Two years ago on December 14…


On December 9th, @E_Laffs2 tweeted: “It’s been two years since I’ve seen my mother alive.. I miss you, @DHochsprung”

Two years ago on December 14, the lives of 20 children and six adults were taken by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. One of the victims was Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Hochsprung, a true hero who died while trying to save her students and fellow educators. Before this tragedy happened, Dawn’s daughter Erica Lafferty and her soon-to-be husband had hired me to photograph their wedding. I have to admit, that regardless of all the media attention concerning Dawn’s heroism, it took me several months before I even realized that Erica was Dawn’s daughter.  Needless to say, when I did finally realize, I was terrified. I could not even begin to understand what it must be like for Erica and her family to be celebrating one of the happiest events in their lives while at the same time mourning the senseless death of her mother. I thought for sure I would break down and cry numerous times throughout the wedding day and I could only imagine how emotional it would be for the beautiful bride. This is one of the many moments I was able to photograph that day:

I think what this image captures is extremely powerful and I’m sure it is a bittersweet reminder of that day for Erica. The photo has been used by The New York Daily News, The Today Show, and CNN to help tell the story of the aftermath of Sandy Hook, to help spread Erica’s message of gun violence prevention. It also shows a bride who will start the next exciting chapter of her life without the company of someone she loves very deeply.

For the first time today, I converted it into a black and white image.

To Erica and Chris and their family’s credit, the wedding day was also full of joy and excitement. I didn’t know Dawn Hochsprung, but I’m sure she would have wanted her family to be happy on this day. And although the photograph of Erica at her mother’s grave is one that has gotten a lot of attention, one of my favorite photographs of Erica and Chris’ wedding day shows them celebrating life and love.

It’s been two years since Sandy Hook. Two years since 26 people lost their lives. Let’s not forget what happened that day, and let’s do whatever we can to make sure this never happens again. “We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate,” President Obama said in a memorial service in Newtown. “Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino and Anne Marie Murphy. They responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.”