• Elizabeth Schwering

Strangers? Not Anymore.


Over the past few days, I have gotten a LOT of questions about this session. Before I answer them, I'll give you a recap to catch you up to speed in case you missed out on the perfection that make up Dom & Rebecca. To start, twenty minutes before these photos were taken, these two were complete strangers. When I tell people that, they usually say something along the lines of, "yeah, but most people you work with are, right? Because you don't know everyone you work with before booking with them." And I agree, because most of my clients start out as strangers to ME, but I mean Dom and Rebecca were also strangers to one another. *gasp!* I know, I know. They could fool me...

So I bet you're starting to wonder how we all ended up in this situation. Four complete strangers (I had invited another photographer friend of mine along for the fun, but we had actually never met in person before this either!) in the middle of a gorgeous field during a beautiful Wednesday evening golden hour. It's actually pretty simple. Last week, I posted on my Instagram that I was looking for two single people to model for me. The only requirements were that they were willing to step out of their comfort zone and be adventurous. That was it. I didn't say anything else.

I received quite a few messages from followers and friends of followers, and ended up decided that if I looked too much into this it wouldn't work out. To make it easier on me, I just chose the first guy & first girl that messaged me. I didn't do any social media stalking, all I did was chat them. I told then that there has been a recent "challenge" in the photography world to hold a session with complete strangers and make them look like they've been madly in love for YEARS. Both Dom & Rebecca were brave enough to agree and Rebecca even mentioned that it couldn't be worse than a bad first date, so we started planning.

I was envisioning a PERFECT golden hour session of this little get together, but didn't even think to look at the weather before planning anything. We just chose a day that worked for all three of us. The entire morning and afternoon were cloudy and I was worried that my vision would have to change, but as soon as we all met up, the sun came out and it turned into an absolutely beautiful evening. I actually got a LOT of questions about how I organized this and how it came together so well, but one thing that I was never actually asked was about their outfits. How did they both just magically show up looking so cute together?? I sent them the same four "inspiration" photos with outfit options on it. I said wear neutrals and blues and the rest will fall into place. Rebecca sent me photos of her outfit the day before, and when I met up with Dom right before we started shooting, I compared his outfit choices to Rebecca's outfit and we just chose what would go best.

Another question I was asked a lot was what we all got out of this arrangement. I do photography full time now and know that it's SO easy to get burnt out. I need to remember to pick up my camera for fun instead of just for work, so I wanted to do something like this to light my soul on fire again and remind me why I do what I do. I told Rebecca and Dom that they get to spend the evening feeling awkward in front of my camera, have a great story to tell, and hopefully have a new friend. That sounded fair to all of us, so it worked out pretty well!

Alright. Let's get to it. The biggest questions of all. How did I pull it off? How did I make two complete strangers look like they've been in love for years? How did I make them look so comfortable in front of my camera? It was easy. Easier than any other engagement session or couples session I've ever photographed in my entire LIFE. Why? Because we all felt slightly awkward, right on the verge of laughter. Any little thing any of us did or said would send one of us into a fit of giggles. And guess what? My camera couldn't tell if these two were laughing because they felt silly and awkward or if they were laughing because the love of their life knew exactly how to make them smile. Anyone who has ever had a session with me knows that I like to make you do silly things in front of my camera to get genuine facial expressions and body movements to help make your photos more natural. I'll often prompt you instead of pose you, and this usually goes over pretty well. However, when I'm taking actual engagement photos for a couple who I don't know, sometimes my couples feel extra silly because they know one another but not me. Prompts worked SO WELL with Dom & Rebecca because they already felt slightly embarrassed getting all close and personal with someone they didn't know, what could I have them do to make it worse? Nothing! This just boils down to TRUSTING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!! They're usually pretty experienced with this :)

I am SO glad that Dom and Rebecca were up for such an adventure and I absolutely loved this "stranger challenge." They kept me on my toes and the chemistry between them was phenomenal. I think I may have to schedule another one of these sessions later this summer because this was just too much fun not to do again. Thank you so much for all the love and support with these, and if you made it this far in today's blog post, I am SO proud of you! This one was pretty long! I tried to give a pretty good overview for how everything with this worked out, but if you're a photographer who would like to try this yourself and still have questions, let me know and I can do my best to answer them for you!