When old high school friends call you…you shoot their engagement!
Aside from doing my own photography business, I do some contracting photography work for George Street Photo and Video. I'm sure you may have been bombarded by their ads if you are currently engaged. It is what it is, but I can't speak ill of a company that employs me on some level. Well, I can but that's not what this blog post is about. I'd like to also think they have good taste in hiring photographers. (sarcastic grin). I am basically sent clients who book me through them. I show up, do some dancing, taking pictures, and then leave. It's the same scope with portraits, boudoir, and weddings. It can be slightly impersonal. Developing a relationship with people is one of the driving reasons I am a photographer. There is just less time to do this when you're contracted to shoot things. Like I said, it is what it is, and George Street has never let me down in the quality of my clients. They continued their winning streak this week with my portrait engagement session of Zach Morris and Kelly Kapowski. Alright, their last names aren't really Morris and Kapowski but Zach and Kelly! Come on! "I'm so excited, I'm so excited! I'm so, so scared!" Alright, that quote was actually attributed to Jessie Spanow but it's still from NBC's hit teen comedy series, "Saved By the Bell." Very young millennials are very confused at everything I am saying right now. Go watch it on Youtube or something!
I met Zach and Kelly at Raleigh's Umstead Park. It's probably the largest green space of forest in the area, boasting trails, lakes and probably scary snakes. It's interesting because the last time I had been to that location of Umstead, I was in a very different mindset/place. I had just moved to Raleigh weeks earlier and it was definitely a scary time. This weekend couldn't have felt more opposite. Alright, I'll leave the psych babble for the therapist. It was cold, chilly by Raleigh standards, but the sun was shining and I was ready to make some sweet images. I was really happy that their version of "casual" was actually really cute and complimentary on the color spectrum. Trust me, when couples say they are "casual" it can sometimes mean, khakis and a TJ Maxx polo shirt. I hope you know my feelings about khakis.
Pastels on him worked amazing and her plum jeans worked well to compliment. I could already tell they were wicked adorable. Their connection was electric and the biggest smiles erupted when they were just hanging out with each other...and also if Zach saw a dog. Guys usually tend to be slightly more awkward than their female counter parts but that's okay. I think staring at the camera seems to be the most difficult thing so I try and banish that. I want couples to be with each other. There is hardly ever a reason for them to look in my direction. The minute Zach did this, he came alive with her.
I generally ask 100 questions during a shoot but since I just got to know them that day I may have asked 1,000. I just like to talk to people and I think it helps break down that wall that the camera creates when I lift it up. Speaking of camera, most of these shots are taken with the Canon 85mm f1.2 L, a love/hate lens. Some macro shots were taken with the Canon 24-70mm f4 L lens. But yes, I learned that Zach loves all things outdoors and is in the Air Force. He also has jumped out of a plane (willingly) over 100 times. My heart was racing just thinking about that. After 67 jumps does it become routine? Can you play a game of chess on your way down? So many questions. Kelly is in school to be a Physician's Assistant. She's also a hater of IPAs, yay! They are the worst beers. Fight me on it. Also, somewhat of a doughnut lover. Plus, guys, I hope if you are reading this you took my advice and stopped by "Baker's Dozen" in Cary for some deep fried apple fritter goodness. They are getting married in Colorado which is probably a good reason why I was not selected as their George Street Wedding Photographer. Oh well, may the doughnuts be with them. Zach recently had hip surgery so I wasn't going to go hiking madly with them. This still did not stop him from picking Kelly up and walking about from location to location.
I've been trying lately to put people in poses that sometimes might be considered, "only for a specific gender." I don't think it's fair that a guy has to always be "aggressive." A lady can pull her man in just as well. Or vice versa. It doesn't matter. Love is love.
There was a gorgeous tree that was already shedding its petals, so I asked Zach to shake it. It's direct midday sunlight here so thankfully Kelly was back lit and I exposed for her skin. For non photography folks, mid day sun is generally the worst. It decreases contrast, makes people squint, and overall can be pretty unflattering. Thankfully, most of our images were in open shade with the beautiful pines providing some diffusion.
Probably my favorite mini set from the shoot right here.
CONGRATULATIONS! You're engaged! Oh, my, gosh! That ring (or any other non-conformist engagement thang) is beautiful! What's next? Well, about a billion things. Luckily this blog post will be short, informative, and focus on one thing, engagement photography!!! An engagement shoot, or "e-session" as the cool kids say (they don't say that), is a great way to express to the world you're getting married. It also is the best way to get to know you as a couple before your wedding. Generally, if I'm shooting your wedding, my first experience with you as a photographer will be your engagement shoot. We can iron out all the wrinkles and get comfortable with me dancing around with a camera. I've witnessed many engagement sessions go beautifully and some...not so much. So here are some much needed tips in having an amazing first photo shoot with a photographer.
- Pick a photographer that feels like they match your style.
Sounds like a given but you would be surprised. Are you a quirky couple? Do you like studio or natural light? Dark and dramatic or light and airy? A photographer's portfolio will give you a general idea of what your shoot will be like.
2: Wardrobe, wardrobe, wardrobe!
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Okay wait, maybe this isn't an interview but it's definitely a chance to be impressive. I am not saying you should go out and purchase new clothing. I'm actually against that. New clothing generally makes people feel a little more uncomfortable. It's a total sensory thing. Think about what looks good on you, what makes you feel good. This goes for both bride and groom to be. Select details that sparkle or make you feel that much more special. Khakis and a polo shirt won't do it. As photographers we are here to help make things look aesthetically pleasing, so pick some options if you are in doubt and ask us!
3: Where should we do this? Make it personal.
There are tons of places that are adequate for photos. I'm sure there is a nice park or area that would work just fine but go deeper. Is there a place in the memory of the both of you that makes you smile? Maybe a coffee shop or restaurant? Us photographers do not mind asking to shoot at these places at all. Trust us, we get more "yes's" than "no's" when we inquire nicely. Pick a location that's special to you and if you don't have one, let's come up with one together.
4: "Now hug and kiss."Look like you're in love and other things that you should never be told to do.
There is nothing more unromantic than being posed. Sometimes, it may have to happen but those times should be infrequent. We don't want to tell you how to hold your partner's hand. We just want you to love doing it. Sometimes we use a telephoto (long) lens so that we aren't in your faces. We want couples to have the space they deserve to feel comfortable. If you feel awkward in front of a camera that's okay. We've got many tricks up our sleeves, like awful dad jokes, crazy stories about mexico in 1998 or even better, getting the couple to talk about themselves. The ice will slowly break.
5: Golden hour is a great hour.
If you're not familiar with the term, golden hour, it is the time before dusk. About an hour or two before sunset. These are great times to take pictures, why? The sun is low creating softer light. That light is more of a golden, reddish hue. Ah, see "golden" hour.It's a magical time for a magical couple. If we are indoors, mid day works fine but generally photos in that part of the day have less contrast and tend to look more washed out.
6: Look for inspiration
Not quite sure at the look you want? That's okay. You don't have to know all the answers. In the fashion world photographers create mood boards before shoots. You can too! Just use Pinterest. It's a great way to see ideas that you may not have readily in your head. Make it a dialogue between you and the photographer so we know what we are working toward. Remember, it's your shoot. Show us your love.
There, don't you feel better? I thought you would. It isn't scary. Engagement photos are something that should be the icing on the cake. You've done the hard part, proposing and bringing someone else into your life, this is just a pictorial celebration. Here are some of my favorite moments. Any questions, or to book your very own awesome shoot, click the booking tab on my site!