amanda & clint | engagement.

I’ve never been able to get fully on board with the idea that I tell ‘love stories’ with my photographs and words. I adore the stories I get the opportunity to tell, but the part I take issue with is the phrase ‘love story’ itself.

I think this is because I have never been a ‘love story’ girl in the way it is most classically thought of – I never found myself imagining my own Prince Charming, or reading romance novels, or sitting through a Nicholas Sparks movie without making jabs at the contrived plot points. Upon thinking about this, I looked up the definition of ‘love story’, for which I found two definitions: Merriam Webster defines love story as “a tale of lovers”, and Collins English Dictionary defines it as “a story whose central interest is a love relationship”. After doing so, I think I have a better understanding of my ambivalence to the phrase – these people, the people who allow me to enter their lives and photograph them – their tales are so much more than simply those of lovers, and their singular love relationships are not the central interest of their overall stories. These people are complex, and they have accomplished so much individually, and they have their own beliefs and values and ideas that make them wholly unique. They each have family members and friends that are a central part of their lives, and at some point in their relationship, they each met the others’ loved ones, and learned of their complexities, and began to love them as well. These people and their lives are so much more than the narrowness of a love story allows them to be, and these intricacies are precisely what I love about learning and telling their stories.

Amanda and Clint both went to Knox College as students in their undergrad years, but did not actually know one another personally – Amanda had seen Clint around their small campus at the time, and would recognize him years later when their paths would cross again. They both graduated from college and went in a variety of directions – they moved to new areas, traveled, took on new jobs, and each figured out their place within in world. Life eventually brought them both back to Knox College, where they worked as employees. This time around, their paths did cross on the Knox campus, and when they started dating, they kept things quiet to make sure it wouldn’t be a problem with their employer – they met for early morning coffee dates before work, and started to get to know each other, and fall in love, both on campus and off. The locations they chose for their engagement session were entirely perfect, because they represented the people they are both singularly and together – Uncle Billy’s Bakery, whose owner was Amanda’s first real boss many years ago, which would also eventually become one of Amanda and Clint’s favorite Galesburg spots – and Knox College, which was the grounds of so many different memories for each of them as college students, and where they made new memories together both as employees and within their relationship.

As they were standing in front of the campus library during their engagement session, Amanda turned to Clint and said, “This is very surreal, isn’t it?” With such a simple statement, she was referring to multiple things – the coming together of their individual and shared memories in this place, and the idea that they were creating a new experience there in that moment.

So yes, there is plenty of love within in this story – so, so much love. But more than that, this is a story about people – people with passions, and interests, and goals, and intricacies, and the ways in which life molds these people into who they want and need to be, and leads them not only to their places in the world, but also to the person who will stand alongside them for the rest of it.

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