While Claire and Hunter actually live in Virginia, they’re wedding is going to take place in Michigan – where Claire is from. Which is how I found myself shooting their engagement photos at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. The area reminded them of the land they love in Bristol, Virginia (where they met!). Although they live in VA, we were able to pull of their engagement photos while they were wrapping up last minute wedding details in Michigan. But before you see their images you HAVE to hear their story.
When I stop to think about it I am still in awe of how I came to know Claire. I can now look back at the years of my life leading up to meeting Claire and see the divine work of God gently leading me to the third floor, cardiac step-down unit, at Bristol Regional Medical Center where this beautiful blonde hair, green eyed nurse was passionately taking care of her patients.
Lets back up for a second and talk about why I even came to Bristol in the first place. I was in college at Emory and Henry for a semester trying to figure out where I was going, and more importantly to me who I was going there with. I had just parted ways with my high school sweetheart, and for a couple of weeks this was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. Now as I look back I can see the how God was bringing me closer and closer to his plan.
At this point I’m in college, at Emory, majoring in biology not exactly sure what I’m doing with my life, but more important to me was who I was going to be doing life with. I know this sounds backward, you’re supposed to figure out your career then find your spouse, but for me, I was going after my spouse first. Now it’s time to talk about the man who was in place to “shepherd” me toward Claire. Tim Anderson, Chief Nursing Officer at Bristol, is a close family friend of ours.
One Saturday night my family was going out to eat with Tim and his wife Val, I didn’t have anything to do so I came along. The dinner table was set with two nurses Tim and his wife, my parents, and then there was me. Tim suggested I would make a good nurse. So we discussed the topic for a while and before we left I was going to go to nursing school, and working at Bristol as a nursing assistant.
Tim’s part in this story is not over with yet though. So I show up to Bristol in my scrubs ready to go to work. I must add that this is a total change of pace for me. I had pretty much farmed all of my life, and really had no clue of what I was getting into. I’m in orientation for a few weeks when I land on 3W, Claire’s floor. I previously mentioned this beautiful blonde hair, green eyed nurse, well that’s Claire. WOW!
If I had to describe what I thought about Claire in one word when I first meet her it would be “different.” I’m not talking about different in a bad way either. I knew that I had never been around anyone like her before. To be completely honest I didn’t know what to think a first. During my prayer time I was going nuts to God – is this her? God show me if this is who you would have me lead for the rest of my life.
Then my truck breaks down, Tim comes to the rescue. We have a short conversation about how work is going, then he asks me in a joking manner if I have asked any nurses out yet. I tell him no. THEN “If you are looking for a good girl you should talk to Claire on 3W, we went and recruited some nurses from Bob Jones and her and two of her roommates came to work here, but I really like Claire the one with blonde hair.” Claire still has a hard time believing this, but not me this is what I had been praying about and I was all in now.
So now I began to prepare for work with Claire on my mind, I made sure I shaved and was put together as much as you can be in scrubs. There was a board that the nurses were assigned patients on. And as soon as I rounded that corner I was looking at that board to see if I had the same patients as Claire. And if I didn’t have the same patients I found ways to take care of her patients. I would say that I tried to cover up how interested in her I was, I didn’t want to come across as weird. But from reports that I have later heard, I didn’t do a very good job of hiding it.
Now let’s talk about Claire. I’ve said that she was different. There really are not words that can begin to encompass what that means. In fact, if I tried to but words to her differentness it wouldn’t do her justice. She was passionate about her job and just caring for the patients. I could see how caring she was. I had to get to know her, this would prove to be more of a task than I anticipated. One innate ability that Claire has is to run every scenario that could possibly happen through her mind. And I feel like this is what she was doing with me at first.
For example, our first means of communication was snapchat so once I thought that I had shown Claire that I was a normal guy interested in her it would be okay to ask her for her number. Claire later told me she didn’t give it to me because she was worried that I could be some weirdo. What? I asked that question a lot. So we got to know each other a lot through snapchat and spending time together at work. It was clear that I was drawn to Claire so I asked her out.
The date went well the food wasn’t so great but the conversation was good and my flame for Claire kept growing. Then came the second date, Chilies, Claire was quieter on this date and I believe she was expressing her innate capability of running every scenario through her mind.
So when I dropped her off at her car she laid the news on me. She told me that she really didn’t see us going anywhere other than just friends. Inside I was devastated, but on the outside, I gave a manly yeah that’s all I was thinking too. I just wanted to be your friend. So as I drove off so sure that this is who God had lead me to, I was questioning him. This devastation was short lived. I was still sure that this is who God had brought me to and just as he gently pursues us I continued to gently pursue Claire.
Some time passed I would still stay in touch with Claire, then I asked her out again, she agreed. When I was rounding to turn on the exit ramp bringing Claire back to drop her off Claire said I need to tell you something. If a heart could smile mine was cheesin’ because I knew what was coming. She told me that she really did like me and that she didn’t mean what she told me before that she was just scared.
Since then our relationship has been a whimsical journey that has been filled with Christs love toward us so that we may be an image of his mercy, grace, and unconditional love. Now our wedding is less than six months away, and I cannot wait to be the husband to this amazing person. This is our love story and I hope that you can see the grace that encompasses how a small town boy meets a girl from a big City 800 miles away. At the end of the day, it comes down to Gods abounding love and grace surrounding our lives.
Signed by Hunter: I love you, baby. With all of my heart! Oh how I love you Claire Gamache !
I don’t think anything I could ever say would do the love between these two justice. But as a photographer, I think my photos captured them beautifully. They’re so joyous, so intimate, and so fun. I can’t help but fall in love with Claire, Hunter, and their story and I think you will too.