Back in February, I'd posted the 'Soulmate' Photo Session Contest & Giveaway and then announced the winner on Valentine's day, February 14th. Not only did Lauren win a free photo session, but she'd had no idea she'd later be able to schedule it as an engagement session!!
My alarm was insistent. There was no time to linger. Although the hour of April 26th was early, the sun barely risen, it was destined to be a special day. A complimentary session was scheduled with the 'Soulmate' Session Giveaway winner at 3pm. Once on the road, I rolled down the windows and turned up the music so I could sing along. The sun was warm and the day was bright and fresh. Christina Perry's "Human" came on just as I turned on another back road full of gorgeous trees and wildflowers. Spring had finally just began exploding in a menagerie of vivid color. The song provides me empowering comfort which was perfect timing. Despite years of creative endeavors, I'm always nervous on my way to a session. So, with the windows down and the wind blowing my hair like snakes in Medusa's head, I sang along with abandon, freaking out a few cows and birds along the way. I didn't live very far away, so in about 30 minutes I arrived at my destination. Thankfully, Google maps didn't get me lost!
As expected on a large farm, there is always work to be done. When I arrived, they were mowing so Lauren drove me around to some of our potential locations. We explored some of the beautiful places that had meaning to them and shared ideas while keeping track of the available light which had became filtered by a haze of cirrus clouds light like a giant softbox. The location was a beautiful farm belonging to Josh's family. It was gorgeously simple. Neat and clean. Not at all like I'd imagined such a large farm to be. I'd dressed casually, so that I'd not worry about getting dirty, but this was literally the most well kept farm I'd ever seen with a view that is forever going to haunt me with it's amazing, awe-inspiring uniqueness. How I want to go back and photograph it all! I could just imagine hours of exploring this place or watching storm clouds rolling in with a tempest of rain and wind across the valleys, woods and fields of wildflowers. For a moment, I lost myself in daydreams as we rode from one potential location to the next in their 'Mule' - a fun and convenient ATV.
While location scouting, I met some of Lauren's family at her Grandmother's near a beautiful creek with an old dam from possibly a vintage mill or dam
(I'm still looking up information on the history of this unique location)
. Along the way back to the farm, I saw several Amish men driving around in their vintage style carriages with gorgeous horses or working in their garden. They were all so friendly and I pondered, as I often had in my youth, how it would be to return to the roots of life without the distractions of technology and reside with simplicity.
The Beautiful Barn:
Once we arrived at the farm, Josh had been taking a break under the soothing shade of a tree. I chose to start the session from their beautiful barn first. The other locations were of a higher elevation and plenty of available light up until sunset, but the barn was dark painted and had trees behind me that would decrease the amount of light as the sun descended. There was even a baby calf fenced in with me as I quickly photographed the barn and both of them together in the loft. How cute!
Almost everyone's heard Taylor Swift's "Love Story" song. It's romantic and catchy. For some odd reason, this song started playing in my head when I watched Lauren and Josh interact on the day of our their engagement session. Josh was quiet and more reserved than Lauren. Less eager to share his feelings on camera. Yet, he did have a mischievous side and quietly pranked her more than once during the session such as the unexpected dandelion in the mouth (see photo in website gallery). She wasn't quite hyper like me, but had her own energy and calmness that could only come from the excited expectations of a bride about to be married to the man she loves. She was very helpful at encouraging Josh to relax and be open and you could see the adoration in his eyes when she asked of him. During the session, both their parents were there for support and captured a few mementos of their own. I prefer to work alone, so will always wonder if they'd been more relaxed in solitude. However, their parents were very nice and Lauren's even arrived on motorcycles. How cool! It was very obvious by their interactions that they were a loyal and loving family.
At Lauren's Grandmother's
After the barn, rode along as we went a few miles down the road to Lauren's grandmother's. The creek was a magical place with giant clover and blooming flowers. We utilized the creek and then walked towards a gorgeous old willow tree. The sun finally provided a few moments of golden light to illuminate the scene.
The Field of Cows
On our way back to the farm, we detoured to climb a fence and capture a few quick photos with cows in a field belonging to Josh's brother. Some cows were curious and disinterested, but a few silly "moo" noises from me and I was able to capture their gaze for the one shot I most needed.
The Tractor & The Haybale
Our last location was at the far back side of their farm. Limestone rocks rose from the spot in various heights providing the perfect seats for a view of the entire farm. This is the view I so desperately wish I'd thought to capture. The sun was quickly setting, so my focus was on ensuring we had the light for the photos they'd requested. After photographing the tractor and hay-bale, we moved across the field to another barn, one more rugged and rustic, and Lauren wrote a biblical quote she'd picked out on the wall. The sun had finally began a rapid descent, but I was able to capture a couple beautiful artistic shots of the landscape and both of them together.
After The Session
We'd met at around 3pm and worked until dark. None of us had anything to eat during that time and had only shared the ice water I'd brought for us in my big Bubba Keg. I was thrilled to be invited to eat with Lauren, Josh and Josh's parents, at El Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant in Glasgow. It was here that I was able to find out more about their 'love story' and realized just how special this location was as this was where they'd had their first date! After they left, I took a photo of the actual booth so they'd have a photo of it.
What do you both do for a living and how old are you?
Lauren: "22, office staff".
Josh: "26, Glasgow Water Company".
What makes you perfect for each other?
Lauren: "How we laugh like children. I fit into his arms perfectly".
Josh: "Nothing". (He did this to annoy Lauren!) On the back, he wrote: "We both serve a great God".
Why were these locations special to you?
Lauren: "The willow tree is at my Grandmother's and the farm is a peaceful place".
What do you love most about him/her?
Lauren: "The way he laughs and can make me laugh. How easy our relationship is. I know he'll protect me...have my back".
Josh: "Her smile. She is always in a good mood and she is a very caring woman whom God put here for me for great reasons and future".
How long have you known each other and how did you meet?
Lauren: "Our first date was in El Mazatlan. I'd locked my keys in my car and posted about it on Facebook for anybody to help me. Got a passing fireman to open. He messaged me and we started talking constantly day and night. Our first date was a month later. From there we've never been apart".
How did he propose?
Lauren: "I'd told my mother to warn me if she knew to make sure I didn't look like a 'skank'. It was Valentine's Day. I'd won the photo session, received flowers at work. I was doing laundry in sweatpants when he calls me to come outside to look at his radio - it was messed up. I come outside, open door, ring was open and sitting on the dash beside the radio with the country song playing, "She Said Yes".
Lauren: "A rustic country wedding. We'd wanted to do it at the barn (in photos above), but too many people were expected so moved to a local church".
Lauren: "A cabin reserved for a week at Gatlinburg, TN".
What are your dreams for the future?
Lauren: "To build a home, country farm, with kids running around".
After we all ate, the restaurant had failed to divide our checks. He'd told me she had a giving heart and proof of that was when she whispered something to Josh and told me they'd get the check. How sweet! I was of course thankful for her generosity and I hope to return the favor one day.
Congrats to Lauren and Josh!
Congrats to both Lauren, Josh and their families for their engagement and marriage coming June 2014! Best of luck to your future and may your faith and love keep you strong forever.
FULL GALLERY & higher resolution photos: