I’ve been photographing this amazing couple and their family for almost 2 years now, and I’m so glad to be able to call them friends. They are truly an inspiration to so many in our community. I feel so lucky to know them. When Laura contacted me about doing this session as a surprise for Justin for their 18th anniversary (such an accomplishment!!), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But, the session was a blast and I’m so glad to have a client like Laura who continuously pushes me outside of my comfort zone!
This session was so meaningful to Justin and Laura. They are the parents to 7 lovely, awesome children, and it was time to do something for themselves. I love looking at these images… the love just radiates from them. I’m so glad they decided to share and even wanted to write a little something to explain.
So, a few beautiful, beautiful words from Justin:
This photo shoot may appear to be a run-of-the-mill couples shoot; however, this particular group of images is eighteen years in the making. We have never had photos of just ourselves, except for random shots of daily life or holidays. We have had pregnancy, birth and family sessions to celebrate those moments, but never of just us. In all honesty, at these times the celebration of just us was unfeasible. Now, we feel that our blessed union is truly worth celebrating.
Our marriage started on rocky footing as we were both young and eager, not truly understanding the emotional and psychological baggage we each carried alone. There were several moments of falling into destructive behaviors, dishonesty and the mistrust that followed. Not allowing ourselves to be a single entity, we clashed over our own selfish desires. There were times when it seemed that it was going to end before it had really begun. The challenges of having a large family, work schedules, personal pursuits, schooling and unschooling all added to the strain on a seemingly fragile relationship.
There are many downsides to being willful and stubborn as we both have discovered. We both wanted our lives to go a certain direction, not heeding or yielding to the other. We would often rather butt heads or walk away rather than actually find a compromise. Both talking, but neither really listening. Our bouts lasting for days as neither one us would back down. That being said, there is a powerful upside to having a willful spirit. After every event there was a moment of decision making. And we can happily say that neither of us would back down at this moment either. We weren’t blissfully happy, but we weren’t going to quit.
In what would, at the time that they happened, seem to be a series of tragedies, we learned that the only people we could truly rely upon was each other. Friends were lost due to relational and physical distances. Family was lost due to misunderstandings and physical death. In these moments we had to face the glaring truth that we should have known all along, and perhaps we did, that we were in a very real way all we had. With no one to complain to or escape with we had to turn to each other on a much deeper level. Those moments actually cleared the fog and we really started seeing each other for the people we are and what we mean to each other. Funny enough, our fights with each other became our fight against the world.
We had spent such a long time fighting our demons alone, it was a welcome change to find that we had help. Ironically, the help we so desperately wanted was there all along. By seeing each other not as two different people but as one we were able to overcome much of the habits, and the harm caused by them, that had damaged our relationship in the past. Our problems, our struggles, our lives ceased to be separate. Now united, we found ways to forgive each other and to accept each other for who we are. In that unity and acceptance, we have both become stronger not just for ourselves but for one another as well.
So instead of two close to middle aged, slightly overweight people embracing in front of the camera, please see the two stalwart individuals who fought against the current and reached the point of knowing who they are and where they’re supposed to be. In each other’s arms, knowing the fullness and richness of true, albeit messy, love.