I’ve known Sam was a beautiful girl long before Sam even knew who I was, and it’s safe to say that neither of us had any clue that one day I’d be photographing her wedding.
This story begins where I’d wager a hefty amount of things begin for my generation. On social media. I went to high school (and elementary school actually) with a girl named Brittany, and Brittany went to college with Sam.
Brittany and I had always been friends on and off in the non-chalent way your friends with someone whose been present in your world for as long as you can remember. We moved to different cities for college, me to Tallahassee and Brittany to Tampa. We got our coveted .edu email addresses and did what all college freshman did in 2006. Went home and immediately made a Facebook. What’s now a proper and for the most part family-friendly platform where your mom comments on your pictures and your business collects likes, and stay home moms dare to dream multilevel marketing dreams, used to be an exclusive club open only to college kids. The keeper of all of their publicly private, scandalous, and often drunken lives. It was a magical time where for the first time ever all of your friends, and their friends, and their friends, could be hundreds of miles apart, and in the same place at the same time. In 2019 we filter everything from photos to what we chose to share but back then it was an anything-goes kind of party and what we chose to share was everything. With a single click of “friendship” approval you could see someones entire life as they lived it, and who they lived it with.
One of the more prominent people in Brittany’s life was Sam. I remember seeing her pop up in pictures over the years and thinking how pretty she was. In a feed full of nothing but the young, beautiful, and dressed to party, Sam had that kind of sparkle that made you stop and look at her and wonder who she was.
At the time I’d intended to be a lawyer…. then a magazine editor.. then a costume designer…. so I’d never really planned on knowing Sam, but as fate would have it I became something I had not ever intended to be. A wedding photographer. The night Sam came to my house to talk about her wedding I immediately knew why I’d been so interested in her all those years before. I was 100% meant to capture Sam’s wedding and somehow on some other level, I must have known that while casually scrolling past her in my friend’s college facebook photos. She was a purpose I didn’t yet know I’d need to fulfill.
Sam is an old soul and Her and Dan’s love is an old love. They knew each other from a young age, they dated other people but stayed in each other’s lives and one day Dan got a boat. He text Sam and asked her to come out on it. The kind of casual thing friends do, because above all else these two are truly friends. They’re fond of each other in the ways you’re fond of a person who you have a bond with that isn’t merely physical. They have shared hobbies and beliefs. They walk through the world in a similar way. The best way I can describe Sam and Dan’s love is that it’s rooted. It’s rooted in their past, in the present they’ve pieced together like the eclectic home they share, and in the future they will promise to each other later this year.
There is something extra intimate about an in-home session. All engagements are intimate but in-home sessions shed that layer of formality that meeting on neutral ground naturally provides. You see two people as they truly are, in the place they lay their heads down every night. The one place in the world that’s truly theirs. Walking into Sam and Dan’s home is warm and inviting in an unpretentious way that has nothing to do with trending home decor. There were no gray walls, no subway tiles, no copper farm sinks or expensive stone counters. Just love notes and years of photos and vintage artwork scattered in perfectly imperfect ways. Every piece of furniture has a story. A place that it came from before they found it and wove it into the eclectic tapestry that is their home. Every bit of it feels intentional and lived in and loved. They do yoga on their living room floor, they meditate in tufted vintage armchairs, they stay home and make charcuterie plates and cocktails after a long day with just each other and then they go out on a quick boat ride and watch the sunset over the bay. When I asked Sam what kind of engagement session they wanted she said she just wanted to have pictures of what their life is really like. Can you imagine? A couple so enamored with each other and the life they’ve built that the idea of staging a shoot with planned outfits and plotted locations was never even an option. When I got there Sam breezed down the soft carpeted stairs that creek just a little in a pair of worn-in blue jeans looking just as effortlessly beautiful as she did in the first facebook photo I ever saw of her. We made cocktails and they let me eat off their charcuterie board. We did yoga on the living room floor. They showed me pictures and introduced me to their fish and we went on a boat ride and watched the sunset over the bay. Dan sent me home with a bag full of salami and cheese and I’m counting days till their November wedding. It’s going to be in a gazebo in a garden park in Safety Harbor. There was talk of food trucks and If I had to guess it’ll probably be the purest event I’ll ever attend.