Exactly a year ago, on June 9th 2014, I had one of the best and romantic experiences when I did a portraits session in Paris with my boyfriend, Arnaud. Let me now indulge in some nostalgia as I reminisce on that memorable photo shoot and share with you our photos.
It was our first trip to France together. The previous year, in 2013, I went to France by myself twice for work and I’m glad that for one trip where I had a long layover in Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on my way to Germany, I didn’t indulge my curiosity to go out of the airport and see the city. I knew then that the first time I visit Paris, I want it to be with the man of my life (I may have my personal bias but for me, being with Arnaud for my first trip to Paris was really the best way to experience the City of Love).
It was also Arnaud’s first homecoming to France ever since he started working in Manila and he hadn’t been home for more than a year. Sometime also in that two-week trip to Europe, we were celebrating our first anniversary. So, it was really a trip of a lot of firsts for us. And we (ok, maybe at first it was just me! haha) wanted to commemorate our first time in France together and my (real) first time in Paris by doing a romantic Parisian portraits session.
I like to believe it was serendipity that led me to Stacy Reeves, an American wedding photographer who moved to Paris and never looked back (read more about Stacy’s story here). I instantly fell in love with her website, L’Amour de Paris, and I knew right away, not only from the look and feel of her site and her photo gallery, that we were going to get her as our photographer. While Stacy’s portfolio ranges from destination weddings and even to boudoir and beauty photography, her work at L’Amour de Paris was all about specializing in lovely, romantic portraits in Paris. That was important to me because I wanted to emphasize that this portraits session was not an engagement nor a pre-nup shoot. I wanted it to be about Arnaud and myself—a couple who’s young, free, and in love—in no place less than very romantic Paris, the City of Love, and its iconic sights serving as the beautiful backdrop.
Now, for the photos (and this post is really going to be photo-heavy!).
The first location for our photo shoot was the Pont Alexandre III, the most beautiful bridge in Paris. Stacy started us out with some shots of us walking along the bridge. Doing a photo shoot like this with a professional photographer was a first for both Arnaud and myself, so I thought our awkwardness and shyness even translated to the first few shots.
Stacy then suggested that I remove my trench coat since the coat belted around my waist was making me look top-heavy. I told her I was conscious about my arms in my sleeveless dress but when I saw the test shots of me in the coat, I trusted her advice to take off the coat and bare my arms (and I’m so happy I did!). If there’s one lesson that I’ve definitely learned from working with photographers so far, it’s really to trust the photographer. They’re the pros and they know best on how to make us look good (the only thing I was particular about was my angle! haha).
As I’ve said, it was our first time to do a real photo shoot and we didn’t really know how to pose “romantically”, especially how to pose together as a couple. So we really appreciated Stacy giving us clear and precise directions—like how to stand, where to put our heads and our hands, and when to kiss each other. It started out being awkward at first but soon we got the hang of it. Being sweet and lovey lovey to each other was certainly something that came naturally to us—but we just had to pose it in front of the camera and the photographer!
We then moved to another side of the bridge where the Eiffel Tower was peeking in the background.
Then we moved to our second location, which of course has got to be by the Eiffel Tower. It was my very first time to see the Eiffel Tower that close and I’m so happy and grateful that the first time I’ve witnessed this iconic monument, I have these photos with Arnaud as my keepsakes and not just run-of-the-mill snapshots or bad photos taken by random strangers (or worse, selfies!). The 2014 Roland Garros (French Open) just ended the day before, thus the green tennis ball still hanging from the Eiffel Tower, which I thought gave a nice commemorative touch to our portraits.
There are of course so many places to take beautiful shots with the Eiffel Tower as background. These lovely iconic shots were by the Trocadero area, which is the favorite spot of photographers to take great portraits with the Eiffel Tower.
The Trocadero also had this area with some greenery which added a nice foreground to the Eiffel Tower. And the foliage really made the photos in keeping with our “Spring in Paris” look. Most of my favorite photos from the whole portraits session easily came from this set. This is especially because by this time, we were already relaxed and both of us were already really into our posing and blocking.
These shots were certainly one of the most physically challenging out of the whole shoot 🙂 (can you tell that Arnaud was trying so hard not to drop me? haha):
Our portraits session only had enough time for two shoot locations. As a final note to our Paris photo shoot, I asked Stacy if we can still do some “kiss and dip” shots in front of the Eiffel Tower, which I knew from her portfolio that Stacy has all but perfected. While it was still a bit of a walk from the Trocadero area and she had another photo shoot right after us, Stacy still graciously accommodated my request.
These shots were taken on the middle of a very wide bridge approaching the Eiffel Tower, which was an actual road complete with cars passing by. So Stacy coached us on the proper way to do the dip. She made us practice first on the side of the bridge so that we won’t waste time posing on the road during the small window of time when the cars were stopped on the nearest red light. Funny because while we were practicing our shots, I could see some tourists taking photos of us as well, and cars honking when we were practicing our kiss and dip! Well, it was certainly a nice welcome to this city where romance seems to be flaunted and celebrated on every corner. 🙂
Here are our final shots from our photo shoot—the kiss and dip shots—which are also some of my favorite shots from our whole photo session. Stacy timed them perfectly so that there were little to no cars in the background—so much so that even our French friends can’t believe we were able to take unobstructed shots like this of the Eiffel Tower and on this particular road :). And some have even good-naturedly accused us of Photoshopping ourselves onto this background. But no! These were just all at the practiced and expert hands of our photographer, Stacy Reeves.
Sometimes, even now, when I look at these photos, a teeny little part of me wishes that Arnaud had proposed to me in Paris (if only because it’s certainly one of the most, if not the most, romantic places I’ve ever been to). But I know that our first time in Paris that June was not yet the perfect time. Also, Arnaud maintains that proposing in Paris was such a cliché, just because he’s French. And later on, I understood why the romance of Paris to me was something altogether different for him. Paris certainly had a more romantic and fascinating appeal to me as a traveler compared to Arnaud, who studied and worked in Paris, and being French, grew up all his life with his own conceptions about Paris and the Parisians. 🙂
Anyway, five months later, Arnaud proposed (and THAT was the perfect time for us). But that’s best left for another story. 🙂
When I shared these photos on Facebook, a lot of people thought Arnaud and I already got engaged or this was our pre-nup shoot. But to that, I say, a girl doesn’t need a ring nor a proposal to have a fabulous, romantic, and timeless photo shoot, especially when she’s in Paris! This was certainly better than just coming home with crappy souvenirs. In fact, we got even more mileage out of the shoot by using some of the photos for our Save the Dates. It was surely the perfect way to celebrate our first anniversary as a couple (and a great and memorable anniversary gift from Arnaud! 🙂 ), and a fun and long-lasting way to commemorate our first time in Paris together. This is something that we will always have and look back to when we’re old and gray, and to help us remember that perfect spring time in Paris in 2014, a beautiful time for the bloom and blossoming of our love story, when we were one of the many young lovers in Paris and yet for a few moments, Paris became so special and romantic to us (yes, even to my slightly jaded former Parisian) and through these photos, we made the City of Love uniquely our own, complete with our own dip and drama.
Up next, perhaps a “behind the scenes” post and some suggestions and practical tips for your own Paris photo shoot. À bientôt!