it seemed appropriate to post this session today, on valentine’s day, as it revolves around one very beautiful love letter written by dan for his wife, alissa. he wrote:
dear lis, i love you. i don’t know if i say that enough. you are the most driven, selfless, caring, creative, funny, beautiful, and honest person i’ve ever met. you make me want to be a better person. before i met you i was lost. and over the last ten years you have shown me a world of love i didn’t know was possible. thank you for loving me. i hope i can make you feel as special as you have made me feel. i love you. dan.
alissa and dan are married. i typically photograph engaged couples as they usually have more of an “excuse” for a photoshoot. they are usually giddy and there is always an expectant and somewhat naive sweetness about them that is contagious. but there is something about photographing a married couple that has such intentional depth. that they are continuing to choose one another every day. it is deep and raw and soul stirring. they are taking the time to really see one another instead of just existing. through the work of marriage, after the trials and pain of everyday life, even when things may not be perfect and pretty. this kind of love is what honest photography is all about.
alissa and i talked a while in preparing for the session and she told me that one thing dan was known to do was leave little notes around their house in random places with reminders of his love for her. in cabinets, on the bathroom mirror, on doors. always unexpected with simple, honest, grateful and beautiful truths to encourage and warm her heart. “i love how your eyes light up when you smile” ”i love our life together” ”i love that you take care of me and care about my happiness. thank you for also taking care of things around the house, i love you!” what a gift those little words are to a wife’s soul! i happened to be photographed these two in tennessee at moonshine hill during my workshop in december, and knowing that i wouldn’t arrive into town until just before the shoot i enlisted elizabeth at stockroom vintage in nashville to help me out with styling this session in advance to make it truly special for dan and alissa’s story. she got in touch with dan and he wrote a beautiful secret letter for alissa that elizabeth then wrote in lovely script onto a giant fabric canvas that they could also keep after the photo shoot was over. she styled the most elegant and lovely session at the treehouse (outside and inside of it!) there on the grounds of moonshine hill, all based around this love letter theme and it was all a surprise for alissa when she arrived! we began the session at the treehouse and then worked our way around the property.
i love styled sessions but the simplicity of alissa wrapped up in that letter down in the stream in the middle of the woods just floors me. those have to be some of my most favorite photographs i have ever taken (they are closer to the bottom in this set of images). alissa is a friend of mine and while anyone can see that she is so very beautiful, she is also a bit timid and would never think that of herself. but i saw her come alive beside dan as he told her how beautiful she was. i saw her believe it. his words truly nourished her soul and to witness that was nothing short of a privilege.