Malibu Hills Engagement | Jackie + Nick

Malibu Hills Engagement

With all of the wonderful weather we’ve been experiencing in California recently, I headed out with Jackie and Nick for a Malibu Hills engagement session. Besides the fact that we virtually had the park all to ourselves, we lucked out with perfect weather and the most beautiful Springtime colors.

Originally from separate coasts, Jackie and Nick met a few years back in California and will be getting married later this year in New Jersey. Because of the location that we chose for their engagement session, Jackie and Nick leaned more towards the semi-casual side for their outfits which were perfectly balanced with one another. Jackie’s first look of the day was an all-white floor length dress with a slit up the leg. Nick donned a navy button up with khaki slacks and brown leather dress shoes. As the day turned into evening Jackie changed into a gorgeous floor-length floral dress with an open back while Nick sported a white button up.

The pair has such incredible natural chemistry with one another that I had to hardly do anything besides clicking the shutter. Rather than posing my couples as many people do, I prefer to direct them as if we were shooting a scene in a movie. As we explored the area together, chatting from one location to another, I would give them both little scenes to set out for me. This works perfectly to capture the genuine connection between my couples and so as to not make them feel awkward and worry about hand placement, body positioning etc.

Towards the end of our session, I took them to one of my favorite locations on the property—a giant oak tree that is more than 100 years old. I don’t normally shoot on black and white film during my sessions but I decided to do a little experimentation and try my hand at it. You can only improve if you take risks, right? I am thrilled that I did so because the images turned out freaking beautiful! It’s convinced me to shoot more black and white and take more chances with my work. We ended the session with celebratory high-fives and watched the sun set behind the mountains.

Lab | Richard Photo Lab
Film | Portra 160 // Fuji 400h // Ilford 3200

Topanga Canyon Engagement | Brittany & Ryan

Topanga Canyon Engagement | Brittany & Ryan

We started 2021 with a bang and met with Brittany and Ryan to capture their Topanga Canyon engagement shoot. We tossed ideas around to find something that fit their style as well as the vibe they were for. They rented a cabin for the weekend that doubled as a romantic getaway for Brittany’s birthday and our shoot location.

While the two prepared their outfits and unloaded their pup, Bentley, and I methodically walked the property looking for beautiful light. Brittany stepped out of the cabin, rocking an open-back white satin dress paired with white open-toe heels. Meanwhile, Ryan donned a cuffed-sleeved white button-up, navy trousers, and a pair of deep brown leather chukka boots.

The trick to capturing the natural moments and expressions of my couples is to just let them be themselves. Rather than posing them, I’ve found greater success in giving direction to evoke a certain look or mood. An example of this would be directing a scene in a movie. Giving them certain things to think about or the act they’re performing results in the most organic images. This could be as simple as walking hand-in-hand, leading one another down a path, or pulling each other in tight and whispering something into the other person’s ear that will make them smile.

We found a beautiful Bohemian-styled hammock that was tied between two trees. This made for a great first location and for the two to get comfy in front of the camera. The two have such palpable chemistry that getting them used to my camera took no time at all. Soon after we headed to our next location and kept chasing that beautiful, golden light.

Ending the Evening In Style

Ryan brought a surprise Vespa for the shoot that I knew would make for some stunning shots. We brought it to a hilltop for the last few minutes of sunlight.

This combination of sophisticated, timeless styles just can’t be beaten.

Now that’s what we call a proper exit!

Finally, Bentley got Mom and Dad back from the day’s activities and had them all to himself.

Photography | Alex W Photography

Film Lab | Richard Photo Lab

Dress | Park and Fifth

Santa Ynez Hills Engagement | Jennifer + Andrew

Santa Ynez Hills Engagement

Jen and Andrew braved the rain and wind with me last week to capture their beautiful Santa Ynez Hills engagement. It’s quite a rarity, but we’ve been experiencing consistent rainstorms throughout Southern California for the past few weeks. Fortunately, the skies cleared and the rain ceased just long enough for us to head up to the mountains.

I especially love this engagement session because Jen and Andrew wanted to include their three dogs in the photos. Couples are always encouraged to bring something special with them to our portrait session because it makes the photos that much more meaningful. I was overjoyed when they told me their pups would be tagging along!

We met in downtown Los Olivos and caravaned up to the mountains to visit one of my favorite lookout points. The last time I visited for a Santa Ynez Hills engagement, the area was enduring a heatwave and the landscape was golden. Thanks to all of the recent rain, we got to enjoy lush, green hills. As we photographed, we chatted about their wedding later this year at Switzer Farm with the talented team at Two Roads Event Co.

Andrew brought along a bottle of champagne so we could celebrate the end of a successful evening. The two toasted one another and ended the evening sipping on bubbly while watching the sunset.

Lab | Richard Photo Lab

Malibu Engagement | Crystal + Ross

Crystal and Ross flew all the way out from Houston to head up PCH with me for a Malibu Engagement session. From the moment that I met these two I knew that our session together was going to be nothing short of amazing. Their style is timeless and they have such fun personalities. Crystal started the session off in a gorgeous sky blue gown from Rent the Runway and Ross kept it semi-casual with loafers and a plaid jacket. Crystal and Ross’s impeccable style inspired me to capture the most beautiful photos from their session.

As we walked around the park we had a blast talking about their wedding plans and how the two of them met. While we chased light I took the two of them to my favorite oak tree nestled in the middle of the park. We arrived at the perfect time of day when the tree was enveloped in warm sunlight and the grass was golden yellow. We captured the most beautiful photos of them climbing around the tree and romping through the tall grass.

The love between these two was palpable. Throughout their gallery, the affection that these two have for one another can be felt. Crystal later changed into a loose-fitting white collared dress and absolutely killed it in her photos sitting across the tree branch. As the sun began to dip behind the Malibu hills and the evening chill enveloped us Crystal and Ross got cozy and shared some sweet kisses in the tall grass. When day turned into night we made our way out of the empty park and back to our cars.

It’s so exciting that I get to see these two later this year when I have the honor of capturing their wedding at the Iconic Pelican Hill Resort.

As seen in Magnolia Rouge.

Photography | Alex W Photography
Film Lab | Richard Photo Lab