New Orleans Elopement Portrait at the Tree of Life
Michael Caswell Photography

New Orleans Elopement Portrait at the Tree of Life

Eloping in New Orleans is a very popular choice for many couples, with numerous fantastic locations available. I enjoy photographing elopements in New Orleans, as they provide the opportunity to work with the couple in a relaxed manner to capture memorable images such as this one.

This adventurous couple wanted to do something a little different when they decided to elope to New Orleans. The wedding ceremony itself would officially take place later in the day at the Algiers courthouse, but they wanted a very early morning portrait session by the Tree of Life in Audubon Park, so we began shooting right at the crack of dawn on this beautiful October morning. I mean, literally... it was still dark outside when I arrived to get set up! I had photographed small weddings and elopements at the Tree of Life before, but never so early in the morning.

This ancient and massive oak tree was the perfect spot, and starting our portrait session so early gave us some beautiful light to work with, and also meant that the park was not very busy, and aside from an occasional jogger and one other photographer who briefly showed up to grab a few shots of the beautiful scene, we had the area to ourselves.

A Surreal Early Morning Scene

The delicate mist that hovered over the ground that morning greatly enhanced this truly magical setting and made for some unforgettable images (and also provided the benefit of obscuring some homes and vehicles that otherwise would have been in the background when shooting from this angle).

This shot of the couple enjoying a picnic breakfast on the grass was my favorite, captured as the early morning sun warmly filtered through the leaves and moss of this 300 year old landmark, with gorgeous beams of light washing over the couple as they shared a kiss... it was one of those kinds of pictures that I knew, right as I composed it and pressed the shutter release button, was going to be particularly special.

I've been contacted by couples planning to elope to New Orleans who saw this image and thought for sure that it was an example of extensive Photoshop manipulation, with embellishments being added such as the mist and the beam of sunlight. While, as is the case with every picture I capture, I did do a bit of basic editing to enhance the overall look of the image, this is a real photograph that accurately represents the scene as it appeared that morning, and is a great example of how a skilled photographer can capitalize on a particularly fortunate set of circumstances to create a memorable picture.

Of course, by the same token, I've also had to bring some excited couples back down to reality, pointing out that the environmental conditions on this particular morning were a significant factor in how this image looks, and cannot be replicated on demand. That's part of the magic of photography!

Tree of Life Elopement in Audubon Park New Orleans

This gorgeous picture was captured earlier in the session, just a few minutes after sunrise on this perfect October morning.

The perfectly soft light was wonderful to work with, and the misty fog that covered the ground was breathtakingly beautiful. Had we started just an hour or so later, though the light still would have been pretty good, we would not have had that amazing looking mist over the grass.

In this series of shots, I asked the couple to just walk along the grass, holding hands and chatting, and pretending like I was not there. I love these kinds of photographs when shooting engagement portraits or couples on their wedding day, as the relaxed facial expressions and body language capturing in these relatively unposed pictures makes for a much more natural appearance.

Location: Tree of Life, New Orleans, LA.