I’m sometimes asked why I include engagement sessions in all my packages. The answer is twofold: First, I love spending an afternoon with a couple, capturing the emotion and love between the two in a setting that doesn’t include a church or wedding hall. But, engagement sessions also give me the opportunity to get to know my clients better, see how they interact or hide from the camera, an it allows them get a feel for my personality. This type of relaxed portrait session eases everyone and makes taking the wedding day photos even more enjoyable.

Enter Larissa and Anthony. When I met, Larissa made it very clear that she didn’t want engagement photos. “We are so awkward in front of the camera,” she said during the consultation. “You realize that I hear that same comment from 75 percent of couples that walk through my door,” I laughed. After explaining the benefits of an e-session, the two agreed and we settled on a hilltop location overlooking the Iris Gardens in Montclair, NJ.

Allison and I lived in Montclair for close to seven years and never once did we stumble on this secluded area near Montclair State University, overlooking New York City. I huffed and puffed up the hill as Larissa and Anthony showed us all the places they like to hike to and presented us with this stunning view from the summit. Larissa and Anthony were a joy to photograph. Anthony has this uncanny ability to make Larissa laugh at almost anything, and the smile on both their faces through the session spoke volumes about the love the two share.

When it was over, Larissa thanked me for the engagement portraits and admitted that it wasn’t too painful. Feeling the burning sensation in my calves from hiking with camera gear all afternoon, I chuckled and told her that the only awkward one on this shoot was me. Here are my favorite photos from our session. Larissa and Anthony, I can’t wait to photograph your wedding in a few weeks.

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