He Gives Beauty For Ashes

It’s been 10 years since I stood in front of my apartment, watching it burn, unable to do anything about losing all that I owned. I stood in disbelief while scanning the crowd that was full of nosey neighbors and news cameras recording while the anchors reported the event emotionless, as if it wasn’t happening to real people. But it was, it was happening to me.
 
I remember driving to my apartment that morning, I heard the fire trucks and watched them speed by me as I said a prayer for whoever they were heading towards. That was a habit I got into a couple years earlier, never knowing that one day the prayer I’d be saying would turn out to be for me. It’s easy to see ambulances and car accidents and feel unattached. We never think it’s gonna be us, we feel invincible, until we’re not.
 
I was confused, broken, devastated, and somehow numb all at the same time. I questioned God, I wasn’t angry with Him, but I certainly didn’t understand Him. I couldn’t comprehend how this would ever get better. When you’re in it, when you’re in the trial or the fire (for lack of a better word), you don’t see it ending. And that’s where faith comes in. Can we really say we rely on faith if we’ve never actually had to rely on faith alone?
 
No one was hurt in the fire, which is the most important thing, but when you’re standing there watching you’re apartment burn, it’s hard to think of the positive side of things. You tend to focus on everything you’re losing instead of everything you still have. And that’s what I did for the next 3 days. I didn’t smile or laugh, I didn’t even try to find any good from this, because I didn’t believe there was any. I was sleep walking through life, everything felt like a dream, or rather a nightmare, and I didn’t see an end in sight. I didn’t understand why this had to happen to me.
 
The next day I was able to go into my apartment to see what I could save. As of that moment, all I had were the clothes on my back, my car and some essentials from Walmart that I had to buy the night before. You’ve heard the question before, “if your home was burning down and you could only take 3 things, what would you take?” I lived that. I didn’t have the chance to go into my apartment while it was burning, but I knew exactly what I was going to look for when I got to go in to see what could be salvaged. My poetry book that read more like a rhyming journal, my safe filled with my actual journals and my blankey. Yes, my blankey. And somehow, I was able to save all of those things. Maybe I had to lift up part of the wall to find my soaking, ashy blankey. And sure, my poetry book was wet with ink that was slightly bleeding but still readable. And my safe with my journals, well, I actually couldn’t get that. It was melted to the carpet and I was pulling it with all my strength, the fire marshall came in to tell me I had to leave because it wasn’t safe to stay. My steady stream of tears turned into hysterically crying. These were all of my thoughts and prayers and hopes and dreams and words that I had been writing down for my whole life. I told him that I need the safe and he said he would do what he could to get it. I went downstairs, sat on the curb and cried with my head in my hands while praying my journals could be saved. It felt like a movie, waiting for him to walk down those stairs with my safe in his hands… and then he did. And I felt relief. Everything I lost suddenly didn’t seem so devastating because I was able to save what mattered most to me. I still missed everything I lost, but I was so grateful for the little that I did have.

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Sydney -

Awesome!

Leeann | Maternity

I met Leeann a few years ago and I specifically remember one of my friends telling me they once saw her out and about somewhere and thought to themselves, “that looks like a real life Disney princess” and it’s true! She is such a classic beauty! And when she showed me the gold dress she was planning to rent from Rent The Runway, I was even more excited for this photo shoot! We didn’t get any sun during the session, but that did not stop her from absolutely glowing!! And when I was sure there was no way I would love more photos in a different outfit as much as the first set, she proved me wrong and looked like a dream in a simple, white dress! I love these photos and I love Leeann!

Leah Hope Photography | Scottsdale Phoenix Sunset Point Arizona Gold Badgley Mischka Gown Maternity Bump Pregnancy Pictures

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Kate and Will | Maternity

It’s photo shoots like this that make me fall in love with the desert! I haven’t always been a fan of it, but the more photography I do, the more I love it!! There is just something so special about the light in the desert! I had such an amazing time with these two! Not only are they are stunning couple, but they are two of kindest people as well!! During this shoot, we found out there is such a thing as deer in the desert! I’ve lived here my whole life and I never knew that! We saw almost 10 of them prancing around, and we tried so hard to get photos with them but they were just too fast for us. At least now we know that desert deer are a thing! ;)

Leah Hope Photography | Scottsdale Phoenix Arizona Desert Saguaro Cactus Maternity Bump Pregnancy Couple Pictures

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Charity and Michael | Maternity

I’ve done a couple shoots with Charity before and she is just so full of light! I’ve loved getting to know her over the past couple years since the first shoot we did. So, when she needed maternity photos and asked me to take them, I was so honored and excited!! And this was my first time meeting her husband, Michael, who is just as kind and generous as she is! I’m so excited for them and this new adventure they’re going on! Charity is absolutely glowing! And I’m so happy she let me try something fun, which you’ll see at the end of this post! ;)

Leah Hope Photography | Scottsdale Phoenix Arizona Nature Maternity Bump Pregnancy Couple Pictures

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Wahbah | Family

Oh my goodness, this family was SO much fun!! The whole time they had smiles on their faces, even when the camera wasn’t pointed at them! They were making jokes with each other, being playful and had the absolute best attitudes! Usually I do what I can to get a few photos of people laughing, but I didn’t even have to try this time because they were cracking each other up all on their own! I love families that are so kind to one another and love to make each other laugh! It doesn’t only make my job easier, it fills me with so much joy! :)

Leah Hope Photography | Scottsdale Phoenix Tempe Arizona Neighborhood Family Pictures

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Janelle | Portraits

This photo shoot was quite the adventure! We started in a cactus garden on a quiet street and it didn’t take long before it wasn’t quiet at all anymore. Helicopters started circling, we heard sirens and then the street we were on became the detour road. We didn’t know what was going on, but we made the most of it anyway! And Janelle is clearly a professional so we still got so many photos that I LOVE! Especially ones in that 70’s inspired outfit! And then we went into the desert to grab a few more where it got so much colder (Phoenix kind of cold… haha) but you can’t even tell how freezing she was in the photos! ;) Janelle is one of my favorite people to photograph and every shoot quickly becomes my new favorite with her! :)

Leah Hope Photography | Scottsdale Phoenix Desert Cactus Garden Fashion Modeling Portraits

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Bruch | Family

I had the chance to take maternity photos of Ally while Teddy was still in her belly at this same location! So it was so much fun, to not only meet that adorable baby boy, but to photograph their growing family in this same spot! This family is so sweet, talented and beautiful!! And Isla is such a little model and loves taking photos, which is a quality I love in children! ;) Ally is  has been creating my new logo, she is incredibly talented, and I’m so excited to share it with everyone soon!! :)

Leah Hope Photography | Scottsdale Phoenix Arizona Desert Family Pictures

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