A personal Paris engagement photo session for two lovebirds
This was a personal Paris engagement photo session for two lovebirds from Los Angeles. More than five years’ ago, I left Los Angeles to move to Paris. I’d lived in Los Angeles a decade, and while I loved so much about it, it was time to try something new. I’d loved Paris since I was a teenager, and after purchasing my property in Paris, decided to make the move full-time. Life in Paris is full of riches and blessings, and like anywhere else, a lot of stress and other not-so-great things, but the good outweighs the not-so-good, by far.
Los Angeles, like Paris, is a place where it’s kind of tough to get to know people. Everyone is doing their own thing, and while it’s an exciting place to live with a ton to do, sometimes, it can get a little lonely. So the friends you make in Los Angeles are really important.
In the summer of 2005, I found myself in Los Angeles, laid off and without a job. It was really scary! How was I going to pay my rent in this incredibly expensive city? I was living in Burbank at the time, former home to NBC Studios and current home to Warner Bros Studios. I went to Warner Bros and applied for a temporary clerical job, because I didn’t want to collect unemployment. They had no openings in the clerical department, but they had openings for the summer crop of tour guides. Tour guides?! I’m an extreme introvert. There’s no way on earth I could give tours! Yet, I was intrigued, because I absolutely love filming locations and anything to do with film and TV production. I even wrote briefly for a show on HGTV at one time and loved everything about the creative process.
Sure, I knew plenty about Warner Bros history, some of my favorite classics had been made there. I was offered an interview with the executive of the tour department at Warner Bros Studios, Danny Kahn. Danny is a really friendly, really smart and really cool guy, who just so happens to run a very important department in the studio, he’s an executive director. Guided tours of the studio, which could also be called guest relations, are important to preserve the history of the studio and to share the magic with people from all over the world. When Danny asked me why I wanted to work at Warner Bros, I told him that walking in the footsteps of greats like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (who made the classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?) would be a great honor. He liked my enthusiasm for Old Hollywood, and hired me! I was equal parts thrilled and frightened.
But, there was a catch. It was a temporary position. First, I was to go through a rigorous three-week training program. Then, I’d have to give a portion of the tour to executives of the studio, and if I passed the test, I had a summer job. If I didn’t pass, well, no Warner Bros for me (and to the unemployment line I go). I was terrified. Being that it was May, my trainee group of fellow tour guides consisted mostly of young people, many still in college. I felt so old. I was in my 30s, and would definitely be the old lady. Furthermore, the material we had to memorize was intense and difficult, I’d never prepared this hard for any job and I was terrified on the areas where I was weak. Everyone seemed so confident and sure of themselves, and as I’m an introvert, found myself alone a lot of the time. Or at least, feeling alone.
Then I met my co-worker, Laura. Laura was a business student at USC, one of the finest business schools in the United States. She was only 19, but she was kind, thoughtful, and one of the few people who spoke to me and when I spoke to her, I felt that she had some of the same fears as I had. It wasn’t long before we were comparing notes about our tour guide training. We often were paired with another tour guide, an experienced one, but sometimes we went out in groups, and sometimes Laura was in my group. We each had our strengths. The tour training was divided into sections of the studio lot. The “backlot” is where the outdoor sets live. At the time, the show Gilmore Girls was being filmed on the Midwest set. Laura was able to retain so much detail about the backlot, she knew every movie and every show that had been filmed there over the history of the studio. I could remember a few things, but not like her, and I was both intimidated and in awe. If I didn’t learn like Laura, I wouldn’t be hired, and I desperately wanted the job.
Something happened though when I got to the front lot, or the area where the sound stages are located. I was able to remember the production techniques we’d been taught and was so happy when we were allowed to go through the sound stages. The sets were unbelievably ornate, the set decoration detailed, down to the finest detail. The artists that work in films and television are so inspiring. I found that I enjoyed the front lot better, and so when we had to do “practice” tours, if I was teamed with Laura, she would do the back lot portion, and I’d do the front lot. It was a system we had, and gave me comfort. Nothing like teamwork, right?
Finally, the scary day came when we tour guides had to give the tour to the studio executives as our test. I’m a very nervous person and prayed that they gave me the front lot for my test. I tried to hold myself together, knowing that if I didn’t, I’d blow the whole thing and all the work I did to get this far. To cram every little Warner Bros fact and figure into my head. I was out of luck, they selected me to give a portion of the backlot as my test, my weakest area. But somehow, I pulled it off, confidently, and when we returned to home base, my manager informed me that I had a job for the summer! So did Laura! As well as many of our friends who went through the program with us.
We all bonded a lot that summer, becoming like family, sharing tales from the lot each day, and becoming part of a unique experience, I never thought I’d have in my 30s, after working in corporate America. The wonderful things I’ve been able to experience have stayed with me forever.
Most of my colleagues returned to college come September, Laura included. It was sad. I missed everyone. And I missed Laura, the one person I knew who got me and didn’t seem to judge me for being the old woman in the tour group. I continued on for a full year at Warner Bros, and enjoyed going to work there every single day. To date, it’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done, but one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
Many of us tour guides kept in contact. We’d get together from time to time. Laura and I would get together too sometimes, but I was busy with my new job back in corporate America, after finally leaving my beloved Warner Bros, and she was finishing her education and starting her career in the entertainment industry. On those occasions where we’d have dinner or drinks, I’d laugh for hours. Laura is a magnificent storyteller, and she has always been raw and honest and makes me laugh harder than practically anyone else. Sometimes, we’d meet up and go to a classic film screening. She was one of the few people I could count on to go see those classic screenings, and someone I could talk to about cinema, as I tended to hang around the music crowd and not the cinema crowd.
Everyone gets busy in life, people drift apart, and you don’t see them so much anymore. When I moved from LA to Paris, I’d hoped that a lot of friends would visit, and many have. Laura and I hadn’t been in contact in some time, and then one day recently, she emailed me to tell me her big news. She’s engaged! And she’s coming to Paris!
Dabbling in portraiture
When I first dabbled in portraiture, I was living between LA and Paris. When I was in LA, I was fortunate enough to have friends who allowed me to “practice” on them. Laura was one such kind soul. Then, a few years’ ago, her wonderful parents came to Paris on holidays, and I asked if I could practice on them, and they obliged. You won’t meet nicer people than Laura’s parents. It was such a fun afternoon with them.
Now, Laura was coming to Paris with her fiancé, and she asked if I could take their engagement photos. Of course, I was honored and thrilled. I met Laura and her fiancé, Matt, at the Trocadero area of the Eiffel Tower. I was so excited to meet Matt, the man whole stole Laura’s heart. They met while working on a film project and hit it off immediately. Matt has a broad smile and dry wit, a very funny person and a very caring one too. I hadn’t seen my friend in years, and she arrived looking just as elegant as she always had, but this time in a gorgeous gown for her engagement photos. Trocadero was busy with preparations for Paris Fashion Week, so I photographed Matt and Laura in my favorite spots, and then we also went to three other spots with amazing views of the Eiffel Tower.
The weather had turned a bit chilly and the wind had kicked up, but the couple toughed it out for some beautiful engagement photos in Paris!
As I photographed Laura and Matt, I noticed something about my friend. A gorgeous girl, inside and out, she’d never been at a loss for a man in her life. Her wit, intelligence, talent and of course, beauty have drawn many to her. But as I was photographing her with Matt, she literally glowed. Now while I haven’t seen her in a long time, and even when I lived in LA we didn’t see each other super frequently, I can honestly say I’ve never seen her this happy. She beamed with happiness, and Matt beamed it right back to her. In my line of business as a Paris engagement photographer, I see so many beautiful couples, deeply in love. Now I was seeing my old friend, finally meeting the man of her dreams, and so in love and happy, and looking forward to the future. It warmed my heart! Nothing makes you feel happier than seeing your friend happy!
Notre Dame neighborhood still open for business!
After we finished at the Eiffel Tower, we took a taxi to the Notre Dame area. Of course, Notre Dame suffered a huge fire in April of 2019. Despite the structure remaining intact, except for massive damage to the roof, experts estimate it will still take 10-15 years to renovate. All that means is that we can’t go inside, and we can’t enjoy the gardens. This kills my soul because it was one of my favorite parts of Paris. The good news is, the cathedral, despite being under reconstruction, is still beautiful, and so is the neighborhood adjoining it. I was pleased when Matt and Laura wanted to spend the second half of their Paris engagement photo session in this charming neighborhood in the Latin Quarter. Laura changed into another outfit, which is totally possible when you book an engagement session.
Once a tour guide, always a tour guide, so of course I had to point out various shops, monuments, and filming locations. Eiffel Tower photo shoots can be intense, because you have to move more quickly due to the area being so busy. But other parts of Paris are easy breezy and fun, even relaxing. I enjoyed showing Matt and Laura my favorite spots in Paris.
After showing them one of the oldest houses in Paris, located in the Marais district, Matt and Laura sat down at a very famous restaurant to pop some bubbly and celebrate their engagement. They reported that it tasted delicious!
I was so sad to say goodbye to them, as they continue their French adventure, but so happy to have met Matt and to have seen my friend again. Their happiness was incredibly touching and I hope that I was able to capture even a small portion of that in images that they’ll look back on with fondness from their time in Paris and in the time leading up to their wedding ceremony. You never know in life who will touch you. Experiences you have in one place may lead to friendships that will take you to new places. It’s always wonderful to connect with people who’ve touched your lives in some way, and living in Paris I’m fortunate, because a lot of people visit!
My best to Matt and Laura for a life filled with happiness and joy!
If you’re coming to Paris and would love for me to show you around (and take your picture!), check out the Paris engagement photo packages here.