Monday, September 30, 2013

30 Things: 10 Things I Would Tell My 16 Year Old Self

It's time for another installment of 30 Things. I dedicate this one to my 12 year old daughter.

10 Things I Would Tell My 16 Year Old Self

1. It might feel like the end of the world, but it isn't. You'll laugh at yourself later. Try and aim for this:

Instead of this...

2. God doesn't make mistakes. His creation is perfect, in all its many facets and unique traits. He made you just the way you are for a very specific reason. Love every bit of that reason and embrace yourself as beautiful and intentionally designed according to His master plan. You are meant for greatness. Just the way you are.

3. Remember that your parents just want you to have the very best life that you can. Sometimes you'll hate them. And trust me when I say, those moments hurt them just as badly as they do you. They'd love to be your best friend. But they're willing to be the enemy if it means that you're safe.

4. Do your best in school. It seems so trivial and unimportant at this age. It isn't. Developing the ability to complete tasks, manage a workload while also having a social life, stretching your limits to achieve the very best results, respecting and listening to the leadership in your life...The person you are developing now academically is the person you will be professionally. Take it seriously.

5. Any friend that tells lies about you isn't a friend at all. No matter how popular they are, you don't need them in your life if they are willing and able to boost their own popularity at your expense.

6. What you think is love, isn't love. Enjoy the feelings that you have right now and experience the excitement that is young "love," but know that the real love God has in store for you when you meet your soul mate will blow what you are feeling right now out of the water. It will be that amazing. Be excited for it. And with that in mind, don't waste your body on this. Save yourself for that true love that is coming. Trust me when I say, it will be well worth the wait.

7. Read every book you can get your hands on. Eat them up.

8. Get involved. The emotions of being a teen can be overwhelming (especially as a woman) and if you're not careful, you can easily find that you have isolated yourself. Couple that with fear of what the rest of the kids will think, and you may find yourself passing on opportunities to join a group or activity that in your heart of hearts, you really want to do! Fight the urge to wallow in isolated anguish and work to make connections with others who have common interests and experiences. Take a chance. Develop strong relationships. Be a good friend.

9. Sometimes you will have to fly solo (Yup, this age is full of perceived contradictions. I know I just said don't isolate yourself!). Sometimes standing alone is the right thing to do, but you should know it will never be the easiest. The single greatest challenge of this time in your life will be learning what your convictions are and how to hold fast to them. Make sure when it really counts, you do the right thing. Choose wisely and don't be afraid to weather the storm. Even when you think you're truly alone, you're not. God is with you, and someone, somewhere is watching your strength and fortitude and you are encouraging them.

10. Shake it off. And shake it off some more. The name of the game at this age is drama. Your days will be full of highs and lows. Celebrate the highs, shake off the lows. But at the end of the day, if the lows are hard to shake, don't be afraid to ask for help. Despite what you may think at this time in your life, your parents know what they're talking about and they love you. It's ok to ask for help.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Orchestrated Stylized Shoots: Seaglass & Mist

New England. My homeland. My heart. There's just something different about the ocean up there. The rocky coastline, the working fishermen, the stormy surf. It's a rougher, darker, more aggressive and captivating ocean than what I experience here in Virginia. I love my home now, but my soul always sways back towards New England. So naturally, when Chelsea told me she wanted to do a seaside-inspired shoot that followed a simple story line of a Captain headed out to sea and his wistful bride, I was all ears. And all I just happened to have the most beautiful friends ever, so I lucked out that this shoot was a mini high school reunion for me as well. Double win!

And one of my very favorite high school friends, Jen, led the charge as our local stylist. She is the fabulous lady planner extraordinaire behind J Splendid Event Design and Coordination.

So where to start? I think I'll let the images do the talking.

The details from this shoot blew my mind. I must give a shout out to CereusArt for providing the perfect touches here and there to really help bring everything together. And the vintage china and furniture rentals were such a uniquely-inspired fit. It was so exciting to work with vendors that really developed their part of the story to the greatest extent. We spent the drop-off period with our jaws on the floor as they unloaded amazing item after amazing item. And to top it off, I confess to raiding my Mother's cottage for a little extra local flair, as being a local artist to Old Lyme, CT, she had no shortage of vintage items to share.

That last pic gave you a little peek at the tasty goodness that was Zest Fresh Pastry. And yes, it was real. And YES, we ate it all. DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN. These ladies. I have no words.

Some more portrait fun at the beautiful Captain Palmer House in Stonington, CT:

And of course, we can't forget the amazing, hand-painted stationery. It was breathtaking.

And after having our creative spirits lit into fiery awesome, we took it one step further and went down to the seaside lighthouse and brought this "little" guy to play:

Meet Gunther. The world's biggest and most photogenic dog.

It really was the most perfect day. I look back on the images now and my heart is just overflowing. I'm so happy to have been a part of it and so happy to have seen such dear friends be loved on and admired. They more than deserved it. I am humbled. It was a perfect day.

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Our dazzling Vendors!

Concept Design | Chelsea LaVere |
Event Coordination | J. Splendid Events |
Venue | The Captain Palmer House |
Stationery | Bottle and Cork Designs |
Desserts | Zest Fresh Pastry |
Furniture | Sassafras Vintage Rentals |
Tableware | Rent Vintage China |
Hair & Makeup | Antonio Hair Design |
Nautical Details | CereusArt |

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

30 Things: My Relationship with Your Dad

Challenge 3 in 30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me -

Where to begin...

Your Dad is pretty much the polar opposite of me. In the very best way. While I am running at the speed of light, breathless and overwhelmed with a million to do lists, your Dad can stop and just enjoy the moment. While I'm constantly drumming up new ideas to take over the world with my business know-how and creative dream bubbles, your Dad is content to just work hard at his job and provide for his family. He grounds me and reminds me to relax. Stop and smell the roses. Breathe. Your Dad is my anchor. He reminds me to be goofy and that the dishes can wait. He challenges me to make sure my professional goals aren't at the expense of my personal goals. He's quiet and simple and chooses his words wisely. He's a homebody and a loyal friend. He's a good man.

And he's a fantastic father. He loves all of his children so much more than he can ever put into words. I've seen him cry at the hurts, laugh wholeheartedly at the silliest antics, and be patient in ways I simply struggle to comprehend. He is a proud Dad and there's nothing he wouldn't do for his family.

I'd be lying if I said marriage was easy. It's not. Especially ours. Much like most families, we have our own set of circumstances that make walking this journey together uniquely difficult. But at the end of the day, he's there. I'm there. We're there. Our children are our life and I wouldn't have it any other way. He is the best man I've ever met, my soul mate, my best friend. He's your father, and in that, he's given me the greatest gift of all. You.

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Keep up with my progress on this project - Challenge 1: 20 Random Facts HERE and Challenge 2: 3 Fears HERE.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ashley and Chris: The Modified First Look

When meeting with prospective clients, I always take the opportunity to encourage a First Look. For those not in the know, this is a relatively new approach to wedding photography that's been popularized over the last few years, where the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony and accomplish most of their portraits in a more relaxed setting before the guests arrive and the wedding day timeline kicks into high gear. Beyond its practicality, it can be the most intimate and poignant moment of the day. But it's not for everyone. And that's ok!

An available alternative that I'm seeing pop up more and more is The Modified First Look. While it does not offer the opportunity to accomplish the bulk of the bridal party images that a true First Look brings, it does preserve the cherished tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other before the ceremony, while also giving them a private moment to collect their thoughts and revel in the journey they are about to embark upon together. I've done Modified First Looks a few times before and they were exceptionally sweet and fun.

My most recent Modified First Look was just over a week ago with Ashley and Chris and I have to say it goes down in my history as one of the most intimate and touching moments I've ever had the opportunity of sharing with my clients turned friends turned family. Ashley and Chris wrote each other love notes, which they read back to back, and then they had their Pastor pray a blessing over them as they committed their wedding day and lives together to God. It was beautiful.

If you're not feeling comfortable with the idea of a First Look, don't lose heart! There are a variety of ways to create a special moment with your loved one while also holding fast to the traditions that are important to you. I'm thrilled to be able to "meet my clients half way" with the Modified First Look and am always excited to do whatever I can to make to sure their wedding day experience is perfect in every way. And I'm sure I stand alongside with most other photographers who feel the same way. All you have to do is ask! We're here for you.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

30 Things: Fears

Deuteronomy 31:6 CEB

"Be strong! Be fearless! Don't be afraid and don't be scared by your enemies, because the LORD your God is the one who marches with you. He won't let you down, and He won't abandon you."

And yet here I am.

If you're a parent, you have fears. A million of them. They make your heart race throughout the day, haunt your dreams at night and if you're not careful, they can overtake you. As someone who struggles with OCD, my need to control and mitigate danger for my children has to be carefully reigned in. Thankfully, my husband is very good at reminding me to breathe and that "Boys will be boys." And just as an aside...if you're a step-parent, the same problem persists. With a whole new set of fears. Can I get an Amen?!

If you're married, you have fears. If you're not married, you have fears. If you're breathing, you have fears. We are truly our own worst enemies. Here are my top three and why. (PS. Spiders didn't make the list, although they'd come in a close #4)

1. I am utterly terrified that I will be taken from the Earth while my children are still young and that I will not be able to see them grow up and that they will be without a mother. I'm pretty sure this ranks as Number 1 for most Moms. I feel this is exponentially magnified in my own heart because of the long road I traveled to bring these two little miracles into the world. And yes, I praise God every day and know in my heart He blessed me with the desires of my heart and to trust in His steadfastness and that His timing is perfect. And yet, I fear. And think that Heaven cannot possibly be more beautiful than this life here with them and that I will hate it there if I have to go too soon. And I am scared to think of my children growing up without me. How they might be scarred and forever affected by the loss of a parent. I want their childhood to be practically perfect in every way. The fear of a mother.

2. I am afraid that my father will relapse. He's been clean for over 10 years now. But after experiencing almost 20 years of what it feels like to have a parent gripped with drug and alcohol addiction (with relapses too numerous to count), I have what I consider a healthy fear of the possibility that it might happen again. I rejoice in his sobriety and cannot properly articulate here how proud I am of his growth, but I'm also aware that today is a good day, but tomorrow might not be the same. One day at a time.

3. I mentioned this in my first 30 Things post, but it deserves another mention. I have terrible stage fright. I panic. I can sing. I can play piano. I am blessed with a gift. But I'm too terrified to share. This one surprises most people. Having a very strong personality and what I'm sure many interpret as an overly confident demeanor, they struggle to understand this fear. Which can make for lots of awkward conversations when I get asked to perform in any way under any circumstance. "Oh it will be fine! You'll do great!" simply does not suffice here. I kick myself over this fear time and time again, but at the end of the day, my music is the place where I heal, and if this is the one thing I hold sacred and secret for myself, than I don't think I'm doing too badly. I think a person like me needs something special that is all its own and serves purely to bring you back to a place of peace. It's my self-therapy.

Having said that, I sing all day every day to the boys. My fear is trumped by my desire for them to feel free to sing whenever and wherever they choose, whenever the mood strikes them. They sing from the moment they awake until their tired bodies finally fall asleep to the little sounds of them humming in their beds.

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PS. Yup, these are iPhone Instagram pics. And just for fun, if you didn't know it, there is a company called Stickygram that turns your Instagram photos into magnets. I use them periodically because these magnets a huge hit with the boys. They have a deal going on until Monday, September 23 where you buy 3 sheets for the price of 2 by using the code SUMMERMEMORIES. Check it out!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bridal Portraits: All Your Own

I started the Bridal Portraits: All Your Own series just over a month ago when I shared Christina's ridiculously amazing beauty here and commented on the return of bridal portraits and female portraiture in general. My most recent client, Ashley, really grasped the idea of incorporating her most beloved and favorite things into her session, which included (and not necessarily in this order!) a rockin' pair of killer shoes, her Daddy and her sweet baby girl, Chevy, who has been her loving sidekick for just about forever and is honestly, the best trained, most loving and super patient dog I've ever met. She makes my arrogant little miss, Ivy the bulldog, look like a train wreck of attitude and disinterest at home. Ha!

Ashley and Chris married this past weekend and I couldn't be happier for them. As with most of the clients I am so blessed to call friends, they share a true love that radiates depth, trust and commitment to last the ages. I'll be sharing their wedding images in the coming days and weeks, so be sure to check back. But in the meantime, celebrate Ashley's unique beauty and meet the adorable Miss Chevy. :)

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Makeup: Brooke Lindsey
Dress: Maggie Sottero from Maya Couture

View all of the images from Ashley's bridal portraits and engagement session, leave her some guestbook love and order prints here.
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