Engagement Shoot at Scarborough Bluffs with Charlotte & Julien

When I met the wonderful Charlotte and Julien, it was way back in our high school days at Ecole Catholique Cardinal Carter which is in Aurora and now called Ecole Catholique Renaissance.  Although they were in the grade above me to start school, we graduated together as I had fast tracked my courses over 3 years so that I could go play hockey in the states for my NHL draft year.

We didn't have a ton of classes together but whenever we would hang out it was fun and always natural.  I loved them as friends and I was really happy to see them start dating, so when I recently saw they got engaged over facebook, I was even more ecstatic and assumed they had been together since.

The short story would be to say that Charlotte and Julien are high school sweethearts but unless you know them well, you know it hasn't always been easy.  Due to many years of long distance, they decided to take a few breaks throughout the years despite their strong feelings for each other.

We dated from the end of high school and were long distance for first year university. It lasted about a year and a half where it got kinda messy, we were on and off, never official in between but we’d act all romantic when we were together (laughs) it was confusing for everyone
— Charlotte

They even stopped talking completely at one point entirely but as fate would have it Julien broke his ankle while he was in Toronto...

I went to the hospital to visit him
— She grinned again
That was also a turning point for us and for him, because that’s when he got into wall trampoline and moved away from tramp competitions

Where things really changed is when Charlotte moved to Montreal in 2011 to do her masters degree.

He was one of the reasons I chose MTL, I knew we had to be closer in distance to try it out for real again

Once she moved they saw each other a lot and eventually got back together for good!

The rest is history!
— They said with a smile on their faces

When it came to popping the question, Charlotte and Julien were exploring some ancient Mayan ruins and she had a feeling he might do it there.

It was too busy with people, so I decided to wait
— Julien
He almost did it at the top of the pyramid but didn’t... I thought he might do it there so when he didn’t I was disappointed
— says Charlotte thinking back smiling.

She was ready to go home but he wanted to keep on exploring the ruins. So they biked around and stopped at a very secluded place. He got up on a platform and pretended to find something on the floor to lure her in.

When I got close, he turned around on his knee and was holding the ring! I was in shock (laughing), I said is this for real?! And he said yes! I started jumping and shouting we’re gonna get married!
— Charlotte on the moment Julien asked

Now that you have their powerful & unique backstory, it's time for the details and pics of their Toronto engagement session.

Currently, Julien works in the Mayan Riviera Mexico for a show run by Cirque du Soleil called Joyà.  He was only in town for a weekend and with all their plans to see family and friends, we were limited to Sunday morning for sunrise or sunset at Scarborough bluffs.  A week or so out, I had suggested sunrise as it would make a for a more unique and interesting shoot.

I was in Minden (far north) at a wedding Saturday night and was prepared to get up at 3AM to meet them in Toronto for sunrise but when I checked the forecast we all agreed it was best to postpone until that afternoon as sunrise wouldn't yield much with all the clouds and rain.

When time came around to meeting up it was still raining so I suggested we meet at Balzac's in Distillery District for some coffee, to get caught up on their story and hopefully snap some cute pics in a cozy/dry setting.  Things didn't last long there as it was packed and photography not allowed even for paying customers!

Balzacs Engagment Pic

We managed to get a few cute pics before being asked to stop.  The above being my favorite (as it's just so reflective of their personalities), we headed outside into the rain for a few more European cafe style shots on the cobblestone.

Venturing further into the Distillery District we found some more fun picture ops before deciding we really wanted to get some cozy cafe shots.

Thus, we jumped in one car and went to visit my favorite coffee spot in the city: Rooster Coffee House on Broadview near the Danforth. Big shout out to them for their consistently amazing moods, service and laid back approach.  For something different I shot from outside looking in.

Although there wasn't rain on Rooster's outside windows like I would of hoped (in focus rain, out of focus couple), the reflections from outside of Charlotte and Julien were perfect and made for some real sweet shots of the two.

As sunset was only a few hours away it was time to venture to Scarborough Bluffs Park for the real fun.  When we got there the skies were providing nice drama and the rain only spitting by this point.  We ventured on together, I had fun simply walking with as I watched the way Char and J moved and interacted.  The journey to the location, made for some really natural and intimate looking pics.

Small river overcome, we continued along, and with each step the path got muddier...time for piggy backs.

When we got to the bluffs we basically had the place to ourselves besides some crazy tourist who had decided to swim while it was 15°C and raining out.

Arriving at the Bluffs

Arriving at the Bluffs

It made for some good entertainment.

The natural laughs and smiles were coming on easily as the strong Julien casually picked up the petite and graceful Charlotte, holding her nicely for lots of romantic shots.

The energy among these two was magnetic and the backdrop stellar. All I tried to do was give them subtle direction, while making sure not to miss any precious moments.

To end at this spot, we decided to have a little fun.  Julien showed off his athleticism and Charlotte her grace.

In order to get to a willow tree we wanted to shoot at, it was either walk 15 mins back and around or 1 minute through a thigh high stream.  The sun was going to be setting soon, so time was of the essence.  Can you guess which way this awesome couple decided to take?!

Might as well!

Might as well!

Being the gentleman he is, Julien first brought over most of the clothes, umbrellas and then held Charlotte's hand as they waded through the surprisingly warm water, while I made sure not to submerge any of my gear.

At this point, I was starting to realize just how happy and content I felt with what I was doing.  I was shooting an awesome couple, having a blast, it was raining just a tiny bit, the sky was beautiful, sunset was coming, it was just utterly awesome on top of awesome!

After a successful crossing, the peaceful willow served as a perfect backdrop for some nice portraits of the betrothed.

We were all a bit wet and cold, so as the sun was beginning to set, we headed to the nearby bluffers beach park wrapped in blankets to finish our shoot off on the sand.  Both of these beauties love to travel which is why they brought this suitcase as a symbol of their wanderlust personalities.

The entire atmosphere was turning beautiful shades of first blue, then purplish red, due to the sun now being between the clouds & the earth allowing it to reflect it's light all over.

With the sun finally able to reach us and the rain in the distance we were all blown away when not one, but two rainbows appeared over Lake Ontario!

With the last remaining rays of daylight, we hit the blankets for some cuddles (because who doesn't like cuddles?)

To end the night, we shot another passion C and J love to work on together, which is Acro Yoga! 

As I was setting up my lighting, I caught them snuggling even when the camera wasn't supposed to be on.

When we were all set up, lighting tested, I used an off camera flash to add a unique back lit effect to their postures, and thanks to the beautiful shapes they made with their bodies, I couldn't be happier with the way these turned out!

Char & Julien Low Res-121.jpg
That’s a wrap!
— Julien exclaimed with a backflip
If anything, I hope that these images and blog demonstrate that even when real life has it’s challenges, like long distance relationships and/or rain during photo shoots, if things feel right in your heart, you love someone or something and you’re willing to weather the storm (literally) to make it work, what often happens in the end, is things fall into place better than you could have ever expected.

The universe conspires in what seems like random ways, a broken ankle & masters program in Montreal for example.  In the end, the light prevails, you get sunshine and in this very special case you even get rainbows.

I hope their story serves as inspiration for those who love someone or something, realize it's not always easy, but is most surely worth it in the end.

Anything is possible when your heart and good intentions are aligned.

Lastly, thank you and big high fives to Julien & Charlotte for being so real, so fun AND my first engagement shoot! You put faith in my passion, hard work & love for telling beautiful stories, I hope you feel like I did you guys justice!

Love & Be Persistent My Friends,