A Hitchcock-Themed Engagement Shoot

Seth Jacobson Photography helped TJ Curran and Sarah Hagin reenact scenes from Psycho, The Birds and Rear Window.

When you think of typical engagement photos, you think of couples in matching white shirts and khakis hugging a tree, says TJ Curran. So when he and his fiancée, Sarah Hagin, discussed a formal engagement session with their wedding photographer, Seth Jacobson, Curran jokingly suggested doing something against the tide.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we act out movie scenes? I can be Cary Grant in a cornfield and Sarah could be chasing me in a crop duster,’ ” says Curran, who had previously directed plays for the Epic Theatre Company and Shakespeare in the Park, but is currently a mortgage banker for Mortgage Network in Wayland Square. Realistically, they couldn’t gain access to (or afford) a crop duster, but the crazy idea stuck with the couple. “I said, ‘What if we do a theme?  Because North by Northwest is a Hitchcock movie, why don’t we do Hitchcock movies?’ ” says Curran. “Then we could pick out scenes and act them out.”

Jacobson was immediately excited by the idea. “I am a naturally playful person and I enjoy working with people who want to do things that are fun, interesting and creative,” says Jacobson. “I’ve done things that are outside the box with other people, but I haven’t recreated iconic movie moments before.”

After realizing that the photographer and his future wife were actually game, Curran wanted the look and feel to be as authentic as possible. He and Jacobson worked together to gather costumes.“I reached out to anyone I knew who had access to costumes that would match the style,” says Curran, who also has an acting degree from the University of Rhode Island. Luckily, Marissa Dufault, managing director for the Contemporary Theater Company, who also happens to own a vintage clothing store, had just what they were looking for to reenact scenes from Psycho, The Birds and Rear Window.

Then they had to gather props. Curran ordered twenty-seven fake black birds, a Norman Bates wig and a fake cast on Amazon. “You can get anything you need on Amazon,” he says with a laugh. He also borrowed a wheelchair from Kevin Broccoli of Epic Theatre Company.

The Psycho scene had to be photographed in a friend’s bathroom because Curran’s shower has a sliding glass door and no curtain. Rear Window was shot in their house, and The Birds was shot by the British phone booth in front of Vanity Supper Club in Providence during a hectic graduation weekend when parents were walking by with their graduates.

The most fun for Curran was seeing how much Hagin got into the theme, even though she doesn’t have a background in theater. “From the pictures, you can tell she has acting chops,” he says.

Jacobson is thrilled by the final shots. “I was driving to the photo shoot and I was scared that I wasn’t going to be able to pull it off. I was going places I haven’t gone before and I wanted to do a good job,” he says. “I could make great photos every day that look the same, but I don’t want to do that. I want to do things that take you to different places and stretch me beyond my ability. And I want to make things that are beautiful and mean something to my clients.”

The couple will marry Aug. 9 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Much to our disappointment, it will not have a Hitchcock theme.

Curran and Hagin reenact the Psycho shower scene.
The original Psycho shower scene.


Curran and Hagin act out a scene from Hitchcock's Rear Window.
The original scene from Hitchcock's Rear Window.


Curran and Hagin act out a scene from The Birds.
Original scene from The Birds.