Love Lift Me Up: Kristen and Chris' Engagement Photos

Love Lift Me Up: Kristen and Chris' Engagement Photos

Loud metal music. The smell of steel and rubber. The sound of weights crashing. Can tenderness be found here? Hell, yeah, it can - check out Kristen and Chris’ engagement session. Engagement photos do not have to be walks through a sun dappled garden . . .

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Banishing Winter with Love's Warmth: Katelyn and Zach

Banishing Winter with Love's Warmth: Katelyn and Zach

They say if March comes in like a lamb it will go out like a lion, but the cold and rain proved no match for the warmth of Katelyn and Zachary's engagement session in Chattanooga.  Take a look at them!

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An Eclipse With a Surprise

An Eclipse With a Surprise

Where were you on August 21, 2017?  I was looking up, along with a couple of thousand people, at Tsali Notch winery in Madisonville, TN, during the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017!  Come see my photos and find out how to propose with style - as James did when he asked Brittney for her hand in marriage during an eclipse!  

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Hurricanes and Snow Can't Stop the Love: Brianna + Dustin's Marriage Proposal

Hurricanes and Snow Can't Stop the Love: Brianna + Dustin's Marriage Proposal

It's May!  Springtime!  So why is it snowing in the Smokies and what are we going to do about the roads blocked by trees toppled in 98 mph winds?  Despite these conditions, Dustin still got to bring his lady love to the Smokies and ask Brianna to marry him - read their story!

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Go With the Flow: Ashton + Travis' Engagement Shoot

Go With the Flow: Ashton + Travis' Engagement Shoot

Ashton and Travis may have planned a quiet engagement shoot by the Cumberland Falls in Kentucky.  But when the sitter cancels, what is there to do except turn it into a engagement and family shoot! All the more fun!

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HOTlanta! Victoria and Dan's Engagement Shoot

HOTlanta!  Victoria and Dan's Engagement Shoot

Atlanta was the perfect setting for a hip and urban couple like Victoria and Dan.  Ponce City Market and Piedmont Park provided excellent settings to show off their sophistication - and love of the New England Patriots!

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By the River's Edge: Devon and Stephan's Marriage Proposal

By the River's Edge: Devon and Stephan's Marriage Proposal

Another beautiful couple's marriage proposal in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Meet Devon and Stephan, and relive their happy moment by the Little Pigeon River, as Stephan gets down on one knee and pops the question!

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Reddit Love: Rachel and Alex's Engagement Shoot

Popcorn Sutton says, "Get a room . . ."

I am a Redditor, which means I have an account on  It is a marvelous waste of time, and I say that lovingly.  And I don't care if you know my Reddit name - it's /u/saricher.

I check in with the r/Knoxville subreddit and found a user who was looking for places to do photos of her and her fiance.  They had just gotten engaged and wanted something to use to announce to the people back in their home state the good news.  So, it's wasn't quite an engagement shoot, but the bride-to-be was leaving to return to their state (he was staying here since he is employed here), she only had until Saturday, and . . .

So I responded and gave them a long laundry list of places they might use.  Because while most people choose to remain anonymous on Reddit, and while some may be trolls, the majority are folks who are happy to help and give answers, instructions, explanations, examples, directions, and sometimes just lend an ear.  I remember having to go to Fargo, ND to do an engagement shoot and posting in the Fargo subreddit a request for advice on where to shoot and plenty of folks helped me out.  Pay it forward.

Well, the OP (Reddit speak for Original Poster) contacted me - could I do the photos?

And so I got to meet the lovely Rachel and Alex - who are just fun.  I mean, they are a laughing couple, comfortable in their own brand of geekiness, and utterly charming.  Having just met on line, I thought they were a kick to work with.  We decided to hit some of the iconic spots around downtown Knoxville, since this would become their home after the wedding:  Worlds Fair Park, Graffiti Alley, Gay Street Bridge, etc.

It was windy.  At times cold.  But as Rachel kept saying, "We can do this!"

While waiting for the sun to sit down, we grabbed a coffee together.  Kids from Connecticut.  He grew up speaking Polish.  She loves the Giants.  He is an air traffic controller.  She works with universities.  Just sweet, hip, fun people.  

My favorite, an homage to Robert Doisneau

Social media can be a minefield . . . or it can be a great resource, depending how you use it. 

And you can meet the nicest people.

Justin + Jenny: a marriage proposal in Cades Cove

Justin + Jenny:  a marriage proposal in Cades Cove

Fortune smiled on Justin and Jenny when the smoke from wildfires cleared and the sun shone when he proposed to her in historic Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Come hear the story and see the pictures of my latest proposal to be photographed!

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Far From the Maddening Crowds: Sarah and Trent's Proposal in the Smokies

It's Fall, y'all, and that means that weekends in the Great Smoky Mountains are filled with visitors, looking to feel the crisp air and see the change in foliage.

So where is a young man to find a private spot to propose to his lady love?

And that is where I come in.  I found a spot for Trent that would give him the solitude needed to ask Sarah to marry him.  And you know, the canopy of trees to provide shelter from the rain did not hurt, either.

Let's have the pictures tell the story . . .

Can I get an "Amen!" for love?

Seriously, I really love shooting marriage proposals.  As I drove away from these two lovelies today, I thought how in Southern California, I practiced Family Law and helped couples end their marriage.  As I was reflecting on that, I was listening to Brad Paisley's "Rainin' You" and it was raining.  And I heard the lyrics, "I can't explain it, but I am baptized anew."  And I thought, "Yes - I am so much happier doing this than what I was doing then."  Couples like Sarah and Trent make my heart happy and I am joy-filled to help them start a life together.  Proposals, engagements, wedding:  it's a happier occasion and, heck - there's cake!

Good job with the ring, Trent!

The "after portraits" are always a delight - but then, the glow is still fresh!

A grey day, but in a quiet corner of the Smokies, the warmth and light of this man and woman shone! 

Congratulations to Sarah and Trent!

A Bridal Shoot at Ijams . . . Sort Of

A Bridal Shoot at Ijams . . . Sort Of

What happens when wedding portraits don't come out as planned?  It's never too late for a do over.  Or, even better - plan to do your wedding portraits on a day apart from your wedding and take advantage of a gorgeous setting and the right time of day.  Here are images done at Ijams Nature Center, part of Knoxville's Urban Wilderness, for a great couple, Megan and TJ.

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A Marriage Proposal Along a Country Lane, Planned: Jessica + Sean

Spring is almost here, but a young man's fancies turn to love way before it arrives, trust me.

I was contacted by a delightful fellow named Sean.  Seems he did a search online for "guerrilla proposal photographers" in the Knoxville area - at least, that is what he told me - and my name came up.  We chatted and soon Operation Jessica was underway.

But where to have it?  Sean wanted, as most guys do, some privacy, but preferably a place easy to access and near a stream - it seems the first date he had with Jessica was a picnic by a stream, and he wanted to preserve that memory.  Oh, and in the Smokies, of course, as they would be visiting from Alabama and staying in Gatlinburg.

And horses, if at all possible.

Unfortunately, this time of year sees all the stables in the area closed.  But . . . deer.  At least some nearby.  With that in mind, we decided on Cades Cove, after some discussion and me emailing him pictures of various sites as suggestions.  Specifically, this would take place along Sparks Lane at Abrams Creek.  Picturesque.  Semi-private.  Water.  And a plan was put together.

No, I mean it - a plan, written down.  The image above is one of the pages sent to him.  When I do a proposal, I go out to the site and take pictures, so the groom-to-be can see where it will take place, and have arrows or other marks to show him how it will be set up and directions to follow.  We exchange phone numbers so things can be coordinated.  Which proved useful when Sean and Jessica got delayed driving up and he was afarid he would not make it to the rendezvous spot on time - Forget GPS, I was able to give him an alternate route that not only got them to Cades Cove on time, but spared them the misery that is the Friday traffic of Pigeon Forge.  Son, I got you covered - and I am bound and determined to see this proposal take place!

I told Sean, take your time - walk down to the creek, relax, stretch your legs.  Wait for cars to pass by so they are not in the shot (fortunately, this was a Friday afternoon in February, so the Cove would not be crowded).  When the time is right, whip out the ring and get to business!

And this happened:

Sean looks around to note my position.  Okay, this is happening. In the meantime, I have nicely asked a car coming on my side of the creek to hold back for a few minutes.  People are happy to help. 

Yes, yes, enjoy Abrams Creek.  Reminisce about your first date.  Set the mood.

Ah, good - head over the designated spot.  But, wait, is that a . . .?

Cars coming!  Sean remembers to wait, and after they've passed . . .

Will you marry me?


And happiness this ensued . . .

A few hiccups but this is real life.  Now they have this moment to share with friends and family (if not someday their children and grandchildren) and will be able to return to "their spot" by Abrams Creek along Sparks :Lane in future visits.  Sure, it takes some reconnaissance and planning, but you'll be the hero for arranging this.  

Congratulations to Jessica and Sean - may they have many years together in health, prosperity, and happiness!

A Son Comes Home to Cades Cove: Elizabeth and Andrew's Engagement Shoot

On the bride at the trail head for the Abrams Falls trail.

When I photograph an engagement session, it is important to me to help choose a location that has meaning to the couple.  With the case of Elizabeth and Andrew, that selection also gave me the chance to shoot in my beloved Smokies.

Despite the number of visitors this time of year, the three of use decided the best place would be Cades Cove.  Cades is VERY popular because it follows an 11-mile loop around the cove and is one of the prime spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to view what so many people hope to see: the black bears.  Even if you don't see bears, the cove usually offers the chance to spot deer, wild turkey, and coyotes.

At the Primitive Baptist Church

But we were not there to shoot wildlife.  Instead, we chose to find well-known spots in the cove.  You see, Cades Cove was first settled in the early 1800's and the last resident left in 1999, after the federal government bought the homesteads and farms to create the national park.  Andrew is a historian who has done projects about the cove's residents - but much more than that, he is a direct descendant of the families who lived here.

He's kin - and in East Tennessee, that carries a lot of meaning and importance.

Strolling along Hyatt Lane.

Elizabeth had asked me if I thought it odd that they wanted to be photographed in one of the cemeteries, since they are both aficionados of visiting old graveyards.  Not at all!  In fact, I daresay since we visited the resting place of some of Andrew's ancestors, they would be delighted to see their future generations come back to share in their happiness!

At the Cable Cemetery near the mill.

Remember, pictures are for now AND the future.  These images may well be viewed by not only their children, but their grandchildren and maybe even beyond that - and they will be able to see where their roots lie in the mountains.

And know where home begins.

Click on any image above to view in a larger size.

Climb Evr'y Mountain: Katie + Nathan's engagement shoot

I have three primary fears:  heights, fish, and dark water.  Hence why driving over tall bridges at night is nerve-wracking (I'm lookin' at YOU, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, spanning Staten Island and Brooklyn!).

However, I live by the words of the famed photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt, who said, "When I have a camera in my hand, I know now fear."  And it is true - if I am looking for the shot, I don't allow myself time for my phobias.  Which was a good thing when I was photographing the engagement session for Katie and Nathan.  

Katie and Nathan are what one would call the "outdoorsy" type, maybe even the "adventurous" type.  I just think them wonderful.  Getting to know them, it became apparent that we could not simply find a "nice spot" near Chattanooga for their pictures.  They know Signal Mountain - they have hiked and climbed along Signal Mountain.  And . . . it's Autumn, so I wanted to photograph them in a natural setting that included the beauty of East Tennessee in the Fall.  So up we went to the top of Signal Mountain and hiked out to Edwards Point.

Don't ask me how far down it is.  It's . . . far.  I stayed focused on my lens while that little voice in the back of mind kept saying, go on, walk to the edge, the very edge, LOOK DOWN.  Nope, nope, nope - instead I watched a beautiful couple in love and sought wonderful light to capture them in.

But really, they made it wonderful.  

You know what makes people attractive?  Sure, physical beauty can help but it is really confidence and sincerity that does it - and watching these two, I kept thinking that if life is a journey, these two are ready for the trip having found one another.  It does not matter what bumps along the road they find - they are ready to help each other and with their attitude, their married life will be a great adventure.

I can't wait to photograph their wedding next month.  Especially, what we planned for the "special" shot, which will be . . . guess you have to check back next month to find out!

Well worth the hike I'd say!