May 11, 2019 Garden Wedding at Ijams Nature Center | Knoxville, TN

Getting to go home, photograph a wedding for someone I’ve known through running for a decade, sing every verse of “Rocky Top” and capture the pure joy of two people and their families coming together to celebrate love, was everything I needed. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who came together amidst stressful circumstances to pull off an absolutely gorgeous wedding last weekend!

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Travel Albums: Manhattan, NY Vacation Photos

For a decade or so, every year for Christmas I gave my dad a scrapbook of that cross country season’s shenanigans. When he retired from coaching, I worried that I’d have to find a new Christmas project, but realized I could do almost the same thing, just with our travels instead! I had to wait until March this year to give him his present since we had to postpone our annual trip until February, but I’ve always been the master of spreading out holidays.

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Travel Prints: Manhattan Film Photography

The only place I’ve photographed more than my hometown of Asheville is New York City. In the past year, after 3 trips, I’ve shot somewhere close to 15 rolls of film in Manhattan alone, which has given me the chance to practice my street photography in the city which birthed the genre.

There’s not much I can say in the way of describing each location that I haven’t said already, so instead I’ll share my aim for each type of film and why I chose to use it at that time. This is, by far, my favorite set of travel photos to date because I was finally comfortable photographing people at close range, so I captured a wide mix of photos of people going about their day, environmental portraits showing people interacting with the city background, and architectural shots.

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Amber + Chris's Elopement at the St. Jude's Chapel of Hope in Asheville, NC

Susan Marlan of Beloved Ceremony officiated the simple ceremony, and because this was a “true elopement” I also got to serve as a witness. Just after the bride and groom exchanged rings, and just before their first kiss, Chris leaned forward and rested his forehead against Amber’s, where they simply stood breathing each other in for a few moments. It’s these moments, the quiet and intimate scenes, that impact me the most - both as a photographer capturing the emotions before me and a human who feels everything deeply.

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Parent Photo Albums || Nicole + Chris's Highland Brewing Company Wedding in Asheville, NC

I loved giving people gifts. I love even more getting to make said gifts. From age 5 onward, whenever I could, I handmade all family Christmas gifts, starting as early as June to ensure that everyone’s was completed on time.

So, to be able to incorporate gift giving into my business has been a real pleasure. My favorite product that I started offering last year was a parent album, a smaller version of each couple’s photo album showcasing almost exclusively the images that the couple, the parents and siblings are in. This way, each parent gets their own commemorative album tailored to them, highlighting the moments that they were a part of.

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Maya's Old Town Alexandria, VA Portrait Session

The excellent thing about candid portraiture, particularly that which seeks to capture each subject simply as they are, is that it doesn’t require experienced models. In fact, for me, one of the greatest pleasures of running a photography business has been getting to create someone’s first ever portrait session, to give someone the gift of confidence through looking at photos of themselves that capture their essence in a beautiful way.

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Engagement Photo Album || Tara + Q's Zillicoah Beer Company + Beaver Lake Engagement Session

They loved so many of the photos that rather than try to narrow it down further, we decided to include near-duplicates (or at least photos in very similar poses/moments) which made for an interesting design challenge combining quite a few photos into one spread. I love the cinematic quality to their album because of this - as if each photo sequence is its own storyboard for a scene in their romantic flick.

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Ireland Day 1 (and Only): Leave it to the Universe

We didn’t talk much on our walk. The single track trail commands visitors’ silence both because of the treacherous footing and the single-file necessity. This seemed nature’s design as I became much more aware of my surroundings as I simultaneously became lost in my own daydreams. Something about Ireland (and Scotland, too) send my already active imagination into fantasy hyperdrive.

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Photo Album || Keya + Eric's Engagement + Elopement Weekend

My goal was to make the two separate photoshoots blend together into one cohesive story about their lovely weekend, although we only spend about 5 hours total with them. As we ended our engagement shoot (see the full post here) with the most beautiful summer sunset leaving our couple in awe, I decided to set the scene with this opening photo of our Blue Ridge Mountains bathed in color. Photos-wise, from there I moved forward chronologically, ending our first day’s image showing Keya and Eric walking into the distance, alluding to their walk towards their future as husband and wife.

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Spain Day 3: New Horizons

To me, the idea wasn’t complete without a little “danger” so my plan was to throw off my dress as I was running towards the water and sprint in just in my underwear. Mind you, the water was probably only 50 degrees and there were still people walking at either end of the beach as well as along the boardwalk. But it was dark, I didn’t know anyone else there, and I was ready to practice being bold. So, I took a deep breath, tossed my dress to Erin and dove under the waves. I came up breathless, shocked from the cold even though I knew it was coming. I ran back in, ready to get warm. But somehow, I still wasn’t satisfied. I hadn’t fully reveled in the feelings of discomfort and uncertainty. So, I ran back in and this time held my breath under water for a few seconds, coming up to stand in the waist deep waves while I gazed into the vast, dark expanse.

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Photo Album || Dee + Sam's Botanical Gardens Anniversary Session

The 5th anniversary gift is typically wood, so we spent Dee and Sam’s anniversary accordingly - hanging out in the woods! Dee and Sam had already planned a weekend getaway to Asheville. So, to help celebrate their beautiful milestone, Dee’s sister arranged a couple’s photoshoot with me so that they could commemorate their weekend. As we were in the middle of June, we chose the Botanical Gardens of Asheville as our backdrop to make use of the bounty of greenery highlighted by a brilliant sunny evening.

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Spain Day 2: The Road to San Sebastian

Over the last year or so that I’ve dedicated my film practice to improving my street photography, I’ve had to work a lot on my shyness. Sometimes, I’ll see the perfect shot yet will be too nervous of what this stranger will think of me capturing the moment: will they be uncomfortable with the invasion of privacy, will they get mad, will they say something to me? No one has ever actually approached me so, as of yet, these fears are unfounded. In fact, one of my very favorite photographic moments from the day came about as we walked through the quiet, cobbled streets of Parte Vieja (Old Town.) At the other end of the alley we were walking through, I saw a group of men congregating, which always immediately sets me on my guard. However, when we got close and they saw my camera, they grinned and made a clicking motion while pointing to themselves. They must have heard us speaking English because they didn’t try to make conversation, yet “can you take our photo?” seems to be universally understood. Looking back, I wish I’d taken even more photos of them, perhaps a close-up portrait of each, but I’m still happy with the experience which will hopefully embolden me further.

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Wedding Photo Album || Katie + Mario's Raspberry Plain Manor Wedding

I love Katie and Mario’s approach to their album: while we had over 1,000 photos to choose from they managed to narrow it all the way down to 100 (an impressive feat!) so that they could have as many large full-spread images as possible. They wanted to keep it simple, to let the emotional photos to speak for themselves, so we kept the text to a minimum as well, only including one Bible verse layered perfectly over a silhouette I made during their ceremony. I certainly keep the album in mind while photographing each wedding (in fact, I specifically shoot with the flower & layout of each album in my head) but sometimes things work out even better than I’d planned. Being able to pair the quotation “this is a profound mystery” with a silhouette is one of those moments!

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Boho Chic Styled Elopement at Ridgeview Venue || Asheville, NC

One of the reasons I love participating in styled shoots is getting to see the amazing creativity that comes out of vendors directly working together to create a concept. For instance, not only did Emmaleigh help me to style the provided attire for detail shots, but she even brought in her own crystals and antiques to add character and depth to the photos!

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Santander, Spain Day 1: Going with the Flow

We didn’t plan too much for this trip. We knew we wanted to have one day to just bum around Santander, one day to see the sunrise and enjoy a beach picnic, and one day trip to somewhere else close by. As it was pouring rain on our first morning there, we decided to take the cue from the weather and enjoy a quiet first day. In planning, Erin was in charge of the activities and I the restaurants, particularly as I spoke the better Spanish of the two of us. When I ordered our breakfast, I hadn’t quite plucked up the courage to engage in a full on Spanish conversation, so I was feeling a little embarrassed about my speaking skills as we waited for our food. But just at that moment, a small, scarf-clad and white haired woman walked by our table, said something to us conspiratorially, winked, and walked out the door. After that, I knew that the act of at least trying to speak the language might make up for my errors.

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Sultry Black and Gold Styled Wedding || Asheville Social Hall

Melissa of Cakes by Gray reached out to me to photograph a new cake flavor for her - grapefruit and black pepper (it was delicious!) - as we decided that instead of simply sticking with the original in-studio photos that we’d first planned, we would also put together a little styled shoot. Why not, right? To coordinate with the sensual flavors, Melissa created this stunning black pastry masterpiece accented with gold and thus we had our theme. Design inspiration can come from anywhere, even the wedding cake. To round out our design team, Melissa brought in vendors all local to Asheville to help us create this moody styled elopement in the brand new Asheville Social Hall Space.

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Phoenix, Arizona: Friends All Around the World

I spent the majority of my second day in Arizona hanging out with amazing women. That’s really my biggest takeaway from this trip - just how many incredible women there are out there and how lucky I am to be building my own community of them all across the country. Particularly as all of these women are themselves traveling around the world, creating our own global tribe.

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Wedding Photo Album || Nicole + Chris's Highland Brewing Company Wedding

By far, my favorite part of creating Nicole and Chris’s heirloom album was interweaving each line of their vows throughout the book. Design-wise, adding text to a photo album presents its own challenges; namely, how to make it readable without distracting from the photos. I shoot each wedding with the album in mind, using compositional elements like leading lines or shallow depth of field to create negative space perfect for overlaying words. Typically, if I’m adding just a few verses or quotations in an album, I can choose which already-designed (by me, in a different program) pages to pair the text with based on the blurb’s shaping. With Nicole and Chris’s I needed to keep their vows in the order they wrote them, and somehow as I was creating the photo layouts for each page, the text seemingly just fit right in perfectly. A reflection of how easily Nicole and Chris work together as well, I think.

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