South Dakota Badlands Engagement Shoot 2021

Badlands South Dakota Engagement Shoot

Mandi + David

Words can’t express my excitement when one of my couples asked me to photograph them in the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. To book a destination shoot has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. In my opinion, this area is one of the best places on the map!

As I arrived in the park the afternoon before my shoot, I only had about 2 hours to cover the area and find the best locations during the hours that I would be photographing the next day. My couple was scheduled for the following evening and I wanted to see it as I would during the shoot. I had scoped out the area initially with an internet search, reading a few blogs and websites. When I arrived I was overwhelmed by the beauty and grandness of the landscape. Compared to other parks, the Badlands is fewer acres with just one central road going through, so it was easier to cover in a short amount of time. 

I had the following day to explore and hike the trails that went off the beaten path. I settled on three very stunning locations that would work for evening shots. I wanted to backlight Mandi and David with the sun setting behind them as well as a little side lighting for drama. I also wanted to have them face the sun so that I could really accentuate the color that was in the formations behind them. I had so many different ideas running around in my head so I took the next day to really hammer out the details so that I could lead them seamlessly from one location to the next.

The second location was, in my opinion, the best place for a sunset. It had a pinnacle feel with scenic views and 180 degrees of landscape to pull from. After a quick outfit change for Mandi and David, we set out to the next and most scenic location on my list. I was not disappointed by the incredible sunset and the images that came from that!

I chose the final location because it had more of a prairie feel with grass and I loved the mounds coming strain up out of the ground. I wanted to mix it up a little and give a totally different feel for a little diversity in the images.

Once the shoot was over we decided to meet back up again at sunrise to take a few more shots with some casual clothing. I was able to utilize some locations that I missed the previous evening due to time. To me, getting out of bed early is worth it because sunrise is by far the most peaceful and incredible time of the day. There weren’t many travelers out at this point so it felt like we had the park to ourselves. I knew Mandi and David would love to see the park at that time and having those photos of them soaking it all in seemed like a special thing for them to do. I am so looking forward to their Lake Placid, New York wedding next fall!


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