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!!




Triple Bunk Beds & Eating a Slice of Humble Parenting Pie

My parenting style has surely surprised me during the past 3 years.  Yes, Hudson is 7 years old, but I feel like I hadn’t really found out what type of parent I was going to be until I got thrown into the ‘holy shit I have three boys’ battlefield.  Parenting one adorable little prince is completely different from parenting the amount of children who could almost populate a small country.  So, it has only been recently that the true version of me as a mother has come to the surface.  And it has definitely surprised me.

I went to college and earned a Masters in Educational Psychology.  So, my parenting philosophy started off as being incredibly pretentious and smug.  I was going to use positive reinforcement, behavioral strategies, and actually communicate with and respect my children.  I came out of school firmly planted on the left wing, and ready to show up all of the other parents in the world in regards to how good parenting should actually be done.  I was already a true expert in the world of parenting (even though I didn’t have any children yet)… and all of those watching should just take notes.  With my nose high up in the sky, I took on the task of helicopter parenting like nobody’s business.  Hudson never climbed a jungle gym without the safety net of my arms beneath him… he never navigated the stairs in our house without his hand in my palm… and he was read several books before I laid him to sleep each night, in which he slept through the night perfectly by the time he was 7 weeks old because he was scheduled, and I was consistent…

Spanking… don’t even get my started on spanking because I would never, ever spank my child…

Fast forward to today… and to me eating every single one of those words (and being embarrassed as hell to even type them)… along with the karmic gods of parenting punishing me for being the most disgusting form of judgmental parent, ever.

I have three little personalities running around the house at all times.  The house is a mess every moment of the day.  I lose my temper just as many times as I pick up dirty underwear off the floor (which is a lot since they all want to change their clothes multiple times and/or have accidents which I hope will only involve #1… if I’m lucky).

Brody threw a tantrum beyond tantrums yesterday because he didn’t want to take a nap… and I spanked his little leg (insert AUDIBLE GASSSSSP here) with just enough gumption to let the sting resonate, and to ascertain the notion that Mommy don’t play.  I thought to myself, “There you go, Jodi… that’ll teach him… (in the most sarcastic tone I have ever used)”… Because actually, it just made him cry louder… and it made me feel like the shittiest parent on the planet for letting my frustration get the best of me.  But, let’s face it, my frustration gets the best of me regularly.  I don’t spank often, but sometimes I think that a little spank would probably hurt less than the fury of words that escape my mouth.  

They eat from a drive thru more times than I want to admit in a week.  I have put Hudson in charge of bed time stories now that he can read, but let’s be real… I can probably count the number of books I have read to Brody on one hand.  He is obviously a sufferer of last kid syndrome.  I do everything in my power to just make it until 7:00pm each night without one losing one of them.  And that, my friends, is my measure for success.  If they all make it into their beds  at night with at least one form of fruit or vegetable having made it into their stomachs (applesauce is totally a fruit), somewhat clean (but this is measured on a very loose scale of cleanliness), and breathing independently… then I have done my job.  And dammit, I have done it well!

Please don’t think that this is a post that requires motherly validation.  I am a damn good mother, and my kids are loved beyond measure.  And they know that they are loved, because thankfully, I am just as giving with hugs, kisses and kindness as I am with my scornful fits.  I’m simply trying to point out that I am everything that I thought I wouldn’t have been as a mother.  I fall closer in line with the traditional parenting methods that I was raised with than I thought I would be, and I am actually ecstatic about it.

I want my children to grow up together… not as individuals.  Yes, I want them to be themselves, but I also want them to grow up knowing that they are part of a whole.  And that in order for our world to function they have to learn to communicate and get along.  I want them to share a room until they move out for college.  No, I don’t think that a child needs his privacy.  I actually think that they need the opposite.  Privacy is not a need; it is an entitlement.  They need their siblings to whisper with them throughout the night about how much they hate their parents.  They need to fight over whose side of the room their toys are on, and who is going to clean them up.  They need to argue over clothes, bathroom time, and whose turn it is to pick up the dog poop.  They need a dose of healthy fear in their parents… and a  ‘you live under my house, you obey my rules’… mentality.  Because the world is full of rules.  Their place of employment will have rules; their college dorms will have rules; their marriages will have rules.  If they can’t follow rules then I have set them up for failure in society.

We live in a small house with small bedrooms, and we have thought several times about moving, but the more and more we think about it, the less and less we want to move.  Living in a small house means that I am always going to be up in my kids’ business.  They aren’t going to be able to get away from me, and I love it.  I can hear every fight that happens down a hallway, and I will always know what they are watching on television.  I will hear gossip that would have never been shared if the hallways in our house were too long.  I had this conversation with a friend once, and a few days later she gave me a gift.  It was a pillow that said, “Love grows best in little houses, with fewer walls to separate.  Where you eat and sleep so close together, you can’t help but communicate.  If we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss.  Love grows best in houses just like this.”  And, I absolutely couldn’t agree with this more.

Which is why I decided to cough up some extra money when I was hunting for a sleeping situation that would allow all three boys to share a room.  I had custom, triple bunk beds built in their room after spending hours debating the design in my head, and not finding something that I loved from a furniture store.  So far, it has been the best parenting decision I have ever made.  The laughter that trickles through the hallways at night is medicine for my overly-tired soul, and I hope that they will learn every lesson there is to be learned from sharing a room with your siblings… the most important one being… to hate their brothers’ freaking guts most of the time, but to be their best friend all of the time.   

triplebunkbeds_0001triplebunkbeds_0003triplebunkbeds_0002 triplebunkbeds_0004 triplebunkbeds_0005 triplebunkbeds_0006 triplebunkbeds_0007Bunk bed design by yours truly, and construction by Patrick Lott.  Contact me directly if you’d like Patrick’s contact information.