10 years ago last month James came along to shoot his first wedding with me. I had been shooting for a couple of years at that point but was looking to add a regular second shooter… and having been a manager at a camera store for the past few years – James made perfect sense! I was beyond nervous to have him along with me, but we quickly fell into a rhythm and seeing him across the room working along with me just brought me so much peace and joy! We actually ended up getting snowed in at that very first wedding together – so it is definitely one we won’t ever forget!! It was in Green Bay, WI, and there was a HUGE blizzard that night! We ended up having to stay at the hotel after coverage ended that night because there were white-out conditions and there was no way we were getting back to my parent’s house!
Those first few weddings we had him come along at no cost to our couples to see if he enjoyed doing it and test out how we worked together in those type of situations (because you never know! LOL). It turns out that he loved it, was obnoxiously good at it nearly from the very start, and quickly became the calming force for me (& our couples) on wedding days. We went from offering James as an “add-on” second shooter option to our packages – to an official husband & wife team (no opt outs!) within a year of him joining me… and it was the best decision we’ve made!
Since then we have shot over 250 weddings together from Hawaii to Maryland, California to the Dominican Republic and everywhere in between! Over that time – we have spent years “talking” to each other via a glance across a crowded dance floor or a church full of guests. We have taken countless awkward photos of each other pretending to cut wedding cakes to test our light, and James has shamelessly carried hundreds of bouquets, bridal purses, and thrown veils like a pro!
Now we joke that going to work feels like a date night and couple’s therapy all in one! haha. I mean – showering, getting dressed up and eating dinner together without kids interrupting us (albeit our dinner is usually inhaled in about 5 minutes between speeches) really does feel a little luxurious sometimes! haha. And hearing all the beautiful speeches, handwritten vows, and inspiring stories of love throughout a wedding day feels like the best kind of marriage therapy on the planet. It is such an amazing reminder of the beauty of marriage and the commitment we made to one another all those years ago.
In the same time through all these professional milestones and growth – behind the scenes we were still just a husband & wife chasing down all of our dreams – not just work related. We battled infertility together, and finally decided to share our struggles openly with the world after 4 years of keeping the pain to ourselves. The choice to be vulnerable and share that at a time when nobody we knew was talking about it – was a decision that would forever change our lives! It brought so many amazing people into our lives, and gave us the strength we needed to continue on our journey. 3 failed IUIs, and one round of IVF that resulted in a miscarriage nearly had us throwing in the towel – but we had two last embryos waiting on us so we decided to put all our eggs in one basket (quite literally) – one last time. Thank goodness we did because it finally worked! Both those little embryos stuck! Shooting a full wedding season pregnant with twins was no easy feat but with James by my side, as always, I felt I could do anything.
That same year we purchased our first home in Chicago, thanks to some amazing commercial gigs we were hired to shoot and welcomed our baby boys in March of 2016. I would like to say that 2020 was the hardest year of our business, but looking back – I actually think it it was that first year with newborn twins! haha! Navigating parenthood, the changes that brought to our work-life balance and our marriage… not to mention shooting a full wedding season on top of it – was like nothing we’ve ever done. We went back to work when our boys were just 8 weeks old (We had to! There’s no paid maternity leave when you work for yourself!) – but we made it work somehow (and on very little sleep)! haha!
A couple years later, just when we got our feet back under us (they were finally both sleeping well at night!) and life started to feel a bit manageable again – we were incredibly surprised with a miracle pregnancy after 10 years of only ever being able to get pregnant with a doctor’s help! We welcomed our perfectly healthy little girl, Aya, into the world in December of 2018 after an insanely difficult and scary/stressful pregnancy – and our family was complete.
It has been a wild ride (especially this past year) and like nothing I could have imagined when I brought James along to that winter wedding all those years ago.❄️ We are so incredibly humbled to get to do this for a living, and can never possibly thank our amazing couples and clients enough for opening their homes, hearts, and lives to us!! Working with such truly inspiring, kind, and lovely human beings is what allows us to capture such honest and real images. We cannot thank you all enough.
Oh and in case there is any question – we are not going anywhere! Here’s to 30 years more years! ???? (Seriously though – would it be weird to have wrinkled old grandparents still shooting weddings? No? Cool. Cool. Cool. Haha ????????????????)
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(Final 3 family photos by Simply by Suzy)