I don't have enough kind words for this couple. Jessie and Eric agreed to: 1) wake up before dawn for a 6am engagement shoot, in which I made them sprint alongside a wall over and over, 2) commit to more than one day of shooting so I could capitalize on yummy light, and 3) submerge themselves in the Eno River to get this cover shot. And they did all of this with smiles and a great sense of humor! They committed 150% to this engagement session, and magic happened because of the collaboration. Not to mention Eric supplied us with the most thorough (and funny!) Q&A response ever. I hope you take the time to read it below! Thanks to Justin Cook for the assist.
1. What was your favorite moment from the engagement session(s)?
Our least favorite moment was selecting the attire. Maybe this highlights our personality differences, but one unnamed partner—let’s say, the organized one—had their outfit picked out three weeks prior. On the other hand, the other person made a purchase at 8:57 p.m. (apparently The Streets at Southpoint closes at 9 p.m. on weeknights, who knew?) on the night immediately prior to our first shoot.
Our favorite time, however, was getting into the Eno River. When the subject was presented as a possibility, Jessie was apprehensive. However, after Pinteresting (a verb your clientele likely understands), she gained confidence. It was something different—and made for candid and higher quality photos. We’ve enjoyed the positive feedback after it was teased via social media.
2. What factors other than photos went into your decision on an engagement photographer? Why did you decide to hire us?
As a couple, we did more research in hiring a wedding photographer than any other vendor. We went to the annual bridal show at the State Fairgrounds (it wasn't thaaat bad, guys). It was that experience that cemented our decision that we wanted a ‘natural fit’. Several photography companies wanted to only talk about awesome their portfolio was (our favorite opening line—and the one we had the most visceral reaction to was, ‘Do you like my woooork?’), and others were awkward in their communications. We left feeling strongly about separate husband-and-wife teams, both of which had positive energy (were not overbearing), were family oriented, and had consistent marketing efforts (how they decorated their booth, collateral, website, etc.).
Because we wanted to make an informed decision, we wanted to supplement the two initial front-runners with additional ‘internet reconnaissance’. We eventually decided to take the ‘you know when you know’ approach. This freed us from our internal deadlines.
Eric loathes posed pictures and has a journalism background, so it was important to him to find someone(s) who could visually articulate the moment, and our personalities, with their camera. So the fact that Courtney Potter Weddings and Justin Cook Documentary Weddings both are members of the Wedding Photojournalist Association was an enormous factor. Another positive aspect was that Justin works at the Independent Weekly, a weekly publication that routinely wins awards and relies heavily on photojournalism.
We wanted photographers who had advanced photography degrees and/or had deep-rooted industry experience. Though critical, we figured it would be less important for our vendor to have significant wedding photography experience rather than a holistic background in photography. Courtney’s The Birth Collective and Justin’s involvement with the Indy Week solidified those criteria for us.
We had additional decision factors—location of the photographers, experience within our venue, usability of the website (anyone who used Flash-based programming was automatically eliminated), willingness to include non-traditional shots within their portfolio, and effort once we solicited a quote. They checked out on all pivotal decision elements we considered, which we haven’t discovered upon hiring other vendors.
After getting to know them on a personal level, we’re even more enthusiastic about our decision than we were initially. We would refer them to any of our friends.
3. From booking to delivery of images and seeing the results, what in your mind made it the right choice for us to collaborate?
There hasn't been a specific epiphany type moment, which is a compliment because our confidence was instilled during our initial conversation. I realize that sounds cliché’, but they've been consistent, professional, and awesome.
Creative-wise, they were, and are, willing to take changes. While some images make zero sense upon delivery, you sometimes never know until you try those. Yeah, we took the hand holding, kisses-type images, but that’s what everyone does. It’s the willingness to ask a couple to get into the Eno River, and get in the water with them that separates them from the generic, everyday photographers.
4. What is your favorite photo from the session?
It’s an interesting question, because it depends on the perspective of the person selecting.
Eric was a newspaper editor many years ago, and fondly recalls the task of browsing through hundreds of images to find the one that most fit with the story. More often than not, that task was not as difficult as it seems (though this also depended on the quality of the photographer). Point being, immediately upon returning home, Courtney posted an image on Facebook that we agreed (of the 140-plus that were provided) after-the-fact best tells the story of who we are, and the setting. It’s a strong image.
However, one of us enjoys being a contrarian and considers traditional engagement pictures to be cheesy and obnoxious (most guys think this way, I’m convinced). So that person enjoys a borderline creepy black-and-white picture of us in the water submerged while staring at the camera. It’s a silly shot, but fun and unique.
5. What do you plan to do with the engagement photos?
Bury them in the back yard. Like in one of those elementary school time capsules. Ummm. We haven’t decided yet. Maybe use them as inspiration to not gain weight. Proof that I’m marrying up. Perhaps we can show the grand kids 50 years from now—I’ll enjoy watching them completely wig out about how similar they look to either of us.
6. Anything else you’d like to add about your engagement photography experience?
Courtney and Justin rock. ::Cue the rockstar emoticon::
We have also enjoyed our ‘couple experiences’ with them. As an observer, it’s been enjoyable to watch them communicate and be inspired by one another. As mentioned earlier, we’d refer Courtney and Justin to our friends. But because we don’t have many, we’d also encourage strangers as well.
Jessie + Eric, thank you so much for working hard with me and Justin to make these images possible. We are flattered by your glowing review, but the truth is we feel the same way about you (and we wish we could post a "client review" to your wedding webpage!) :) I am so excited about this collaboration and working with you again for your wedding next year. I hope you enjoy these images for years to come!