Love stories melt my heart. It’s just a given fact.
But Sarah and Pei’s long distance romance between London and Malaysia really touched me. And I was so happy they booked me for The Heritage Package during one of Pei’s visits to our city.
The Heritage Package contained their favourite London locations
Sarah works in London, in the area of the Mayor’s office, just by Tower Bridge’s Southwest side.
Together, they used to live not too far from Tower Hill on the other side of the river Thames, and so this was an area of London that really means a lot to them.
Being able to have photos of both in locations that make up for such important and loving moments of their lives was the priority, and on this rainy day, I was not only their guide, but they did it for me too!
The rainiest day London has ever seen
I remember arriving Starbucks just by Tower Bridge’s Northeast side and thinking: ‘wow… this shoot might just not happen’. And it was breaking my heart a little.
Not only did I know of their long-distance romance, I really wanted them to have photos they could cherish whenever times got harder and bearing the miles they had apart too.
It was pouring cats and dogs, and Sarah and Pei met me inside Starbucks. We decided to get coffee, and this was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better as we waited for the rain to go.
I have no problem with being in the rain in London… It’s just a given fact that it might happen, but not all clients think the same, and I wanted to understand if they’d be ok with risking it as soon as the heavy rain got a little lighter.
I reassured them that if we didn’t make it to shoot on that day we could always try to reschedule, but they were just my kind of adventurous, and as soon as it was just a drizzle, we got up and went out.
When the weather is a mirror of a clouples’ relationship
I know, I know… this might sound a little tacky.
But try and think with me: It’s hard being apart. I’ve been on a long distance relationship as well… twice. With the same person.
I remember what is was to miss that person so intensely it hurt my heart.
The portuguese people have a beautiful word for it called ‘Saudade’. That longing for someone that can take your breath away.
Then, come the little bits of connection, phone, FaceTiming… I mean, we are all kinda going through it during this quarantine, right? At least those of us who are quarantining alone like I am.
On a personal level… I long for the first hug I’ll feel. I long for holding hands, kissing… I long for human connection. And when you’re on a long distance relationship, seeing the other person’s face through a screen make you happy, but it also tears you apart.
Then, the moment arrives, and it’s adrenaline all over! And we remember how it feels, and how the world only makes real sense this way. And even though we know it will end in a few days, we push the feeling aside and do our best to ignore it until we can’t run away from it anymore. And then ‘Saudade’ hits again.
On this day, the weather went from cold and sad, to cloudy and shy, to little bursts of sun through the puffs of clouds, to intense, mysterious and dramatic.
I’d write a poem if I knew how to… so instead, I tried making poetry the only way I can handle.
Capturing connection and holding love in my hands
Sarah and Pei were so sweet with each other. So loving, and fun.
They danced in front of me, they hugged, they kissed, they squeezed, they played. And who would have thought they didn’t have a lot of experience in front of cameras? Again, my fave type of clients!
As we were walking from location to location of my ‘The Heritage Package’, they would tell me a little story of when they lived together in London. How little corners mean so much, and how hard it was to be apart.
They knew the area better than I did, and the weather held on just for them really nicely.
The intense side of London
A lot of clients ask me what happens if the weather goes wrong. I tell them, ‘we can always reschedule, but I can reassure you London will be incredible on a foggy or rainy day. It’s just part of the city’s DNA’.
Well, on this day I made some of the photos I am most proud of that show exactly just that, and they’ve been the face of London to every couple who contacts me who is worried about the weather.
Needless to say, Sarah and Pei have helped me book client’s during London’s most rainy season’s, and I am so grateful to them. Forever.
On our last location, Millennium Bridge, I could tell the skies were about to fall on us. I told them ‘there is one of two things we can do:
- We leave and call it a day. Stay dry, and avoid the rain that is coming, knowing we already have great photos,
- Or we risk it, got to the middle of the bridge, do these photos, and we WILL for sure get soaking wet. But the best part of it is we get to go home after with possibly something epic.’
One of the best feelings in the world for a photographer is when that photographer feels the trust a client has put on him/her. Sarah and Pei looked at each other and said ‘Let’s do it’.
I even made sure they understood what was going to happen, and repeated again that heavy rain was about to fall. And they said ‘Let’s do it!’.
So we ran to the middle as the drops started to fall. I asked them to embrace each other and do whatever they felt like.
In between clicks, I could see it all, and then the rain arrived.
I had it!
‘I have it! Let’s move! Let’s move!’ – I said.
And we started running towards the end of the bridge on the other side… but the rain didn’t care.
After 3 or 4 steps the skies opened the doors and we were under the heaviest rain I’ve ever had in London.
We ran together, Sarah and Pei holding hands, and all of us screaming ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’. I had my cameras inside my jacket and was holding them with both hands, afraid to fall over on the slippery floor.
As we reached the other side, we hid underneath the door of the first building we found and took a good look at each other. We couldn’t help but to laugh. We were all soaking wet. Mine and Sarah’s makeup was drooping and all our hair just looked looney. We laughed and I thanked them eternally for the pictures we had just made.
I gave them a little sneak peak, and they were so happy too. As I packed my gear, Sarah and Pei called an UBER, and we hugged before they left.
My adrenaline was still so high I stayed out a little bit longer, just gazing at the outside, and thinking,
‘Damn… I really love what I do.’
Delivering the final work
In about five days I sent all the edited photos to Sarah and Pei. I was so proud and excited to hear from them I kept checking my email every five minutes.
It was just so important to me that I had captured who they were as a couple, how they handled being apart for so long, and I could only hope they liked the cinematic feel I had added to their photos.
In the end, that email arrived. And my day was made.
‘Thank you so much for the shoot!
The photos are awesome and we love it so much (and the experience of rain and strong wind during the photo shoot ;). Thanks for being so positive and sharing tips to be “super model”! We had lots of fun and amazing photo shoot experience with you! This will always be part of our unforgettable memories in London!
We look forward to working with you again in the future! #rainydaysarethebestdays 🙂
Sarah and Pei’
#rainydaysarethebestdays… This is the BEST London photo description I could ever have.