This month I had the honor and pleasure of photographing one of my dearest friends, Amanda Dillon, and her fiancee, Oleg Bondar. They are engaged and will be married in Amanda's home state, Alaska, in November. Then they will stay in Alaska for good!
Amanda and I have tried to meet up since my arrival in Ukraine (almost 11 months ago) but we live in cities several hours apart and winter was long. Finally getting to see her and remise and laugh and wander around Kyiv like real tourists was amazing. Our last visit together was Mother's Day of 2009 at my parent's house. So, we were well overdue a weekend. Oleg is a wonderful man: funny, charming, kind. I was treated to a great apartment outside of the city in which I saw the following: a dishwasher, dryer, fitted sheets, laz-a-boy recliner, AC and a treadmill. Amanda and Oleg were in almost in tears laughing at my reaction upon arrival in a new room full of things I had never seen before in Ukraine. Between the sweet apartment and massive, all-you-ever-imagined grocery store next door, I felt some major city life culture shock.
Since Amanda and Oleg speak Russian, I was the language minority and struggled to understand them. I discovered it was easier to speak English to Amanda and have her translate to Oleg than speak Ukrainian to him and hope he understood. Amanda has been in Ukraine for 5 years so her language skills are fabulous. Listening to them speak to each other, laughing, joking, smiling, was wonderful. They are adorable as a couple. Happiness and romance was oozing out of them. I am overjoyed that my friend has found a man to love her like she deserves.
Amanda and Oleg bought tradition Ukrainian clothing in Kyiv for these photos and their engagement party in Kharkiv (their city). We tried to capture as much Ukr. tradition as possible within these frames.