm glow of the fire and cool twilight colors in the background…

I focused on the floating embers of the fire and allowed Dana and Joel to fade into the background…

I love a challenge and photographing a couple in the woods in the dark is just that!

Dana and Joel hung out in the tent while I tried various lighting techniques…

This is my favorite… take a closer look to see the stars:

Dana and Joel, I absolutely loved working with the two of you!!!  I’m so glad that you decided to book the time to go on so many adventures together during the session– from the boat with pups, to the hike, to the view and campsite and fire… I loved every minute :).  I am eagerly anticipating photographing your upcoming wedding at  Crystal Springs Resort!

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