A couple who has traveled the world together, vibrant autumn foliage, 3 adorable rescue dogs and a stunning *purple* sunset– you won’t want to miss this sweet, whimsical engagement session:
Abbey shared, “As soon as we got engaged, I knew that my number one priority was finding the perfect wedding photographer. I searched for days and met with a lot of different people, but it never felt right. When I came across your website, I remember showing it to Nate and telling him that we needed to meet with you ASAP. Your pictures are so incredibly beautiful and unique. I fell in love with the colors, the silhouette photos, the angles and just the creativity of your photos. We didn’t want someone to just take the traditional portrait shots, we wanted someone who could take pictures that captured the feelings behind our love and happiness, and that is what it felt like when we looked at your work. After we met with you on Skype, I knew we had found our person!'”
Nathan explained, “We looked at a few other photographers but they just didn’t feel right. But as we saw your aesthetic through your website and your personality though our chat, it was obvious we picked the right person. The natural emotion and beauty of nature is what we were hoping for and even the few shots you showed us at the pond, it was clear you knew what we meant too. The upside down leaf floating on the water above our heads still blows us away!”
I defiantly played with color and silhouettes, nature and perspectives as I love those elements and knew they did too. I opened with a creative reflection shot, here is one that shows natural beauty– a close up of Abbey’s engagement ring on a vibrant leaf, it almost looks like liquid metal!
Abbey shared, “We wanted our engagement session to be outdoors, with the pups, during Fall so that we could combine a bunch of different aspects of our lives. We didn’t want to pick a location that may have been pretty but really didn’t have anything to do with us. We wanted these pictures to feel true to who we are. This is why we chose to bring our dogs, because they are a huge part of who we are and the way that we live our lives.
While I focused on capturing emotional moments, and creative portraits, I did make sure to get a few more traditional shots like this family photo:
Wow these two and their travels!!!
Nathan elaborated, “Nature has always had a role in our relationship. We’ve dog-sledded across glaciers in Iceland, hiked Maccu Picchu in Peru, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, and drove seven hours in the Outback to see a rock (Uluru) in Australia. When we vacation it’s never about seeing cities or people, it’s about experiencing the natural world around us. So having the shoot at Lum’s Pond was the closest we could get for that. We’ve walked the trails at that park, and kayaked around the lake too. Often we see photos taken in front of the Rocky steps in Philly or City Hall, but that just wouldn’t make sense for our relationship.”
I know how important nature is to Abbey and Nathan, particularly in fall and wanted Nature to be the subject of this photo. If you look closely you can see them and their pups!
Abbey smiled, “What I love most about Nate is how he makes me feel when I’m with him. He makes me feel beautiful and loved. He always knows how to make me smile, even when I may not want to and he understands me like no one ever has. I love that he accepts me as the crazy dog lady that I am – and that we share a love for all animals. I love his smile and it always makes me feel good when I do or say something to make him laugh. I love his hands and how small my hands feel in his. I love his intellect and how he always knows so much about so much. I love that we can sit and read together, with no words or distractions, and just be perfectly content in our shared silence. I love when I look up and find him smiling at me for no reason.”
I love a photos ability to stop time– Here I caught the leaves in mid-air…
Nathan beamed, “Abbey is so lovely, caring, beautiful, hilarious, smart, and kind. There are a million stories for each adjective I just used but here are a few quick ones. For example, Abbey and I play Jeopardy every night. I think I do well but there’s often questions that I just have no idea on, and Abbey will say some crazy answer that I’ve never heard of, and be right. Abbey also has such a soft heart for animals. She supports multiple non-profit animal rescues and wildlife foundations and also adopted three incredible rescue dogs.”
I like to play with depth of field– here I focused on the dogs and allowed Abbey and Nathan to be seen holding hands and walking as a secondary subject:
Abbey explained, “Nate and I are very similar in some ways and total opposites in others, but what is so wonderful is that we balance each other out perfectly. Where I am weak, Nate is strong and where he struggles, I pick up the slack. We truly make each other better. We are both silly and sarcastic and enjoy making the other laugh. We are also both incredibly stubborn (or determined as I like to say), but over the years we have learned when to push and when to back down. We learn from each other and grow together in everything that we do. Nate knows instantly when I am feeling uncomfortable and will always step in. Just like I can tell when Nate is upset or frustrated and know when to take over. In many different ways, and even though it sounds very cliché, we complete each other.”
This shot is actually a reflection! The couple blended into the background too much for my liking in the actual scene but popped against the sky in the reflection. I also like that it shows balance and completion…
Abbey reminisced, “When I met Nate, there was an instant connection. I remember talking to him all night and feeling totally at ease (which is not typical for me because I tend to be quite shy in social settings). We just clicked immediately and even though we had never met before, we were able to be silly and laugh with each other right away. Nate was in the area for the holidays, but had to head back to North Carolina soon after because he was teaching down there. I knew then that I was not going to let a little distance get in the way of something that I could feel was special. So for the next six months or so, I would fly down to visit him practically every other weekend until we finally made the decision together that he would move back to Pennsylvania. Those visits were always so special and really helped to solidify our bond. Nate moved in with me and my two pups that summer and the rest is history!”
Here I was all about getting as much color in one frame as possible along with this beaming couple…
Nathan shared, “Abbey comes off as sort of tough and stubborn (her eight years in the Marines might have done that) but underneath all that is a beautiful shy girl. Not many people get to see that side of her, but she shares it with me and I love her for it. I, on the other hand, am very outgoing and do well in a crowd. But secretly she knows I need acceptance and crave quiet nights with her. It makes us work well because we do balance each other out. Plus, she loves cooking and I love eating so it works pretty well for both of us.”
Nathan shared out the proposal, “Honey is clearly Abbey’s doggie-soulmate. Literally they are the same person. I’ve had to accept that since day one, haha! So when I decided to propose I knew I’d have to have Honey involved. After asking her Dad for his blessing, and using the ‘hints’ Abbey left around for the ring, I found the perfect day to pop the question. I had a half day at school and got out at noon. I quickly drove home while she was at her office, got all dressed up and packed Honey in my car. When I got to her office, I took the nice box the ring came in and tied it around Honey’s neck. She seemed like she knew what was happening because she sat so well for me as I tied it, and had a big doggie smile as we walked to the door. Abbey was shocked to see me and even more shocked to see Honey!”
There is something so ethereal and awesome about motion blur, here I dragged my shutter to show the movement of the dogs and the colors of the forest. I really liked how Honey popped in this shot and thought it fit their story so well!
He continued, “When Honey sat down, Abbey untied the box and I got on one knee and recited lines from her favorite movie to ask for her hand in marriage. I said, ‘I kneel before you not as a prince, but as a man in love. But I would feel like a king if you would be my wife.’ It wasn’t a huge extravaganza with a stadium of people involved, but it was absolutely perfect for us.”
There is something so understated yet unique about this scene– all the ‘wintered’ rowboats create leading lines to the sweet couple!
Abbey added, “There are a few things that come to mind when I think about the story of us, but none of them are very dramatic. Our relationship is ever growing, ever changing because each and every day we fall a little more in love with each other. Over the years, we have worked hard to better ourselves and to push each other to be better as well. We both have had to be totally honest and open and face our faults in order to work through them. We have had to learn to be a team – to lean on each other in times of hardship and celebrate with each other in times of triumph. So it has always been the little things that have made the most impact for me.”
Talk about impact– a purple sunset?!? I think this was a first for me!
Abbey smiled, “Nate doesn’t particularly like horror movies, but I do. And I can think of countless times over the years that he has watched them with me – always telling me what’s happening when I cover my eyes. Recently he told me that he loves the way that I watch scary movies (because I end up covering my eyes during the whole thing – and I make him talk me through the scary scenes). I thought it was the sweetest thing to say to me because I thought that he would always get frustrated with me during those movies, but he basically told me that he loves even the weird parts of me and it made me smile.”
They were giggling and smiling throughout, and in this shot it almost looks like their dogs are too. I wanted to bring in a lot of forest and color in this session, too, balancing this show to be 3/4 woods, as the left half and top half are fully autumn:
Abbey explained, “Nate and I both love the fall because of the trees, the colors and because of the chill in the air. Neither of us enjoys being hot and so we’re not overly fond of Summer or really anything related to it – like beaches or tropical locations. We like it when the air turns crisp and it starts to smell like bonfires and snow.”
Nate agreed, “We are clearly cold weather people. Outside in Fall when the leaves are turning, the sun is setting, and the air is chilly, it is truly our perfect day.”
I wanted to capture the complimentary red and green colors and shot through a bike racks to get some interesting lines in this shot…
Abbey added, “We both love Fall and wanted to incorporate the beautiful fall colors into our photos. We recently moved to Delaware from Pennsylvania and had started going to Lum’s Pond State Park both with and without the dogs. They have lots of walking trails, horseback riding, kayaking, a dog park and more – so whenever we could, we would head over there. When thinking about a place for photos, it just seemed like the perfect fit.”
What a cool location! The background was absolutely stunning, every color of the rainbow!
Abbey explained, “I had the flu a few years back, and everyday Nate would make me soup and bring me presents (like a stuffed bear that I still have) and sit with me when I was sick. I remember the many surprise birthday trips that Nate has taken me on through the years, always planning animal-themed activities just to see me smile.”
Nathan shared, “Quite plainly, in my entire life, I’ve never met anyone like Abbey. That’s why I have to marry her!”
Abbey said, “I think of our trips to Peru, Breckenridge, Arizona, Las Vegas, Vermont and Iceland together – where we still talk about the adventures that we have had. I think about our recent trip to Australia, where we slept in our car under the most beautiful sky of stars that I have ever seen.”
She continued, “But most, I think of how every day, we are excited to see each other and spend time together – whether it be laying on the couch, playing with the dogs or going out for another adventure. Nate is the love of my life and my best friend – and there is no one else in this world that I would rather spend forever with.”
Abbey you are so incredibly loved, Nathan you are, too. You are so lucky to have found each other!
Nathan shared, “I fell in love with Abbey for her intellect right away. We met at a New Year’s Eve party and spent the entire time just chatting with each other. As we walked back to her friend’s house at two in the morning she said, “These heels are not conducive to walking in the grass.” It might sound silly but it was so attractive. Over the next few months she visited me multiple times, flying down to North Carolina every other weekend. We built the foundation of our relationship through two hour car drives to the airport and spending every weekend getting to know each other in the small cabin in the woods that I lived in. As couples do, there were times that we were frustrated with each other, but the best part our are relationship is that as we grew together we learned how to lovingly accept each other’s differences and embrace who we are together.”
Haaaa with the heels… I needed to capture that purple sky and their reflection, it went so perfectly with his “heel” comment too…
Abbey and Nathan, thank you so much for trusting me with capturing such a significant time in your life and for allowing me to meet your super sweet pups. I am so excited to see you two again, surrounded by your friends and Family next fall at The Worsell Manor in Warwick, MD!