Unexpected Windy Sand Dunes Engagement

May 19, 2021

We had no idea. You can plan as much as you want for the weather when you are doing a shoot but you really just never know. It can be WILD. The Great Sand Dunes of Colorado was probably one of the most beautiful and intricate places I have ever photographed. Due to the DRASTIC shift in weather it was a miracle that I was able to capture any photos at all from this Colorado sand dunes engagement session.

First of all, let me tell you: being a destination wedding and elopement photographer I’ve seen my fair share of bad weather. It just so happens that when it rains or snows these sessions often turn out to be my favorites! From rainy, windy engagement sessions at Cannon Beach to shooting in a literal blizzard for an elopement in Canada. I’ve done it all! 

Weather Predictions Can Be Unpredictable

The thing with weather forecasts is that it is just that–a prediction. We planned for April only to find that the sand dunes can get crazy weather during this month. It can be sunny one day, and freezing the next. It can even snow! We knew it would be chilly, but never expected it to be as cold as it actually was this sand dunes engagement session.

The necessary research was complete and with the weather prediction in the 50’s, we hoped for the best. I had just done a sand dune shoot in Utah so I felt confident and fully prepared for the next one. 

Upon our arrival, the temperature was in the 20’s and the wind was absolutely INSANE at about 60-70mph. It was miserable to say the least. We had to at least attempt it since the dunes were a good 3.5 hours from any civilization. It was then a half mile walk from our parked car to the dunes. Once you’re there, you’re there. So we had to just go for it. There was no turning back! 

Once we started walking towards the dunes the wind started to pick up and it kept getting worse. Just walking in the sand itself was not easy. I thought maybe if we could only make it the short distance to one little dune that it would be better on the other side. We were WRONG!

Sand Can REALLY Hurt

The wind was so high that the sand hurt as it hit us and we could barely open our eyes or even take our gloves off. It was just too cold to move. Even when I was taking pictures in a blizzard in Canada it was not this bad. Olivia and Will were such troopers and they just went for it! I ALWAYS put the health and safety of my clients first and if they were not the ones who were excited to try it I wouldn’t have pushed it at all! 

We did our best to capture what we could and these two even changed their clothes for a second outfit!! Unfortunately, the weather kept heading in the wrong direction. We were only able to take photos for about 20 minutes before I had to call it. It was so tough to do when I knew we wouldn’t be returning to this location any time soon. I produce the best product for my clients and I had no idea if any of the photos would work. 

This engagement session had turned into a super adventurous one and it was time to GO! On our walk back, the wind was coming against us and it felt like it was 80 mph. A storm had started rolling in through the mountains and it looked pretty intense. It took locking arms to continue walking because the wind was so strong.

Adventurous Engagements Can Be Quite Memorable

This is when I got very nervous because out of all the crazy weather I’ve had during shoots, this was BY FAR the scariest. We prayed so hard to make it back to the car safely! My jaw started to lock up which freaked me out since I had never before experienced these symptoms from the cold. The entire walk back to the car was so traumatic. Sand HURTS!

When we finally got back to the car my face was swollen and we all just sat there in silence. We were wondering what in the world had just happened and all we wanted next was to get warm! Olivia and Will broke the silence with laughter at our circumstances. We couldn’t believe what we had just experienced together! 

Looking back, I’m grateful that we shared this crazy adventure together which we will always remember. We had fun, we learned A LOT, and actually got some amazing shots from this adventurous engagement session in the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado. 

Ready for your own adventurous engagement session? Just in case you didn’t know, I’m up for anything!

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