When Katie said she wanted a family portrait session at Garden of the Gods (even though it was a two hour drive from her house), I jumped out of my seat I had just fell in love with this hike two weeks earlier. Garden of the Gods is a smaller park in Colorado Springs, but you can certainly get lost in the red rocks, which remind me of the formations you might see in Utah (but with a lot more vegetation). I recently learned that the Garden of the Gods was private land before it donated to the city of Colorado Springs with the understanding that it would remain free to the public. This place is spectacular. I couldn’t believe my luck, especially since I had just shot a beautiful family session in Vail, Colorado.

So I met Katie, Olive, and their beautiful dog Elliot, who is a half poodle, half golden retriever mix with lots of energy. By the way, dogs are welcome at any of my sessions and I was very thankful that they are permitted at Garden of the Gods. I seriously wanted to take Elliot home, but then again he would probably feel a little cramped in my 60 square foot camper.

We started out at a field just outside the park in an effort to miss the afternoon rush. Katie and Olive wore beautiful dresses. Katie wore a lacey white dress and Olive chose a black one, but the two went together really nicely. The three explored, spun, and ran around basking in the sun. I love it when I can just sit back and capture natural moments. That’s exactly how I felt with Katie and Olive. Their love just shines through and all I had to do was sit back and capture it. Actually, I was running around like a maniac (per usual) while also wrangling Elliot, who is a lot stronger than he looks. But I did this all with a smile on my face. It’s been a while since I’ve photographed family sessions and I have to say they are my favorite.

Pretty soon Olive was begging us to climb a mountain. “When are we going to climb a mountain?” “Just a few more photos.” “Are we going to climb a mountain now?” “Yes, in a sec. But I just love this lighting right now.” And after just a couple hundred more pictures, I didn’t want to miss the light, so we hopped in our cars and drove up to climb a mountain. Garden of the Gods.

Wow, this has got to be one of my favorite hikes near Denver. And I’m so glad we waited because it was a lot less busy than when I had done yoga up there earlier. Also, the lighting was just perfect. We hiked up the sidewalk, but when this wasn’t adventurous enough for Olive, we found some cool rocks to climb. She was pretty intent on climbing straight up a wall actually. Next time we’ll bring harnesses. I think Olive will make a great rock climber one day. I’m a sucker for red rocks, so these are definitely some of my favorite photos of the day. Olive, Katie, and Elliot explored the peak together as the sun came down. And I got to capture it.

Thank you Katie, Olive, and Elliot for an awesome adventure. 🙂

Josh Hartman – Traverse City Based Family Photographer

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