The story behind the photo is tragic, but, for a young widow who lost her husband in a plane accident, the image is both a beautiful tribute to the man she loved and a family portrait she thought she would never have.
Laura Gordillo, an Arizona-based photographer, first met Taurean and Stephanie Summers during an anniversary photo shoot. “I remember it was hard to get him to smile,” Gordillo wrote on Facebook. “Then she said once he saw the pics he gave her a huge hug and said ‘Good job babe!’ Thank you for booking her she will be our family photographer from now on!”
Sadly, their future together was cut short when Taurean, a paramedic, died while transporting a patient to a Phoenix hospital when his plane crashed in Las Cruces last year, killing everyone aboard. Stephanie was five months pregnant when he died; that winter she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
On August 27, exactly a year after the crash, Stephanie contacted Gordillo for another photo shoot at the same locations as before. “She and their adorable baby boy even wore the same color schemes she and Taurean wore for their session last year.”
“I edited this image late last night and I couldn’t help but cry the entire time!” Gordillo remembered. “My heart broke to see what could have been, but at the same time I was so happy to execute such a beautiful image for Stephanie and her son. I was able to create this amazing composite from the first session I took of them and add Taurean to one of the images I took of Stephanie and their little guy smile emoticon I told her he is and will always be by your side just like in this picture!
When Gordillo showed her the results, with Taurean standing next to her and the baby, Stephanie broke down. “She emailed me saying she couldn’t stop crying, that she absolutely loved it. She said it hurt so much and she missed him so much and she knows he would have been so in love with his son.”
Gordillo liked the results of the shoot and posted the image, along with Summers’ story, on her Facebook fan page, and it was shared by someone at a local El Paso, Texas news station. The photo has since touched millions of people, being shared around the world by numerous news outlets and social media users.
“It’s honestly been a crazy, overwhelming experience,” Gordillo told PIX11. “It’s surreal.” She says she’s been in touch with Summers, and that the young mom is not ready to give out any interviews.
“She’s pretty much speechless, she’s absolutely amazed about the response.”