With the windows down, listening to classical music, I could immediately smell the salt water and feel the ocean breeze on my skin. I couldn’t wait to hit the road to St. Petersburg Beach for Carly and Mitchell’s engagement photoshoot.
Passing by weathered, sunbleached Florida signs, sun-tanned locals riding their bikes, and ever-growing palm trees, I was reminded why I love Florida so much. The streets were filled with traffic, all windows down with sounds of music pouring from cars in every direction as if we were all sharing a moment.
This took me right back to spring break as a kid: the smell of Sunbum sunscreen, the local shops down the beach, and discovering sand in every nook and cranny. Pastel pinks, peaches, and mint green reminded me of years of sunshine and memories.
As I drove toward St. Petersburg Beach, it was like I was on my way to see old friends. I couldn’t wait to catch up with my dear friend Carly and her new fiancé, Mitchell. A wave of excitement washed over me thinking about capturing their love through my lens in the charming little beach town of St. Pete.
When I pulled up to a secluded parking lot that Carly recommended, I immediately knew it was them by the Indiana plates. Carly and I originally met back in college at Purdue University and bonded on our love for travel. We became closer friends on a study abroad trip to Mallorca, Spain.
If I know one thing for certain, Carly is a lover of the sunshine and blue waters. Carly hopped out of the car sporting a pastel yellow sundress that complemented her sunkissed skin. I greeted both her and Mitchell with hugs and we quickly made our way down the walkway to the soft sand and warm waters.
The wind carried sheets of sand brushing our ankles which made us turn our backs to avoid catching grains of sand in our eyes only to meet the photogenic sunset. With the beach bustling with happy families and walkers, it was the perfect evening for a photo shoot on the beach.
Making our way to the waves, we carried a light blue bottle of champagne which was carefully chosen by Mitchell to compliment Carly’s engagement ring that he picked out himself. The suds and bubbles exploded everywhere as we toasted to the newly engaged. They clink the glasses and I continue to capture them sipping and celebrating in the waves.
Just as the sun was setting behind the clouds, it was as if the air around us was filled with an orange hue. We made our way to the mountain of rocks to climb and get a better view. Carly and Mitchell were absolutely natural in front of the camera, cuddling closely together, and gazing out into the ocean. The love and affection they share are apparent, and I felt giddy behind the lens.
Carly’s pastel yellow dress paired perfectly with the soft colors of the warm skies and blue waters. Her stunning blue engagement ring glimmered in the sun. I learned that Carly and Mitchell recently moved into downtown St. Petersburg with their 3-pound puppy, Jean Keady. They share that they are thrilled to be able to do simple things like walk to the grocery store together. As they share their love story with me, it’s evident that they have a deep, genuine love for each other.
I loved listening to the sound of water crashing over the rocks as Carly and Mitchell methodically made their way from one boulder to the next, making for the perfect photo. The beach behind them was bustling with families getting their photos taken, children discovering sand, and teenagers skidding across the water.
We sang Dua Lipa, danced, kicked sand castles, jumped like starfish, and captured it all.
As the sun was setting beneath the horizon, the sounds of birds and waves surrounded us, quieting our souls to take it all in. There was a moment of stillness as Carly and Mitchell laid out a blanket to get closer to the earth and symbolize their love in the sand. The wind may blow their initials away, but their love is resilient.
As I pack up my gear and say my goodbyes, I can’t help but feel grateful for this opportunity to capture such a beautiful, exciting time for my friends. Each photo shoot is unique and special, and I feel privileged to be a part of each one. I look forward to capturing more beautiful moments for couples like Carly and Mitchell and helping them preserve their memories for a lifetime.