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Dawn and Savonna

Joshua Tree, California Desert Photographer

Dawn and Savonna are incredible women. They were planning a magical wedding in the middle of the desert in Joshua Tree, California with a small group of close friends and family. A few weeks before the wedding date, Dawn was very suddenly and tragically diagnosed with breast cancer. We got a heart breaking email about it and couldn’t believe what we were reading. I can imagine their life totally stopped in it’s tracks and their whole world shifted. We were devastated for them.

They decided to postpone the wedding to a time next year when Dawn is feeling better, but we still had our plane tickets booked and wanted to shoot something for them in the desert. Dawn had a chemotherapy treatment 2 days before, so we really weren’t sure how she was going to feel. I can imagine she was weak, tired and sick… but she said the desert air made her feel stronger and she wanted to be around people she loved on their wedding date.

They rented a gorgeous house and had long fireside chats with lots of La Croix. The warm air was good for all of us, and it helped Dawn feel well enough to venture out into the Joshua Tree National Park for a few photos at sunset. We got a lot of photos of Savonna caring for Dawn – holding her hand, helping her up, making sure she was warm. It shows exactly how loving she is and how she’s been a strong support as they’ve navigated these scary waters together. Dawn says that Savonna is as constant as the tides.

Her hair had been falling out over the last few weeks, so she decided to shave her head under the desert sky surrounded by friends. It was one of the most emotional moments we’ve ever had the privilege of photographing, and I will remember every second of it for the rest of my life. Tears were streaming down my face behind the camera. I couldn’t believe we were lucky enough to be present in such an intimate moment. 

Dawn is brave. She is strong in her vulnerability and empowered in her spirit. You could see every emotion filtering through her face while she shaved her head… pain, sadness, joy, acceptance, pride, trust. Savonna kept kissing her head and telling her she was beautiful. Her friends encouraged her and told her she had a perfectly shaped head with no weird lumps, which made everyone laugh and lightened the mood. Dawn told us this was one step closer in her journey, so she felt like it was closure in some way and was ready to move on to the next stage of healing.

You two – I am having a hard time even coming up with the words to describe this day with you both. We feel honored that our paths crossed and will continue to cross. This was the best day and it was such a joy to share it with you.

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This is so powerful, thank you for sharing their story. I pray Dawn’s treatment is successful and they share many more days under the beautiful desert sun.❤️

Your words shared were beautiful and heartfelt. But, oh, those photographs. Who knew that the untouched beauty of love could be captured in the physical? You did that! You brought me to tears. To be trusted with such moments in life; there is no doubt why you have been given the gifts and freedom to do what you two do.

I am moved, in awe and just downright thrilled by the beauty of these photos and of your journey together. Your wedding invitation is still front and center on our refrigerator and it will stay there for a good while because it means so much more than a date on some pretty card stock. I light my candle when i meditate with your wedding matches because to me they mean love. I feel like marriage and cancer have actually made you both into this tightly intertwined and glorious diamond, lit from within with the purest hope and sparkling with the steel you both have shown in the face of every discomfort. The desert is the perfect backdrop for your glory together, because it is clean and real and extreme. I love you both daily and your love is our love, is your love, out and beyond and until the infinite horizon. No bride in my eyes will ever compare in beauty or in style and love in your collective eyes can and shall move mountains. Continue this always.

Dawn is my first cousin, my father’s brother’s daughter. I was brought to tears by these beautiful photos. They reflect bravery, courage, and one of the sweetest loves I have ever seen. What an inspiring moving and breathtaking moment to share with us. We love you Dawn. Sending you all my love, prayers , and well wishes. Fight like a girl my brave cousin.