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  • Elena Bespoke

Iowa Engagement Photo Ideas (as told by a California native)


I moved to Iowa in 2009, and I still remember thinking “they weren’t joking about the corn fields”.


Being from Los Angeles, my family was weary about my prospects in the Midwest. What was there to do out here? How would I fare without all the big city amenities I was used to? But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love.


I replaced smog with the smell of farmland.


Skyscrapers gave way to miles upon miles of unobstructed agriculture.


Icy mountain terrains, concrete city landscapes, and sunny beaches packed into one state now became one steady world blessed with all four seasons.


And the people? Californian’s have fiery independent spirits, the near-constant sun inspiring us to do more, achieve, and carve out a space for ourselves in a world of abundance. Iowan’s are an entirely different breed, steady and familiar with a slower pace, humbler aspirations, and a cozy sense about them that reminds you a nice warm day outside with your family is enough.


I fell in love with Iowa and an Iowan in mostly the same ways. I was looking for a steady place to call home, and my fiery California spirit brings a little of the zest for life Iowa can (mostly) appreciate. My husband and I's partnership inspired a newfound appreciation for our homes as we saw it through each others' eyes.


Los Angeles had become a dirty, smog-ridden, and crowded city of insane wealth inequality in my mind, but my husband reminded me of the melting pot of culture, fun, and opportunity among mountainous and beachy terrains. My home "town", it's actually really beautiful. I had taken it for granted for so long and it took an outsider to show me what I had begun to overlook.


Now, Iowa? Iowa doesn't usually get a whole lot of love, and that sucks. You might be drooling over adventure elopements or boho dessert shots, but you don't have to go far in order to capture your own incredible love story with a beautiful Midwestern backdrop.


Let me show you some fun ideas for a quintessentially Iowa engagement session and introduce you to some photographers with an eye for Iowa's beauty who can pull it off. You've got all the magic and romance you need for incredible photos right here.


Head Downtown


How cute are the downtown areas of Iowa's cities? They all look like something out of an old fashioned movie to me with their close-knit store fronts and brick-paved sidewalks. This shot captured by Chelsea Dawn Photography in Cedar Falls shows off the quaint beauty of our state's towns.


I get so used to mega malls and giant shopping centers I appreciate the small-scale, local feel. Surrounded by local businesses, boutique shops, and old brick, what isn't there to love? You can find so many classic old buildings and historic pieces of architecture in Iowa, including eleven Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.


Embrace the Landscape


The beautiful Palisades-Kepler State Park is captured here by Zoey Marie Photography, highlighting the natural beauty of Iowa's varied landscapes. It's not all corn fields and cow pastures (although corn fields make for some pretty incredible photos too)!


Did you know there are eighty-three State parks in Iowa? No matter where you are, you're sure to find a gorgeous landscape like this within an hour of your backyard.


Find the Fun



There are so many quintessentially Iowan places and activities that will have all your engagement photos reminding you of the fun there is to be had in your home state. Farmer's markets, college towns, Lost Island Water Park, Adventureland, and the Field of Dreams are all fun photo backdrops you can only get right here in the Hawkeye state! This photo was taken at the Iowa State Fair by Jenni Chung!


Wide Open Spaces



Did you know that song was about Iowa? (Just kidding.... I think). But the wide open spaces in Iowa are STUNNING! In some areas you can look out for miles and miles, it reminds me of my place in the world and how small I am. How amazing is it that among billions of people and hundreds of countries you found your person and you're right here, right now?


Without the distractions of a huge city you'll feel rooted in place, connected to your world and your place in it. Chelsea Dawn brings us another gem captured in Eddyville, Iowa to demonstrate the beauty of an open world.


Enjoy the Seasons




Something I actually love about Iowa is the seasons... I know! I just think it's so cool how every three months our world changes. Fall isn't the same without the brilliant colors of the changing leaves and pulling out our flannels and scarves and boots. Summer is for farmer's markets, grilling out with family and friends with a beer on the deck. Even the winter brings snow-blanketed holidays, cozy evenings in front of a fire, and a deep appreciation for warm days. It's something that never gets old for this California girl.


This crazy romantic and bundled up engagement session was captured by Zoey Marie photography. Grab your sunscreen and summer dress, or your thickest blanket and mittens. Your Iowa engagement photos will be a fun reminder of what time of year it was when you got engaged, what your world looked like when you said yes.


In conclusion, there is an abundance of opportunity in your world, and I hope these engagement session ideas captured in Iowa by Iowa photographers has you inspired and excited for your own home. If you're looking for a perfect photographer, reach out to any of the crazy talented people mentioned in this post, they can all help you see a familiar place through new eyes. If you want to see your Iowa wedding with the wonder and excitement of a non-native, you're in the right place! Drop me a message and we'll start planning, can't wait.





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