Candid love story and San Francisco engagement photography session
We were at the Simply 24-Karat Gold Homecoming Fashion Show at Mississippi Valley State University. The date? Tuesday, October 16, 2007. William was Mr. MVSU. I was late… as usual… but I was cute. We say, “We fell in love the night we rubbed elbows” because that’s what happened—we rubbed elbows. I mean, that sounds more exciting than “I just wanted the armrest,” right? Anywho, then, we exchanged our first words, “My bad.” *bliss* … that man was/is so fine! My Lord.
After that, William hunted me down on eHarmony and Facebook because he just HAD to give me this photo of me that he happened upon from that night. He knew what he was doing. We then got to know each other for a few months, until his post-graduation disappearance. *single tear falls* I made good use of my time, though. My life was filled with a series of … well … let’s just call them “lessons,” for risk of losing my halo. They prepared me; they taught me things about myself that I, apparently, needed to learn.
September 2012 came, and would’ya look at that? A friend request from William E. Woods, Jr. a.k.a. “Still My Baby Daddy.” *ACCEPTS* My mind was at, “We have unfinished business.” He disappeared with no call, text, email, smoke signal, ape call, or nothing. So, yes. My pride was like, “Oh, no! You don’t leave me. I leave you!” … I mean, I might’ve slid into his inbox like, “Hey, boo. Wussup?” but still….. Whatever. I pursued him. Hard. For like. 3 months. Then I gave up because he was on some standoffishness. Come to find out, he had a man. -_-)…
So I went about my business and he slides back into my inbox on my birthday. That’s when I knew it was time to pounce. Valentine’s Day 2013 was the first time we kissed, since April 2008. It was worth every single, solitary second of waiting. The rest of 2013 was filled with peaks and valleys. I say that in the most positive way possible. Why? Because the year presented a test of self for each of us.
Battles were waged within ourselves—him with how he was going to love himself and me with my give-and-get expectations of partnership. He wasn’t ready. I was impatient. We parted.
2014. Another new year came and he decided to love himself. That’s all I needed. Since then, he has spent every waking moment unconditionally loving me, even to the point of surpassing my own understanding of what “love is…” The only tears that fall because of him are filled with joy, and, if they aren’t because of him, he catches them… I guess we really do get what we deserve. ☺
By Shawn Alexander
WILLIAM AND SHAWN’S SAN FRANCISCO ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION BY ZOE LARKIN
From the photographer, Zoe Larkin:
For William and Shawn’s pre-wedding photography session, they wanted to spend some time enjoying spots that they really enjoy in their adopted home of the Bay Area. The Marin County couple love hitting San Francisco, particularly the Castro and trying out hot new eating spots, when they’re not working hard in their careers as educators in the sciences.
During our initial meeting, William and Shawn told me their love story from rubbing shoulders one night at a university fashion show which turned out to be a missed connection, to the plans for their upcoming wedding. They are recent transplants to the San Francisco Bay Area, having moved here earlier in 2017 from Memphis, Tenn. For our shoot, they carefully selected two locations from a shortlist that we’d discussed, which they felt very sure about in terms of the look and feel of the locations. One is a classic couples portraits location, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the other spot was a more casual, nature-steeped city viewpoint, namely Corona Heights.
The dapper pair really had a ball on this shoot and their enthusiasm was infectious! At the Palace of Fine Arts where we kicked off, we had fun playing with dancing, sitting on various stone stoops showing off the ornate architecture, even climbing trees, playing patty cake and smooching on a picnic blanket. Meanwhile I had fun with my camera shooting through tall grasses and also getting crazy rainbow lens flare which seemed very apt.
There is something very San Francisco about the story of Palace of Fine Arts. The architect Bernard Maybeck took his inspiration from Roman and Ancient Greek architecture and designed what was essentially a fictional ruin from another time. It was built in 1915 as a temporary structure for an exposition but it was so beloved that while the fair was still in progress, a foundation sprung up to save it and it was rebuilt as a permanent structure in 1965. I love the Palace of Fine Arts for its wildlife as well as its impressive architecture which is apparent for all to see.
Creatures that’ve made their home on the historic tourist attraction include swans, ducks, geese, turtles, frogs, and raccoons. The next stop had a very different vibe from all that grandiose old-world charm. Corona Heights is a spot where you feel you’re miles above everything, looking out over the whole city and there is big wind. And there are big rocks too, chert (sedimentary) bedrock in terra cotta red. Climbing the steps felt like my work-out for the day and it’s one of those walks where the view gets more expansive with every step.
Crazily the park is home to native reptiles, including northern and southern alligator lizards and garter snakes. We didn’t see any of those on our engagement photography session, but did run into a cute pooch, which reminded the boys of their own pup at home. Corona Heights is a photographer’s dream, boasting an epic, 360-degree view of the city, a pretty sunset minus a ton of people to Photoshop out later!
Photography: Zoe Larkin