Motherhood: it’s a strange and wonderful thing. You go from knowing a world only about you, to holding a life and being completely responsible for shaping it. I can’t imagine a more important thing.
The first moment I saw her, that memory is burned deep in my brain, which often discards memories too carelessly. But not that one. No, I remember the Doctor gliding forward in slow motion toward me, with a tiny bundle topped in pink. Extended hands placed this perfect human into my arms. This tiny face searched mine. Blue eyes as large as half dollars, or so it seemed, scanning. Knowing. Intentional.
This was not what I’d read about babies, all swollen and splotchy. No, this human was perfect. Flawless complexion. Tiny features, except for those saucer eyes. Those eyes seeking to know and be known.
Not much has changed in 14 years. She came out a rich, deep soul, and has stayed true to form ever since.
She’s a beautiful mix of us both. She has J’s memory and love of factual data. She has my serious, contemplative, soul-searching nature.
She got her silliness from both of us.
But she’s unique and wonderful, carrying her own interests and discovering more daily. It’s that season where every person begins to stretch, wonder and discover.
To observe is beautiful, beguiling… and brave.
Yes, brave. Because this journey of parenting requires a great deal of bravery.
Each moment of releasing, grabbing hold of faith and trust, that what you’ve imparted will find root.
And… that when shoots of their own growth emerge, that you (I) will be brave enough to cultivate her growth – when it looks vastly different than mine.
Or what I’d envisioned for her.
Because love. Love gives you wings. And wind. And affirming words… and tells you to fly.
These pictures were taken the night before her 14th birthday. I held off on blogging them right away, because I couldn’t get past the lump in my throat. Seeing her, this young woman becoming. So lovely, so grown. And my heart flooded with thousands of moments of growing… and ached at the fleeting moments. Then celebrated them, all the same.
So celebrate, I do and share I must.
Isabella: turned 14.
Here’s what I wrote on FB the night we photographed them.
“This evening, we walked into the woods, she and I.
We found the spot, where the sun glows red.
Hazy wood, flattered field, as golden rays
kissed winter grass.
She stood. I photographed. We celebrated beauty.
All good gifts, under heaven.
Sun dipped, we said adieu…
then softly whispered:
Tomorrow, we’ll welcome another year.”
Happy Birthday, Isabella. You are dearly loved.
Dress: Old Navy
Jean Jacket: Old Navy
Yesterday, I got to photograph Bridals for an upcoming wedding at the end of this month. The venue, The Laurel, in Grapevine, Texas, was new to me. So I arrived a few minutes early and decided to walk around and take some photos.
Often before visiting a new venue, I’ll look online and try to find some images of what the venue looks like. Not sessions or weddings shot there, but the actual venue itself. If you are looking for a Dallas Fort-Worth venue, or about to work here, I sharing some images of The Laurel would be helpful to prospective Couples and Photographers.
The light was high when I arrived and unflattering toward the front exterior, so I didn’t get a picture there. I’ll be sure to grab one next time I go in a couple weeks for Colleen & Tyler Rittenhouse’s wedding.
The Bridal Suite
I found the decor elegant, neutral and flattering for photographs. I turned off all the lights in the Bridal suite for these images and just used the natural light from the windows.
I loved the collection of books in the Bridal Suite. Such a nice design touch (and I still love this book by Style Me Pretty’s Abby Larson. I have it in my office.)
There was an L-shaped nook, where there were 6 chairs (I think) and mirrors directly above, for the Bridesmaids to use. The artwork was simple and neutral. I loved the theme of nature, trees, horses and Texas touches throughout the space.
The venue is all inclusive, with the Chapel, Bride & Grooms suites, and Reception space all within the same building. It makes it very easy for guests to navigate from the ceremony to cocktail hour/reception, without weather concerns or travel. I also foresee it expediting portrait sessions because the grounds and venue provide several options for backdrops, ample space, but everything is close together, so there aren’t long walks with bridal parties to and from locations.
I loved the arches and beams in the Chapel. It was elegant with a rustic touch. Much like North Texas!
To the left, what the Bride sees coming down the aisle. To the right, what the Groom sess when he waits for her.
There were several of these lovely nooks, with furniture pieces and contemporary lighting fixtures. The image on the left was taken between the Bride & Grooms’ suites and the entrance to the Chapel. The image on the right is the chandelier above the reception dance floor. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take any images in the reception space because they were in the process of setting up for an event. 🙂
Here’s a glimpse at the Groom’s suite. Two things in particular that I loved about this space: that there is a lot of light and that there was an ample amount of space. Often times, the Grooms suite feels like the Groom has been put into a dark closet somewhere. All of these things make an overall impression in his memory of the wedding day!
The Grooms Suite
This sitting area was in the main entrance that leads directly into the reception. The beautiful artwork on the right was taken in the adjacent hallway.
More sitting areas. There are several of these throughout the space. It’s the only venue I know of that has this many different seating areas, throughout the space.
The art is very intentional. When visiting, it’s something to keep your eye out for.
This is the side/back of the venue. This large patio area is directly outside of the reception space. It’s perfect place for cocktail hour and faces the wide open green space, framed with tall sea grasses and various green trees. Even through it’s moments from Dallas Fort-Worth airport, I didn’t notice any noise and it felt very secluded.
On the left, I’m in the yard facing the fireplace. On the right, I’m on the patio, facing the yard.
The grounds are terraced with beautiful Austin stone steps and retaining walls.
You can tell the weather was moody this day and clouds rolled in just about when my Bride arrived, so this is the last shot I got of the space. I hope this helps anyone wanting to see what what The Laurel looks like. I would recommend touring it for yourself – the staff was absolutely wonderful!
It was a bright, chilly, Wednesday afternoon when I met Caetyn and Henry at TMI Episcopal school in San Antonio, Tx. While this was our first face to face encounter, I felt like I already knew Caetyn. Caetyn found me through our mutual friend of Katherine Swain. She’d seen Katherine’s bridal images and wedding gallery and contacted me when she got engaged. So during our phone conversations, it was easy to chat with her like an old friend. In person, she was every bit as lovely and easy to get to know.
Caetyn told me she and Henry wanted to photograph their engagement session at the school where they’d met at age 13. The two of them were touring the school and competing for the same scholarship. Caetyn remembers telling her mom that she thought he was cute, but she was going to win that scholarship.
She may have been right, but as it turns out, they both won. At 14 they started dating… and they’ve been together ever since. Each are incredibly well accomplished. Caetyn, wears scrubs most days and specializes in helping little ones overcome developmental delays. Henry, a US Army Ranger, is finishing up his final year at West Point, after serving our country in Iraq. Truly, they are incredible human beings, who put the lives of others before their own.
These TREES though… sigh.
Sunset light, in the Texas Hill Country, is incredible.
Having already photographed Caetyn’s Bridal session at The San Fernando Cathedral, I can honestly say, she’ll take everyone’s breath away. Now, only another 11 months till their winter wedding in San Antonio, when I can finally reveal her bridal session!
Caetyn and Henry, thank you for sharing your amazing story with me. I cannot wait to tell the next step in your journey in December.
So, this is my first post of 2018 and I am so excited about this year and all that God is doing in it already! One of my goals in 2018 is to blog more often and communicate helpful tips for the wedding day, bridal session, engagement session and more! I have sent so many emails to my Brides telling them this same thing, that I’ve created a Bridal guide that will be in the hands of my 2018 Brides this month telling them this information and much more. But in the meantime, I wanted to help other Photographers, Brides and Mother’s of the Bride have a digital resource that they can read and share.
Let’s talk about how to prepare for a Bridal Session. If you aren’t from the South, you might not be familiar with a Bridal Session. Think of a Bridal session as a trial run for the Bride in preparation for the wedding day. During this session, she’ll have professional images taken that are often displayed on large prints or canvases in the lobby of the reception area on her Wedding Day. Bridal sessions are a lovely tradition that I have eagerly adopted!
6-1 months before your Bridal Session:
1) Bridal Boutique. Call your Bridal Salon/Boutique and find out when your dress will be available.
2) Contact Your Photographer for availability. Ask for your photographer’s preferred time of day to shoot in that season (light is different during each season). Get a few different dates as options.
3) Venue. Reserve your venue, date and time. Bridal sessions are anywhere from 1-2.5 hours. If you are planning on using a public space, secure any necessary permit required for your professional photographers to shoot there.
4) Hair stylist and make up artist (MUA). Make your trial hair and make up appointments. Bridal sessions are the perfect time to perfect your wedding day look. Always plan to give yourself extra time in your stylists chair, so you can tweak lipstick, eyeshadow, etc. Don’t forget to take pictures of your look to remind your MUA of what she used. If your MUA blends lipsticks, find out which colors they used and put it in the notes in your phone.
5) Contact your Florist and order a Bouquet for the session. If you are concerned about budget, speak with your florist and see if they are willing to do substitutes or give you day old flowers. There are ways to save. If all else fails, Costco sells roses and mixed florals. Grab a couple arrangements and wrap the stems with ribbon.
6) Purchases your Jewelry. Personally, I love Kendra Scott’s wedding jewelry collection.
The week of your Bridal Session:
1) Get a manicure/pedicure.
2) Pick up your Dress.
3) Have your Engagement Ring cleaned
4) Confirm with your venue/photographer
What to Bring with you:
1) Dress (don’t laugh, it’s happened).
2) Veil & hair pieces
4) Jewelry: Engagement ring, bracelets, earrings, etc.
5) Special “Mrs.” hanger (optional)
6) Perfume (optional – I like to photograph some of these details during the Bridal session)
9) Borrowed & Blue items (optional)
If you are one of my Brides and need vendor recommendations, please don’t hesitate to send me an email. I want to put you in good hands.
Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Breathe. Embrace that you are beautiful and lovely! It shows in your images! Being a bride is a once in a lifetime experience, this is your moment, don’t be afraid to shine.
With gratitude (especially for my beautiful Brides),
Pictured in order of appearance:
Venue: The Lost Mission
Dress: David’s Bridal
Hair & MUA: Vixen Onsite Hair and Make Up
Venue: The White Sparrow Barn
Bridal Salon: Posh Bridal
Florals: Inspired By
Venue: The Lost Mission
Dress: Martina Liana
Hair & MUA: Vixen Onsite Hair and Make Up
Florals: The Elegant Bee
Dress: David’s Bridal
Florals: Details Dallas
Hair & MUA: JMN Hair
Venue: The Grand Ivory
Dress: Made with Love Bridal
Hair: Hair by Jessica
MUA: The Blessed Bride MUA
Venue: La Cantera Resort
Dress: Eve of Milady
Florals: Freesia Designs
Chances are, you’ve already taken your family Christmas picture or you are about to this weekend. If you are anything like me, you’ve carefully chosen outfits (probably just purchased some), chosen the photographer and location, and have all your hopes pinned on getting that perfect image for your Christmas card. You know the one that makes everyone think you are The Perfect Family: Beautiful. Stylish. Always smiling. But behind the scenes, you know the truth. Your family barely survives these photoshoots without a scrappy fight or two.
If this has ever happened to you, here are some solid tips that will keep everyone happy and give you some beautiful family photos that you’ll treasure for years to come.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get ready (and get to your destination early). During the holidays, our schedules are crazy. Getting everyone ready for a photoshoot can be challenging, especially when we have a lot of things happening each day. So, here’s the challenge: don’t jam pack your photoshoot day. Remove as much stress as you can and make the shoot a festive event for your family. While you are getting ready, turn on some music, burn a holiday candle, and get everyone excited prior to leaving. Have an after-shoot destination planned like ice skating, dinner or the movies, to celebrate your success!
- EAT something. Ok, this is where I have personally failed BIG time. This year, my first photoshoot with the kids, was a massive FAIL. I had purchased amazing outfits for my kids from Zara, picked a great location, taken my own advice in step one… but forgot that none of us ate lunch before we left. So, we arrived at the location a hangry (hungry & angry) mess. It was bad. I was the photographer and didn’t show my family the same kindness I show clients. I was snippy and impatient, my kids were disinterested, my son ended up crying. Yeah. Stellar parenting, I know. We didn’t get a single decent group shot, so we had to go for round 2 and shoot again. We would have saved ourselves a lot of trouble had we just eaten a snack. Or 12.
- Give everyone a few minutes to warm up. In other words, turn off the pressure to perform. Allow everyone the first 5 minutes to just warm up in front of the camera. I know those mini-sessions are short, but you don’t need 50 perfect images, you only need a few for that Christmas card. Let this be a pleasant experience, so give your family grace and time to adjust.
- Trust your photographer. You’ve hired this person to take beautiful images of your family. So, let them do their job… and don’t look at your child continually to fix their outfit or correct posture. Please don’t tell them to say cheese. Seriously. Let the professional coach your family and draw out those real, authentic moments of connection.
Shop G’s outfit:
Cat & Jack Red Flannel Long Sleeve Button Down
Cat & Jack Pullover Sweater (similar)
Zara Skinny Chinos in Ochre (similar)
Zara Leather Lace-up Ankle boots (wingtip)
Shop I’s outfit:
Zara Mustard Lace Shirt
Zara Leggings with Wide Elastic Waistband
Gap Beanie (similar)
Old Navy Flannel Boyfriend tunic (similar)
Mossimo Women’s Magda Lace-up Tall Boots
Shop O’s outfit:
Art Class Cream Ruffled Shirt
Xhilaration Faux Fur Vest (similar)
Cat & Jack Striped Leggings
Faux Fur Trimmed boots (similar)
- Relax and let your kids have fun. Every year, every season, is different. Photograph what is real in this one. Let your kids personalities come out and give them a few minutes to just have fun with the shoot. During my second shoot this year, I photographed my kids in about 20 minutes and half that time was dedicated to whatever they wanted to do. I realized, this year I wasn’t going to get the “perfect” shot. Because that’s not where we are at as a family. We aren’t posed and polished… but we’re in a season of seeking/choosing joy. So, what made sense was the silly, candid, happy moments of connection. Those are my favorite images anyway. Because “heart present over picture perfect” is what you’ll look back on and be grateful you captured.
This (below) is what I think of “say cheese.” 🙂 lol!
For the record: these images were from the second Christmas photoshoot. Not the photoshoot in brand new outfits, with perfect hair at the perfect location. This one was shot behind a local shopping plaza, when everyone was happy and well-fed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, to be wonderful. 🙂
A few more bonus tips: PLAY MUSIC from your phone while the kids are being photographed! All of the playful shots above were shot when my kids got to hear “their” song. Other ideas: bring snacks, plan around nap time (for littles – or bigs;), and make sure to bring blankets if the weather gets cold. Bug spray and sunscreen for warmer weather sessions and something to drink for longer shoots.
Hope this helps take some of the stress out of your family photo session, and that you’ll get the images that truly capture the heart of your family.
With gratitude and joy,