An Anniversary Surprise

As told by Christine Callies, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I've been going to the Ludington Area since I was a baby. My family used to own a small home in Walkerville. We would spend time there during the summer, usually around the Fourth of July. I loved spending time there and when I got older, I started to bring along a friend or one of my cousins. We would go to the beach and walk around town. We also have spent time in Pentwater and Hart. I caught my first fish at Hart Lake when I was 4. I have history here and I want to carry over the tradition of coming here with my husband and one day, children.

Kevin and I were married September 4, 2005 and for our one year anniversary, I thought it would be nice to introduce him to all of the wonderful sites and memories I've had in the past. The beach in particular was something I wanted him to experience; he has never seen a Lake Michigan sunset. Paper is the gift given to your significant other for your first year of marriage and I thought, how perfect: Photographs of ourselves on the beach with a beautiful sunset and a keepsake that will last for generations. I wanted the pictures to capture our love for one another and the promise of better days to come. Why better days? Unfortunately, we dealt with terrible diagnosis soon after our wedding: I had Multiple Sclerosis. It won't kill me nor is it contagious, but it changed our perspective. What will happen next? Devastated by this so soon after our wedding, we never really had a chance to be newlyweds. A year later, we are coping and have moved on. It was time to let him know how much I truly love and appreciate him, how much he means to me, and a time to start new memories, ones filled with joy, hope and strength. I started my search right away for a photographer that could capture this moment in time.

I searched the internet and found a few photographers in the Ludington area. I saw their websites and got a feel for what they had to offer. There was one in particular that caught my attention right away, Alway Photography's website was the only one that seemed interested in capturing pictures the way I wanted them, in a story. The website was well organized and the photographs they took were available to view online and were just beautiful. Reading further, I noticed that photographer Rob Alway has won numerous awards, is an established photographer, and has ties to the community. I contacted him via the email link on his website and really hoped that he was available. Sure enough, he was. Rob was prompt with his return call and subsequent calls and emails. I was so very grateful; this would be a wonderful surprise anniversary gift for my husband.

The trip itself was not a surprise. Kevin knew we would be celebrating our anniversary in Ludington. I wanted the session to be a surprise for him, which took planning. I was pleased that Rob was available during the holiday week and he was more than willing to go along with it. We planned out all the details and it would take place just before sunset at Stearns Park Beach on Sept. 5, 2006.

As Kevin and I got out of the car, Rob stepped out of his vehicle with camera in hand. Kevin looked at me and I smiled at him and said, "Happy Anniversary." Rob introduced himself and said that he will be taking photographs of us on the beach. Kevin smiled at me and said, "You did this for me? I can't believe it. I had no clue."

We walked in the cool sand towards the water. The sunset was breathtaking and with a smile on our faces and a tear in our eyes, we held each other's hand. Kevin kept saying thank you and I looked at him and replied, "We deserve this."

beach walk
Rob gave us direction; he knew where we should stand or sit. The mood during the session was relaxed but professional. The session lasted until the sun almost disappeared behind the horizon. Afterward, we made our way back to our cars and Rob let us know when the proofs would be available on his website. He explained we can choose which photographs we liked and he would send them to us. We exchanged thank yous and said our goodbyes. The evening went perfectly.

A few weeks after we returned from the vacation, we reviewed the proofs online, made our decision about the photos. We placed our order and the photos were mailed to our home in Milwaukee, Wis. The entire experience was flawless from start to finish. I will call Rob again for our other anniversaries and when we have children. He captured our new beginning together and will be a part of our story forever.

We plan on visiting this summer or fall and plan on doing so until I can't make the trip anymore. Thank you for the wonderful experience. It is a story that we can tell for the rest of our lives.

Last Updated: 08-24-2018 04:44 PM ID: 704