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Charo Photo – or, more accurately, “A Thousand Words” – was born in the summer of 2002, back before I knew how much of a cliche “A Thousand Words” would be as a photography business name.  (It took less than a year for me to change the name to Charo Photo, but there are still publications and websites floating around with the old business name on them!  Eeeep.)

I don’t know what the official “born on” date is for the business – I’m so bad at things like that!  It was definitely in the summer of 2002, and most likely during the month of July – so, since I didn’t write down the actual date, we’re celebrating our tenth anniversary throughout the month of July!

To launch this anniversary month, we’re running a few specials – a huge ($500) discount on wedding bookings all month long, half off our open-ended portrait sessions, and a free engagement signature book for every couple that books their 2012 or 2013 wedding this month.  Pretty big stuff, the largest sale we’ve ever run… but the tenth anniversary is a Pretty Big Deal!

Over the last ten years, I’ve seen wedding trends come and go, photography trends that made me cringe, industry shake-ups and scandals that thankfully never made it outside the Wedding Photographer Forum World… I’ve spoken at a conference, gotten mega-drunk with colleagues, second shot with my BFFs, traveled from Boston to Hawaii to Milwaukee to Florida to Washington state and back for weddings, made new friends, fell in love and got engaged, watched my little girl grow into a Big Girl, tore my achilles tendon in a freak tripod accident, grew my hair and chopped it all off at least four times, gained and lost the same thirty pounds, and maintained this business.  This life.  This job that I don’t think I could live without anymore.

Over the last ten years, I’ve documented over 300 couples committing their lives to one another.  And I remember every last one of them.  I remember the way they looked at one another, the way they botched their vows, the way they laughed and cried and expressed their joy.  I remember the nervous moms, the anxious dads, the jealous sisters, the lazy bridesmaids, the uber drunk groomsmen.  I remember the grandparents whose glorious faces were captured for the last time by my camera.  I remember venues and vendors and floral arrangements, cake collapses and embarrassing toasts and DJs that screwed up the first dance.  I remember every macarena and cha-cha slide, every Thriller rendition, every tossed fedora.  It’s amazing how much you remember through the magic of photographs, isn’t it?

I didn’t know my father growing up.  I’d seen him last when I was about four years old, and all I had left of him was the short stack of pictures mom kept for me in one of those old sticky photo albums with the cling overlay pages.  I don’t have any actual memories of my dad… but in my mind, I remember him perfectly.  I remember him because I have the pictures.  Just snapshots of Christmas and trips to Sea Life Park.  He with his lambchop sideburns, me with my curly blonde hair and awful polyester dresses.  I feel like I really remember my time with him.

I can’t think of a better way to describe how great my job is.  How much what we do means to the people we do it for.  How those moments we capture live on and on… cementing those memories, and even substituting in where real memories don’t exist.

As we start our eleventh year in business, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at the last ten years, just one image for each year we’ve been shooting professionally.  To the couples in these images… and to us… these are our memories.  These are the pictures that will eventually replace the actual memories in our minds, as new memories take their place.  These photos won’t fade the way our memories will.  I’d use this as a lead-in to encourage everyone out there to hire a professional photographer at least once in your lives to make those memories as beautiful and perfect as possible… but I’m really bad at self promotion 😉