The VanOrders Engagement

What does it mean to be in love? Obviously, being just 24, I have no idea. I can watch all those classic romance movies or romantic comedies, but let’s be honest, that’s just a movie. It’s not real. And until this session, I never knew those movies could become reality.

Enter Will and Leah. You may recognize Leah from a past blog post. She is undoubtedly one of my favorite humans to laugh with, to cry with, and to shoot with. Leah is a natural beauty. Effortless. Classic. Unique.

Now, William is, also, all of these things. He quickly melded into Leah’s life and I connected with him just as I do my brothers. He lights up the room, just as Leah does, and builds her up in spirit and reputation. And with Will being a very good-looking male specimen and Leah being the absolute definition of beautiful, added to their absolute joyous love for each other, I was beyond blessed to shoot their engagement.

“Come at me photo anxiety. Let’s get these pictures done!”

Right off the bat you could see the love Will has for Leah. During a quick mental breakdown (everyone’s nervous about being in front of the camera, let’s be honest), he looked towards her for comfort, never looking away from her gaze or letting go of her hands. She was his safe space in those moments where he felt like there was nowhere to run.


Leah? She never stopped smiling. Let me back up though, because Leah is not known to not be smiling. Leah never lost the twinkle in her eye. When she looked at me she smiled and laughed because I’m her friend, but when she looked at her fiancé, it was like she had seen color for the first time. It was a deeper joy than holding a new puppy or finding that your school loans had been paid. Something that came from the very depths of her being and poured out on her rosy cheeks.


We had so much fun. We grabbed coffee at McCaffertys. We walked around downtown Fairbanks and enjoyed some of the unique architecture our town has to offer.


We ended our session at Creamers Field. Despite the walk and the cold, they still radiated complete content and happiness in each others company. They knew that with one another they could get through a little chill. And a blanket doesn’t hurt 😉



So, what does it mean to be in love? It’s looking at one another and finding your whole world in your hands. Now, I’m not saying these two are the absolute and perfect definition of love. Each couple is different and they’ve been married less than six months. But maybe, just maybe, these two give hope and set a good example to the rest of us still looking for our own definition of love.


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