2020 is a dumpster fire of a year. No need to remind you of all that’s happened, but I think that summation is pretty fair. I spend much of my time in my head planning days to years down the line, day dreaming about all the possibilities life has to offer. Covid 19 has effectively shut down this part of my brain and forced me to live in the present constantly - it’s emotionally draining and exhausting. You know, exactly the kind of energy you want to have going into wedding planning, a famously stress-less process 🙄. It feels very weird, and at times even wrong, to spend any brain power thinking about all the little details that go into planning such a huge event (both figuratively and literally) when their significance pales against all the issues my three remaining brain cells should be working to solve.
And yet, it’s rituals and milestones like these that are all important during times of crisis to maintain and celebrate our humanity. Graduations, promotions, engagements, new homes... these are all things people have expressed feeling guilty at times about celebrating during all the chaos, but these are exactly the things we need to amplify and commemorate. Pain begets sorrow, but joy amplifies hope.
It’s this joy and hope that I wanted to capture with our engagement pictures. In my other post about engagement pictures I questioned why people sometimes take and post so many or do multiple shoots, but through our afternoon in the woods I figured out why. That time we spent together, just being (with our photographer of course, but I’ll get to that) was so intimate and peaceful. The comfort, safety, silliness, trust, and sense of belonging my partner and I feel when we’re together are all manifestations of the persistence of love through chaos; that’s why engagement pictures are so special to take, and so addicting to scroll through. That even in the thick of the woods, that connection and joy is undeniable. Through photographs you can share those feelings and perpetuate a little more joy in the world, whether by just sharing them with family and friends or with strangers on the internet.
For all 2020 has thrown at us, taking this time to celebrate our engagement on the actual day of our six year anniversary was beyond special. I don’t feel guilty or strange anymore making the effort to celebrate that, and hope our joy amplifies your hope too.
So how do you create that sense of intimacy while you’re with a third person who is not a part of your relationship? Creating and/or maintaining that atmosphere is something all photographers are tasked with while capturing their subjects. It definitely helps when you know the person well. And when you don’t? It’s essential to have people skills that builds trust, especially when you’re in a position of telling someone what to do with their person and their body.
In addition to those people skills though, style is everything! As a photographer who’s usually on the other side of the lens, there were added layers of qualifications in finding a photographer who’s style I loved, who I felt could capture us in a way where afterwards I wouldn’t wish I could’ve taken them myself somehow. Whatever it says about me, the issue isn’t that I’m camera shy (far from it), but am usually hard to please when other people capture me compared to how I find my own angles. I’m sure I’m not the only photographer who feels this way when photographed, and it makes me feel like a tough customer. That is, until I found Mike and Kristin.
I found Mike and Kristin on Instagram around six months ago when we weren’t sure where we would have our wedding next year. Between Chicago and New Orleans, I searched using different tags (like #chicagoweddingphotographer or #nolaengagement) to find people I vibed with stylistically, and their photos stood out immediately. Of course photographers are going to put their best work on their feeds, but the level of comfort every couple had across the board, to my eye, was palpable. I loved how every photo showed their subjects‘ personalities and energy in a natural way. I love a dramatic or moody photo, but I wanted photos that felt effortless. Along the way I realized I wanted photos that felt like how my partner makes me feel. Our love story may provide for a dramatic retelling (unavoidable with 4 years of long distance) but if I could translate our partnership into a visual style, deep contrast or cinematic romance isn’t what comes to mind. I may have a flair for drama and hyperbole as an individual but as a team we’re very low-key, private, practical, and grounded. I felt that Mike and Kristin could capture that, and while I feel like their photos speak for themselves I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, emphatically, that they delivered that and more!
Mike also captured the setting perfectly with film stills (below). Despite the casual passerby and my inability to let any dog saunter past unacknowledged, we felt like we were the only ones in the forest. My partner and I can tap into that pretty easily in a crowd, but to do so with someone we’d only met that morning for the first time was truly noteworthy. It was no surprise that Mike brought that same finesse to my parents’ house directly after, where we took family photos and played some bocce.
TL;DR our engagement pictures were magical AF, there’s a post coming soon with pictures by Mike and Kristin of our mini ‘rona engagement celebration with the fam, I highly recommend the woods for dreamy pictures (and would love to shoot there myself, hit me up!), and I love this man forever.