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  • Shauna Schneeman

Celebrating My Client Ava

I was waiting for this post until I captured an upcoming session we had scheduled and I think Ava was as well after I posted my story about the Rivera Family. It is still my anniversary month of opening Milestone and I need to pay tribute to another one of my longest and most loyal clients. She is another embodiment of Milestone, but in a different way. I haven't captured just Ava's family grow, I have captured her personal story and journey to the woman that she is today.

Like Giovanni and Jazi, Ava and I went to school together and she also, like Giovanni, went to school with my husband. Which I am just now putting together and I am really shocked since that was two different schools that both these clients went to so they knew my husband and I both.. Why did I not realize that until now?!

Any how... I hope Ava doesn't mind me saying this. However, I know Ava didn't have it easy. I got to know her personally and we often were in the same circles. I can still remember her vividly from our preteen years thinking how positive and happy she always was regardless of anything happening. She was just so pleasant and outgoing. I was only about 13 on this day that I am recalling so I didn't have the maturity to admire that the way I can now.

I opened Milestone in 2015 and Ava was one of my first clients.. because I maybe had 10 that whole year being brand new. Ava's very first session was for her graduation. I remember thinking even then how impressed I was with her and what she was doing. I had not gone to college, but here was this girl who I believed had the odds against her was graduating with a degree she obtained all on her own. She was radiating with pride and she deserved it.

Ava became one of my most frequent clients booking multiple times a year. I got to take part in documenting some of her biggest "Milestones" and she wanted the good the bad and the ugly photographed, and I was here for it and rooting for her the whole time! I still always love when she contacts me with another wild idea! I know when I am meeting up with her and her son I am going to work fast to fit in her list of ideas to capture. We always leave the session saying, "This was our best one yet!" .. One because I keep growing in my craft, but also her ideas are better and better every time!

Her cancer diagnosis and treatment came not long after that first session. Ava handled it like a champ! As if it was just an inconvenience. She said she was scared, but as far as I could tell she just took it on and kept moving forward. We celebrated with a "washing away" of that time of her life with a session in the river when her treatments were over.. which was so fun! But also I forgot I was using the electronic that is my livelihood in a river and was terrified once I was waist deep! lol

Ava had her little one, Memphis, in 2017 just a few months before I had Gavin. I was actually pregnant during Memphis's newborn session! I remember being surprised when Ava made the announcement. Where most women in her circumstances would be nervous or scared, she was just as she always is. So, excited and happy. I was in awe of her that day. I sometimes get worked up and miserable over having to do laundry where she was thrown a curve ball and was just so pleasant and happy. She did not find out she was pregnant until she was almost 4 months along, then her little one came almost a month early. So, most woman's 9 months to prepare was dropped down to 5! She took on motherhood as a single mother with almost no support by the horns. She worked hard in all aspects to raise her boy and even when the situations seemed impossible she did it and with such grace!

These were some of the most monumental things to note, but I can assure you there is so much more to Ava's story. I have watched Ava go from a young girl with the odds against her to a woman who goes head first into every set back she faces. Her adversity is inspiring and I am not exaggerating to say she is the strongest woman I know. She may not know, but I aspire to be as strong and as powerful as she is.

I am honored to have been Ava's photographer and to capture every stage of her journey these past 8 years. I am also so thankful to have had her undying support for me and my business. I look forward to many more years of capturing her journey. I know there are so many good things to come for her. She deserves so much happiness, and not the kind that she just has in every situation. I mean she deserves things she doesn't have to overcome, but just enjoy.

Below are a few of my favorites from my sessions with Ava since 2015. There may be even more sessions, but I counted 19 sessions that I could find from our times together... Yes 19 sessions in 8 years!!



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