As I was preparing to head to Nashville and Atlanta for work, I was reminded of an engagement session I photographed in New Orleans a few years ago. Then I realized that it never really showed up on my website or blog! So, here’s a quick correction of that oversight!
Starting from Clint’s apartment right on the edge of the gentrified Warehouse District of Nola, Lei Lani couldn’t decide which of two outfits to wear. No problem – bring both and multiple shoe choices! I had my assistant bring not just my equipment but also her extra dress and shoes, and we headed out into the Big Easy.
We started slow, at what used to be a thoroughfare for cars named Diamond St., but was reclaimed and turned into a tiny public park in between two blocks. Finding the old road markers that had been turned into benches, I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off an engagement photo session with two excited fiancés.
To get to the other side of downtown, closer the the French Quarter, I suggested that instead of a cab we should take the trolley. As we waited on the landing next to the tracks, I spotted this beautiful background and the perfect light for my couple. As we were just getting into place, my assistant whispered in my ear that the trolley car was fast approaching from the left. With no time to spare, I adjusted the camera settings to keep the same exposure, but to show the motion of the passing trolley car as it arrived for us.
Once we got to the other side of the downtown area, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump over to the French Quarter. I loved that we were on schedule to catch the last of the sunset!
No matter how many times you’ve been to New Orleans, you’re never too cool for Cafe Du Monde. It always makes me feel like a kid again, and I think that feeling spread to our couple as well.
As it got a bit chilly, Clint suggested we ducked into a Decatur St. restaurant for some coffee to warm us up. At first I thought that the bartender’s announcement that we’d have to wait for a new pot to brew was bad fortune, but I soon discovered that it was quite the opposite. While we sat and chatted, waiting for our hot drinks, the restaurant’s manager introduced herself and asked us about the suitcase we were trailing along with us. When we explained Clint and Lei Lani’s engagement photo session, the manager asked us if we’d like to use the 3rd floor private dining room as a setting while we waited for the coffee to brew. Did we ever! (It also gave Lei Lani a perfect private place to change comfortably before the rest of us rejoined her.) My favorite part of the scene, though, was that once we opened the door to the balcony overlooking Decatur St., we had a view of the famous Jax Brewery and the lights of the the Crescent City Connection over the Mississippi River. Good fortune favors the engaged!
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph the couple out on the balcony. Here we’re looking up Toulouse St., right into the heart of the French Quarter.
As we headed back toward the restaurant where we had reservations (and permission to photograph), we passed a promenade lined with palm trees. Sure, it looked exactly like my home town of Phoenix, but the lights wrapped around the trees made it irresistible to my eye. LeiLani was thrilled to have a photographer present for her first time out in her killer shoes!
We ended the night at an eccentric little bistro in the warehouse district called simply Maison. I had found it a few days before and fell in love with the place. The owner had recently retaken the reigns of the place from managers and staff. No menu – you just told them what you’d like. If he didn’t have it, they’d help you figure out something even better. No prices. You just paid what you felt like. (Though the bar did have a regular tab.) The owner waited on you. The owner and two chefs cooked. One sweet woman worked the bar. It was the kind of place that not only had fiercely loyal regulars, but even an instructors from the local culinary school came there several nights a week to cook for free, just to enjoy the freedom. They let me move tables and set the perfect scene for my engaged couple’s dinner. The owner even accommodated me when I asked him to heat up a pan and flame up some oil through the window into the kitchen. Between all that and the joy that Clint & Lei Lani were experiencing, it was a photographer’s dream!
Part plan, part pouncing on opportunities that present themselves. If a couple is up for some creative fun on location, I’m more than willing to go the extra mile(s) for something fantastic. I love these kinds of sessions!