Philadelphia engagement and anniversary photographer. Couples session in Camden, ME.
A few months after we moved to Alaska I flew back to Beaufort for the birth of my second nephew. While I was there I photographed my first ever couples session, and now, here I am, writing this blog post from our cozy little apartment in Old City, Philadelphia. A lot can change in a year (or, in this case, a year and a half).
For us, this time has held one cross-country move, a handful of beautiful vacations and a whole lot of growth. Exploring every corner of this city has made the months pass in what feels like only days. It’s incredible, really, not only how abruptly change can happen, but how long it can take to notice those changes. The simple habits of the day to day transform and fade away and suddenly you realize that everything has changed; the way it once was, the person you once were, may be completely different now.
Coming up on five years of marriage, I've seen a lot of this in our relationship (in a good way). We are so different than we were on that February morning when we signed our names across the bottom of that marriage certificate. In a thousand ways we are the same, yet our relationship has grown and transformed, blossoming into something more beautiful than I could have ever dreamt. This is, at the core, why I do what I do.
This is why I photograph love, in all of it's stages. This is what fuels me. Capturing those little nuances of a relationship, giving people a tangible piece of their past, a piece of their ever-changing story. It’s so much more than just the photographs though, its the session, the time spent together while we’re creating.
That's why you will never, ever hear me utter the words "say cheese" or "pretend to laugh" during a session. My couples don’t look back at a photograph and see staged smiles, they look back and they see photographs that immediately bring them back to a moment; to the whispered words falling in their ears and causing that wild laughter, to the butterflies in their stomach, to the kiss that came after that sentence. The session is about slowing down, taking the time to savor your love and soak each other in. You'll look back in thirty years on photographs that transcend time.
Since this post features my first ever couples session from over a year ago, I’m switching things up a little by sharing some insight on what goes into creating these moments. The words and questions among the following photographs are just a few samples of how we create intimacy during the session, how we craft those moments you’ll look back on, it's just one way that we put the feeling into the photos.
And the bonus? The following "prompts" aren’t just useful during your session. Think about how different your day could be if you asked yourself one of these questions as you walk through the door after a long day of work, or first thing in the morning when you see the love of your life next to you. How different would your day be if you took the time to celebrate your love, to ask yourself questions that instilled a sense of gratitude?
"Tell each other about the moment you first knew you loved each other."
"What did you think of each other the first moment that you met? How did you feel?"
"Take a minute to think about how far you’ve come together, really think about the journey."
"When was the last time that you felt overwhelmingly proud of your partner?"
"What are three things that you always promise to do for one another?"
"What qualities are you most thankful for in each other?"
"How has this love changed your life?"
That last one might be my favorite: "How has this love changed your life?" Ask yourself this question as often as you can, and more importantly, share your answer with the one you love.
There have been a lot of beautiful moments in my twenty-five years that I am thankful for, but this blew every single one of them out of the water (ha, no pun intended). Although I was too busy experiencing this moment to photograph it, I felt compelled to write about it, or, try to, that is.
Imagine you are handed the most exquisitely written poem in the world, only before you can pass it to anyone else the text fades from the paper, leaving merely smudges of ink behind, a blank white page, the words existing now only in your mind. That was this moment, a poem only we were able to read.
Towels and flip flops were ripped from the sand quicker than I could even remove my sunglasses. Car doors slammed closed, their engines fading softly in the background. The sea was abandoned, crashing against a beach where only a handful of us remained. There were the locals, huddled below indigo blue umbrellas chatting over cold cervezas, and the two of us, trying to savor the last of my husbands cigar before the maduro wrapper grew as wet as our swimsuits. Raindrops began plummeting through the canopy of leaves we had sought shelter beneath, clumps of damp hair stuck to my cheeks and my lips grew wet with the taste of sunblock. Within moments we were weighed down with water, we looked at each other and tossed our towels against the tree trunk, sprinting toward the ocean.
Contrary to my expectations, the ebb and flow of the tide calmed with the darkening sky. The water enveloped me, as warm as a glass of iced tea left for hours in the July sun. I was waist deep, arms outstretched, fingers dancing gently within the waves of the surface, overcome with tranquility I spun within the water, it was absolute bliss. Raindrops melted into my skin and water splashed around my hands as my body made a circle against the tide. I was weightless. I was intertwined with the sea. Lightning pierced through the clouds and with a single clap of thunder the rainfall quickened.
A cool breeze sprayed salty water across my back as the rain soaked into my shoulders. Time stood still. Standing there, our bodies moving with the pull of the ocean in a torrential downpour, this is a moment I will look back on for the rest of my life. I may never find the right words to describe to you the sound of those raindrops falling into the sea that day, but I won't stop trying. The rain traced a song upon my skin, a melody more pure and rhythmic than any sound I have ever heard, it’s become the song playing on repeat, the lyrics I can’t get out of my head.
The waves softened like silk beneath the weight of the rain and there we were, the sky pouring into the sea, into us. I glanced to the left and my eyes met Sam’s, he smiled and the most honest of laughs escaped my lips as we tilted our heads again toward the sky. Thunder shook through the trees and the black clouds above us flickered with lightning as we made our way toward the sand. If every one of my memories were taken from me in an instant, I have no question that my body could recall this moment. My skin has memorized the sensation and my ears will always remember the sound, this moment is ingrained in me, it is a part of me.
We joined a group of locals under their nearby tent to watch the storm pass, sitting on a fallen tree amongst a pile of surfboards with cold cervezas in our salted hands. Finally the clouds began to separate and the sand grew bright again beneath our feet. Cars appeared from the winding dirt road and multicolored towels once again peppered the beach, but the moment that everyone had fled from lingered. I closed my eyes and watched as raindrops carved holes into the ocean like craters on the moon, I felt lighter as I inhaled. It was as if what we experienced here was a gift, a secret almost. Dozens of people surrounded us now, soaking up the sun and swimming the exact spot we had stood just moments before, unknowing.
Writing is usually kept in my journal where only my eyes can see it, but if you'd like to see more posts like this let me know in the comments!