HANNA // We were born and raised in Alaska and mostly grew up in the sticks of Willow. We loved growing up in the woods. Back then, the internet wasn’t even a thing, but if it were, it wouldn’t have mattered. In those days our parents chose to raise us without TV and we lived a very simple, active lifestyle centered around school, play, church and work.
We were very poor most of the time growing up but we were loved! Mom and dad were champions of the entrepreneurial spirit. We were taught that freedom, adventure, faith and love were everything worth fighting, living, and dying for.
Dad worked mostly in construction, but always had side gigs going like selling firewood. Mom could make something from nothing (still can) and we have countless memories of her artistic business endeavors. She worked at the Alaska State Fair many years selling her painted art, creating dried flower pictures, quilting, teaching music, running a house cleaning business, and more. Our parents were definitely hard workers and taught us that never giving up was the most important trait in the world.
HEIDI // We moved around a little, but eventually settled in the Palmer area for what has basically turned into the rest of our lives. (so far!) We love the Mat-Su and love photographing our client’s stories in locations that are so sentimental to our own hearts.
We lived with our grandparents for four years while our dad built a home out-of-pocket and that was a riot. Grandma and grandpa were a crazy and adventurous duo. Once upon a time they lived in Texas, read a library book about Alaska, and decided right then to pack up their seven children in a school bus and head north. Can you imagine? They lived a pioneer lifestyle with no running water in Kenny Lake for many years. Grandpa was a jack of all trades. Grandma was a creative explosion.
We are proud to be from their lineage, and that of our parents. We come from quirky, down-to-earth, hard-working people, so it is not terribly hard to see where we have ended up. We just wish grandma were still with us and could see. She’d be so proud of us.
Photography was a trail travelled early on. We have countless childhood memories of tacking up sheets for backdrops, hiking through Hatcher Pass with 35mm cameras, and playing photographer. Hanna was always roping me into her creative shenanigans and from the look of things now: nothing really changed. We loved dreaming up cool shots, modeling, making beautiful things. It was all for play, or so we thought. But the seeds were planted.
Life carried us through a lot: college, marriage, babies. I married my high school sweetheart. He proposed to me on top of Mount Marathon and we have always been an adventurous duo. Before kids, we biked from Portland, Oregon across the country to Portland, Maine. We are both slightly introverted and mild but have undercover grit like you wouldn’t believe! Eventually we ended up with three wonderful kids, Harper, Peter and Esme. David is a fierce protector and serves as a police officer and I am, well, I am Relic!
HANNA // I met my first husband while living in Guatemala during my senior year of high school. He was from Canada, was adventurous as I was, and eventually followed me home to Alaska. We married, had beautiful babies and like, for so many people, eventually, there was heartbreak too. After 8 years of marriage, we divorced. Suddenly, I was alone, with three kids, no college education, no work prospects or money.
And then, one random night, I had a dream that I was a photographer. Yep, an actual dream. I woke up and through the black cloud of dread that hovered over me, suddenly there was this tiny sliver of light poking through. I ran down the stairs, called my mama, clutched the phone for dear life, and told her about the dream. I waited for her to caution me that this was the worst possible time to start a business, (I had never owned a business) in an artistic field, (Artists don’t make money, right?) as a photographer (I didn’t even own a camera.) and in the middle of a divorce. (If you haven’t been there, it pretty much annihilates you. I had zilch, zero, nada to work with.) But she didn’t say those things. Instead she took my by the shoulders, right through the phone, and spoke directly to my heart, “Hanna. That dream was from God. Do NOT second guess it. If anyone can do it, it is you. I will be your biggest cheerleader. I will help you.”
And that was the moment Relic Photographic was born.
I believe that some of the most beautiful things grow out of the darkest places. I believe that the hard parts, especially the hard parts, are worth their weight in gold and that everything good is a gift. Photography became hope for a newly divorced, broke mama. Hope sparked. My bank account was drained to $50. A camera was purchased. Sleeves were rolled up. And Relic became my shout of faith.
HEIDI // Watching Relic form was pretty much spectacular from the sidelines. It was sink or swim for my sister, and anyone who knows her already understands that she will swim. Hanna learned everything through trial and error, spent long nights mimicking YouTube tutorials, and long days juggling kids and the hustle of a new business. Mom and I were her babysitters during sessions and watched all the pieces come together. Week by week Hanna’s hope grew bigger than her fear and she accepted it all as an undeserved gift from God. It didn’t take long before Relic really took off and suddenly there was enough work for two.
I never imagined that I would be a photographer. In fact, much like Hanna, I really didn’t even believe I was good at any particular thing or had talent that someone would be willing to pay for. I felt regular. So when Hanna began pestering me to join, at first I was reluctant. How could I measure up? Could I even learn this stuff? How could I, a total introvert, direct sessions? Would this even work? There were a lot of questions, but eventually Hanna convinced me into at least giving it a trial run. (Bossy first children, sheesh!) After all, she reminded me, nursing school wasn’t starting for two years, I had time to kill.
So I jumped in temporarily. I went to all the sessions, edited beside Hanna, learned the ropes and overcame some of my own fears. Within just a few months, I decided that this was not only Hanna’s answer, it was my answer too. This was somewhere I could belong, something I was actually good at, a job that would enable me to be both a stay-at-home-mom and provider. I found hope. I told Hanna that I was all-in and I have not once ever looked back. This job is my dream come true.
HANNA // And here we are, a decade and some later. I remarried and now have seven kids in our mix-and-match family. Heidi and I have grown together and learned how to raise a business up from the roots. This artistry is so much more than photos for us. It’s a new day. It’s redemption. It’s God’s gift. It’s provision. It’s joy and passion. It saved our hearts and families.
We are pretty much Lucy and Ethel. Two creative, hot-mess, life-loving, emotional, determined, scatterbrained women. We belong together. We always have. A sister-team was inevitable. Never in a million years did we guess that one day, decades later, we would still be side-by-side, best friends, doing what we loved when we were once just kids playing in the mountains. Life is art, through and through. And beauty comes from ashes.