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Hannah & Jimmy – A Cleveland Engagement Session

I want you to take a moment to think about your favorite love story. Really think. Does it come from an old Jane Austen novel you first found dusty on your grandma’s bookshelf? Or is the classic “receptionist falls in love with the sarcastic paper salesman” scenario more your speed? Does it twist and turn, or does it take more of a straight, simple path? What do you love about it? What drew you in?

I remember the first time I met Hannah and Jimmy. Just like with many of my clients, we sat down for coffee and I asked them to tell their story.

I can’t recall every detail but I do remember it was like a book I didn’t want to stop reading.

Their proposal was unlike any I’d ever heard. It had me laughing and crying (even if maybe just because I laughed too hard.) If you ever have the privilege of meeting these two, do yourself a favor and ask Jimmy to tell you the story. It’ll be your new favorite.

A few weeks ago, we got to meet up again. We strolled through Tremont, and stopped at the place where they had their first date together (RIP Lolita). We found all the good sun spots, and then headed to Edgewater Beach. It was the perfect evening to add another page to their story.

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Savana & Nate – A Tremont Engagement Session

We had just a few minutes to spend together this week.

I think it’s safe to say we made the most of it.

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Thoughts of a Birthday Girl

Today’s my birthday. If you’ve been around this blog for any length of time, you know that I can use just about anything as an excuse to get a little reflective. But if you’re only letting me pick twice a year (because we all know once won’t work), I choose New Years and my birthday. So here goes.

I think I’ve learned more about myself in the last couple years than the rest of my years combined and the deeper I dig, the more I realize how goal oriented I am. I’m generally far more concerned about my future than I am about my present. Because of this, I’ve found that I’m rarely satisfied with where I am in life and that’s something I find myself fighting against regularly. But when I stop to think about things logically, feeling anything less than complete satisfaction just doesn’t seem to make sense.

My life today is better than 12 year old Allison ever could have imagined.

and that’s good enough for me. 

I have a husband who’s literally the best looking man I know and takes better care of me than I take of myself. I have a house that’s cozy and perfect for our little family. I have a business that I’m super proud of. I can smell the flowers in our backyard from my office, and I’m having more good hair days than not lately.

So this year, my goals look a little different. They have nothing to do with where I think I should be, or what I’m not good at but that have everything to do with making the people and the world around me a little better.

This year I want more days spent outside and less time worrying about whatever’s on my phone.  I want to tell more stories and try more recipes. I want to live a little less careful and take big risks. (because we all know that’s where the fun is.) I want to invest more into the relationships I have with people. I want the people in my life to recognize me as someone who cares. I want to send flowers to sick friends and make lasagna for sad friends. I want to remember birthdays and give gifts whenever I can. I want to love people more fiercely, follow my dreams more passionately, and enjoy all the little moments along the way.

Ready. Set. Go. 

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Alivia & James – A Rocky River Park Maternity Session

Having your picture taken can feel weird sometimes. You’re meeting someone new who’s about to point their camera in your face for an extended period of time. Although this is my job, I try to never forget that the time I spend with my clients is unique and probably not something they’re very used to. I love that the majority of the photos I take involve two people in love, because that usually makes the difference between “What do I do with my hands?” and “This isn’t so bad at all.”

When you love someone, you know what makes them laugh. You know where they’re ticklish. You know just what to do to ease the “I’m getting my photo taken” jitters. James did just that. He had Alivia laughing the whole time. Their undeniable chemistry plus the magic of Ohio’s elusive April sunshine helped me knock this session out of the park.

I can’t wait to see these two become a family of three so soon.

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Jazelle & Aaron – A Valley Forge National Park Engagement Session

Sometimes I like to trace the timeline of my life to map out all the things that brought me to this beautiful life I’m living now. It’s amazing to me how one decision can change the course of your life. Moving to Philadelphia was my one decision. When I graduated high school, I packed my bags and headed to a college hundreds of miles from home. If I wouldn’t have made that choice, I never would have met my husband, or the best friends I’ve ever known. I also never would have met Jazelle.

I met Jazelle 6 years ago at a Super Bowl Party. Stephen was living in an apartment with a few of our good friends who decided to throw a party. Our friend Allen had really talked her up, and said that her and I would get along great. He definitely wasn’t wrong.

6 years is a long time. We were both in such different places in our lives. Stephen and I were recently engaged, and I was in the middle of some major health issues that I was really worried about. Jazelle was in school, and hadn’t yet met the love of her life. Soon, I moved away and got married, and Jazelle and I stayed internet friends. I watched her life change from a distance, and she watched my business grow. 6 years after that party, I got to come back to where it all began and meet her other half, Aaron. He’s everything I imagined for her and more.

Jazelle told me that she knew she wanted me to be the one to document it all as soon as she got engaged. Ever want to make me cry? Say something like that to me.

Their November wedding at Terrain can’t come soon enough!

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Erica + Jeremy – A Cleveland Heights Maternity Session

There are some days as a photographer that I can’t help but think about how much I truly love what I do. This was one of those days.
On this particular “spring” Ohio day, there was no sun in sight. There was no sunset to capture, or budding trees – just two people about to welcome their first baby into the world.

But when you think about it, isn’t that the most beautiful thing there is?

And to be welcomed into their home and allowed the opportunity to capture these moments is the biggest privilege my photographer’s heart can think of.

Sweet baby boy, we all can’t wait to meet you.

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Maryana – A Cleveland Portrait Session

I believe that I was born to create. As a kid, I would count down the minutes until art class when I could get lost in my latest project. I liked getting messy, and it didn’t matter to me if anyone understood what I made, as long as I was proud. Before I had ever used a camera, I knew that art and creativity would be a huge part of what my life would become. I remember sitting at the plastic table in the corner of our dining room when I was only 3 or 4 making Sesame Street sand art with my mom and when my dad taught me how to use his old cameras in our backyard. I always had a new hobby – jewelry making, watercolor painting, songwriting – you name it, I tried it. For me, creating was about freedom. It didn’t have anything to do with reading books or memorizing answers for a test. I wasn’t graded, no one told me I was doing it wrong. It was something for me to be proud of.

As I’ve grown older, that feeling has only gotten stronger. I fell in love with experimental videography in college, and I still make short videos that no one will ever see, because they’re for me to be proud of. But my world truly expanded when I discovered how much I loved photography.

Over the past year or so, I’ve realized that I’m creating so much less for myself than I ever have. I’ve gotten to meet and work with so many great clients, and I’ve taken photos that I’m so ridiculously proud of. But I’ve lost a little bit of the art that made me fall in love with photography all those years ago. Creating for myself means taking photos around the house, or experimenting with new techniques. It’s creating content that may never see the light of day and being totally okay with that, because it’s just for me.

So right now, I’m promising myself that in between the sessions that I’m so excited about this year, I’m going to create things that

inspire me.
people may not understand.
get a little weird.

This was my start.

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Making The Most of Your Family Photos

I bet if you think real hard about your life, you could tell me a weird story about an experience getting your photo taken. It might even involve some Old Navy flag tees. Family Photos can be strange and wonderful things. But my hope is to make them a little more wonderful and a whole lot less strange. If you’ve ever had a question about family photos, I hope it gets answered here. If not, you know where to find me.

 

What to Wear

So you all want to look nice together, but you’re also trying to avoid Justin + Britney circa 2001. I got you.
I get asked about wardrobe more than just about anything else when it comes to family photos. So I’m here to help.

There’s quite a bit to consider when it comes to finding the right clothes for your session.

Style

I’ve taken photos of families in everything from pajamas to tuxes and gowns – and I love it ALL. If you want photos in your home, let me come early and spend the morning photographing what breakfast looks like in your house. If you’re looking for something a little fancy, get all dressed up and we’ll go to the art museum. What does your family love to do together? Every family’s different, so your photos should be, too.

Comfort

I want everyone to have some fun while we take photos together. If your clothes are restraining, your photos will show it. My goal is to make this experience the best it can be, and the clothes you choose can play a huge role in whether or not that’s true. Sweaters aren’t a good idea in the summer, and if you’re going to need to adjust your dress the whole time, you should probably pick something else to wear. If you can keep them in good condition, I would suggest wearing the clothes you have planned for your session out of the house for a few hours to see how they feel. That way, there won’t be any surprises.

 

Colors

The key to a good family photo wardrobe is to choose clothes that look nice together without “matching.” Sometimes choosing a color “family” to base everyone’s clothes around can really help. Jewel tones are great for fall. Neutrals with a pop of color can be the perfect spring choice. If you need help getting started, I’ve created a few resources to help. Here are some color palettes that I love, and a little more practically, here are some family photo outfits that I think work really well. If you’re not sure how your clothes will all work together in a photo, my advice is to lay everything (shoes, socks, jewelry, everything) out together on the floor or on your bed so you can see it all as it will be in a photo. This is an easy way to see what may need changed. A few things to avoid are logos or words of any kind on your clothing, small patterns (they generally don’t photograph well), and most hats because they can generally be distracting.

Details

Don’t forget the details! We may see your socks at some point, and we’ll definitely see your shoes. Make sure you’re happy with the way you look from head to toe. Moms – this is a great excuse to go get your hair and makeup done by a professional.

Preparing for your session.

The younger your kids are, the more important preparation is. Because we need to work around the sun to create the photos you’re looking for, it can often affect bed time. Make sure you come to your session well rested, and well fed! And I’ll always ask you to bring a blanket for your family to sit on.

Come with no expectations.

Family photos never feel the way you’re expecting. Your kids will behave better or worse than you expect. The weather won’t be what you think it will be. These expectations can make the process a whole lot harder for everyone involved. Just come to have fun, and we’ll get some great photos in the process.

My Process

Sessions with me are super laid back. This time in your life is short, and I want to capture things just the way they are – missing teeth and all. ; ) Once we arrive at the location we’ve chosen, we’ll spend most of our time wandering around and playing together. I like to keep things moving because that keeps kids engaged. We’ll generally spend between 90 minutes and two hours together (depending on how your kids are doing.) One of the most important things is to allow time for your photos. I suggest setting aside the evening so you don’t feel rushed because like all good things, photos take time. 3-4 weeks after our session, you’ll receive your full gallery of images.

What to do (& what not to do)

Be a willing participant.

I’m looking at you, dads. Your experience with family photos in the past may be in a stuffy studio, or with crying babies and you might not look back on these times very fondly. Well all that’s about to change. I’m not going to ask you to put your left hand over your right. You can even put your hands in your pockets! You can (and are encouraged) to run around with your kids and to lift them in the air. This is your one family. And as cheesy as this sounds, these kids are your legacy. I want you to be just as proud of these pictures as your wife.  I’m asking for two hours of uninterrupted fun with your kids. I think you can manage. ; )

Have some dang fun.

It might surprise you that kids are often much better at family photos than parents. Over the years, I’ve noticed that often parents can be more focused on making sure their kids are doing what they’re supposed to be doing than having fun themselves. Your kids are going to be kids. They’re going to run around. They’re going to talk when you don’t want them to. They’re going to be more interested in everything else than the camera. But that’s okay.

If you hear one thing from me, let it be this.

Please relax and let your kids be kids. Don’t ask them to smile big – do something that makes them smile. Play with them. Run around with them. Have fun with them. Fun photographs well.

Your photos are what you make of them and I want to help you make them the best they can be.

If I’ve missed anything, or if you’d like to book a session for your family, please send me an email. I’d love to chat.

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Prints & Products That Tell Your Story

Have you ever looked through your parents’ wedding album? There’s something so special about seeing where it all began. Comparing the dress you just bought to the one your mom wore 30 years ago. Or seeing old photos of your uncle with a moustache and your aunt in all her shoulder padded bridesmaid glory. Something about these photos brings it all back. I bet your dad can remember the funniest parts of his best man’s speech. Your mom can almost smell her bouquet again. Prints & albums have a way of recalling those memories that may otherwise be forgotten.

This is true for so many different parts of your life. Your family will never be the same as they are now. Your kids will grow older, and they’ll get haircuts and braces. They’ll grow taller than you and soon your sweet girl won’t fit into her polkadot dress anymore. These are the times to remember.
When I’m taking your photos, I’m thinking about all of these things.

 

The photos I take are meant to live longer than you do,

and if they live on a screen, that won’t happen.

 

Prints & products are an investment.

In your family.

In your love.

In your legacy.

 

ALBUMS

Covered in an array of luxurious European fabrics, this book looks like a million bucks.

Your curated love story in 10 spreads.

Includes:

10 spreads (20 pages) & your names on the cover.
Albums are 10×10.

Options:

Cover – Leather or linen (color options shown below).

The Process:

To begin the process of album design, just send me an email at hello@thislovelylight.com Once we’ve decided on leather or linen for the cover, I’ll ask for 5-10 of your favorite images from your wedding or session. From there, I’ll add in some of my favorites that help to tell your story. I’ll send you a mockup of your album, you can make one round of changes, and we’ll get it ordered.

Timeline:

The best time to order an album is within 6 months from the time you receive your gallery.

Once we’ve finalized our design, your album should arrive within 4-6 weeks.

Prices:

10 x 10 Album
Leather | $475
Linen | $395

Add more spreads for just $18 per spread

PARENT ALBUMS

Just the same as our classic album, but a little bit smaller.

(These are also perfect for portraits sessions.)

7 x 5 | 20 pages | Cover inscription

Prices:

7 x 5 Parent Album
Leather | $345
Linen | $225

Add more spreads for just $10 per spread.

LAGNIAPPE CANVAS

Stunning matte canvas, reclaimed wood, jute & copper accents.

The Process:

To order a Lagniappe Canvas, just send me an email at hello@thislovelylight.com.

 Prices:

11 x 14 | $185
16 x 20 |$235
24 x 36 | $345

Please inquire for additional sizes.

 

 

HERITAGE BOX

This stunning brass and glass box includes 100 of your favorite 5 x 7 prints from your wedding day or session.

Meant to sit on a coffee table or shelf, or as a family heirloom to be passed on for generations to come.

Price:

$485

*Please note that there are only 20 fine art prints pictured in the box above.

PRINTS

Prints can be ordered individually through your gallery.
4 x 6 | $4
5 x 7 | $8
8 x 10 |$22
11 x 14 |$35
16 x 20 |$48

Please inquire for additional sizes.

 

 

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Brandie & Austin – A Cleveland Heights Engagement Session

This morning, I came down the stairs and rounded the corner to make some breakfast. But when my feet landed on the floor and my eyes towards the kitchen, I saw Stephen standing at the stove making his usual breakfast of bacon and eggs. Instead of joining him right away, I just stood from a distance. It was probably only 30 seconds or so, but that moment is one I’ll always hold tight. I realized I’ve been doing this a lot lately. It’s like the moments we spend together aren’t enough – like the only way I can truly soak him in is to step away and take myself out of the equation.

Today is our tenth Valentine’s day together and somewhere through the years, we’ve transitioned from spending a long weekend of snow tubing in the Poconos to an exciting afternoon of replacing the drain in our bathroom sink. But if I’m being totally honest, I’m so much more in love with the man who is fixing our drain tonight than the one who whisked me away a decade ago.

OUR COMMITMENT TO EACH OTHER HAS ALLOWED OUR LOVE TO GROW IN A WAY I NEVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED.

There are so many things I hope & pray for all my clients, but lately it’s been for the kind of love that makes you stop at the bottom of the stairs. When I spent that rainy January morning with Brandie & Austin, it was so clear to me that they’ve got it.

The way she looked at him. The way he held her.

They’ve just got it.

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Ashley & Ryan – A Ricciardi’s Tree Farm Wedding

2017 was a completely formative year for both me and my business. I began the year excited to meet new people, and create work that inspires me, but I was admittedly exhausted. I was still trying to catch up from a busy autumn season both with weddings and with my day job. I had such high hopes for the new year and the opportunities it would bring. Looking back a whole year later, I can confidently say that 2017 blew me away. Just 4 weeks into the year, Stephen and I fell in love, quite prematurely, with a house for sale. (Can someone point me to a support group for Zillow addiction?) In three short days, our lives went from content little apartment renters, to scared almost home owners. Two months laters, we moved into that house and have fallen more in love with it every day. I spent the summer shooting weddings, and trying to make our house a home, thinking that the biggest life changes for the year were behind us. Little did I know God had other plans. In October, I finally felt it was the right time to make the long awaited jump from a full time job with a photography business on the side to full time photographer. 367 days ago, I didn’t think I’d be blogging at 10am on a Wednesday, but here I am. I’m able to spend so much more time doing just what I love, and I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. It’s easy to look back at a year and pick out all the bad things that happened. But for me, it was so much easier to do the opposite. 2017 was great but I have an even better feeling about 2018.

Last year, I shot more weddings than ever before and met some of the most awesome people. Ashley and Ryan were definitely no exception. This is one of those weddings that I looked forward to from the moment they booked me. I couldn’t wait. Their wedding day was one of the first truly cold days of the year. Thanks to some strategically placed hand warmers from my rock star of a second shooter, we made some cold weather magic together. It was truly the perfect way to close out my 2017 wedding season.

Ashley & Ryan, thanks so much for trusting me with your wedding day.

Makeup // Riley Gable
Hair Stylist // Megan Buchwalter
Florist // Wild Fox & Flower
DJ // Drop The Mic
Donuts // Brewnuts
Catering // Village Catering Company
Venue //
Ricciardi’s Tree Farm
Second Shooter // Mikayla Donaldson Some of the images you see are hers.

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