May 26, 2015

J&M Anniversary Session: Jil & Tom

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When Justin & I were writing our Why and thinking about the words we wanted our work to stand for, that word Enduring came about because we had just lost my grandfather. It was nearly eight years ago, but I can still remember my grandma holding on to their one wedding photo- black & white in a silver 8×10 frame- when she said goodbye to the love of her life. It was the same photo that had sat on their mantle for the last sixty-two-and-a-half years bearing witness to a life together. A life that had been shaped by wars and Great Depressions, sickness and health. Good times and hard times. Plenty and very little. But always, always love. 

And for the longest time, I thought that was all that word Enduring was about…taking photos that will go the distance of sixty-two-and-a-half years. Photos that will be just as beautiful and relevant then as they are the day we take them. But this year I realized that I was missing a big part of that word. That it’s not just that our photos have to endure the long haul to still be beautiful six decades and three generations from now. It’s that our photos have to endure with people. Right here, right now. Because the truth is, it won’t just be at year sixty-two when tough things come up in a marriage. There will be things that happen all along the way. Things we could never imagine on the white tulle of the wedding day. Things that people will be looking to our photos to remind them of what Day 1 looked like, of the promises they made, and what it means to stand beside each other come what may. Jil & Tom taught us that.

We photographed Jil & Tom’s wedding in NYC five years ago. They are young, beautiful, wildly successful, cultured, classic, gratitude-filled, incredibly kind & generous people with impeccable taste. In short, a dream J&M couple. On their wedding day, they were a 1940s-esque dream and everything about that day was perfect & beautiful. It was what every Day 1 should be. But only about a year into their marriage, they faced the kind of challenge that most people don’t see until year fifty. Tom suddenly started getting really sick, and nobody knew why. He was in and out of hospitals, had to undergo spinal cord surgery, was in an incredible amount of pain, and for a while even being able to walk on his own without help wasn’t a certainty. So here was this couple who just a year ago had been the perfect bride & groom, who were suddenly having to take care of one another in a way that most couples don’t have to until they’ve spent an entire lifetime together. And they did it the only way they knew how: with such grace and gratitude and love. And it made me realize, this word Enduring means so much more than what I had been giving it credit for.

This year these guys hired us to photograph their 5 year anniversary photos, and two days later I got this email from Jil. It said, “We had the BEST time with you guys. Your passion for your craft and your love for each other are so inspiring. I know you talk a lot about documenting real life and preserving it for future generations. And that is just so important and meaningful. But what I had to share is that there’s something more to what you do, something that goes beyond the important work of preserving legacies- and Tom and I have felt it since our time with you on Saturday. The shoot not only marked our 5th anniversary, it also allowed us to acknowledge how far we’ve come (and how much we’ve overcome) in those years. It enabled us to stop, take time, and really see each other. And to find strength and peace in our dedication to doing all of it. Together. Thank you so much for ALL of that. So, so much love.” – Jil

I plan to read it over and over and over again. Anytime I need to remember what this work we do really stands for.

Let us all remember that today.
M

PS: Jil & Tom, we LOVE you guys from the bottom of hearts. Just knowing you is an honor & privilege. We are lucky to call you friends and to see in you an example of what true love should look like. Here are just a few from my hundreds of faves from our shoot!

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  1. Tiffany

    So much love in these images. Happy Anniversary to you two!

  2. Caitlin

    These are absolutely breath taking. Jil and Tom, the photos from your wedding have remained as some of my favorites, and this story of strength and enduring is incredible and just makes these stunning photos all the more powerful. So beautiful, J&M. Here’s to taking the time to stop, “and really see each other. And to find strength and peace in our dedication to doing all of it.” Best to you both.

  3. Tom

    My wife is so beautiful

  4. Tom

    Thank you, J&M. We love the pictures!

  5. Oona Breyer

    This post is so inspiring, and ‘focusing’ for me today. Thank you for sharing such a lovely couple, and a right on perspective.

  6. Lauren Fair

    Guys, this is beautiful. That last frame!!!!

  7. Jennifer

    Oh wow I love love love these images.

  8. Gayle Fitzmaier

    “Enduring” is the perfect word to capture the journey Tom and Jil travelled during their first five years of marriage. Thank you for writing their story in such a beautifully romantic and honest voice.

  9. Jason

    Beautiful b&ws guys!

  10. Rici

    The words from Jil!!! <3 Oh my! It humbles me! How wonderful the appreciation speaks through every line! Thank you all so much for sharing & letting us be part of the story behind the lens! WOW.
    Oh and, way gorgeous dresses!!

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