Katie Childs Photo

When we decided to launch the Natural State Photo Contest, we had no idea we'd get so many beautiful submissions, from all across our gorgeous Natural State. Since we loved them so much, we thought you might, too! 

In no particular order, here are the Natural State Photo Contest finalists and the stories behind the amazing photos! 

The couple: Adam Wilkerson & Shelley Meyer (photo above)
Engagement shoot location: The Goat Trail, near the Ponca area 

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"For our engagement photo location, Adam and I both wanted something outdoors that reflected our love for nature and a huge part of our relationship," Shelley says. "We love to hike and adventure, so something in a city wasn't an option. Katie posed the idea of hiking into The Goat Trail (Google it, its amazing but a trek), shooting into sunset, then hiking out with flashlights. And we were game! It was a six-mile hike trying to maintain our photo-ready status. I think the most memorable moment of the session was changing from hiking clothes into the outfits we carried there on hangers. Katie was a rock star and balanced on rocks and bluff lines to get the best shots for us. Overall, it was a lot of work and about a 12-hour process, but SO worth it. Not only for the amazing photos Katie produced, but the memory of the whole trip during such a fun season of being engaged."

Elizabeth Williams Photography

The couple: Ashley Roberts & Price Holmes 
Engagement shoot location: Tanyard Creek in Bella Vista
Wedding date: May 26, 2018

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"Price and I are all about the outdoors," Ashley says. "Floating, camping and fishing are our favorite things to do together. So going to an outdoorsy area was a no brainer! Tayard creek was suggested by our photographer, Elizabeth Williams, and it has beautiful trails and scenery and we loved this swinging bridge."

Courtney Glaser Photography

The couple: Chelsey Price & Kyle Spragins 
Engagement shoot location: Mount Nebo State Park, Dardanelle 
Wedding date: May 5, 2018, at The Ravington in Centerton

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"They picked Mt. Nebo because it was close to where they're from, and you can’t beat the yummy sunset light," says photographer, Courtney Glaser. "Also, Chelsey's aunt lives in a house, literally down the street, with an amazing overlook, as well. So it was so special to them, and really hit home!"

Jade Graves Photography

The couple: Kathleen Debus & Tom Bullock
Engagement shoot location: Devil's Den State Park, West Fork

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"When Tom and Kathleen met they were both swimmers on the Oklahoma Baptist University swim team," says the couple's photographer, Jade Graves. "When I asked them what they love to do together, what brings them closer, they said 'water, nature, and our dogs.' Devil's Den State Park was the perfect location to bring the dogs, enjoy the trails and get in the water for photos."

Skytouche Photos

The couple: Lauren Story & Mike Hefta
Wedding shoot location: Downtown Hot Springs

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"This photo was taken in downtown Hot Springs," Lauren says. "I've spent my whole life walking those sidewalks and enjoying the views, so this was a special place for me! And being able to share my favorite place in my hometown with my husband was the most special thing in the world."

Lela & Lyla Photography

The couple: Wes & Lauren Ward
Engagement shoot location: Moro (Bride’s hometown and family farm)

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"The bride and groom both work in agriculture, so we wanted to take the photos somewhere we both had a personal connection," Lauren says. "Not to mention, agriculture is such a naturally beautiful part of our state. Fun fact: Arkansas is the number one rice producing state in the nation, producing just over 50 percent of United State's rice."

"Rice farmers put a shallow flood on the crop to prevent weeds, so we both actually had on knee boots in this picture. Despite our calm appearance, we were actually on the lookout for cottonmouths. We also carried bug spray around in the truck, as shallow bodies of water are breeding grounds for mosquitos. Additionally, we spent time taking photos on grain bins, which was a significant accomplishment considering Jessica Barksdale’s fear of heights." 

Stephanie Parsley Photography

The couple: Christa Page & Charles Lavender
Engagement shoot location: There's not a specific name for the location; it's a meadow in Little Rock located off of Reservoir Road

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"Charles and I knew we wanted to have photos in one downtown location and then some in a more natural location," Christa says. "Stephanie Parsley had taken photos in this meadow before and she recommended it. I love that it's just a little hidden spot in the middle of Little Rock. This pose, where our backs were turned to her, was not really planned but when she suggested it and started taking photos, her reaction told me that the photos looked great. They ended up being some of my favorite photos from our engagements!"

Vonda Murdock Photography

The couple: Melissa & Andrew Gray
Engagement shoot location: Petit Jean State Park, Morrilton

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"Andrew contacted me about photographing his planned proposal at sunset on Petit Jean at Stout’s Point," says photographer Vonda Murdock. "He and Melissa are avid outdoor enthusiasts and he had researched some hiking spots and knew Stout’s Point was the place. Andrew is a photographer himself so he had the ring hidden in a vintage camera he carried with him. As the sun was setting, they made their way to the rock we decided would capture the sunset as well as the beauty of the valley. It was perfect and Melissa, still beautiful after hiking all day, was completely surprised and says she still gets butterflies thinking about that day!"

Sterling Imageworks

The couple: Dwayne & Alexa Medlock
Engagement shoot location: Petit Jean State Park, Morrilton

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"This picture was part of our engagement session with Sterling Imageworks back in April," Alexa says. "Dwayne had only one request for our pictures — an amazing view! He loves the outdoors and especially beautiful views like we knew we would find on the always gorgeous Petit Jean. Callie captured his vision beyond perfectly and this is our favorite picture!"

Jo Johnson Photography

The couple: Sarah Dahlberg & Austin Sites
Engagement shoot location: Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"I decided to go take a look at the Anthony Chapel and the Garvan gardens on my spring break, in hopes that Austin would propose soon," Sarah says. "As I was walking along with my mother, I spotted Austin and after that we walked through the tulips and he proposed."

But the couple had to go through a few snags in the engagement plan before the magic moment happened:

"That day, Austin ran out of gas right before the proposal and my best friend/the photographer had to take him gas on the side of the road," Sarah says. "The week before I had pink eye, so Austin and my mom were concerned that it would be an issue. Last, my mom accidentally took the wrong turn in the gardens so we went all the way around the garden before getting to the location of the proposal. Although things did go wrong, it was the most special moment and it all happened where we will be married in March!"

The couple: Tim Clay & Alyx Porter
Engagement shoot location: Petit Jean State Park, Morrilton

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"When choosing to decide where to take engagement pictures, we knew we wanted it to be on a mountain that could capture how beautiful Arkansas really is and Petit Jean was perfect," Alyx says. "Our amazing photographers took us to this overlook and it instantly reminded me of the story my mom tells me about how my dad proposed to her on an overlook. Though Tim wasn't proposing, it was so special to capture this sweet time in our lives in the same setting that my parents did. We loved getting to capture this together and look at our beautiful state!"

Rebekah Manon Photography

The couple: Brady & Marti Thompson
Engagement shoot location: Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"We met here in Arkansas and wanted to have an engagement session that captured the beauty of the place we fell in love," Marti says. "The picture was taken at Garvan Gardens during peak week of the tulips blooming."

Reid & Brittany Photography

The couple: Jackson & Sydney Carter
Engagement shoot location: A cotton field across from Marlsgate Plantation in Scott, Arkansas

Here's a bit about their lovely shoot:

"We chose the location, because I had seen a photo from the same location taken by our photographers and fell in love with it," Sydney says. "I begged Brittany to let us take our photos there because we had planned on using somewhere with leaves changing colors for fall, but the week leading up to our photo shoot in October, the leaves still hadn't changed color and were just browning. Brittany wasn't sure if we would be able to use the cotton field because they usually pick it all prior to rain and it was scheduled to rain the day before our photo shoot. The day before our photo shoot, our photographers drove out to the field and it hadn't been picked so we were able to use the field!"

"A funny story about the photo shoot was that my husband and I had accidentally left our car lights on during the entire shoot. When we finished, both us and our photographers got in our cars to leave. Reid and Brittany left, and we started the car to follow them and it was slow to start. We slowly went down the road and pulled over at a gas station within a mile of the cotton field. Our car died and we spent an hour eating gas station snacks and being silly waiting for the battery to charge up so we could leave! It was such a memorable night."

To check out our Natural State Photo Contest winners, head this way.