Bohemian Sunset Styled Shoot at Black Balsam Knob

Bridal gown and accessories: Wildflower Bridal

Cake: Cakes by Gray

Flowers: Swannanoa Flower Shop

Makeup and hair: Erika Stuttz

This was one of those shoots where I saw the location (on a shoot I was modeling for, of all things) and without any plans in place immediately created a scene in my head to shoot that I knew I needed to bring to reality. I knew I wanted Lauren, one of my gorgeous 2017 brides, to model and that if at all possible I wanted to put her in a whimsical gown from one of my favorite Asheville bridal shops (Wildflower Bridal) paired with a bright color palette from Swannanoa Flower shop and Cakes by Gray for a bohemian mountaintop styled elopement. As the shoot would have to be right in the middle of wedding season to make sure it was warm enough, I knew it would be a long shot, so when every one of these selections worked out, I was so excited I was bouncing off the walls! Of course, no shoot is ever that easy and in the end we only had about 25 minutes or so of photography, yet I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. 

The afternoon of May 2, the ever-talented Erika met Lauren, Erin (my assistant) and I at my apartment to begin the getting ready process. While this part isn't generally included in styled shoots, as the getting ready process is always a great time for intimate portraits of the bride, I decided to go ahead and shoot it, particularly so Erika could use the images to promote her own growing business. I wanted to capture some close-up images of Erika's work not only to remove the distractions of my apartment (not exactly the ideal venue!) but also to highlight Lauren's gorgeous blue eyes, so I out whipped out my macro lens and got to work. 

Once Erika had completed her handiwork and Lauren looked like the perfect boho bride, we all hopped in the car with the surprise addition of Lauren's fiance, Eric. Though we were running over an hour late and in my haste I forgot to grab the bag with the gown belt, clamps, champagne and cake utensils, this one moment of serendipity in Eric's schedule working out to join us proved the best thing that could've happened for our shoot.

It was finally time for our make-believe bohemian princess to unite with her prince (and in the knick of time, too, as they needed each other to keep warm) so we trekked up the mountain chasing the sunset, pausing briefly under a gorgeous tree where the light hit the couple perfectly. At long last, we reached our summit where we had to work faster than ever due to frigidity. Lauren and Eric were certainly troopers though, and I was secretly happy for the cold as it made these two lovers clutch each other even tighter. For me, the difficulty of styled shoots is always in recreating that authentic emotion of the big day without actually having a wedding. But as Eric held Lauren close to him and whispered words of encouragement and love in her ear, they looked to all the world like they had truly just exchanged their forever vows at the top of this windswept mountaintop. 

After we'd gotten what we needed, Erin and I sent the couple on their way and stayed for a few more sunset detail shots before rushing for warmth ourselves. But, ever the perfectionist, I was disappointed that I hadn't been able to get the usual detail shots for my generous vendors, so schlepped everything back up the mountain at sunrise a few hours later to have some bridal detail fun. 

Overall, while perhaps I didn't get everything out of the shoot that I'd like (we had planned cakes cutting, champagne toasts and more mountaintop fun), this learning experience definitely helped get me into the romantic mindset for this busy wedding season, which was the ultimate goal. On top of that, this made me even more excited to capture Lauren and Eric's engagement and wedding shoots because there is nothing more fun to me than photographing people who so obviously adore each other. Thank you to the fabulous vendors who worked with me on this shoot; I can't wait to make more magic with you all!