Guys: know what I love? I love seeing good things happen to good people. I met Maggie about three years ago through my fiance, and while I only saw her sporadically, she was always SO lovely and kind. I've watched her and Marcus' adventures with their sweet daughters from afar (oh hey social media!) and when she asked me to take their engagement photos, I jumped at the chance.
When I asked if they were willing to meet at the lake literally at the crack of dawn, I was expecting a resounding "haha! Hell no. We'll see you at 10:00." Instead, Maggie told me they were a "bunch of silly early risers" and sunrise was no problem. Friends, this was music to my ears. That early morning light is beautiful, but more importantly, getting there (or anywhere, really) at first light means we almost always have the place to ourselves. This is such a luxury: for me because I don't have to remove random people in Photoshop and for the people being followed by the camera because it means they don't feel like they have an audience. They get to just be themselves and this their photos actually reflect them, their relationships, and their personalities.
I think the first words out of Marcus' mouth were "you know, 11:00am is a perfectly acceptable time for photos." I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little afraid we had a grumpy Gus on our hands. Fortunately, Maggie filled me in on his propensity for sarcasm (speakin' my language - turns out I just don't pick up on it so well). Guys, this was one of the most fun sessions I've had in so long. Marcus had Maggie in stitches from the word "go" and they were so naturally comfortable with each other that it didn't matter that there was a creeper following them.
The best part? They brought Ella and Olivia and did a combo engagement/family session. That meant mom and dad got to take some breaks while I hung out with the girls. And it was so nice to see this family together: Ella and Olivia seem to have such a solid friendship and the love Maggie and Marcus have for each other and the two of them is so tangible. It was so nice to be a witness to it all for a couple hours!
Scroll on through for some favorites!
First things first, I just LOVE Ashley + Mike. I met Ashley via Instagram not too long after both of us moved to Bozeman: I found her feed and loved her interior decor sense and she just seemed like someone I could click with. She loves her husband Mike and their dog Sage, the mountains, great furniture (seriously, go check out her couch at @ashley.joyfullygrowing), coffee, and Friday nights in. Side note: IG has been a blessing in that sense to the introvert in me: I'm able to get an idea of who people are before having to exert the energy of going out into public, socializing, and deciding after I've invested the energy whether I want to be friends.
Back to the point: I've had the chance to photograph Ashley + Mike on a couple of occasions and I'm constantly grateful to them. They put up with me, they let me creep on them, and they let me try all kinds of things that I might not ordinarily try. For this session, I'd had the word "freedom" in my head for a while, and when Ashley said they wanted to do a mountain session, I jumped at the chance to put that word into motion. With a crazy busy legal work calendar and a full wedding and portrait schedule this summer, I've been feeling strapped to a schedule and deadlines and my commitments to others. So as we started this session, I really just wanted to focus on a feeling, rather than hitting specific poses or checking any of the boxes that I would normally check during a session. That means I focused less on how things looked and tried to capture their sense of freedom and adventure. Summer all wrapped in a neat little package: chilly mountain air first thing in the morning, no obligations, the rapid upswing in temperature as the sun makes its way over the treeline, the smell of pine trees, the feeling of your person's embrace...all that good stuff that seems to just come with summer. I threw out the rules and embraced a feeling.
Thank sweet baby Jesus, Ashley + Mike were game for all of my silly requests and are the quintessential embodiment of this sense of adventure, playfulness, hope, potential, and freedom (and Sage definitely didn't hurt either!). They ran, they jumped, they twirled, and talked. They danced, climbed, cuddled, and told secrets. And this morning in the mountains, with these people, filled my proverbial cup. This was exactly what I needed to keep pushing through this season of chaos.
Every once in a while, you meet someone (or two) who inspires you to be better just by being her - or him - self. Kirsten + Dakota are two of these people. They support and encourage each other, and even more admirably, they work together to improve the lives of so many others. In fact, they are heading to Ethiopia for a month right before their September wedding. Yes: instead of immersing themselves in pre-wedding festivities, they'll be serving an incredibly underprivileged population and I admire them so much for this.
Kirsten + Dakota are a beautiful reminder to put faith and service at the center of our relationships. Developing and encouraging a heart and mind for service in each other just seems like a great way to foster devotion and service to one another. Guys, I could go on and on about all the beautiful life lessons I took from these two, but I'll stop here.
Anyway, we had a beautiful evening, full of love, laughter, deep thoughts, a little wine, and a sunset we didn't think we'd catch. We had rescheduled this session several times due to the crazy, erratic Montana spring weather (okay mostly blizzards). Watching the clouds swirl all day, we were sure we'd have to either postpone again or forego the sunset they wanted so badly. Ultimately, we opted to go for it. The clouds hung low for most the session, but parted just in time to catch a little glow on the horizon. It was a great evening, indeed.