California is full of majestic and romantic scenery, and yet, my most favorite location for engagement photos was in my couple’s very own backyard. So how did I get there?
In the middle of my busiest wedding season ever, I took a vacation. Yep. I photographed a wedding in Arizona and decided after that to hop over to San Francisco to visit my high school bestie and her husband. The whole week I was there, they kept encouraging me to rest and enjoy the rest. It was an incredible experience being cared for by your friends–knowing they valued and prioritized my rest over filling my schedule with all the Bay Area must-sees.
While I was enjoying my vacation time, I of course had to squeeze in a few sessions while I was there. One session was for my gracious hosts, a maternity session at the beach. The other was an engagement session for this couple who booked me for their wedding in 2022.
After Zoom calls, emails, and texts, we decided to meet up in person while I was out in California. They invited me to their new home, fed me the best pizza and some iced tea from Steph’s favorite place. Just as we were ready to start taking a few backyard engagement photos, Bowen, the cat, snuck out for his own misadventure.
This was only the second time Bowen had been to their new house. He was still familiarizing himself with the territory. While Steph and Craig were going in and out through the back door, Bowen slipped out unnoticed.
We hadn’t seen him for a while so we went on a little search for him only to come back Bowen-less. No sign of this kitty anywhere. So our panicked search began. Every nook and cranny searched…and just as Steph was about to email the neighborhood listserve, Bowen poked his nose out from under the deck.
Relieved knowing he was still here, we attempted to find a way to coax him out. He was not having it. The opening wasn’t large enough for any of us to reach a hand in and grab him, so we had to pull up a small board by the back of the deck to create a space. Still, Bowen wouldn’t come near enough for us to grab him. We decided to finish eating and cleaning up, and maybe start taking some couples photos, waiting to see if Bowen would come out on his own.
While chilling in the hammock, Craig spotted Bowen behind the grill. He quickly walked to grab the cat, who instead made a mad dash back to the hiding hole under the deck. We went back to ignoring him until he finally popped out again. This time we replaced the deck boards, so he only had one entrance option.
We chased Bowen around the backyard, and I saw him making a run for the deck again–he was running right towards me. I sat my camera down and got ready to grab him. He started to dive into the tiny opening again and I heard Steph yell JUST GRAB HIM! GRAB HIS LEGS!!” So I clamped onto his hind legs and Steph and I gently pulled him out together.
As soon as Bowen was securely in Steph’s arms, I picked up my camera again to photograph the saddest kitty eyes and a face full of under-deck debris. This story ends happily, though. Bowen was dusted off and returned to the safety of inside his new home.
I never thought I’d add cat wrangler to my resume as a photographer, but here we are. The laughter and memories just added to my joy. It’s sessions and experiences like this that make my job feel like I’m not actually working. Steph and Craig are the kind of people who make you feel at home — even when your hundreds of miles away from home.
I’m so grateful for the chance to meet and connect with them in person before their wedding next summer. Squeezing in some couples photos in California while on vacation was absolutely worth it.
Curate your own meaningful experience with backyard engagement photos. The inspiration for your engagement session is endless! Make and eat dinner, play in the yard, participate in misadventures… There is freedom for you to be more wholly yourselves.
If you liked this engagement session, check out Jess + Alex’s Pizza and Beer photo session.
If you need help picking outfits for your session, check out my top tips for getting dressed for your photo session.