I have been dragging my feet writing my first blog because I didn’t know what I wanted to blog about. As 2015 came to a close, I was able to look back at all the people I had the pleasure to work with and it became clear to me who I wanted to write about.
Late August, a friend of mine tagged me in a Facebook post that was asking for referrals for photographers. A few hours later, a woman had messaged me asking me to contact her sister who needed a photographer. She said that her sister didn’t use social media but had asked her to reach out through her Facebook page to find someone to photograph her wedding. She gave me her sisters number and told me to call her. I was a little hesitant to initiate the first contact with a a potential client.
I decided to make the call and a woman by the name of Jessica answered. I explained who I was and we shared some small talk. She explained to me that she needed a photographer for her wedding. I asked her the date of the wedding and she told me it was September 26. At first, I thought she meant for the following year but then she explained to me that she needed someone in the upcoming weeks. My first thoughts were why is she looking for a photographer so close to her wedding day? Did her original photographer bail on her?
I decided to ask her why and then she proceeded to tell me that she was originally supposed to get married in May of 2016 but they had to push the date up. She went on further to tell me that two weeks prior, she found out she has breast cancer and she wanted to get married before she lost her hair. I got chills and my eyes filled up with tears. I didn’t know her at all but I instantly felt a connection with her. Without seeing any of my work, she hired me over the phone. I knew I had to do whatever I could to make the day special for her. I agreed to meet her and her fiancee, Jonathan, for coffee so that we can go over all of the wedding details.
We met the following week. My first impression of Jessica was that she was stunningly beautiful, with a vibrant personality and a positive outlook on life. She shared some more information about her diagnosis and explained that three days after her wedding she would be going in to have a double mastectomy followed by several rounds of chemotherapy. She expressed her love for the city of Cleveland, Cleveland sports teams, Superman, her two beloved dogs, and Chuck Taylor’s. It was important to her and Jonathan to try to add some of these elements into her wedding photos.
The weeks ahead were filled with a lot of anticipation and excitement. I had only shot a few weddings by then but I knew that I had to deliver big for Jessica and Jonathan because it was going to be a highly emotional day. The wedding was held on a small cruise ship called The Goodtime III. Following the ceremony guests were ushered down to the second level to enjoy a reception dinner that included a 3-hour cruise along the shores of Downtown Cleveland. It was a day of celebration, as many relatives of the couple traveled long distances to be a part of their day but more than that, it was about people coming together during a difficult time to show their support to the beautiful bride and her loving groom.
This was a moment that will always stick with me. I knew what she was thinking and feeling. I couldn’t help but to cry along with her. The reality of what she was about to endure had hit her and she needed this, she needed to cry and so he let her. I will never forget the way he looks at her and how attentive he is. It was truly beautiful to see such a deep connection between two people.
After the ship had docked, we decided to explore Downtown Cleveland to take some photos. The weather was gorgeous. Both of their personalities really came alive while we were shooting. We ventured to Shooters on the Water, the West Side of the Flats Riverbank, and ended with an amazing view of the city just in time for the golden hour.
Jessica and Jonathan had a beautiful wedding. If I could recall one thing about their wedding day is how genuinely happy she was. Jessica has such a great spirit and I am so honored to have been a part of their big day. I’ve spoken with Jessica since her surgery. Her surgery went well and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy. She says chemo is very hard but the hardest part was losing her hair. She is taking everything one day at a time. I will post another update as soon as I can.
Since posting the blog I have been in contact with Jessica. She is doing well and has six more rounds of chemo to go. She has such an amazing spirit and is doing her best to make light of a stressful and trying time. She wanted me to share some recent pictures of her and her husband, Jonathan. In the summer, she would like to schedule a follow up session.