sean & emma, a sad heartbreaking engagement shoot

PUBLISHED: This photographic love story, was featured on ‘OMG I’m Getting Married’ wedding blog.

I’m actually quite nervous about putting up these photos up.

Not because I’m unsure about them but because I love them so much (rejection is so much worse when you love something LOL).

Before I go into the story behind the shoot, I just want to say it took me 7 long glorious hours to edit this photo shoot. I say glorious because it was so gratifying for me to have soooooo many amazing shots to choose from. It felt endless. The signs of a great photographer! Thanks Darren, I truly love your work!

The reason why I love this shoot so much is because I have grown fonder of it over time.
We actually did this shoot prior to Sean & Emma’s shoot in the hotel but I just didn’t feel ready to post it yet. If I had a choice I would show you this shoot one-on-one on my 15 inch mac book pro. I’d show it you shot by shot and pause in between each photo and you’ll find out why in a second : )

The other reason why I really love this shoot so much is because each time I show it to someone, they feel compelled to start interpreting what the photos mean. They start making up their own story about what’s going on between the couple. Literally I’ve had people walk me through their thoughts. They would say stuff like …

“Oh wow they’re so in love … but for some reason they can’t be together … so they’re having a secret date … and he’s heart broken because she has to leave … and she’s leaving because … ”

… and the story goes on and on.

I even had one friend go through the series of pictures twice and she gave me two different interpretations of what was going on between the couple. And I loved both her stories!

I think there is something truly magical when a photo shoot does that to a person. You can’t make up a story about a couple without revealing something about yourself. That’s what I really loved. If I listened really carefully, I could almost hear their trials and tribulations about love coming through their interpretations of the photos.

It’s almost like there is a moment of sacred silence when the viewer connects with the picture … it’s the part where I hold my breath and wait. I get to witness this magical moment where the picture meant something to them for split second. The picture was worth interpreting. They stopped, they looked, they listened and then they expressed what they felt.

So what I urge you to do is … scroll down this page slowly. Look at each picture and take each shot in properly. Listen and see what story comes up for you. It may be nothing but if you are going to look at this blog you may as well take your time and enjoy it : )

ps. I’ll be posting my own interpretation of this story / photo shoot in a weeks time. So come back if you’re interested in knowing what story I created in this little head of mine.

pps. If you haven’t seen Sean & Emma’s moody engagement shoot based on an affair, you can see it by clicking here.


Updated 1st Oct 2010: As promised below is my own interpretation of Sean & Emma’s sad shoot.

For me the very first scene represents young, youthful, naive love. A love we have all experienced in our teenage years. I think it’s very beautiful because young love see’s no boundaries or obstacles. It believes it will last forever. When you are in this young love stage, you see no flaws in yourself and no flaws in the person you love. You believe what you believe is true.

The next series of images (above) represent the yearning to keep the young love pure and alive. It feels like the outside world (ie. life and it’s many obstacles) is starting to get in the way and they’re realising the may not be together forever. So there is this desperate desire to hide away from the world as a couple. They just want to be on their own. ‘Everything is perfect when they’re on their own’ syndrome but nothing works when anyone or anything else is there. They know something is wrong but are trying to ignore the warning signs.

At this point they know they can’t be together. Their love can’t overcome the world. It’s heartbreaking for both of them. Their forced separation just makes their love deeper.

When I looked at the last series of images, I see them both as much older and wiser. Like this is taken many years after they have been apart. She is married to someone else. They know meeting is wrong but the ‘young love’ still lives inside of them. The shot with her body turned away represents the pain she has experienced. She doesn’t know if she can go through it again. The last shot is them ignoring the world and ignoring what is right and wrong. She’s about to die so they might as well be together.

Geez … it’s all very dramatic isn’t it? I think this tells me I don’t believe love is real unless it has stood through deep obstacles … either that or I’ve watched too many Korean drama movies!!! … I actually think it’s a bit of both! 🙂 I guess my perception of love is that is is painful and it’s difficult and that I don’t know if I could do it again. That belief shows itself up in my interpretation. Scary!!!!

Photographer: Darren Wong
Art Director: Thao Dang
Assistants: MiniBear & A1
Location: Hornchurch Country Park, London UK
Special thanks to Mademe Moi for helping us find the location

Trivia: We actually did this day shoot for Sean & Emma to contrast the moody evening shoot. It was meant to be a happy shoot but when you have a couple who don’t want to smile in photos, you just have to roll with it : ) … and I’m so glad we did! This is what I mean by a collaboration. Although we created the set, Darren and I could not have created these magical photos without their interpretation of the set and scene. Sounds a little odd saying this after a sad photo shoot but … Sean and Emma … Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding : )

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18 Responses to “sean & emma, a sad heartbreaking engagement shoot”
  1. amanda brierley photography says:

    Beautiful and emotive photography.

  2. Tori says:

    Love ur interpretation Thao…It tells speaks of a similar “Love Story” I personally know so well. Like you, I believe that LOVE isnt love until it has stood thru deep obstacles. Im lucky that I had found my “True Love” at such a young age and luck that we were both strong enough to strengthen thru all of Life’s deep obstacles…

    We can only base “Love” thru our own experiences…I look forward to reading your “Love Story” in the near future…. 🙂

  3. Kristie West says:

    This is such a beautiful shoot and I love your interpretation.

  4. Jo says:

    Loved it Thao, really beautiful, loved a lot of her dresses as well 🙂

  5. Sara Fuller says:

    Beautiful. Stunning. Love-filled and thoughtful.

    Looks like you have found your calling Thao xx

  6. Roger says:

    Awesome photos!! , great story! When i first flicked through, i imediately thought korean drama. Then read your interp. Hahha

    My favourite is the last shot. To me she’s tired of life, tired of the struggles, but she can always find comfort in his arms. And he is always going to be there looking over when she needs.

    • thaoski says:

      Roger I only just saw this comment. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE your interpretation of the last picture. It’s really beautiful. Your wifey is very lucky because I know you will always be looking over her shoulders making sure she’s ok : )

      Thanks so much for sharing. I can never look at that photo again without seeing your interpretation. Love it!

  7. Kemi says:

    every time i see their shoot, i am so moved, i love your interpretation and i do agree love needs to stand the test of time before it become true love…..

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  3. […] way. I was very excited when Erin told me Chi’s favourite shoot was Sean & Emma’s sad engagement shoot because I knew if he liked the sad dramatic stuff, then I would have permission to ‘go […]

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