In a recent round of judging, the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA) recognized one of my photos with a Diamond Award. Newspaper editors and photojournalists make up the judging panel. They look for photos that are unique in their perspective, artistry, and originality. No image is flawless. Moreover, there is no such thing as a perfect photograph. So, this post is an opportunity for me to critique and reflect on this Donner Lake engagement photos award.
I am like most photographers in the year 2020. I have way more time on my hands than I anticipated. As a result, I am taking a closer look at past work. As a professional Lake Tahoe wedding photographer, I hold my work to a high standard. Similarly, I critique all of my photos with a relentless eye. It helps me grow in new directions, especially during a shoot. It also pays off when I decide which photos make the cut.
The photo below is from Katie and Ryan’s shoot. In the beginning they hired me to photograph their Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort wedding. But they also wanted Lake Tahoe engagement photos before the big day. We discussed a ton of possible locations. In the end, they chose Donner Lake.
Some pre-wedding photos stand out because of amazing composition or lighting. But the most important element in a photo is often the moment. In this case, the composition of the photo below is fairly straight forward. Quite literally, as a matter of fact. Since I wanted to get close to Katie and Ryan, I chose a 35mm lens and crouched down immediately in front of them. The 35mm lens is one of my favorites due to its close approximation to the human eye’s field of view. I wanted to fill the frame with the action. I wanted the viewer to feel close and connected to the scene. Additionally, I wanted to include the surroundings so that the viewer knows where we are.
Next, the lighting is pretty safe. Certainly nothing bold, directional, or contrasty. It was a warm summer afternoon. Since the sky was slightly overcast, there were some high clouds softening the bright mountain sunlight. Ultimately, this photo stands out with a great moment. I love both of their expressions, and their body language pulls the viewer right into their experience. To me, the best parts of this moment are Katie’s closed eyes, their smiles, and fifteen visible sets of white knuckles holding on tightly.
Engagement Photos Near Donner Lake
Truckee and Donner Lake are beautiful places in Lake Tahoe for engagement photos. I live nearby and know these areas well, including the best times to shoot. You can see more winning photos in this Truckee engagement photos award post, where I break down the scenes of two other pre-wedding portrait photos.