Yesterday we met with our photographer, Nate Rowe of Nathanial Edmunds Photography, for our engagement photos. Let me say this at the onset - Whitney Houston - the grandest of all divas - has nothing on either H or me. To prepare for our photo shoot, we took Friday to get ourselves in the right state of mind - this included tanning (yes, tanning) and fashion shows and the like. Before I fell asleep that night, I said to H - "Don't laugh at me, but I have been practicing my smile a lot today. H responded - "I won't laugh. I have too." I do love that girl.
We were scheduled to meet with Nate at 1 PM. Before that, however, we had some work to do. I had committed to drink beers and watch Arsenal storm to a 2-0 win over Man City. H had committed to attend the baby shower of our neighbor - Messy Mandy (this is how she is programmed in my cell phone as well as the way that H and I refer to her. Messy Mandy owns and operates her own business Messy Mandy - as a personal assistant to help get her clients organized, be it for tax season or Thanksgiving dinner - she does it all. For the male readers - she is kinds of like the "Wolf" in "Pulp Fiction.")(We think the world of Messy Mandy and highly recommend - we know her as our neighbor, but also know how committed she is to her client)(shameless plug is over).
Anyway - H - dressed for the photos and looking absolutely classic and stunning - went to the baby shower and had a few glasses of Riesling to ease her nerves about the picture taking (this is going to be a theme). I picked her up about twenty to one and we were off to the first location: Paramount Room.
For those who have read this blog with any sort of consistency, you'll know that Paramount Room is a very special place to H and I. Since we moved in together in May, 2007, we have been going to Paramount Room for Friday happy hour. We love it there. The night I proposed, I arranged a little engagement party at PR for some of our friends and family to surprise H (it worked). We cannot say enough good things about the people and the vibe this place has. It doesn't hurt that they have a great beer selection for me and a unique and well done cocktail list for H.
About two weeks ago, H and I decided that we'd like to have some of our engagement photos taken at PR. I immediately contacted Jacquie via Facebook to see if this was feasible. Not only was it feasible - she was as excited about it as we were. Jacquie started at Paramount Room shortly after H and I started going there. She has become a friend. She was our server for the engagement party and she has been there virtually every time we have. H loves her and constantly leaves notes on our bill telling her the same. When we got to Paramount, the front booth was reserved for us. Which was perfect. Its the best seat in the house, the first place that we sat when we went there, and a great little corner for pictures. I would be guilty of neglect if I did not take a moment to thank Jacquie for all she did for us Saturday afternoon. She really went out of her way to make sure that we had a great time and were taken care of. It meant a lot to H and I. Thank you so, so much.
Nate showed up to Paramount shortly after we did. We sat and talked a little bit about our respective lives and the like. I think I have written about this in the past, but it is imperative to me that Nate gets a feel for us as people. I think that it helps everybody and will definitely help the end product. The more Nate gets a feel for us, the more comfortable we are with one another and the better the pictures. We had a great time, shared a few drinks (can I write that?) and got a good feel for how this was going to go. Without cue Nate started taking pictures. First it was our glassware, then the "Evil b. gone" plaque behind me. It was kind of crazy to me. A few moments before we were talking about Chicago and then it was like Nate turned on his "professional" switch and immediately went to work. It was kind of cool, because you could see his mind working for cool shots and different angles. He seemed instantly aware of all his surroundings and worked quickly - it was really interesting for me to see.
A funny thing happened though - H got really camera shy. Nate would tell us (in his raspy voice)(he was in a bar that was too loud the night before) to "look natural" and "pretend [he's] not there" or to "just carry on a conversation." The only thing H would say while we were carrying on was "I hate this. I hate this. I hate this." Who knew? I for one, think she was just saying it. She looked beautiful. She is beautiful. The camera loves her.
I think the problem - for both of us - is that we have never just had our picture taken by a professional. We have thousands of pictures that we have taken. But nothing like this. It took a little bit to get used to. That, plus, after M, this is the one of the first things that actually signifies our wedding in action, if that makes sense. We have made plans and a hundred decisions. But this was the first one of those decisions in action, I guess. And, if we are thinking of reasons - we really like Nate - but for us, its difficult to separate that relationship from the existing working relationship. We want people to like us - which can be defied by the fact that he was there to do his job for us.
We left Paramount and went outside We stressed that we wanted our engagement shoot to be a little grittier than a normal photo shoot. We are not tandem bicycles on the lake front path. We are not in front of a tree with our names carved into it. I think Nate figured this out pretty quickly and after we had some pictures taken with the Pug (who had dutifully been waiting in the wheel well of the car) in front of the endangered species murals on Hubbard, Nate got us to climb up some rocks onto the Metra tracks that run just north behind Paramount Room. It was awesome. Some great city views and the gritty we were looking for. I don't know what possessed him to climb up there and decide that this was the spot for our next shots, but he did it and I cannot wait to see these photos. We finished on our roof with the entire city scape behind us - which was great too - since, early on we indicated to NEP that being on that roof is one of our three favorite things to do together.
I dropped Nate at the house he was staying at and picked up some burritos for H and I. I cannot stress enough how much fun we had on Saturday. It was great working with Nate and NEP. It is clear to us why he is as in demand as he is. He is up for anything and really works with the client. It meant a lot to H and I that he listened to our suggestions and was willing to roll with it. I think sometimes the art can cloud the artist's work. The goal here was to take good pictures that capture our personalities. We are not conventional and I think Nate really went above and beyond to capture that aspect of us. Obviously, as I wrote earlier, NEP has been recognized for excellence in its field. But, I believe Nate when he says that the awards, while nice, are not what he works for. He works for the pictures and the people he's shooting. I know he killed it Saturday and I know for a fact that there is a picture I am going to love from this set - and I hope its one where H is sitting in the booth at Paramount Room with her feet up and I am whispering something sweet in her ear.
UPDATE: The pictures turned out amazing. For a small taste - you should visit the NEP Photo Blog - we are so, so pleased with how these came out and cannot wait to see what they come up with at the wedding.