I wanted to revisit their love story because I think their pictures show the timeless quality of romance and enduring youth. The engagement shoot was probably the longest I’ve ever done – a 6-hour extravaganza with wardrobe changes galore, four locations and the couples’ first babies at one of the locations (two adorable dogs I mean).
The almost full-day shoot feels like it was yesterday. The studio session was a riot because Brigette didn’t hold back and Derek couldn’t take his eyes off her. During our “cosmopolitan” shoot, the gorgeous architecture and Saks Fifth Avenue vibe was virtually made for them. Brigette was stunning in a new dress and paraded around showing off for Derek.
They really found their element in part 1 of our nature shoot. It was as if they were playing in their backyard. Some of my favorite moments were seeing what Brigette and Derek would do next on the rocks or in the trees. I was sure it couldn’t get any better (One reason was because I had agreed to photograph their boxer pup and pit bull mix, and animals almost never cooperate). I’ll credit mom and dad for a great family photo and the boxer Chopper gave me one of the cutest animal pics I’ve ever taken (sorry I doubted you little guy). Derek even pulled out a guitar and serenaded Brigette under a row of dogflower trees with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.
We were close to Dick’s Creek in the north Georgia mountains, and the opportunity to go to one of the most gorgeous waterfalls in the area was too good to pass up. Even after 5 hours of smiles and posing, they made the trip. And this part of the photo shoot is probably why they became the funnest couple ever.
Dick’s Creek was like something out of Sherwood Forest or Middle Earth’s Lothlórien Woods. Its rapids are a cascading water playground fashioned into mini-waterfalls that gradually empty into the slow-running creek bed. The boulders create a maze that you can navigate from atop the waterfalls, with rocks so big you could have a picnic or play hopscotch there.
Brigette and Derek played on the rocks and tempted the river, splashing each other at the water’s edge. They crossed to the far side with Derek leading Brigette through the ice cold rapids along a narrow strip of land just below the water’s surface. They were lost in each other, playing on the far side, enjoying what seemed like just another weekend excursion for them. It may be a cliche, but time stood still for them, and it was beautiful to be a part of that moment.
I can’t remember how it happened, but I got up the courage to ask them if they wanted to actually go out on the waterfall. Part of the deal involved full submersion in the water, to get a raw, elemental look. That’s when Brigette found out how cold the water really was (it was March). The photos that we took there at the end showed pure passion. Capturing those images was one of the most meaningful moments of my photography journey. As they edged out onto the waterfall, I worked quickly to capture the experience as it happened (and held my breath that they wouldn’t fall). They had no fear – it was as if the waterfall was made for them and with the dwindling sunlight I snapped the last photo.
That moment is where I’ll always remember them.