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  • Writer's pictureMichael Gabhart

Proposal & Engagement Photos at Harlinsdale Farm — Franklin, Tennessee

Soft light falls from the towering clouds in the golden evening sky. A grand white barn stands tall watching over the wide, rolling hills. A couple stands back to back looking out over the grass shaking in the light wind. Corin strikes a pose and just behind her back, Price drops to one knee. 

It's December 23rd, just two days before Christmas. A delicate chill hangs in the air, brisk rain continues throughout the day. We continue to check the weather—we aren’t worried. We know it's all gonna work out. Madi and I drive through the hustling downtown Franklin, Tennessee, adorned with lights and festive trappings for the holiday season. There’s something about winter that makes it perfect for an engagement. We arrive at the long white fence of Harlinsdale Farm guiding us in toward a towering Christmas tree framed by the wide, white canvas of the barn, bordered by its deep green roof. We park and begin walking the grounds, finding picture potential around every corner. The clouds shift across the horizon as the sun continues its descent into golden-hour. Light fluctuates between a soft diffused look from the cloud-cover and a harsh direct sunlight. We make back-up plans for our back-up plans all to serve the ultimate plan.

 It was simple and elegant. A family photo shoot, everyone is together for the holidays — no better time. After undergoing the loss of her deeply beloved grandmother, Corin's family was ready to hold one another tight and celebrate their precious family while processing their recent loss. The plan was as follows: we capture a bunch of love-filled family photos and sprinkle in some couple's photos 'if we had time in the session.’ Ha!

We would end with Price and Corin, standing back to back, posing hand-in-hand (or then again… classic Charlie's Angels style) where Price could have a free hand, grab the ring, and make his move behind her back. No need for hiding in bushes or trees, it would all be hiding in plain sight. Kim (Corin's mom) was our woman-on-the-inside, pulling strings and getting nails done the day before.

Everything is going right to plan, family photos are underway we make our greetings, pretending to have never met Price (and certainly never had multiple secret meetings with him). Madi even has him repeat his name on a couple occasions, always seeming to ‘slip her mind.’ A tremendous trick, and I would expect nothing less from my exceedingly clever wife!

The sprawling hills, distant trees and a small creek form our backdrop as we begin the family photos. We notice something, Grandpa (better known as 'G-pa') is standing to the side, his phone up and at the ready. I turn and let him know that we’re getting the whole family together to start, especially including him! He responds, telling me he wants to make sure he “gets it all!” Madi steps in, she assures him, she’s got it covered. I can’t help but empathize with G-pa. These moments are precious and meant to be cherished. That’s why we do what we do, so people can have full permission to live in the special moment set before them. 

G-pa jumps into the fray, a tight bundle of multi-generational, unyielding love. As they held one another close in the bitter winds of winter, I saw a family battered by the harsh winds of life. I saw joy. Not cheap happiness, but expensive and long lasting joy. This has to have been one of my favorite family sessions to date. This is surely owed to the balance between the weight of the past and the momentum of the future, meeting at such a time as this.

All is going to plan, but a slight hiccup comes up. This is one of those of course this would happen moments that will be told many times in this family’s future. A number of sentimental items were incorporated from Corin’s grandmother, including some absolutely gorgeous jewelry. In particular, some absolutely beautiful earrings and a ring that Corin was given to wear for a couple shots. (Both can be seen below!) Only problem is, that ring was put on her left ring finger, you know—the really important one for an engagement day! Well, it was not coming off…

Panic set in, along with the secret worries for those in on the secret plan! Madi swoops in along with Kim, Corin’s mom, to calm nerves, deep breaths, and fortunately the ring pops right off! All in all it lasted about 20 seconds, but obviously felt much longer.

The time comes, Price and Corin make poses and follow prompts before we reach their final pose. Standing back to back they grasp hands and look out over the grass and trees. Then, they strike the pose! At least Corin does. Finger gun ablaze pointing to the sky, she stares off unaware as her family grows silent. A moment or two pass in humor, confusion and expectation. Corin says “what?” confused, then turns to check on Price. Her hands clasp her mouth, Price speaks to her softly just before he puts the ring on her finger. In the cold silence of the winter evening, the red sun peeks through the clouds and they hold each other tight. Her hand clinches his back as a new ring rests on a finger, blushed rose where her grandmother held tight just one last time.


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