“It definitely makes a huge difference when I am able to work with my couples before their big day! It gives me time to get to know who they really are and vice versa,” explains Kristi Klemens, owner of KLK Photography based out of Newport Beach, Calif., about her experience photographing a couple’s engagement shoot. “It also develops a relationship of trust; I become friends with my clients; we are comfortable with each other and can be honest with one another. This relationship is so important for the natural look and feel in the photographs,” adds Klemens.

After a soul-searching move from Michigan to Los Angeles five years ago, Klemens started shooting comp cards for actor and model friends. Following a series of referrals and much enjoyment later, her photography business was born. Once she shot her first wedding—an “intimate backyard Persian wedding”—Klemens was hooked. “The adrenaline rush, as well as the emotions, was so captivating.” Due to marry in April herself, it’s those same feelings that Klemens tries to document at an engagement shoot. Although west coast beaches are undeniably breathtaking, Klemens loves “when a location has meaning, such as their proposal spot or where they met,” but she also attests that the session should be a couple’s “documented ‘date’ or a day off together; the goal is to capture their unique personalities and what makes them perfect for each other.”

“All of my couples hire me to get something different, something unique and something they haven’t seen before,” explains Klemens about her self-described, fashion-forward, up-for-anything approach to shooting. When it came time to work with Yume and Jimmy Han for their April 20th shoot last year, they started at their favorite L.A. hotel, the SLS Hotel designed by Philippe Starck, for its “eerie, yet romantic vibe; it matches our personality and style to a T,” describes Yume. Klemens “shot the majority of images in its unique restaurant called The Bazaar.” Afterwards they headed to a fairly new city landmark the “LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for the night shots at the lit up lampposts.”

“I remember Yume stating ‘it’s a fashion shoot; it belongs in a magazine’,” recalls Klemens, who was beyond excited when she got the call and found out it would be. “Yume and Jimmy were so emotional and touched by the images; they never imagined that the beauty of their relationship could be photographed in such a unique way.”

Yume and Jimmy were married three days later at Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. They found that their engagement shoot served as “really good practice,” notes Yume, pointing out what she learned for impending brides to be: “how to angle your face, putting your arms on your hip to get the most of your arms, looking comfortable and relaxed (even when you’re super nervous),” but most importantly, how to “have fun.”

Yume is a buyer for a contemporary clothing company and Jimmy is self-employed with properties in L.A. Future plans include owning a contemporary sports bar and hanging “our engagement photos on the wall,” smiles Yume. But in the meantime, they followed their wedding with a trash-the-dress shoot in October at The Mission, which ended with shots at their coveted SLS Hotel. “We are so blessed to have met Kristi and her undeniable talent. We can’t be happier with the outcome,” exclaims Yume.