TOM & HILJA – PORTRAITS BY SUZANNE SPIEGOSKI
I've known Hilja for nearly 25 years. We met as young kids at a track meet both competing in the chin-up/pull-up category. But it wasn't until six months later where we crossed paths once more - this time at a skating rink and became inseparable. Growing up together she has always been like a sister to me and is one of my closest and dearest friends. So, when she told me was coming to New York with her fiancé, Tom, I wanted to do an engagement shoot as their wedding present.
While growing up in Detroit like myself, Hilja met Tom while in grade school. But a romance didn't brew until way later when they reconnected as adults. I'm a firm believer in all the twists & turns that life will lead you to, like moments such as this, where sometimes you don't even know what's been under your nose the entire time. Love ain't easy and I think one has to go through a lot in order to know who and what they want. And with these two, I haven't seen such a happy couple in so many years.
One of the reasons for their visit to New York was for Tom's birthday and part of his gift was a trip to Madison Square Garden to watch his favorite college basketball team, Duke, play. And being that they are both from the Motor City, I wanted to embody their laid-back but gritty attitude. So the first part of the shoot, I took them to Alphabet City and shot in an empty basketball court. This was an easy-breezy moment before the second part of the photo shoot.
I was adamant in shooting part of their engagement series on Top of the Rock during their visit here in New York around the holidays. But on that particular day, there was so much fog there was literally zero visibility. The staff even forewarned us – suggesting we exchange our tickets to another day. My stubborn streak never ceases to shine through and because it was the last day of their visit, I pushed for it anyway.
"Maybe we'll get lucky," I thought.
Going up I had anxiety. You can't control Mother Nature and I was concerned we may be going up but with no NYC skyline. However, when shooting you got to go with the flow. As we started to warm up for our shoot and ease into our environment, the clouds parted and a beautiful incandescent light emerged from above. Much like the weather, you cannot control love and all that comes with it. A definite blessing from the universe. What a day. Are you a believer in spiritual energies as such?
Hilja and Tom will be married In Michigan come this fall. I feel so honored to be a part of her wedding and for our friendship. Life has thrown us many curveballs (even really bad airballs if you will) but we have been there for each other through the thick and thin. Seeing her full of life and joy brings me much happiness. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for all of us! To many more years of love & laughter, adventures and more. I love you guys!
P.S. Want to see more lovey-dovey couple photos? Click here.