Climb Ev’ry Mountain : tips for doing a rock climb engagement shoot.

Life in Colorado is all about adventure. It’s half the reason people end up here. That’s good news for me, since I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie myself, because it means I get adventurous clients! Like Katie and Matthew, who met in Colorado and did most of their initial bonding over rock climbing. With engagement shoots, if at all possible, I love to incorporate unique qualities about the couple, whether it’s shooting in their favorite park where they spent lots of dates, or at the place where they love to get ice cream, or something they really like to do together. When I suggested we do a climb for their engagement shoot, they were all about it!

This type of shoot was a first for me. I had shot on a sailboat and on hikes before, but never something where I was as much physically involved as I was photographically! I learned a thing or two on this shoot that I’ll carry with me, so I thought I would share some of those things here (along with some photos of this super beautiful couple).

1 – Pick a route that gives a good bang for your buck.

That is, one that is easy but delivers great views and photo ops along the way and (especially) at the top. You also want to make sure that the route has some decent shelves along the way for all of you to sit, if you want to shoot as you go. Make sure the top of the route will have enough room for all 3 of you to move around and get different poses. It’s also best if the couple has done the route at least once before (preferably more), so they are comfortable, know the way, and can be more relaxed. An easier route is better as photographer, too, because we have enough to think about with lighting, choosing lenses, how to frame the shot, etc. without trying to think about getting through the shoot without any permanent scars!

2 – Take the proper gear.

I used my Lowepro backpack that slings around and allows me to open it from the side. I highly recommend something like this, and Lowepro does a great job making packs for adventurous photographers. Obviously, you need climbing shoes, harness, ropes, HELMET, etc. I only own shoes, so I made sure the others had the rest. I took one camera with 3 prime lenses, which, in hindsight was okay. I love primes, but a zoom would’ve way easier to manage than trying to switch between lenses the whole way. In the end, the primes were worth it because nothing broke and I love the images. A jacket is a good idea because you can put extra battery and memory card in the pocket for easy access, should you need it.

I also took my GoPro on this adventure, and I am SO glad I did. It was the perfect occasion for it! With the headstrap ($3 on ebay), it slipped right over my helmet and was incredibly easy to get extra shots with.

3 – Plan according to time and weather.

Since Matthew and Katie had completed this route several times before, they knew how many hours it would take. We had to hike to the base, climb to the top (it was multi-pitch), rappel down, then hike back to the car. I looked at the dusk/sunset times, and we worked backwards from there. This worked perfectly, and we gave ourselves some wiggle room, too, which was great because the climb and photos took longer than anticipated. We also kept an eye on weather that week to make sure it wasn’t going to be thunderstorming! Colorado weather changes about every ten minutes, so we didn’t take the forecast too seriously until the day before.

All in all, this was an amazing experience and I would be pumped to do it again. If you or anyone you know needs some adventure photos, please get in touch 🙂

[route was Flatiron #1 in Boulder, CO. Gear: Nikon d700 with 28mm, 85mm, and 50mm lenses. GoPro Hero3]  The first photo is from the GoPro, rest from Nikon.

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