Paul + Alex | Adventure Engagement Photographer | Palo Duro Canyon
When Alex emailed me about flying in for an adventure engagement photos with me in Palo Duro Canyon, I don’t think she quite understood how adventurous we could get! We heard the sound of thunder about 30 minutes into the session but the clouds didn’t look horrible and my radar didn’t show much. Within the next hour the rain started, then the rainbow, and then the hail. We happened to be at the one spot in the canyon where the sun was beaming down as it was hailing, which in a few images you can see it look like stars as the sky is so dark! I had to talk Alex into accepting the weather that we were given and to embrace the adventure full of memories because, at the end of the day, she’s going to have the most epic, one of a kind engagement sessions anyone has ever had. Leave a comment so Alex can see how freaking beautiful you think she is and how she rocked her session even if it didn’t go as planned! Now that it’s days after the session, we all have had to invest in Campho-Phenique because apparently, chiggers are super bad right now…
Continue reading to hear Alex + Pauls story, and about how her grandfather passed away last week-
Paul and I met through mutual friends in Fort Worth, Texas in December of 2016. I had just graduated from nursing school at Texas Tech and had started working downtown at Cook Children’s Medical Center in the Emergency Department. Paul had recently finished EMT school and was enrolled in fire academy to become a firefighter. We had our first date over margaritas at a Mexican restaurant and shut the place down. I had purchased a brand new pair of blue jeans for the date and hadn’t washed them before I wore them that night. By the end of the date, my arms and hands were dyed blue and no matter how many times I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, the dye would not come off. Trying to hide my rookie fashion mistake, I kept my arms under the table so that my date wouldn’t see that I had purchased a new outfit just for him. Paul and I always laugh and tell others about how our date ended. Paul, thinking he was smooth, went in for a kiss but I had something else in mind. I turned away and gave him a “side hug.” From that moment on, Paul thought he had been forever “friend zoned,” never imagining that he had just been turned down by his future wife. Paul often says, “I knew I blew it. I knew she would never agree to a second date.” But what he didn’t know was, I couldn’t wait to see him again.
In January, Paul’s family invited me to go on a cruise with them as my Christmas gift. On the “formal night” Paul wore a suit and I wore a floor-length navy blue dress. As I was blow drying my hair, I realized I never washed the conditioner out… with no time to take another shower, I decided “it was only dinner” so wearing my hair up in a ponytail was no big deal. As the sun was setting somewhere over the Caribbean, the sky turned into a swirl of orange, pink and purple with storm clouds looming in the distance. Paul took me out on the deck of the boat and told me we were going to take pictures. As we posed in our usual cheesy poses, I asked Paul (completely unaware that I was setting this up to go perfectly for him) “we need to do another pose, I feel like we always do the same thing.” He then said to me, “I have an idea,” and dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him and be his wife. In total shock, and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I managed to utter “yes!”
Exactly one week before our engagement photos my grandfather passed away at the age of ninety-six. That evening my grandmother and I sat out in their pasture watching the cattle graze and sharing our favorite memories of “papa” around a campfire. Some memories brought tears to our eyes while other memories made us cry with laughter. Sitting there in the pasture, out of nowhere, a rainbow appeared over the cattle that brought so much joy and pride to my grandfather. There had not been a single drop of rain that day, nor a cloud in the sky. All I could think of was that my Papa was in heaven and was giving my family a sign letting us know he was happy and everything was going to be alright.
I drove from Fort Worth and Paul flew in to meet me at Amarillo Texas in order to have our pictures taken in Palo Duro Canyon. The entire day had been beautiful and sunny without a cloud in the sky. About thirty minutes into our session, thunderclaps echoed through the canyon. Over the ridge, storm clouds rolled and lightning strikes became more prevalent. With rain falling from the sky, Brittney told us to make the best out of it, we can’t change anything, make this a fun, memorable time and continue the shoot. Minutes later, it started hailing and the canyon became dark. We ran back to our cars to call it a day as the hail was getting larger. As we drove through the canyon to the front of the park, the hail let up and the sun came out. Brit honked, from her car behind us, and told us that we were going back into the park to finish our session. Though all three of us were soaking wet and muddy, we climbed to the edge of the canyon and looked out below. The sun peeked out through the clouds, the rain stopped and out of nowhere a bright vivid rainbow appeared stretching from one side of the canyon to the other. I had been looking forward to these adventure engagement photos with Brit Nicole Photography for months, had my hair and makeup done and drove over three hundred miles and now I thought the day had been ruined. With tears in my eyes and wet, tangled hair, I looked up at the rainbow and knew that it was my Papa telling me not to cry “suga” (as he called me) everything is going to be alright. I knew that he was there with me and would have wanted me to smile and make the best of it. Needless to say, we finished the shoot and the day turned out even more memorable and special- all because of a rainbow.
Almost three years have passed since that cold windy night in December and there has never been a shortage of laughter or affection. One thing I can say about Paul is that he always puts me first, no matter what. If I am sick, he is there at my bedside. If I am sad, he wipes away my tears and when I am happy, he is often the reason why. People often say that nurses and firefighters go together like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Both of us work in high-stress environments where peoples’ lives are often in our hands. While we both adore what we do, it isn’t always easy. Paul is the person I go to when I need to debrief and talk to about something that affected me at work. He knows exactly what to say to give perspective on the situation because he has often dealt with the same situation as a fireman. Hands down, Paul Key is my best friend and I would rather be sitting at home doing nothing with him, than doing anything with someone else. Paul is the most selfless and caring person I know and always goes out of his way to make sure I’m happy. Whether it’s bringing me sweet teas to work, carrying me in the rain so my shoes don’t get wet or telling me I’m beautiful on my worst days, Paul always knows what to do or say to bring a smile to my face. No matter what I do, Paul loves me unconditionally. He extends this love to my family and treats them as if they are his own blood. Paul has taught me to love without limits and that it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor- a strong relationship builds around God can withstand the biggest of storms.
Where to begin? There are many things that I love about Alex so it’s hard to pick a few. Alex has a kind heart in everything she does; from her career as a pediatric nurse to her kindness for the ones she loves. She has a giving heart and will go out of her way for the benefit of others. Becoming a firefighter is not an easy feat. Alex stood by my side from the very beginning and always encouraged me to be better and not to give up when things get tough. She reminds me that I am enough, in everything I do, and to never sell myself short because you can always do more than what you think you are capable of. Alex always knows what to do to make me laugh and can make me smile even in the middle of an argument. I love how she is open and allows her true self to shine through when we are together. She wears her heart on her sleeve and will always let you know what she is thinking, whether it’s good or bad! Alex has unconditional love and respect for her family and puts them and her relationship with God before anything else. I admire that she treats my family as if they are her own and even goes to my grandparent’s house, by herself, to have lunch with them on her days off. Lastly, her eyes make me weak in the knees and I cannot wait to stare into them for the remainder of my life.
I stumbled across Brittney on Instagram and loved her work! We chose Brit to do our engagement photos because she is not “cookie cutter.” Her work is different than most photographers, especially in the photographers in the Fort Worth/Dallas Texas area. We liked how she is comfortable with Palo Duro Canyon and knows the right places to go in order to get the best photos and scenery. I admire her for sticking with us in the hail storm in order to make sure we got our dream engagement photos!
Adventure Engagement photographer palo duro canyon
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