guest post: coming together to create a gift
The following is written by Danielle in Australia. We are honored to share this with you too. Grab a tissue.
I’m an amateur photographer (and Project Lifer) who is always looking for more photography practise, so when our friends asked if I would photograph their wedding recently of course I said yes. Geoff & Debbie have been together for many years but never got around to getting married. Then Geoff was diagnosed with Melanoma in November 2012. Many different treatments were tried and as a family they fought his cancer valiantly. Their youngest son is only 6 months older than our oldest son and we have known them for many years, and so this was a very emotional time for us all.
Geoff had proposed to Debbie last year, and on 13th April 2013 they were married. It was a small, intimate ceremony in their own home, as by then Geoff was very ill and had been hospitalised. He was released for the day to marry his love. It was a beautiful, touching ceremony full of emotions and it was an honour to be part of it.
As a budding photographer with limited, self taught Photoshop editing skills, I found editing the photos a daunting job. An indoor wedding on a rainy day with a groom who looked so very ill, plus the emotions I myself was feeling whenever I saw him in the photos, looking so ill and not like how he had been in the past, was making it very difficult. I wanted to get them done quickly so that Geoff in particular would have time to look at them, as we just didn’t know how much longer he would be with us.
So what’s a Project Lifer in this situation to do, but ask for help on the Project Life Australia Facebook group page. I posted one of the photos from the day there and asked for help on how to edit it. To my surprise and pleasure I was inundated with tips, ideas and offers of help. Two of the ladies, Christine Cid and Shannon Summers, even offered to do some of the editing for me. Christine in particular, who had 5 children of her own at home on school holidays, edited 20 of the images for me over the next few days, and did a far, far better job than I could have done. All of their edits made it into the final pick and I was and will always be so grateful to them.
A question that was asked on my post was, how was I going to present the photos to them? I hadn’t thought too much about that at that point as I was just trying to get the photos edited and looking good. Naturally enough the consensus was that a Mini Album would be the best choice, paired with the Wedding Mini Kit – which hadn’t been released digitally at that stage. One of the group members suggested that I ask Becky’s team for help with that.
Time was of the essence with Geoff’s illness progressing quickly, so I emailed Becky’s Project Life team and also Craft House in New Zealand with requests for help. Replies were prompt and I was thrilled to be allowed to purchase the digital mini wedding kit early, and have the Midnight Mini Album express couriered to me immediately. Five days after their wedding, I had received the album from Craft House and was printing the digital Wedding Mini Kit and photos. I also used some cards from an Etsy store here in Australia, Mister Mostaccio.
That Saturday, one week after their wedding, our family delivered the completed album to Debbie. We were not with Geoff in the hospital when Debbie showed him but are told that he was very pleased with the end results, as was Debbie.
The process of completing this album for our friends has really reaffirmed to me just how helpful and genuinely nice people can be. Everyone was so generous and thoughtful with wanting to help make a special keepsake for them. The compassion and an outpouring of hope and good wishes for them both was overwhelming.
After we gave the album to Geoff & Debbie, the Project Life team asked me if I would share photos of the album and the story of it’s creation. I replied that I would ask them how they felt about sharing their album in that way, as even though I took the photos and created the album, it’s not mine to share or not, it’s theirs.
Unfortunately Geoff had taken a turn for the worse and it wasn’t the time to ask. Just over 3 weeks after their wedding, he passed away, 6 months after he was diagnosed. He was 48 years old. It was a very difficult time for us all, most especially for Debbie and her family.
I told Debbie the story of how the album came to be, and how many people all over the world had helped to create it, and she agreed to share the photos and their story. It is heart warming to think that to create their wedding album, people in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, America and New Zealand have all come together and given freely & generously of their help and advice.
It has renewed my faith that the world is not that bad a place really, there are still so many genuinely nice, caring people out there, who are willing to help complete strangers. As one lady on the PLA Facebook group said – even though they don’t know our friends, they have 694 people praying for them just on that group alone. They are both loved, and are both very special people.
To everyone involved with the creation of this album, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will always be grateful to you all.
Danielle in Australia