Zara and Jonathan are L.A. lovers through and through: the two met at UCLA during their freshman year and fell in love while discovering their shared city. Twelve years later, Jonathan proposed in the most iconic Angeleno way possible: on a helicopter tour above the skyline! The most impressive part: he's afraid of heights, but he braved the ascent to give his bride-to-be a real L.A. proposal. "When he seemed a little antsy before our tour, I assumed he was nervous about the height," Zara says. "It worked out beautifully for him, because when he finally popped the question, I was completely caught off guard!"
Just like they knew they wanted a downtown Los Angeles wedding, Zara and Jonathan wanted their engagement photos to reflect their home—not the movie-stars-and-tourists part, but the real L.A. they'd come to know and love. They found the perfect spot in the Neutra VDL House, the midcentury modern former home of famed architect Richard Neutra. With its clean lines, lush gardens, and endless natural light, the house screamed West Coast chic, and it made for a fresh, modern, and absolutely gorgeous engagement shoot.
Check out Jeremy Chou's photos of the couple below, and get great ideas for your own engagement session.
Think outside the box: When searching for an engagement shoot location, Zara and Jonathan zeroed in on a few iconic LA spots. "We were torn between choosing more natural environment, like Griffith Park, or a more built-up environment, like the Arts District," Zara says. They first visited the Neutra VDL house as tourists, looking for a way to fill a weekend afternoon, but they realized it occupied the perfect middle ground—filled with both natural beauty and memorable architectural elements. Bonus: their photographer, Chou, had studied the house in person while in architecture school, so he knew it inside and out.
Play with props: "The house's mid-century modern aesthetic dictated every aspect of our shoot," Zara says. The couple brought in some props from their own home that complemented the house's blond wood and clean lines, like a replica Eames chair and their vintage Crosley record player (with a few of their favorite albums) to set the scene. They dressed up in their Don-and-Megan-Draper finest for the occasion.
Do you: A private home was just right for Zara and Jonathan, who are couch potatoes at heart. "On weekends, we like staying in and just enjoying each others' company," Zara says. "So shooting at a private house allowed us to be ourselves, which was important for us." The two both play the piano, and they made sure to take time to punch out a few tunes before the shoot was over.