South Tahoe Engagement Shoot for Marcus and Betsy

by Scott Sady

Welcome to a few select images from Marcus and Betsy’s engagements shoot in South Lake Tahoe. As I shake off the cobwebs of what turned out to be an epic winter of skiing and ski photography and get back in the flow of weddings and all that entails, I decided to change up my normal “Just the facts ma’am,” style of blog posts and tell you more about what was going through my head as opposed to the nuts and bolts of the photography. If anyone has any technical questions on any of the photos, just post a comment and I’ll be happy to answer.

First let me start by saying that action and travel photography is a LOT different from good people photography. With the former, you basically just need location and light and the rest takes care of itself. To make good portraits you need not only a good location and good light, but good people skills and lightning fast problem solving because everyone is different. I operate in a way that is a bit stressful for me (not the subjects) in that I don’t have a scripted set of poses that I run people through. That would be a nice comfort zone, but I prefer to see what the day brings, have a few minutes to suss out the personalities of my subjects, and then wing it. The only problem is that it often feels as if you are hanging on the verge of disaster. Take this shoot for instance.

We decided to meet at Zephyr cove at 4pm. The weather said cloudy but no real wind or rain, so I was gearing up for some cool, dark and dramatic sky shots in the granite boulders with some off-camera flash etc. I got to Zephyr cove about 1/2 hour early to see how things had changed since I was there last summer. The sky was mostly clear. The wind was howling, waves were whipping up onto the shore and blowing spray another 10 feet inland. The lake had risen so much over winter that the rocks I normally have people stand on were underwater. Anyone who turned their back or side to the water was pretty much going to be eating their own hair. AND there was a knee deep coating of thick, unfrozen snow that you would punch through at every step. What the hell to do?

Knowing the wind was coming out of the south-west, when Betsy and Marcus arrived I suggested we head towards Valhalla, where the forest would be between us and the wind. Great move. We still had the snow to deal with, but the wind was done and there were nice patches of light in the trees and on the pier near Valhalla, where these first images were shot. By the time we finished there, I knew I had done my job and made some fine pictures of these guys, so then I asked if they wanted to go back to Zephyr Cove for sunset and try for some funky images. Even though the temps dropped rapidly once the sun went down, these guys were into it so we went back and made some of the shots you see at the end, with Marcus’s brother and his brother’s fiancee, who tagged along during the shoot, throwing sand in the sky basically just to see how it turned out. Simulated sparks! Thanks guys, I hope you like them.

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I just wanted to insert a little break here to explain how I work. The above images represent a small selection of nice, classic images that I would hope anyone would be happy to show as their engagement photos. A lot of photographers would stop here. I like to know I have some great shots in the bag, and then really rack my brain for different ways to shoot some of those pictures. The images below represent a small selection of those type of images. Not everyone is going to be a fan of having their face cut in half, for example, but I like to push the envelope as much as I can once I know I have covered my behind with some nice and more traditional images.

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