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I don’t know what to name this post…

On a Tuesday this past February, I was online and a message from Jason popped up on my screen.  He and Anna were pregnant with their first child and wanted to go ahead and get on the calendar for a preggo session sometime in April.  It was a three way message between me/him and Anna and we chatted back and forth for a bit catching up and such.  In the end, they decided on April 19th for the session.  He then went on to send me photos of these huge trout to show Dave…and we made plans to head up to their favorite place in Bowden, West Virginia to go camping and fishing once it warmed up.

I met Anna and Jason in 2006 when they hired me to be their wedding photographer.  We clicked right away and through the years we would still meet up to have a meal or just take pictures.  I was very excited to see them again…it had been way too long.  It would be good to hear about the new baby and I know Jason would be planning and painting and preparing the nursery…I wanted to hear all about it.

A few days later, I woke up at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Bored and wide awake, I checked my phone and had a message from Anna.  “Call me when you get this message.”  My heart stopped.  It couldn’t be what I thought it was…I shook off the thought and wrote her back.  “It’s 3am, I’m sure you are probably sleeping by now…I’ll call you as soon as I get up in the morning.”  But I wasn’t surprised when another message popped back just a few seconds later.  “No.  Call me now.”

My heart still sinks when I think about that moment.  I knew what it was before I even made the call.  But I had hoped that it was untrue…it couldn’t be true because Jason was too strong, too smart, too much of a good person.  It couldn’t have been him.  No.  A few hours before, I had heard about the accident on Chimney Top Rock and knew the man was from Cincinnati on an annual group camping trip in the Red River Gorge.  My thought immediately went to Jason because I knew that he did make an annual trip to the RRG with his friends. But I quickly set those thoughts aside because his trip was usually in the fall.  Besides in our conversation just a few days before, he didn’t mention that he would be in my neck of the woods.  But just to ease my mind, I checked his Facebook page…no mention of a camping trip.  Ok I could sleep now.

But sometimes our reality is not what we want it to be.  It was Jason.

I hiked up to the base of Chimney Rock and found his wedding band.  I felt like this is what he wanted me to do.

When I returned the ring and other personal belongings I found, we sat and cried.  And I answered questions as best I could.  I asked her if she still wanted to do the session in April.  She wasn’t sure.  She said she didn’t feel it was right since Jason was gone.  I told her that since Jason had set it up, I wanted to at least meet up with her that day.  Maybe have dinner.  

I felt like this is what he wanted me to say.

The week of the session, I got a message from Anna.  Yes.  She wanted to do the photographs.

She felt that Jason wanted her to have them.

She went into labor just two days before the scheduled photo session and was put on bed rest.  It was four weeks before due date.  But I came up to Cincy anyway…because Jason had set up this appointment and this was how it was to be.  She agreed.  I visited and we talked for awhile and took just a few photos…but it was all I needed…and just about all she could handle.

And then.  One week later she gave birth.

I always try to guess the gender of the child and I have never once gotten it right.  For Anna, I said girl when everyone was saying boy.

I was right.


I’m going to end this post one of my favorite photos of Jason and Anna.


Jason,  you’re welcome.

Anna is going to be alright.  Maybe not now.  Maybe not tomorrow.  But someday she will.



John May - May 8, 2015 - 11:20 pm

thank you for sharing this. I’m the training officer for WCSART and I helped recover Jason that night. Several of us have struggled with Jason’s death. Although this is a tragic and sad story, it’s comforting to see his wife and child. We wish them the best and perhaps one day we will meet them both. Jason’s story will always be part of us.

Dorrie McCarthy - May 9, 2015 - 5:07 am

The pictures of Avery laying on her sweet dog are amazing. Thank goodness for this little girl 😉

Karen Thomas - May 15, 2015 - 12:31 am

This is absolutely beautiful! I graduated high school in Cortland with Jason and had actually just moved down to Cincinnati a few months before his accident. He was a wonderful person and I love seeing the pictures of of his beautiful wife and daughter and dog (we have a boxer that looks almost identical to theirs!). You did a wonderful job on the pictures and I hope everything turns out good for them in his absence.

24 hours = Sunday’s Child

I first met Jen and Carlos in 2005 when they booked me for their 2006 wedding on the island of St. Thomas.  Now, almost nine years later they have reached yet another pivotal moment in their life…a baby.  I was thrilled when they contacted me and asked me to not only photograph the preggo and newborn session but also document the birth.  Jen was in labor for 24 hours.  That’s right…TWENTY-FOUR hours!  But she was a trooper…and she was strong…and she had a devoted husband who stood by her side giving her his 100% attention.

I arrived around 4am to a dark room.  The doula greeted me and gave me a quick run down of what was happening.  Jen was having contractions and had been in labor since morning before.  She was worn-out and attempting to sleep between each contraction.  Across the room, I could see their bodies silhouetted against the screen monitors.  Carlos was comforting Jen, whispering something in her ear and caressing her hand.  A contraction came and went.  Exhausted, they both slumped over and rested for a few moments before the onset of yet another wave of labor pains.

I have photographed many births over the years and each one has a different energy.  Mostly it’s excitement with relatives and loved ones milling about offering support and nervous giggles to bring a smile to the soon-to-be mother’s face.  But this one was different…the energy in this room was calmness, sureness, and pure, simple love.  It was just Jen and Carlos in their little world.  I could tell that is was not something new.  This was a couple who throughly enjoy just being with each other.  And the trust…the trust she has in him…

As darkness turned into dawn, the city lights faded and the sky awoke, making its way from a starry black to deep blue to magenta…a new day…Sunday.  And the city below came to life with its shapes and sounds as the sun rose a little higher in the sky.    It was as if this was the perfect moment of beauty that she had been waiting for.  As if on cue, when everything was as it should be, she made her entrance into the world.

I predict her to be an artist.

I, too, was born on a Sunday.  My mother always recited this poem to me when I was a child…it made me feel special.

Monday’s child is fair in face
Tuesday’s child is full of grace
Wednesday’s child is full of woe
Thursday’s child has far to go
Friday’s child is loving and giving
Saturday’s child works hard for his living.
But the child that’s born on the Sabbath Day
is loving and giving, good and gay!



Wednesday Wedding in the Gorge

We have weddings every day of the week.  It’s true…this week we had one on Monday and another on Wednesday and yet another yesterday…(Friday).  We love those weekday weddings.  The gorge is quiet during the week and usually we have the whole place to ourselves.  This past Wednesday was no exception.  A summer rain storm had just past through about an hour earlier and the place was void of humans other than ourselves.  It was our own little private nature reserve for an hour.  And we had this AMAZING sunset to ourselves!


Rainy Day in the Gorge

They say rain on your wedding day brings good luck.  This is a good thing for this couple because it mostly poured on their wedding day.  Since they only had a few guest (fewer than what their cabin slept) we were able to have this ceremony outside and under cover at their cabin.

I think the doggie stole the show.


Rainy Wedding Ceremony

It seems like whenever we get a couple in from Texas, we get a rainy weekend!  Loved this friendly couples wedding and happy to have give the opportunity to photograph it!