An engagement session at Elephant Rock

We have finally made it to another Friday and the weekend is OFFICIALLY here! I don’t know about you guys, but I have a busy weekend ahead of me. My husband just texted me and asked if I could bake homemade salted caramel butterscotch blondies, so I think I’m going to tackle those tonight to start this weekend off on the right foot. Tomorrow, you’ll find me covering at Creative Ewe Pottery (I pick up shifts there once in a blue moon. I’ve been painting there for over twenty years now and if you’ve never been, you should absolutely go. It’s owned and operated by some of my favorite ladies on this planet. Come paint, shop local, and create something beautiful!) and Sunday, I’ll be driving up to Wentzville for the cutest in home family session. I can’t wait. It’s one of those nonstop weekends that, while super hectic, is incredibly fulfilling. It’s a weekend full of creativity and imagination. Honestly, this may just be the perfect weekend: Baking, taking a quick trip to the farmers market downtown, spending the day painting, making a day trip to get some of the best burgers in STL with my husband, and ending the weekend with a photo shoot. Truly, can you imagine anything better?

Speaking of doing things that completely heal and nurture your soul: let’s talk about Elephant Rock. I’ve been feeling really sentimental the past few days, which is why I think I wanted to share this session on the blog today and talk about the connection I have with that place. Growing up, most of our summers were spent taking frequent trips to Six Flags, Forest Park, occasionally Silver Dollar City, Johnson Shut Ins, and Elephant Rock. We’d usually do Elephant Rock and Johnson Shut Ins on the same day – hike in the morning and swim around in the afternoon. I remember one of the first times we went, we loaded up in my dad’s suburban, watched Looney Tunes on the way, and ate the sandwiches we packed before spending the day exploring. I’ll never forget when we found the rock that had my name on it. (yes, there is a rock that has “Taylor” carved out in all caps. It’s probably still there, if it hasn’t eroded away). Dad told me it was my rock, and to the 8 or 9 year old version of me, that was a pretty cool thing to have. Throughout the day, we pretended to be kings and queens of the world, holding up the weight of the rocks with a single finger for the photo, and living in this imaginary world full of explorations and adventures. I later slipped and fell on a rock at Johnson Shut Ins and mom had to dry my shorts in a hand dryer in the bathroom. As most families can relate, it’s not a family trip without a little chaos.

Years have gone by and we’re all grown. I’m a little more careful with the steps I take. The turkey sandwich with miracle whip hasn’t changed, and the Looney Tunes will always be nostalgic and remind me of the family vacations we used to have. The memories will always be there, and the new memories I’ve made there are just as special.

Which, believe it or not, leads me to Kylie and Tristan’s engagement session. It was not originally going to be an engagement session (though, leading up to it, I was really hoping it would turn out to be… and it did!) Going back a little bit: I met Kylie in high school. She was a year younger than me and we were in the same friend group. She has always been a joy to be around. Despite our paths going separate ways after high school, we’ve followed along with each other’s lives on social media. When Tristan started popping up in her photos, I knew this was her person. It’s kind of funny how you can know a person for so long and see them in different relationships, but as soon as they meet their soulmate, it brings on a whole different glow. And you guys. Kylie has been glowing since Tristan has come into her life.

We booked this session at Elephant Rock because Kylie had mentioned that they had no nice photos together and have been together for awhile. Not so secretly, we were hoping a proposal was around the corner. Sure enough, he proposed a week before (naturally, I had to give him a hard time about it because we could’ve gotten some really stunning photos during the shoot. But I digress. The way he proposed couldn’t have been more perfect for them.) The newness of their engagement made this session so much more special. And it was fitting that the dress we decided on for Kylie to wear was this stunning ivory lace piece. It made total sense.

I loved getting to talk wedding plans with them. As you know, it’s the thing that gives me absolute life. Like you know how the basis of Monster’s Inc. is how the screams power Monstropolis? Well. Think that same concept, but with wedding talk powering me as a human. I’m a pro of getting off topic here. Needless to say, this shoot was beautiful and romantic and had that newly engaged glow going on. The memories we made during our short time here are some for the books, but probably shouldn’t be shared on this particular blog. I’ll spare you details where we all low key died after walking up one of the rocks. Refer to the photos where we’re all laying down (Yes, I was laying down too because standing was too much at that particular point in time. Somebody please motivate me to get in shape. Those cannot be same elephant rocks I ran up as a child).

I think this session had me feeling sentimental because it was the first time I had driven by myself to Elephant Rock. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like there was this anxiety and uncertainty mixed with childhood giddiness for going back to place I love so dearly. I had this sense of accomplishment of “I didn’t get lost” and was being flooded with all of these memories of visiting as a child. I can appreciate how far I’ve come – from being the child who hated having her photo taken on trips like this, to now taking these gorgeous photos of other people and creating new memories with them. It’s definitely full circle.

To Kylie and Tristan, if you guys are reading this, I am so happy for you two. I cannot wait to see where this journey takes you and I will gladly talk wedding planning with you until I’m blue in the face. I’m grateful for the moments we captured and the inside jokes we now have after our hike. Congratulations on your engagement, and thank you to the moon and back for allowing me to take these photos of you!

With all the love and gratitude,

– Taylor

The Journal