Cuyahoga Valley National Park Engagement | Dustin & Cali


Dustin and Cali’s engagement session will go down in my books as one the most adventurous sessions I have ever been on. It is certainly one I won’t soon forget. Their photos were absolutely worth the hiking, climbing and mud sliding. Keep reading to find out more!

Cali and Dustin’s session is one we planned for months in advance. I was so excited when she asked me if we could do photos at Blue Hen Falls. Its a place I had never been, but have been dying to see! In late winter we set a date for July, and we waited.

The day came around and it was HOT. The sun was blazing and it was humid. I arrived about an hour ahead of time to scout out the area, as I hadn’t had a session in Cuyahoga Valley National Park before. I knew we wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to spend at the Blue Hen Falls part of the park. Its hidden deep in the woods and loses sunlight faster as it sets behind the trees.

When Cali and Dustin arrived I immediately took them into a nearby patch of grass in the Boston Mill’s Ski Resort parking lot to teach them the basics of posing, where they could learn in private as I knew the falls would be filled with people. Prepping my clients with posing definitely helps them feel more relaxed as we move through their sessions.

The patch of grass was beautiful. It had a warm sun glow, rustic fence and perfect tall trees. I am sure they thought I was crazy asking them to pose in the middle of a giant and empty parking lot. Looking at the photos though, you’d never be able to tell thats where they were at. They are seriously dreamy!

We didn’t stay there too long though. Due to the recent impacts of the pandemic, the parking lot for the falls was closed. We had to park in the main parking area for the whole park and hike an entire mile straight up hill along side the road to reach the start of the trail for the falls. I know I’ve already stated, but it was HOT. The hike was not the easiest and we definitely were not prepared with the proper shoes. Somehow we made it to the top, sweating and out of breath.

Once we reached the top of the hill, we began our trek down hill on the trail to the path. The walk down the trail felt like a breeze compared to the walk up the hill. When we finally arrived at the falls, it was just as I thought it would be, filled with people. From where we were we could look down to the falls over a fence. We began chatting about how we were going to get from where we were down to the falls. There was no easy path.

We started down the hill, using the tree roots from the ground to hold ourselves steady. Where the tree roots ended began a muddy slope through large rocks. It was challenging but we made it! When we got to the bottom we found the falls occupied by a group of teens laughing and taking photos. We waited for what seemed like forever. We passed the time taking photos further from the falls, still getting a glimpse the falls behind them. We used posing and their bodies to block the teens in the background

Finally they finished up and it was our turn. Let me tell you something… Dustin was a trooper. While he isn’t the biggest fan of nature, he put on his best smile and took all of the photos sweet Cali wanted! They looked incredible! We didn’t stay long though as people lined up behind us for their turns to take photos with the falls.

We hiked back uphill along the trail for the falls and then downhill along the road, which seemed far less treacherous than the hike up that same hill. We were able to laugh, talk and catch up, which we were too winded to do on the way up. We arrived at the bottom around the glowiest time of the afternoon, just before the sun was about to set.

Cali and Dustin changed outfits in the car and we moved on to our next spot. We utilized some tall grass and some of the adorable buildings near the parking lot to get some beautiful photos with all of the gorgeous sunset glow. They were even brave enough to do a dip kiss! Exhausted from our trek we moved quickly through the second part. I wanted to get these two through their session quickly so they could go on a kid free date night dressed so perfectly! Rumor has it, Cali treated Dustin to a nice dinner as a thank you for participating in her crazy waterfall ideas!

Check out a few of my favorites from their beautiful session!

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