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March 30, 2009  -  Engagements

lynn + phil

I got my start as a photographer/writer working for a newspaper in Hawaii many years ago. My very first boss was a curmudgeonly, former-infantry public affairs chief named Rhys Evans. Gunnery Sergeant Evans was kindof an intensely terrifying man for me as a young Marine and super-inexperienced photojournalist. The more I got to know him, though, the more I learned what a great leader he was and why he treated us the way he did. He rode us really hard, but he only did so out of a genuine love and with a hope to mold what he knew we all could become as story-tellers.

Gunny Evans' biggest single pet peeve that I recall was one of us having the nerve to tell him that there was nothing to write about if we were assigned to go, "find a story." He would get all bright red and apoplectic and launch into this diatribe about how every single person in the Navy and Marine Corps had a story that not only could be told - but SHOULD be told and if we couldn't find a story it was because we were lacking as human beings (except maybe the Gunny's language wasn't quite so genteel).

The reason I'm reminded of him this morning is because Phil, our soon-to-be-groom from this engagement shoot is a fantastic newspaper writer and it was really cool to connect with him and Lynn. You see, every single couple we shoot has a story. Every couple has MANY stories. For us it's not about "insert couple A into pose/situation B." We really do feel like we have a responsibility to figure a couple out through photography and make sure they have photos that remind them of themselves and the love they're committing a lifetime to.

Today's story (and I'm sorry if that's cheesy - it's just how I feel :) ) was told over the weekend in historic, downtown Lewiston, and we're pretty proud of this set.
We love to shoot first thing in the morning or right before the sun sets -- the light then is just gorgeous, soft and perfect. So, when we mentioned that to Lynn, she immediately agreed to an 8 a.m. weekend shoot. (which, really, doesn't happen - almost everyone goes for the evening or middle of the day shot) So, it was really fun for us to play with the light that we rarely get to play with with our couples.
Perfect example of that light is this set - my favorite of Rich's, hands down... and nice removal of the newspaper boxes, babe. :)
You noticed I did that?!?! Man, my clone-tool skills are usually much more stealthy. Now you're going to make me go back over it again...but you just can't have bright red and yellow newspaper boxes distracting from Lynn and Phil (is there some superior irony there? - photojournalists working digitally to remove print newspapers? That might be deep)...though I don't know how you could look anywhere else in the frame but at the couple. This was taken 5 minutes into our shoot and they were already tearing it up. Other than taking out the boxes - the photo has ZERO re-touching. Sometimes shots just need to be left alone the way you shot them.
You guys (all three of you) are adorable.
Thank you! And I appreciate you just telling me I'm adorable without mentioning you photoshopped my gut out, like the last time you took my picture. Humph. Anyway, no, I didn't notice the boxes being removed in the photo - I saw the before and after on the computer, and you did a great job. Here's a photo I took in the sequence I was shooting above...
Yep - four years into the marriage and I still have no clue when to keep my mouth shut. Subject change time...Hey look, John Candy! Anyway, we stopped for a minute in front of the Irish pub on Center St. because of its awesome paint job.
Our first date after we had Murphy was at that restaurant. I still remember how weird it was to be away from him, and how we rushed back... now, as we're tying this post, we were making noodle necklaces and he started eating the raw noodles and threw a fit because we tried to take away the raw, apparently delicious, noodles, and I wonder why we didn't spend more time at that restaurant... :)
This shot is really cool, Alyssa. Have I told you lately how much I learn from working with you every day?
You're making me blush! Thank you - I really like how ridiculously serene she looks.
One of my favorites of the day... You can never go wrong with an awesomely painted picnic table in the middle of the woods...
These were all shot at Art Park, by the way. It was pretty cold, but by this point we were all either totally used to it or completely frozen - I'm not sure which. I tend to completely zone out when I'm shooting as far as weather, etc. And, by the way - STOP IT WINTER. STOP IT. IT'S APRIL THIS WEEK.
Can I just say what a great poser Lynn is?! Seriously, at one point she was moving around and Phil started laughing, so I asked her what she said. She told me she'd practice in the mirror the night before to see what was her best angle! I love her! Seriously, we do this casual posing thing that sometimes becomes a bit more posed than casual, but we rarely even semi-posed Phil and Lynn. They just fit together so perfectly, and sometimes people just get it (it being getting their picture taken), and Lynn totally did. Perfection!!
This would be where Rich mocked me for having our couples hold hands and which is TOTALLY not what I was going to have them do (ahem), so I had them rock out the giant, cement couches. Sweet!
It wasn't mocking - and far be it from me to tell ANYONE to not shoot something, least of all your bad-ass self - but I really needed to do something else right that minute. The funny part? I was like, Alyssa - can you do this tilt-shift, double shot I want to do? So, not only did I stop you from doing one thing, I asked you to do another....so, I promise I won't ever do that again - but the shot(s) came out awesome together!
Okay - so this shot was on our, "hike." Alyssa, as you know from reading our blog, always remembers little, cool places to stick couples that she's filed away for later use. We call it our "visual notebook." Unfortunately, sometimes Alyssa remembers some things that MAYBE aren't exactly where she thought they were....or exist at all...but we found some killer spots anyway :).
Okay, Lynn and Phil and Rich are all transplants to WNY. So, I remember going to Art Park as a kid and there being this covered, raised, wooden walkway where you could paint on the easels below it, and I think potter's wheels. I remember a glass blowing demo there one year, and I remember making paper on the covered wood walkway... Seriously, I'm not hallucinating, am I?? Does anyone else remember it being like that? Instead, we found a really windy road. So, we stopped by this area, and I just read Annie Leibovitz's latest book, and I really wanted to do something similar to that blueish-grey toned look she always seems to rock in her photos.

(Okay, Rich just said, "Holy Crap, Alyssa, don't compare our work to Annie Leibovitz!!!" To clarify - I'm not, but I love the blueish tone on her, say, Miley Cyrus photo or the Vanity Fair cover with Scarlett Johanson, and I was trying to get that cold, blueish feel)
We do foreground/background shots a lot, and I dig how this one came out. Hey - it's the bride's day, no one denies this - but the groom is an equal part of all this and it's important we show him some love, too.
The other of my favorites from the day!
These were all Lynn and Phil next to this random shed that has some kind of kiln in it - great light...
This shot feels so different from what we usually shoot, but I decided to include it for the blog post, because there's something I love about it - the lighting and the pose and the location just worked for me.
Phil was like, don't you want me in this photo? Sorry Phil! Lynn wore a bright red coat and you were in guy wear (brown), so it had to be adorable Lynn portrait time.
Hey - unless we're in our black suits for a wedding shoot, all I wear is "white guy brown!" That's like our uniform.

Lynn has a really cool ring with some fun elements, but we're going to save a rad ring shot for their wedding blog post later this year...and feature the random chess table we were using as a backdrop. It IS still cold in Buffalo, but the end is near, the end is near...
Thanks, as always, must go to another one of our incredible couples. We love what we do not because we love photography - but because we love working with couples like Lynn and to try and tell their stories (You like how I rambled and rambled up top and then just remembered I was supposed to be making some self-important statement about documentary-style photography? Yeah...). Lynn and Phil - we are so happy to have gotten to know you better and we can't wait to see you on your wedding day :).

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