The moment I started talking with Jennie about her and Dave’s wedding at the Stillwell House in Tucson, I could tell she really wanted every aspect to be unique and special to the two of them. That same character and enthusiasm spilled over to planning their engagement session, too. Jennie and Dave told me that they would love to have their engagement photos in Bisbee, embracing the city’s small-town, funky feel.
Jennie actually had two special engagement moments with Dave! When I asked about their proposal story, Dave had this to say: “I’d proposed without a ring, at first. Just at home. If I didn’t then, I don’t think I would’ve ever actually done it. I did it again properly, after we’d spent the day ring shopping.” Their August 2020 engagement was a huge bright spot for them in such a weird and tough year.
When Jennie first reached out to me about their 2022 wedding at the Stillwell House in Tucson, she already had tons of ideas for their engagement session and wedding day. Jennie adores all the colors that Arizona and its desert have. For their wedding, they plan to incorporate both of their hometown vibes: her southern Louisiana flair and his southwestern Arizona roots. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together! For their engagement session, however, Jennie said, “The traditional ones with a pretty setting are nice, but we want something more unique.”
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that the majority of my couple’s engagement sessions take place outdoors. While I absolutely love the look and glow of the sun, it also comes with its limitations. I am at the mercy of whatever the weather is up to that day. When Jennie told me that she and Dave wanted indoor photos in Bisbee at a cute AirBnB, I was ready for the challenge… and also comforted knowing that the weather wouldn’t be able to take the day from us.
As I made the drive from Sierra Vista to Bisbee, the clouds turned from fluffy to ominous. Naturally, it started to rain just as I approached the AirBnB. I called Jennie up before I drove too far up the mountain because I just knew I’d end up missing the place. And it’s a good thing I did! Unbeknownst to them at the time of booking, there was no parking available in front of the downtown Bisbee home! Also, as you start to go further up the mountainside, the road becomes insanely narrow. A narrow one-way road, rain, and a girl who’s terrified of driving in tiny spaces… What could go wrong?!
Jennie told me that Dave was headed down to help me carry my gear up to the AirBnB. Dave, if I didn’t make it clear enough before, I was so freaking glad to see you! I was slightly panicking (ok, a lot panicking) and he was as cool as a cucumber. We both hiked up the old, deteriorating concrete staircases built into the terrain and dropped off my gear. Then Dave followed me back down to try and figure out parking.
After a few failed attempts at driving down the road backwards (because I was going to give myself a heart attack lol), I just started driving up the mountain– keeping my fingers crossed I’d find a big enough space to turn around. I eventually ended up back on the main street, found the closest parking lot I could, and walked back to the AirBnB. I’m so happy the Girl Scout in me had a raincoat stashed in my car. Otherwise I think I would’ve terrified Jennie when I walked in the door!
Jennie had sent me a link to the AirBnB as soon as they reserved it. It was full of pops of color and retro charm– a great reflection of having photos in Bisbee. Once I walked in, I knew that shooting indoors and producing high-quality images I was proud of was going to be a little tricky. Since it was an older home, the rooms were more narrow than what we’re used to these days. I had to find ways to place my lights so that the direction of the light looked natural, but also so that they weren’t creeping into the spaces we were using.
Towards the end of their session, the rain tapered off. Jennie and Dave quickly changed outfits and we all headed outside onto the deck. It was time for the champagne pop! We were also able to grab a few quick outdoor portraits using the little bit of daylight we had left as the sun dipped behind the mountains.
Jennie and Dave, I had so much fun hanging out in Bisbee with you guys. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sun-filled day for your April wedding next year!
Check out more engagement sessions at places special to my couples in and around Tucson HERE!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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