You may recognize Alexa + Dustin from an engagement session I journaled about previously. If you missed that entry, you can read it here.
As a quick recap, Alexa + Dustin are two of my best friends! I've documented their love since we were in high school, yet documenting their engagement session was next-level. Seriously, if you haven't seen their photos + read about their session yet, I encourage you to take a second to go read it! The photos are STUNNING, and are still some of my favorite photos to date.
Just before their engagement session took place, Alexa and I were messaging each other with this vision of doing a portrait session together by the water that felt romantic, a little cheeky, and full of life. I couldn't stop thinking about that the photos I could take, and I wanted to take those photos with Alexa + Dustin, so I ended up offering them a complimentary portrait session literally the day after their engagement session. Luckily, we all had a BLAST during their engagement session, so it didn't take much convincing to get the two of them on board for another session, just the day after.
The weather, however, was very different the day after. Their engagement session was blessed with warmth and Spring sunshine, but the day of this portrait session was a little rainy, definitely overcast, and DEFINITELY a bit chilly. Nevertheless, these two legends showed up and dedicated to the session.
We kicked off the session with coffees from Dunkin Donuts to warm us up, and then continued that theme once the camera came out. I asked them to do a lot of movement-based prompts at the start to, well, get them moving! This helped them to not only warm up physically, but also mentally, which is super important! Even though their engagement photos were taken the day before, I always allow my clients time to get used to having a camera pointed at them again because, helloooo, unless you're Beyoncé, you're that doesn't exactly feel like a normal occurrence to most people.
I think my favorite movement prompt was for them to dance together by the water's edge, which they interpreted as club-like dancing, which was hysterical and fricken genius haha! The photos from that moment were SO fun, so full of personality, and are some of my favorites ever. If this is something you'd like to recreate in your own way during your session, I highly suggest music as an aid! Creating a playlist with songs that fit the vibe you're going for helps IMMENSELY to set the tone for your session, and also for the final result in the photos you receive from your photographer.
I wanted to switch up the location and also the vibes a little bit after that, so I asked if they were comfortable laying down on one of the docks by the shore, which they were! This is also something I like to do during my sessions that I feel is underrated, and that is simply asking my couples if they're comfortable doing certain poses. I like to do this because it gives my clients a sense of control in an otherwise vulnerable-feeling state, yet also is just a good way to prevent ableism! Not everyone has the same body or abilities, and sometimes physical and emotional challenges are not obvious. I'm human and definitely not perfect by any means, but I do try my best to not assume what people are able to do, or comfortable doing.
My aim for this second set of photos during Alexa + Dustin's couples session was to capture the feeling of closeness. I wanted to get closer to them than I was when they were warming up, and I wanted to focus more on the details of their togetherness rather than the larger picture. For example, I got up close and personal with their hands, focusing on Alexa's engagement ring and the tattoo on her wrist. Now, since she's literally my best friend, I know the meaning behind both of those aspects of her, and I really wanted to document that for her, even though it wasn't the main focus of the session. To get a similar understanding of couples I work with that I don't know as well from the get go, I send over a fun little questionnaire to each couple/client to help me get to know them better. It doesn't cover their whole life history of course, but it gets the ball rolling, and helps me customize my eye on their day for little moments + aspects to look out for, and document.
Throughout the entirety of Alexa + Dustin's portrait session, I was doing my best to hype up this vision I had of them running into the water, fully-clothed. Now, because it was overcast, drizzly, and chilly out, this was a pretty difficult task. I made it clear that it was challenge-by-choice...but also that it would be absolutely EPIC, and would become a core memory. With final swigs of warm caffeinated encouragement, Alexa + Dustin agreed, and ran into the freezing water together for some of the most beautiful photographs. I edited them all in black and white and I can't even pinpoint why, but it was just what I felt was right to convey the emotion and the beauty of that freezing cold - yet thrilling - moment. I was so fricken pumped that they decided to jump into the water, and I was also super envious of that feeling of being so ALIVE, that I put down my camera, and jumped in the water, fully clothed, myself as well! Yes, I can confirm that the water was so cold it gave me an instant brain freeze, yet I can also confirm that the feeling was INCREDIBLE! It was such a fun, freeing moment that bonded us all to that moment, and created a memory I don't think any of us will forget.
We dried off, changed out clothes, and headed our separate ways, but DANG I am still so obsessed with this session, this couple, and these photos.
If you're ever down for jumping into a body of water for some sick photos, I truly hope you reach out to chat with me because I would 100% love to help document that core memory for you!
Thanks so much for reading, and speak soon!
The Francis Frames