As far as first dates go, photographers Bee and Rog Walker’s rendezvous was unassuming. It kicked off with a screening of Bill Cunningham New York—a documentary on the iconic street photojournalist —then dinner. What Kenyan-born Bee and Jamaican-born Rog’s date lacked in extravagance it made up for in visceral intimacy. “It was unreal. I never connected with anyone like that before,” recalls Rog. “After dinner, we just talked, hung out all over the city, and even went to Brooklyn. It felt like a movie.”
Their date was an amorous cinéma vérité which lasted ’til sunrise.
“Even though we had an amazing time, we had no clue what to do next,” Bee discloses. Neither of them planned on dating at that moment. Rog was fresh off a bad breakup, while Bee was getting ready to move to Michigan to start her Ph.D in higher education. “So we decided in a very dramatic fashion to meet in a year to the day of our date and find out if we were meant to be together,” Bee explains.
“Would this deep connection lead to a great heartache?” Rog asked himself at the end of their date. “I wanted to play it safe and miss out on a great thing rather than end up in a troubled place in the future,” he says. So they proceeded with their lives like they’d never met, and relied on faith to bring them back together.
“It’s so funny because the next morning after our date, I called him and was like, ‘Let’s have brunch!’,” Bee remembers. “We really didn’t have to make it so dramatic.” Rog didn’t hesitate to accept her invitation. “Some part of us knew we should be together. We couldn’t wait a year,” he says.
Bee was so convinced that what she and Rog shared would continue to blossom, she chose to stay in New York. “It wasn’t a tough decision. I knew I wanted to be with Rog,” she says.
But the promise of love wasn’t the only motive behind her change of plans. Photography had always been a passion of Bee’s since she was a little girl moving around the world (Zimbabwe, the U.K., Canada) before settling in Southern New Jersey with her parents, who worked in medicine. “I love the whole process of seeing something beautiful, capturing it and having a representation of it that is so close to reality,” she says. Since Rog came into her life, she recognized it could become more than a hobby. “Watching Rog work as a photographer helped me see I could really live a creative life in New York.”
It all started when Bee first met Rog in 2011 at an event. She was already familiar with his burgeoning online portfolio. She approached him to share how much his (aptly titled) project A Love Story touched her. “It was very well shot and it spoke to me. I understood what it was saying,” says Bee. “When she came up to me and told me she enjoyed my work, I was blown away by how beautiful she was,” recalls Rog, who once studied computers before transitioning into photography. “After she walked away, I told my friend, ‘I have to go find that girl and ask her out,’ but she was already gone.”
However, it wasn’t hard for Rog to track Bee down before he took off to London for a month. “She told me she had a blog, so I sent her a message,” Rog says. He invited her to his going away party but she turned him down. “At the time, I was working in Philadelphia. When he invited me, it was a weekday, and there was no way I would be able to go after work.” She stayed on his mind while he was overseas, and he promptly reached out to her when he got back. They went on their “dramatic” first date… and thus their love story began.
“With Bee, I enjoyed the freedom to communicate without all that creative baggage that New York artsy scenesters carry,” points out Rog. At that time, Bee (who now works as a photographer) was working as a counselor for troubled girls. “I’ve dated in that world, and to me everyone’s about their brand and image. Bree seemed very genuine and down to earth.” While Bee’s outsider status back then was attractive to Rog, she reveals that “sharing a passion for the arts plays a huge part in how [we] connect, express and understand each other.”
For Rog, finding a partner that grasped and appreciated his passion for his work hadn’t always been easy until Bee. In fact, A Love Story’s theme touched on how his dedication to his art had often times put a strain on his past relationships. “Rog was up front about his work