Grand Teton National Park | Jackson, Wyoming
the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers
Cat + Shaw’s adventure engagement session in grand teton national park | jackson hole winter elopement inspiration
Our last adventure engagement session of 2018 couldn't have been better. This year had us all over the world exploring new places, but we were stoked when Cat and Shaw's inquiry opened up the opportunity to come back to the Tetons. We'd passed through Wyoming earlier in the summer and thought how wonderful it would be to go back in the winter! Cat told us in her first email how they'd met - working at a restaurant in Los Angeles - and how quickly (literally headed to Joshua Tree three days after meeting) they became adventure buddies. She said she'd grown up in Colorado and would love to do engagement photos in either the Rockies or the Tetons as those two ranges were special in their relationship after they'd made hiking trips through both.
Cat told me they were moving to Idaho for Shaw's schooling but were flexible with their schedule, especially in the December-January winter break time. I suggested Jackson and they were immediately down. Thus began the dream adventure engagement shoot to end 2018!
If you've never been there, Jackson, Wyoming is a pretty fantastic experience. At the Jackson airport, they start you off on the right foot by (are you kidding me?) handing you a mimosa as soon as you land. This place gets me. The town is nestled up right next to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole Ski Resort but has plenty to offer in a perfect little downtown decked out in antlers and natural wood everywhere. We had a little downtime before meeting up with Cat and Shaw, so I headed into town unwind and check out the all the little shops as Callen snowboarded a little bit at Jackson Hole. Eventually, I settled into a nice coffee shop until we'd all meet up for dinner.
As soon as Cat and Shaw walked in we connected. We talked about the National Parks we love (Cat is working on a public lands book!), our dogs, and vanlife, which Cat has been doing for a while now! We talked about the timeline for their adventure session the next day. We'd planned on doing an afternoon shoot but the weather coming in looked to be a bit more socked in than we'd like, so I suggested a sunrise session alongside a little warning that it would be extremely cold. Thankfully (as is always the case with our adventurous couples) they were totally down! After dinner, I headed back to our room to relax and get ready as Callen cheerfully invited himself to hang in the hot tub at Cat and Shaw's hotel (note to future couples - he loves everyone but the way to Callen's heart forever is through beta on a good hot spring/tub).
The forecast for the next morning was seven degrees, but it upon arrival to our location just inside Grand Teton National Park it ended up being an even zero. Honestly, it was bone chilling, but the thin line between sufferfest and type two fun is dependant upon what else is going on. What we had going on this morning was a super happy couple and the most amazing sunrise we could have asked for. The sky was lighting up perfectly as we got out of our cars, the morning light just starting to settle on the summits of the Tetons. Cat and Shaw were so pumped, their stoke made me forget the cold whenever I brought the camera up to my eye. I felt the cold return over and over whenever I stopped shooting. Callen and I were bundled up (read, still very cold), Cat had fleece leggings under her dress (our #1 rec for brides adventuring in cold weather), and Shaw in a wool suit was happy when we told him he could forgo the dress shoes and keep on his puffy slippers. We did jumping jacks to keep our blood flowing and only shot for about twenty minutes before Cat and Shaw needed to blast the heat and warm up for a bit in their car.
Then the morning blue sky and soft whites started to light up with vibrant oranges and pinks. We headed back out for another quick but epic session. This is where a magnificent sunrise became one of the most amazing we've ever gotten to shoot. The light washed over the south face of the Tetons, the mountain bases still in shadows, the sky a unique baby blue you only get in the coldest winter months. The air froze as we breathed in and left our lungs in thick clouds. Shaw kept Cat warm with big hugs between running around in the snow. The Tetons are one of the most stunning and iconic backdrops you could hope for and since Cat has a love for landscape photography, I made sure to back up and get a few extra wide open shots - even snagging a pano which turned out so rad.
As soon as the best light faded we rushed back to our cars to warm up and drove to town for breakfast and coffee. It was probably a good half hour before we really felt warm again and we all laughed about how cold we had been, but I'd already peeked some of the pictures and was so stoked on them. We talked and decided to head back out in the afternoon for the second half of the session. Callen used the break to snag a few more runs at the resort, and I used it to stay warm.
We met up in a location outside the National Park so the dogs could run around. The weather had rolled in which made me so happy we'd gotten out in the morning, but also glad we came back out to shoot and capture Cat and Shaw in their element, playing in the snow, sweater-clad cuddling their puppies and holding hands. The temperature was about twenty degrees warmer which we were all stoked on, but it could have been -20 and I have no doubt that Cat and Shaw would still have been smiling and happy. They were such troopers - their personality and lifestyle, ambitions and adventurous attitude; it's all what we love about our couples and why we become quick friends.
We ended the day as the sun set and headed back into town for pizza. We met up with our new friend, Erin, another adventure wedding photographer who lives here full time and talked about how amazing Jackson is. We wished we had more time in here and definitely want to come back in the spring, but I can't lie - I was also excited to head back to Texas for slightly (much) warmer temps and time with family for the holidays.
I ended up showing Cat and Shaw a little sneak of their photos, and we all agreed that the early wake-up, cold weather, jumping jacks and breathing hot air into our hands to stay warm was 100% worth it! This session was a perfect little sendoff to 2018 and has us stoked to come back to Wyoming for more adventure elopements and weddings in the future! Happy 2019 to all the future adventure brides and grooms out there!
The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US. You can typically find them in Moab, Utah or Yosemite National Park, California, with side-quests to Patagonia and Alaska. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.