I can't remember the last time I did photos for friends. I've been really fortunate that this year I've connected with so many completely new clients in the Flagstaff community and been discovered easily by people looking for a photographer, don't get me wrong. But obviously if you get a chance to work with your friends you do it! I met Lauren through my boyfriend, Tony. Tony works for a local beverage distribution company here in Flagstaff and I've been lucky enough to befriend quite a few of his coworkers, including Lauren! When she reached out asking to hire me for some updated photos of her and her honey I was overjoyed. And after doing a location scout one day and stumbling across a mostly-isolated area I'm just calling "The Cinders", I was even more thrilled. I knew that this location and this couple would make for such a unique session.
To kick things off on a celebratory foot, I asked Tony to grab some beers for the couple on his way home from work. While I would've preferred bottles to cans for the picture's sake it was still a fun way to ease into our shoot. I immediately knew that this would be one of my new favorite locations to shoot at. The contrast of the cinders with the trees, the lighting and tons of variety within the location just about made my little photographer heart burst. Not to mention Lauren + Julen dressed perfectly for the location. She had texted me beforehand asking what to wear, to which I always respond, "I can barely dress myself in a distinguished way - you'll need to reference Pinterest". However I let her know that bringing different accessories and outfits would be a great idea to give her more photos to choose from at the end of the day. She nailed it, bringing along a green hat, sunglasses, jackets, a dress, shirts and pants.
Lauren let me know right at the start that Julen wasn't a massive fan of having his photos taken - which is totally fair, most guys aren't as excited about the process as their counterparts. However, by the end of the session Julen was comfortable enough to give me more natural smiles and even jumped in with suggestions on composition pointing out which backgrounds he liked.
This was also the first session I had with my brand new Rokinon 1.4f 85mm AF lens. If that sounds familiar, it's because I have the exact same lens already- but it doesn't focus automatically. Over the years I started to get really anxious because my vision has deteriorated a bit and even with adjusting my diopter dial and being very patient, relying on manual focus just doesn't cut it anymore. So while this was my favorite lens, many of the photos I took with it were just shy of being in focus and it left my heart sad time and time again. Finally the manufacturer created this lens with autofocus and I've been hesitant to purchase it the last year or so but went for it just a week before Lauren's shoot. The result? PLENTY more photos to work with once I got to editing and a faster session overall with less downtime now that I didn't have to try to make sure the images were in focus / re-shoot if they were / etc. Game changer!
My only regret? We wrapped up the session about 10-15 minutes before the sun went down behind the peaks. As we were driving away from the location I was looking around at the lighting and thinking, "man, I think we missed some really cool stuff." Even so, this session is my favorite of the year. The photos turned out exactly as I hoped for, we had a great time hanging out, my friends were happy with the results and I found a new location to shoot at that made my heart sing.