This is not your typical portrait session.
This is the side of intimate portraits most photographers don't capture... this is loss, grief, and the raw story of life.
This is not my story to tell, so I will only tell you about the powerful session you’re about to see.
Warning ⚠️ You will want to grab tissues.
Let me start off my saying that we all grieve differently. There is no wrong way to say goodbye to a loved one.
“Grief is just love with no where to go.”
Chelsea walks in with a large box. She places it on the floor with a look of fear. I can tell she is flustered, unsure if she remembered everything yet feeling like she brought too much.
We start to pull out a small box holding letters, their wedding dress's, a few framed wedding portraits ( captured by the amazing Kel C Photography ) and the ashes of her wife. Courtney passed away only months after their wedding day. This session was about capturing the love they shared for each other, saying goodbye to the dress Courtney wore on their wedding day (and trashing the dress for her like she so badly wanted to), writing a letter to heaven for Courtneys birthday, and capturing the pain that's left behind by suicide.
Since I've known Chelsea, she has always been in love with the arts. Singing, music, and photography were just some of the ways she chose to express herself, and with Courtney loving photography as well, she knew this is exactly what they both needed to help with the closure.
We laid out the wedding gowns and I just allowed her to sit and look through everything she brought. She read the letters left behind. She sprayed her perfume all around her. She held her in her hands and told stories of their love.
Before I knew it, we were laying on the ground with little pieces of Courtney all around us. Her smell, her handwriting, the small bits and pieces of her wedding gown, and the warm glow of the sun that felt like a hidden hug... She sat in silence as I captured everything.
"We're all stories in the end..."
This story needs to be shared and this is a story I am so honored to help write.
This was the most emotional session I've ever captured. We couldn't hold back tears even if we tried. This was no longer about holding it all in. It was all about letting go, letting the tears happen, letting the grief out, and suddenly it became so much more than we both ever imagined.
It became a reminder.
A reminder that you're loved, even on days when you feel alone.
That life is hard but you never have to go through it alone.
There are far, far better things ahead than anything we can leave behind.
Never never never give up.
In case you need to hear it, never ever give up...
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255
- Hannah Rachael