Friday, June 5, 2015

Why I love Engagement Sessions

I originally wrote this post a year ago, but a recent post on Post Grad Problems entitled I Hate Your Engagement Photos has been getting a lot of press lately so I decided I wanted to repost this to remind people there's more to engagement photos than standing in a field staring wistfully into each others eyes........

I love engagement photographs.  It's no secret. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them!  Wedding photographs are amazing too of course, but there's something about engagement photos that I just adore.  My parent's wedding photographs are not great.  They were married in 1975 and they are very typically 70's posed, not very emotional or authentic.  A guest at their wedding took some good photos, but that's not what I love to look at.  What I go back to time and time again is a polaroid taken of them when they were about my age where they look young, happy and so in love.  This photo is what I imagine my parents were like when they were my age and it makes me smile.  It is exactly why I love engagement photos, because 30 years from now when your kids are the age you are now you can point back at these photos and say "look I was once young, hot and cool" (I'm sure all my lovely lovely clients will still be lovely in their 60's too, but you know what I mean).  Engagement photos should be a wonderful beautiful little slice of life snapshot into who you are at this unique time in your life.  I love all types of engagement photos- super glam and taking on the city or jeans and a t-shirt snuggling up with each other on the beach or couch.  I love creating dramatic moments with an editorial flare, but also capturing intimate moments of love and tenderness.  I love documenting my couples interacting with New York City.  So many of us will only call New York home for a short period of time and not settle down here long term, so I love getting those classic NYC photographs that will become timeless and part of your new family history.  The first chapter of what will become a very long book.

I spent four years at NYU studying how photographs shape our view of the world and motivate us to care about it.  When I left school I was fiercely passionate about wanting my photographs to matter and to make a difference.  As I searched for my niche in photography I quickly fell in love with weddings understanding the importance that these photographs hold in creating a family history.  The photographs of my grandfather at my cousin's wedding are the last photographs we have of him and the memories mean so much to me.   I wish I could go back in time and see more photographs of my grandparents when they were young and absolutely smitten with each other.  I think engagement photos are such a fun gift to future generations.  I know we live in the facebook and instagram generation and we all probably have hundreds of photos of ourselves and significant others, but there's something so lovely about setting an intention to take beautiful photographs together with an artist and see what unfolds.  I have a favorite quote I used again and again in my papers throughout NYU, which I think applies perfectly here-

Of the pleasures cameras give us, the transfiguration of plain reality is the most indispensable. It implies that the world is more than it seems- which after all, it may well be. It’s a paradox too lovely to ignore and too profound to solve. -Richard Lacayo, Editor-At-Large of Time Magazine

During my studies a favorite book of mine, and really a seminal text to any photographer, was Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes.  He wrote how photographs have studiums and punctums.  Studiums are the facts of a photograph (the denotation)- a man and a woman touching foreheads with their eyes closed- or two men or two women of course.  This photo may seem a little cliche, because we've all seen it, but it is the punctum that breathes life into the photo (what it connotes).  The punctum is the piece of the image that wounds us, puncturing our souls and connecting us on a personal level with an image.  Not every image has a punctum and each person's might be different.  When I set out to shoot engagement photos I work to get to know the couple and let their personality come through as much as possible, perhaps in a familiar drape of the arm or caress of lips to a cheek or the inhale of the others scent.  Those unique moments make each and every photo unique and give the photo punctum to the couple, capturing more than a photo, but a memory.

Of course there are other advantages like getting to know your photographer, getting to know which angles you like and getting comfortable in front of the camera, but at the end of the day it's all about the capturing memories that future generations to come will enjoy.

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                                                                                My parents, circa 1975  RYALE_engagement-5 RYALE_engagement-6 RYALE_engagement-8 RYALE_engagement-9 RYALE_engagement-10 RYALE_Fall_Engagement_Session-026 RYALE-001-3 RYALE-001-8 RYALE_engagement-14 RYALE-001-2 RYALE_engagement-11 RYALE_engagement-15 RYALE_engagement-18 RYALE-001-4 RYALE-001-6 RYALE-002 RYALE_Malibu_Engagement-08 RYALE_engagement-7 RYALE-001-7 RYALE_engagement-12 RYALE_CJ_Engagement-017 RYALE_engagement-17
RYALE-001 RYALE_MS_Engagement-028

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