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Hensol Forest Engagement Photography | Arlette & John

Man and woman in love holding each other at sunset in Hensol Forest during engagement shoot

I met up with Arlette and John on a late sunny afternoon in the gorgeous little market town of Cowbridge which is located in the Vale of Glamorgan, just a short drive west of Cardiff - albeit quite a winding drive through the small country lanes that takes in a little of the lovely South Wales scenery and forestry.


Cowbridge will also be the location of their wedding, with The Bear Hotel being the chosen venue - a charming hotel situated right in the middle of the bustling town. We had first planned to use our hours together on this particular day to check out some of the nearby photo shoot locations that we could make use of on their wedding day.

Physic Garden and Hensol Forest for photography in South Wales

One of those locations was the Cowbridge Physic Garden, a peaceful 0.5 acres physic garden hidden behind a high stone wall with a simple unassuming door that seems to secretly invite people in. The Physic Garden is often referred to as an oasis of calm and tranquility, and it was created by the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust back in 2004 before finally being officially opened by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in 2008.


Unfortunately, we turned up at 6pm on the dot - just as the caretaker was locking up - so there was no secret invite for us as we missed out on our chance to scope the photo opportunities on this occasion, though if the words oasis, calm, tranquility and photo shoot are all used in the same sentence, I'll always be convinced there are useful options on offer for a photographer.


On the bright side, this meant we had more time to work on Arlette and John's pre-wedding photoshoot - it just meant they would have to be at another location, which is just as well, seeing as we'll likely use the Physic Gardens to grab some couple shots on their actual wedding day.


While I was en route to Cowbridge, precariously making my way through the narrow country lanes, I noticed a few signs for Hensol Forest. I'd heard of some of the spots around this area and had been to a few in the past, but had never visited the forest before. The weather was on our side as a warm sunset was approaching, so although I knew a lack of daylight might be challenging, I thought there may be some cool compositions and creative bursts of light through leaves and branches that I could work with. I suggested this to my lovely couple as another option and they were both game for checking it out, so we jumped in our cars and made our way there.

Lack of daylight in Hensol Forest certainly challenges a photographer

I was right - a lack of natural daylight at early evening deep in a tree-filled forest would certainly prove challenging when it comes to photographing people, but there was also plenty of interesting spots, the occasional burst of bright light through the foliage as I expected, and best of all hardly a soul in sight - I remember one gentleman walking by but that was it. Hensol Forest is also home to Pysgodlyn Mawr Lake, but we didn't have the time on this evening to walk there let alone make use of that as an extra location, so it's something I'll keep on my radar and hope to use for a future shoot.


I'm personally not a fan of camera flash, so I was working with the natural elements and that was it. I didn't even bring a tripod - well, I did, but I left it in the boot of the car. I knew we'd be working within a relatively short timeframe to capture a collection of different shots so I was already aware that I wouldn't have the time to be setting up a tripod in a variety of ways every 5 minutes, not to mention my bag is already heavy enough without it hah!


So, with an empty enchanted forest in the heart of South Wales at our disposal, we spent the next hour or two wandering along the dusty footpath that leads through Hensol Forest, stopping at all spots of interest.

Arlette & John Engagement Photographs


Man and woman look at each other in Hensol Forest during engagement shoot
Girl resting head on fiance's chest in Hensol Forest during engagement photo shoot
Black and white image of male and female in Hensol Forest during engagement shoot
Man and woman embrace at sunset in Henso Forest during engagement photo shoot
Man kissing his fiance on the head in Hensol Forest at sunset during engagement shoot
Man and woman lovingly look at each other during sunset in Hensol Forest during engagement shoot
Man and woman in love stand in Hensol Forest during sunset in South Wales
Couple kissing in love while showing off engagement ring at Hensol Forest in South Wales
Man and woman hold hands while walking through Hensol Forest during engagement photo shoot
Man and woman holding hands while walking down road during engagement shoot


Photography: Shawn Eastman Photography, Cardiff Wedding Photographer

Venue: Hensol Forest, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales 


Shawn Eastman is a Cardiff & South Wales based wedding photographer. He takes pride in documenting two lovers at the start of their biggest adventure together. Along with his couples and families, Shawn is driven to capture something authentic, beautiful, powerful and raw. These pre-wedding engagement photos captured a little before sunset at Hensol Forest (Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales) encapsulate exactly that.

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