An Engagement Session for the History Books at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

When planning an engagement session with a newly engaged couple, naturally we talk to them about location.  We get them to think about things like whether they want the setting more urban or rural, or do they want city skylines or fields of tall grass.  So many options to think about.  We get them to think about locations that may have special meaning to them, like where he proposed or even at the site where they plan to tie the knot.  Sometimes they ask for our recommendation on a locale and we happily refer to our list of preferred spots.

With all of that said, for this particular engagement session, Graciela had suggested to us that we meet at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park (that’s a mouthful isn’t it?) in McCalla, AL.  This is where they would be tying the knot.  We knew that Graciela & Austin were very adventurous and loved the outdoors, so this made perfect sense.  And, we had never actually done a session there!  In fact, it had been MANY years since either of us had even visited the park!  Of course we were exited to to try out a new setting with this beautiful couple!

We arrived 30 minutes early for the session so that we could explore the area, see what Tannehill had to offer and map out the perfect spots to highlight Graciela & Austin.  First, we found THE bridge.  You know the one, the one that makes for the perfect couple shots, offers the perfect perspective shots AND crosses over the perfect little flowing stream, with a canopy of trees letting just the right amount of sunlight through.  Our next stop was literally just on the other side of the bridge and down a little embankment where we found a larger part of the creek just down from a low waterfall.  It was shallow with river rocks covering the bottom and grasses growing up from the water and again, just the perfect amount of various trees filtering the sunlight perfectly!  We knew that we had to get them in the water for some romantic water shots!!!  We hoped that they were game!  We then ventured on to the opposite side of the park, up to the chapel where Graciela & Austin would be exchanging their vows in November.  At the top of the somewhat steep drive we approached the cutest little white chapel you’ve ever seen!  It was right out of those stories you’ve all heard from your grandmothers and relatives where getting married in the small country chapel was how it was done so many years ago.  This wasn’t a replica or a wedding chapel built for todays weddings.  This was an authentic historical chapel that still holds services every Sunday.  This chapel, which was built in 1905, glows with the love of all the young couples that have started their lives together over the past 100 plus years.  To the left of the church is wide open field where the sun sets over the tree tops.  We had officially fallen in love with Tannehill!  We drove back down to the entrance where we were to meet up with Graciela & Austin.  We were fired up and couldn’t wait to begin the session!

When they arrived we introduced ourselves (we’d had never actually met in person) and chatted a bit and then invited them to ride along with us as we went over our ideas for their session.  We asked if they had any ideas or preferences of areas for their session.  The very first thing they both said was “we were hoping that maybe we could do some shots IN THE WATER”!!!  And that was it!  The day and the magic had started!

As we rode to our first spot, the bridge, we agreed that the water would be the grand finale’ so as to capture them in the perfect light of the setting sun.  Graciela was in an adorable little blue chambray dress and a perfect lace cardigan and heels to die for!  Heels are so perfect!  Even for an outdoorsy session.  For such a small accessory, heels make a huge impact on every aspect of an image.  As we talked, we learned that they didn’t randomly choose this park just for it’s natural beauty or even it’s sweet church.  We learned that Austin grew up here.  He knew everything about the park.  Austin is a coal miner and we were in his world, in the heart of mining country in Alabama.  So not only would they have images of their engagement photos here and their wedding memories made here, but they were incorporating his lifelong memories while starting their own life memories all in this one little piece of paradise.  They thought of everything!

These kids were naturals!  The day flowed like the water in the little creek!  Austin was perfectly comfortable letting us coach him, and well, Graciela knew what she was doing! She is a fellow creative (check out her work @art_graciela_  – shameless plug – she’s incredible) and the camera loved her!  We spent time at the bridge, on the tree lined roads and then moved on up to the church and field.  The time we spent up the hill at the church and field was like stepping into a Jane Austin novel!  Graciela had changed into the perfect lavender maxi dress and with the breeze that was moving through, these images were shaping up to be exceptional!  As usual, we spent more time than planned, because it was just going so well and everything was just so perfect!  But as the sun was getting lower we came to our senses and realized that we had to get back to the creek for our much anticipated water shots!!!  YAY!

Both Graciela & Austin had no issue whatsoever in taking off their shoes and getting right in!  The light was perfect, the couple was perfect and their chemistry was on fire!  As you can see in the images below, this location wasn’t just merely perfect for some amazing images (which it is!), it is the couple that make the images what they are.  And as Graciela & Austin look back over these for years to come they will see them for the TOTAL picture that they have created;  two people, in love, in a place that will hold deep meaning for the rest of their life together.

Thank you, Graciela & Austin for (re)introducing us to this wonderful gem known as Tannehill!  It is now on our “preferred list of session locations”!  But more importantly, thank you both for trusting us to illustrate the biggest moment in your lives!  We are honored that you chose us to be a part of it!  We cannot wait to see you both again in November!!

Katie & Cindy