Mother Nature and my camera
I did something the other day. Something that I used to do all the time. I took my camera with me and used it, for me. This is something I haven't done is so long. I can't really tell you why really. I guess when your passion becomes your job you forget the joy in what you are doing. I mean, don't get me wrong. I LOVE taking pictures of silly children on the beach or mom holding her baby. Those moments give me chills down my spine. But taking my camera out with no agenda just doesn't happen anymore.
However, as many of you know the east coast was hit with another horrible hurricane. Mr. Mean Matthew to be exact. It was ugly. For the first time in all my years of living on the Florida coast, I was actually worried. I didn't not know what to expect and I was fearful of my all my friends and loved ones too. The beaches in my area are my happy place. In fact, my favorite place to take pictures of clients is at the beach. So you can see, I was extremely worried of the fate of my most treasured place.
As the storm came and went, my husband, daughter and I were eager to see what everything looked like. "Did my friends house flood?" "Were businesses destroyed" Glued to the news most of the time, we could only imagine. There were little pictures being posted since most people evacuated. (I live inland and was in a safe zone) They replayed the same 4 videos over and over. It was horrible. Anyways, we got in our car and drove down Jacksonville Beach. I went "live" on Facebook. I do this often so I know my friends were ready to watch. I had lots of people tune in to see what was going on. It felt good to let my family and friends that evacuated get a live update. Everyone was so concerned as you can imagine.
But where my real story starts is when we went towards St. Augustine. I did another "live" video and drove around for a bit. I thought to myself, "wow, this doesn't look all that bad?" It wasn't until we got out of the car that I realized, that was a horrible thought. It really was that bad. My heart was heavy as I walked around the famous St. George Street covered in branches and debris. It was seriously like a ghost town. I had never in my life seen it like that. I teared up for a few minutes, reached in my bag and took out my camera. It just felt right. I didn't have mission. I really didn't know what to take pictures of. There wasn't anyone smiling that is for sure. We kept walking and I kept clicking. Being a photographer in the wedding industry, I decided to checkout the famous White Room. I have a wedding there the end of the month, so I thought it was my duty to make sure all was well so I could educate my fellow photographers too. But as I was leaving, I heard some cheers. To my surprise there was a fireman putting the flag back up! But he was on the ladder! I ran as fast as I could. I even broke my sandal! I just had to capture this moment. I am so glad I did. It was emotional. Everyone was clapping! I was so lucky to be there and get these moments. Finally, smiles!!! Oh and people! People thanking our first responders. The true hero's of the storm. It was a beautiful moment. Oh, and a beautiful day. You would not have guess a huge hurricane was just there the day before.
I came home and immediately edited and uploaded the pictures. I knew I had to get these images out to my friends. What I didn't realize is how they would impact so many people. I didn't even think about it really. As of today, those pictures have been viewed almost 13,000 times and shared over 400! I really had no idea I would reach that many people. I received countless messages thanking me for sharing these? Thanking me? Whoa? It took me a few days to realize, "HELLO?" This is St. Augustine. The oldest city in America. This city is loved by everyone. It was almost destroyed. I now realize how important it was to so many to see that St. Augustine IS going to be okay. Yes, the damage was bad. The pictures do not even justice. But they tell a story. A story that Mr. Mean Matthew is gone and that this ancient city will be back. Stronger then ever.
So there you have it. The day I thought to myself, "Hey, maybe I should bring my camera today." I am so glad I did. I truly did it for me and the outcome was touching. I am so blessed to be able to do what I love. I am grateful for the kind words and all the viral love. I didn't expect it at all. I just wanted to document the aftermath from my point of view. As sad as I am that this happened to the community, I am thankful that I was able to use my talent to let the world know, St. Augustine is going to be just fine.