WORK JOURNAL - ALLIE & SAM
By the end of January even I can admit that winter starts to feel old. The cold is colder, the days are still wicked short and the end isn’t quite in sight. Counter intuitively the best fix to this feeling is to get outside and embrace the dead of winter: frozen toes, cold coffee, short battery life and all. If you can get out into winter with good company that’s an added bonus, so you can probably guess how I stoked I was about the prospect of an adventurous couples session with super babes Allie & Sam at Baxter’s Harbour, one of my all time favourite east coast locations.
If I'm being honest, not so long ago couples sessions were my least favourite part of the photographer calling card. The idea of professionally third-wheeling and watching people be as intimate as they can get with their clothes on seemed awkward, to put it lightly. My time in art school had also left me with a bit of a complex, an annoying voice insinuating that couples and wedding work was less respectable than other fields of photography. Fast forward to today and couples sessions are hands down at the top of my favourite-things-to-photograph list for so many reasons I can't even count, but I'm going to cover a few here.
First of all, portrait work has always been a love of mine. Couples sessions are just portraits sessions times two in basic math terms. You have two faces to photograph and portrait work is all about capturing people and their emotions, something that gets a lot easier with another human your subject loves in the mix. Seriously, check out Allie and Sam looking at each other. These expressions are 100% candid and can we talk about how unreal it is to see someone who is so in love they’re staring in amazement at their bae not the giant majestic frozen waterfall in front of their face?
Secondly, remember how I mentioned professional third wheeling seeming awkward? Well it totally can be- it still hasn’t stopped feeling creepy to ask people to make out in front of me and my camera, even when I know the end result is going to be on the opposite end of the creepy-not-creepy spectrum. But after you move past the awkwardness, third wheeling can be a lot of fun, especially for a closeted hopeless romantic like me. The first love story I got hooked on was The Empire Strikes Back at the tender age of 8 and it’s been an ongoing obsession from there. Every time I get to photograph a new couple, I get a brand new love story for the records and if you're wondering, I haven’t heard one I don’t love yet.
Thirdly, let’s talk about exploring! A lot of the time when I take people out to photograph, I get to show them places they’ve never been before. It feels so good to share some hidden (or not so hidden in this case) gems around Nova Scotia and any day of work that is mainly running around outside is a good one in my books. For this session, Allie and Sam are both from other parts of Canada so showing them some highlights around their adopted province was amazing. On our way to Baxter’s we drove through extra cute Wolfville, sprawling farmlands and I was even able to point out any properties that should have horses or livestock on them. Basically, carpooling with me is like being on a farm life safari, if you’re into that kind of thing. Long rides to beautiful destinations are also a chance for me to get to know both halves of my couple better. By the end of this trip I had learned so much about Allie and Sam, their travels, their pets, extreme New Girl addiction and their relationship, I felt like we were old friends.
Last but not least there’s the magic of the photos. Obviously every couple is unique, just like the giant icicles in the caves we were exploring. Although I’m usually a bit obsessive about details when I work, but with couples I like to let things unfold on their own. Allie and Sam were over the top happy and playful, so I embraced that rather than focusing on getting the serious shots I would typically go for in a one-on-one portrait session. The relaxed, light hearted photos that we ended up with are such a reflection of the couple and all the more meaningful when I reflect on the thoughts Allie and Sam shared with me about their intention of being positive role models and sources of support for younger people who are still finding their way to come out and be comfortable in their own skin. I could talk about these photos and these women for paragraphs to come, but instead I’ll just share the love with some more of my favourite shots.