Cynthia Viola Photography

Engagement Portraits

St. George Street Engagement | Kendall and Alfred

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Love isn’t losing yourself. Love is finding who you are in the arms of another person
— Marisa Donnelly
St. Augustine Engagement photos

You guys, I had so much fun last night! Kendall and Alfred drove down from Raleigh to have an engagement session here in St. Augustine with their sweet pup Macy and we had a blast! We had planned to start on Saint George Street and move along to the beach, but we were having so much fun there they decided to buy a couple drinks and cigars and just hang in the city. We were so glad too because one of Florida's daily rain storms rolled in when we were finishing up and we got trapped under an abandoned house's garage over-hang to stay dry!

It's always fun to walk around a crowed street and take portraits while people bustle by because it captures a moment in life that shows no matter how many things or people are trying to distract your attention, you only have eyes for your love. It's also fun because sometimes people see you being adorable and say things like "what a picture perfect moment you guys!" and you get to say, "we know!" and point out your photographer hiding in the bushes. Haha! 

They will be eloping to the gorgeous cliffs of California in March then coming back here for a Trash the Dress Session and I cannot wait!! Kendall said she doesn't let her adventurous side out much but she wants to let loose for a day and I couldn't be more happy to help her do it!

St. Augustine Engagement photos
St. Augustine Engagement photos
St. Augustine Engagement photos
St. Augustine Engagement photos

Thank you guys for letting me participate in your St. Aug adventure! Can't wait til the spring!

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy this St. Augustine Trash the Dress Session or this St. Augustine Engagement Session

Alpine Groves Engagement | Beth and Sean

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do rather than the ones you did
— Mark Twain
Rainy engagement shoot

It has been nothing but adventure with these two from the moment we met. Beth and Sean actually won a session with me right when I moved down here last year. I was trying to get to know new families and couples and we hit it off right away! Hurricane Irma had just swept through leaving behind scattered storms and a billion mosquitos so we got to know each other real quick as we sat in the car waiting for a particularly heavy storm to pass. (In Florida, I learned very quickly, you just wait out the storm, you rarely need to cancel the shoot).

 Their first couple photoshoot  involved dancing in the rain and this one was no different. You could say they're pros by now, but it's important to know how to take on less than pleasant situations with your love. How you handle them together will either grow your relationship or hurt it. These two don't seem to even blink when life throws crazy at them. I know they're going to be amazing together for life. 

They've been dating for 5 years, and still blush when the other gives them a compliment. I love it. We attempted to stay dry with the umbrellas at first, but eventually just let it go, there was no use. Nothing makes me happier than a couple willing to let loose and just let life happen. The images are more real and the memories lasting. After all, there's nothing memorable about a shoot where you did everything you were told, smiled when you were supposed to, and nothing went wrong. You'll end up with pretty images, but they won't tell a story. The story comes in the pouring rain and the wet feet and failed "Dirty Dancing" jump attempts. It comes in the secrets given and laughter shared.

I'm grateful for you both Sean and Beth! Can't wait til April!

Rainy engagement shoot
Engagement shoot in the rain
Engagement shoot in the rain
Engagement shoot in the rain

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy this rainy couple session, and this one at North Beach Pier

 

St. Augustine Pier Engagement | Sam and Jess

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun
— Christopher McCandless
Sunrise LGBTQ Engagement Session

Sam and Jess were destined to be together. After coming in and out of each other's lives through various friends and church gatherings, they finally crossed paths at the right place and the right time and decided to spend the rest of their lives together. I loved seeing how easy it was for Sam to make Jess laugh and how she equally was able to make Sam blush with just a word. 

They took me out to breakfast after our sunrise engagement session on the pier and told me all about their various life transitions over the past couple years. If they can make it through those, they can make it through anything. They've just bought a new home and are getting it set up as they plan their big day, so Heidi at Endless Possibilities is coordinating their wedding (which is how we met btw), and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with! 

Something we hadn't actually anticipated on this beautiful morning was that the Pier and surrounding beaches were under major construction from the recent hurricanes and development in the area. We weren't able to go underneath the pier, which is my favorite place to hang out, and there were bright orange construction fences everywhere, but they just rolled with it and danced right around it all. It was such a fun morning!

Sunrise LGBTQ Engagement Session
Sunrise LGBTQ Engagement Session
Sunrise LGBTQ Engagement Session

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy this St. Augustine Pier Trash the Dress Session, or Heidi's Guest Post.

Couple Portraits in Palm Coast Kalypso and Roma

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
The world’s a roller coaster and I am not strapped in
Maybe I should hold with care, but my hands are busy in the air
— Incubus
2018-03-29_0001.jpg

Her instructions were to drive down a specific road until you saw a red bridge, park in the grass nearby and we'd figure out the rest together. I'm pretty sure that's how every adventure is supposed to start. 

There is one thing I know for sure though: Kalypso and Roma know how to have a good time. From the very early sunrise to the first silly prompting to the jungle safari, these two love birds were all in and that makes all the difference on a photo session. They were willing to try new things, be silly and just have fun together. I knew we'd become great friends before we even met. (It doesn't hurt that Kalypso is also a photographer

I'm also not the least bit surprised that one of their happiest memories together was running out of gas, walking two miles and ending up in a random state park napping in a hammock for 4 hours. That sounds like the very best kind of adventure to me: carefree, full of life and undaunted by little mishaps. 

I'm so happy to have met you both! I'm definitely hoping we can make some camping adventures happen soon, and either way, thank you for getting up extra early to make these images happen!

Palm Coast Florida couple portraits
Palm Coast Florida couple portraits
Palm Coast Florida couple portraits
Palm Coast Florida couple portraits
Palm Coast Florida couple portraits

If you enjoyed these photos you might also enjoy Beth and Sean's adventurous couple portraits or Why Sunrise is the Perfect Time for Portraits

Friendship Fountain Engagement | Chessie and Carlile

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.
— Ann Landers
Jacksonville Skyline Engagement Photos

When you've known a person since middle school, and fallen slowly in love over the years, there's just something a little different about the relationship. It has a permanence to it that is not easily shaken and a depth that can be seen with every quiet glance or gentle touch. 

Chessie and Carlile chose Friendship Fountain in Jacksonville as their location for their sunrise portraits and I must say, it was well worth the early drive. The city, so quiet at this hour was alive with possibility. The fountain area, we found when we arrived, was actually being transformed into a festival so we had to dance around workers and dodge tents in the background but I am in love with this new location! 

These two love birds were such naturals I barely felt like I was prompting them at all, full of laughter and great stories, their smiles spoke volumes and we had so much fun exploring the park. You guys I am so excited for you and cannot wait for your Bowing Oaks Plantation Wedding in December!

Jacksonville Skyline Engagement Photos
Jacksonville Skyline Engagement Photos
Jacksonville Skyline Engagement Photos
Jacksonville Skyline Engagement Photos
Jacksonville Skyline Engagement Photos
Jacksonville Skyline Engagement Photos

Venue: Friendship Fountain

Hair: Miss.Kash

Make Up: Jafaea Patterson

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy Safy and Randy's Anniversary in Downtown Raleigh, or Rudi and Nick's Engagement on Beech Mountain

North Beach Family Photography | Joey, Daniella and Isabella

Family Portraits, Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared
— Buddha
Family Engagement Session

I love it when a photo session can double as both family portraits and an engagement! These two cuties met in high school and have been inseparable ever since. With little Isabella sitting up now and their June wedding fast approaching, a photo session was a must!

We had planned to shoot at Vilano because of the beautiful rocks and such but it was just too crowded so Joey said he had access to a secluded entrance to North Beach and off we went! I could not have been more excited as we pulled in. Huge Oak trees towered over the entrance with beautiful trails and a nearly empty beach with dock. Perfection.

Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session

From promise rings to engagement rings, and now little Isa has one too. SO precious.

Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session

It was just so sweet watching little Isabella's toes touch the water and the sand for the first time. It's too bad it was freezing or she probably would have jumped right in! Thank you guys for letting me capture such a special moment for you! Congratulations!! 

You might also enjoy photos from these two family/engagement sessions: Jordan & Alex and Jessica and Jeffery

Engagement Session at UNC Chapel Hiill | Annie and Stephen

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
If I had my life to live again, I’d find you sooner.
— Kobi Yamada
Engagement at the Well

Watching two people like Annie and Stephen commit to loving one another for the rest of their lives is such a beautiful thing. From the very first shot yesterday they were super comfortable with each other and with whatever crazy idea I threw their way. Their smiles spoke for themselves as they shared with each other their favorite things and laughed at each other's jokes. I cannot tell you how incredible it is to get a couple in front of the camera and know instantly they are your people. (You can guess at it at the initial consult based on their personalities, but it's hard to know for sure til they're actually in front of the camera). We had so much fun walking all over UNC Chapel Hill's campus where she graduated. 

Annie and I texted back and forth all week, prepared to move the session at a moment's notice if we needed to as the weather kept changing it's mind which day it wanted to be sunny and which a total wash out. We were all prepared to dance in the rain to make it happen but were SO grateful the sun came out and made the shoot a total dream. It was amazing seeing students out on every lawn across campus soaking in every ounce of sun they could before it could hide again behind a cloud. 

You guys I had a blast! Your love flows so freely with each other, I cannot wait to spend your wedding day with you! I hope you love your engagement photos!!

Engagement at the Well
Engagement at the Well
Engagement at the Well
Engagement at the Well
Engagement at the Well

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy: This Chapel Hill Wedding or  Gabrielle and Baron's Engagement

Engagement Session at Lake Norman | Susan and Ron

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.
— Ron White
Lake Norman Engagement

I cannot TELL you how excited I am to be capturing Susie and Ron's wedding in April. I was around when they first started dating a couple years ago and got to watch their love grow every month as I went to Charlotte to visit my brothers. Susie is their momma and basically mine. Together she and Ron are two of the most generous and welcoming people I've ever met. 

Susie is funny, affectionate, care free and full of life. She welcomed me into her life as a daughter from day one and I am blessed beyond measure to be able to call her anytime I need to chat about all of life's crazy moments. Ron is one of the hardest workers I've ever met, but he also loves to have a good time and be surrounded by his friends. In the few years I've known him he has opened his home to soooo many people who were in a tight spot and needed shelter for a season, he has the biggest heart their is, though he loves to mask it with his incredible sense of humor. Ron can take the worst of situations, turn it into a joke and make everyone more comfortable, it blows my mind. 

They are truly perfect for each other and I am SO honored that I get to participate in this next grand adventure! 

Lake Norman Engagement
Lake Norman Engagement
Lake Norman Engagement
Lake Norman Engagement

 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Matthew and Hollie's Proposal or Rudi and Nick's Engagement.

Engagement Session at Ravine Gardens | Kristin and Emerson

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
When you meet the one who changes the way your heart beats, dance with them to that rhythm for as long as the song lasts
— Kirk Dietrich
Engagement Photos at Ravine Gardens

So Kristin is basically my sister. We met a couple years ago when my brother and sister in law were getting married (her sister) and became fast friends as we helped set up the wedding. And Emerson too! He is a ninja with wood work and all things handy, the wedding just wouldn't have happened on time without him. I'm pretty sure Kristin and Emerson were the only ones on the dance floor more than AJ and I as well, and they were fantastic! I love watching people who love to dance. So obviously we had to incorporate that into today's session a bit. ;)

We had never been to Ravine Gardens State Park before but it looked so beautiful online it seemed like a great place to check out. We were not disappointed. Gorgeous Spanish moss, bamboo, bridges, rock walls, and we barely even got past the main entrance! Can't wait to explore the whole thing. 

The season of engagement is so so fast. You spend the whole thing planning the big day and it can be easy to forget to plan for your marriage and also to just step back and enjoy this sweet time. Engagement sessions are my favorite way to give couples the opportunity to love on each other, laugh, play and tell each other what they are most looking forward to in marriage and what they love most about each other.

Watching Emerson and Kristin share their whispers and giggles made me smile every time. I SO loved exploring this new park with you both! Congratulations on your engagement! 

Engagement Photos at Ravine Gardens
Engagement Photos at Ravine Gardens
Engagement Photos at Ravine Gardens
Engagement Photos at Ravine Gardens
Engagement Photos at Ravine Gardens
Engagement Photos at Ravine Gardens

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Beth and Sean's couple session or Anna and Anthony's engagement. 

Joyner Park Extended Family Photo Session

Family Portraits, Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life
— Lisa Weedn
Family of 6 Joyner Park

I've known this sweet family for years now. From various church encounters and youth group gatherings to the dance floor at several weddings to partnering with them to make BREW Coffee Bar happen in it's initial stages and now we're planning Jessica and Jeff's 2018 wedding! It's been such a fun few years!

Dan is hysterical. Whether he's offering to pay for the wedding in gold doubloons, trying to order pizza delivered to Raleigh from Viola's Restaurant in Florida, or discussing Disney Princess outfits that would be best to wear for the photoshoot, he always keeps me on my toes! 

I've I've combined Senior Sessions with Family Sessions before, but never an Engagement Session. It was so fun to see the family pick on Jessica and Jeff from behind me while I got a few romantic portraits and then again when Dan and Kathy had a turn! These guys know how to have fun, and they topped off the session with Dan's 1971 Ford LTD. So fun!

Engagement Session Joyner Park
Family of 6 Joyner Park
Family of 6 Joyner Park
Family of 6 Joyner Park
Family of 6 Joyner Park
Engagement Session Joyner Park
Engagement Session Joyner Park
Family of 6 Joyner Park
Family of 6 Joyner Park
Family of 6 Joyner Park
Family of 6 Joyner Park

Washington Oaks Park Couple Session | Beth + Sean

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.
— Ron White
Washington Oaks Engagement Session

I knew we were a perfect match when the pouring rain didn't cause Beth and Sean to pause for even a second. They asked, "If we could keep your camera dry could we just shoot in the rain?" Ummm, yes please! Luckily it faded to a drizzle, but I absolutely adore adventurous couples and these two did not disappoint. It rained the entire session and they did were not phased at all. The Hurricane Irma induced mosquitos that insisted on finding ways around the layers and layers of bug repellant were no match for their determination to just have fun. Makes me so happy :)

They have been dating for 4 years now and were experts on picking on each other and making each other laugh. When I told them to reenact their first dance (from the wedding they met at) they didn't pretend it was ballroom dancing, they immediately threw their arms up in the air as if Kanye had just dropped a beat. You just have to love people who don't take themselves too seriously. 

You guys I had SO much fun! Thank you for battling the bugs like proper ninjas and dancing in the rain with me!

Washington Oaks Engagement Session
Washington Oaks Engagement Session
Washington Oaks Engagement Session
Washington Oaks Engagement Session
Washington Oaks Engagement Session
Washington Oaks Engagement Session
Washington Oaks Engagement Session
Washington Oaks Engagement Session

Downtown St. Augustine Engagement Session | Gabby + Baron

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Ximendez-Fatio House Engagement Session

Oh my goodness, I love that these two met while they were serving as missionaries together. Due to Gabrielle's hint of shyness and the general nature of the trip it took them some time to really get acquainted, but once they did they were hooked. Now here they are planning their future together (with their lovable pets) and building dreams of more trips and owning a home together. 

They took me to their gorgeous wedding venue, Ximendez-Fatio House for photos and we had the added bonus of the sunrise over the water just down the adorable cobblestone street. St. Augustine has a plethora of hidden gems around every corner making it an incredible place to shoot. 

I'm having such a hard time choosing these images you guys! Can't wait for you to see the full gallery! 

Downtown St Augustine Engagement Session
Ximendez-Fatio House Engagement Session
Downtown St Augustine Engagement Session
Ximendez-Fatio House Engagement Session
Ximendez-Fatio House Engagement Session
Ximendez-Fatio House Engagement Session
Downtown St Augustine Engagement Photos
Ximendez-Fatio House Engagement Session

Vilano Beach Engagement Session | Heather + Kyle

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Love has nothing to do with what you’re expecting to get – only what you’re expecting to give – which is everything
— Katharine Hepburn
Vilano Beach Engagement Session

I'm so excited I finally got to meet these two cuties who won the giveaway last month! Heather said she had never won anything so it's super fun they were able to squeeze in an engagement session just nineteen days before their big day! 

When Hurricane Irma took out a good chunk of Vilano Beach and the homes lining it's shores, we weren't sure we were going to be able to meet there for our session (or that they would be able to hold their wedding ceremony there) but Irma cut us some slack and left just enough of the beach around its famous rocks and we were able to have a beautiful session. 

I couldn't be more excited for you guys!! Congratulations again!

 

Vilano Beach Engagement Session
Vilano Beach Engagement Session
Vilano Beach Engagement Session
Vilano Beach Engagement Session
Vilano Beach Engagement Session
Vilano Beach Engagement Session
Vilano Beach Engagement Session
Vilano Beach Engagement Session
Vilano Beach Engagement Session

Amy and Owen Engaged at NCMA

Engagement PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
We loved with a love that was more than love
— Edgar Allan Poe
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

Amy and Owen were a dream to work with. Not every couple is excited about the idea of making out in the bushes of a public park; it can take some time to get warmed up to the idea even if you are madly in love, but these two were naturals right away. They were so in sync, most of the time I felt like I was working with just one person. From their excellent verbal communication to body language and subtle looks, they knew just how to blend right into each other. 

The NC Art Museum was a perfect backdrop not just for it's beauty but for it's connection to their story. Long walks here in their early days was a seed for their love to grow and I love that they included it in their engagement session. 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

For their save the dates they used a selfie taken in front of the famous rings on the museum grounds; It was a special moment for them because it was the first time they declared their love for each other. They wanted to recreate the image on this session which I thought was super powerful, because an engagement is nothing if not a declaration to the world that you love this one the most. 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

Toward the end of the session we were quite literally chasing daylight. The Art Museum's grounds are quite large and walking from one area to the next can take a surprising amount of time. We kept having so much fun in one spot we'd forget we needed to move on in order to fit it all in! Oops! No worries though, these two were beautiful in front of every backdrop, and I cannot wait to explore Downtown Raleigh with them on the big day! 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

I had so much fun you guys!! Thank you for everything!

Pullen Park Engagement | Anna and Anthony

Engagement PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale
— Anonymous
Engagement session Raleigh NC

You guys I am so in love with these two cuties! Oh my goodness. Anna and Anthony are two of the SWEETEST people you will ever meet! They met at NC State while studying accounting and are generally a little quiet I would say, but you get them talking about how much they love each other and their dreams for the future together - they light right up. Would you just look at these smiles! 

Engagement session Raleigh NC

Seriously though...

When you've found the one your heart loves it really doesn't matter what you do, so long as you're together. These two totally rocked their engagement session and I am ecstatic about their River Ridge wedding this October! We had to postpone a couple times due to rain but Pullen Park was just perfect this time, and we're hoping all that previous rain was to ensure it won't be raining in October ;)

Thank you Anna and Anthony! I had so much fun adventuring with you, totally worth the wait!! 

6 Tips for Rocking your First Couple’s Photoshoot

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.
— Robert Fulghum

I lit up like a summer lightening bug when I saw that Safy had made a blog post about our photo session together! They were simply one of the best couples I've ever worked with and quickly became friends I know we'll hang out with again soon. We all have similar adventuring passions and love to try new things. We've even been texting back and forth ever since checking to see if the other has tried each new place we love (Like Sir Walter Coffee!) 

When I saw that she had posted the blog to help other couples know how to prep for their own sessions I immediately asked if I could use it as a guest blog post, she has such great advice! So without further ado, here's Burly and Puff's 6 tips for Rocking Your First Couple's Photoshoot

 

Burly and Puff

You and bae have signed up for a couple’s photoshoot. Now what? You’ve got the outfit and the posing to worry about. Need some help? Look no further! Here are 6 tips to help you rock your first couple’s photoshoot.

Burly and Puff

In the month of March, I had this crazy streak of luck. I won $2 in the North Carolina Lottery. Chickfila gave me three extra nuggets during lunch one time. I also won a free couple’s photoshoot through an Instagram giveaway for a local photographer!

This was a huge deal for Randy and me. When we got engaged, no photoshoot. We didn’t have a wedding so we didn’t think a wedding photoshoot was necessary. Winning this photoshoot was amazing! We were so happy to have our own set of super cute photos. With this being our very first photoshoot as a couple (and Randy’s first photoshoot ever) we were a little nervous about the process. What do we wear? Will we be hella awkward? You know… normal fears.

The day came and we ended up rocking our shoot! The weather was beautiful. Our photographer was the bomb. Our outfits photographed well. Everything just seemed to fall into place. After going through this experience, I want to share 6 tips for rocking your first couple’s photoshoot.

Burly and Puff

1. Build a Relationship with your Photographer

This is really key in shaking away the jitters of your first couple’s photoshoot. Our photographer was Cynthia Viola and she was AH-MAY-ZING. After we won our photoshoot she reached out to us, gave us her contact information, her helpful tips, etc. Leading up to our shoot she sent us friendly reminders and was always there if we had questions. When we met her on the day of our photoshoot, it felt like we already knew her and that she knew us. That in itself made us feel more comfortable.

Burly and Puff

2. Research Couple’s Photoshoot Poses, Don’t Practice

Google and Instagram are great resources! The key to looking natural is to let the poses flow. If you practice the poses before your couple’s photoshoot, you may just go through the poses and your photos will look too posed and stiff. By researching your poses you can at least get some ideas of what to do. A lot of my favorite photos were captured in between the poses we tried out.

Burly and Puff

3. Mind the Weather

This goes for those of you doing outside shoots. When we scheduled our shoot it was supposed to be a warm and sunny Saturday morning. When we checked the forecast a day or two before, turns out the weather changed drastically. FREEZING AND FOGGY. That was where #1 came in. Cynthia messaged me and asked if we wanted to reschedule. If your photographer doesn’t ask you, don’t hesitate to ask them. Being too cold or too hot will show on your face and in your body language.

There is nothing cute about chapped lips, chattering teeth, watery eyes, and red noses in cold weather. Same thing goes for melting makeup and sweating through a shirt in extremely hot conditions. Hey, you’re paying for these bad boys! It’s all about your comfort.

Burly and Puff

4. Avoid Coffee

You’ll want your smile to shine in your photos. Avoid coffee and foods/drinks with a lot of dyes. Drinking coffee right before your shoot could leave you with coffee teeth. Coffee breath could also make the kissing shots a little less enjoyable. Just saying… However, we did shoot a few snaps at a coffeeshop. If you’re doing any food or coffee scenes, save them for last.

Burly and Puff

5. Wear Outfits you LOVE

Just because a photoshoot seems fancy, you don’t have to go out and buy a new wardrobe. The outfits we’re wearing came out of our closet. If you do opt for a new outfit, wear it before the shoot. Make sure you love the color and the fit. You’ll want to be comfortable. There’s nothing worse than putting on a new top the day of your shoot and it’s itchy, ill-fitting, or too sheer. Your photoshoot is the perfect time to show off YOUR style.

Burly and Puff

6. Be Yourselves and Have Fun

Seriously. If you’re not enjoying yourself IT WILL SHOW IN YOUR PHOTOS! Whether you’re a quirky couple or a reserved one, do what makes you feel comfortable. This photoshoot is all about showcasing you two as a couple. Enjoy your little moments together and pretend the camera isn’t even there.

  Somehow Cynthia was able to edit out most of the awkwardness, (but she couldn’t get it all). 

Somehow Cynthia was able to edit out most of the awkwardness, (but she couldn’t get it all). 

Burly and Puff

A Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park!

Engagement PortraitsCynthia Viola6 Comments
When you meet the one who changes the way your heart beats, dance with them to that rhythm for as long as the song lasts
— Kirk Dietrich
Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park

Ok. So. You know I love weddings. You know I love engagement sessions. But oh my goodness! I LOOVVVVEEE secret proposals where I get to plan and scheme with several people in on the secret and then hide in the bushes while it all plays out perfectly!!

When Matthew called me to see if this was something I'd be interested in I jumped at the thought, rearranging other things I'd had planned for the day and calling Damien to make sure he could video.  Matthew had arranged for his friend Trey to fly in from Atlanta to play the saxophone in the middle of Pullen Park while they were walking around and as they got closer to him he would switch songs to "You Are So Beautiful" and Matthew would pop the question. Damien and I would of course be capturing every moment from the bushes. 

Hollie was ecstatic! They were just supposed to be up here on a Valentine's getaway weekend and she had NO idea. It was amazing. As Damien, Trey and I ran around the area trying to get everything set up several people started asking what was going on and when I told them, THEY got excited and by the time Matthew and Hollie came around the corner there was a whole crowd of people waiting in anticipation for the moment and when she said, "Yes!" everyone erupted in applause! AMAZING!

Ok, without further ado, here's a few of my favorites from the big moment! 

Hollie's family was hiding in the bushes as well and came running to congratulate them. She was SO sweet with her dad, I almost couldn't see to shoot through the tears! I know I'm going to just be a hot mess during the father daughter dance at their wedding!

Wedding Proposal Pullen Park
Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park

They both have purity rings and hers fits so perfectly with the new engagement ring. So sweet. I'm so glad we had some blooming trees to work with, the day was perfect in every way.

Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park
Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park
Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park

Best of 2016 Weddings and Engagements

Engagement Portraits, Wedding PhotographyCynthia Viola2 Comments
What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.
— George Eliot
Engagement photos roan mountain

After racing through the busiest season of my career followed by an intense family roller coaster of love, pain, joy, sorrow, death and new life, I am actually pretty excited to coast into this first week of the new year with little more to do than reflect on what has been good, what needs improvement and dream of all that might be in 2017. 

A.J. and I have had the incredible joy of meeting new couples whose love overflows for each other and makes our own love stronger from witnessing it. It never gets old. This will be my tenth year capturing love and memories for couples, and the lover-of-new-things within me thought I'd be tired of it by now.  But I can say with all the honesty I possess, I cannot get enough. 

When Jon teared up watching his beloved Abbie walk toward him in all her radiance, my heart exploded and I loved them both even more. When Heather and her dad, Bryan, shared a father-daughter first look through tears, light teasing and perfect joy I could barely see through my own tears to even capture the moment. When Alaria and Drew found themselves at the very end of the night surrounded by all their beloved friends whom they rarely got to see due to distance and the trajectory of their future I burst with happiness for them.

Watching our couples revel in each moment and knowing that they trusted us to capture each one for a lifetime of joyful memories brings me more joy than I know how to put properly into words. I'm excited to see who is going to walk into our path this year and to hear all the love stories that will undoubtedly make our own love continue to grow. 

Thank you for an incredible year!

Engagement Photos Beech Mountain
Engagement photos fisher farm park
Engagement photos beech mountain
The Oaks at Salem Wedding

Jordan and Alex Engaged! Fisher Farm Park - Davidson, NC

Engagement Portraits, Family PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage
— Lao Tzu
Fisher Farm Park Family Session

These two have loved each other for a very long time, though I think perhaps neither of them knew it until little Joslyn arrived brimming with laughter, whipping out crazy dance moves and belting silly songs at the top of her lungs all while donning an elegant princess dress. 

They were both doing fine on their own with and without each other, but when Joslyn wrapped her little finger around both their hearts, she tied them together in a way that can't be broken. I've never seen the three of them so happy and it gives me great joy that they'll be tying the knot next year. 

Jordan is one of the strongest and bravest women I've ever known. She has faced multiple challenges in the few years I've known her but she's made all the best decisions, conquered her fears and is setting an amazing example of what it means to be a woman to her little Joslyn. I'm so proud of you Jordan, and can't wait to see what this next adventure has in store for you. I know it'll make you even stronger. 

Fisher Farm Park Family Session
Fisher Farm Park Family Session
Fisher Farm Park Family Session
Fisher Farm Park Family Session
Fisher Farm Park Family Session
Fisher Farm Park Family Session

Curiosity and imagination at it's finest. We told her there was a butterfly inside the camera, and if she got really close she could see it...she could :)

Fisher Farm Park Family Session
Fisher Farm Park Family Session

Preparing for Your Engagement Session

Engagement Portraits, Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Love doesn’t make the world go ‘round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile
— Franklin P. Jones

The first thing to remember as you arrive for your engagement session is that this is supposed to be fun! We'll have plenty of pressure from timelines and schedules on the wedding day, no need to be stressed now. These sessions usually take anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how far we walk around and how many outfits you have etc. But if we knock it out in 45 minutes that's totally fine, if we need an extra 30 it's totally fine. Just be prepared to roll with it. 

This is our chance to get to know each other well before the big day so that we're both comfortable when we do have the time crunch. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like and know that I'll do the same. When you learn how I work and the types of poses I'm likely to move you into, it'll make you a pro on the wedding day. It also gives me a chance to see how you two interact together. If you don't enjoy kissing in public, or prefer not to sit on the ground, it's better for me to find out at this session rather than when I ask you to do so on the big day. :)

1. When to plan your session. Time of year is totally up to you, though, if you book your wedding out far enough, a lot of couples like to choose the opposite season of their big day. If you have a fall wedding then a spring engagement etc. Regardless of what month you choose, we will always, only shoot at either sunrise or about 2 hours before sunset. This ensures golden light that will make all your images dreamy and romantic. 

2. Outfits: Most couples choose 2 outfits, one casual to start and one dressier as you get more comfortable with the whole flow of the session. Once you've gotten used to the idea of a camera in your face, you'll warm up to the more romantic poses. That said, if you prefer one outfit or three, I'm perfectly ok with that. You can see my post HERE to see ways to coordinate them.

3. Location. I always recommend choosing a location that is important to you if possible. A family farm offers legacy, the place where you actually got engaged or had your first date can be a great way to capture that memory, or just a place that you find beautiful can ensure beautiful backdrops for when you print them for your home. If you can't think of any places like that, or you're not from the area where we'll be shooting, have no fear, I have a long list of places that are wonderful and I'm happy to check out a spot in advance if I'm unfamiliar with it.

4. Trust me. I certainly do not expect you to be a professional model. I will guide you when you need it and give you the freedom to be yourselves as often as you let me. I have hundreds of posing ideas floating around up there and am perfectly happy guiding you into them, I also really love letting you interact in your way. It always takes about 15-20 minutes to warm up to the idea of making out in a public space so we'll work up to it slowly and have some fun along the way. I'll never make you do something you're uncomfortable with. 

5. Drink ALL the water. Think a gallon a day every day for a week leading up to it. (and then every day after that for the rest of your life) ;) It's not only healthy, but for the purposes of the shoot, it will get rid of dark circles under your eyes. 

6. Prepare your fiance'. Sometimes one person is really excited about the photography portion of the wedding, and the other is well, not so much. They may be planning to show up, smile at the camera standing in 2 or 3 locations and then calling it a day. If they aren't prepared when I tell you to snuggle or nuzzle, they may not know how to respond. I recommend choosing your top 3-5 favorite images on my site or blog and showing your fiance' so you're both on the same page when you arrive. If you're going to err on one side or another, over communication is usually a good bet. (Feel free to use that one as a general marriage tip as well...you're welcome) ;) 

It can also be fun to practice some of the snuggling and flirting in advance... just sayin ;)

7. Ring, Hair and Make Up. Some ladies like to take this opportunity to get their hair and/or make up trial arranged with their stylists so they can see what they'll look like on the big day as well as taking the pressure off of preparations for the engagement session. Certainly not a necessity, but if you're having a trial anyway, this is a good time to do it. (This or the bridal session if you choose to add one). There will definitely be photos of the ring, so it's a good time to get it shined up as well. 

And just for fun, here's a few couples showing off their snuggling and flirting skills both at their engagement and their big day. Have fun!