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.