December 29, 2017

Twenty Seventeen: A Year in Review

Elopement Personal Travel Wedding

Every year I get to this moment where I sit behind the keyboard in silence, contemplating how to talk about an entire year. A Year. A year is fairly long period of time—so much can happen. And for our family, so much did happen. I’ll do my best to unpack it all, but I know so much is going to get left out, as there simply isn’t enough time (or interest, to be candid).

We started this year by spending a month in Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. This was one of our greatest Bucket List trips: to head back to Hillary’s childhood home in Papua New Guinea. After nearly four days of traveling, it was surreal stepping off the plane in Goroka. The sights, light, and smells were exactly as she had described over the years. Joining us for our monthlong excursion, was Hillary’s brother Hayden—who has been living along with us for about the past year. Being in PNG was a whole new window into my wife and her family. My first night there, Hayden and I went uptrack and slept outside under the stars beneath an abandoned electrical tower. We ate food from the fire, macheted down tall grass, and woke up to the sounds of PNG. It was like something you would have read in Nat Geo—it seemed like a world lost in itself.

The whole week we spent trekking into villages to visit old friends and tubing down river to return home. It was a Homecoming that I can’t put words to, but it was one of the most profound experiences I’ve had with my wife.

From there, we spent three weeks in a campervan around New Zealand. We made incredible new friends and shared meals with friends from around the world. We learned how to live—the three of us—in a van. We hiked in the rain. We all fought. We all laughed until we cried. We cooked. We listened. We grew. We shared. The sense of community and friendship that Family has provided over the years is something that has left me inspired and grateful.

In March, we went to Paris with friends and Hayden simply because we could. We ate incredible meals, drank wine by the Seine, and broke bread with people we love. In April, Hillary and I went to Bali for a wedding and it was there that we started out on one of our most daunting life decisions. It was in Bali that we filed our first round of paperwork to begin our journey with adoption.

The rest of the year seems to be a whirlwind—I spent time in Iceland, London, Oklahoma, Alaska, and across the U.S. but the most incredible thing to happen to us was on September 29, 2017, when our daughter, Honor Rosa Tijerina, was born. That itself is another story, but Hills and I got a phone call that changed our life—within two hours we were on a plane to Texas to be present for her birth. Honor’s adoption is her story—so while I’ll keep my words on the adoption itself short, the one thing we’re repeatedly humbled by is the joy, honor, and pride we have to raise this amazing girl. She’s most beloved to us and being her parents has been something that has changed us from the inside out.

We’re overjoyed to have Honor join us and to continue to invite her into this amazing, chaotic life that we lead. We’re excited to show her the world. To teach her about her story. To hold her when she experiences pain. To take her hand as we show her the world.

Parenthood isn’t anything like I imagine—and I’m not sure if that’s cliche or ‘anti-cliche’ but the reality is that Hillary and I set out to parent together. To be partners. It could be the fact that Honor is a pretty chill baby, or it could be that Hillary is an amazing partner who works harder than anyone I know, but this transition to parenthood has been one of the most exciting things we’ve done together. We’re both still working full time, yet we’re also both staying home with Honor full time.

While my trips for work are getting squeezed into tighter amounts of time, we still plan as best we can to bring Honor around the world with us. We’re hopeful to bring her to a handful of countries and continents within her first years of life—time will tell.

In summation: Twenty Seventeen has been a year of Change. A year of Growth. There are things I aim to do better in the next year, and things I aim to keep the same. We’re learning that we can’t commit to everything, but also how to give 100% to the things we commit to. I’m thrilled to be able to work as a wedding photographer, and I’m excited that 2018 is going to be filled with more amazing couples, stories, and weddings. I’m learning how to balance and how to stay silent (and listen) but I’m also learning to speak up—to call out the broken systems that we aimlessly support and instead to promote mindfulness.

I’m thrilled about this coming year: I’m going to be launching presets, workshops, and educational platforms over the next few months, and I’m excited for the new ways that photography will grow and change as the year(s) go on.

To all of you who follow and support my work—thank you for allowing me to do this and to create these images and to participate in these moments and stories.

Warmest,

Levi


I want to leave you with my top 100 Songs from Spotify in 2017. I feel these images are well complemented by the music I’ve spent the year enjoying and I hope this accompaniment is meaningful to you as well. 

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