When I first pulled up next to Skylar and Nathan’s car as we met for their engagement session, I saw Hadley’s head peek out in the back seat. This was my first time meeting her “in person”, but the great thing about social media is that you already feel a little bit like you know someone through watching them grow up and develop through the photos and posts. Hadley warmed right up in front of the camera while hanging out with her mom and dad, and as wonderful as she was, I found myself a little caught up in how great it was to see how naturally and happily Nathan and Skylar had taken to their roles as parents.
Years ago, I photographed Nathan’s high school senior photos – it was back when I was doing photography “on the side”, and had no idea this part-time gig would eventually become my full-time career. Despite how long ago it was, I remember this session really well – I remember how chatty and bright and fun Nathan was for a high school senior boy, and his mom joined us and it was just one of those sessions that leaves you feeling good afterward. Some years after that, I photographed his sister’s wedding, and I met his girlfriend Skylar and spent the day just having a good time with their family again. And now here I was, watching the guy I once photographed as a teenager now holding his daughter’s hand, and looking at his-soon-to-be wife with that same grin I had seen years ago. After Hadley wrapped up her photos with us, Nathan’s mom again made her appearance at the session to take their daughter back to Grandma’s so they could finish their engagement session as just the two of them, and I appreciated the familiarity and comfort of seeing her there. We photographed their session out on some land in the country, so there was a stillness to our afternoon together as a whole – we were able to simply roam around uninterrupted, the two of them grinning and having beers together and making each other laugh along the way. In retrospect, I realize they didn’t really go through that initial moment of discomfort that many couples have at the start of a session – it’s pretty normal for people to feel a little nervous at the beginning, simply because being photographed can be a bit of a nerve-wracking thing. These two, on the other hand, didn’t seem anxious, or uncomfortable, or nervous in the least. While Nathan’s past experiences in front of my camera could have played a small role in that, it feels a little more likely to me that it has a lot to do with the comfort and ease these two seem to bring each other – as significant others, and as friends, and as parents.