Engagement Photography at Holimont Ski Area and Rock City State Forest in Ellicottville, NY

To get this out of the way first, I think the location for a photo shoot in general is overrated. As a wedding photographer I need to work with anything I have on the wedding day. The hotel room for the getting ready is crowded or a little messy? I need to find a way to either change that or shoot it differently. There is no time to go to a beautiful location for the couple shoot? I need to find a way to create stunning photos with whatever happens to be around the venue. You get the idea. I find the best light or create it and use the surroundings in a way that make them look as flattering as possible. This challenge helps a lot to stay creative and is actually a ton of fun for me as well. 

Why I am always a little scared if clients choose the location

Sometimes, I can't really decide on where we shoot, even for an engagement session. A lot of my couples also have a specific spot in mind that means something to them and that is where we start. That's awesome and a little bit scary. Don't get me wrong, if you know where you want to shoot that helps me to discover new places I might revisit with other couples. Also, I love how much more meaningful it can make the photos to shoot at, let's say, the actual proposal spot. Or your favorite location for a date on a Sunday afternoon. 

Still, it can be difficult for me not knowing exactly what to expect. Even if you describe a pretty location to me that you want to choose for your engagement shoot, I never know if it will actually photograph well. Some city parks for example can have a car in the background from most angles. So there is always a risk in letting you choose the location. 

Okay, here is the fun part. The photos below are from Jessica and JR's engagement shoot. They chose both locations since they are important to them, their family has been going to Ellicottville, NY on vacation for decades. Shooting at a ski resort in the fall was a little tricky. Even though the leaves looked great, it was tough to include the fall colors from there. We got some decent photos, but I felt like we could do way better.

Luckily, when we drove to Rock City State Forest I was blown away by their second choice. Being there feels like being in the middle of the woods while you are also surrounded by magnificent rocks. Jessica and JR's outfits also worked very well with the fall colors we could now work with. I couldn't be happier with the results. 


Stefan Ludwig

Journalist. Photographer. Videographer.