Hillary and Cory’s desert engagement session was a blast! We explored a section of Saguaro National Park in Tucson that I hadn’t been to before. It was quiet and full of the beautiful desert landscape that Hillary wanted to feature in their engagement photos. With the darker colors in both of their outfit choices along with the boho-type accessories Hillary wore, their engagement session definitely took on a bit of a moody vibe. This is such a great example of how your wardrobe choices can make a huge impact on the overall look and feel of your photos!
Before their moody engagement session out in the desert, I had been connecting with Hillary a bit through Instagram. I swear, I don’t think this girl could take a bad photo if her life depended on it! She is full of style and exhibits so much energy, even with the day-to-day things. When Hillary isn’t hard at work, she’s studying to become a dietician and help people lead healthy lives! Cory keeps himself busy, too. If he’s not out helping his community with the local Fire Department then you’ll find him managing Stay Naked Kitchen: a restaurant and meal prep service focused on clean and healthy eating. Between Cory’s restaurant and Hillary’s future as a dietician, I think it’s safe to say they will make a great team together!
When Hillary and Cory first met, they were “kept apart,” so-to-speak, by a promise Cory made to one of his buddies. See, his friend already had his eyes set on Hillary and asked Cory to not go after her. So, Cory did the brotherly and gentlemanly thing and didn’t pursue her. But 4 years later, these two reconnected through a mutual friend. They finally got the chance to see where things could take them! Although, things still hadn’t quite lined up perfectly…
Hillary shared a bit of their love story with me: “At that time, Cory was living in Tempe while I was in Tucson. We saw each other once a week and I eventually moved to Phoenix in 2017… as Cory moved to Tucson. So we swapped cities and carried on with our short/long distance relationship! We got our first home together in April of 2018 and have lived together ever since! In June of 2020, sitting in our driveway under the stars at 4 a.m. after celebrating a buddy’s birthday, Cory popped the question!”
I asked Hillary and Cory if they had any locations in mind for their engagement session. They said that they wanted to feature the desert landscape of Tucson. While I always enjoy going back to locations that I’ve previously photographed at, I really love getting to explore a new spot. It gives me a fresh perspective and reenergizes me to create something new! When these two showed up in dark, deep, rich colors, I knew right away that their photos were going to take on a slightly moody feel and look to them.
But do you know what didn’t quite fit with this moody aesthetic? Their personalities! Cory was goofing around the entire time! I could get him to smile and make Hillary laugh without much effort. Oh, but a more serious, quiet moment to get a softer more romantic image? Good luck! I had to click my shutter as fast as I could because Cory could only hold his “serious model face” for about 3 seconds before cracking up. I loved the carefree, fun attitude these two had during their engagement session.
Hillary was bursting out in laughter and smiles non-stop thanks to Cory’s shenanigans!
At every session I have, I always try to get some individual portraits of everyone while they’re dressed up and feeling great.
Hillary had brought some boho-style accessories (a hat and some cute booties) with her. So, we made a quick wardrobe swap to give their gallery some variety!
During their session, Hillary and Cory told about their wedding plans. They’ve rented out an AirBnB for their wedding day! Getting Ready, Ceremony, Reception, AND a place to sleep at the end of the night ALL in one spot! Mike and I did something very similar for our celebration with family and it was absolutely amazing. The convenience of not having to leave and travel throughout the day really made things feel so much less stressful for us and our guests. Highly recommend it! Hillary and Cory, I’m sure your wedding day is going to be SO MUCH FUN!
You can follow along with me as I explore more awesome engagement session locations around Tucson HERE!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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