Many successful photographers will tell you that they have loved photography ever since they were a child; they had a camera at the age of 5, etc. That wasn’t the case with me. Before I ever picked up a camera, I would sing.
During elementary school I was teased from time to time, for my laugh, my nose, my shyness. Music became my outlet. I loved to sing, and I was pretty good at it. During our 4th grade production of ”A Pocket Full of Dreams” musical, I was offered the most valued solo: “I’ll be your candle on the water.” The night of the performance, all my fellow classmates were behind me with candles lit, and there I was, out in front, singing “I’ll be your candle on the water, my love for you will always burn. I know you’re lost and drifting, but the clouds are lifting, don’t give up you have somewhere to turn.”
And the clouds do eventually lift and although those same bullies followed me throughout middle school, their voices became less audible in highschool, and my love for music became louder.
Every week I was at a piano or voice lesson as well as at rehearsals for every choir at our school (the main choir, the girls choir, master singers, chamber singers, as well as many of the musical productions. And this is where I introduce Lauren…
Lauren and I were both sopranos and friends. We traveled to Europe together with our master singers group the summer before our senior year, harmonizing in grand cathedrals. When I imagine what angels must sound like, I hear Lauren’s voice; pure, pretty, and entrancing. She is beautiful; on the outside, the inside, and when she sings she’s even more beautiful, if that’s even possible. And even more, she is a very special and precious person to me.
I have many memories of Lauren from high school, but the one I remember the most (or touched my heart the most) takes place during a choir rehearsal….
We were rehearsing the song “Sing me to Heaven,” one of my favorites. It’s a touching song, a song about leaving one place and arriving at another. You can listen to it here. During the end of the song, Lauren couldn’t finish; she was crying, or at least this is what I remember. One of her grandparents recently passed away, and I remember the song was so moving, so beautiful, that she just couldn’t continue. And seeing her mourning heart displayed in front of me, well, tears ran down my face as well. And this is what music does; it heals us; it brings out the tears, the emotions that are stuck inside us that need expressed. Sometimes when I listen to a beautiful piece of music, it reaffirms my belief that there is a God, and He is beautiful, creative, and gave us music because He loves us so much. He knew we would need it.
After high school, Lauren and I went our separate ways for awhile, but would see each other from time to time. Every time I would see her it was like time didn’t go by. We would pick up right where we left off. Hanging out with Lauren reminds me of being back at home.
About 2 years ago Lauren emailed me asking if I would do some portraits for her. I was just officially starting my business and was excited for the opportunity to photograph her (she’s so photogenic!!) Well, Lauren took those photos, and put a few on match.com. Not much time went by when a guy named Will noticed her beauty and sent her an email.
A year later, Lauren emailed me again asking if I would be her wedding photographer. I like to think I had a part in Lauren and Will’s love story, and now I get to photograph their romantic wedding in Old Town Alexandria next year.
It’s amazing how friendships grow and evolve throughout the years. I’m so happy to be re-connected with Lauren, and to see her marry a guy who is head over heels in love with her.
During Lauren and Will’s engagement session, Lauren told me she still sings in church. “And you, Dy?” “Do you still sing?” I told her no, but I thought about it later… I do sing. I sing my heart out to God in praise and worship in church, in my car, when I clean our apartment. I make up and sing silly songs to my husband on the couch. When I’m around my nephew I sing and dance to make him laugh. And when I have my own children someday, I will sing them lullabies while I rock them to sleep in my arms. So although I don’t officially have a formal choir, my life is my choir.
And God, the great musician, continues to sing over me the song I sang in 4th grade:
“I’ll be your candle on the water, this flame inside of me will grow. Keep holding on, you’ll make it, here’s my hand so take it. Look for me reaching out to show, as sure as rivers flow, I’ll never let you go. I’ll never let you go.”