Rainy day carnival engagement session, Loudoun County, Virginia.

About a month ago I had this hankerin’ for a carnival-themed engagement session. So I fired up the bat-signal and let my facebook friends know that I was looking for a couple deeply in love to model for me.

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Enter Jess and Jason. A mutual friend tagged Jess in my post,  a newly engaged gal from across the Shenandoah River and state line. I am a photographer based out of Martinsburg, WV, so it was a bit of a drive, but she and her fiancé were super cute so I kept my fingers crossed and reached out. Fortunately, Jess and Jason were super excited to participate.

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Jess is thisclose to graduating with her Masters in Behavior Analysis and is a Special Education teacher. Jason is an Army veteran with two tours in Iraq and pursuing a degree through the much deserved GI bill. The pair met through mutual friends and got to know one another through exchanged notes. The week before their first date they talked nonstop on the phone, facetime, and e-mail.

On their first date, they went out to dinner and talked for hours over the table. They decided to catch a movie too because they didn’t want the evening to end. When they finally said goodnight, Jess climbed in her car and realized she forgot her phone in Jason’s car. When Jess didn’t leave the lot, Jason pulled up a few minutes later realizing something was amiss- since it was late, he was waiting until Jess had made it safe and sound out of the parking lot. Jess was touched by gesture and many dates followed.  Their relationship blossomed with trips to Baltimore, blue crabs, and family events. A little over a year later, in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Jason popped the question in a paddle boat where they had one of their first dates.

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A fun-loving engagement session seemed to match this couple perfectly. They were so sweet and matched my excitement about the session. Jess and her momma shopped for the perfect dress and nailed it. A sweet white and floral high-low dress that was perfect for a hot-date, yet still causal enough for the fair. She paired it with a set of pretty floral sandals from her Grandmother that will be painted white by an artist for her wedding day. Jason rocked a graphic tee under a button-up that some how managed to look good even when sopping wet. Well done! Work it, Jason!

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But so much more important than their outfits, was their energy! We tried to get a couple shots of the pristine pair but then- MONSOON. Seriously you guys, so. much. water. It rained and rained some more. Jess texted her brother to come hold an umbrella over me (THANKS TROY!) and we got some cute shots, but then we just went for it! Dancing in the rain, check, smooching in the rain, check. Unfortunately the rain and lighting made the carnival workers shut down the rides, but they kept their lights on for us! Hooray for love!

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From a technical standpoint, the weather and less-than-stellar lighting was definitely a challenge, but Jess and Jason made it so worth it. Shooting in dark, shooting in rain, every wedding photographer needs practice with these less than ideal circumstances. When you shoot a wedding, you need to be ready for anything. I’m so grateful that this enthusiastic couple was up for helping me hone those skills. And I hope they enjoy their photos as a memento of this special time in their lives. Congratulations, Jess and Jason! I wish you a lifetime of happiness!

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Claire Watson is a Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer based in Martinsburg, WV; she serves clients in West Virginia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.