Sometimes it Takes a Village
A story from a local photographer and how the local photography community came together to help.
Photographer for Maria + Derek’s Wedding
Sometimes it takes a village, and I needed that village on December 10, 2022.
I have photographed weddings since 2011. In those 13 years, I have had one child, and while it was challenging towards the end of my pregnancy, I was still able to do my job without any interruptions in my photography business.
Skip ahead to October 2022. I learned I was pregnant with my second child. My husband and I were thrilled. We had dreamed of this moment for years. My only issue seemed to be my age. Being in my 40s presented unique issues, but with my faith and amazing doctors, I believed there was never anything to worry about. The end of 2022 was shaping up to be the beginning of something so beautiful. I had one wedding left to photograph on my calendar and then, besides some second shooting work, I made plans to take a break from wedding photography in 2023.
Sadly, that all changed in the early weeks of December. What I am about to share with you is personal and heartbreaking. Talking about a miscarriage is hard to do. It’s hard to put into words such deep, profound pain, but I’ll try my best.
On Friday, December 9th, I went to the doctor for a routine ultrasound. As the tech began, I noticed something different, I wasn’t being shown the screen and it was taking longer than normal. After some time and with a serious face, she turned the monitor to me and pointed out that the baby had not grown. I choked back tears. She said there was no longer a heartbeat. She was so sorry. She told me that I should get dressed and she would return in a moment to take me to another room to speak with my doctor. As soon as the doors shut, I sobbed in my mother’s arms. It was an aching sob…I couldn’t fathom what was happening to me.
After I was dressed I was escorted to a private room. When the doctor arrived she discussed my options. I just stared at the floor, her words muted in the background. With her arm around me, my mother asked all the questions. Even at 41, she took care of me like she did when I was a child. I sat next to her, quietly crying, as she helped me choose the best course of action. I would have a DNC the following Monday. I just had to make it through the weekend without passing the baby on my own.
This presented a new challenge for me. I had a wedding to photograph the very next day. How was I supposed to do that? How do I not lay in bed and cry all weekend? Any photographer will tell you – you are on your feet and moving ALL DAY when shooting a wedding. CAN I even do that? I knew right then that I needed help. The next morning I sent a text to my closest photographer friends. I cried as I typed the words… “I know this is a long shot, but I am desperate… We lost our baby yesterday… Are you free for any amount of time to help me with a wedding?” Within moments both friends replied. They would have to figure out a few things on their end (since it was such short notice) but that they were here to help. My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude as tears again streamed down my cheeks again.
Even in my sorrow, when Maria and Derek’s day arrived, I was so delighted for them! We had spent a hours together over the past few months discussing their wedding plans and I knew of all the details that were about to unfold. In those early meetings, I also took the time to share with them that we were expecting, so I knew she would understand when I informed her that I needed extra help that day. Above all else, I knew I did not want to disappoint my clients. I did not want to take any attention away from them on their big day or leave them without a photographer in the event something happened to me.
Aleesha Roach and Jordan Thomas were my village. They are two of the best photographers in our area. We, as a community, are so lucky to have access to their talents, personalities, and attention to detail. On a more personal note, I am beyond blessed with their friendship as we navigate the in’s and out’s of motherhood together and the passion we have for community over competition in the world of photography. When they arrived that morning, there were hugs and tears but after a little conversation, I handed out their tasks and they set to work. Jordan would handle anything and everything related to the groom and his groomsmen. Aleesha would stay and help me with all the bridal details and the ceremony.
Aleesha – The creator of our local photography networking page on Facebook. Thanks to her, connections and friendships like this are so much easier to make. I asked Aleesha if there was anything she would like to share and this is what she had to say. “I guess I haven’t really shared with many people exactly why I created “Tog Network”. Back in 2016 I realized that we really lacked much networking and community here for the blossoming industry of photographers. I had read stories of wedding photographers having emergencies and having a community rally around them. We were in desperate need of that type of community here. That’s when I created the group we’re all apart of. So when you asked me that day if I could help out, not only from a friend perspective did my heart go out to you, and I was willing to do whatever it took to help a friend who was in need, but also I felt like a vision for this community had been fulfilled. This is what it’s all about, you’ve got my back, and I’ve got yours. I think it really is a beautiful thing what we have here, we don’t just say community over competition, we are learning from each other, throwing referrals around like confetti, and just genuinely being there for one another in time of need.” Thank you Aleesha. Your help and friendship means the world to me.
Jordan – The most personable, “REAL”, mom-boss out there. She openly shares her triumphs as a mom and a business owner as well as her struggles. Her friendship is invaluable to me and while she didn’t have anything more to add to our story, I want her to know that her help that day meant everything to me. I know God brought us together for times like this.
Maria – When I reached out to Maria, she wanted to share a few things in her own words. “I have had the pleasure of working with Stephanie several times throughout the last few years and she has always exceeded expectations, however, she went above and beyond to make our wedding absolutely perfect. Having Jordan to take care of everything groom-related and Aleesha helping Stephanie only made everything more exceptional. All 3 were wonderful to work with and I’m so grateful to have had Stephanie and her village as a part of our day.”
When Broken Becomes Beautiful.
Maria and Derek’s day was so lovely. My team and I were able to fulfill our duties and provide a beautiful gallery of their day. I should note, as the day went on, I did share my news with the bride. Maria was so incredibly kind about it. My fear of ruining her day was just that, a frivolous fear. In the moments we spoke, she filled my heart with sincere words and I love that she didn’t give it another thought. She enjoyed every moment of her day. I accredit that to the amazing team I had that day. Maria was confident that I had chosen two professionals who knew their craft. She celebrated her new husband, her new name and her new family with elegance and grace. I can also say that without Aleesha and Jordan, I would have struggled that day. Together we were a village. There were risks involved with what I was doing, but I knew these two incredible women had my back and for that I am forever grateful.