Engagement sessions are as much for me to get to know my clients in a more intimate way prior to their wedding as they are for couples to get some fun, romantic pix in their play clothes. Diana and Ryan were game for anything and made sure to keep it light and fun throughout–as this I’ve come to know is really who they are. I can’t wait for their wedding!
I love doing these sessions on a weekday night (less people) and between the hours leading up to sunset and just beyond as this is the nicest light to work with. Boston is such a walkable city that we are able to get to a variety of places easily.
A thin December sun sank slowly down Beacon Street as Stella and Brian slowly strolled through the Boston Public Garden. Long shadows were their company along with Jason, my assistant, and I. Stella wore a vintage looking coat she purchased in Paris and Bryan looked perfect in his tailored suit. They laughed.
Not an hour earlier had they made it all official during a Boston City Hall ceremony. They were the first eager folks to arrive but that waiting room filled up quick. We’d started our day together at Piers Point Park in Eastie (East Boston) before heading into town. They had memorized beautiful vows to each other and after the officiants legal words and a quick exchange of rings we were off.
First stop the Beacon Hill and the cobblestones of Acorn St. Next we drifted down to Charles Street and then into the Public Garden. After some Mama duck riding we Uber-ed it to Inman Square in Cambridge and Trina’s Starlight Lounge. Trina’s was the scene of one of their first dates but we were too early for the hipster-dive so we ducked into the Druid for some Guinness and Jameson’s. We had the place to almost to ourselves except for a few regulars who bought them drinks and posed for pix.
We ended at Trina’s where they scarfed the famous grilled hot dogs and indulged in some fancy cocktails. Save for the wedding dress this date seemed like it could have been just another regular Thursday night out for these guys–and I think that’s exactly what they wanted.
I’ve worked the same wedding venue back to back many nights and shot engagement sessions in the same location on the same day but no matter how often and how similar the locations, no two sessions are ever the same. As a photojournalist I know its the people I photograph that make my photography come to Life and give it its Essence. My job is special in lots of ways. I don’t sit in a cubicle (no offense to anyone who finds that appealing), I never watch the clock (ready to slide down the dinosaur’s tale when the quittin’ time whistle blows) and I’m usually always surprised how this job keeps me present in the Right Now without me feeling overworked or overburdened. This is Zen in the Art of Photography at its finest.
My aim (no pun intended), like Eugen Herrigel’s in his famous text Zen in the Art of Archery, is to somehow allow my subjects to photograph themselves. No I haven’t lost my mind. I want this to feel effortless even as I hump my gear and myself up trees, into ponds and and all over the place, quickly switching lenses and perspective, changing position all the while keeping the mood light and fun and engaging. Tons of contradictions abound but I truly want the camera to find a way to shoot itself. Much like Herrigel’s arrow finds its natural state at the center of the bullseye so to do my subjects find their organic bullseye framed within my sensor confines–that is their natural state. This process is best when it happens in the viewfinder but sometimes must be found in the edit and brought to light (The number one reason you hire a professional photographer).
The examples here are with Elyse + Bill and Emily + Jared and show how their own personalities play in some of the same environmental spaces. They are running the show even though they don’t know it. They are crafting the look and feel of their photographes without being aware of it. Sure I am framing things and swapping lenses, etc but it is their own confidence and insecurity to be vulnerable that allows the moment to happen.
I want my posed or orchestrated moments to have the look of spontaneity–as if this is all happening organically. Except that I’m Present yet unconscious. It is effortless. A long slow Ujjayi breath out and I never feel my finger release the shutter–maybe 6 frames per second even. There is a flow and a sequence but in the end there is the unconscious talking to the conscious mind in the edit room. This process takes patience and balance. My subjects, like the arrow, have already found their perfect resting place.