couple portraits, destination photography, international, paris, photography, portraits, travel

Clay & Stephanie: Paris Couple Portraits

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Let’s start this off with WOW. Guys, I don’t know HOW I am able to pick which images to post because they are ALL so dreamy. Stephanie is a photographer herself and reached out in a Facebook group that we are both in looking for an international photographer who could do a session in Paris. Let’s just say I jumped on that REAL quick. I crossed my fingers and toes in hopes that she would pick me. I wanted the session so badly that I could taste it- the sugary macaroons…the baguettes…take me back, PLEASE!

Needless to say after a few days of exchanging emails, she was ready to sign a contract and make it official! I was beyond excited. I booked my train and my hotel and waited impatiently for the day after Christmas to arrive so I could return to the city of light.

The weather forecast for their trip was not looking good, it was rain every day. It is Europe, and winter…so rain is normal. But it was not at all what I wanted to see. I was hoping that we would get beautiful sunshine and the forecast would just be wrong. Well, it didn’t turn out that way.

I got off my train Sunday morning and it was dark, cold, gloomy and wet. Not the dreamy Parisian adventure I was hoping for. I wandered around in the rain with my camera, scouting perfect locations for Stephanie and Clay. I knew I had to use Eiffel Tower because that was the most important feature for them. For secondary locations, I knew I wanted to use something that had the ability to be under cover, especially with rain. I came up with Palais Royal and The Louvre.

The architecture in Europe is something to behold. If you have never been, gosh, I don’t even know how to describe it, but it is amazing the amount of detail and age of these buildings. The sheer size and intricacy is beautiful. I knew all backdrops would be gorgeous.

Everywhere you turn is a place begging to be photographed. If it hadn’t been pouring, I probably would’ve taken more photographs. By the mid afternoon, it was clearing up. So I hopped on the trusty metro (seriously love and hate the metro) and made my way over to the Eiffel Tower. Even though it had JUST stopped raining, it was full of people. It is important to remember timing when planning your Paris shoot. Afternoon is NOT a good idea if you want to avoid crowds. Thankfully we had discussed sunrise for Stephanie and Clay.

When I finally ran out of light and it began to rain again, I made my way back to gorgeous Hotel Littré. I took off my sopping wet boots, ordered my UberEats dinner and dessert and settled in for the night. I checked in with Clay and Stephanie to confirm our starting time for the next morning even with rain in the forecast all morning, we decided to risk it.

The next morning we met for breakfast and talked, getting to know one another. They are the SWEETEST people ever. Clay is a sports medicine doctor and Stephanie is a 5th grade teacher living in Georgia. They have struggled with infertility and booked this trip as a chance to reset from the stress and heartache of failed IVF. Their relationship is strong. I saw it the minute they sat down at the table with me. It is enough to make you believe in fairy tales. They truly are a wonderful match and so so so adorable together.

We made our way to the Eiffel Tower in our Uber and it was raining. All of us were groaning inwardly as this was NOT what we wanted. Once we arrived, I kept checking the radar to see what the chances were of it clearing up, not great. It was showing rain all the way through the afternoon. We found a tiny overhang to stand beneath with our umbrellas and waited for a break in the rain. After waiting a bit, it did start to slow down, so we went for it.

Clay and Stephanie were naturals and so easy to work with. They were super at ease with each other and made everything look so perfect. The rainy Paris weather didn’t phase them, they made it look even better.

Once we finished at Trocadéro, we made our way over to the Seine to capture the water views of the Eiffel Tower. We embraced the rain (as it started again) and laughed our way through a few more sets of portraits. They changed into their more casual outfit and we ordered another Uber to head over to The Louvre. We were so interested in talking that we didn’t notice when the Uber driver promptly dropped us off at the wrong location! We were standing in a very crowded restaurant area, definitely not at Palais Royal or The Louvre. Thankfully we weren’t too far so we walked over to it.

We started at Palais Royal and took some adorable portraits of them cleverly (and unintentionally) matching the location. As I was shooting, we were informed to keep our belongings a lot closer to us as pickpocketers are rampant in that location. The security guard was very sweet to tell us “hey you foreigners…pick up your stuff if you want to keep it!” Not quite that way as the French are much more elegant in their speech, but the sentiment was there!

I decided to go on over and finish up at The Louvre, we walked into the main plaza and were amazed at how crowded it was. It was INSANE! The line to get in was so long! I’m just glad we were there to take portraits outside and move on. We found a little corner nestled away and not at all crowded and took advantage of that. We ended up getting the necessary pyramid shots as well, just had to be a little more patient to not get so many people.

Once we finished up, we decided to hit a cute cafe for lunch and it was delicious and I enjoyed every minute of hanging out with Clay & Stephanie. I went in to the session knowing their love story was sweet and adorable, and they seemed like very nice people. Once I left to head back to the train, I left knowing I had made lifelong friends.

I always have my clients fill out a questionnaire that allows me to get to know them a bit better, so here you are- a glimpse into Stephanie & Clay.

Why are you having photos taken right now?
After 8 years of infertility and our 3rd failed IVF round, we needed to get away and take some time for us. We needed to reset and have something to look forward to. We quickly decided on a dream Christmas trip to Paris. We’re getting pictures to obviously remember our trip, but also to remember that our life is good as it is… in the midst of trial.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?
Clay is a doctor and LOVES Duke basketball and Virginia Tech football. He’s a pretty avid golfer… without the avid golfer skills. Haha. Stephanie is a 5th grade teacher, who dabbles in photography on the side. I love all things true-crime related, the Carolina Tar Heels, and reading a good historical fiction novel. We’re both obsessed with our two goldendoodles: Rolo and Reece. (Yes, they are both named after candy)

What do you want to remember about this season in your life?
We want to remember the strength and resiliency we’ve had through this time. We want to remember how we’ve drawn closer to one another and refused to give up.

What is one fun fact about each of you?
Clay is fluent in Spanish. Stephanie is 5th of 7 children. We agree on NOTHING sports related.

If you could pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
Clay- 100% extroverted. He knows no strangers.
Steph- I’ll say “organizationally gifted”

How did you meet?
Clay and I met at a summer camp in the mountains of southwestern Virginia when Clay was a cabin leader and I was his supervisor. Clay came into the camp office on the first day of orientation wearing a Duke hat. I turned to the others in the office and, as a Carolina fan, said he needed to be fired immediately. We actually spent that summer getting to know one another and spent the next 2 years as best friends.

How long have you been married?
Just about 8 1/2 years

Where was your wedding?
We got married at the same camp where we met, Camp Bethel in Wise, VA

Tell me about your day to day life.
Clay is a sports medicine doctor in Lawrenceville, GA. He is the team doctor for a local high school and spends every Friday night in the fall covering high school football. Stephanie is a math and science teacher in the 5th grade. Our evenings are spent recuperating from long days and snuggling our pups.

What do you enjoy doing during your leisure time?
We love visiting family and going to sporting events, including supporting our Atlanta Braves. Together we love watching movies and I love introducing Clay to cult classics that he’s never heard of. We also try to attend as many concerts (mostly country) as we can, though Covid has obviously did put a damper on that.

(Stephanie)How did you know that he was the one? What do you love most about him?
Clay and I had been friends for 2 years and both pretended for a long time we didn’t have feelings for each other. By the time we both admitted it, I was already head over heels for him in love before we even started dating. I think I knew for sure on a trip as friends to North Carolina when, on the way home, we started jokingly planning our dream wedding, which then turned into a very real discussion about our hopes and dreams. (It was still 8 months between that weekend and when he actually asked me out… so dude can make you wait!)

We’ve had a slightly backwards relationship where, for example, we told each other we loved one another before we started dating. By the time we did date, I knew he was the one I would spend the rest of my life with. I love his openness to everything (he’ll try anything once) and his unwavering commitment to loving and supporting me. He frequently pushes me out of my comfort zone which also forces me to grow as a person. But he also encourages me in every single endeavor. I never have to fear I’m on my own in anything. He’s a steadfast fan and shows me unconditional love.

(Clay) How did you know she was the one? What do you love most about her?
The thing I love the most about this woman is her huge heart and the fact the she is my best friend. We were best friends before we dated and I truly love just spending time and experiencing life with her. She makes things better, sweeter, and more amazing just by being there with me. I knew she was the one when she learned how to make my favorite dessert and picked up my dirty socks (knowing she hates feet and we weren’t even dating). Of note, I also dragged my feet in asking because I was a stupid male and almost lost her!

Where have you traveled together? Where is your favorite vacation spot as a couple?
We have traveled to Mexico and Dominican Republic internationally. Pretty much anywhere with a beach is our favorite place to chill for a vacation.

What do you enjoy doing together as a couple?
We enjoy going to and watching sporting events- respectably football and basketball. Both of us are crazy about our two goldendoodles – Reece and Rolo and love doing things with them. We are all about going out for some Mexican food.

What else would you like me to know about you as a couple?
We are easy going, enjoy new things, and Steph can speak French (at least way better than me).

Stephanie & Clay, you’re amazing and I cannot stop saying how thankful I am that we got to meet and work together. I love you both and I am cheering you on from Germany.

xoxoxox- Brenda

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