Sunday, March 18, 2018

Ethan & Olivia

When I moved to Flagstaff almost 14 years ago, I met many new people all at once. I inherited a new family and along with them an extensive network of friends. One of them was Sue, our church's pianist. At first we would share anecdotal stories here and there in the foyer. We were more or less acquaintances. But sometime in the decade that followed she and I realized we were kindred spirits. We are the kind of friends who have to avoid each other because if we start talking, it'll be 3 hours before we stop. We saw the world through similar frames, and who doesn't feel a special kinship with people who you feel really understand where you come from. She also was one of my biggest fans. I remember her raving about my photos to someone after one of the first weddings I had done in Flagstaff. I remember feeling so validated and appreciated. For the past couple of years I have been turning down wedding photography for the most part, but I knew that if Sue asked me to do one of her kid's weddings... it would be difficult to decline. It wasn't Sue however who approached me. It was Olivia, her future daughter in law. Ethan, her son, had managed to find another kindred spirit who was impossible to decline.

Olivia has a personality much bigger than her body. She laughs with her whole torso. If she finds anything even slightly amusing her head reels back and out of her mouth comes a laugh that summons every eye to turn in her direction. And as quickly as she laughs, she cries. Not only does this make her and I a lot alike, but this is easiest type of subject to photograph. Emotionally wide open and ready to be captured. Ethan on the other hand is fairly quiet, and on a normal basis more guarded with his displays of emotion. His demeanor however takes on a decided transformation whenever Olivia enters the room. He is besotted and it was never more clear than on their wedding day. So photographing them was easy. And God knew with the streak of craziness I've had, I needed to have a day where I wouldn't have to work for any of the emotions that are in these pictures. It was special and wonderful to be a part of their day.

And to Olivia's family... I was humbled and blessed to meet you. You are a beautiful and inspiring example of Christianity and I was very much reminded to reprioritize my life to be a better wife and mom. I know Olivia will miss you fiercely, but I also know from personal experience that she will be happy in Flagstaff and there are some of the world's best ready to nurture and love her up on this mountain. Now whether our church can handle two of us roaring with laughter the way we do... we have yet to see.

P.S. I have had a few requests to do more weddings, and I wanted to just let everyone know that I really am now "officially retired" from wedding assignments. The ones you may see in the future will only be those of very close family and friends. It is hard for me because it's now woven into my identity. It's something I love doing but it consumes more time than what I have. I know with assurance that it matters more that I have time for my kids and husband right now than satisfying my creative outlet. God knows the plan for my life and He knows where he'll use my talents in the future. I couldn't have asked for a better pair to officially end this chapter of my career on and am so grateful for each person who trusted me on their big day. I will always be humbled that you chose me.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Eliane & Flavio

Sometimes in life when you ask for clear skies, you get clouds and rain ... and somehow it's exactly what you needed even if it's not what you thought you wanted. And the miracle? It was not the doom and gloom predicted... it was mostly dry... romantic.. and dramatic. It was perfect for the adventurous and enthusiastic pair that I had to photograph. I was so thankful my prayers were answered for the rain to stay at bay. I was so excited about incorporating the epic landscapes into their pictures and I was so grateful to be able to capture them as I pictured it. The moments of sunshine rewarding and more beautiful than a flawless blue sky. I loved watching Eliane and Flavio smile through all the four seasons that were displayed on one summer day in the mountains of Switzerland... and I felt confident that they flourish no matter what life hands them. Most weddings I have to use my "do a fake laugh" trick to oil the cogs and get everyone to genuinely smile... not this bunch. I don't have a single serious photo... they were truly happy. Beautiful people on the inside and out and probably my favorite venue to date, the Wetterhorn lodge in the Alps. Thank you to Eliane's best friend Hannah who is my cousin who connected us. I am grateful for the opportunity and thankful I was able to share your day. Enjoy a few highlights! P.S. Shout out to my awesome Aunt Christina who made the cake. It was amazing and matched the venue perfectly!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tresor and Naomi

14 years ago an email popped up in my inbox from my friend Maranatha. She was getting married and she needed a photographer and she wanted ME to take the pictures. I immediately refused. To that date, I had only taken photos of animals and landscapes... the occasional portrait of a friend or family member... but nothing even remotely close to a wedding. I was an amateur, with amateur equipment and I was absolutely unsuitable for the job. But she said she had faith that I could do it and wouldn't take no for an answer. I proceeded with heavy caution and a warning that she may regret her decision. Their wedding was beautiful... but it was the most stressful day of my life to that point. I was shooting with film so I had no idea how the pictures were turning out. I ran out of batteries and film and scrambled to nearby stores to restock. I told myself I would NEVER EVER do it again. And then I got the photos developed. They were beautiful. Not like the ones I take now, but still the most rewarding images I had taken to that date. As you all know, it was not the last wedding I would shoot.

Now, one and a half decades later, I stepped off the plane in Montreal to photograph her baby sister's wedding. Ironically my life has taken many twists and turns and I feel like it may be one of the last weddings I take on because I have so many other commitments. But I am grateful I was wrangled into this family to shoot their weddings because in the past 14 years I've had the opportunity to travel to awesome places, grow as a person and an artist, and fellowship with amazing people. Naomi and Tresor were no exception.

Naomi is a born and raised Montreal native. Tresor is an African immigrant living in Paris. Both are amazing artists and musicians. Naomi is my age, 35, and she gave a beautiful speech speaking of God's love in her life when He gave her Tresor. How he numbers the hairs on our head, and knows before we do how we will spend our days, and who he will place in them to share them with. It was wonderful to see how God placed them together... and a reminder that he has someone perfectly suited for everyone.. and through trial and tribulation.. He already knows the end of the story, and if we are supposed to be with someone... God will make a way.

Naomi's and Tresor's faith was so evident at their wedding... even down to her confession that ALL WOULD WORK OUT with the details of the day. There were many miraculous things that happened down to how God intervened to get me to the wedding on time. Everywhere we went beautiful light followed... and when they agreed to take their shoes off a descend half way down a cliff face to get photos in front of a waterfall... they were greeted with a rainbow. I pray that for the rest of their life, that when they decend into valleys... when times get rough or challenging... that they embrace it the way they did the cliffs on their wedding day. With no fear or hesitation. With excitement for the results that would follow the challenge. And with God's love ever present and highlighting each part of their lives like that rainbow did.

Le Dieu vous benit Tresor and Naomi! And thank you to the Fergusson family for always believing in me (especially you Maranatha). You're a big part of my journey and I will always be thankful and grateful for you!

Here are a few of my favorites of their day in Shawinigan, Quebec!