from the bride’s side : Dawn + David’s engagement

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories





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This fall I shot Dawn + David’s engagement photos here in Harrisonburg. It was a great session and I’m sure you remember the pictures if you’re a regular over here. I’ve included a few in a contact sheet with this post to refresh your memory – but they were vibrant, lively, and natural. What you don’t know is that Dawn and David are “self proclaimed introverts” (if I can borrow from a paragraph below) and like most people who step in front of the camera it didn’t all come naturally. Then again, what did come naturally was being themselves, and for every moment they might have felt unsure there was a moment they looked completely natural. I love to see what people say when they get their photos back, because they are usually met with surprise at what I captured as compared to how they felt. To give you an inside perspective I asked Dawn to write up a little something about the engagement session, so here is what she had to say:


What are we going to wear? That was the biggest question on our minds when our engagement photo session rapidly approached. I was more consumed thinking about our outfits than I was thinking about what the actual photo shoot was going to be like. Next thing I knew we were on our way to Harrisonburg from DC and I started to contemplate the actual photo shoot. I was excited but also started to get a little nervous.ddcontactsheet

It might sound silly or unnecessary but most if not all the time photography was a part of my life because it was in a circumstance of some event— either on vacation or with friends and/or loved ones at a gathering, etc… but the focus was usually on something other than me! Emotion comes naturally due to the environment and the thought of having a camera capture the moment is welcomed. Thus the idea of having my photo taken just to get my photo taken was a new experience. I had high school graduation photos taken but not ones in which I was placed in an environment where I was to be “caught up” in a moment with my fiancé for the sake of photography! It was almost like I got a little taste of what it must be like to be a celebrity; in front of a camera for a living. The task during the engagement session for me was to act normal and natural despite feeling the exact opposite! I don’t know about you, but that is a challenge in itself. My fiancé David and I are self proclaimed introverts who would like to be doing anything but be in front of a camera. We laughed, felt awkward and made the best of it and were very curious to see the results!

Once getting our pictures back I was pleasantly surprised on many levels. I had two main thoughts. One, I looked shockingly normal considering how I felt. That in itself gives me a sense that I will be more comfortable in front of the camera for the next time—the wedding day! The reality of the situation, despite feeling awkward and unnatural, is not what the camera is capturing, so my advice is to just go with it and have fun. Secondly, Mary is very talented! The way that she used lightening, color and also the way she incorporated props (i.e. the moped) into the pictures was awesome! She was helpful in giving us tips and pointers but yet she allowed us to move and act naturally as we would in real life. I think this helped our pictures to look like us and not like we were mere puppets, being prompted like a celebrity at a photo shoot for the cover of People Magazine.

The thing that we enjoyed most about our engagement session was the prop that Mary had us use. As I mentioned before, she incorporated a moped in our pictures. This was a pleasant surprise because it gave us something to do that created natural emotion rather then us trying to conjure up emotion. It also gave us both something to focus on rather then ourselves. We also liked adding a personal touch to our photos by changing into our running clothes and having some less formal shots. We love our running photos!


Now that we had a little practice run (no pun intended) we are looking forward to our wedding day. As most brides and grooms know, photography is a huge part of the special day. Besides our guest’s memories, photos are the lens of what will be remembered of the wedding day for years to come. And, with a little practice and increased comfort level, we should be almost as smooth as Brad and Angelina in front of the camera. And, at least I already know what I am going to wear!

::thanks so much Dawn for the guest post + I hope everyone enjoyed. Look out for more from their wedding in March!

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