Jen and John's Portland Coffeeshop Engagement
"Some people follow their dreams. Others hunt them down and beat them mercilessly into submission." This is the quotation that graced the back of our team t-shirts one year in high school and I've found it's applicable to a lot of things, especially business as I believe you really have to go after what you want. When I was planning my trip to Portland, OR last month, I knew I wanted to photograph a couple of engagement shoots and an elopement to use for my destination portfolio, so I sent out email upon email to local professionals hoping to find the right people to work with, and I did! As it happened, although he performs far more full weddings than elopements, Steve of A Beautiful Ceremony was officiating an elopement the very week I'd be there and as it was planned last minute, they did not have a photographer. Long story short because I'll be talking about the elopement later this week, they were delighted with the idea of actually having photos of their special moment and just as excited about the idea of getting some more casual engagement photos.
Jen and John (how cute are their names together?) first met at Rain or Shine Coffee House. She was minding her own business sipping on a coffee and he was sitting a few tables away when he happened to look up and notice a cute girl (Jen) across the room. He plucked up the courage and sat down at the table beside her, striking up a conversation soon after that lasted until the coffee shop closed. Fate had obviously intervened for these two (though John, as above, took the initiative to make sure he played all the cards he was dealt) as they quickly began dated, knowing they were right for each other.
Naturally, we selected Rain or Shine as the perfect place for their engagement photos, though we unfortunately couldn't get the exact table since we didn't want to kick the occupants out of their seats. I wanted to capture the two interacting in multiple places in the cafe as its one of their favorite haunts, so started shooting from the moment they ordered their coffee. As I searched for nice lighting and backdrops, I made them carry their drinks from table to table while they laughed, toasted and even snuggled up behind a hanging window wall.
So that we could add a little color and variety to their images, we stepped out into the pouring rain to shoot in front of the coffee house, taking care to include some signage as well so they could always remember the name of the spot where they first met. For some, the rain would've been a problem, but for these two seasoned Portlanders, all they needed was a clear umbrella (the perfect rainy day prop) and each other to stay warm.
Just across the road we saw a moss-covered staircase surrounded by greenery, so decided to cap off our session with a few whimsical shots as the rain turned to mist. I rarely shoot in the rain since it doesn't mix well with expensive electronics, but this experience showed me that I really need to change that! The overcast sky created a soft, moody light while the rain and mist made a soft haze to help me create some fun yet timeless portraits.
What you don't know is that we had less than 30 minutes to create memorable images as John had to get to the college where he teaches and arriving earlier than the 7:45 time that we'd planned was pushing it. This proved no problem at all, though, as these two happy almost-weds had such natural chemistry together (obviously) and were so easy to work with. Nicest of all, Jen drove me to my next destination in Downtown Portland as it cut my commute from over an hour to 25 minutes; it had taken me 1:45 to get to the cafe from the house in Beaverton.
I could not have asked for a better engagement session in Portland if I'd asked a genie: a coffee shop, a rainy day and two easygoing people effortlessly in love - it was all that I'd planned for.