As 2017 closes, I’ve been thinking about all the places we’ve gone this year and the new additions to life right here at home. After 83 shoots in all corners of the U.S, and several in different countries, this year has been the busiest we’ve ever had.
Our daughter Roxy turned 1. We opened a brand-new studio in downtown Charleston with our friend Raheel Gauba (and with immeasurable help from Steve Saporito). We saw some of the most famous pop stars alive perform for private parties, and we witnessed parents cut loose at receptions, ending up naked in the ocean.
We reunited with families we love so much, witnessing the brothers and sisters of several of our past brides and grooms find the person they were meant to be with. We met new groups of people we look forward to photographing forever. We took a lot of shower photos. We took a lot of sunset photos. We took a private boat at sunset across Lake Como in Italy, wondering how we ever got so lucky.
We photographed a wedding right down the street from our home that had every ounce of excitement any wedding could ever hope for. Ryan went all over the U.S. and Asia for weddings and family sessions. Mauricio went all over everywhere for everything, shooting, teaching and taking care of his family. Every day is completely different from the last, and every day I learn a new lesson on how to be a better photographer and hopefully better person.
As the last blog post of the year, we wanted to end on a trip that made me fall in love with being a photographer once again. It started when our former groom Jonas wrote us out of the blue and asked if Erin and I could come to Tokyo to document his life with Jen as a surprise for her. He wanted to make sure they remember the amazing life they have together right now in a city they love so much. They have a passion for exploring Tokyo, finding every good coffee shop, eating at new restaurants, and hanging out with their friends in little bars with really colorful drinks made by bartenders in tuxedos. But they are also incredibly humble, and live in a small apartment with just a mattress on the floor for their bed (they have since bought a bed I’ve heard).
When we photographed their engagement session in San Francisco and then wedding in Hawaii, we loved them right away. But this trip forged a friendship I could never have anticipated. Because the trip was so long (two weeks), Erin had to stay home to be with Roxy. And that was, by far, the longest I had been away from Roxy at that point. But as soon as I touched down in Tokyo, with Jen and Jonas holding a sign that said my name, I was given the full guest experience. It wasn’t even like I was working. Basically, every day they treated me like a vacationing friend, showing me their favorite spots in town and taking me to the most important monuments and temples in Tokyo and Kyoto. We searched for coffee by day and geishas by night. And it was during the cherry blossom season, so the entire area was alive with beauty. We ate endless sushi, fed birds and jumped off everything Jen could find.
The second leg of the trip took us to Jen’s home of Taipei, Taiwan, where we stayed with her family who owns an herbal medicine shop. Getting to experience life there in a real home versus a hotel was incredible. They would make huge feasts at her grandfather’s house across the street, and we’d visit with all of Jen’s friends downtown at night. And we also got to see three of our former couples, (CM and Christine, Elaine and Tony, and Joyce and Wei), and photograph their families too.
When you spend two weeks with people, all day and most of the night, you either get really close or really agitated. But with Jen and Jonas, it was like finding new best friends right in the middle of my life. When I finally flew out, I missed them so much, and we continue to text all the time. They just flew back to Dallas, where Jonas grew up, to be with his family for Christmas. I wish they could come a couple hours east to stay with us. But that’s another trip, and another search for the perfect coffee.