Before the car has even finished rolling to a stop, the back passenger door flings open. She tumbles out onto the grass in a blur, long silky brown hair flying behind her as she blasts, full tilt towards the water. It is the kind of carefree, as-fast-as-your-legs-will-take-you run that is the province of 11 year olds. When I am properly introduced to her a few moments later, that brilliant trademark Alina smile is reflected in the water next to her.
In the intervening 7 or so years, she has endured my camera and my hugs many times.
Now I am standing poolside in front of a tripod, my camera holding it’s longest lens, my forehead showcasing a dewy glow from the warm, humid air. I look up to see her bouncing effortlessly, fearlessly on the very edge of a diving board that is 100 feet in the air. (OK. Sure. I’m exaggerating, but trust me, it is waaaay up there.) She is smiling down at me, mostly because I am calling out “Don’t do it! You’ll ruin your hair!” Partly, she is laughing at my anxious face, as I imagine myself at that height, perched at the end of a slippery, bendy board.
The smile is still light-up-the-room amazing, but she is also now powerful. Fierce, even. It’s hard earned. She has pushed her body to its limits, sacrificed sleep and time with friends, traveled long distances and more to become who she is now; A sought-after competitive diver. Saying yes to San Diego State requires another sacrifice – saying goodbye to Flagstaff, NAU and the supportive coaching staff that helped her get to this point.
We leave the pool and step outside into frigid winter wind. Now, Alina is a warm weather girl, like her awesome mama. So …brrr! I ask her to let her glorious locks be tossed about by the gale and she complies but the second I spring her, saying, “All done!” She RUNS back to the car to warm up. 🙂
She is amazing. I hope she knows it. At the very least, I hope she knows that I adore her and am cheering her on for all that comes next.
Flagstaff Family Portrait Photographer • Flagstaff Maternity Pregnancy Photographer • Flagstaff Newborn Photographer • Flagstaff Child Photographer • Flagstaff Senior Portrait Photographer • Flagstaff Couples Photography
Kristen Dacey Iwai of KDI Photography is a full-time professional portrait photographer based in Flagstaff, Arizona with decades of experience. Making portraits of families, pregnancy, newborns, babies, children, and high school seniors in her downtown studio and on location, she serves clients from Flagstaff, Sedona, Tuba City, Winslow, Payson, Page, Williams, Prescott, Mesa, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Arizona