behind the flag...a love story

sometimes there is a story that stops you in your tracks. 

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buckle in for this one.


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Codi's words will say it best...

"I actually never met Charlie or any of my brother's marine buddies until after his passing...

I can remember him saying that Charlie was his closest friend. They were both M1A1 Tank Crewmen and were stationed together at Fort Knox, KY.  Their unit then got activated and they both were transferred to Camp Pendleton, CA where they trained to be Combat Engineers and were attached to the Mobility Assault Company together. They trained in California before getting deployed to Afghanistan in April 2012.

While deployed, Lynn, Charlie's mom, and my mom, Sandy, would call each other when they heard from "the boys" (Alec and Charlie) so that both moms knew they were safe.

On September 3rd, 2012 Charlie and Alec went on a mission. 

My brother didn't make it out of that mission.

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His truck was hit by a 200lb IED.

The trucks are made to take the impact of an 80lb. bomb. They have never seen anything that big.

They only had 3 more months over there.

My brother absolutely loved his job. That day, he was the gunner, after begging his squad leader, but his typical job was driving the MRAPs (a vehicle made to take the impact of IEDs) while clearing the roads of IEDs. I can recall my brother telling me about Lion (Charlie) during his leave before going to Afghanistan.

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I knew Charlie was my brothers best friend.  It took me over a month to message him, but I had this feeling that I needed too (now I believe it was my brother telling me to reach out to him.) So, I messaged him through Facebook.

 We just causally talked. He told me that my brother was the best friend he ever had. He said they would walk everywhere together, the other would drop whatever they were doing just so the other wouldn't have to walk it alone. We continued messaging until they finally came home in November. For some reason I constantly worried about him.

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I officially met him at my brother's memorial at Ft. Knox, KY.

He and a couple other Marines then came back to our house, before going to their own homes, to see where Alec lived, grew up, and where he was finally laid to rest. 

Charlie and I then began to text, after meeting him. I definitely had a crush on him, but I knew it wasn't okay for me to like him. 

From some crazy reason, in December 2012, he invited me to come to Pennsylvania for a week, and I actually agreed to it.

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So I drove 10 hours to hangout with a guy I've only met once.

I brought a friend with me because I'm not completely crazy!

I kept thinking I had to figure it out

1) who my brothers best friend was


2) why I thought he was so attractive.

So, my friend and I came up and he completely swept me off my feet. I never had a man treat the way he did, and still does. He was such a gentleman. He took us to New York City, because I told him it was on my bucket list. After that, I could tell he thought I was cool too. 

We continued to text/call each other after my visit.  Each month when he went to Ft. Knox for drill, we would meet up, even if it was for 20 minutes. My mom and I then visited Charlie and his parents that summer and we continued to grow feelings for each other. We continued traveling back and forth for a year and a half without even holding a hand, just awkward long hugs (lol) but everyone knew we liked each other.

On March 21st 2014, when Charlie came down to visit he FINALLY asked me to be his girlfriend. I can't even explain the happiness that I felt in that very moment. 

With our long distance relationship we always try to spend every second together, when we get the chance. It doesn't even matter what we are doing as long as we are together.

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On October 18th 2014, Charlie decided to take me back New York City and propose in Central Park. I honestly had NO idea, but I can't even explain how surprised and overjoyed I was. 

I know Charlie is my soulmate. A true gift from my brother.

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It's too perfect to not be planned by God.

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Everyone says its a fairytale, and yes it is - 

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but nobody will understand the struggle we went through to meet each other.

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I thank God every day for him. I couldn't imagine a life without him in it. " - Codi

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codi & charlie, you are a DELIGHT. 

it is stories like this, that humbles my heart as i bring my camera to my face.  

thank you alec.  

thank you charlie.

thank you to all of those who have served and who are serving, as well as the families that love them.  


i said i would stop. abbie & ben. soldiers & sailors, pittsburgh, pa

i cannot tell you how many times i have said that i am done with weddings. 

i started shooting weddings when i was 27.

in my career, i have shot HUNDREDS.

it looks like glamorous work. 

it looks fun.

it is.  

it is exhilarating - emotional - intense.

BUT, it is really really hard. 

the amount responsibility on one for the "day of a lifetime", is enormous. 

now, as i am 13 years older than when i started, the toll it takes on my body is far greater than it used to.  

i carry 35 lbs of equipment around on me all day. 

thank the good lord jesus, that chaz did not get a shot of me the day of abbie's wedding.

it had hit 100 degrees that day, i had eaten ravenously before the wedding, some random burrito chaz found on the strip in pitt.  i was gulping down gatorade, and the entire picture was NOT pretty. 

but let me tell you what was glorious:

my friend abbie.

her husband, ben.

the dreams they and their family made into reality and the enormously special day that they became husband and wife. 

i do not shoot because of the glamour. 

i shoot because of the moments.  i shoot because of the people, and the memories.

and my dear, beautiful abbie, yours were exquisite.

ONLY part one of the day...

many more to follow.

abbie, ben and families....

i love you!

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imagine the wedding...abbie & ben

oh my sweet friend abbie, and her hunk husband to be, ben!

abbie and i have worked together for years, and we have this chemistry together that just KNOWS.  it's just so natural. like, i think in my twenties, i secretly had abbie's style,  it's just changed so much that i forget i once loved to dress up and be glamorous!

we shot abbie and ben's engagement photos last summer in pittsburgh.  we walked and worked :), the cathedral of learning,  the mellon institute, and other great sites in oakland.  

i leave today to shoot abbie and ben's wedding.  

i am so stinkin' excited!!

if this is what we got for engagements pictures, can you even begin to imagine the wedding?  :)))

so excited abbie and ben!!  -xx

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senior season is in full swing once again here at the studio. 

in keeping up with the Essenza transformation that we have began, our senior line is now, Essenza - Seniors!  yes, we are excited about capturing the essence of you at this special time in your life. :)

i had 15 available spots for the senior year. 

i currently have 2 session openings left. 

if you are interested, contact me asap!

enjoy...miss emily!