Below Our Feet | Personal

2014-11-20_0002Two weeks ago, Jon and I had the opportunity to schedule a couple’s session with Tiffany of Tiffany Joyce Photography. I’ve been so lucky to meet several incredibly kind and supportive photographers, and Tiffany is no exception. I was really excited for several reasons. I knew we would have a lot of fun. And I know Tiffany’s style of photography is very similar to mine. Plus I knew I could ask a million nerdy photographer questions, and she would understand!


Since our wedding in 2009, Jon and I don’t have many pictures of ourselves other than iPhone selfies. And while I adore the photos we have from that day that Jeff of Calma Photography took for us, we were definitely due for some updated ones!


And you know, life definitely has changed quite a bit since then. We’ve added Rowan to our family; I stopped teaching and began staying home with her; Jon’s position has changed at work and has brought with it more responsibility and stress; Lexus has gone off to college; we now have a newly minted teenager in the house; and Gage is almost finished with elementary school.

Listen to the river

Does it make you wonder

How anything could ever stand still?

-Brett Dennen

2014-11-20_0005Right. Nothing stands still. We are really shadows of who we were during our whirlwind dating story. We’ve grown and evolved. We’ve endured job and new baby stress and the growing pains associated with bringing together two families. We’ve found the beginnings of the middle place of a marriage more lived in than new. And sometimes we struggle to maintain the magic, the beauty of our relationship that pulled us in to begin with.

But our experience with Tiffany reminded us that underneath it all, underneath the late nights at work, the triathlon training, the kids, the house, the stress of a new business; that if we peel back all of those layers and expose the us that so often gets brushed by, we find that we still are the young and crazy couple that probably moved way too quickly because we just couldn’t stand the thought of being apart.


Watch your step

Walk softer, softer

‘Cause dreams are growing below our feet.

-Brett Dennen

Sometimes we forget to walk softer. Sometimes the magic becomes a little distant and hazy, and we become consumed by the mundane day-to-day, and we can’t see how much we really have. But we always come back. We always rediscover each other and continue tending our dreams.

And if you’re thinking a couple’s session might be a good idea, stop thinking and do it. It totally is! I am so incredibly grateful to Tiffany for completely capturing our relationship; I will definitely miss her– she’s moving to Connecticut, so if you’re from that area, look her up!


I’ve been obsessed with Brett Dennen lately. Here’s where I pulled the quotes for this post. It’s my favorite song of his!

Growing Pains | Personal

Rowan is next to me doing the same puzzle for the fifth time. It’s a challenging puzzle for a three year old. Twenty-four pieces. Several different patterns. She’s had it since last Christmas, but still she needs help with it each time. We’ve shown her how the edges and corners work. We’ve talked about working on one animal at a time, breaking the puzzle down into manageable bits. But still, for the last eleven months, all of that advice just hasn’t stuck: she tries to force middle pieces along the edges; she leaves the pieces in a jumbled mess instead of flipping them over so she can see the pictures. And she usually ends up in frustrated tears when she tries to do it on her own.

But tonight, tonight is suddenly and amazingly different. For the most part, she’s doing the entire puzzle on her own. The pieces are still a bit of a mess. Every so often a middle piece is forced along the edge. And she might slam a piece in place out of frustration before she finally asked for help. But her independence is stunningly obvious.

Cue the sixth puzzle attempt.

Lately I’ve been feeling these same sort of growing pains. The same sense of frustration at where I am in my learning and growing process. I know I’ve made amazing progress in the last six months. But the internal struggle of admitting that I am growing and still have so much to learn is hard for me. I’ve always been a perfectionist; I like to be right and feel secure in what I do. Photography has shifted all of that for me.

It has forced me to embrace myself exactly where I am at the moment. After a session is over, I have to find peace with the result because there isn’t usually a chance to change anything. And gratefully not one session has been disastrous. I know I am being very critical of myself and my work, but I believe that is where my growth comes. At some point in my past, I would have experienced just a touch of this awkward stage and judged it too hard, too challenging to continue. It is much safer being stagnant, but stagnancy doesn’t bring happiness. Ever!

So I’m trying to find peace amongst the dissonance of each session’s learning moments. I’m pulling all of them together and moving forward. Sometimes it sticks immediately. Sometimes I have to learn it again and again before I really own it. Most recently, after being frustrated with too many soft images for my liking, I’m celebrating finding the absolute sweet spot shutter speed for my 135mm lens to avoid camera shake. (1/640 if you’re curious!)

Some days the pressure of growing so quickly feels too much; some days it feels like an amazingly exciting ride. I can equally be ecstatic and terrified about this journey all at once. Finding balance between these two extremes is never easy, but it helps to have others who have been there. They help me flip over my own puzzle pieces and guide me to putting them in the right place. Even if that means putting them aside for the night after a meltdown over the seventh attempt. They understand and encourage me to breathe and believe in myself and come back again later. And trust in the process, growing pains and all.


Monica | Virginia Beach Maternity Photograher

I met Monica in June through my mentor Elizabeth Henson. I really needed and wanted to add maternity photos to my portfolio, and Monica agreed to be my model! We met at Country Villa Inn and had the best time. She and her family are so much fun. And little Maeve decided to come along just a little early, but the reports are that everyone is doing just fine!

2014-11-05_0004 2014-11-05_0005 2014-11-05_0015 2014-11-05_0016 2014-11-05_0008 2014-11-05_0007 2014-11-05_0009 2014-11-05_0010 2014-11-05_0011 2014-11-05_0012 2014-11-05_0013 2014-11-05_0014 2014-11-05_0002 2014-11-05_0003 2014-11-05_0001

Chynna | Virginia Beach Portrait Photographer

When Elizabeth Henson and Just Dandy Events put together a styled wedding shoot, she thought ahead and asked Chynna to be a separate model, so the attendees had something to share and blog immediately. The styled shoot is going to be published in December! It was full of amazing details, a gorgeous bride and groom, fun details by Greenhouse Picker Sisters, and a picturesque venue at Country Villa Inn in Virginia Beach. I can’t wait to share it in January!

Having Chynna was so great, and what I found when I was working with her was I’m finally really starting to get comfortable with posing and directing from behind the camera. And when I got home and saw what I captured… I was in love! There was one photo in particular that I really love, and after I started looking at it and the others, I realized that I’m starting to see my style emerge more and more. I know that is a constant progression, and it will always be changing, but it is exciting to see it begin to develop into something consistent.

I found so much confidence working with Chynna and brought together so much of what I’ve been working hard learning over the last several months!

2014-11-03_0022 2014-11-03_0025
2014-11-03_0014 2014-11-03_0016 2014-11-03_0018 2014-11-03_0024 2014-11-03_0023 These next three are the ones that really scream my style to me! I love the 135 for portraits like this. I’m learning to love my wide 35, too, but I think I’m adapting to the 135, the compression, and still finding the background, too!2014-11-03_0020 This was taken with the 35, and I just love it! I’m trying to remember to slow down and try different things. Taking risks and trusting that I’ll find creativity is hard for me, but it’s so worth it when I do!2014-11-03_0021 And this. This is my favorite photo I’ve ever taken. I’ve struggled with the 135, the sun, and backlighting. It can turn the sun very orange and hazy and completely ruin an image. Which has happened to me more times than I want to admit! I was so excited to have found the sweet spot with the sun and the haze in this image. My goal this month is to find this spot more frequently and less haphazardly! Because this is the kind of image style that I want to represent me as I grow. 2014-11-03_0029

Travis and Amanda | Virginia Beach Wedding | Country Villa Inn

I was so excited when I got an inquiry to book this wedding, and I was even more excited when I happened to attend a styled wedding workshop the night before the wedding in the exact same location! Talk about fate! Amanda and Travis and their family and friends were so much fun to photograph and spend the day with. And the Country Villa Inn? Dreamy! Brides, if you’re looking for an intimate and gorgeous venue, Petie and her husband will definitely impress you! Enjoy all of the fall goodness that Amanda and Travis had at their wedding. Pumpkins and reds and oranges everywhere. And even though the day started out feeling less than fall like, by the late afternoon, the temperature dropped, and the storms that had threatened all day were nowhere in sight. The night became clear and crisp and was a great way to close out a beautiful day. Congratulations again!

2014-10-20_0003 2014-10-20_0004 2014-10-20_0005 2014-10-20_0006 2014-10-20_0007 2014-10-20_0008 2014-10-20_00092014-10-20_00152014-10-20_00162014-10-20_00172014-10-20_00182014-10-20_00192014-10-20_00202014-10-20_0021

Travis and Amanda had a first look! It was such a great moment for just the two of them!2014-10-20_00222014-10-20_00232014-10-20_00242014-10-20_00252014-10-20_0026One of my favorites ever! Bokeh heaven!2014-10-20_00272014-10-20_00292014-10-20_00302014-10-20_00282014-10-20_0031These girls were so much fun! I laughed so much taking their pictures!2014-10-20_00322014-10-20_00332014-10-20_00342014-10-20_00352014-10-20_00362014-10-20_00372014-10-20_00382014-10-20_00452014-10-20_00392014-10-20_00402014-10-20_00412014-10-20_00422014-10-20_00432014-10-20_0044

Seriously this is one of my favorites ever. Model faces much? Gah!2014-10-20_00462014-10-20_00472014-10-20_0048

Oh my gosh! They were both laughing at me because I kept saying “awesome!” and “perfect!” But seriously! Just gorgeous!!2014-10-20_00492014-10-20_00502014-10-20_00522014-10-20_00512014-10-20_00542014-10-20_00532014-10-20_00552014-10-20_00562014-10-20_00102014-10-20_00572014-10-20_00582014-10-20_00592014-10-20_00602014-10-20_00612014-10-20_00622014-10-20_0081

Pumpkins everywhere! They even double as a cooler! So cute!2014-10-20_00112014-10-20_00652014-10-20_00662014-10-20_00672014-10-20_00692014-10-20_00702014-10-20_00682014-10-20_00122014-10-20_00132014-10-20_00752014-10-20_00742014-10-20_00762014-10-20_00782014-10-20_00792014-10-20_00712014-10-20_00722014-10-20_00142014-10-20_00732014-10-20_00802014-10-20_0082

Vendor List

Venue: Country Villa Inn

Hair: Shear You Up

Cake: Nicole Vickers

Flowers: Marlene Events

Dress: David’s Bridal

A big, huge special thanks to my second second shooter Jeff from Calma Photography!