Engagement Photo Shoot
Two Tuesdays ago, Jocelyn and I made our way to Indianapolis from Twiggtown. Along our 2,700 mile journey we stopped into Indianapolis not only to see family but to get our engagement photos taken. I was excited although completely without expectation or prior experience of this sort of thing. Thankfully, Mindy Hiatt and her fiance/photography partner Gary Stephenson made the session not only painless, but rather a ton of fun and very naturally conducted our way to an amazing set of photos.
The three qualities that really stuck out about Mindy and Gary’s work was their creativity, their experience and their professionalism.
Mindy and Gary are not the sort of photographers who have a one-size-fits-all approach to their clients. We picked the farm of my buddy Larryjoe, and upon arriving they were both eager to survey the area and put their photographer’s eye to use, picking out places of high contrast, good cast shadows, color balance and movement. Their method is dynamic in a way that allowed Mindy and Gary the spacial room to flourish. For example, we got to the back fence of the farm and moved from the crops back to the farmhouse, along the fence and with different backgrounds in every photo:
Mindy came with her own ideas (she had even scoped out and printed Jocelyn’s wedding inspiration pinterest board), but she and Gary were always looking to accommodate our own interests and find ways to blend ideas. Basically, the creative output was greater than the sum of its parts. We felt that the shoot was structured in a way that left plenty of room for spontaneity and incorporation of the scenery.
Many people who did their wedding on a budget told me not to skimp on the photographer, so picking one even for the engagement photos involved a search process. Jocelyn and I were looking at photographers in Virginia, DC and Indiana. We settled on doing the engagement shoot on the road, so that we could get a bit of Indiana in the wedding portfolio. I talked to other people getting married in Indiana and got some ideas– I ran across those who didn’t bother to respond, or who took mediocre photos, or who just weren’t all that inspiring. Then I myself was inspired — let’s go oldskool. Mindy, Gary and I were in Mr. Hayes’ journalism class at Lawrence North, where we all got our first publishing experience back in the mid-2000′s. I knew through the grapevine that she was still in the business and I found her website on the Google machine. Almost a decade of experience and a degree was apparent in first glances. I was sold, and (more importantly) Jocelyn was too.
At the shoot, Mindy’s experience was palpable. First off, she picked the start time at 7:30pm, allowing for long shadows, beautiful lighting and a rich sense of depth. Secondly, I could tell that she had done this before in the way in which she orchestrated our shots without being either overbearing or aloof. There was a perfect mix for us to find our comfortable positions; she would tweak a thing or two and then let the shots roll. And after every shot we heard the “ooh-s” and “aah-s” of someone who was genuinely interested in what was being done, rather than superficially trying to puff us up.
From the first contact to the time when we got the pictures through smugmug, I never once felt left pining for any communication (other than anticipation of the photos being done). Mindy and Gary showed up on time, didn’t waste any time once we were on the farm, provided a clear timeline for how the shoot would go, and let us know when we could expect the photos. Mindy’s initial email included tips for the shoot, links to blogs that might inspire us, and an overall very cheerful and excited tone. It felt personalized and unique and built up our own excitement to meet Mindy and Gary.
For all you folks out there looking for a young, vibrant, creative and stress-free photography team to capture the special moments in your life, I can’t recommend Mindy Hiatt enough. Mindy, if you are reading this, Jocelyn and I are seriously considering flying you to Virginia Beach to finish the beautiful job which you started with this shoot. Mindy and Gary, who recently got engaged themselves, will be in a tough position finding another photographer who will be able to match the talent and caliber of their work. Thank you!