Real Couples // A Long Time in the Making: Crystal + Wendi

Wendi and Crystal both had a strong connection with God early on in their lives. Slowly, they began to suspect that their attractions were different. They met in college living in the same hall through roommates and slowly over a year and a half, fell in love. They knew this was not the sort of love taught to them in Sunday School and worried what their families and church would think. In their words, "...we also knew what we had together was incredibly raw and gentle and bursting with color and life, and that truly made us want to strive to be better people for each other and the world around us." So through the fires of inner conflict, they forged their own beautiful diamond of a relationship together, a fusion of love and a new kind of faith, one that is radiant and open and accepting, shining through them and filling them with joy. I hope that shows in the photos because it was an amazing thing to witness: two people so in love and so radiant with inner light and joy. They kept their relationship a secret for nine years. Nine years, guys. After watching their loved ones marry and start families, they realized how unfair they were being to themselves, so they began the process of coming out. I can only imagine how difficult that was, and I admire their strength. All of that love and joy kept in silence and hiding burst forth at this wedding, and the outpouring of love was as tangible as Crystal and Wendi's joy. That joy and love, no matter who or where it originates from, is why I shoot weddings, to witness and be a part of that, and to document it for people to relive over and over again. Love is love and love is what we live for. 

Words and photos by: Alyssa Campbell Photography

Get to know Alyssa Campbell Photography: I dabbled in photography as a business since the beginning of college. As the third generation of business owners, entrepreneurship is in my blood, even though I grew up telling myself that I wouldn’t own a business. I knew I needed “a real degree” in case photography didn’t quite work out for me, so I got a psychology degree because I’ve always had an intense interest in people. After working in a neuroscience research lab studying chronic stress, getting my name on a few published scientific papers, and the suicide of my only sibling, I realized that life is simply too short to not do what you love. After training under a very successful Scottsdale wedding photographer, documenting over 50 weddings anywhere from super high-end to equally awesome backyard weddings, making over 50 high school and college seniors see their own beauty and unique personalities, and photographing beautiful artistic underwater sessions, I think I’ve found what I love. Having had both a psychology background and traumatic loss in my life has made me sensitive and compassionate towards human emotion and impressed upon me the deep importance of documenting life — real life, not the stylized versions of ourselves we put on social media. Every client I photograph tells me that they aren’t good in front of the camera, are awkward, hate how they look — the list goes on. The key, I’ve found, is to give them the space and security to be themselves, and their inner beauty and light always shines through. I’m especially good at getting guys who are forced into a session by their significant other, mom, etc to open up and be themselves. One of the highest compliments I can receive is from a less-than-willing guy who says “wow, I wasn’t looking forward to getting photos done, but I actually had fun,” or from someone who is particularly hard on themselves who says that they loved the photos. I want every one of my clients, no matter what kind of session or event they are hiring me for, to walk away having a tangible, physical story of their meaningful life event and photos that show their real personality. I strive to take the kind of photos that you pass along to grandkids, and they'll say, “wow, I can see your personality in these photos and I feel like I was there.” That is what drives me to do photography. When I’m not photographing weddings, risking my camera by photographing underwater, or coaxing real smiles from camera-shy people, you can find me at home with my husband — probably playing video games together with our two dogs, a cat who thinks he’s a dog, and tortoise. I’m a homebody with a wanderlusting itch and dreams of having a homestead with chickens, a huge garden, and lots of rescue dogs.