When I was growing up, vacations looked like a packed Aerostar van, my brother in the backseat with Joy Electric blasting through his headphones, begging me not to bother him, me in the middle making up songs about all the signs we passed on the highway, and trying not to die of boredom before we got to grandpa’s house. Living so far from any family meant that any chance we got, that’s where we were. Of course, we’d always work in trips to Silver Dollar City when visiting Granny, or we’d end up at the beach when it was grandpa’s turn, but I don’t remember a single vacation as a child that was just the four of us, on a mission to have a good time.
Over the last few years, I’ve realized that since we live close to my family now, vacations now sit in the back seat where my brother was. Stephen and I have been married nearly seven years, and this trip was the first time since our honeymoon that we’ve gone somewhere (for longer than a weekend) just to have a good time. My overanalyzing brain spent hours researching destinations, then resorts, then talking myself out of booking anything because something about the house always needs fixed. So one Saturday morning in January, Stephen was looking at resorts and I pretty much said “I don’t care what it is, just book it!” I needed a vacation and I needed one badly.
So late February, we made the trip and WHY DID ANYONE LET ME WAIT SO LONG?
Stephen and I are generally cold weather loving, mountain dwelling, fires in the cabin loving vacationers, so this experience was different for us on so many levels. We’d never been to an all-inclusive before. (loved it.) In our 11 years as a couple, we’d never been to a beach together. (loved it.) And we’d never left the country together. (11/10 would do again.) Our whole trip felt like a dream. We’d start our day with breakfast by the ocean, spend the morning in a cabana, lunch by the pool, 4-5 hours of pool time (which is about half of what my heart desires, but compromise), and then we’d get ready for dinner. Zero emails. Zero worries.
One of my biggest struggles when it comes to travel is whether or not to take my camera. I want to have all the memories, but I tend to obsess over photos sometimes, and fun trips can start to feel like work for me reeaaaaal fast. So a couple weeks before this trip, I decided to splurge on a nice *digital point and shoot camera – the best of both worlds. It takes gorgeous photos, without me having to think like a photographer. All of the photos (and the video) you’ll see here were taken by that point and shoot. I also brought along a couple disposable underwater cameras, and they were so much fun. I planned on sharing more of those photos but the disc Walgreen’s gave me with my photos was unfortunately not of our vacation photos but of Grandma Linda’s first Christmas with her new grandbaby.
If you look closely, you’ll see a couple grainy photos that I scanned for you, and scroll all the way to the bottom to see the video I made of our trip.
TLDR: Had fun. Would do again. Enjoy.
*I should note that when I travel, I am a shameless tourist. I don’t care what I look like, or how bad my spanish is – I’m having a good time.
Man, this winter’s been brutal. I’m the first one to appreciate a good snow storm, and I really don’t even mind getting bundled up to go outside. I generally really enjoy the winter time. But by the time March rolls around, I just want to be outside again. So on this particular twelve degree day, we did just that.
Kylie + Paul were referred to me by another photographer who wasn’t available to shoot their wedding, but if you ask me, it all feels a little like fate. Their wedding this October is actually on my own wedding anniversary, and if I’m being honest, I turned down a couple weddings for that day because I intended to keep the weekend open to celebrate with my husband. But once I learned all about Kylie + Paul, the wedding they’re having and the kind of people they are, there was no way I could turn them down.
Kylie + Paul live in Wheeling, WV and ventured to the arctic white north for their engagement session. I was so excited to finally meet them, and man they didn’t disappoint. They have no more experience in front of a camera than any other engaged couple, but their chemistry made all the difference. When two people are in love, and they allow themselves to forget about how cold it is, or what’s going on around them for a second, I can get images like these – open mouth laughs, genuine “warm me up” cuddles, and a little taste of what their love looks like in a single still frame. As an added bonus, we got to hang out with my friend Nick. He’s their wedding videographer, and he captured this whole session in motion! I can’t wait to see what kind of magic he worked.
So many different factors have the opportunity to define a wedding day. Maybe it’s the weather – a freak snowstorm threatening to keep everyone off the roads. It could be a late cake delivery, or the wrong color flowers. But most often it’s the sweeter things – like a dad healthy enough to walk his baby girl down the aisle, or a grandpa dancing the night away with the bride.
Their bridal party, full of friends and family. The pews, full of elated family members. The dance floor, full of friends from years passed.
Hair | Alex Walters + Alicia Piscura
Makeup | Cleveland Bridal Makeup
Bride’s Dress | La Blanca Bridal
Bridesmaid Dresses | David’s Bridal
Groom’s Tux | Jos A. Bank
Florist | Urban Orchid
DJ | A Bride’s DJ
Catering | The Union Club
Cake | Wildflour Bakery
Transportation | A1 Mr. Limo
Videographer | Emily Schutz
Invitations | Alexa Nelson
The new year is one of the things I live for. My heart loves change, and January 1st is just what it needed. The last 4 months or so of every year get a little crazy for me, but never have I experienced busy like the end of 2018. I was shooting constantly, and editing every moment that I wasn’t, I was editing. If you know me in real life, you know that I generally feel most fulfilled when I’m working , but as I slowed things down in December and really began to evaluate the last 12 months, I realized that I was creating habits that I didn’t want to bring into the new year. I had given up all my weekends for work. Most weekdays looked like 12 hours in front of the computer. I was a slave to my phone – checking emails and DM’s while I ate dinner, and as I was falling asleep. I put work before most other things, and left myself without any time of my own.
Transitioning into full time photography has been the most wonderful + challenging things I’ve done in a while. Every day, I get out of bed so excited to begin my day – grateful is an understatement. But it’s also forced me to look far deeper into myself and my strengths + weaknesses than I ever have. Have you done that lately? It’s not much fun. I’m finding the ways that I fall short at the expense of no one but myself.
In an effort to be the best Allison + photographer I can be this year I’ve decided to implement a couple new boundaries for myself.
I’ve decided not to schedule anything on Sundays.
Sunday weddings are the only exception.
Because of this, weekends are going to book up a little extra fast,
so it’s safest to contact me about 8-12 weeks before you’d like to schedule your session!
This year, I’m actually going to keep business hours.
No more 10pm emails for this girl.
Not only do I want to be a more balanced human being, but I’d like to be the best for my clients and I know that I can’t do that unless I’m taking care of myself. I hope you’ve found ways to be kinder to yourself this year, as well.
Ok, that’s certainly enough about me.
One of the incredible couples I got to work with last year was Greg + Deana. Greg is a videographer and he happened to be shooting a wedding alongside me. (I’ll be blogging that one, too!) We exchanged information at the end of the night, and a few weeks later, we all drove down to Athens for their engagement session! Greg + Deana met at Ohio University, and wanted to take their engagement photos in the town that’s so special to them. We woke up before the sun, and I thanked the heavens for this gorgeous fog that made an appearance just for us. We stopped at the bar where they had their first date, and walked through campus together. I know I say this way too much, but this was one of my favorite sessions of the year!
The morning I walked into Savana + Nate’s adorable home to begin photographing their wedding day, I felt like I belonged there. Savana has this wonderful way of making everyone feel welcome. As I’m sure you’ve heard me mention, I always think of a wedding day in terms of how it makes me feel. Throughout Savana + Nate’s wedding day, there were threats of winter weather. It monsooned during family photos. The power went out while we took photos in a brewery. Our schedule was determined by when the storm clouds rolled in and out.
But somehow, my most prominent memories were being warm and cozy in their home while Savana and her girls got ready. I remember when we stepped out on East 4th and the sun shined so brightly it took my eyes a minute to adjust. I remember the hugs and the tears. The way Nate made sure she was safe and warm while we walked down the street. The belly laughs and the warmth of the room as they danced for the first time as husband and wife.
& once again, I can’t believe I got to be the one to watch it all happen.
Hair | Shannon Hammond
Makeup | Ramona Dauksa
Bride’s Dress | Radiant Bride
Bridesmaid Dresses | David’s Bridal
Groom’s Tux | Men’s Warehouse
Florist | Countryside Florist
DJ | DJ Jesse Webb
Catering | Windows on the River
Cake | Wildflour Bakery
Transportation | Platinum Limo
Rings | Thurber’s
Invitations | Alexa Taylor Designs
“Together, we’ll shine way too bright.
I see you squint those eyes.
Back in school I should’ve tried.
When life is failing, you’re my cheat sheet.”
You know that feeling when a song can take you right back to your first slow dance? Or you get a whiff of that distantly familiar perfume your grandma always wore? I’m such a believer in the relation of seemingly minute details to the nostalgia it can later bring. When I photograph your wedding, I want to show it all to you.
I remember on Ben and Audrey’s wedding day, the steady pattern of clouds + sunshine. I remember Ben and his guys watching the office on their phone before the ceremony began. I remember the calm, unspoken love that I felt when I walked into Audrey’s hotel room at Glidden House where she was enjoying a slow morning with her girls. Most of all, I remember the sound of the Cleveland Air Show just before their ceremony began. To me, it wasn’t a nuisance, or unfortunate timing. It was just another one of those details to remember.
Ben + Audrey, Congratulations on your beautiful wedding, and more importantly, your beautiful marriage. I hope that every time you see these photos, it brings you right back to that day.
Planning | Cassie Mullins Events
Hair + Makeup | Sin Pretty Beauty
Bride’s Dress | Abbot Bridal
Bridesmaid Dresses | Bella Bridesmaids
Tux | American Commodore
Florist | Dietz Falls Floral
DJ | Cleveland Music Group
Catering | Sausalito
Cake | Luna Bakery
On Monday September 15, 2008 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, a sweet, quiet boy took my hand as we sat on an old picnic table and he asked if I would be his girlfriend. My romance loving heart just knew this is how my greatest love story would begin. I was seventeen and had just started my first semester as a college freshman 400 miles from home. Against all the well-meaning advice I’d heard before I left, I fell fast and I fell hard. (I mean, with this hair, can you really blame me?) I just knew there was something special about this one. Maybe it was the loyal friend that he was to the people he cared about – the way he’d give you the last dollar in his pocket if he knew it would help. It could have been the sincerity in his words – that when he told me he loved me for the first time at that beach in Maryland, somehow I just had no doubt that he meant it with everything inside of him. I knew he was the one for me. Those first few years were tough. But man, we loved each other so hard through them. He was my family long before it was official. It’s been 10 years and there are some things that I’d like to go back and say to seventeen year old me.
To 2008 Allison,
This cute boy on the picnic table with you is asking a question that will change your life forever. I know you just met him, but sometimes you need to trust your gut. He’s as wonderful as you think he is. Nothing is an act with him – he’s as genuine as they come. He’ll come out of his shell little by little and every new thing you learn about him will make you fall deeper in love. He’ll cut his hair and grow a beard, and you’ll love that, too. You’ll spend the next few years comparing your relationship to the ones around you. That’s wasted time. People will get engaged before you do, and that’s okay because when it’s your turn, it will be everything your heart could have wanted. If you could see what’s ahead for you, you’d quiet your analytical mind, and breathe a sigh of great relief. It only gets better from here. You think he’s a good boyfriend, but I can’t wait for you to see the husband he’ll be for you.
This weekend, we took some time to celebrate 10 years of us. We got to spend some time at our sweet friend, Elijah’s cabin. (He has a brand new album out that you can find here.) We hiked and explored new cities together. We played games by the fire. & we reflected on the last 10 years together.
These days, life has fewer ups and downs than those first years did. There’s a little more monotony, and a lot more responsibility. But that love that began 10 years ago has evolved into something with so much more depth + dimension than I ever could have imagined. The most exciting part of it all is that we believe our best is still yet to come.
Here are some photos from our weekend away.
PS. You can stay in this perfect little cabin, too!
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that although I’ve become proficient at it, I can’t stand small talk. Four years sitting at a receptionist’s desk has taught me to how to talk about current events and weather patterns like a pro. I don’t know if it’s the fact that life seems to be moving at lightning speed, or I’ve grown to be an adamant old woman in the last few years, but I’d much rather spend my time getting to know the important stuff. I want to hear where you grew up and what your family was like. I want to hear all about what has made you who you are. And most importantly, I want to hear how you fell in love. Lucky for me, I can just blame my often imposing questions on the job.
I often book weddings before I’ve met my couples in person. So many of my clients don’t live in the area, so finding time to get together doesn’t always work out for us. This was the case for Kendra + Brad. They’re living in LA at the moment, and it just made sense to wait until our engagement session to meet. I knew quite a bit about them from our email exchanges, but you never really know a person until you’ve met. Meeting Kendra + Brad was like the 5% of Catfish episodes that have a happy ending. They were even more awesome than emails could have shown, and SPOILER ALERT, they’re pretty great looking, too. They graciously answered all my non-small talky questions and I feel like I know them so much better because of it.
One of my favorite parts about my session with Kendra + Brad was recreating a couple old photos of Kendra’s grandparents. Can I be honest for a second?
I care a whole lot more about what you’ll think of your photos in twenty years than what you think of them right now. Whether I’m photographing your wedding, or your family, I want you to pass these photos down for generations. That’s why I loved Kendra’s request so much – her grandparents’ photos stood the test of time. She loves them enough half a century later to recreate them.
I met Heather + Rob a year or so ago at a networking event for wedding vendors. They own The Thirsty Goose, a fantastic traveling bar for weddings and other events. While I truly love meeting new people, it feels super unnatural for me to attend an event where everyone is supposed to meet new people, so I ended up spending my entire evening getting to know these two. We talked about their wedding and our shared love for Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I like to think that at the end of that night, I’d made a couple new friends.
A few months ago, I got an email from Heather telling me they’re expecting a sweet baby so soon, and asked if I’d be their photographer. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. We spent our evening strolling through Historic Medina together. I wish all my Fridays looked like this.
“I don’t know what you want me to tell you, man. All I know is that every time I’ve been faced with a tough decision, there’s only one thing that outweighs every other concern. One thing that will make you give up on everything you thought you knew, every instinct, every rational calculation – Love. Listen. No matter what happens, you gotta forget about all the other stuff. You gotta forget about logic and fear and doubt. You just gotta do everything you can to get to the one woman who’s gonna make all this worth it. At the end of the day, you gotta jump.