When Skype found out that a huge part of my love story with my wife centered around their product, they called me up and hired me to work with them on a social media campaign centered around love stories. Over Valentine's Day weekend, I took over the Skype Instagram account with a series of portraits and stories focused on the idea of love conquering distance.
POST FOR @BRANDENHARVEY:
Hi! Branden AND Sammi here! It’s Valentine’s weekend & we partnered with @skype to share a little bit of our love story.
Sammi: A lot of you know that B & I dated long distance for three years before we got married. Crazy.
B: I was based in Portland & she was based in Nashville. We were both constantly traveling & the only thing consistent in our lives were our weekend visits once a month and our daily Skype calls.
S: So, for the longest time I followed B on Twitter. We were strangers but I thought he was really cool. One day I found the courage to send him a message telling him that I was about to move to Europe to study but that I loved his work & wanted to meet one day.
B: You totally had a crush on me, huh?
S: No way! (Probably…) Anyway, so I hit "send" and waited… and Branden actually replied really fast. Almost immediately. He said he thought we should be friends.
B: I thought she was cute. I totally stalked her Facebook and saw that we liked some of the same books. I got butterflies from a message from a stranger, which is kind of dorky, but true. I realized that I definitely wanted to get to know this girl better but couldn’t wait for her to get back from Europe months later.
S: So he asked me out on our first date… a Skype date.
B: I actually got really nervous. And honestly kind of sweaty.
S: But we had a really fun time. I didn’t notice any sweat. I guess that’s a major benefit of a Skype date. We talked for 2.5 hours until I had to run to class. At the end of our conversation he asked me on another Skype date. I said yes.
B: That one went well and the next one went well. Then she flew to Austria to live in Vienna & we kept on having Skype dates.
S: One day on a Skype date he even asked me if he could come visit me when I came back home to Nashville.
B: A few months later, after even more Skype dates, I flew to Nashville for the first time & I took her out on a date in-person. The rest is history.
S: All that to say, Skype knows that B loves to tell stories. And they know how much of a role their little app played in our love story, so they asked him to take over their IG for the Valentine’s weekend to share all kinds of love stories. We hope you’ll follow along: @skype
POSTS FOR @SKYPE:
Hi there! My name is @brandenharvey and I’m taking over the @skype account for Valentine’s Day weekend!
The folks at Skype knew how much I love telling stories of good all over the world and how much I use Skype while I travel. I’m honored to be able to share some love stories here.
Thanks for following along! #LoveConquersDistance #SkypeTogether (1/10)
Sammi and I first met on Twitter in 2012. A mutual friend of ours retweeted her - I don’t remember exactly what the tweet said but I remember she was really cute and for some reason, she followed me.
Fast forward a couple years: She was living in Nashville. I was living in Portland.
She found me on Facebook and sent me a message letting me know she admired my photography work and invited me to coffee if I ever made it to Nashville - once she got back from her upcoming semester in Europe, of course.
We started messaging back and forth and I realized she was amazing. I knew that I needed to do something to get her attention before she left the country so I asked her out on a Skype date. As total strangers, we talked for two and a half hours before she had to run off to a class. Pretty great first date.
We talked over Skype again the next day. And the day after that. And fast forward a few months and we’d talked over Skype nearly every single day while she was living in Vienna and Rome and Paris and London all while I was road tripping around the United States and shooting photos all over Asia and Africa. It was a magical way to get to know someone special.
On her birthday I asked if I could come out to visit her in Nashville when she came back to the states. She blushed and said yes, so I bought a plane ticket. And that first visit went so well I kept on buying plane tickets. Lots of plane tickets. My photography career was beginning to take off and I was constantly on planes heading to Asia, Africa, and even the Middle East. But no matter what, we took turns flying across the country every month and Skyping every single day.
After three years of Skype calls and quick visits, I bought one last plane ticket, got down on one knee, and pulled out a ring. She said yes.
The guest list at our intimate wedding was a testament to our travels. We had friends come in from all over the country. We’ve officially been married for three months and it’s been a dream to be in the same place finally. Skype still plays a big part in our lives but now we're on the same side of our screen, calling up our friends scattered all over the world.
Story by storytellers @brandenharvey & @sammiharveyco (Story 2/10)
A love story between a touring musician and her family:
Shealeen is a talented, traveling musician. She’s been a part of her band @poemamusic for 8 years and, as you can imagine, life has never had a normal rhythm for her.
Her parents helped her follow her passion for music all during her childhood which resulted in Shealeen becoming really close to her family. It’s hard though, because Shealeen is based in Nashville, Tennessee while her family calls Albuquerque, New Mexico home.
No matter where Shealeen is in the world— on tour somewhere or at home in Nashville she always finds time to catch up with her parents. Whether it’s a few quick texts before a show or her recent 3 hour Skype session while snowed in - Shealeen loves making the time to stay connected.
@shealeenlouise and her parents remind me that #LoveConquersDistance. #SkypeTogether
Photo and story by storyteller @brandenharvey (Story 3/10)
A love story between two young artists:
Bree and Chad both grew up in New Mexico. In fact, they even dated for a while they were teenagers… until they broke up. Years later, Chad was living in Nashville pursuing music while Bree continued to live in New Mexico. It wasn’t until Chad flew back to New Mexico for his sister’s wedding that he and Bree reconnected. They started dating again as Chad hopped back on a plane to return to Nashville, knowing they could continue their relationship on Skype.
And that they did. In fact, some of the most important moments in their newly rekindled relationship happened over Skype. Like the time they were only a few weeks into dating again and Chad let an “I love you” slip into the conversation. He was so embarrassed, but he really meant it. It was true.
After almost a year of getting to know each other again long-distance, Bree moved to Nashville and they were married just a few months later in their hometown, where they first fell in love. Now they live in East Nashville where Bree is a hair stylist and Chad is a musician, filmmaker, and jewelry maker.
@bree.ariel and @chadbarela remind me that #LoveConquersDistance. #SkypeTogether
Photo and story by storyteller @brandenharvey (Story 4/10)
A love story between two friends and their mission:
Kate Gazaway is out to change the world through photography. In college she studied photojournalism and came out of school a talented photographer looking for purpose. After watching a documentary about the injustices in the world, she wanted to find a way to create positive change. She found an opportunity to do that when she was asked to teach photography with an inner-city non-profit in Pennsylvania. She saw the potential of empowering local individuals to tell their own stories using photography.
Soon after, on a trip to Nicaragua, her non-profit @picturechange was born. The goal was to use photography to, in Kate’s words, “sustainably provide education and resources for developing communities to tell their own story."
Kate genuinely loves the people she meets everywhere she goes, and she lets that love bloom into friendships— even across the world. I think specifically to @rosyumanzord, one of Kate’s former @picturechange students in Nicaragua and now one of her closest friends. Rosa had such a passion for photography and her community that she became a student-leader for @picturechange and a leader in her community. Kate continues to keep in touch with Rosa as often as possible to hear how photography is continuing to impact the community under Rosa’s leadership.
@ladykategazaway and her friendships all over the world remind me that #LoveConquersDistance. #SkypeTogether
Photo and story by storyteller @brandenharvey (Story 5/10)
A love story between a photographer and nurse:
It was the opportunity of a lifetime. Austin was invited to learn underneath one of the most iconic and talented photographers in the world. The opportunity meant a few months in New York City and Austin knew that he’d have to leave his community and guaranteed work. Most difficult of all, Austin hated the idea of being so far away from his girlfriend, Selah.
Selah was a nursing student, and as much as she would have liked to, she couldn’t just get up and move to New York with him. She was passionate about her dream of becoming a nurse and knew the place she needed to be was in school, in Nashville. But she also could see that this opportunity was perfect for Austin and wanted him to pursue his dreams, too.
So Austin moved to New York to learn from the best. He and Selah kept in touch via Skype on a daily basis. Thankfully, the time flew by and Austin’s internship was over before they knew it. Austin made his way back to Nashville and they were reunited at last - proud of the work the had each accomplished and grateful for each other.
@austinlord and @selahdecew remind me that #LoveConquersDistance. #SkypeTogether
Photo and story by storyteller @brandenharvey (Story 6/10)
A love story between a leader and his community:
WELD is a creative coworking space with two locations currently in Dallas, TX and Nashville, TN. Coworking spaces are a dime a dozen these days, but WELD is continually referred to as one of the most successful and innovative spaces in the world. I’ll let you in on their secret: It’s because the people who run WELD have created a tight knit community.
This is Jordan, one of the founders of WELD. Anytime I show up at WELD and Jordan is there, he’ll ask me about a recent project I worked on, or give me feedback on a recent story I told. And it’s not just me he does this with— it’s everyone. He helps create an environment focused on genuine relationships and that permeates into the entire community.
Jordan is always traveling, but whether he’s in Colombia or Switzerland, he’s continuing to build his friendships. Like Jordan, so many of the people at WELD (myself included) are constantly traveling for creative opportunities but they remain connected with people despite the distance. I admire the way Jordan loves our community through staying in touch no matter where he is in the world.
@jor_by and @WELD remind me that #LoveConquersDistance. #SkypeTogether
Photo and story by storyteller @brandenharvey (Story 7/10)
A love story between two writers:
Tyler was a writer and the editor for a magazine. Liz was a teacher, moonlighting as a writer. Liz had sent in a few articles to be published in the magazine and they caught Tyler’s attention. They started chatting over email and Tyler realized he was very interested in getting to know her more.
The only problem was that Tyler was living in Orlando, Florida and Liz was living in Nashville, Tennessee. Tyler asked if he could fly up to visit her. She said she needed to spend some time on a Skype call with him first, since at this point they’d only been emailing.
Liz asked her roommate to be there for their Skype call to help get the conversation flowing. Within a few minutes Tyler and Liz were deeply engaged in a great conversation— so much so that Liz’s roommate slowly edged out of the room.
The Skype call went incredibly well. The first in-person visit went incredibly well. And soon, Tyler and Liz were calling on Skype regularly. Fast forward a year, Tyler decided to pack his bags, move to Nashville, and marry the love of his life, Liz.
@tylerhuckabee and @riggser remind me that #LoveConquersDistance. #SkypeTogether
Photo and story by storyteller @brandenharvey (Story 8/10)
A love story between an aunt and her nieces and nephews:
My friend Katie lives in Tennessee. Her sister lives in Georgia. And they’re best friends. Though she and her sister live in different states, they take time to catch up with each other every morning.
And the special thing about taking time to connect every morning is that this has allowed Katie to see her nephews and niece grow up. She gets to visit them in person every few months, but life happens in the more in the little everyday moments. Like this morning, when Katie’s sister handed her phone to her five-year-old son Jack while chatting on Skype.
Katie did what all awesome/embarrassing aunts do and Jack if he had a Valentine. He giggled and blushed, so she asked him again. Katie said it was terribly cute when he whispered his Valentine’s name is Ava and admitted he didn't know what to get her for Valentine’s. Adorable.
@celentile and Jack remind me that #LoveConquersDistance. #SkypeTogether
Photo and story by storyteller @brandenharvey (Story 9/10)
A love story between two people who love pie:
Ty always thought Dolly was cute. He also always thought that Dolly was too good for him. The first time they hung out, he was already dating someone else. Though he thought Dolly was amazing, he tried to ignore her in an effort to not send the wrong message. Unfortunately this worked a little bit too well because Dolly thought he was a total jerk - which is hilarious because Dolly is such a sweet and warm person.
Dolly travels a lot for work. Somehow every time she got back in town from India, or Ireland, or somewhere in the US, she would bump into Ty. It was crazy. Ty tried his hardest to be nice but not “too” nice. Because of this, his efforts were consistently misinterpreted so Dolly was sure he wasn’t interested.
It wasn’t until 9 years later that Ty and Dolly ended up at a cute pie shop with a group of friends that they actually had a genuine conversation. Though the conversation wasn’t perfect, it got the ball rolling. Within the month, Ty gained the courage to call Dolly and ask her out on a date. She agreed— a little bit reluctantly— but with a little sense of hope.
They went ice skating and she actually had a good time. So he took her on another date, and then another couple dozen dates. And when she had to travel more for work, they kept in touch over Skype. But when she came back home, he’d take her on more dates. The dates didn’t stop. And now they won’t stop.
Today they’re back the the cute little pie shop… picking out the pies they’ll serve their guests at their wedding next month.
Dolly and Ty remind me that #LoveConquersDistance. #SkypeTogether
Photo and story by storyteller @brandenharvey (Story 10/10)
Hi everyone! @brandenharvey here one last time. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for following along with my takeover this weekend. I loved getting to share a few of my favorite love stories with you. My goal was that you would feel inspired and refreshed by the love we've seen in this series.
I hope you take the time to call someone you love this week.
Call your mom, call your old friend, or call that person you have a crush on.
Because whether you have a Valentine or not, love is an incredible force that has the power to shape the world.
Happy Valentine's Day.
If you resonated with any of the stories I shared this weekend, I hope you'll follow along with my story on Instagram at @brandenharvey. Keep being awesome.