Resurgence: A Wedding Photographer’s Journey Through Divorce – In the Beginning

A wedding photographer shares her journey getting through an unexpected divorce. | Click to see the full blog post! http://shaunadaniellephotography.com

We met online in December. I sent the first message and was the first to suggest we meet for coffee. I arrived early like I always do and was pleasantly surprised when she was on time. Conversation was easy. She was kind and soft spoken and she loved kids and her cat in equal measures.

Our second and third and fourth and fifth dates came quickly. Dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant (despite my complete inability to eat anything with my hands, I have no idea how we survived), a Giants game, dinner and a movie at her place, dinner and a movie at my place.

Our first kiss was in her backyard when I was on my way home from Wednesday wing night with my girlfriends. It was raining. I knew it was the beginning of something special, but I had no idea I’d just had my first kiss with my future wife.

We were both kind of all in after that. After just a few weeks of dating, I spent Christmas with her family. We started making regular trips over the border to visit with her college friends. We went on our first big trip together to Las Vegas over spring break and moved in together when we got home.

Sharing the cost of rent allowed me to entertain the idea of buying my first camera. She encouraged me and immediately became my biggest cheerleader. I’ll always remember my first paid session – a maternity session at Jericho Beach. She chased me back and forth along the beach while I scouted for locations and pretended I wasn’t completely panicked.

She played my assistant a lot in my days of shooting portraits and never complained. She told me regularly how proud of me she was and happily talked about what an amazing photographer I was to anyone who would listen.

We had been talking a lot about what our future would look like when we went to visit her parents on the Island for July long weekend. After the adventure that is the ferry, bus, SkyTrain, and bus trek for less than driving folks, we flopped on the bed, exhausted. She reached into her backpack beside the bed and pulled out a box. “This is for you.”

I opened the box. It was the engagement ring I’d looked at periodically since I was a teenager – I’d showed it to her totally casually very early on in our relationship. She’d had it shipped to her parents’ place so I wouldn’t be suspicious. “Are you…?”

“Yes.”

I paused, waiting. She had nothing to add, “Then yes, I will!”

We decided we wanted a spring break wedding in Vegas (followed by a government recognized ceremony/at home reception in May) so planning started almost immediately. I’d grown up in a big family and had been to my share of weddings, but still found myself surprised by the amount of things to consider. I was working full time, trying to build a business, and planning two weddings in 9 months. Life was exciting, but stressful. Our relationship lost its sparkle at times, but we always managed to find it again.

photo credit: Allison Suter Photography

Secretly, my kindergarten class helped me write my vows. I thought it was only appropriate given that our love for our careers is what initially brought us together. Our Vegas ceremony was filled with laughter and tears, our Dads walked us down the aisle, we shared our first dance to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” sung by a hot young Elvis impersonator, and we ended the night with a rented double decker bus trip to Fremont. I was a wife and I couldn’t wait to start the rest of my life with her.


photo credit: Bently and Wilson Photography

Meanwhile, back in Vancouver, I was becoming disenchanted with portraits and developing an awesome relationship with our Vancouver photographer. We were legally married in May in a totally unconventional ceremony at The Metro in New Westminster. We walked together down the aisle, wrote eachothers’ vows, had no wedding party, and opted to forgo any formal dances. Our wedding was completely us, and so were our photos.




photo credit: Allison Suter Photography

In September 2012, her best friend got married. I’d shot a handful of portraits of her daughter and she asked if I would photograph the wedding. My wife supported me upgrading to a professional camera regardless of the $3500 price tag. I shot for 14 hours that day and was totally in love.


photo credit: Allison Suter Photography

With our own wedding stresses over, we started more seriously planning our future. We went to Disneyland for our first wedding anniversary, got a puppy, we came up with a timeframe for trying to conceive, brain stormed baby names, built our library through Scholastic book orders at work, and made plans to pay off her student loans and save for a down payment…


photo credit: Stacee Lianna Photography


photo credit: Allison Suter Photography

I quickly realized that I needed to start taking myself seriously as a photographer. I spent a whole summer second shooting for other photographers for experience, taking whatever online courses and webinars I could while she was at work, and charging $100/hour for brides who believed in me and my art despite my lack of experience. Some of our best conversations were the calls I’d make on my way home from a wedding. Partly so I would avoid falling asleep on the bus, but mostly so I could reflect on all the reasons I loved her and why I was so happy she was mine. Our calls became a tradition, of sorts.

She was my future and I wanted to do whatever I could to make sure our life together was a great one.

Read the rest of the Resurgence Series:

Resurgence: A Wedding Photographer’s Journey Through Divorce – In the Beginning
Resurgence: A Wedding Photographer’s Journey Through Divorce – In The End
Resurgence: A Wedding Photographer’s Journey Through Divorce – Looking Back, Moving Forward

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