Behind the Scenes of our Engagement Session!

I am SO overwhelmed with all the sweet words about Derek and I’s engagement photos – I’m so in love with them I don’t even know what to do!!  It still seems like it’s not fully real yet – but I’m sure I’ll have another moment soon where it all hits me :)

I wanted to take a minute to write about how it FELT as a wedding photographer working with my dear wedding photographer and mentor!  Friends, it seriously was nothing short of a dream come true for me to work with Katelyn James.  All I wanted when Derek and I got engaged was to marry him and have her take our pictures!  I didn’t really care about anything else (well I did, just not like THIS).

To many people in the industry, being photographed by Katelyn would be like being photographed by a celebrity.  And while it’s a little like that for me, it’s more than that.  6 years ago, when I stumbled onto KJ’s blog, I was in a stuffy office taking headshots – trying to make money doing whatever I could.  I had started shooting weddings here and there, and it felt so overwhelming trying to keep up with what I thought I had to be doing.  On KJ’s blog, I saw something else.  I saw LIGHT.  I saw LOVE.  I saw the beauty WITHIN the people that were being photographed, in a way I never had before.  And in that moment, I thought, this is what I want to do.

I did a mentoring session with Katelyn in Richmond, VA 4 years ago (wow, so long!) and have heard her speak at the Pursuit Conference in GA for 2 years in a row!  And through that time, I followed her business – and saw the way she shined in the industry, and gave with a heart that showed people a little bit of God.  On the days that I thought of giving up, or was just discouraged, something she wrote and the heart I saw in her business encouraged me to keep pouring into mine.

So this is what this means to me – our engagement session is not just pretty photographs.  It’s what it always has been for me since that moment 6 years ago – a way of seeing light and beauty and souls and God.

One reason I know Katelyn sees like this is a silly moment that happened early on in our engagement session.  But FIRST…to set the stage for our engagement session…

We knew she was coming up to Cazenovia, New York to capture Derek and I in places that really mattered to us.  That felt like our relationship and what it’s been like the last 2 years. As the dates got closer, the weather started getting threatening.  (Story of my life this season – this spring has been weird!)  So, Katelyn and I wrote back and forth about timing.  And she suggested shooting at sunrise instead, when the light and weather looked perfect.  And though I am NOT a morning person, I AM a light person – so without hesitating it was a YES.  And it was a sweet YES from my man too.  We got up at 4 AM for our session.  And the day before, we had literally MADE the teepee you see in our photos, by hand…without reading any how-to’s.  (More about that later – it’s a good story!)  And we set up the teepee at a perfect angle to the light.

I knew this day was going to be so significant, and I was just wishing that I could have some behind the scenes photos so I could SEE what the shoot looked like as well as what Derek and I looked like.  My sweet intern Erin Paglia literally jumped up and said “I couldn’t miss this!” and agreed to wake up SO early and come photograph us at morning light (5:40 AM).  So all the photos you’re about to see is because of her.  And every time I see these, I re-live what the shoot felt like as well as what the moments with Derek felt like.

I learned so much about being behind Katelyn’s camera – but one of my biggest take-aways was something I already knew.  The importance of building your client’s confidence.  I mentioned early on to Katelyn that sometimes I smile SO big and both my mom and Derek tell me, “next time, just smile regular, or a little less-big for a few” and I told her to just tell me the same thing.  And Katelyn told me something I’ll never forget…”But that’s YOU, Kerri.  That’s your joy and I LOVE that about you.”  I felt seen in a way that is such a gift.  I never felt put down or anything, just encouraged to shine.  And of course she got TONS of different looks out of me and out of Derek, but ONLY by putting positivity and encouragement into us and giving us clear direction.

Of course I learned poses, and how she handled certain situations, too – but that moment is what strikes me the most and really sums up what I’ve learned through her that I try to give to my clients.

Here is a look at our experience with Katelyn!  Thank you again sweet Erin for all these beautiful memories, I’ll treasure them forever.


katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_01The first glimmer of morning light over the mountains – right before Katelyn arrived!
katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_02katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_03And she’s HERE!  By our little teepee!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_04katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_05katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_06LOVE!  My favorite!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_07katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_08So cute I have no clue what we were reacting to!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_09Blocking the light…she was shooting right into it for this one!


katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_12Aren’t all these wildflowers just adorable?

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_13katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_14Fixing my hair…totally normal for photo shoots!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_15katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_16AHH the light!!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_17katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_18LOVE this one!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_19Katelyn is so good at bringing out our joy!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_20Haha not sure what this one was about either but love!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_21Yup, Katelyn got up on Derek’s truck bed for this one!  All about the angle!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_22Shooting our details!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_23I was excited to start again in our second outfits!  Derek was ready to be in his other shirt and I’m so glad we got these shots he suggested!


katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_26The joy again!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_27katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_28We got to our second location and we saw this field right off the parking lot!  Katelyn had to catch this light before we moved on!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_29We loved the cedar shakes and the light she caught there was incredible…

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_30Shooting through this flower bed for foreground…

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_31Just walking between places at Lorenzo!  The first place Derek and I took our first selfie…

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_32katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_33Touch my hair all you want girl – as long as we get the shot!

View More: you Erin for EVERYTHING!  Such beautiful photos!

katelyn_james_photography_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_lorenzo_stone_quarry_art_park_35Love you Katelyn, SO much!!  THANK YOU doesn’t even begin to express how we feel.

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A life filled with gratitude begins with finding thankfulness in the small moments