Monday, August 17, 2015

Engagement photos with Jonathan Ong

We got our engagement photographs back over the weekend, two weeks earlier than expected, and they were well worth the money we spent on them.

We were a little nervous when we had our session in early July; after all, we are not natural theatrical people who can strike up a pose when the moment calls for it. The boy points out that my whole demeanour changes when I notice a camera trained on me, and I just freeze up. But I was adamant I wanted some photos of us in London so that we could show them at our wedding in Singapore. After all, this is where we live. I also wanted photos of us when we would be relaxed and just free to be ourselves, instead of being under a fair amount of stress and having to deal with multitudes of people.

I first came across Jon, our engagement photographer, in February through a post on Rock My Wedding announcing that he would be in London for the summer, and would be available for shoots. I went through his portfolio and fell in love with his photography. There was just something magical and intimate about the moments he captured. One photo in particular, I loved so very much that I screenshot it and used it as my lock screen even though I was aware that having a photo of two people I don’t know on my iPad is more than a little crazy.

I remember when I decided to get in touch with him via his website, and his form invited us to tell him our story. That made me rather nervous, because I was so worried that our story wouldn’t be interesting enough for someone as talented as him, or that we weren’t as quirky enough as the couples he’d photographed. (I know, right?) I really really really wanted him to like us, to give us a chance to be photographed by him.

I needn’t have worried! He was really nice when we spoke to him on Facetime, and he put us at ease almost immediately. Perhaps it’s the shared Singaporean connection, maybe it was something else. In any case, he agreed, we set a date in July – a week or two after his arrival in the UK – with the potential to move it in the event the finicky London weather didn’t work out.

The week of the photo shoot, we settled on the area where we wanted him to photograph us and picked a few shots from his portfolio that we liked so that he had an idea of our tastes. I did a little Googling on what the “golden hour” would be that day. I even spent an hour and a half a few days before the shoot itself to walk around and make sure all the features I wanted captured were still there. On the day itself, I’d gone out to get my make-up done and was wearing my Jackie O vintage shift dress, and the boy decided to wear a shirt instead of a T-shirt (this is a Big Deal, trust me) and we’d done a massive clean-up of the flat because the photographer mentioned he would take some shots of us in my flat.

Other than that, we didn’t do too much to prepare.

When Jon arrived at my flat, the boy was still getting ready. I made nervous conversation – the kind you do when you don’t know someone all that well, but don’t want them to think you’re rude or churlish by not speaking. Then the boy came in, dressed in a shirt, and I laughed in shock and amazement. Jon started taking photos. Then off we went to show him the spots we thought we would like to be photographed by, all the while wondering how on earth we would look natural and how we would cope with the weekend crowd.

We got to our usual coffee haunt, which had stayed open so that we could get some photos there. “Talk to each other and just ignore me,” Jon said. We looked at each other, and wondered what to talk about. The knotty issues of liberty and privacy which we had been debating earlier in the day in that very spot? Surely not. So we leaned on each other, and ended up laughing at ourselves. And that started everything off. By the end of the day, we had laughed so much so that our cheeks hurt. We were worried that all the photos we would get would be those of us laughing.

That didn’t turn out to be the case. Yes, there were plenty of photos of us laughing, but there were also unexpected ones which spoke of quiet intimacy, ones in which Jon managed to capture the fading sunlight just so that we glowed. They were amazing.

Jon said we made it easy because of how quickly we had relaxed. Some couples, he said, took a while to relax such that there wouldn’t be good shots in the first hour of the shoot because they took that long to warm up. For us, it only took us a couple of minutes. I didn’t believe him of course, but, as proof, there’s a photo of the boy and me in my flat, sitting on my sofa, quietly enjoying each other’s presence. It must have been one of the first ten photos he took.

I don’t know. Maybe it was the connection the boy and I share. Maybe it was Jon’s natural storytelling ability. Maybe it was a perfect combination of both of these factors which added up to so much more. All I know is, I’m really happy we have photos of us which capture the happiness that the boy and I have found with each other. Thank you so much, Jon.

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