First engagement photoshoot! My senpai (mentor) from Tokyo/Itoya, flew over and visited us in LA to celebrate his engagement.  Matt was one of the best senpais I’ve ever had who helped me become who I’ve become, and I’m indebted to him for helping me start Tokyo off strong and well.

He asked me to photograph his younger brother at the infamous Griffith observatory during sunset.  I was happy to do so, because I missed outdoor photo-venturing with Matt in Tokyo and assumed it was just going to be a simple fun portrait photoshoot. I had NO idea  that I had to rush over, fight through traffic, and struggle on site, and that it was an engagement photoshoot. Claudia and I’ve been coming here at around 5:30 A.M. once every week to hike, but it’s practically empty except for us and a few older hikers. This time, I had to parallel park at a designated spot,  pay at a machine by the hour, wiggle my way through a sea of visitors and tourists, and jog up to catch Matt’s family. Fortunately, I made it just in time.

But wow, when you see the individuals nicely dressed, holding hands, and that the woman has a ring and are giggling, you know it’s an engagement photoshoot. 

Nevertheless, I was excited. I attempted the creeper/stalker/intruder role in the beginning when the sunlight toned down a bit, and am quite happy with the results of how the James Dean statue frames the left side.

It’s quite sweet to me to learn that Andrew and Lauren met at Las Vegas. Andrew literally met her from an elevator in Las Vegas a little over 2 years ago. Lauren comes from Oklahoma, and they’d fly over to see each other and managed to maintain their strong, sweet relationship. I love hearing couples maintain their strong love for each other despite distance.

I had so much fun asking them to touch each other in awkward places like the man boob to get them to naturally laugh. I’m also glad that they did it because it loosened all of us up. My first photoshoot of Eli in Tokyo began unnatural. Yet I’ve learned that you can get some genuine powerful shots by asking them how they met, how they fell in love, and a few of their favorite memories together.

A few other fun ones. I struggled to get my camera to focus on the ring while other strangers kept trying to photograph them and distract us. I feel like I could photo-edit their photos all night. Yet it was a damn fun experience and I hope to do some more photoshoots (when I can squeeze in more time). If any of you have advice for photo-editing, please hit me up an email! thechefcharette@gmail.com.