Light: For Don

I don't remember the first time that I met Don. I'm sure that it was around 4pm one afternoon as he wandered into Niedlov's for a post-swim croissant and a cup of coffee. I'm sure that he told me about whatever book or literary article he had read that day, and then made a joke about how he really needs to cut back on his pastry consumption. I am sure that he caught me as I walked by his table, and engaged me in discussion about something, anything, in a way that only Don could.

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This routine went on for a long time, casual, enlightening interactions with a man so generous with his knowledge. It must have been 2 years before we even exchanged names, at which point my coworker turned to me and said, "you know who that is, don't you?" He was my friend's grandfather. Sometimes you have friends in life that leave a mark; the kind of mark that touches your heart and sits there almost unnoticed, but ready for you when you need to be reminded you're not alone. Trenna must have got this from her grandfather. 

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After a while I accepted a new job opportunity and consequently I got to see less and less of Don, but this led to one of my favourite memories of him. One day, after a particularly long and painful day at work, the kind of day that makes you question your self and your worth, I decided to swing by the cafe for a bagel. As I walked through the door, Don - croissant in hand - turned around and gave me the biggest smile. He embraced me in the warmest hug and said "Ah! You get more beautiful every time I see you!" I have learned since then that he often had a way of giving people exactly what they needed when they need it most. It may not seem like much, but seeing him that day gave me the confidence I needed to choose my sanity over my work.

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After I made the decision to leave my job, I had a lot of more free time to dedicate to my swimming. Swimming has always healed me physically and mentally. I have noticed that when I stop swimming things slowly but surely take a turn for the worse. One afternoon I went for a swim, and the lanes were all taken. A moment later a swimmer stood up and waved enthusiastically, inviting me to share a lane - lo and behold, it was Don. We ran into each other a couple more times after this, and though we never got much time to talk I always enjoyed the company of swimming beside him. I later learned that he, like me, had swam competitively in his youth.

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One thing I have always struggled with in my photography is having the confidence to ask. For me, it's always been hardest to ask permission to take a picture. Private places, homes, people's portraits... no matter how much I wanted to, I had no courage to take advantage of the moment and to ask the simple question, "Can I take your photograph?" This is my one and only regret from my time with Don. He had kind eyes, a deep belly laugh, and a contagious smile. He radiated wisdom. I have never felt so much desire to take someones portrait. I am sure that had I asked, he would have been more than happy to help, because that is who he was. 

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When I learned that Don had passed I was devastated. This man, that I had spent only a handful of moments with, was gone and it left a huge hole in my heart. The impact this man had on my life was huge, and it seems he had this powerful effect on many, many others throughout his life. A few days after I received the news I went for a swim. It wasn't a conscious decision but it was what I needed. That morning as I swam, the light crept up the walls and danced all around the room. I wanted to photograph it. I owed it to Don to ask. I owe it to Don not to hold back anymore.

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Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry, 
I am not there; I did not die.
— Mary Elizabeth Frye

Burton + Lavieri Family

I had so much fun with this beautiful family by the lake 2 weeks ago! It was a perfect fall day for some outdoor family fun. I couldn't help but smile as I worked on these photos of a sweet family laughing and enjoying each others company in the sunshine...

 Nothing like a grandma's love.

Nothing like a grandma's love.

 Putting smiles on faces are what big brothers were made for...

Putting smiles on faces are what big brothers were made for...

 ... and Dad is pretty good at it too!

... and Dad is pretty good at it too!

 Nothing like a fall palette for the perfect group shot.

Nothing like a fall palette for the perfect group shot.

 So many playful memories saved!

So many playful memories saved!

 One happy and in love set of parents.

One happy and in love set of parents.

Katie + Peter

It's really hard to shoot a wedding when you are friends with the bride! My hands were shaking from holding back tears as they exchanged their vows in front of close family and friends. Such an intimate garden wedding is perfect for two people as humble and wholesome as Katie and Peter. I wish you both all the luck and love in the world in your love and marriage! Thank you for letting me be a part of your special day!

 Not even a hint of nerves as she waits to walk down the aisle to her love.

Not even a hint of nerves as she waits to walk down the aisle to her love.

 Picturesque Octoberfest wedding!

Picturesque Octoberfest wedding!

 Greeting her bridesmaids for the first time as Mrs. Bradshaw.

Greeting her bridesmaids for the first time as Mrs. Bradshaw.

 Making time to make a plate - pretzels, brats, and bread!

Making time to make a plate - pretzels, brats, and bread!

 Holding each other up whilst listening to moving speeches from family.

Holding each other up whilst listening to moving speeches from family.

 A quick embrace in the midst of swirling and spinning across the dance floor with family and friends.

A quick embrace in the midst of swirling and spinning across the dance floor with family and friends.

Katlyn

Model, muse, and faithful friend - Katlyn has supported both my photography and myself as long as I've known her. She has taught me as much about being comfortable behind the camera, as I have taught her how to be comfortable in front of it. This blog is just a short testimony to her lively spirit that brightens the room, and explodes through the camera!

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