I don't do a lot of engagement sessions, mainly because I don't offer wedding packages, and most engagement sessions are done by the wedding photographer. I also prefer to work with children who haven't yet learned to be self conscious about how they look or what others think of them. But when Anthony approached me about purchasing a gift certificate for an engagement session as a Valentine's Day gift for his fiance, Heather, I knew I would not regret saying yes.
Anthony and Heather are both the type of person that never apologizes for who they are, and, like the children I photograph, they seem as if they haven't yet learned how to be self conscious. They are both unabashedly real, quirky, and full of life. They inspired me to think outside my box. When Anthony said he wanted his new Harley Davidson motorcycle to be a main fixture of the session, I will admit I was a little nervous. I'd never posed anyone on a motorcycle before, but I was definitely up for the challenge.
Heather and I both scoured Pinterest for ideas for poses and between the two of us, I felt armed for battle. We decided to use the Syracuse skyline view from the top of the hill at Upper Onondaga Park as our backdrop. Anthony and Heather are adventurers and regularly take long bike rides around the state. Anthony made a lot of jokes about the bike being the main subject of the session. When Heather tried to climb on with her spiked heels, he almost had a heart attack. Needless to say, I held her shoes for her while she got situated.
I've done quite a few sessions at Upper Onondaga Park, but I don't remember ever seeing the odd statue that now sits on the top of the hill. I was worried about seeing a reflection of myself in the shine of the bike, but I didn't expect to have to worry about seeing the reflection of a goat! I really don't know what the goat statue symbolizes, but I'm so glad I noticed it before we started shooting. A few adjustments and his cameo was canceled. He did make for a nice blockade to shield Heather from the rest of the park as she changed her outfit, though!
We had a lot of laughs through the whole session, and it was pretty easy to get real smiles, but my favorite smiles from Heather are the ones when I told her to "look sexy". She laughed because I made it sound so simple, but the laughter in her eyes was what made her look sexy, so maybe it really was that simple.
Half way through the session, Anthony reluctantly parked the motorcycle and we ventured into the park for some softer shots. By then the sun was just starting to go down and the light was golden and sweet.
We played in the tall grass, lounged in the field, and relaxed by the lake. By then, I was familiar with the humorous side of their relationship, but now I was able to witness the sweeter side of who they are as a couple. Stolen kisses, fingers entwined, words whispered...little moments that I didn't have to direct them toward. All I had to do was tell them where to stand and be ready to click the shutter.
As the sun set over the park, I knew two things. One, I had some amazing images. Two, I had made friends for life. I can't wait to find out what married life brings to Anthony and Heather. Their happiness is contagious and I hope with all my heart that they are always so true to themselves and each other.
And maybe...just maybe...I'll start accepting more engagement sessions from now on.
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Cassandra Zingaro - photographer, mom, wife, owner of HeartStrings Photography and first time blogger