I have always believed that photography should capture the essence of a person, or in the case of couple and families, the essence of their relationship with each other.
As photographers, we all have our ways of coaxing our subjects into revealing a little bit of themselves, and ultimately capturing something that truly represents who they are.
But as with anything, the more we repeat the process the more fixated we become on “what works”. We stick with the “tried and true” methods and we develop a repertoire of poses that we know will work and use them with every session.
The problem here was every shoot became a cookie cutter formula. Rinse and repeat. Even when we try and shake things up to try something different, it’s just a variant of what we’ve been doing before.
And so it was in this moment of struggling creatively that I stumbled upon Jesh De Rox (yes, that’s his name) and his Beloved Movement. I wasn’t at the WPPI 2010 when he delivered his presentation to a standing-room only crowd. I wasn’t there to see and hear at the end of his session – which ran more than an hour over time – his speech was concluded with cheers and whoops and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. What I did hear was the phrase Beloved shared over and over again in pro photography circles. The word out there was this new genre of “experiential photography” was reawakening the love in people’s relationships and re-connecting them to each other. Clients were raving about how the session had reignited the passion in their relationship and how they’ve found a fresh beginning in their journey together. I was intrigued. I had to check this out.
After listening to his online podcast and recorded session from WPPI 2010, I bit the bullet and purchased the Beloved Field Guide. Upon returning from Europe, I was informed that my package had arrived and was ready to be picked up. I was thrilled beyond belief. Opening the bubble wrap, I was greeted with a wooden box containing 30 cards with various experiential invites. Each invite was designed to set the stage for trust building and openness, and to bring each couple to a deeper stage of intimacy and closeness.
The first two cards explained the premise of Beloved:
Going through each card, I was inspired! I had to give it a go with my couples. I remembered I had an engagement shoot scheduled for Saturday (the day of this post!) with Kyla & Ryan. I rung them and explained what I had in mind. I wasn’t sure what they thought but I had to risk it and these two were, in my mind, the ones who would be open to revealing their inner selves and trusting me with it. They agreed, on condition that if she started crying we’d have to stop :)
The session started out slightly nervously and I did my best to keep things relaxed and informal but yet slowly moving towards a deeper level of intimacy and trust. It was amazing to be witness to two people expressing their love for each other in those 3 hours. I felt absolutely privileged to have facilitated and to be part of that. There was little prompting to “look left”, “chin up”, “turn away”, etc. It was just a matter of letting things develop and I stayed in the background capturing the moment.
Looking back, I treasured that time we had and the moments we shared. Even though it was between themselves, I felt like I had brought two people closer together, reminding them of the reason they were making the commitment of marriage. I also hope that through the pictures, what they will remember is not how I posed them for the shot, but what they experienced and felt at the time, sharing that moment with their one and only.
As of today, all my wedding packages will include a BE:loved session instead of a typical engagement shoot as default. It will not have the standard 2 hour time limit on the session, as I won’t put a limit on something that is so precious.
I’m also offering BE:loved sessions as a separate session, and this applies if you’re not married, getting married, just married, or have been married for 50 years. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re open to exploring and deepening your relationship with your partner. BE:loved will set the stage and allow you to do just that.
Finally to end off, here are some sneaks of the session I had with Kyla & Ryan:
Kyla and Ryan, thank you for your openness and trusting me with this session. I hope you both had a great time. I know I did :)