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the blog.

I consider each wedding I photograph to be such a privilege, but when one of those weddings involves two people I already love, the feelings run so much deeper.

I met both Josh and Taylor my freshman year of college. Taylor and I had been assigned to the same dorm and I met Josh while participating in those new student orientation activities that everyone loves so much. It wasn’t until a couple years later that I became good friends with either of them. Taylor was always throwing the cutest parties in our tiny campus apartments. I definitely looked forward to those. After college, my husband shared an apartment with Josh and a couple more of our friends.

I remember on my 20th birthday, school had just ended for the summer and I was staying on campus for my internship. Stephen had to work all day, and I was really bummed about spending my birthday alone. So Josh and our friend Allen picked me up and took me to the fair in town. We went to dinner and watched movies and had a really great time. They spent the whole day with me so I wouldn’t be alone on my birthday. That day still makes me smile.

Now when I think back to all of this, I feel a little bit like an idiot. Here I was, friends with both of these wonderful (single) people and never once did I think to introduce them. When I really think about Josh & Taylor together, it makes so much sense. Their meeting, however, was much more serendipitous than I could have ever been a part of.

Taylor is an incredibly talented illustrator. She sells the cutest cards in her Etsy shop. Josh, being the thinker that he is, bought some of Taylor’s cards so he’d have an excuse to talk to her. It worked. Now that he had her address, he started to write her letters that she’ll treasure forever. Soon after the first letter, they decided to meet in person, and it was love at first sight. He loves the way she makes him laugh, and she loves the way he speaks so thoughtfully. Together, they make one of the most beautiful couples the world has ever seen.

Josh & Taylor, I am happy beyond words for the two of you. God’s timing never ceases to amaze me and you are the perfect example of that. You are both so wonderful, and I have loved watching your love story unfold. I am forever grateful that I got to be a part of your wedding day.

*A big thanks to my second shooter, Becky. Some of the images you’ll see here are hers.

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Ok, it’s time to be honest. This week has been tough. This election crap has really been messing with my head, and frankly, it’s exhausting. I think when big events happen in our lives, and in this case, our country, we tend to reevaluate things. Am I saving enough money? Am I spending enough time with my family? Am I happy with my job? And that’s a lot of what this week has been for me. As I’ve started to think about these things, I’ve discovered some answers I wasn’t expecting.

When I think about the life that I’m living, I’m overcome with happiness. I love our little apartment in the most wonderful little neighborhood. I love our cat and how she squeaks instead of meowing. I have an incredible husband to come home to, and the most comfortable couch there ever was. I’ve got a family who loves me, and food in the fridge. And I’ve made the most amazing friends to share it all with. I really do think that 16 year old me would be so happy with who I am today. I’m also running this business, and it’s nothing short of a dream. It’s what I think about when I wake up, and when I go to sleep. It’s where my mind wanders to in line at the grocery store. I’m constantly evaluating the way I do things, and always trying to improve. I want to create the best photos and experiences for my clients, so I’ve got photos on the brain 24/7.

But I’m slowly starting to see how these two different and wonderful parts of my life aren’t harmonizing as well as they should be. I’m editing photos while I’m catching up with friends on the phone. I’m refreshing my email when Stephen and I sit down to watch TV together. I’m blogging while I eat my dinner instead of sitting and talking about my day with Stephen. Car rides and shopping trips all turn into work time somehow, and that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

So many moons ago, I told you that I was going to start periodically blogging about some of the things that inspire me, and today I’m talking about We are the Parsons, a husband and wife photography team.

I’ve been a fan of their work for a while but it wasn’t until I listened to them on this podcast that I really fell in love with the people they are. They’re genuine and compassionate, and they’re striving to live their lives as present as they can be in all the little moments that matter most. They realized they were missing precious time with their kids because of their focus on Facebook fans and Instagram followers, something I think we can all relate to, so they quit social media. Yes, they quit. Talk about self control…

They’ve reminded me about the things that matter. They’ve helped me discover how to realign my priorities to be more present with the people I love most. What good is my comfortable couch if I never get to share it with Stephen? Why have these amazing friends in my life if I’m not even going to take the time to really listen to the things going on in their life? Running a business takes effort, but I can have a little more control over that effort. I can put my phone away at a certain time each night. I can stop answering emails for dinner. Blogging can wait. The people in my life are what I treasure most, and sometimes I forget to live like that’s true.

Listen to this podcast! Let it remind, realign, and challenge you to live a more present life.

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My refuge and strength
My ever-present God my light and way
Fill up these lungs with Your breath
My Savior and King all of my help and my salvation
Let Your kingdom be complete in me

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Dana’s a girl that makes things happen. She’s ambitious, compassionate, and as you can see, gorgeous.
I have a questionnaire that I ask seniors to fill out for me so I can get a little understanding of who they are and what they like before our session. Dana’s definitely impressed me.
When I was in high school, I spent most of my time in class thinking about whose house we were going to sleepover that night. Dana spends her time interning at the Cleveland Clinic. She’s a senior at Laurel School, where she founded multiple clubs and is a member of even more. She’s applying to over a dozen colleges, and my guess is that she’ll have her pick of any of them. Her goal is to be a pediatric surgeon.

I had such a great time hanging out with Dana for her senior pictures at the Huntington Reservation in Bay Village. The trek through the weeds was more than worth it, and if you look closely, you might even be able to spot some new friends we made along the way.

Here are some of my favorite images from our session together.

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I told you we weren’t done with the sunflowers. : )

Katie’s a Senior at Rocky River High School. She’s in the National Honors Society, she’s involved in drama productions, and she’s in the band. (It was an honor to meet a fellow mellophone player, or really just anyone who knows what a mellophone is.)

This session was a dream.
The first shot in this blog post was the very first shot my camera fired off that evening. This is what the girl looks like when she’s not. even. trying.
I knew real fast that we were going to have some fun together.

We started in the sunflowers, and ended at the beach, and Katie didn’t stop being flawless for one second.

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I was once a bride. I was once planning my wedding, and stressing about colors and dresses and food and all the things brides stress about. I was nervous to be the center of attention for a day, and I wanted to please everyone. Was my dress going to fit? Was everyone going to be on time for pictures? I was a mess.

But four years ago today, I walked down the aisle and met my best friend at the altar in the church where I used to nap in the pews. I got ready and took my deep breaths in the nursery that I helped paint. I walked by the office where my crayon art used to hang on the walls. We said our vows in the same spot that I forgot my lines in the church Christmas play. And I looked out and saw all the people we love most, there to support us. And suddenly the color of the tablecloths didn’t matter anymore, because I was about to spend forever with the boy I loved most.

Our wedding day wasn’t perfect. One of our groomsmen forgot his suit in another state. The girl who promised she’d be there on my wedding day to do my hair called off sick. And even though I was so adamant there only be white pumpkins at the reception, an orange one snuck in. There were miscommunications, and unnecessary worries, and there are things I’d do differently if I could.

But all of that is okay because marriage isn’t perfect.

There are words I wish I could take back, and arguments that should have never happened. There are days where I’ve spent too much time working, and not enough time just being. Sometimes I cry for no reason, and I care about all the things I shouldn’t. Stephen leaves laundry in the washer, and forgets to lock the car. He’s bad at answering texts, and never rinses his dishes. We’re two completely imperfect people, choosing to love each other for who we are right now, and who we will become.

Your wedding is going to be messy. But your marriage will be, too. And that’s okay. Because he’ll send you flowers at work on your anniversary, and you’ll pick up his dirty socks off the floor, and he’ll make you dinner, and you’ll buy him that xbox he really wanted, and he won’t make fun of you for crying at that Allstate commercial, and you’ll learn to share the covers, and somehow, every day, you’ll learn to love each other so much more than the day before.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from my wedding day. All of our photos are by our friends, Penny & Finn, who sadly no longer shoot weddings.

View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk131885View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk13188505View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk131885View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk1318851View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk1318853View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk1318855View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk131885View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk131885View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk131885View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk131885View More: http://pennyandfinn.passgallery.com/event/sPbHk131885

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I met Kayla for Coffee a few months ago. When we sat down, I didn’t know anything about her, but by the time we were finished, she felt like a friend. She began explaining why she liked my work so much, and as she was talking, I realized she understood my vision & style better than anyone else I’ve worked with. She totally got me. When I left our coffee date that day, I knew we were going to make a great team.

Kayla & Zach decided on a sunrise session. (Have I told you how much I love those? Oh, I have? My bad.) They picked the per-fect location – like stuff out of my dreams. These yellow flowers? Does it get any better? As we began shooting, we realized pretty quickly that our sunrise session was becoming a sun-taking-its-time-to-get-out-of-bed session. We didn’t see much of the sun at all that day, but if you can’t tell, we didn’t mind. The fog stuck around longer than normal on September mornings, and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Kayla, you’re going to make such a beautiful bride, and Zach a handsome groom. You two deserve each other in the best of ways.
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When planning sessions, especially family sessions, I always recommend that clients choose outfits that “go together” without necessarily “matching” each other. And often times, I get asked to see examples. I’m not sure why because I’m always so great at explaining things. (sarcasm) From now on, when a clients wants to know what they should wear, I just going to send them straight to this blog post because this family has got it going on. (do people still say that?)

Stephen and I have been friends with Chris & Bethany for a while now. If you know their family, then you love their family. And do kids get any cuter than this? Let me know, because I’m leaning towards no.

We spent one of the last 90 degree evenings together, walking through rows and rows of sunflowers. (Don’t worry, you haven’t seen the last of this field yet.) ; ) The kids ran around and I happily followed. And when the snow’s so high I won’t want to leave my house, I’ll think back to our session in the sunflower field and remember what a great summer I had.

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Planning was not easy for Faith and I. We had 3 other session dates in the books before weather and schedules finally aligned. But oh my, was it worth the wait.

We shot her maternity photos at one of my all time favorite spots, Rocky River Park. Faith was up for anything. Climb up this hill with me? Sure! Step on that Rock? Yes! Get your feet wet? I can do better than that! (Have I mentioned how much I love it when my clients aren’t scared to try things?)

We ended our session in Lake Erie, and I think Faith looks like a straight up mermaid in that gorgeous white dress! I can’t wait for baby Lailani to get here and see how pretty her mom is.

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When I was about 8 years old, I only wanted one thing for my life – to be tiny. I’m not talking lose-a-few-pounds tiny. I mean straight up fit-in-your-pocket tiny. Honey We Shrunk Ourselves was my favorite movie, and The Borrowers wasn’t far behind. The idea of being enveloped by my surroundings was the most wonderful thing my little mind could have dreamt of. I imagine that’s how little Jack felt during the evening we spent at this Sunflower Field*.

Jack’s little personality was as big as the sunflowers towering over him. Every discovery he made came with a brand new expression on his face. And if we looked hard enough, I’m sure we could find a little pocket that would be just his size. ; )

*f you haven’t heard about this gorgeous spot in Avon, you can read all about it here.

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You know when you meet someone and it feels like you’ve been friends forever? That’s Lori. We sent numerous emails before we finally met in person but as soon as we met, I knew this was going to be a good thing.

She’s an incredible musician and needed some photos for merch she’s selling at her next show. When Lori was describing her vision for the shoot, I just got it. This shoot is an example of collaboration at its finest. The day of our shoot, it happened to be about 32 degrees too warm. We sweat our buns off. But in the end, we both agreed that it was so worth it.

Here are some of my favorites from our shoot.

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Let’s talk about marriage.

I spend quite a bit of time with engaged couples. They’re right in the middle of “Are the tablecloths the same white as the napkins?” and “ Should we rent the limo for 3 hours, or will 2 be enough?”. From the moment the engagement is “Facebook Official” until the last song has been played at the reception, the decisions don’t stop. But when that one day you’ve spent a year planning together is over, what’s left?

I attended a small Christian University where the engagements were abundant, and remaining chapel skips were few. It almost felt as if college was a race, and a wedding was the finish line. Getting married was just what you did. But then college was over, and life was just beginning, and it became more and more clear that the time spent deciding on flowers would have been much better spent discussing your future. Because the friends that kept you close moved a state away, and the classes you had in common are just memories, and now you’re left alone together to work jobs you don’t love to pay the bills you wish you didn’t have.

Weddings are easy. Marriage isn’t.

Being married is both the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever been a part of. We’re two imperfect people trying to be the best we know how for each other. But some days, I really want to watch crappy reality TV, and Stephen really wants to watch football and somebody’s gotta give. It takes sacrifice, and effort, and selflessness. Every day. Marriage is a promise. When we got married nearly 4 years ago, we made a promise in front of our friends, in front of God, and in front of each other that we will do the work that it takes to make our marriage work. That means that even when we don’t feel like loving each other, we choose to love each other. And I’m so lucky that I get to choose to love Stephen every day. Marriage is a big deal. Choosing one person to spend your lifetime with is huge, guys! Your house, and job, and friends will change, but your spouse won’t. Your marriage deserves all your effort. It’s worth it, I promise.

So since marriage is such a big deal, I think we should do more to celebrate it!

Introducing The Solidarity Sessions.

Solidarity: feeling of unity between people who have the same interests & goals.

These are full portrait sessions designed specifically for married couples to celebrate being married. Whether you’re newlyweds, or you’ve spent more years together than apart, your marriage is important. Spend some time together documenting what marriages can look like when they’re treated the way they deserve. Be proud of the effort you’ve put into your marriage. Show it off. Hire a sitter, block out the evening, and let’s take some photos together just like Elizabeth & Dillon did.

Elizabeth & Dillon were married last summer, and they wanted to celebrate a whole year of marriage together. We woke up way before the sun, and spent a quiet morning at the park where they had their first date. Elizabeth is so incredibly sweet and Dillon had us laughing the whole time. Our whole session felt like we were old friends spending a morning together. They even invited me to have breakfast with them afterwards! Elizabeth & Dillon are even more in love today than they were on their wedding day, because they’ve put in the effort. I can’t wait to see where the years take them.

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