Natalie Gibbs Photography » Christiansburg, Virginia Wedding and Portrait Photography

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Engagement Photography: My Best of 2009

Yes, I know it’s nearly the end of January, and I’m just now completing my promise to deliver a portraits section of my Best of 2009 picks.  Better late than never!

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These photos are my favorites from the engagement sessions I did this year.  Brides and grooms, listen up.  Your engagement session is one of the most important steps you can take to make sure your wedding photos look good.  The engagement session gives us a chance to get to know each other in a casual, relaxed environment, gives you practice in front of the camera (which can be a little weird at first), and gives me practice finding the most flattering ways to pose you together.  AND IT’S FUN!

Enough talk.  Here are my personal favorites, with descriptions.

1.  Carla and Darius – Heritage Park, Blacksburg

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This was actually my first engagement session.  It was also my first adult portrait shoot (I had done family/children’s portraits before).  Carla and Darius were so easy to work with and were game for anything I had in mind.  I love this little sequence because it looks like they’re having fun, and the light through Carla’s hair is really pretty.

2.  Kristin and Doug – Virginia Tech duck pond

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Kristin and Doug really seemed to enjoy being models during their session.  They were completely at ease in front of the camera, and I would list them as my cuddliest couple to date!  Some of their shots are downright steamy!  I like the image above because of the subtle sun flare on the tree, and I think Doug’s hand resting solidly on the branch gives it a feeling of relaxed strength, as if he is showing that he’s there to protect her, no problem.

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Another from Doug and Kristin’s shoot, this one in color. I love this photo because the colors have a really appealing softness.  Doug and Kristin dressed perfectly for their session – coordinating, but not matched.  The yellow and purple just look great.  I also chose this photo because it was kind of a spontaneous moment.  I told Doug to give her a hug, and he totally squashed her!  Her smile in the photo is very real.

3.  TJ and Kati – Bissett Park, Radford

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I really, really love this one.  Kati looks so serene and beautiful, and her pearl jewelry showing gives the shot a feeling of elegance.  This was such a simple, natural moment, and they look so much at peace together.  There’s a quietness to this photo that I’m just crazy over.  It’s sweet.

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This one is probably one of my edgier engagement portraits, because the bride and groom are actually out of focus (on purpose).  Kati was entering her senior year of elementary education at Radford, so I brought along some sidewalk chalk to play with during our shoot.  We took several photos with their names and dates on the sidewalk, and then I asked them to draw a heart on the tree, kind of like an old fashioned carving.  Believe it or not, it’s hard to draw on a tree with chalk!  It took several layers to get the heart to show.

I want to say I love the innocence of this photo, but I don’t believe it looks innocent at all.  I actually think it looks kind of hot.  There is an in-focus version as well, in which the tree is blurred and Kati and TJ are sharp.  It has a more tame feeling to it, and it’s cute too, but this one is one of my ultimate favorites.

4.  Dusty and Danielle – Blacksburg

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“The dip” is a very popular pose for wedding photographers, but I’ll be honest with you – not everyone can do it.  I love this photo because Dusty surprised me with his perfect dip technique, and they’re both laughing, and the red barn in the background really pops when it’s not posted online (I hate internet colors!).  Danielle’s flip flop pointed gracefully in the air gives it the perfect feeling of summertime fun.  (I think she might have been a ballerina in a previous life.  she has a way of holding her fingers and feet just so.)

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This one might not seem as interesting as the rest, but that’s actually the reason I chose it.  I think it’s important to have some fun, romantic pictures, along with a lot of traditional smiling-at-the-camera shots that you would be happy to frame in your home or display at your reception.  I think this one, though traditional, just turned out really nicely, with pretty, soft lighting on their faces and that gorgeous field of lilies behind them.

5.  Brian and Sarah – Blacksburg

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Sometimes the paths you choose in life have unexpected benefits.  For example, if I hadn’t married Jared, I might have never been to his parents’ house in Blacksburg, and might have never found the field directly across where we took Sarah and Brian’s engagement photos.  (Actually, we started at the duck pond, but we finished up at this field).

I like this photo because the light is just beautiful, and the curve of the fence is really pretty and leads your eye right to them.  They appear to be in the midst of a very flirtatious encounter, don’t they?

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I’ve always had mixed feeling about this one because of the heavy, heavy sunflare.  I’ve decided I like it because it reminds me of a jeans ad.  I think this could maybe be in some kind of catalog.  Sarah and Brian have a great, serious, high-fashion look to them.

6.  Brian and Gina – Christiansburg

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I kind of wish Brian and Gina could get married again, just so I could do more of their photos!  They are both so unbelievably photogenic.

I like this shot because Gina just looks gorgeous, and because her smile when Brian kissed her was so natural and big and pretty.  They look SO HAPPY.  I don’t think I even need to mention the rays of sunshine, which are what really completes this picture.

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Brian and Gina brought their golden retreiver, Tiga, along for the shoot.  Being a bird dog owner myself, I knew this would be a challenge!  We did get a few good shots of Tiga with them in the regular way, but this photo kind of stole the show.  We were trying to get Tiga to come to them so they could have her sit in front, and instead she just raced across the grass.  It captures the life of Brian and Gina and their crazy dog in such a funny way.

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This one’s just too cute not to include.  They had just done a whole bunch of cuddly, moody shots on the steps, and all I said was, “OK, now sit up really proper-like!”  They got it perfect.

7.  John and Pam – Hahn Horticulture Gardens, Blacksburg

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I just think this one is pretty, with the soft light and all the lavender flowers around them.  John looks so pleased that he’s getting a little smooch from his fiancee, and Pam looks happy to be delivering the kiss!

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Maybe it’s the English major in me, but I do like to take photos that have kind of a storybook feel to them.  I knew that the setting sun through the trees and all the lush garden growth in the foreground would give this photo something of an enchanted look.  Pam and John chose this as one of their favorites because it reminded them of “The Princess Bride.”  We gave this shot a full spread in their photo guest book.

8.  Heather and Mick – Christiansburg, Virginia

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Heather and Mick have not had their wedding yet (it’s in June), but we went ahead and did their engagement photos this October.  They were fun to work with.  We met really early on a Sunday and got photos of the two of them and even a few with their horse!  I love this shot because they just look totally in love and happy.  You can’t see Heather’s face, but you can see Mick’s, and he just looks so thrilled to be marrying her.

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Like I said, they were fun!

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And here’s their horse.  We got a lot of funny photos of Eddie (the equine pictured) and a lot of nice, normal ones of the three of them together, but I like this one because it’s little romantic.

9.  Heather and Adam – Sinkland Farms and Little River, Riner, Virginia

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This tractor kiss shot has become one of my most popular and most favorite photos.  I love everything about it.  The end.

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This is another one I like.  There’s a vertical version to with the two of them centered, and it’s tough for me to choose between the two.  I love the way Heather and Adam pop here in the black and white conversion.  They were heading to the riverbank to show me the spot where they had their first date, which – believe it or not – involved a little wooden swing by the river.  So sweet.  I can’t wait to shoot their wedding next September!

That’s it for the engagements of 2009.  Check back later for my favorite non-wedding-related portraits!  I also have some brand new photos to post.

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Kelly Ry - What a great recap! I love the “proper” couple shot; those grins are perfect.

matt s. - Looks like it was a great year. Brian & Gina’s are my favs.

Kristi Wright - Really enjoy your b&w’s!

Katie Beach - You have a bunch of great shots in there! I love the couple standing by the fence.

Daniel Dunlap - All great phtoos! I especially like the one where he dog runs in front of the camera. LOL :)

Tobiah Tayo - Manchester wedding photographer - Lovely shot! Number 8 is my fav but many good ones!

Sweet Caroline Photo - Great stuff, love the one with the tree and heart.

Alicia Kennison - Any photos that include animals are winners to me :D . Well done for 2009!

Amanda Basteen - Great job! I love the one with the horse!!

Robb Duncan - While the horse kiss is a great image, give me a tractor kiss any day. Love it!!

mike murrow - wow you did some great work last year. I really like the brian and gina set. or was it brian and sarah?

Noelle - I love the one of the couple “sitting up properly”!

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