The Montfort House Bridal Session | Raleigh, NC | Katie
Funny things can happen on social media. You can have genuine connection with someone you have never met over the most basic things, such as a love for Golden Retrievers. Or maybe you fall in love with a venue space and you reach out and share some love with the owners and a conversation starts. Those two stories are the short versions of this Montfort House bridal session with Katie and how it all came about.
A master of social media is not something anyone would use to describe me and I am okay with that. I sort of come and go, share what I love and engage in what interests me. I have friends, other photographers, who engage with anything that has a pulse and to their credit they run six-figure businesses. But their methodology just never sat with me.
I tried it. Reaching out to anyone getting engaged, and heaping praise and congratulations to a total stranger in regards to a life moment I certainly know, but for me that shit just isn’t genuine. That’s not to say that in business we can’t sometimes muzzle our discomforts, but there is a difference between getting up in front of a group of strangers (for example) and getting over a public speaking issue, as compared to telling a stranger how excited you are for them and how beautiful a ring is in the hopes that they might say “oh, that guy is a photographer, let’s look at him.”
The other funny things about social media is that you often don’t know how you even came in contact with someone new most of the time. With Katie, I think it had something to do with a photo I saw about her Golden Retriever, and as I mentioned above I love those dogs. I’ve realized in the last couple years that I’m kind of a one dog breed kind of guy, actually there is no kind of about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love all dogs, but my basic nature wants a Golden Retriever.
It may have even coincided with the passing of my Golden Retriever, though I am not sure. The bottom-line is that we connected and conversed about everything but engagements and photography and half-hearted congratulations. I guess this is how we make friends now.
When Katie eventually reached out and asked if I did bridal sessions and I said yes, we scheduled a meet up to talk more about it and see if I was the right fit. But really from the first moment, it didn’t feel like so many other client meetings I have done where I am get to know you mode, where I am super curious to get to the nooks and cranny’s of who I am meeting. While I love those experiences too, this was like catching up with an old friend, just for the first time.
Cocktails, some farm cheese and fried cauliflower and one other plate I can’t recall at one of my favorite spots, Whiskey Kitchen in downtown Raleigh, and Katie’s up front stance of “not afraid to eat” and we were off. It was the same genuine conversations, touching on everything from relationships, to social media and of course Golden Retrievers. Simply put, she was just fucking cool to hang out with.
Bridal sessions are often a different beast than a wedding day. It’s a photo session that revolves entirely around the bride getting a near test run in her dress, hair and makeup before the wedding day. Moms often want to be a part of them or best friends. They are informally formal. I bring snacks, music and champagne and the first 15-20 minutes is spent just catching up. Then we come up with some ideas and shoot for about two hours. I’ve shot everywhere from a decrepit home in the middle of a field being chased off by a drunk deer hunter with a rifle slung over his shoulder (true story) to quiet and beautiful moments in the bride’s wedding venue.
Back to social media, I had just come across The Montfort House on Instagram and was immediately taken aback by it. I reached out to the owners, Jeff and Sarah and just shared how much I loved the whole aesthetic. And that while it was clear they have some crazy beautiful plans for the house, the condition it was in from cracking paint, dusty staircases and wonderfully aged wooden floors. But what really pulled me in was the way light enters that house at all the right places and highlights the little flaws that make is such a unique space. And not just the light, but more importantly the shadows and the texture within them, and if you don’t know how I feel about shadows and how they make your photos better, maybe this will convince you.
If history were to bleed, this is what it would look and feel like.
So on a whim, I hesitatingly mentioned it to Katie, being very honest about not being sure if it would be her vibe and even more so if we could shoot there. I shared the account with her to check out on her own and she quickly got back to let me know she was open to anything.
I was ecstatic!
I reached back out to Jeff and Sarah and unbelievably they were completely open to having us for a couple of hours. We found out we would be one of the last shoots in the house until windows were fixed and a lot of interior work would be getting going on the restoration/remodeling of the house.
These are the little things about photography that make me love it so much. The fact that the things we photograph one day may not be there tomorrow, and there is no price you can put on that.
I was always in love with history, even having a teacher in high school who briefly inspired me to teach history at some point in my own life. Needless to say, I never became a history teacher, but being a photographer is do doubt being part historian and I hadn’t felt that feeling as much as I did here - both from where Katie was at that moment and where the house was. Katie can attest, I was giddy excited for our time there.
I was so happy and honored to be able to help document the space as it stood in that moment, with that paint, that age, with signs of having lived through so many different previous owners and time periods all coming together in such a unique and genuinely vulnerable way for us on that day. And knowing that it will never look that way again both leaves a pit in my stomach and an anxiousness for what is still to come.
There are days that I find social media so overwhelming and anxiety inducing, but there are other days when the human connections shine though so brightly that it just sweeps me back up. This was one of those times.
As always, I can show you better than I can tell you.
Is genuine connection and an interest in getting to know people central to who you are? Do you love exploring unique spaces? Are you looking for something less fairytale and more real life both in photography and in life in general? I’d love to talk to you more. So you can either go direct to my contact page here, or you can just connect with me below and we can figure out when to schedule our first phone call!