This past spring in Ripon at the end of a long marathon mini session on my way back to the parking lot I saw a group people heading towards me with balloons as well. The location was a very popular spot for photo session so I smiled and walked past them. I was carrying my giant red balloons left over from a shoot and I kept seeing more people. I was intrigue but being a very shy person (it takes a whole lot for me to work up the courage to talk to a stranger) I walked past them and smiled waiting for a smile back as an invitation to ask “what’s going on?”. No smiles and no eye contact. But something tugged on me to not miss out on this. I put on my brave photographer smile and asked on of the younger people walking by “may I ask what the balloons are for?” The young man replied “we are releasing them.” I responded by asking what for and can I photograph you guys? A few people walked past me and pulled the guy with them and he shrugged and walked away. “Uh ok…” I thought. So I walked back to my car. As the group got bigger and bigger and more people walked past me; I felt this big tug telling me I have to photograph them. But I kept walking. I had everything loaded in my car and then I turned back to look at the group before getting in my car. There were two women at the end of the group walking arm in arm and I just stepped out in front of them without thinking and introduced myself. I offered to photograph their balloon release. The woman Sandy Perez, gave me a sweet soft but sad smile and replied. “The release is for my son’s memorial.” She told me that when she asked him, what he wanted for them to do to honor him after he passed he said. “Send me some balloons.” She graciously accepted my offer and gave my hand a squeeze. I don’t know if it was fate, serendipity, or something like it – but either way I am joyful, honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to witness and photograph such a beautiful memory with the Perez family.
This post should have been written and shared a long while ago – but it has been a few months behind due to the fact that I didn’t hear from the family and I even considered posting on Facebook and Instagram to find them, but I wanted to make sure to get permission from the family to share such a personal event and to be able to share the photos with them first. About a month ago while I was traveling I got a call from Sandy and she said that they had misplaced my card and had finally found it to call me. When I got back home, we reached another complication. My working hard drive had crashed! And Sandy’s files were one of the ones I didn’t back up because I thought it would be a quick and easy handoff to them when I copied it to my working drive. So after getting my hard drive recovered I am finally able to share this event today.