How to Tell Your Love Story
I am not a big fan of posed engagement photos because posing stifles the natural energy level of the couple. So what do you do about engagement shoots that are inherently posed photo sessions? Turn your engagement session into a story told through the camera, of course! In today’s blog I will give you a list of creative engagement photo shoot ideas and introduce you to Ariel and Jeremiah, who turned their engagement session into a documentary about how they love to cook.
How Ariel & Jeremiah Met
First off, let’s get to know Ariel and Jeremiah. They are adorable together. Predictably, they ‘met cute,’ as they say: ‘Our story starts prior to us meeting, we went to college across the street from each other and share a few mutual friends; one in particular was one of my college roommates. My college roommate became Jeremiah’s post-college roommate, and when I would visit my friend at the apartment, Jeremiah would be there, though normally he would stay in his room or just wasn’t home.’
‘It wasn’t until after Jeremiah and my friend weren’t living together that we met. My friend and her fiancé were hosting a fight party Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Neither Jeremiah nor I wanted to go initially: Jeremiah was just starting at the CIA culinary school in Poughkeepsie, NY — a two hour train ride away). Likewise, I had just moved back home after being in Atlanta for seven years, and I have zero interest in sports. Nevertheless, we both went to the party. I showed up first, and Jeremiah arrived just shortly after me. He found a seat at the party, but got up to get a snack and immediately lost his seat. I decided to share my seat with him, and the rest is history.’
Why They Chose A Documentary-Style
Engagement Photo Session
At this point I should tell you that while Ariel and Jeremiah are, in my professional opinion, naturals in front of the camera, neither of them are very comfortable in front of the camera. As such, they were interested in a photo shoot where they could work on an activity together rather than simply posing pretty for the camera. Photojournalistic engagement photography to the rescue!
As Ariel tells it, “Food and travel has been a big part of our dating life. Our first date was our version of a NYC food tour we spent an entire day together and hit up all of our favorite spots, from Pinkberry, to sushi and everything in between. Our first major fight was over brown sugar, and he hid my engagement ring in the only place I wouldn’t look: in a bag of chips of a brand that I don’t like. We spend most of our time in the kitchen together — it’s our spot to hash out problems, make plans, and bond. Which is why it was so important to us to include cooking in our engagement session.’
The Plan For the Engagement Shoot
The plan was as follows: Ariel and Jeremiah would craft a fruit tart together and I would document them as they chopped, measured, baked, and fed each other. But rather than clutter up her own kitchen, Ariel and Jeremiah had a staycation one borough over in Brooklyn. Ariel wisely rented a beautiful apartment for the weekend through AirBNB. The apartment had a modern, open kitchen that most importantly included a dishwasher for later.
We started the shoot with a quick trip to a cute little grocery store on the corner opposite the apartment. Ariel and Jeremiah bought a few photogenic pieces of fruit, with me clicking the shutter as they shopped. We walked back to the apartment, took a few photos on the steps, and then got to cooking.
Note, that in this case Ariel had already prepared the tart. The engagement shoot was scheduled for two hours, and honestly, having a portrait session go any longer than is tough for anyone besides a professional model. As such, Jeremiah started chopping fruit for the tart topping, and Ariel worked on the glaze. The tart itself was already prepared and baked. This is how they normally work in the kitchen, with separate duties for each person, so the session was a perfect reflection of life in Ariel and Jeremiah’s actual kitchen.
There, of course, was champagne and nibbling. All the while, Ariel and Jeremiah were naturally interacting with one another and it showed in front of the camera. Indeed, after only 20 minutes, they both forgot the camera was even there.
Red Hook Engagement Portraits
With both of them now comfortable in front of the lens, this led perfectly into the second portion of the engagement session: a photo shoot in Red Hook on Van Brunt Street and the Red Hook Dock. But even here, the activities did not end. Again, I am not a fan of posed engagement shoots. Instead, Ariel and Jeremiah walked, danced, and strutted their way to beautiful engagement photos.
Other Creative Engagement Photo Shoot Ideas
Cooking was a natural story line for Ariel and Jeremiah. How would you tell your love story on camera? Some creative engagement photo shoot ideas I am dying to tell include:
- Recreating your first date
- Recreating your proposal
- Playing tourist in your favorite neighborhood or going on a roadtrip
- Taking a hike, hot air balloon ride, or boat ride together
- Taking a trip to the beach and have a picnic
- Dressing up fancy and recreating a scene out of ‘Mad Men’ at a swanky hotel
- Dressing as your favorite character and recreating a movie scene
- Go bowling or to a favorite sporting event
- Take part in a local event together: carnival, county fair, street fair, you name it
If you are looking for even more creative engagement photo shoot ideas and you are in the New York City area, then check out this article, ‘NYC Engagement Shoot Ideas.’
However you tell the tale, make sure that your photo shoot is personal and expresses your love for one another. Tell your story, your way.
Speaking of stories, I would be remiss if I did not tell you how Jeremiah proposed to Ariel. ‘Jeremiah proposed to me in Belize. It was our first trip out of the country together, and a week prior to leaving for our trip he took my mom out for lunch. This was highly suspicious, so I knew something was up. From the minute we landed, I searched through every pocket, fold and crevice of each of his bags but all I could find was an innocuous black corner store bag with some wrappers and a bag of Doritos in it. After being on guard the entire vacation, I figured I was wrong about the impending proposal. On the second to last day, we went diving to a fancy restaurant and had a romantic stroll on the beach. Still, no proposal. At this point I’m like, ‘okay, he really wasn’t planning that.’ We get back to our villa and he suggests one last walk before we go home. We go to a dock near our villa, and Jeremiah got down on one knee. Before he could get anything out, I screamed “gimme, gimme,gimme” which he took for a yes! The ring was inside the bag of Doritos in the black corner store bag.’
Seriously, can you beat that love story? To hear the rest of the tale you will have to wait until next year when I photograph their wedding. Enjoy the photos, and drop me a line if you would like me to tell your story.
Want to see how the story ends? Check out all the photos from Ariel and Jeremiah’s destination wedding in Thailand here.
Also, get some tips on how to plan your own destination wedding with this article here.
If you would like to see more images from my engagement portfolio, then please visit my website — KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com