When I started my photography journey, the very first friend I made was Marissa. We met through Facebook when I signed up for my first boudoir education workshop in Austin, Texas in December 2019. We bonded over our love for Kara Marie and her black & white photography of women. We loved how her photographs were art, timeless, and exquisite. She gave every woman these very beautiful, sexy, and effortless images that stepped in front of her camera. We talked about how my photoshoot with Kara was life-changing and the very reason I was standing there. Marissa booked her own shoot with Kara on the spot and she flew out to Las Vegas at the end of February 2020 and spent two days staying with me and my family. I had my second photoshoot with KM, and Marissa had her first. We loved every minute of cheering each other on, and it is hands down one of our favorite days of our life. I put her back on a plane to South Carolina, not knowing what was going to happen to the world two weeks later. The next time we should have seen each other was March 2022 when we both signed up for another boudoir photography workshop. Marissa was going to fly to Las Vegas again and we were going to catch up over the last two years. I know we were both really looking forward to that trip and reconnecting.
Unfortunately, in January she told me that she had colon cancer. She was going to have to skip the workshop for treatment services. The time we were going to spend at my home wasn’t going to happen. Something told me to go see her, so we started planning a girls weekend away in Sedona near her cancer treatment center.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it was hard to hear my friend tell me she had stage 4 colon cancer at 37. But she assured me she was going to beat it and she was going to go on and be the best wife and someday mom just like me. She was going to expand her photography studio so she could be more creative with her clients. I left that trip two days later and went home in tears. I just pretended all weekend like my friend wasn’t dying right before my eyes because I realized all she wanted to do was pretend she wasn’t for a weekend. It was the last time I would get to hug her.
Marissa was my biggest cheerleader, and I consulted and confided in her more than anyone else when I started this journey. She believed in me more than I believed in myself. She always reminded me that I could do this, and I’m devastated to tell you that she passed away one day after her 38th birthday on July 10, 2022.
I’m so honored that Marissa left me all of her Kara Marie photoshoot images. And that sent me back to my own videos that I have from that time together. I have spent many days pouring over these images, and I can’t begin to tell you how priceless they are. They are all I have of my dear friend, and I honestly know in my heart these were not only a gift for her to hold during her time here, but also to me. They are now mine to hold to remember my friend and our reason for why we do what we do… To give women the opportunity to see themselves bravely, like never before, and to be remembered exquisitely. This is more than provocative images of you, this is about falling in love with your life, and living each day to the fullest. I’m so thankful my friend didn’t wait for the perfect body, the perfect day to do her photoshoot. When I see her beautiful face and images, I know she was perfect just the way she was.