Nina & Patrick
It was around 7AM when I started my drive to Daytona Beach for Nina and Patrick's engagement session.
It was a good two hour drive to Daytona Beach so it gave me enough time to review and reflect on what I had learned from my research on in-home style engagements. If you looked at my google search results from the weeks leading up to this session, you would have seen alot of results similar to... "controlling lighting indoors", "window lighting", "tips on doing home-bodied engagement sessions". Ya girl just wants to be ready, you know?
As a natural light photographer, I pride myself on knowing how to master and control light in any environment without the use of artificial lighting (i.e. flash). So when Nina suggested an in-home style inspired engagement, I knew this would be the perfect chance for me refresh on what I knew about indoor lighting and try something new. Before we committed to the idea, I asked Nina to show me a video of her home so that I can see what I would be working with— in terms of lighting. Where are the windows? What time of the day is her home most lit? Which direction is the light coming from? Which area of the house should we use?
I needed to solve the question of how I can create and maintain a comfortable atmosphere for Nina and Patrick, breaking the barrier between me (the photographer) and them (the clients). Lately, I noticed that more and more couples are opting for the at-home style engagements and it's no wonder why. Your home is a representation of who you are and the place where you are the most "you". The only downfall with this type of shoot is that it can either go really well or really badly— depending on the chemistry between the photographer and the client(s). How can you, as a photographer, foster an environment where your clients can feel relax enough to be themselves? How can you make your client feel like you're not just a random stranger in their home? That was the question of the day, and one I was determined to answer.
Okay, so how?
Before we begin the shoot, I sat Nina and Patrick down and did a quick warm-up activity to help break the ice and loosen them up. The activity came in 3 parts.
First—Write down 3 things you like about your partner.
I gave Nina and Patrick about 10 minutes to jot down their thoughts, and then asked them to take turns sharing what they wrote in the format of "I like (name) for his/her (what) because (why)." This part of the activity encourages the couple to reflect back on their relationship. Basically it begs the question— why did I choose this person and what do I appreciate about them?
Second, I want you to think back to the first time you ever laid eyes on your partner. And walk us through it.
What were you thinking? How did they make you feel? For this part of the activity, I wanted to make it more fun by giving complete freedom to the speaker by asking the other person not to make any interjection. Just sit and listen. This was my favorite part of the activity because it gave both people the chance to go back in time and be reminded of how it all begin. I'm not talking about the first date, or the first kiss, but the first time you ever saw this person and thought "this person is kind of interesting, I wouldn't mind getting to know him." When did this person first came into your vision intentionally?
Lastly, I want you to look at your partner and describe him/her in one word.
One word. No explanation. 3 rounds.
Once we finished the activities, I knew Nina and Patrick was ready. To get them even more energize and in the mood, we played some music in the background. Cue Jason Derulo and Ed Sheeran playlist!
I knew the activity was breaking the ice when I found myself cracking jokes and laughing out loud with Nina and Patrick as if I've known them forever. I think it worked because they came to see me as a friend, rather than just a photographer.
After we were done shooting at home, we moved onto the second location. The local plant nursery.
I don't think Nina and I could have picked a better location for the engagement photos. This place pretty much embodies Nina and Patrick's relationship— happy and bright.
So much yasssss.
Seriously, how cute are they?