When your engagement session falls during a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, well, that’s a time unlike any other in history. Laila and Joel wanted to document this extraordinary time while simultaneously shedding more light on this social cause that is extremely important to them. Adam Michaels Photography helped them do just that. The session began at Mellon Institute, where the couple donned their custom Save-the-Date masks and posed with their pup Bailey. After a wardrobe change, the trio headed downtown and Laila and Joel took in some iconic Pittsburgh hot spots, including the Point State Park fountain, the Roberto Clemente Bridge, and the view from the North Shore. However, the best part of the photo shoot came at the very end. A newly painted Black Lives Matter mural was lit up against a twilight sky, drawing more attention to its important message. It was here where once again the couple wore their masks, honoring the intersection of these two history-making moments. Weddings are more than just big parties; they tell stories. Often, these stories of about the newlyweds and their relationship together. But Laila and Joel wanted their wedding story to be bigger than that. Their celebration will tell of their hope for equality and justice for Black people worldwide, starting right here at home. We cannot think of anything more important than that.
About the Couple
Laila, born and raised in Washington, PA, had recently moved back to western PA after living away from the area for nearly 20 years. Joel, a Pittsburgh native, was introduced to Laila by a mutual friend just two weeks after Laila moved back to Pittsburgh. They went out for a cup of coffee in July 2019 and have been inseparable ever since!
On March 16, 2020 Joel suggested that the couple invite both of their mothers over for a quiet dinner at home. Earlier in the day, Joel asked Laila’s mother for Laila’s hand in marriage After dinner, Joel opened a bottle of champagne to toast new beginnings. Then, he got down on one knee. In front of both of their mothers and their dog Bailey, Joel and Laila got engaged! The couple happily endured (and continue to endure) the quarantine together and continue to plan for a spring 2021 wedding.
About the Session
Joel and Laila wanted to incorporate as much of the history-making moments that have occurred in the world into the session. The photos in their Save the Date masks were an obvious acknowledgment of the COVID-19 pandemic but the photos in front the of Black Lives Matter mural were of particular importance to the couple. They both believe in and hope for racial justice and equality for Black people. They recognize that this moment in history is bigger than their wedding and worth documenting.