When I saw the weather forecast for the day of Jackie and Duke’s Donner Summit engagement photos, I squinted a bit and leaned closer to my computer screen. Even though it was a calm and sunny day outside at the time, things were about to change- Big Time. A low pressure system powered by frigid wind was heading our way. Not uncommon for the season, I noted. But a cold and windy engagement session has a lot of photographic potential. What better way to keep warm than to snuggle together in the woods? And from a photographer’s perspective, wind adds energy and motion to images in an exciting, unpredictable way.

Of course, staying present and in the moment can be challenging when your fingers are going numb (frozen finger sausages happened on this morning, for example). This time I was sure to bring an extra jacket and a warm toque. Jackie and Duke brought some warm clothes and a level of positive energy that lasted all the way through sunset. One of the best things about pre-wedding photos around Donner Summit is that you rarely see anyone else. At least, not at my favorite spots.

Compared to all the other locations for engagement photos in Lake Tahoe, this one always shines. It offers amazing scenery of peaks, valleys, and ridges. Also, the light evolves beautifully during the course of our session. I always enjoy exploring the way the light and shadows fall on this dramatic alpine landscape. Shortly before sunset (and during an especially gusty period), we ducked into the forest for cover. The golden light filtered in through the trees and we made one of my favorite photos of the afternoon. Believing that this image captured the feeling of that blustery afternoon, I submitted the photo to an engagement photo contest. When the results came in from the Wedding Photojournalists Association, I saw that this photo received a Diamond Award!

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