The first word that sprung to mind when I first spoke with Ruth was ‘vulnerable.’ Not in a fragile way–in an open, friendly, trusting way that I was immediately drawn to and made comfortable by.
Not long into our conversation (and at my prodding), Ruth shared with me the story of how she and Lance got together. It is not a fairytale. It is instead a complicated tale of timing, patience, winding roads–an ambiguous and rocky terrain that true, soulful love leads the luckiest of humans down. She described the two as soulmates–a term I don’t hear as much these days–and hearing her say it made me believe in it.
I met them at Gillette Castle in Connecticut, a location they suggested based off a friend’s recommendation. A castle!? As I drove up the slowly ascending, windy road leading to our meeting spot, I felt a thrill of anticipation. Of the many gorgeous places I have photographed couples, a castle had not yet been among them! To be honest, I was also curious and excited to meet these lovebirds who spoke of their union in such epic terms.
As I pulled into the park, the castle came into view: stony, mildly Gothic-looking, and limned with glowing, blood-orange sunlight. It was a cold afternoon, but the sun cast its warm net and hugged the looming hulk of anachronistic architecture from behind, throwing long, oddly shaped shadows onto the surrounding grounds. I scouted the area briefly as I waited for them to arrive, finding to my delight low stone walls, elegant wrought-iron gates, gargoyles, and a river flowing in a stately winter rush below. Ruth texted me to alert me to their imminent entrance to the park, and I strode to meet them with enthusiasm.
They pulled up in a huge diesel (I think?) truck much like the one my brother drives, and I met them in the parking lot.
My first impression was of Ruth’s gorgeous fire-engine-red hair (an appropriate description, it seems, as Lance is himself a firefighter) and her array of colorful tattoos that had taken on a warm hue in the late-day sun. Lance had a big handlebar mustache and gauges in his ears. They both immediately struck me as friendly and down-to-earth.
After introductions that felt more like hellos among old friends, we headed towards the castle. As I always do, I stopped them innumerable times along the way to take advantage of certain angles, certain light, and certain moods. I could tell right away that what Ruth had told me on the phone had not been hyperbole. She and Lance were at absolute ease with each other, and yet seemed equally thrilled to be there, and to have me provide an excuse to cuddle up, get close, and yes, make out a little.
There is a particular energy every couple gives off–at least, there’s an energy I pick up on from every couple I’m with. They are all as distinct as snowflakes and all potentially as made-up as my first-grade “journal entries”–but regardless of their inherent truth, I sense something unique from each couple I work with that goes beyond what’s simply observable. I will say that for Ruth and Lance, I had an instant affinity, and for their love…despite the normalcy of their home life (young child, stressful jobs, the inevitable worries about money)…there was, actually, something of a fairytale to the essence of their love.
I had such an affirming and lovely time with these two, and I’m ever grateful for the introduction to Gillette Castle. Thank you, Ruth and Lance, for trusting me with your love!