I met up with Robert and Alan at the San Diego County Administration Building and began their engagement session the way I always do. "I know it can be really strange to have somebody telling you what to do and pointing a camera in your face, but I want you two to have fun tonight. Think of it as a date. You're all dressed up! I want you want to be yourselves. I want you to enjoy each other's company. Just be present in the moment. Soak it all in and have a great time. I'll take care of the rest."
Then, just as I set up the first shot and grabbed my camera, I saw that they had stopped. Robert was tearing up. "Hey Robert, talk to me. What's going on?" I asked.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stop. I'm just so happy."
His reply was every reason I do what I do. My job is not just about making people look their best. It's not just about lighting and posing and camera settings. My job is about encouraging authenticity. It's about inviting people to be vulnerable and asking them to trust me with the most precious parts of their story. It's about encouraging them to be present in the moment, because the images we create are reminders, not the memories themselves. The memories are up to you.