Maybe it was the lack of water, the lack of food, the desert heat, the hours and hours of fasting; it was hard to tell. But the vivacious woman in front of him seemed more real than mirage, and when she flashed an easy smile, his heart leapt. “I’m Katie. I’m from Wisconsin.” she offered. He couldn’t believe his ears. How could a girl from Wisconsin, a place he actually had lived in, be here in Arizona? ” I’m Khaled, I’m from Jordan. But I’ve lived in Wisconsin!” he lobbed back and watched the surprise flicker across her face. ‘Life is full of surprises’, she thought to herself, a year later. She would have never guessed she would be living in the desert pursuing an advanced degree. She had barely wrapped her head around that idea when she fell in love with someone from halfway around the world. In the last year she had visited countries she had never given much of a second thought to before, she had learned to speak a language she had hardly even known existed previously. She looked down at her hand. Now she forever had an attachment to a tiny country with a wonderful family inside – one she would soon get to share. She giggled a bit to herself – surprises indeed.
Katie and Khaled live in Tucson, Arizona, where they both attend graduate school, pursuing doctorate degrees. This last spring, I traveled out to that desert state to shoot their engagement session in the environment where they fell in love. They are a couple of many environments – the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, the desert of Arizona, the varying climates and landscape of Jordan, the familiarity of America, the exotic atmosphere of Jordan. Their contrasts and similarities are a fun dance to watch, especially in the magic desert light.