I have struggled with what to write about for my first blog post. I have needed to start a blog for years. I am far from a writer. I am terrible at grammar and quite frankly feel funny putting words online that I know no one will read. Today is different. I do not care if the first person reads this. I want to honor my friend Elaina. She left this earth far far to soon though she left a mark on it farer and wider than most can dream of doing. Elaina was a special person. I want to share with you a little about her from my perspective.
The day I met Elaina I knew we would be friends. She was one of the first brides I “signed” as myself as the primary photographer. When we met I was so nervous. We sat down and I thought to myself…she has to pick me. She was not just stunningly gorgeous. She was also whitty, laughed with a pure joy I had never seen before and had the sweetest most melodic voice. She and Aaron seemed so in love and I knew we would get along and take great photos together. They did pick me! Before the wedding we chatted often between engagement photos, bridals photos book designs and print and canvas orders we talked A LOT! I looked forward to our chats. As soon as I heard her voice a bad day could turn brighter. She made a person feel important.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
The day of their engagements it was HOT. They were so laid back or in love….or both… they didnt seem to care. I noticed how Aaron looked at Elaina. He exuded love and she returned it. You could tell he was not a “fan” of taking the photos. BUT then he looked at her and he seemed to relax. They were like Yin and Yang together. When we finished the formal poses they sat at this table and shared a cupcake. THAT is when I really saw Elaina. That laugh!!! She was just happy. I left that shoot with a smile from ear to ear. I knew that on their wedding day we would have such an amazing day. I couldn’t wait!!!
Next was Elainas bridal shoot. She pulled up in her little car and stepped up all made up and ready to go. I looked at her and said “you drove her like that (wearing her bridal gown)?” She said “yep”. We looked at each other and laughed and I said “Elaina Spradley you are one of a kind”. At this point we time we knew each other and quite honestly I had a hard time getting the “posed” photos that I knew I had to get because all I got was this:
Perfection huh? I love the joy she had for life. She made my day so fun!
One thing that was so strange is when I shoot on the beach the seagulls dont stay around. Unless you have food to bribe them with. We didnt. They didn’t care. Wonder why? They felt her peace too?
Just two short weeks later was her wedding. I couldn’t wait. It was lovely as planned. She suprised me though, and she shouldn’t have. I already knew she was special. She was the calmest bride I had ever seen. She let everything roll of her back. When Aaron strolled out to their first look in sandals. She giggled and said “Oh no he didn’t” I tensed up and thought “uh oh” were in trouble. She looked at his feet and they both laughed. Who does that? Most brides would have had a fit. She didnt care. She was having the day of her dreams and nothing was getting in the way!
The wedding was a day to remember with lots of friends and family.
Elaina, Aaron and their family and friends danced, laughed and celebrated throughout the night. It was such a fun day.
After the wedding I raced to get her photos edited as fast as I could. I edited and delivered the photos in less than 2 weeks! Then we created a photo album. I can still hear Elaina when she called me to tell me how much she loved her album. Not many couples get their photos and albums so fast. I hear nightmares of years going by. Well, I guess God works in mysterious ways because on Feb 12, 2014. Four months after this amazing day Elaina passed away. I have sat and wondered many times why such a beautiful life taken so soon. Elaina had so much going for her. She had just gradutated from college. Just won Employee of the month at Beau Rivage Casino, Biloxi and had so much more she could contribute to this world. No matter what the reason I look forward to seeing her one day and feeling her loving warm spirit again.
I owe Elaina a lot. She is with me every wedding I shoot. I used to be exteremely nervous before every wedding I shot. Now right before I go to a wedding I close my eyes and speak to her. I ask her to be with me and bring peace to myself and my coulples. It works! I have always liked shooting weddings. Now I love them!!! I have altered what photos I see as perfect. I am no longer looking for the perfect posed photos. I am trying to SEE a person deeper than a perfect smile and posture. In her short time we spent together she impacted me more than she will ever know. Thank you Elaina! You are one of a kind.
Please take a moment to pray for Elainas family today.
In Loving Memory of Elaina Renee “Sweetpea” Spradley Skinner
November 27, 1990 – February 8, 2014