Love makes you do things you otherwise wouldn’t. Like collecting seashells at the beach on a rainy and cold December day because your boyfriend invites you to do so. If that same person asks you to, you’ll also retrieve an old bottle with a note inside that apparently washed onto the beach. While reading the poem written on the paper, and glancing from the letter to see your boyfriend on one knee asking you to marry him, it’s then you’ll realize you’ve been duped in a most romantic way. Such was the wedding proposal that Allyson Triplett received at Ocean Isle Beach from Kris Griffin, her boyfriend of five years. “Of course I said yes,” she laughs. “I jumped up and down, screaming ‘Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?’ It was very romantic.” The former Charlotte residents, who now live in High Point, were married last October. When the time came to have engagement photos taken, it was fitting to return to the proposal site. The Griffins headed back to Ocean Isle last April and spent an afternoon laughing and reliving their “I do moment” with photographers who preserved their happiness for years to come.
Say goodbye to the studio
Posed engagement photos taken in a portrait studio are a thing of the past. Today’s couples are taking their photo session on location to capture their pre-wedding bliss. Leslie Keener, who co-owns Elizabeth Scott Photography of Mooresville with her husband Matt, accompanied the Griffins to the coast for their engagement photo session. “This is a fairly recent trend that’s a lot of fun,” says Keener. “Most couples choose a place that has personal significance or reflects their personalities, which gives the photo a story.” Wedding proposal spots are popular backdrops, as are places important to the couple for other reasons, such as a place where the couple has enjoyed fun times or a childhood favorite of the bride or groom. Kris Griffin picked Ocean Isle to pop the question because he and his family traveled to the North Carolina beach every year when he was a child. Many spots around Lake Norman make great backdrops for engagement photos. Huntersville residents Seth and Kris Douglas, who were married last August, shot their engagement photos at Latta Plantation. “We didn’t really have a spot in mind and our photographer recommended Latta,” says Douglas. “Our only request was that we include our dog Lola, who was a Christmas gift to me from Seth in 2008. Anyone who knows us knows it just made sense to bring her along!” The couple wasn’t necessarily looking for a country setting. But Latta’s natural tones and warm colors helped create great photos. Rolf Loken, their photographer, encouraged the couple to be themselves. “Seth and I prefer spontaneous pictures over the ‘turn-toward-the-camera-and-smile’ poses,” says Douglas. “Rolf definitely captured our style!” If a couple doesn’t have a particular spot in mind, photographers can help select one. “We send our clients a questionnaire hoping to get a glimpse of who they are as both individuals and a couple,” says Keener. “Learning how they met and what hobbies they enjoy helps us create a picture that reflects their personalities.” Loken, who operates his photography studio in Charlotte, agrees. “It’s important that the pictures are completely about the bride and groom,” he says. Loken has shot engagement photos in settings across the state. Techniques and equipment aside, Loken says the main ingredient for great photos is the couple. “If the lighting is right, I’m confident I’ll catch a good shot. But the picture is about them as a couple, not me as a photographer.” Thomas Griffin proposed to his girlfriend Laura Parnelle in Charleston, S.C. But the couple, both of whom will graduate from Appalachian State University in the spring, chose to have their engagement photos done in Boone. “Even though Thomas and I knew each other in high school, Boone is where we fell in love,” says Parnelle, who like Griffin is from Gastonia. Parnelle and Griffin chose two different settings in the college town. Bass Lake has been a favorite place to go hiking and enjoy the outdoors. “It’s a beautiful setting. My favorite picture is one of us walking in a field of flowers.” And what about the pictures of Griffin playing a guitar? “Music is a big part of our lives,” says Parnelle. “Thomas has been playing for four years and he writes songs for me, so our photographer suggested a picture of him playing.” The second photo shoot took place on King Street, the heart of downtown, a place where Parnelle and Griffin shared fun times with friends and each other. Raegon Thomas and Rob Falk opted to have two photo sessions done. Night scenes were taken in uptown Charlotte, commemorating where the couple met. Photographer Leslie Keener suggested Jetton Park and the dock at North Harbor Place for daytime shots. “I’d never been to either place and they were beautiful,” says Thomas, whose favorite picture is from the nature trail at Jetton. Whether the engagement photo session takes you to the mountains, the beach, or someplace in between, photographers and couples agree the key element is fun. Allyson Griffin loves Keener’s Ocean Isle picture of her fiancée Kris embracing her. “We’re both laughing and the ocean fades out behind us,” she recalls. The laughs reflect the mood of the day. “(The Keeners) made us feel really comfortable.” “This event is about you as a couple,” adds Keener. “Relax and have fun with it.”
Lake Norman photo ops These are some of the favorite spots for wedding and engagement photos among local photographers: Jetton Park, Cornelius North Harbor Place, Davidson Old Barn, Mooresville (intersection of Hwy. 150 and Morrison Plantation Parkway) Latta Plantation, Huntersville Davidson College campus