Every Veterans Day, and lots of days in between since 2005, the Derks family finds its way into my thoughts. Twelve years ago, I covered the funeral of Army Spc. 4th Class Brian Derks for The Muskegon Chronicle. He was only 21 when he was killed in a roadside bombing while on patrol in west of Baghdad. I remember how the small town of White Cloud collectively mourned with his family.
When I first talked to Kevin and Meghan and their wedding plans, Kevin said something about having a quiet, small family and Meghan said, “and mine is large and loud!” The one thing that was the same was their love of the University of Michigan. Meghan is a graduate of U of M and Kevin’s family had been lifelong fans. The couple now lives in Boston but wanted to bring all their wedding guests together in a town and campus they cherish.
An unplanned conflict made this the second attempt to photograph one of my favorite families. It also happened to be what I think was the hottest day of summer. The air was thick and the small air conditioner didn’t quite cut through the humidity of the large warehouse studio we used. But here’s the thing, the Ibrahims are pure at heart, never complain and look stunning even when I know they’re melting. Thank you for being you. I love the way you love each other in these photos.
Adam and Anne trusted me to photograph their wedding just last summer so to be asked again to photograph their newborn son was a bigger honor yet. Little did I know they already had a four-legged family! The best newborn sessions are when you’re finally home, away from the sterile hospital room and the visitors, and you’re settled into home with all the curiosity, messiness and love that comes with your first born.
Along the shores of Muskegon Lake, walking distance from where the bride grew up, Joel and Annah were married underneath a willow tree as sailboats passed. This wedding was a tribute to all the lovely things that make Muskegon, Michigan so wonderful.
High school sweethearts, Erik and Molly, were married at the beautiful Spring Lake Country Club. Even when the weather threatened their outdoor ceremony, it all fell into place with an amazing firework display to end the perfect evening.
Wayne and Tim were married in Smiths Grove, Kentucky at Rockin’ Ronda Repurposed to support one of the local businesses they adore. They stripped their own house of decorations so that a little bit of home made its way into the day and, of course, their two dogs were an important part of it all, too. Small, yet meaningful, elements that made their wedding one of kind — just like their love.
GOODWILL: Achievers of the Year Year after year, I'm inspired by telling the stories of Goodwill's Achievers of the Year. These are people who have had lives that aren't as easy as mine but their desire to work hard and be good citizens makes me proud to know them....
When I look back over 2016’s images I realized what an eclectic mix of subjects I photographed and that’s exactly what I want moving forward.
Katie and Rich were married at Montague Tree Farms, the place where Katie grew up, surrounded by 25 of their closest friends and family. Although they both live in Colorado now, coming home for a laid-back wedding in Katie’s childhood home was exactly what they wanted. They were married around a fire, burned a Christmas tree at the end of the night and released Chinese lanterns.
Kyle and Sam live in Chicago but they chose to get married at Crystal Mountain in northern Michigan to celebrate the state that they shared some of their earliest and most special memories as a couple. They love the outdoors, the Chicago Cubs, to throw big parties and they really love their dog, Stella.
Samantha and Leo’s love story began on the first day of Leo’s freshmen year at Kalamazoo College when they met. They were friends for a couple years first — the way all good relationships start — and have been a couple for many years since. Thirty years ago, the bride’s parents had their wedding at Franklin Hills Country Club as well.