Updated: May 27
If you have followed me for long, you know that I post a lot about Haiti. You know, that little country that shares an island with the Dominican Republic down in the Caribbean? (You'd be surprised at how many people have never heard of it)
The reason I post so much is because I lived there for seven years. It was home. I immersed myself in Haiti’s unique culture, became fluent in the language, traveled all over the country, and fell in love with my life there. We loved traveling to the beautiful beaches, snorkeling over the coral reef, and grilling fresh-caught lobster on deserted islands offshore. The mountains were one of my favorite spots. Waking up at 4:30 in the morning and hopping on my motorcycle with a busted headlight, I would make my way up the winding mountain roads just to catch a glimpse of those mountaintop sunrises. In Haiti, I became the father of three children. We were blessed to adopt two and gave birth to another. Watching them grow has been a pleasure in my life!
I have so many positive memories of living there. Too many to count. But for every good memory that I have, I have ten bad ones.
Haiti is not an easy place to live. It takes a special kind of crazy person to stay there for a long time. And although my wife and I came out of our experience there on a good note (and by good note I mean that we have an incredible marriage and love each other more than I have time to write about), there were some super difficult times (and by difficult times I mean that we questioned if we were even right for each other).
We argued nonstop, we didn’t spend time together, and we were both downright miserable.
Here’s the thing, we were newlyweds when we moved there. We didn’t know what we were getting into either. There were a lot of really negative and challenging outside influences that were messing with our relationship.
Through all these challenging times, there was one thing that I couldn’t deny. She and I had completely and totally loved each other before all this.
When we moved our lives to Haiti, we had brought with us a large framed photo from our engagement session. In the photo, we are holding each other and laughing so hard. From memory, I can imagine every detail of that photo. It was hanging right next to our bedroom door. It was the first thing we saw as we were heading into our room. It was a reminder to us how happy we had bee, and honestly, how happy we could be again.
In time we realized that many of these difficult things were just a part of life down there. We decided to focus on ourselves and cut out those outside influences that were causing many of the problems. We found a good group of people that could help us heal, and we prayed that God would get us through.
Looking back at these things that happened nearly eight years ago, I have to believe the photo hanging outside of our bedroom door was the biggest reminder to me of what was essential in my life. That photo from our engagement session kept us going and helped us to reclaim the love that we had lost for a time.
I have had several couples over the years ask me if it is necessary for them to do an engagement session with me. From a photographer's standpoint, I say yes because it gives me the opportunity to bond with you, and you begin to get comfortable having your photos taken professionally.
But even more than that, I say, "YES, you really do need them!" It is so important to have someone capture the joy and love between the two of you. That picture of my wife and me helped to save our marriage. Just put yourselves in our shoes. No relationship is perfect all the time, but these photos can be just the reminder you need to get you back on track when things get tough.
Your relationship is the most important thing in your world. Capture it. Remember it. Hold on to it for a lifetime. That is what good photos can do for you.