To understand how Lionheart Exposures came to be, we have to go all the way back to the beginning before even Walking with Z Photography came to be. In 2011 my appreciation for photography was already at great heights. However, it became even more sentimental for me, when I met Zak Abdo. The story I’m about to relay is said to you in honesty—because I feel photography should be honest (as should the photographer)—and I feel you should know the story of the Z in Walking with Z Photography.
For me, Zak was an angel. He saved me… And I loved him for the constant smile he had on his face—for the positive energy he brought to a room, but mostly for the lengths he endured to make me feel worthy again. During that time, I had tried to take the easy way out of my grief. Fortunately, my failed attempt introduced me to Zak. He didn’t even know me. We were coworkers with only a few words spoken to one another. However, one night, when I was due to be at work, I had asked someone to cover me. This was unusual behavior for me, in which Zak noticed. With all the goodness in his heart, he reached out to me, to ensure I was okay. We had coffee the following day, and he did what I so desperately needed someone to do—he listened. Without the judgmental eyes of dismay and discomfort, he listened. His friendship shined light in all the shadows and remorse of my conscious. In the midst of drowning, he gave me something to hold onto. However, there was one thing we did that pulled me out of the water completely.
We’d stroll down the woods, following unknown, winding paths, taking photos of anything and everything. We talked—we laughed—we captured memories. Honestly, I don’t think we even cared how the photos turned out. It was just… fun. One day, on one of our photography adventures, I decided to try out a film camera. Knowing very little about film photography, I foolishly exposed the film to the sunlight. Of course, I didn’t realize the massive mistake I had made until the Walmart Photo Center informed me that all of my photos were ruined due to sun exposure. It didn’t really bother me at the time, because I figured I would have more opportunities to play with film photography… It didn’t bother me, however, until the 1st of September came along— when Zak’s life was taken in a motorcycle accident—and I realized that most of those sun exposed photographs had been of him… Within all of my grief was a hint of anger. In those final photos, I remember he was so happy—his face was lit up with joy, and I would have loved to have given those photos to his family and shared them with his friends. So many people were affected by his death—or rather, his life. And that’s exactly what I wanted to celebrate—the lif e he led, and the beautiful memories he left us with.
I wanted to do something for Zak that celebrated his life in a way he knew best… Photography.
So, in 2014, my photography was renamed to Walking with Z Photography, in memory of the Angel that dropped down from heaven, saved me from myself, made me fall in love with photography all over again, and kissed me goodbye, for, I can only hope because he had more souls to save.
I feel it’s important for everyone to know about the Abdo boy that altered my life and the way I see photography forever. With each photograph I take, and each smile I capture—it will be dedicated to the memory of Zak, for his legacy lives on.
Today, as I write this, it’s 6 years later. I’ve just finished my 5 year contract as a military firefighter. I’ve finally moved back to Minnesota after spending the last half-decade stationed in Georgia, and deployed to Romania. I'm now happily married with an incredible smart 2 year old son who keeps life moving. While I was pregnant with my son in 2016, I took a hiatus from photography due to the constant morning sickness I was experiencing. After my son was born, I had intended on getting “back together” with photography. However, my husband get deployed to Iraq, while my time was occupied with (stateside) soldier and maternal duties. Now that he's nearing age 2, and things have finally settled down (a bit), I finally feel ready to reconnect with my passion.
With a fresh start in mind, I wanted to give Walking with Z Photography a little facelift with a new name, a new home location of Southern Minnesota, a new website and new possibilities. I believe the new name, Lionheart Exposures, will still hold strong as a tribute to him, and many others.
Just like Walking with Z Photography, Lionheart Exposures will aim to provide exemplary service, giving every client photos they look at fondly for years to come. However, for every client, with permission, 20% of the client's total will be given to a foundation or charity aimed to help personnel in the armed forces, fire, EMS, and police.
Within the 5 branches of military, police force, fire service, and EMS, there is one overall goal they all possess and that is to protect us. They are Lionheart, an epitome of courage.
And the smiles and love (which I'm fortunate enough to capture on camera) is their reason why.
Check back for updates. But for now, I very much look forward to sharing the upcoming changes with you all. Thank you!