On a chilly Saturday morning in February I met Danielle and Andrew for a couples session in Downtown Syracuse to celebrate their spontaneous elopement a few days prior. Danielle had reached out to me because the documentary leaning style of my work resonated with her. Her and Andrew are currently navigating a long distance relationship and this was going to be there last morning together before she left. She wanted their session to feel like an honest representation of their times spent together exploring new places and enjoying coffee shops. Instantly we connected over the idea to of doing a session that documented a morning date of coffee, walking and visiting an indie bookstore. A documentary photographer’s dream session!
Doing a documentary style session is and isn’t as simple as just showing up to a place and following a couple around with your camera. It requires time, patience and an observant eye from the photographer. How does the couple interact with each other? Are there little things you notice them do? It can take some time to settle in. It also requires the couple must have a willingness to be present with each other and the moment. It’s essential to communicate this to your couple ahead of time and also at the beginning of the session. I often remind a couple that I will direct and prompt as needed, but that their natural interactions will always override and have a level of personality that I can’t create.
One of the biggest challenges in session as a documentary focused photographer is walking that fine line between directing into natural moments versus totally creating them. For the record: there is nothing wrong with posing. I do still use some posing through a session as well! But I just end up finding myself drawn to the unposed moments. As photographers we say we “document” love and human connection. But what does it mean to document? To document is to record something, either in writing or through audio or visual media. It means recording the people, places happenings in front of you. I often try to explain to potential clients what I mean by documentary style, always hoping that the message comes across clearly. That I want to candidly document the moments and nuances that make your relationship unique to you, the interactions I wouldn’t know about without observing you or holding the space for you to be yourselves.
I think this session is a great representation of how beautiful the imperfect and unposed moments can be. Just two people enjoying their last few hours together. Sharing coffees. Playing thumb wars because Danielle “has strangely strong thumbs.” Chasing pigeons. Warming up from the cold. Wandering the fantasy book section. Finding random records you didn’t realize existed. Embracing before this moment becomes just a memory. Things that wouldn’t hold the same weight in photos if I posed them or told you to do them – instead they live as moments of imperfectly beautiful presence.
Baby, I’m yours (baby, I’m yours)
And I’ll be yours (yours) until the sun no longer shines
Yours (yours) until the poets run out of rhyme
In other words, until the end of time
– the arctic monkeys // baby I’m yours
I’d be so grateful for a chance to work together! What’s next? Fill out this contact form for me and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can – responses can take a few days depending on the season and my current workload. Then we’ll plan to set up a video or phone call so we can connect, talk more about you, and discuss your vision for your wedding day or session. I’m so excited to hear from you! xoxo