Mother’s Day 2015

I don’t know who created this motherhood thing, but it is all backwards.  

I was born in 1981.  I was the fourth child to my parents, and when she had me my mom was only 22.  This, is unfathomable to me.  I am still too selfish at the age of 33 to peel myself out of bed on Sundays to care for my children in the wee hours of the morning, yet here my mom was doing it at 22.   My parents had three daughters and one son.  They thought that they had passed the hard stuff after we got out of diapers, but they didn’t even realize that we kids were just barely lacing up our boxing gloves… it was game time for us.  We hit our teenage years like we only had the next four years to make as much of an impact on the world as we possibly could, and we gave our parents a run for their money.  I know you might be thinking… yeah yeah yeah… don’t all teenagers?  Yes.  They do.  But we did my parents dirty.

My oldest sister got them all greased up for us with multiple unacceptable boyfriends, stolen vehicles that were used to run away to other states with said boyfriends, sneaking out techniques that would make Criss Angel look like… well, an angel.  My next sister thought that she was gonna sneak by all squeaky clean until she decided to take a short dip into the trouble pond with some bad choices of her own, but she is by far the one who was the nicest to my parents.  My brother.  Oh sweetbabyjeez… My brother probably took years off of my parents life that they will never get back.  We lived in an old farm house with tons of land.  My brother would throw pasture-shakin’, massive bon fire parties that would eventually end with police and fire engines swarming the house.  It got to the point that patrol cars would drive 5mph down our country road every Friday and Saturday night… just waiting.  Knowing.  My brother probably ended up bribing his teachers to let him out of high school… because I swear he still has missing assignments there.

I was on a pretty good track until about my sophomore year.  Then it got pretty low down.  I discovered alcohol.  And toilets.  In that order.  I was a hot drunken mess on the weekends and a straight A student and athlete during the week.  I would take full advantage of my brother’s parties knowing that I could just blame it on him when we got busted,  and then I would go ride or die for Goddard High School the rest of the week.  But I also had a **bit** of a competitive spirit, and a temper.  Which may have gotten me arrested.  Just once though.  And then I took a page out of my older sister’s book and decided I wanted to frolic with a guy or two who my parents despised.   That was fun for me… noooooot so much for my parents.

And through all of this… the lying… the sneaking out… the partying… the eye rolling… the yelling… the endless phone calls from police stations, our friends parents, and our school… my parents stood by us.  They saw us through it all.  Without killing us.

So, the thing that is backwards is that, as a teenage daughter, I was such a raging hormonal mess… and I was blind to the fact that my mom loved me with a fierceness that I didn’t understand.  I knew she loved me, but I didn’t know that her heart exploded each time she didn’t know where I was.  That she ached when I ached.  That she loved when I loved.  I didn’t know that with each win during a sporting event she was celebrating that win too.  Because I was hers.  She made me.  And everything that I did… she did right alongside me.

It is only now, as a parent, that I can even begin to understand what she felt for me.  And it’s all freaking backwards.  Had I only known everything that I know now; I probably would have still been just as much of a shit head as I was… but I would have hugged her more.  Listened more often.  And maybe rolled my eyes just one time less.  Because that one less time probably would have meant the world to her.

I love you, Mom.  And I officially… on the record, in writing…. apologize.  You totally should have bitch-slapped me.

Happy Mother’s Day.



Charleston, South Carolina Wedding Photographer :: Sara & Graham

She was never ‘just Sara’ in middle school when I met her.  Because, before Graham came along, Sara was already spoken for.  She came as a pair.  She was the dark-haired half of the couple everyone knew to be Sara and Stephanie.  Sara and Stephanie shared everything in life… except for their mother’s womb, which, if given a choice… they may have asked to share that too.  They met as very, very young girls, and were inseparable all the way up until they finally parted ways for college.  So, when I met Sara in middle school, I met Stephanie too.  They will both try to tell you a (ridiculous) story about me bullying them for a bite of their burrito during lunchtime in 7th grade, but don’t believe a single word they say.  Sara and Stephanie joined forces with me and my best friend, Crystal, and then Ashley joined our awesomeness, and it was a match made in Berrendo Bulldog heaven.

Sara, Stephanie, Crystal, Ashley and I traipsed around Roswell, New Mexico as a perfect Party of Five, which ironically, was all the rage as we made our way through the years of high school.

The thing is though… people never tell you that you are going to meet your best friends in high school.  And they also aren’t going to tell you how utterly sad you will be when your best friends are scattered around the United States, and you only get to see them once a year… if you’re lucky.

I do realize that this is Sara and Graham’s wedding blog, but there is no way that I could ever start to tell you how integral Sara has been in my life without also mentioning this entire group of gorgeous women… I chuckle to even call them women.  Because the only things that I can picture when I talk about them are braces, first boyfriends, St. Ides malt liquor, and the squeal of Sara’s Mustang as she pulled out of my driveway as she picked me up each Friday and Saturday night.  I also can’t help but throw a little shout out to the 1999 State Volleyball Champs… Goddard Goddard Rooooooooockets!!

It came as no surprise to us that Sara kept Graham a secret for possibly the first year of their relationship.  This is what Sara has always done.  She is fiercely protective of those closest to her, but also incredibly private with her feelings.  She takes her time to make sure that something is perfect before she starts to share that facet of her life with others, and that is exactly what she did with Graham.  She probably also wanted to keep Betty (her Mom) away from his Facebook account for a while too… ha ha ha!!

So, when Sara finally decided to start sharing Graham with us, we knew that it was already something special.  He was something special.

CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0001 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0002 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0003 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0004 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0005 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0006 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0007 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0008 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0009 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0040CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0010Sara is always laughing.  Laughter is the way to her heart, but she is also a little bit obsessive in her professional life… uh ummm…. type A, you might say.  Graham is everything calm in her life.  He is her rock.  He is her home.  His voice can soothe her every concern, and make the rest of the world melt away.

Graham makes Sara laugh, which speaks right into the pit of who she is as a person, but more importantly, he embodies the characteristics that she needs to be complete.  And just as much as Graham is Sara’s counterpoint, she is his.  They fit together as perfectly as a husband and wife should, and I was absolutely honored to have spent this very first moment with them on the day that they would be married.

The very first look that they shared with one another never faltered throughout the day.  The remained engrossed in one another’s arms, locked in each other’s gaze, and completely present for every single minute of their wedding day.

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I went into the weekend already knowing, and loving, Sara and her family.  Betty and Gordon are like another set of parents to me, and they love my husband and children as though we are extended family.  What I didn’t expect was that I was going to see another amazing side of Graham that weekend, and fall in love with his family, as well.  Sara & Graham’s wedding weekend was filled with welcome parties, bridal luncheons, rehearsal dinners, after parties… and after parties to the after parties.  Each and every time that I saw Graham he hugged me with genuine arms.  He thanked me profusely at every turn, and truly showed me exactly what kind of an amazing husband Sara was gaining that weekend.  He is so kind and comforting, yet welcoming and energetic at the same time.  He can walk through a room and make every person in his line of sight feel welcome, but he can also stand to the side when his beautiful wife is the center of attention (which is often… I mean, have you seen how gorgeous and enigmatic Sara is??)

It comes as no surprise that this endearing man came from a wonderful stock.  His beautiful parents doted naturally from the sidelines, along with Betty and Gordon, as they all watched on as their children joined their lives.  The amount of love that was shown to me from people who were basically strangers was incredible and awe inspiring.  And seeing Graham interact with his young nephew, who is fittingly named after him… reGraham, as they call him… was heartwarming.
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CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0046 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0039CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0031 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0032 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0033 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0035CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0041CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0042CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0034CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0043CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0037 CharlestonWeddingPhotographer_SaraGraham_0038Sara & Graham.  There is no way for me to say to you how incredibly honored I was to photograph your wedding.  Because the words are likely there, but I can’t find them.  They escape me. Because each time that I have tried to type them, my breath escapes me too.  I have never cried from nerves before a wedding as hard as I hyperventilated…  cried the morning of yours.  I have never choked back tears when I sent a bride off to tap her groom’s shoulder during a first look.  And I have never photographed a wedding day with so many tears behind my camera.  Your wedding felt like a fairy tale, and I can not thank you enough for asking me to be the one to be by your side for the entire day.  I love you both, dearly.  And I wish you nothing but many years filled with Sara’s many accents… private jokes… empty wine bottles… and laughter… always laughter.

Venue – Boone Hall Plantation – Natalie Knox
Design & Coordination – Natalie Knox
Photography – J. Anne Photography, obvi!!  ha ha ha!
Hair and Makeup – Pink Dot Beauty Bar –
Catering – Duvall Catering and Events – Isabelle Donovan
Florals, Lighting, and Décor – Duvall Catering and Events – Ashlyn Hebert
Band – Soulfish – Morgan Sprott –
Ceremony Music – Classical Charleston – Andrew Mille
Getaway vehicle – ACW Limo – David Rister –
Officiant – Kevin Kuehmeier


3 Reasons for Taking Engagement Photos

Last week I posted both Aeri & Andy’s engagement photos and their wedding photos.  The obvious thing to think here is that I’m behind on blogging again… naturally… but that actually isn’t the case for once!!  Aeri and Andy live in Arizona, and as close as Arizona is to Nevada, we were never able to schedule a time that we would both be in the same city.  So, our last resort was to take their engagement photos the Thursday before their Saturday wedding.  Yes, it would have been easy for us to just throw in the towel on the engagement photos in order to just focus on the wedding, but taking engagement photos is so incredibly important, so that I made sure to get Aeri and Andy in front of my camera before the wedding took place.

Here are my top 3 reasons why I try everything in my power to get an engagement session under our belts before a couple goes into their wedding day…

1.  Every Photographer is Different

This is probably my most important soap box moment.  Every photographer is different.  Every photographer will talk to you differently, move you differently, pose you differently, etc… Therefore, it is so important that you set up an engagement session with your wedding photographer in order to make sure that you are on the same page prior to the wedding.  Sometimes my couples have already had a round of engagement photos taken if they don’t live in Las Vegas, so they think that this is a step they can skip.  But the last thing that you want to have happen on your wedding day is to feel like you’re wasting precious minutes on getting to know how your photographer moves/talks/shoots during your couples’ portraits.  The couples’ portion of my wedding days are so so so short because it is my job to land “the shot” in a short period of time in order to get the bride and groom back to the party.  So, I’d never want to put my couples at a disadvantage by not having a practice round first.

I am notorious for asking ridiculous things of my couples during shoots.  This is because I prefer for my photographs to feel genuine, not staged.  I work scenarios into my ‘posing’ way more than a ‘put your hand here, turn this way, now look at me and smile’ approach.  So, if my couples don’t expect these types of crazy requests… then they will think that I am batshitcray on their wedding day.  I can’t stress the ‘batshitcray-ness’ enough here… because… at a wedding just recently… my bride actually barked during the couples portraits.  Yes, barked… like a canine.  This is totally a sidebar story to tell, but in a joking way, I asked the groom to lead the bride by her front arm, as though he was walking a dog… because this was the first thing that came to my mind… and before I knew it, my ridiculous request turned into the bride actually barking… and it was hysterical… and the photo is epic.  Said bride will remain nameless in order to protect her ego.  But for reals, had they not already done their engagement session months prior, she would have probably bitch slapped me and fired me on the spot.


2.  Engagement Photos are a Trial Run for the Wedding

I think that I have mentioned this before, but… kill two birds with one stone.  Schedule your hair and makeup trial to piggy back with your engagement session.  This way the money that you spend on your trial doesn’t go to waste since you’ll utilize being all gorgeous for your shoot… and while you’re at it… hit up that soon-to-be spouse of yours for a fance dinner rezzy after your shoot.  Professional hair and makeup is not to be wasted.  Let me say that one more time for emphasis… professional hair and makeup is not to be wasted!!

3.  Practice Makes Perfect

For both of us!  Since we have followed rule #1 of this blog… and we have already gotten to know how each other moves in front of, and behind, the camera… now we can make any tweaks that might need to be corrected before the wedding.  I get to hear which body parts are of concern for the couple (and this isn’t just for brides!!)… what angles work best for each person… who is shy/outgoing… how much affection the couple is comfortable showing… how they look at each other, walk with each other, laugh with each other… and most importantly… how far I can push them to get the photos that I want to create.  Some of my couples are daredevils and want me to have them climb on top of wild horses’ backs… okay, that’s an exaggeration… but some couples are cool with laying down, sitting in areas that might not be so… um… sanitary… hike a bit of the desert for a photo… and on the flip side, some of my couples just want to chill in front of my camera and get some beautiful portraits snapped.  All of these things are useful to me on the wedding day… and thus, a service to my couples as they get to feel comfortable with me, and have some pretty photos to grace their walls… and include with their save-the-dates!!




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