stephanie & vanessa {behind the image}


Bridesmaids and family stood around the dressing room admiring Stephanie as she finished adjusting her veil. But Vanessa began to cry—her oldest sister wasn’t coming back home tonight.

She ran to Stephanie and threw her arms around her. Stephanie knelt down, cradling her little sister. Tears turned to sniffles as she held Vanessa close.


I stepped onto a nearby chair and leaned over them. Click.


A wedding is a beautiful display of a couple’s love and commitment, but it also changes relationships. The couple gains cousins, extra brothers, even parents. For other family members, though, it might seem like a loss. Especially for very young siblings—they only see someone they love leaving. (Except my brothers, who “adopted” everything I’d left at home. Love you guys!)


This picture is special to me for several reasons. We were behind schedule and still had to finish portraits before the ceremony. I was shooting candids with a zoom lens when Stephanie and Vanessa sank to the floor. Not wanting to disturb them—and knowing that the lens can’t focus on anything less than four feet away—I grabbed a chair and went overhead. I still had to hold the camera out, above my head and hope I was high enough. Stephanie’s veil ended up being too close, so I recomposed, focusing on her shoulders and Vanessa.

Refocusing made the image about the love they shared—a little girl who was going to miss her big sister. Stephanie’s mom or other siblings in the room could have easily consoled Vanessa. But Stephanie stopped and let her little sister cry on her shoulder (and wedding dress). So before the day continued, Vanessa knew that everything was going to be alright.


Now that’s love…