Colorado Engagement Session: Jess & Shawn
 

When I first visited Colorado in April of this year, I immediately sensed the untapped potential of the area. The atmosphere and landscapes are incredible to behold;  I knew that I wanted to shoot something special out there. While I was lost in thought one afternoon at Bear Lake, it hit me: my brother Shawn had recently proposed to his girlfriend Jess. This would be the perfect place to capture some unforgettable engagement shots.

Initially, we planned to take the photos at the Rocky Mountain National Park. Due to some unexpected snow, however, we were forced to shift gears. With the help of Google and a fantastic stroke of luck, we stumbled right into some of the most gorgeous scenery I've ever witnessed: the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. 

The Garden of the Gods is a natural attraction that draws in more than two million visitors per year — twice as many as the Rocky Mountain National Park. It showcases the area’s giant rock formations and lush, craggy landscapes. It’s nestled right at the base of the mountain range, which creates an otherworldly backdrop for an already-phenomenal scene.

The setting melded seamlessly with Shawn and Jess's natural chemistry, lending itself to some breathtaking photos. We got some gorgeous, unique shots that are truly impossible to replicate anywhere else.

To Shawn and Jess: I'm so grateful to have spent such a fantastic afternoon photographing you two. This was an unbelievable trip, and you helped me get some shots that rank among my all-time favorites. I hope you both enjoy them as much as I do.

Now, without further ado...

We started off with some spontaneous shots in Chautauqua Park while exploring Boulder.

We arrived at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs around 9am. Shawn and Jess warmed up to the camera quickly, and I had a blast capturing their little moments together.

As we progressed, Shawn and Jess started to relax in front of the camera, and the shots just kept improving.

These next two are some of my favorite images from the entire trip. The mood, expression, and lighting came together perfectly.

Our last stop in the Garden was a small field that I'd spotted from the car; it was far too lush to pass up, and I knew immediately that it had to be our last stop.

After leaving the Garden of the Gods, we grabbed brunch at Over Easy, and then we were off again. We ventured to the summit of Pike's Peak, which is one of Colorado's 53 infamous "Fourteeners" - mountains over 14,000ft tall.

I wasn't done yet, however; there was one final touch to be made. 

Just before the trip, our good friend Kelly had asked me if I could surprise Shawn and Jess with a custom pair of Mr. and Mrs. Smith jackets that he had hand-painted with scenes from Red Rocks Amphitheater. On the way down from Pike's Peak, I found the perfect spot to surprise them with the jackets and showcase the brilliant fall colors. They were totally blown away, and we couldn't wait to snag a few more photos in them with the yellow aspens as a nice backdrop.

 
personal, travelRyan Smith
A Birthday Well-Spent in Colorado
 

At the end of 2016, I took my first long road trip across the West Coast of America and it completely blew my expectations out of the water. I was immediately hooked on exploring different parts of the United States, and was inspired to set a personal goal to travel more during 2017. This led me to my newest post: my recent travels to Colorado.

Once again, I reached out to my traveling homie Kelly, and we threw together a very spontaneous trip in about two weeks. I wanted to spend my birthday doing what I loved most: photography. What better way to do that than by driving through one of the most gorgeous states in the USA?

It was the end of winter, and early signs of spring were starting to come out; I was enamored with some of the views we found. I can't even imagine these sights during the fall, when all the colors are in full bloom; I foresee a potential future trip during the autumn season.

I hope to inspire at least one person that reads this to go out and travel. Go see some of the beautiful parks our country has to offer. It blows my mind to think of how beautiful this country is, and all of the uncharted lands that few people know about.

I have to thank my great friend Kelly for tagging along, and for creating these memories with me. Until next time, my friend!

Without further ado, enjoy some photos from the beautiful state of Colorado (and a few from Monument Valley in Utah).