When Karina and Evan dreamt of their engagement shoot, Evan had a very clear vision in mind. “We wanted something a bit different” explained Karina. ” Evan is a former wedding photographer with a strong creative streak and a visual arts background. He loves Urbex, and challenging the status quo through his art, so an abandoned power station seemed like the perfect fit!”

The couple, who chose Kirsten Cunningham Photography to capture their vision, found the abandoned Newcastle Power Station and decided it was the perfect fit. We were a little nervous and did a reccy the day beforehand to make sure it was safe and secure. We had to buy gumboots to trek through some knee-deep water to get there! We wanted to tell our story through the images – Karina as a poised, elegant dancer reading a Polish classic novel (a nod to my Polish heritage), and Ev as the gallant, deep thinker in suspenders. We loved the contrast of our formal, polished attire, with the dilapidated, graffitied old factory. We wanted bold, romantic and edgy.” And can we talk about their attire before we encourage you to dive into this story? Because Karina’s yellow dress is just about all the joy we need for The Yellow Issue. Can we turn glam yellow gowns in abandoned power stations into a thing?

It was while at work that Karina and Evan’s paths first crossed. “We were both working at Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCFA) in 2018, although in different teams” reminisces Karina. “After connecting one day through a mutual colleague and a conversation about the gym, Ev slid into my DM’s and it was on (“like Donkey Kong,” he says). We chatted online for a few days and that Saturday night (thanks to some liquid courage on my part), we met up for a drink in the city. When he showed up at my house the next day, I knew there was something about this guy. There is a big age difference between us – I was 25 and Ev was 39 – so I was a little sceptical at first. However we fell hard and fast, and within 6 months moved in together.”

Evan popped the question while the pair were on holiday in the Northern Territory, Evan completely surprised Karina while they took a helicopter ride over Uluru. “In November 2020 we went on a 10-day road trip around the Red Centre. After carrying the ring in his hiking backpack for 7 full days, Ev surprised me with a helicopter ride over Uluru “for my birthday”. I had had an inkling that he was going to propose on this trip (we had chosen the ring a few months earlier), however, as soon as I saw the helicopter I thought “there’s no way it’s happening today”.  The poor guy is afraid of both enclosed spaces and heights, so was absolutely crapping himself.

After 30 amazing minutes of flying over Uluru, we touched down on the ground, and Ev got down on one knee in front of the chopper while the pilot was apparently taking a “souvenir photo” for us. Turns out, Ev had been planning this whole thing with the helicopter company for weeks in advance, so the pilot was fully across it and he filmed the whole thing! He was so so excited for us.

It was the best surprise ever and the most magical day. That night, we had already planned to do the Sounds of Silence dinner at Uluru, and it was a beautiful way to celebrate – we will never forget it. To top it all off, the very next day was my 28th birthday! Now whenever we see Uluru on TV or in pictures, we think of that life-changing trip.”

On Evan, Karina tells “Ev has the biggest and kindest heart of anyone I know. He will always put others before himself (often to his detriment) and connects with everyone and anyone. At PCFA I used to listen to him speaking on the phone with these grumpy old men with prostate cancer or their distressed wives, and he would be so empathetic and kind, that they would end up having a good laugh together.” And Evan on Karina? “I love Karina’s butt, her endlessly positive attitude, the Greek coffees she makes, her caring and loving nature, her muscles, her strong family values.”

Karina and Evan loved every moment of working with their photographer. “Choosing local vendors was important to us in planning our wedding. We chose to get married in Orange NSW and wanted to support as many of the local businesses as we could (rather than shipping people in from Sydney where we live).

Kirsten came highly recommended, and we had seen some of her work photographing previous weddings at our chosen venue. We chatted with her over Zoom and connected instantly. Evan pitched his idea of the abandoned power station to her and she was on board straight away – she got so excited! She was very patient and willing to let Evan be the Creative Director of the shoot.

We also liked that she has a visual arts background, and was able to think outside the box and push the boundaries of a ‘typical’ engagement shoot. She made us feel confident in front of the camera, and helped us embrace the moment!”

“Evan is a devoted Sydney Swans fan. When we met, I knew absolutely nothing about AFL and did my best to keep up with the game to try and impress him. We even took to kicking around an AFL ball on Sunday mornings at the park. It was all fun and games until I tripped over the ball and broke my foot in the middle of the park. We were 4km from home and without our phones.

Evan sprinted all the way back home to get the car, while I sat sobbing on the park bench (it really hurt!!) Evan finally came back and piggy-backed me to the car, and we went straight to emergency. Needless to say, I am now a Sydney Swans member.”