Love and Engagement

Preparing For Your Engagement (Couples) Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Congratulations on your engagement! This is a special time in your life and should be documented. So, before you get too far into wedding planning, take a few moments to start planning your engagement session. Engagement photos are a great way to announce your big news, plus they will be some of your top viewed photos of the year! They deserve a little planning but the fun we’ll have and the amazing photos you’ll get are totally worth it! These will be images you’ll treasure forever. Plus it also gives you a chance to work with us prior to your wedding day so you can get a feel of how we work and it takes a lot of unnecessary stress out of the wedding shots!

Below let’s talk about some of the things you’ll need to consider while planning your engagement session but remember the most important advice is that this should be fun and relaxed! It’s not worth stressing over, save that for the wedding deets!

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  1. Wardrobe

  • Pick out two or three outfits for your session, this will give you some variety in your photos. If you are having a hard time choosing you can always bring an extra outfit or two or get our input on what would photograph the best.

  • Choose soft, muted, neutral colors like whites, browns, sage green, grey, blush or black. Avoid neon colors, crazy or tight patterns or lots of competing colors because they will draw attention away from you and your love. You two are the focus of the photos and we want to avoid competition and instead focus on the intimate and fun moments between you.

  • Select clothing that is comfortable, if you aren’t comfortable then it will show in the photos. That being said, avoid clothes that are too tight and may show underwear lines or unwanted bulges. On the other end of the spectrum, avoid clothes that are baggy or over-sized. They can make you look boxy and add bulk to your shape. Finding proper fitting clothes that you are comfortable in and fit your body style is essential!

  • Consider buying a dress or skirt for your session. You’ll look and feel great in your new outfit and a hand selected dress to match the location you choose can’t be beat. Long flowing skirts photograph well and are really fun in action-based shots!

  • Coordinate—but don’t match. Think coordinating color palettes, but not matchy/matchy. Too much contrast (i.e. you in white, him in black) can overwhelm a picture or be cheesy. Also avoid both wearing patterns as they again may draw viewers eyes away from your moments.

2. Look your best!

  • These photos will be family heirlooms. They’ll be sent off on save-the dates, parents and grandparents will display them and eventually children and grandchildren will look back at them. It’s important to look and feel your best! Although many women are comfortable doing their makeup I suggest hiring a professional to do your hair and makeup because they know how makeup photographs so they can contour to bring out your best features. They also can put together the perfect palette to match your selected outfits and location.

  • Utilize your hair and makeup trials with your wedding vendors. This is a great way to get the most out of those trials and not pay for additional services. Need hair and makeup artists? Check out our Sound South Wedding Vendor Guide.

  • Get your ring cleaned, let that thing sparkle!

See more of Krissy + Mitch’s Lake Cushman Adventure Session - Coming Soon

See more of Krissy + Mitch’s Lake Cushman Adventure Session - Coming Soon

3. Where should we have our photos taken?

  • Are you at home in the city? Adventurers?? Are you drawn to the mountain or water? Is there a location that is significant to you and your fiance? Ask yourself these questions and it will help you find an engagement session location. You two will be the main focus of the photos but having a serene or special backdrop makes for fabulous photos and epic memories from that day.

  • Looking for areas nearby the Olympia area? Look HERE for some idea.

  • Seeking wind in your hair and adventure to feed your soul? Say no more, I’m already sold. For ideas on adventurous locations click HERE.

See more of Emily + Mario’s Gold Creek Pond Engagement Session - Coming Soon

See more of Emily + Mario’s Gold Creek Pond Engagement Session - Coming Soon

5. What time should we plan on begin taking our photos?

  • About 2 hours before sunset is the best time since the light is prettiest. So, for example, if sunset is at 7\8:30pm, we'll usually plan to start around 6:30pm.

  • Two hours or so after sunrise is also a good option for certain locations. The morning light is cool and pretty, there are less people out and about and depending on the season there is a good chance of some pretty fog!

See more of Silu + Aristotle’s Seattle Engagement Session - Coming Soon

See more of Silu + Aristotle’s Seattle Engagement Session - Coming Soon

6. Creativity + trusting your photographer

  • We are very experienced in posing couples and will use our creativity to bring out the best in you! Chat with us before the session and let us know if there are any specific poses that interest you, otherwise sit back, have fun and trust us to capture all the special moments.

See more of Naya + Betka’s downtown Seattle Couples Session - Coming Soon

7. Keep the mood light.

  • Relax! If you are uncomfortable it will show in the photos! Relax and BREATHE!

  • Have fun! Above all, this is the most important. This is an exciting time for you as a couple and we want to capture your personalities and the love that you share.

8. Can we bring pets?

  • Of course! Bring your fur babies and we’ll grab some photos of you and them. I do recommend bringing a friend to help with them while we are shooting the photos without them though. If that isn’t an option bring a long leash so we can tie them to a tree while we are shooting.

See more of Krissy, Mitch + Lily’s Lake Cushman adventure sesion - Coming Soon

See more of Krissy, Mitch + Lily’s Lake Cushman adventure sesion - Coming Soon

9. Think props

  • Is there something special that has lots of significance in your relationship? It could be a blanket, a piece of jewelry, a vintage car or a motorcycle. The more unique to your relationship, the better! Look HERE for more prop ideas.

  • If you choose to bring props, limit it to two or three. We want your awesome props to enhance the photos and add personality, but not take away attention from you two.
     

10. Be on time

  • This is REALLY important! What you may not realize is that photographers are 100% dependent on the sun and specifically plan their sessions for the most flattering and beautiful light. If you show up late you will lose time off your session due to lack of light

  • . There are always things that happen that are out of our control, like traffic and accidents but by planning your route and a backup route ahead of time and leaving early you can minimize the risk of showing up late and losing camera time.

  • Being late is stressful and we want you happy and relaxed!

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Adventure Portrait Sessions: What They Are and Why You NEED One! | Olympia Wedding Photographer

What is an adventure portrait Session?

An adventure portrait session is a great way to capture images of you and your babe while exploring the great Pacific Northwest. An adventure session throws traditional portrait locations to the wind in exchange for ones that are a bit more wild, natural and epic. They tend to be way more fun… and maybe a bit muddier!

Who is an adventure portrait session for?

Nature lovers, free-spirits and the adventurous at heart. If a bit of a drive or a hike doesn’t scare you then an adventure portrait session is for you! While adventure session are perfect for lovers and elopements, they are also great for senior sessions, bridal sessions and boudoir. So hike up your skirt and let’s go!

How much does an adventure session cost?

Price depends on the location you select as well as time needed for the adventure, see pricing HERE.

Things to consider when planning an adventure portrait session.

  • Time - How long will it take to drive to your desired location? If there is a hike, how long will it take?

  • Location - What sort of background appeals to you? Woods, mountains, water? All of them?? Maybe there is a place that has special memories for you?

  • When to schedule - This depends on your location…. places like Mt. Rainier close when there is snow but others like Gold Creek Pond are amazing in the winter! Also consider fall as a great time to book due to the auburn foliage, it’s pretty magical! Winter session can be foggy, snowy and majestic but there is a higher chance of rain…be prepared to shoot in the rain or reschedule.

  • Clothing - Select two or three outfits that don’t clash with the scenery. After all the view is why we are there! Think simple patterns, solid colors and fun hats. Bring or wear sensible shoes. Bring towels and a change of clothes in case you get wet.

  • Props - Best to keep it basic out in the wilderness but a cute little picnic, a bottle of champagne or a cozy blanket can all be great additions to your session.

  • Snacks- Exploring is hard work and we may build up an appetite! Bring plenty of food and water for our adventure.

Where are some great locations to do an adventure portrait session?

The possibilities are endless!

Below are just a few localish locations for an adventure portrait session. If you have another idea I'd love to go explore with you! I'm open to non-local adventure too, message me and let's start exploring!

Ask about session discounts on my bucket list/favorite locations!

  • Ruby Beach

  • Rattlesnake Ledge

  • Cannon Beach

  • Leavenworth

Mt. Rainier

See more of Mt. Rainier


Lake Cushman

See More Lake Cushman


Rattlesnake Lake

See more of Rattlesnake Lake


Franklin Falls

See more of Franklin Falls


Gold Creek Pond


Deception Pass

See more of Deception Pass


Cannon Beach

See more of Cannon Beach


Manchester State Park


See more of Manchester State Park

Vantage

See more of Vantage, WA

Group Senior Shoot

For portrait location ideas closer to Olympia check out 10 Great Portrait Locations Near Olympia

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Veronica + Joseph Tumwater Engagement Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Kate + Taylor's Discovery Park Engagement | Seattle Wedding Photographer

Kate + Taylor are getting married, which is totally rad because they are such a good match for each other! Even in the limited time we spent together during our initial meeting (which actually was about two hours cause we were having so much fun chatting and eating delicious pizza!) and for their engagement session I could see how well their personalities complimented each others. They are also both sassy and sweet, kind, patient, fun and light-hearted. They are constantly joking back and forth with each other and their positive attitudes kept the mood cheery and me smiling.

Along for the adventure with this sweet couple was their very content fur baby, Flynn. Flynn has an amazing story that lead to him being adopted by Kate + Taylor and brought back to the United States. He is one lucky pup and I’m pretty sure he knows it! Flynn was super easy to work with, a great listener and check out his smile! Someone is excited his humans are getting married!

We got the perfect day with the perfect weather for their Discovery Park Engagement session. Not too hot, not too cold and the perfect sun streaming through the trees. I am stoked for the warm colors of PNW fall, but I’m most definitely going to miss that beautiful summer sun. Don’t go yet, I’m not ready…

Kate + Taylor….. these two are most definitely ‘made for each other’ and I’m super stoked that I get to be the one to document their love story and capture all the little moments that they will cherish for eternity. I’m am counting down the days until their September 2019 wedding at Fireseed Catering on Whidbey Island! With their farm to table policy, beautiful gardens and stunning view it’s going to be an amazing and unique experience.

Makeup: Bethany Yackel Beauty

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Kirsten + Jonathon's Tacoma Engagement Session | Tacoma Engagement Photographer

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Krysta + Kyle's Dupont Couples Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagramand check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Lerae + Jordan's Tolmie State Park Engagement | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Lerae, Jordan and I met up on a beautiful Fall day for these fun and sunny engagement photos. Fast forward several months, a change of calendar year, three seasons and many many many hours of planning and here we sit 9 days until their wedding! NINE! We have finally hit single digits! Man, it's crazy how fast time has flown by!

Lerae + Jordan wanted an area close to Olympia that showed the greens of the Pacific Northwest but also had water and a variety of areas to shoot. Tolmie State Park makes for great scenery for portraits and is one of my favorite locations in the area! Beyond the beach, forest and fun wooden bridge there are also tons of trails to explore with a variety of dark green, PNWesty scenery. For other options near Olympia check out '10 Great Portrait Locations Near Olympia'.

As well as a great location, I love the tones that Lerae + Jordan chose for their wardrobe. The soft neutral tones and natural colors were perfect for both the wood and the beach and they were both comfortable and relaxed in the outfits they chose. Outfit selection is critical for good portraits and colors, patterns and fit can really change the mood and outcome of the images. For more tips on wardrobe selection see 'Preparing For Your Portrait Session'.

I don't typically encourage bringing a ton of props to portraits session because I prefer to focus on people and their interactions with each other rather than items, but a few per session can add some variety and sweet, personalized little touches. Lerae + Jordan chose to bring a cute little sign with a significant phrase on it, 'Love you More...', and a blanket, which fit great into their session! Need ideas for a prop or two to bring to your session? Check out 'Fun Prop Ideas for Your Portrait Session'.

Lerae + Jordan's session was not only amazing but it was also so much fun! I LOVE to capture 'love' and the way these two interact it is undeiable how much they love each other! Their sweet little cuddles, constant giggles and the way Jordan so sweetly looked at and attended to Lerae was really heart-warming. I'm counting down the days until this sweet couples says 'I do!'

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Alicia + Brock's Rattlesnake Lake Couples Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Adventure! One of my favorite type of sessions to capture is an adventure session. An adventure session is where we pick a location that is amazing, epic, gorgeous, breathe taking, memorable or all of the above and put you in it. This type of session is great to capture a location that has fond memories or just to capture the PNW in general. Most types of session can be done as an adventure session, which is a great alternative to session at a local park or urban setting.

We chose to do Alicia + Brock's adventurous couples session at Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend. It had been a while since I had shot there so I was pretty excited. We got a beautiful day that was warm and sunny so we shot in the evening and utilized the beautiful soft light of golden hour.

Alicia is such a sweet person, so positive and happy. She was constantly laughing and smiling, which is contagious! Brock is the strong and silent type, his serious face is pensive and you can just tell he is taking everything in. Both Alicia + Brock are artists and are so expressive in their own ways. Their personalities compliment each other and aren't unlike the Chinese Yin + Yang principles that represent the universe. 

Alicia + Brock even got SUPER brave at the end of our session and climbed into the chilly lake for some super sexy couples photos. I guess I can't say much since I shot from a dry and warm rock a few steps from shore but in my opinion it was totally worth braving the cold water for these fun and playful photos! HAHA!

This blog really makes me realize how much I love doing adventure sessions! So, stay tuned for a blog on Adventure Portrait Sessions coming soon...!!

 

Also, check out the amazing necklace Alicia is wearing. It has the prettiest little moonstone hanging from the moon. It was the perfect accessory for her low-v cut dresses.

Moon + Moonstone Necklace: Ethereal Earth Gifts

Dresses: Forever 21

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Kenzi + Daniel's Lake Cushman Engagement Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

In search of adventure and some epic beautiful scenery Kenzi, Daniel and I chose Lake Cushman as the destination for their adventurous couples session. We also threw around a few other ideas for beautiful "PNWesty" locations but in the end this quaint little lake, full of serenity and character, really drew us in and made the decision for us.  

When I first heard that rain was forecasted for our portrait session day I nearly cried! We had so carefully selected that day, working around everyone's schedules, and spent time determining location, wardrobe and snacks! I was sad but determined to shoot no matter the weather. Luckily, Kenzi + Daniel are adventurous souls and were fully on board. Instead of rain we ran into the most delicious weather! A layer of white cotton candy fog hung over the lake and mingled in the trees. To my delight it was was the most perfect weather to help set the mood for this romantic couples session. 

The day of the shoot was relaxing, exciting and so much fun! We met in the afternoon and headed out to Lake Cushman together so we could explore and find these amazing places. We definitely had a full car with two car seats (sans babies), three adults, a picnic basket, food, 3+ blankets, multiple changes of clothes, camera gear, a guitar and some light hearted chatter. Kenzi + Daniel are so easy going though, it was just as fun getting to know them as it was exploring. 

This sweet couple has been together for five years and they have three amazing children. They enjoy spending time with family and friends, being outdoors and of course they love being in front of the camera.... which is fantastic because their connection is unreal and they are so fun to work with! Anytime, friends! I look forward to when we meet again. 

Make-up: Ronny Marcella

Moon/Moonstone Jewelry: Amber Corp

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagramand check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Lindsay + Nick Downtown Olympia Engagement | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Seventeen.

Seventeen is the number of days until these two lovies exchange 'I do's.'

When Lindsay and I first talked about location for her and Nick's downtown Olympia engagement session I was thinking Percival Landing and I was stoked! I've shot there multiple times and it's always a lot of fun and there are so many places to wander and get variety. Then she suggested a little marina and I got even MORE excited! Boats, beach and a new location... yes please!!

Although the weather report threatened rain, the only thing we got was some serious wind and some magnificent sun! We arrived a bit before golden hour so we could walk around and scout and eventually we wandered down to a little beach with sun gleaming through the pillars that held up a cute little building and I quickly 'b-lined' straight there! I couldn't believe how beautiful the light was streaming in behind them! It was the perfect fiery glow. It was a fully luminous and magical view! After the beach we took a few photos with their wild but loving fur-babies and then we ventured down to the docks where the light was softer and cooler. We had a beautiful view of the sound and all the clean white boats that lined the docs! Definitely a beautiful location for engagement photos!

Seventeen.

Seventeen days until Lindsay + Nick's beautiful PNW wedding... in which there will be an EPIC waterfall. If you know me then you how much I love waterfalls! *jumps up and down like a giggling maniac, clapping hands and cheering*

Seventeen and counting down.

Side Note: To capture such amazing love stories, like Lindsay + Nick, is truly what makes being a PNW wedding photographer such an amazing job.... well, let's be real - love stories AND waterfalls.

Side Side Note:... who is coming back with me to shoot at this dock / beach again??? I am just in love with this light and location!

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Alex + Cody's Ft. Steilacoom Couples Session | Tacoma Wedding Photographer

A little rain.

A little sun.

Gorgeous flowering trees and lots of fun.

Oh, springtime - I do love you because it means that summer is coming and you bring color and beauty to Washington; but thanks to your unpredictability I don't miss you until at least mid-winter.

Washington weather is 80% of why I carry a clear umbrella (or two) in my car at all times! Fifteen percent is because they are so darn cute in portraits and the remaining 5% is in case a giant spider tries to eat us... or more specifically me, sorry clients. Don't get me wrong, I know they are good be cause they eat obnoxious pests like mosquitoes.... small birds and probably a baby pterodactyl if one flew by but they are just way too big around here!

I was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska and while we have a handful of spider varieties around none of them rival the chihuahua-sized ones that live in this wild and wet state. It didn't take me long to wonder if I was in Washington or Australia when I first moved here! Ok, seriously they aren't that bad.... although I have been known to run lighting speed through the house to the shower while simultaneously stripping down to rid myself of any eight-legged 'friends' that may be hitchhiking after I walked into a web.... OK fine, they aren't so bad, as long as they don't touch me. Ever. Especially not my face, hair, neck, torso, arms, legs or feet. Or clothes.

Ok, let's get back to Alex + Cody after that creepy jaywalk. As you can see we had some crazy up and down weather that day but we totally rolled with it and had so much fun exploring Ft. Steilacoom Park in Tacoma! Well... I may like Washington springs more than I initially let on! 

 

P.S. When session are filled with this much love, smiles and laughter I always leave with a full heart. Never let that love fade or the laughter dissipate. Those are two things that truly make life worth living. 

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagramand check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Ingrid + Dan's Manchester State Park Engagement | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Ingrid + Dan hired me to be their wedding photographer and I tell you what, I'm pretty darn excited about it! Just look how stinkin' cute they are! They are so in love, fun-loving and sweet - It was cute to see them laugh and joke and interact with each other!! Can't wait to capture these two's Seattle wedding! Countdown 30 days!

There's is another thing I'm really excited about and it's Manchester State park in Port Orchard, WA. A gorgeous rocky beach, evergreen trees, paths to explore and.... some awesome abandoned buildings! Perk alert: all this is near a parking lot so this is a great location for those with mobility issues!

Ingrid + Dan had a free hotel stay and they decided to use it near Port Orchard, when we started looking for location ideas Ingrid sent me a few and instantly Manchester State Park stood out to me.  After a few minutes of research I was even more convinced, so glad we decided on it! Manchester State Park is an hour away from where I live in Olympia which means I had to leave my house by 7:00 am to make our 8:00 am session. (For those of you who know me well) that is EARLY for me and I've always been partial to evenings since 'golden hour' has some amazing light but I ended up loving the beautiful, cool morning light - morning photos session maybe totally be my new thing..... maybe.

Awesome couple, an adventurous new location, abandoned buildings, a beach, fun and smiles and pretty morning light - what a perfect combination!

 

“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true. Nothing that I wouldn’t do.

Go to the ends of the earth for you to make you feel my love.” ~Bob Dylan

 

You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you
-John Legend

XOXO,

Sarah

Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful