I always had a camera in my hand. From those cheap little disposables, to the first digitals that only stored maybe 20 photos ... I was taking pictures of everything. But I never saw myself making a career out of it. I worked in the behavioral health field for years and took a hiatus when we moved to Texas for my husband to attend pilot training for the Air Force; we were planning on adding another child to our family and my husband and I decided that me taking a break from working and focusing on growing and developing our family was for the best. But I grew restless.
So I picked back up a camera and started shooting everything I saw. I began building a clientele within the community, focusing on families, maternity, engagements, and other lifestyle sessions. I experimented. I practiced. I learned from others. I developed. I offered discounted sessions. I did whatever it took to build from the ground up to get to where I am today. I enjoyed working with and meeting new people, capturing those beautiful moments within their families; I had found my calling and I was set! I wouldn't be going back to the behavioral health field; I had started my own business to fulfill my own passions and it was something I could take home with me every day with a smile on my face and a heart so full.
And then I started getting asked about shooting weddings. This was something I just never thought I would get into. For no particular reason other than the fact that we're military, and military moves! Shoot, you're lucky to stay in one place for more than 2 years! And as we all know, people can often plan weddings years in advance ... so what would I do if someone booked me for a wedding and 6 months down the road, we find out we're moving to Europe?
Well luckily, I have an amazing husband who, like myself, believes in me and believes that everything happens for a reason!
When you're about to finish pilot training, you fill out something called a "Dream Sheet." On this sheet, you list out the top planes that you want to fly and the top locations you want to live at. There are no guarantees, but if you perform well, have a good rep with your instructors, and if there is availability at said bases/airframes, you have a shot to go where you want to! My husband was previously with the EC130s as an Electronic Warfare Officer and we had loved the community so much, we had asked to come back. And sure enough, they gave it to us!
But the main benefit of coming back to Tucson? That plane is only here! So if luck would be with us for a while, we could be in southern Arizona for a VERY long time! Which after much discussion, meant that I could start picking up weddings. Again, something I never thought I would get into ... but now that it was an actual option and opportunity, I dove in headfirst! And I must say .... I am in LOVE with being a wedding photographer!
So I had done quite a few leading up to my most recent one but this was one that I most definitely wanted to blog about!
Meet Erin and Austin!
These two lovebirds snatched up my heart before I even knew who they were.
I had been hired by a sweet woman with her young son to take photos of her husband's homecoming; he was arriving back from Afghanistan after a very lengthy deployment and she asked me to capture their reunion. We arrive, we hang out with each other, I chat with other photographers (hi Tori!), then this massive plane finally arrives! Families start getting anxious as the doors slowly open from the front and back of the plane. Time seems to slow as one airman after another exits the plane, but it's not OUR airman yet.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting ...
Then from the corner of my eye, I see this little blonde girl running as fast as she can in her wedges, poster in hand, hair blowing behind her. She runs and jumps into the arms of a tall, red-headed man and he just buried his face into her neck as they cry, holding one another tightly. I snap three photos. I didn't even know or care if they were in focus; they weren't my clients but I just thought it was a super sweet moment and if I caught it, great. If not, then I'll move on. My client's husband arrived and I turned my attention back to them, capturing all of their love.
When I got home, I started sorting through everything. I came across those three photos and noticed they were perfect. I touched them up a bit and then realized I had a small problem. I didn't know this girl. I didn't know this guy. How was I going to get these photos to them? Well thankfully, the power of social media is strong and it took all of 5 minutes for me to track them down.
I posted one of the photos on the base spouse's page asking for assistance in finding her and within minutes, I had had a name and she was tagged! We got in touch with another and she was in tears over the photos .... we became FB and IG friends and two days later, her and Austin got engaged on top of Mt. Lemmon!
First thing they did was ask me to take their engagement photos .... that was an easy yes from me! After chatting with Erin a bit, I knew we would have immediate chemistry in person, and we did ... all three of us! Austin was absolutely hilarious and Erin is just the sweetest person you could ever come across! We chose Empire Ranch out in Sonoita for their Engagement Session to catch those super ranchy, earthy vibes and tones and it was just perfect. We were able to catch so much of their personalities separately and together; the weather was amazing .... ugh, it was just an absolutely perfect session .... I mean nothing could have made it better.
Until they asked me to be their wedding photographer. We hadn't even left the ranch yet, hadn't even looked through their photos. But they had asked me, and I knew deep down, I was hoping they would .... this couple is every photographer's dream. They are naturals in front of the camera without having to try too hard and their chemistry is undeniable .... they are the sweetest people and I was so fortunate to not only have gained some amazing new clients, but some new friends.
Months pass, the planning progresses, and then COVID hits. I was so scared that it would impact their big day ... that all their planning would be affected like so many other brides and grooms that I've worked with. Would they have to cancel? Change the date? Shorten their guest list? But every day without any news was good news and we finally made it!
March 19th was a warm, sunny, Arizona day at Stardance ... the sun was out, not a cloud was in the sky. Erin was absolutely radiant .... I had a feeling I was going to cry when I saw her in her dress, and I did. Her mom and I kicked her bridesmaids out into the other room to do a small "first look" with them, so the two of us helped her get into her dress and do the final touches. As she was adjusting in the mirror, I glanced over at her mom. She wiped away a few tears and for some reason, I felt them start developing in my own eyes. Erin just looked so beautiful, so perfect. And all my brides always do. They're always so gorgeous, so lovely.
But Erin and I had really developed a special bond, and it all began over that photo I took by chance.
I think my favorite thing about being a wedding photographer has to be that whenever I am working a wedding, I don't actually feel like I am working a wedding. The brides and grooms, bridal parties, friends and families .... everyone makes me feel so included, like I am celebrating with them and not working for them. They laugh and joke with me, constantly try and offer me alcohol, pull me onto the dance floor, and by the end of the night, we even have inside jokes .... it's like leaving with a whole other family!
And Erin and Austin's families were no different .... the love you could feel among them just spread to each and every person and in turn, spread to me. Erin's dad tore up the dance floor, Austin's mom's speech had me dying when she put her men in their place, and Erin's mom was the perfect party planner and made sure everything went swimmingly .... and it did.
I was absolutely honored to have been a part of that day, a part of the joining of their two wonderful families.
And it wouldn't have happened if I didn't take those three pictures ...