James and Sarah are engaged…Mackinac Island

James and Sarah met when they were FIFTEEN! They were at a school dance and Sarah had just had her heart broken, when James waltzed in to save the day. He asked the crying Sarah if she was ok. Sarah SLAPPED him! HA! But James was not so easily dissuaded. Pretty soon they were dating, and the rest is history. But WAIT…that’s not the end! The proposal came about 15 years later, but James, the hopeless romantic did not disappoint! He arranged for a limo to pick Sarah up at the house and drive them up to Mackinac Island. All the way there, she opened hand-wrapped boxes with notes inside stating the reasons he loved her. When they arrived, he found the perfect spot with a view of the sunset and the Mackinac bridge, and he proposed. Mackinac has been a special place for this couple in so many ways, so it ONLY made sense that their engagement session would be there. When they asked me if I would go, I didn’t even miss a beat…UM, YAH! Overwhelming beauty surrounded us the entire weekend. I didn’t want to leave! It just so happened to be my birthday weekend as well, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the good eating, the touring, the good company of my wonderful husband and our new friends, the laughter, and of course, the AMAAZZING picture taking. I don’t even know how to narrow down my favorites. There are too many. If you really only want my VERY favorite, scroll the end and I DARE you not to get side tracked along the way. 🙂

One of my favorite scenic shots of the weekend.

LOVE Sarah’s look in this one.

Sarah is going to be such a gorgeous bride in October!

Can’t you just see them as 15 year olds, kissin’ over the fence instead of doing their homework!

We got SEVERAL awesome shots at this spot!! And it’s a good thing because I was all like, “oooh, oooh, go sit under those trees!” and James and Sarah, being the very willing subjects that they were, plopped down immediately under the trees…that turned out to be dropping red berries all over the ground!!! James’ white pants really weren’t very white anymore. But it was SO worth it!

There’s an over abundance of cute gates and fences and doors on the island…yummy!

This is just exactly where James proposed…
And this is just exactly what Sarah said in response…

This was one of my favorite spots for lighting…Mmmm.

And this one just makes me SMILE so big! I LOOOVE it more than chocolate.

This picture of them looking at the bridge is probably one of the most sentimental pictures we took this weekend.

We had dinner in this cute little diner. I don’t remember why I started playing with my camera while we waited for our meal, it was part of a conversation we were having, but this adorable picture came out of it…I was like WOAH…COOOL!

Playing with my new video lights with the bridge in the background. NOT easy, people, let me tell ya! We dodged midnight sprinklers to get there, fumbled with the tripod, my husband held the light behind them, and all of us had to hold still for this long exposure. But WAIT…my log exposure stories don’t end there…

This shot just proves what absolute TROOPERS these guys are. It was almost midnight and we found the pitchest blackest spot we could find. They had to hold as still as they could for 10 seconds for this shot. But I LOVE how the stars shine! It’s incredible!

If you hire me to be your photographer, you better be pretty trusting. I ask you to do some pretty crazy things. It’s one thing to see it in pictures, it’s a whole nother thing to be laying in a chained off hillside of flowers with spectators walking up oogling at you. James and Sarah rocked it out…they look as relaxed as if they were the only two people on earth!

James rented all of us some bikes and we took quite a trek around the island. Probably my favorite part of the trip…just feeling the wind in my face and seeing the water, hearing the birds! Wow. We stopped along the way for MANY great shots.

A new found talent of mine: taking pictures while bike riding! Check it out!

She’s stopped slapping him, but Sarah still plays hard to get!

James is a bit of a photographer himself, so he had some cool ideas! I just LOVE it when my customers have ideas too! I set them up for a slightly different shot, but ended up liking his take on it even better than my idea!

The Grand Hotel in the background.

Ok, I saved the best for last. That’s debatable, I guess, cuz I really love the starry sky picture a lot. But this was the last shot of the day and I am pretty excited about it!

If you made it this far, you’re a true fan! I really don’t understand how some photographers can post just ONE picture in their blog to represent an entire event. There’s so much more to the story! If you’re on a photographers blog, obviously you like pictures, so more is better, right? Cash in…vote now…leave a comment and let me know what you think…long blog posts or short ones?

Uptown Design Studio

You may remember this amazing bff of mine, Rebecca, who I’ve blogged about in the past. They are adopting this amazing little Chinese boy named Owen. Above is a picture of the first time he saw a photo of his new Mommy and Daddy (cropped for privacy, I wish you could see his SWEET little face!!). I had the privilege of taking that photo of Rebecca and her husband…what an honor to be involved in Owen’s first introduction to his parents! Since then, this family has been waiting about 6 months to be united, but are hoping to be enroute to China this Fall!!! I can’t WAIT! I’m so excited!!!

Rebecca has crazy mad design skills of all kinds! Interior, exterior, all things paper, plastic, party, and pottery. She’s always been the first one I call when I’m going to redecorate a room in my house. She makes putting stylish stuff together look SO easy. Her latest creative outlet is blog design (watch mine…coming soon! It’s going to ROCK!). While she’s been doing this for awhile, she’s just gone through some fresh rebranding and expanding to open her new business, Uptown Design Studio. The expansion effort inolves offering a wide range of personal blog styles, but also professional sites, Etsy shop banners and custom announcements. It’s so super chic…and for a GREAT cause: all proceeds go to raising funds for their trip to China. Of course, I’d tell you all anyways cuz she’s been my GIRL since I was six years old! But as an added bonus, she’s having a sweet little giveaway on her blog. Check it out here!

More picture posts coming soon…I’m working on AMAAAAAAZING pictures from my weekend in Mackinac Island with James and Sarah!! Also, post-wedding pictures of Kenneth and Jessica on the beach, brothers Micah and Eli’s studio session, brand new baby Reese in the hospital, and 2 year old Jack’s fun in the park! I’m rockin’ it out over here so check back often!

Kissin’ Cousins

I don’t have little girls of my own…I have two sons, 6 brothers, and a husband…only one little sister who was born after I moved out of the house. So I find it EXTRA fun when I have cute little girls in adorable sun dresses coming in for pictures! These two were such willing models with perfect smiles!

Cousin Jack is the only boy so far, so he gets a lot of attention. This ended up being one of my FAVORITE pictures of the day!

There is a more picture perfect version of this, but I’m in love with little Sophia’s expression on the end. She’s giving her cousin such a funny look! It makes me laugh every time I see it!

Again, there’s nothing like a good laughing picture to cheer the heart! A group of children sitting perfectly still looking at the camera is so unrealistic! Highly sought after, but seldom achieved! lol. Personally, I crave these personality shots that tell you what happy, interactive children look like.

The hard earned “all eyes on me” picture!! yay! Miracles do happen!

Micah is 6 months old!

Little Micah is SMILEY! He comes in my studio smiling and he leaves smiling…and smiles the whole time in between! And his smile lights up his whole face! I was really excited when Micah and his Mommy walked in with a red blanket this time…my favorite color is red! Their favorite color is red too and the use it a lot in their decor! And red really fits Micah’s personality and happy smile, so I did a little happy dance (in my head) as the stars aligned in my favor and then we shot these super cool pictures:
Doesn’t this one look like he’s shooting a self portrait with a camera phone? LOL…6 months going on 16!

Austin & Julia are Engaged!

Austin is one of my husband James’ good friends…they’d been buddies for years and we’ve just grown to love him so much. He’s one of those all around GOOD guys that are few and far between. We were excited to hear that he was dating this really adorable girl, Julia, but hadn’t met her yet. Austin seemed so happy though, so we were really happy for him. Then they got engaged and of course, I got the picture call. I was so excited that I finally got to meet Julia, and even MORE excited that they turned out to be such a perfect fit for each other! Just as smart, stable, and sensitive as Austin is, Julia is his smart, stable, sensitive counterpart. The kind of couple that once you see them together, you just feel like they always have been. For their engagement session, we did sessions in Shipshewana and Bonnyville Mill, where they spent a lot of time while they were dating. Check out how much fun this was:

Basketball was really no contest. Julia had SKILLS! lol

This picture makes me smile! I love it!

LOVE the antique feel with the vintage Americana sign in the background!

Bridget caught these two shots! Great angles and use of surroundings!

Julia has the coolest crystal blue eyes…

When on location with me, you can almost BET if there’s water, I’ll be finding some way to get you IN it. 🙂 These guys were almost as excited as I was about this shot…ALMOST.

This is one of my fav’s. Drama. Intensity. All the good elements of a love story.

The trees ALMOST make a heart for them. See it?


Congrats, you two! I’m sorry I can’t do your wedding, but you’re all warmed up for some great fun shots on your wedding day!

Isabella’s 9 Month Pictures

Isabella’s one of those babies who makes ME look good…no one could catch a bad shot of her if they tried! She’s just such a smiley, cooperative, adorable, patient, happy-go-lucky little girl…what’s not to love??? We set out to the park for her 9 month pictures on a bright sunny day, looking for some open shade in a park with few trees. I was surprised at how a LITTLE girl could make some tiny spots look so BIG! One small park ended up looking like a 5-location session! How cool is that?

Matt & Toni are Mr. & Mrs.!!!

Last Saturday I was grinning from ear to ear at Matt and Toni’s wedding. Why? Because Matt and Toni were! And when you’re around such glowing happiness, you just can’t help but be happy too! These two are SO in love, and so adorable about it. Here’s some of the awesome shots we captured from their perfectly romantic day:

Check out their AWESOME choreographed dance. Dancing with the Stars has NOTHING on these two…

My favorite shot of the evening…the dramatic dip and awesome lighting.

Congratulations, Matt & Toni! See you in a few weeks!

Star Struck — DJ & J* Rockin it in Chi town!

Today as I recapped my day-trip to Chicago to my bff Jennifer, I had a fleeting moment when I realized I sounded JUST like a 13-year old girl who just seen Hannah Montana live in concert. Jennifer’s laughter coming through my phone really helped bring that moment home. But I really didn’t care. It was my time, my moment. I was never like that at 13. I’ve never been like that EVER. Never have I thought so much of a public figure that I would do silly or ridiculous things to get their attention or follow their career or attend live performances. In fact, I really REALLY found it irritating when other people did. Celebrity-schmebrity…THEY’RE JUST PEOPLE, right?

Well, all that changed when I discovered J*. And yesterday J* and David Jay were in Chicago on their Free to Succeed tour. My friends Erin, Leah and I decided that if we were going to go all that way and pay all that money, we wanted the GOOD seats. If Jasmine spit when she talked, we wanted to feel the spray. And we thought if WE were this crazy, SURELY there must be other crazed fans who would be too, so we should get there PLENTY early! It started at 6pm, we arrived at the Sheridan parking lot at 2:30. We saw the F2S tour bus, gawked like giddy fans, talked about getting our picture in front of it…and then we saw them. No, not DJ and J*. We saw our nemesis, the OTHER early photographers. There were about 12 of them and they had been oogling the bus too. They were already out of their cars and headed for the front doors…THIS WAS NOT COOL!!! I grabbed my purse and my shootsac, yelling back for the other girls to bring my camera from the back seat (yes, I parted with my camera…this should tell you something about my mental capacity at that moment) and I nonchalantly SPEED WALKED into the front lobby. I didn’t know where I was headed, so I stopped to ask the receptionist where F2S was meeting. I knew she was going to try to have this conversation with me about why I was looking for it so early, so I said, “Where is the photography seminar that starts at 6pm…I know, I know, I’m WAY early.” The herd of photographers was closing in on me. She pulled out a list in slow motion, but I caught the room number and I bolted. I arrived at the end of the hallway only to find two men already sitting in chairs by the door, with their laptops out. They didn’t acknowledge me, so I pulled out my spyglass…NO cameras! hmmm. Looking a little sheepish, I said, “Are you here for the photography seminar?” They said “Uh, no?” I looked behind me. The mob of photographers was nowhere to be seen. Hmmm. I pulled up a chair close to the door thinking they’d be around the corner any minute. Hmmm. No mob. They must have lost all hope when they perceived my speediness. 😉 A few more minutes passed. Hmmm. Right door? Yep. Looked inside…no other doors from the other side? Nope. I suppose it was about then that I realized I was 13 going on 30. But like I said, I didn’t really care. 🙂

Erin and Leah arrived. We staked out our chairs in the front row and worried about whether our little notebook reservation signs would be honored or tossed aside in the J* mayhem that we KNEW would ensue. While we stood laughing at ourselves, realizing how ridiculously silly we would look to anyone who witnessed what we’d just been through, a couple of guys walked in. I thought, FINALLY HERE come the 2nd place consolation prize winners for their SECOND rate seats. We asked them if they were here for the F2S tour and they said, “Actually, we’re WITH the F2S tour.” We’re all thinking, OOOoooooooh, AWESOME…ROADIES!!!! But WAIT, it gets even BETTER! While we’re complimenting their tour t-shirts, grilling them about life on the road, and trying to convince them that early birds deserve free worms, one of these guys, Todd, confesses (and he really was humble about it) that he was David Jay’s business partner and childhood best friend. And he offered to show us the bus and meet DJ and give us free t-shirts (can we say that now? We were told to hide them, but I think we’re in the clear now). No one else got t-shirts…they aren’t even selling them. We were uber cool chics right about then. We felt a little bad when we met DJ on the bus in his pajamas. But it was SOOOO cool, cuz he’s just a really down to earth guy. We asked for pictures in front of the tour bus and ran off giggling like school girls. That was SO worth being 3 1/2 hours early! Meeting J* beforehand would have been the ultimate payoff, but that’s alright. I got pictures with her later.

The information they gave out was really inspirational. While I HAVE to admit, there is just a little tiny part of me that gets indignant when people CHARGE me a sizable chunk of money to have me sit and listen to 30-40 minutes about a product they’re selling…I also have to admit, I REALLY wanted to hear about it. And I wasn’t disappointed. Show-it is pretty cool. I’m tempted. It looked easy, well thought out, and efficient. The biggest thing I took away though was, appropriately for me, Jasmine’s part of the presentation. She talked about branding and figuring out who you are. I came home with all these ideas! The thing that I love about J* is she doesn’t hand out ideas, she inspires you to see them. Seeing what she does just by being herself makes me realize my potential and dream big.

So, I’m home, and I’m tired (we got in SUPER late after getting a flat tire on the freeway in Chicago, a whole nother story in and of itself), but I’m inspired and above all, DETERMINED!

And I should mention, we didn’t get a picture with DJ cuz he was just swarmed afterwards, but we DID get our picture with Todd, cuz he’s our own personal celebrity. We love you Todd!

Paul & Jill: 10th Anniversary

Paul and Jill are our friends, but Paul is also our assistant Pastor at church. So when Jill asked if I would do some really fun 10th anniversary pictures for them, I was waffling between “Oooooo, THAT sounds like SOOO much FUUN!” and “Hmmmm, I wonder what it’s like asking a Pastor and his wife to make out in public??” LOL. Well, guess what? NOT a problem!

These pictures are SO awesome to me. I see NEW love all the time. Engagement sessions and weddings and tiny little babies. New love is fun and wild and crazy. But being married for 10 years can be JUST as amazing. All of you wedding customers of mine, sigh a deep sigh of happiness and contentment and picture yourselves in 10 years: happy, infatuated, completely in love. It might look something like this:

Ryleigh’s Newborn Pictures

Little Ryleigh is the brand new baby of Chad and Richelle, a couple whose wedding I had the privilege to photograph only a year and a half ago! Chad and Richelle are an amazing, dynamic couple to work with and I immediately fell in love with their entire family! Now, there’s a whole new family member to love! Ryleigh follows right in the footsteps of her parents…photogenic, cooperative, fun, entertaining…simply perfect in every way! I couldn’t get enough of her! I was holding her and enjoying all the cuddling when I realized, “MOST babies don’t sleep long, we better get shooting!” However, Ryleigh broke a record for me. I have NEVER had an infant session go SO quickly and have absolutely NO messes. No surprises, no leaks, no pukes, no “WOOPS!” moments, no nothing! Incredible. She was SO relaxed and so sleepy, we got right to it and were snapping perfect shots in the first 30 seconds. Unheard of in the world of baby portraits! Here’s two of the first few pictures we caught. I can’t pick between them, so you get to see them both. 🙂

Now, if you’ve been in here with your infant recently, you are probably recognizing this next one! I’ve been attempting to get this shot for who knows how long now! I was so excited to have my first true success. Let me tell ya, this is NOT an easy shot to catch. I won’t bore you with the obstacles, just suffice it to say, I’m pretty excited to have finally gotten it! Thanks to all you mama’s out there who offered me numerous attempts with your little ones! YOU know what all the obstacles were! LOL!

SO peaceful!

Ryleigh’s lovely Mama! Richelle is such a calm and collected Mom. Maybe that’s why Ryleigh sleeps sooooo soundly…she senses everything is under control.

Congrats, Chad and Richelle! Ryleigh is beautiful! I’m so glad I don’t have to wait a FULL three months to see her again!