“I almost canceled.” Three words a photographer never wants to hear from a client when arriving for a photoshoot. Kathy didn’t have a long day. She didn’t have a long week. She’s a mama of 5 and I imagine she’s had a long many years. She was overwhelmed and exhausted. The last thing I wanted was for our time together to feel like another chore to check off her to-do list. I’ve known Kathy since I was a baby, and I suppose you could say that I was rather excited to do this photoshoot right off the bat. When she expressed her desire to put it off, I was all the more determined to make this photoshoot a memorable experience for everyone there.
Most Phoenix natives are familiar with and even have a close relationship with the mountains to the South. Growing up, my former church held fellowship events that included water fights and lots of food at ramadas tucked somewhere in the middle of this massive mountain range. Living in the North Valley and changing churches didn’t prompt visits to this desert hotspot until I began doing photoshoots at Scorpion Gulch, a photographer-favorite! So when Kathy told me that she wanted to do her photoshoot here, I thought I had a decent idea of what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to end up on a paved road wrapping around a mountain East to all of what I know as South Mountain. “This used to be my mountain. Now I share it with my kids.”
I could write a novel about my time with Kathy and her family. There was laughter and tears, and through it all, hearts were emptied of burden and filled with the most purest of joys. I don’t for a moment believe the moments we shared during this photoshoot were a product of a determined photographer. Every laugh and every tear was organic which makes this session all the more special to me.
Kathy, I have to thank you for all reminded me. Sharing what’s most important to us with our loved ones is one of God’s greatest gifts. Having a safe space to call our own, a place to be alone in silence with nature is another one of God’s greatest gifts. Even as parents, having such a place is crucial to our mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing. Thank you for sharing this place with me. Thank you for also reminding me that we don’t know when we will be granted the honor of making a major difference in someone else’s life. These opportunities are not always neon signs, but rather normal mundane interactions. I had so much fun with you and your family and I love you all tremendously!