why I like engagement sessions

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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Do you naturally take great photographs? Do you look at the camera and immediately know what to do? No? Perfect, you’re just like everyone I’ve photographed. Each engagement session starts with a few caveats from the couple. Warning : we are not very pose-y, we don’t know what to do and I blink a lot in front of the camera. It doesn’t scare me. In fact, it’s probably why you hired me in the first place.

After over six years as a photographer of people (and couples specifically) I know how hard it is to be yourself. I know that because it’s true for me when I’m photographed. You need to have permission to laugh, to reminisce about your first date, to remember forever what it feels like to be held close in each others arms. That doesn’t always happen naturally – not because you aren’t in love – but because you just tore apart your closest changing your outfit last minute or were stuck in traffic on the way to the shoot. We all need to be invited to slow down, to take a deep breath and reflect on what it is that’s important.

Engagement sessions do that for us. They introduce us slowly – without the pressure of the wedding day – to the process of documenting our relationships.

Getting to know each other happens best in person, and I really want to get to know you. I want to make sure you are so comfortable having me at your wedding that you can greet me like a friend and know that I’ll take care of everything you are worried about. All of the other obvious benefits of engagement sessions still apply : experience being photographed helps so much on a wedding day, pictures can be taken in a different location and season then the wedding…. and you can easily bringing your dog along for a few shots.

It’s because of those things that I invite couples to plan for something fun. Think of it as a date you always wanted to go on, or maybe one that you always enjoy, and set the framework to start planning. This could mean spending an evening on a boat, walking around the city you call home, enjoying the scenery at a gorgeous estate, or shooting at your favorite restaurant. It can be complicated, it can be simple, but most of all it should be you.

Yesterday I photographed Jim and Dana (who you see above) and they are tying the knot this Saturday. Distance kept us from shooting this any sooner, but I don’t think the proximity to their wedding will make these images any less special. We took advantage of the tall grass and rocky rivers here in the country and captured some images that speak to the laid back nature of these two beautiful souls… and it was beautiful.

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