5 tips for the perfect sunrise engagement at Taft Point

If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you’ve probably seen me share a few of my favorite photos from Kimmy & David’s engagement session in the last couple of weeks; it was a morning full of love & adventure and I am so excited to share more from this very special day with you all now!!

But first I thought I’d give you my 5 most helpful pointers for those of you planning on taking sunrise photos at Taft Point. These are the things I wish I knew before this session (and believe me, I scoured the internet for this exact information with no luck). I hope you find this helpful and enjoy David & Kimmy’s photos!

  1. Bring headlamps. If you are planning on being at the lookout right at dawn, that means you will be hiking there in the dark. Headlamps are a great way to provide light while still keeping your hands free. I got mine for less than $20 at Harbor Freight and it’s fully adjustable; I can change the angle and intensity of the light as needed.

  2. Wear proper attire for hiking. Have your couple carry their change of clothes in a backpack so that they don’t get torn or dirty before you get to the lookout. While it’s listed as an “easy” hike in the Yosemite guidebook, it can actually be more of a moderate to difficult hike depending on the time of year (more on that below). I recommend wearing jeans or waterproof pants for the hike, as well as waterproof hiking boots with thick socks. Also dress in layers that you can remove if need be. It can be pretty chilly right before sunrise, but it warms up quickly. I wore a t-shirt and a coat that I took off and carried in my backpack on the hike back out.

  3. Research current weather conditions BEFORE you hike out. Okay, confession time: we definitely did not do this and we really should have. We planned this engagement session for early June, and although summer was in full swing (and in the triple digits) in the valley, there was still quite a lot of snowpack in the mountains. The few creeks that we had to cross to get to the lookout were extra full and fast moving because of all the melting snow and certain parts of the trail had been washed away and/or partially blocked by fallen trees. Because of this, the hike took longer and was definitely more strenuous than I’m sure it is in August. There was a major benefit to going so early in the season though- we were the ONLY ones there the entire two plus hours we were shooting! You’ve probably seen the videos of fifteen different photographers and tourists fighting for space during sunset at Taft Point; that was not our experience at all! The reason was two-fold: we went at sunrise and early in the season.

  4. Plan out your lighting situation ahead of time. The majority of Taft Point photos you will see are taken at sunset. At Taft Point, the sun sets directly behind that beautiful ledge overlook you will undoubtedly want to photography your couple on. If you are planning a sunrise session, keep in mind that the sun will rise toward the falls and the light will be shining directly on the ledge overlook instead of coming from behind it. It’s a much brighter lighting situation than your typical backlit golden hour session, so plan ahead (and stop down) accordingly. You’ll want to keep the amount of equipment you carry to a minimum since it will need to fit in your backpack for the hike. Choose your very favorite and most versatile lenses to bring with you.

  5. Be mindful of your surroundings! Full disclosure: heights are not my thing. I mean, I start to feel a little sick just riding the Ferris wheel at the fair every October. When we got to the top of Taft Point, I was blown away by how high up we were! It’s a feeling that is hard to describe, but it’s not until you stand at the outlook and look down that sheer granite drop off that you fully understand the magnitude of this beautiful location. If you start to feel dizzy, sit down! Do not push yourself or your clients to do something that you feel in your gut may not be safe just for the sake of a photograph. There are SO many beautiful spots to take pictures at Taft Point and not all of them involve walking out onto the edge of a cliff (although I have a feeling that if you’re planning a session at Taft Point you and your clients are adventurous bada**es who are wanting to do just that!). Just be careful and take the time to appreciate and soak up the beauty of your surroundings because Taft Point is truly one of the most amazing places in the world.

Are you planning a session at Taft Point or another location in Yosemite? Was this post helpful to you? I’d love to hear about it below!!