I was once interviewed for the Beloved Collective Podcast about how I got into photography, my ethos and use of the Beloved technique. You can hear that episode here.

I’ve promised for a long time that I’m going to talk about Beloved. I mentioned it last week in this post about using the Beloved concept for the first time in a family session and it was very successful.

I discovered Beloved by way of The Rock n Roll Bride blog when blogger Kat and her husband Gareth had a Beloved session here in England with a photographer named Marianne Taylor. I immediately sought Marianne out online, dropped my jaw at her work and then booked her for our own Beloved session. We had to wait about 4 months for that date to roll around and I was pretty much sick with excitement from that point on. I kept looking at that session with Kat & Gareth and wanting to know how she got such intimate shots.

Enter ‘Beloved’.

So I googled this word ‘Beloved’ and found that it is being known as a new genre in photography. The brain child of Jesh de Rox, Beloved is about capturing the essence of a couple who have been married for some time. As we were told at the beginning of our session, “this is not a photo shoot.” It was about us having an experience together and her being in the background capturing those moments. Those real moments which weren’t staged or forced. Every laugh was real, every smile genuine. But more on our own experience later…so yeah, Beloved is about inviting couples into an experience and being there to capture that experience. What they end up with is a snapshot of their relationship in its truest, deepest sense with no strings attached. And if they choose to display those images to continue seeing, they won’t just be pictures. They will be memories.

One of my favorite shots from our own Beloved session with Marianne Taylor.

When I found Jesh de Rox, the photographer who has birthed this concept, I listened to a speech he gave in Las Vegas in 2010 about Beloved. You can find it here on the bottom right of this page – just click play. It’s very long and a bit frustrating that you can’t see it as he’s speaking, but it was a good introduction to his mind and how he approaches Beloved. I still felt in the dark about Beloved after that – I didn’t really get it – but when he tweeted that he would be doing a webcast in the middle of the night UK time, I joined in. It was about 1am. Jesh is a very soft spoken and I think he’s brilliant but I have found it difficult to stay connected when he’s speaking. He kind of takes a really long time to say what he wants to say, but if you take him as he is, knowing that he is completely unique, you just might come away with something you didn’t have before. So after ‘meeting’ Jesh, I could understand where Beloved was coming from but as far as how to actually attain it? No clue.

After that webcast, there was a chance to buy his Beloved Field Guide at a discounted price. There was very little information about it online and I knew I couldn’t be the only one feeling completely in the dark so I bought it knowing that at least, I would be able to photograph it and do a review for people wondering what it was. At best, it could change my life. So when it came and I read through the cards, many of them made me laugh. I thought “there is no way I’m going to say that to another human being!” Things about feeling the other person’s love energies and filling yourself up with love. (I’m paraphrasing…I don’t remember if that’s exactly what it said). Some of them were really fun to invite couples into an action scenario and I felt comfortable with those.

So with the new field guide under my arm, I invited my friends Marcus & Elbrie to be my first Beloved experiment as part of the filming for my wedding commercial. It was really fun and they’re great on camera. I did all of the fun invites & none of the soppy ones. So needless to say, the photos are fun & lively but not particularly deep or emotional. I was frustrated and just didn’t foresee how I’d be able to get the emotion I saw in that first session with Kat & Gareth. So I put down the field guide and decided that I wouldn’t ‘get it’ until I experienced it for myself. And then I began the months long wait for our session with Marianne.





Two weeks ago, Steven and I dropped the three kids off at babysitters and headed to a park near London. We had a great time in the car laughing and singing our favorite songs and talking about our relationship. We picked Marianne up at her house just around the corner and spent over an hour in the park having the most wonderful time I think we’ve had together in years. To my amusement (and probably fate), Marianne started by turning us towards each other and asking us to (yup, you guessed it) “feel the ground beneath our feet, feel each other’s beingness” and so on. And you know what?! I didn’t think there was anything weird about that! When I read it in the field guide, you’ll remember, I was like “nu way am I gonna get that soppy with people” but it clicked in that moment:

This isn’t about me. This is about them.

I dunno, maybe Marianne did feel weird the first few times she said these very deep things to total strangers, but in that moment, I found myself following her gentle direction as she did the opposite of what most photographers do: she turned my attention toward my husband, my partner, my mate in life. And it started to become clearer: this was not a photo shoot. She just happened to be there.

Within a few short moments, I didn’t even hear the click of her shutter. After our time together, we floated home and started the two week wait to see our images. We just saw them last night and Marianne has just blogged them today. We watched the gallery over and over and both shared tears.

Now, I really do believe that Beloved doesn’t just have to be for marries couples. If you grasp the concept that this is about photographing the moments that result from inviting anyone with a deep, connected, beloved relationship {mom/son, dad/daughter, husband/wife} then you can draw those real reactions -those genuine emotional responses- out of just about anyone. I’m really excited about continuing my exploration into Beloved and how it may help shape me into the photographer I’m going to be.

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  • Rhondaelderphotography

    Great article. So inspiring to get out of the box.  Thanks for enlightening us on “Beloved”.  Loved the shoot that Marianne did for you and your dear one.

  • I loved this ! Thank you for sharing!!!! You are gorgeous!

  • Dawn Merritt

    Elizabeth, thank you so much for this!!  After many years of reserving my passion for photography to my personal life only, I am now considering making it a business and this describes my vision perfectly!  Well, maybe not the “feel each other’s beingness”… but the results for sure.  ;)  I also knew about the “Beloved” concept from Brook Snow’s blog, but there seems to be a lot of mystery regarding Jesh’s methods and his website is vague.  I use open ended questions that invite people to have natural, unguarded expressions and when the right people come along, it’s *magic* to see connections made.  I am definitely interested in learning more… thanks so much for all of the helpful information you share with us.  

  • Angela Kroeker

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have such a passion for doing Anniversary shoots, would love to shoot them all the time! I think marriage is a gift and people are forgetting to put their relationship first in life. This is something I am going to look into, I love capturing people as they are! THANKS! 

  • dawn rowell

    Thank you for sharing! Great insight to a great idea. Let things happen naturally:) You and your husband’s shoot was great too!

  • dawn rowell

    Thank you for sharing! Great insight to a great idea. Let things happen naturally:) You and your husband’s shoot was great too!

  • Hooray!  I’m so happy that you blogged about your beloved experience!  It truly has been the “missing piece” in photography for me.  I have already adapted it into so many different kinds of shoots: family, solo, couples, and even commercial! with great success.  I’m so excited to see how people’s images change when they start to integrate these great principles!  Thanks for sharing!  and thanks for the link, my friend :)  Always a pleasure to read your blog!

  • Brittany Miller

    Love the images
    AND i LOVE your leapord scarf! Where did u get your scarf from?

  • Brittany Miller

    Love the images
    AND i LOVE your leapord scarf! Where did u get your scarf from?

  • Anonymous

    yeah, I’m pretty sure my husband would NEVER go for this. If a photographer told him to “feel his beingness” he would probably make some smart-ass comment or fake a fart. He’s not a brute – it would just be his way of expressing his thought of “this is stupid”.

    Don’t even get me started how hard it was to keep him polite in our first childbirth-preparedness class. LOL

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t mean to sound negative… I just mean, the beloved thing is probably not for everyone. I’m sure you already know that.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, but THAT is his beingness :) My husband is the same. We were downright rowdy during our Beloved session. We laughed and I’m pretty sure he probably farted at least once. Beloved is about photographing who people really are so unless someone hates themselves, Beloved really is for everyone :)

  • Ok, I know I’m supposed to be focused on the photography and emotion, but I just kept thinking…. she dropped off her 3 kids (and has a stomach like that?!!?).  :)  Damn girl, now you’re in inspiration in too many ways!