Emily & Tylor had one wish for their engagement session: to really feel their love in their photos. This is my favorite request to hear–I love beautifully posed photos, but the magic happens when the couple gives me an inside glimpse into their relationship that I can preserve for them. It’s like creating a visual time capsule for years to come! We met on the beach at Isle of Palms for their engagement session, one of our beautiful beaches here in Charleston, got to know each other a bit better, and had fun.
Emily & Tylor met in college at the University of South Carolina in Columbia (go Gamecocks!), and both happened to move to Charleston around the same time and bumped into each other again. It was totally meant to be!
There are several beaches around Charleston, but my choice for photography is Isle of Palms. Finding a quiet stretch of beach is a must, though. I find that for me to truly connect with my couples and give them space to be fully present and share the side of themselves that is usually reserved for just the two of them, we need to find a less populated spot where they can relax and feel comfortable.
No matter what the backdrop is for our photos, this part of my process is part trust and part friendship with each couple–to truly be themselves and achieve the photos they’ve been dreaming of. It’s easy to get your picture taken. It takes a refined process to capture photos that truly show joy, love, and all the best things about your relationship.
I’m thrilled that wedding & couples photography as a whole seems to be shifting into the “trend” of documentary-style photography, but in truth, it’s not a trend at all. This is the purpose of photography in general! I love beautifully posed photos, but the magic happens in the in-between moments, where you can truly feel what was going on in the moment outside of a pose. My work is centered on this idea of visual time capsule, because it is so important to be able to remember these moments of joy and feeling for years to come–especially when life seems to be flying by!
I always give my clients a moodboard and outfit guide for their session to help them choose photography-friendly outfits that allow their true selves to shine as well as achieve the colors, lightness, and tones you see in my portfolio. Emily and Tylor chose their outfits perfectly for this session, knowing that a beach engagement session has the capacity to feel a bit more casual than, say, downtown Charleston. The camera loves light, neutral tones, and sometimes bright or dark colors can really throw off the final edit of your image. Their white shirts and jeans fit the bill perfectly and looked adorable!
One aspect of photography that can be somewhat hard to gauge perfectly is the timing of your session. We want to avoid harsh sunlight (that can cause harsh shadows, particularly on your face & jaw line), work within schedule constraints, navigate the weather, etc. etc.! My favorite times to shoot are around sunrise or sunset.
The window of time for perfect lighting is a bit tighter at the beach as well, because there aren’t any buildings or trees to break up the sunlight and provide shade. I prefer shooting at golden hour (and avoiding blue hour, which is twilight/dusk–when the sun has officially set but it isn’t dark just yet), because I love the look and warmth that it gives to have sunlight. Especially after years of living and working in Jackson Hole, where I joked that the sun never shone when my camera was out, I am all about the sunshine at this stage in my career!
I loved hearing that Emily & Tylor wanted photos that fully captured the joy of their love together. From personal experience, this time of life goes by way too fast! There’s something so completely meaningful about being able to look back on photos from the different phases of your life, able to be totally transported back to how it felt to be at the beginning stages of your love and life together.
We have our engagement and wedding photos displayed on a gallery wall in our home, and sometimes, when I walk by, I truly am amazed by what babies my husband and I were in those photos! Our love was so new then. That’s how I truly know that photography is a gift and I’m so thankful to be able to share that with my clients.
My best tips on achieving a documentary style engagement session start with finding a photographer you truly “click” with. For me, I truly value working with a couple from the start to finish of their wedding journey because as an artist, this is the way I can best tell a complete story of their day. There’s so much that goes on for me on the creative side of getting to know my couples better to be able to capture photos that are going to be meaningful to them. Every couple is so different, and that’s why I take on a limited number of weddings and engagements per year because I feel like my couples deserve my full attention to create something that’s more than just a quick snapshot of their day.
I love diving deeper into my clients’ vision to really understand their hearts for their wedding day photos. Whether that couple is joyful and exuberant, relaxed and blissful, or have hearts full of laughter and energy for a big celebration, I know that no two couples, engagement sessions, or wedding days will be the same. I love getting to know each couple’s unique story and bring that to life in their photos. It was such a joy to connect with Emily and Tylor, as we enjoyed the golden rays of the sun on our beautiful Charleston beaches! I wish them every happiness and joy as they start their new life together.
Thinking of an Isle of Palms beach engagement session in South Carolina like these two? You can inquire with me here!