Joseph and Francesco

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Photography | J&J Studios | @jjstudiosphiladelphia

Location | Wissahickon Valley Park

From the Photographer

Philly LGBTQ Photographer John Ryan of J&J Studios captured this romantic engagement for Francesco and Joseph. We were overjoyed when Francesco + Joseph chose Forbidden Drive, Wissahickon Valley as their engagement location for their Philly LGBTQ Photography. Wissahickon Valley Park is a beautiful, woodsy in Northwest Philadelphia bordered by the quaint Roxborough, Chestnut Hill and Andorra neighborhoods. An excellent choice for any Philadelphia couple wanting a woodsy feel to their engagement pictures. The park closely borders Wissahickon Creek which makes for stunning sunrise engagement photos. The beautiful morning mist as the sun slices through the trees gives these following photos a romantic, ethereal feel–exactly what the couple wanted for their engagement photos.

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two first meet?

Joseph and I both met in medical school. He grew up in Texas and I grew up in New Jersey. It took us both to move to the Caribbean for our paths to cross. It was the second day of my arrival when we met and we initially started out as friends. Our relationship quickly grew stronger as we spent every waking hour together (most of the time we were studying). We learned more about each other very quickly (spending 12-16 hours with someone each day will do that) and after just a few short months together, it felt like we’ve known each other our entire lives. We’ve been together for 6 years now and haven’t looked back.

What makes your relationship special? Tell us some things that you both value in your time together. What makes your relationship unique?

Being in same profession, we understand the devotion and dedication medicine expects from its physicians. We support one another after a long day at work and provide a welcoming sound board for discussion of difficult or interesting cases. We’ve had days that we would not see one another while living in the same apartment. This is typically when one of us works nights while the other works days. During those demanding weeks, it’s the little moments in passing, like a short kiss good morning or a simple “goodnight” text that mean the most. We’ve learned to cherish the moments we have together since our time off can be extremely limited. Our relationship continues to thrive despite us being apart for many hours of the day and we’ve adapted to make every moment together matter.


How did you know your partner was the one? When did you first know this in your relationship?

I’m not sure there was one “moment” that I knew he was the one. We were each other’s support system during arguably the most trying and difficult four years of our lives. It’s more of an accumulation of moments together and a foundation of support that solidified our relationship.


Give us all the details about the proposal. How and where did it happen? Was it a surprise? What was the planning process?

Joseph and I were discussing purchasing rings together around 4 years into our relationship. We both knew we wanted matching bands with plenty of diamonds. We never truly discussed who would propose to whom, but I just knew he wanted to be proposed to. I started brainstorming ideas of how to propose. He mentioned multiple times how the Brooklyn Bridge was one of his favorite architectural bridges in the world. We also both moved around a lot throughout medical school and I wanted our proposal to have elements of our 5 years together. When we unexpectedly moved to Philadelphia in 2018, and I took advantage of our proximity to NYC to include the Brooklyn Bridge in the proposal.Our first joint apartment was in Miami and we lived in a building with a restaurant called Sugarcane. Joe had visited Brooklyn and told me that Sugarcane opened up a second location in Dumbo and it overlooked the Brooklyn Bridge. With this new information, I was able to formulate a plan.His birthday is in December and I luckily had a rare weekend off during residency. I purchased us tickets to see a Broadway play for his birthday so we would have an excuse to visit NYC. A college friend of mine works as a stage manager throughout the city and I asked her if she knew any freelance photographers. Miraculously, her current boss, Lloyd, was a freelance photographer! He was incredible, and even scoped out the perfect spot on the bridge to include the NYC skyline in the proposal photos. We shared locations that evening so I would know exactly where he was and he could follow our progression over the bridge.I booked us a hotel right at the entrance of the bridge on the Manhattan side. I told Joe I had a plan for us to walk the bridge over to Dumbo so we could have dinner at Sugarcane for his birthday. I asked Joe to bring his camera (he loves photography) so he could take a picture of the NYC skyline at our walk. Little did he know, the spot I planned to have him turn around to take the picture was exactly the spot where Lloyd was waiting for us.When Joe finished taking the photographs and turned back around, I was down on one knee with his ring in my hand. Despite buying the rings already, I still caught him by surprise. To this day we both have no idea what I said but we know he said yes! Lloyd captured the entire moment, and Joe was quite confused as to why some “stranger” was taking pictures of us. We proceeded to complete our walk across the bridge and arrived at Sugarcane for dinner. Joe thought I made a reservation for just the two of us, but waiting there were our friends to celebrate the occasion with us. We spent the remainder of that night eating, drinking, and dancing with those we loved in celebration.


We’re all about the bling… Tell us all about that ring!

Joe and I both knew we wanted matching bands and luckily we shared the same taste! We wanted an engagement band that had diamonds throughout the majority of the ring. When perusing the different styles, we did not like most of the “men’s” bands. Our engagement rings were ultimately selected from the “women’s” side – but honestly, rings don’t have gender! Our ring base is white gold with 2 rows of diamonds encircling the majority of our finger. There is a small break in the diamonds at the base of the ring (Joe had a very convincing story as to why we should not have diamonds around the entire ring – which can be shared at another time).


Are you excited to start planning your wedding day? Do you have any ideas in mind yet?

We are very excited about our wedding but still are unsure as to what we want exactly. We have a general idea of the style we want and Joe has had a wedding planning folder for ages. Our hold up is that we still cannot decide about the size of our wedding but we know we’re looking at May 2021!