Gather ’round, children, and let me tell you a story. Several years ago I started to get some severe, lightning-esque stabbing in my wrists. It only happened every once in a while for a few weeks. I thought I might have sprained something. Then, gradually, my arms started to go numb, sort of like I’d hit my funny bone. It started in my right arm first, then spread to my left. Initially it was a bit perplexing and annoying. But gradually it grew more and more difficult for me to edit. I went to several doctors who said it could be carpal tunnel “presenting strangely,” a result of overusing my mouse, typing, and editing photographs. Those things all require a great amount of small, repetitive wrist movements. So they gave me wrists braces (one for each arm – stylin’!) and I wore those around for some time.

Unfortunately my symptoms progressed. I went back to the doctor, who said that it was possible that I had cubital tunnel syndrome, a condition where the ulnar nerve in your elbow gets stretched out. This often occurs as a result of constantly having your elbow bent, so hairstylists and pitchers often get this. They thought that, since I was having my arms bent holding a camera up to my face quite frequently, that this was probably the cause. I was told to sleep with my arms straight, and to keep my arms as straight as possible the rest of the time. Unfortunately my symptoms progressed. Now it was getting more and more difficult to do basic things. I could barely hold cups, utensils, or brush my teeth. The numbness and tingling became quite painful.

At this point, I could no longer edit photographs. I could barely use my computer at all, and even answering emails was painful for me. I was forced to outsource my editing. I hired a company to whom I gave my preset and general way of doing things, and they sent me back weddings and shoots edited, which was an absolute lifesaver for both my clients and myself. During this time, my lovely chiropractor (and former client) Cortney Dice who is a miracle worker and has solved several long-standing medical mysteries for me, hypothesized that perhaps my doctor’s new diagnosis was almost correct, but not quite. I still wasn’t getting better, but rather worse. She realized that the ulnar nerve pain I was experiencing wasn’t coming from a pinch in my elbows (cubital tunnel) but rather in my shoulders (thoracic outlet). Due to carrying very heavy camera equipment bags on my shoulders, as well as using a camera strap that allowed me to carry two cameras at the same time by resting on the tops of my shoulders, I was compressing the nerves in my shoulders. That nerve compression caused a variety of symptoms down my arms. All I had to do to stop it was to start carrying my cameras on my hips (which is why it looks like we’re cowboys now) and to stop carrying a purse for a while. I laid on a foam roller and stretched out my shoulders, and that was it! It was gone in literally a matter of weeks from Cortney first identifying it to me not carrying weight on my shoulders anymore.

So what, pray tell, does any of this have to do with Sharon and Paul? Geoff and I were advertising that we would be coming to the Tucson, Arizona area around November if anyone wanted portraits, and we were contacted by Sharon. Sharon knew of us because she was one of the people who edited my photographs for me when I could not! SMALL world, but also wonderful world. We weren’t allowed to know who edited the photographs for us through this company so I didn’t know it was Sharon, and I am glad that I do now so I could thank her for helping me when I couldn’t function! Thank you, Sharon, for your amazing editing work that kept our business alive and functioning. You are truly a miracle worker who kept keep me afloat during a very scary time, and I am so glad that you are in this line of business!

Sharon is, in addition to being a wonderful editor, a professional equestrian photographer who adores horses, Halloween, and her husband Paul. You can find her lovely and talented work at She and Paul live in California, where Paul is a sound guy. And by “sound guy” I mean SOUND GUY. Harrison Ford! George Clooney! Katy Perry! Everyone. Microphones and award shows and all sorts of crazy impressive stuff. His list of accomplishments is pretty stellar. Together, him and Sharon are one talented couple, and we could not be more honored to have them come out to Arizona to get pictures with us all the way from California! We had a blast working with them and I think they had a good time too despite the 90 degree heat and the excessive hiking and the rocks and the stabby plants. It is a small but wonderful world, and sometimes you get to meet the wonderful, helpful people who played huge roles in your life behind the scenes, and we are so, so happy we did. We love you, Sharon and Paul! Thank you for becoming our clients.

I had too much to say for this one, so I put the text at the end. Get ready for lemons! And stairs.

So I found this girl on Craigslist.

It was 2008, and I had just quit a teaching job. Photography had always been a passion and I had recently decided that’s where I wanted to go with my job and with my life. But until this point, I really didn’t enjoy photographing people. I liked animals and objects and skylines, but people generally made me nervous, and I had no idea what I was doing. But I knew I had to figure that out, and I’m a pretty head-strong, determined sort of person who realized I could find models to build a portfolio on Craigslist. :) Generally, it’s considered by other photographers very uncouth to do things for free, and Craigslist is frowned upon and trolled. There’s a long standing and strong belief in the community that you should be an apprentice and rise in the ranks doing assistant jobs and working your way up. But again, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t talk to any other photographers. I didn’t know my methods were frowned upon. I didn’t realize my particular market in the Raleigh-Durham area was oversaturated with photographers even then. And I particularly dislike networking. So my 2008 Craigslist mining began.

Carlena is, according to my records, the 2nd person I’ve ever photographed, and the 1st adult. I photographed her for free when she was living in North Carolina and bored. Geoff was with me, which was something he typically didn’t do at the time, but he didn’t shoot. I don’t remember, but he was probably just there to make sure Carlena was actually Carlena and not a menacing Carl or Caleb or Christopher from Craigslist. Thankfully Carlena was indeed Carlena, and was beautiful and wonderful to work with. I certainly got lucky adding her to my portfolio (as I was with all my clients in the first 1-2 years) and because of her, I was actually able to build a career out of this thing that had previously been a hobby that centered around taking pictures of my cats and the Pittsburgh skyline. We gave her the pictures, we parted ways.

BUT AS WITH ALL GOOD LOVE STORIES, Carlena returned to us 8 years later. Well, she never quite left. :) We became friends on Facebook and she continued to follow our blog and we continued to stalk her as she moved to Seattle and got a boyfriend and got engaged. Then we got a very excited email asking if were available to shoot her wedding. In Italy. And we Facetimed. And we emailed. And we met Andrew (who is adorable, kind, funny, and a perfect match to Carlena, who is also all of those things). And we found ourselves on a dream trip to Switzerland and Italy, and photographing a destination wedding in Positano along the Amalfi Coast.

And this is where I tell everyone reading that it’s okay to go about a career path in a way that’s a bit unconventional. Or even frowned upon by others. Because someday one of those people whom you found on Craigslist and worked for free for might come back eight years later and take you to Italy.

Possibly the best part of this trip was explaining to Carlena and Andrew’s friends how they found us. We’d overhear her friends ask, “So how did you find your photographer?” and Carlena would say, “On Craigslist!” and then we’d all over-explain which probably made us sound even less like a legit business operation than the Craigslist explanation, which was kind of amazing. Other people asked us at home, “Who are the clients taking you to Italy? How did you find them?” and we’d respond with, “On Craigslist!” and everyone would give us weird looks. And I would assure them with, “No, no, she’s really pretty! She’s legit!” which made it all sound worse.

But words can’t really describe the beauty of this place and their wedding, and I felt super happy, like my career had come full-circle, working with someone in this gorgeous location who had helped me from the very beginning. The world is strange and small and wonderful. And usually I fancy myself as slightly funnier and less nostalgic than all of this, but Prince just died and you’ve caught me in a sentimental frame of mind. So thank you to Carlena, the very first adult I ever photographed, for giving me the career that I have and for giving us the gift of seeing Italy. Thank you for following us all these years as we progressed and changed, and for standing by us and giving this amazing opportunity. And thank you to Andrew, who welcomed us into his arms and life as quickly and pleasantly as Carlena always had. You are both amazing and we love you. We hope you’re as grateful to Craigslist as we are. ;)

  • Date: April 27, 2016
  • Rehearsal Dinner: La Tagliata // Positano, Italy
  • Ceremony Venue: Santa Maria Assunta // Positano, Italy
  • Reception Venue: Villa Oliviero // Positano, Italy
  • First Dance Song: “Stay Alive” – Jose Gonzalez
  • Carlena’s Occupation: Writer/Editor/Amateur Home Cook
  • Andrew’s Occupation: Finance/Amateur Home Cook
  • How You Met: We actually are “that couple” who met at a bar! (Okay, so we actually went to the same high school, but we reconnected years later at a mutual friend’s birthday party in downtown Baltimore.)
  • Interesting Fact: Our first kiss was at a dive karaoke bar in Baltimore called Walt’s Inn. Neither of us sing karaoke.
  • Honeymoon: Venice, Italy and Paris, France
  • Vendor Credits: Band – Amalfi Coast Music (Bruno Esposito). Florist – Malafronte, Ravelio. Cake+Catering – Villa Oliviero. Hair – Andrew Coiffeur. Invitations –
    Monumental Designs. Makeup – Zoe Graham. Destination Wedding Coordinator – Lindeman Weddings (Erin Lindeman). Villa Oliverio Coordinator – Carla Casali. Santa Maria Assunta Coordinator – Rita and Emanuela.