Oh, Lord. Giving a decade of your life to something and then walking away is … both refreshing and scary AF.
Let me start with a confession, based on ten years of shooting destination weddings in Dominican Republic: everyone says that your wedding day is the best day of your life, but it’s also the day that a) flies by waaaaaaay too quickly; b) is as stressful as it is joyful; c) the bride doesn’t really feel (or look) quite like herself; d) causes the bride and groom a ton of anxiety and overwhelm; e) is something the newlyweds refer to as “we’re so glad it’s over.” Seriously?!
And then the next day comes. The couple feels more relaxed, more like themselves, more in love than ever.
When we got together for a portrait session, magic of such epic proportions would happen, that we started focusing on these, intimate sessions more and more. Call them Caribbean engagement photo sessions, or honeymoon photo sessions, anniversary or vow renewal sessions – we could get creative in ways we simply couldn’t on a typical wedding day. Time and time again, our wedding couples told us that they ended up loving their session images even more than the wedding portraits! That’s when we knew we were on to something special.
Actually, let me back it up. I remember when “trash the dress” photo sessions first became popular in Punta Cana. These usually involved having the bride roll around in the sand on the beach, alone in her wedding dress. Sometimes the photographer would tell her to act sexy, other times the dress was ripped / ruined, and sometimes both. Let me come out and say this: it was kind of lame. Rob & I didn’t want to do that, so we started experimenting with getting the groom involved. We’d usually get him to say YES by telling him he didn’t have to do a thing (just show up, it was all about the bride), and that there would be cold champagne … and that he’d score major points with his new wife (and that the session basically counted as foreplay). BOOM. Even for sunrise sessions, it didn’t take more than that to get our couples to agree to the adventure. That’s where it started.
For years, we called these “Rock the Dress” sessions. Then they evolved to become the 2.0 version: Island Life Adventure sessions or Island Beloved sessions. We realized that if we created an unforgettable experience for the couple (as in – an amazing Caribbean date they went on), the images became even more unique and precious – because it wasn’t about the photos, it was about an adventure they’ve never had before and things they’ve never done before (like eating the juiciest, sweetest mango with bare hands, clothes drenched in salty waves).
Then the session experience evolved again. This time because Rob & I … well, our love changed.
We’d had kids. We’d been through the ups & downs of life as husband-wife, business partners, and parents. We still loved each other deeply, but developed a new appreciation for the work a marriage takes.
Instead of asking “what time is the ceremony and how big is the bridal party,” we wanted to ask “how do we keep the spark alive in a relationship?”
Instead of rushing through a “must” shot list, we wanted the creative freedom to tell the story of who our clients are as people, and spend quality time getting to know them in the process.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve discovered ways to guide our couples through an experience that often leads to profound transformation. The beloveds would show up to a photo session expecting some lovely photos and leave deeper in love than they have ever been.
Relationships start blossoming because of little things, it’s so clear in the beginning – a compliment, a meaningful look, a thoughtful jesture, a witty text. But relationshipts corrode over little things too. Deterioration comes when we stop looking at each other and seeing each other. In our sessions, we are not asking couples to feel more for each other than they do, we are simply removing conditions and inviting them to rediscover each other.
You see, there are defining moments in our lives, and a lot of times we don’t even know them until they’ve already passed.
What’s amazing is that it’s up to us to create more of these moments with our loved ones. We don’t have to wait for them to happen to us. And that’s powerful. (And that’s why you should reach out to us and book your session now!
Since you’re here, why don’t I show you some of my favourite wedding eye candy from our pats destination weddings on this beautiful island? Like this same-sex Boho wedding at Pearl Beach Club, and this Huracan Cafe beach wedding with the cutest kids, and this Jellyfish Restaurant wedding where the groom released a white dove.
And if you’re planning a destination wedding, my gift to you … DESTINATION 101: Everything You Need to Know About Planning Your Destination Wedding. We still take an occasional wedding / elopement booking for the right couple, so if you want us, let’s talk!
Katya & Rob.