From Jeremy: Mark & Joanna wanted an engagement session that is completely out of the box, and not your typical 'walk in the field' shoot. This shoot was partially inspired by Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie's famous editorial shoot for W Magazine back in 2005. We were able to gain access to a perfect mid-century home designed by the famed architect Joseph Eichler in the City of Orange. The house provided a perfect setting for the editorial style Mark & Joanna wanted. The concept was a professional couple on a typical day somewhere in 1950's. They started the morning by enjoying a couple of coffee, then getting ready for presumably a hectic work day. Then the couple dresses up for a fancy dinner party with friends. We also shot a few relaxing portraits in the open air courtyard.
The proposal: Between Jo and I, we always had a theme of doing treasure hunts. It all started with birthdays, where we would give each other 1 clue, and it would lead to another clue and presents along the way until the final present was revealed. Between us, we must have had at least 6 treasure hunts under our belt already. So given that we were experts on treasure hunts, I decided what better way to propose, keeping in line with our theme as a couple. Once that was decided, I knew I would want all of her close friends somehow involved in this special moment in our lives. Moreover, the kicker was that I had to somehow include our daughter Milly (she's a dog, but we think of her as our first kid) into the mix as well. So with all these ingredients, what I came up with was renting a dog-friendly cabin in Lake Arrowhead, CA and proposing there. I picked Arrowhead because we always talked about how great it would be to bring our dog to a cabin in the mountains. The hardest part of everything was keeping the proposal part a secret from her friends, since I wanted Joanna to share the joy of saying "I'm engaged!!!" to them. It also didn't help that most of her friends were extremely busy and getting a date that worked for everyone, without telling them what it was for, proved to be a tough task. The excuse that I used was that it was a surprise celebration for Joanna for transferring into Cal State Long Beach. Although I found out later, everyone kind of knew something was up, given that I was renting a cabin all the way out in Arrowhead for such an occasion. Also, the fact that I made personal phone calls to her friends (that I never called in my life) to make sure they were coming didn't help the cause either. So the date was set for May 27th, 2010. However, I needed to drive up to the cabin to set the treasure hunt up beforehand. So with the great help from the best sister in the world, she drove up with me the day before to set everything up. On the day of May 27th, I told Joanna to pack her bags because we were going somewhere. She loves surprises so started packing right away, but of course she was trying to get as much information out of me as possible. "Should I bring a bikini, sunblock, passport?” After that, I brought everything to the car and at the last minute, leashed up Milly and put her in the car. At this point, Joanna was very excited that we were going to go somewhere with Milly. Of course, along the way, Joanna was consistently asking me where we were going, while my biggest concern was checking my pocket every 5 minutes to make sure that the ring was still there. Once we arrived at the cabin, she opened the door and on the floor was her first clue to the treasure hunt. The treasure hunt consisted of going to the next clue and taking a picture of the clue with the camera I provided her (for example, one clue pointed her to a billiard table, so she had to take a picture of that prior to moving on). All the clues were somehow tied into our relationship and a memory we shared together, so on each clue sheet, was a story; a memory of why I loved her. After about clue 7, it led us to the balcony of the cabin overlooking Lake Arrowhead. The instructions were to take a picture of a view to remember. While she was taking the picture, I got down on one knee (that was shaking like I had one too many espressos), and waited. It also didn't help that Milly was running into me consistently. Once she was done, she put the camera down, looked at me and covered her mouth as steams of tears ran down her face. I somehow fought back the emotions and said, "Joanna, will you marry me?" After what felt like 5 minutes of silence, she said yes (later, she told me it was because she was speechless....not because she was unsure!) The next day, all her friends came, one couple at a time until the cabin was filled with 10 people, with Joanna being able to say the words "I'm engaged!" to all the people that mattered the most to her.
About their engagement session: Jeremy Chou really deserves all the credit here. All we did was follow what he had to say. During our 1st meeting, all we told him was that we didn't want to do a nature / scenic shoot. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but it’s just that we wanted to do something different. Jeremy was very excited and we exchanged ideas. A meeting that was supposed to be 30 minutes ended up lasting 3 hours. About 4 months after our initial meeting, Jeremy found the shoot location and all we had to do was show up. Of course, we did our part in getting wardrobe and make-up ready, but Jeremy really did the rest. He made us feel very comfortable in everything we were doing and also made it very enjoyable for us. After 2 hours of what honestly felt like 10 minutes, the work he did is what you see now.