VOTE: 1 couple gets a FREE Rawsii Wedding Package!

Last year I had a defining moment when I realized that God didn’t just give me photography skills for fun (although I love it immensely). I began to see that I could use it as a way to show God’s love. God gave me this gift for a reason and I don’t want to use it just to make a living. It’s not an original idea to me, but I immediately fell in love with the idea of giving away a wedding package to a couple who really couldn’t afford good wedding photography but who totally deserved it. This is the first time I’ve done this so I wasn’t sure about the logistics of it all. What I DID know was that I wanted them to be nominated by someone who thought they were truly amazing; truly humble and deserving people won’t come out of the woodwork to toot their own horns. I also knew that I was not going to be able to choose on my own. So I thought I’d narrow it down to three and then let the results be determined by the number of people’s lives who were touched enough to get on here and vote for these couples. Ok, so that’s what I DID know. What I DIDN’T know was exactly WHO was going to be nominated and I didn’t know their incredible love stories and lives and how they give SO much to others. Thank you to everyone who nominated a couple…I truly enjoyed reading all the stories!! So many adorable couples in love…narrowing it down was not an easy task. But three stories did stand out above the rest and now…I’m seriously choked up about all three of these e awesome couples who I’m excited now to introduce to you. They’re ALL AMAZING and I will feel honored and humbled just to be able to be a part of any of their lives. I’m so glad that I do not have to be the one to pick because I literally COULD. NOT. So I’m asking you to grab a box of kleenex, read their stories, and vote, if you can! If you don’t know any of them, vote for the story that most touches your heart. The winning couple will be receiving a free wedding package from me worth over $5000.

NOTE: The voting tool is above this post (facebook readers, please go to www.rawsiiportfolio.blogspot.com), you can only vote once and please don’t change your vote! Voting will close on Saturday February 28th at 11:59pm. All results will be final regardless of your understanding of the instructions. Please do not email me with votes or leave them in the comments…they will not be counted.

Hey Christi,

The couple I would like to nominate is my sister, Mollie, and her fiance, Brendan. Mollie and Brendan have spent much of their adult careers taking care of other people. They met while Mollie was working as an EMT and Brendan was working as a Paramedic for an ambulance company here in Colorado. Much of their recent dating and engagement has been spent apart. Brendan has a dangerous job overseas and is only home for a few weeks between each six month period he is gone working. Mollie recently left a position at Flight-for-Life to work for another ambulance company closer to her home doing more office work than “street work.” Brendan is a strong, dedicated, quiet, hardworker. Mollie is a considerate, caring and funny individual. Together they make a perfect pair who complement each other beautifully. They both love their families and work hard to take care of others. Recently, our (mine and Mollie’s) parents have come upon some extreme financial hardship and so Mollie and Brendan are in a position that they will be taking care of the wedding costs themselves. “Winning” this contest would be a joy and blessing for them.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to nominate them!

Katie

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Christi,

I just heard about your free photography give away and I have the most deserving couple that I think could ever win! I have known Christle Sterling since we were kids in high school. She was always the happy go lucky girl and you could always count on her for anything you needed, especially a smile! This was in 2001. Christle started dating her high school sweetheart Brad during the summer between our junior year. They were the cutest couple! He loved supporting her as a cheerleader and they were always so fun to be around. Brad was a professional golfer and was a year older than us. He worked at the Pro Shop in Bowling Green Ohio and actually played in professional golf tournaments. We all looked forward to after high school when they would get married. In 2002, after graduation, Brad was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 20. We were all really shocked but over the next two years we saw what real love was. Most 19 year old college freshmen are partying and worrying about grades. Christle watched Brad struggle through chemo and radiation and was by his side every day. We saw her sacrifice to so much to take care of him, and the most amazing thing was that even though his looks changed from chemo and radiation she never looked at him any different. The love on her face was always the same for him. They were TRULY in love. In December of 2004 Brad lost his battle with cancer, and Christle lost half of her heart. He literally died in her arms that day and I never thought Christle would fall in love ever again like the love she had had with Brad. Shortly after that her mother also had cancer and she helped her mother get through that. She took most of her young college life helping take care of others. She always tried to make us believe that everything was ok, and she dated a few people casually, but we all knew she could never love anyone like she had with Brad. She started a memorial fund for Brad that helps kids who can not afford golf equipment. This memorial has become so great that they can now give out scholarships to kids who want to pursue a career in golf. Christle just loves sharing Brad’s passion for golf even though he can not do it himself.

NOW LET ME GET TO THE PART THATS THE BEST!!! Jan 2008 Christle met the most amazing person! His name is Aaron! From the beggining we could all see that this was different than the casual dating that Christle had had over the last 4 years. He was compassionate about her loss from the beggining and took things slow, but quickly won her heart! They are always laughing and you can see the love in thier eyes like we used to see so many years ago. Aaron even helps Christle with the fund that she set up and this last year they did a golf outting to raise even more money for kids!! We can truely see that even though losing Brad had to be hard for Christle, we could have never seen that God had such an amazing man waiting for her in her future! Aaron serves his country with the United States Army and Christle could not be prouder. His strength and gentleness are simply the best combination that we have ever seen as her friends. Aaron is a military police officer, who is now scheduled to deploy in May of 2010. They are getting married on October 9th of 2010 when he comes back from Iraq. Not only does Aaron protect and care for Christle, but also his country! They are both youth leaders for their local church now and love helping kids anyway they can. Christle is the most giving person, she is an EMT and a teacher for deaf children. I have seen the best in her life and the worst, and I think if anyone deserves this package it is her. With him being a soldier/officer and her being a teacher and EMT they do not make that much money and rarely spend the money on themselves anyway! They are ALWAYS helping someone else. This gift would mean so much to her! After loosing Brad we never thought she could really love anyone like that again, but Aaron is her true soul mate! Seeing your work I just know you could capture this kind of love that they share!

I [also] wanted to let you know how Aaron asked her to marry him. Christle’s parents have a great story about how they got engaged on a friday and Christle always thought it was romantic and funny. Well a friday came around and Aaron had designed an amazing ring for Christle. Each part of the ring has a meaning. The two sides come up and swoop past the main diamond. This is because Christle and Aaron throughtout their lives have always passed eachother. It seems like they always knew the same people and were often around at the same events, but never met officially until it was the perfect timing. He put the main princess cut diamond as a compass setting because he said “together with God as our compass we can always find our way”. This is not even the most amazing part! That friday he had a friend take her out to dinner and when she arrived back at her house and found 2 dozen roses with an ipod preloaded with music, a letter, and a clue for a scavenger hunt. He sent her to multiple places that were very special to them and it ended with him on bended knee with the ring he had designed just for her at the place where he first layed eyes on her! They are an abosolute amazing couple together and help so many in need.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it is long, lol, but the story is so long and so wonderful that I had to tell you all of it!

Sincerely,

Malorie

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I, Denise S., being of sound body and mind, (and the mother of the groom to be) would love to nominate Brock A. S. and Amanda D. V. for your Rawsii Wedding Package. They will be united in marriage on June 12, 2010 in Pella, Iowa.

They definitely deserve to win the package and I will state why they are the couple that should have Rawsii take their pictures. They met at college their freshman year, fell in love and have not been apart ever since. They would probably like to get married now but with the wishes of their parents to finish school first, they decided to wed the month after graduation. They have had to deal with a situation that is not desired by anyone, especially Amanda. She was diagnosed with a condition known as Arnold Chiari Malformation, which as short as I can get, her skull is too small for the contents, so she had headaches all the time. She then had brain surgery on Sept 13, 2007 to help relieve some of the pressure, they also cut some of the bottom of her skull off. They said it was a successful surgery, even though there is no cure for this. Thereare different things to try that she now does such as diet, & medication. We do pray for a miracle, and are thankful that she is better. Brock plays football for Central College and even that fall when she maybe didn’t feel like it she was at the games. Then recently, Jan. 11th, 2009 Amanda broke her ankle in three places and had to have surgery. She is on a six week recovery minimum. I told her to get all this out of the way before the wedding and married life.! Brock has been carrying her up stairs and really pampering her, as he should. My friends have asked, “How many coats has he ruined putting over the puddles?” Those times may have been rough but has pulled them closer together and they have gotten to see different sides of each other, that they are ok with for the rest of their lives. Not only are they in love but us parents are also in love with the person our children have chosen. This is the first marriage in each of our families. Who wouldn’t want to win this wedding package from Rawsii, but with this love and the challanges they were put through and yet to face, they deserve it. Wanted to tell you that within a week of getting engaged, down in Arkansas on vacation with her family (yes Brock went golfing with her father & asked for permission) Amanda had a binder filled with everything from pictures to little notes of what she has dreamed of in it. She said this is what every girl dreams of, her wedding day, picture perfect.

Thank You,

Denise

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A Post for the Middle of Winter

I don’t surf the web for these things…usually friends send them to me. And when they do, I have to give them a huge shout out on my blog for doin’ the leg work for me. I love a well done video clip. This one was forwarded to me by Eric from EB Photography. You can check out their work at www.ebphotography.com. But it was created by Zack Arias at www.zackarias.com. I think it’s a brilliant piece of work and I know that a lot of photographers and aspiring photographers read my blog, so I thought I’d share it. I think that quite a few of you will feel the message of this video to the core of your very soul. It sure cut right through me! I’ve been there! I wonder if maybe there’s a little part of ALL of us who can relate to this to some degree.

And a big thanks to those of you who are a warm bright spot in the midst of a cold winter…even though it’s off season and I enjoy the change of pace, by about this time of year I’m chompin at the bit to get back in the saddle. Looking forward to some upcoming photo shoots with some stoics who are not afraid of the cold that seems to have returned to laugh in our faces. We’re gonna rock it out anyways! YAH!

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Truly Madly Deeply

The year I graduated from high school (this dates me) Savage Garden released my favorite song of all time, Truly Madly Deeply. My bff Jennifer and I would lie on our backs in the little trailer parked in her parent’s driveway (my temporary summer home), play this song on permanent repeat, look at the stars and dream…we were (are) both dreamers. And hopeless romantics. We dream big and soar high. I was most definitely dreaming VERY big right about then…I had declared to everyone who would listen that I was going to marry a man that I was not even dating…who, in fact, had told me we COULDN’T date. If you want the whole truth, we were barely friends. Not to be dissuaded by minor setbacks, I was nearing stalker status. He was way out of my league…I don’t know where I got the notion that this would actually WORK, but I schemed and plotted every opportunity to spend time with him. I bolted across campus when I heard his car coming (YES, it’s true, I could distinguish the SOUND of his car!) to “bump into” him as he checked in at the guard station. I would forget my umbrella on rainy days knowing that he was SUCH a gentleman that he’d offer to walk me to my next class. I would sit on the end of the aisle and not let anyone sit on that side of me so that there’d be a seat there JUST IN CASE he happened to walk in late and need a quick spot to sit. I even somehow got his sister to convince him to invite me to a Valentine’s banquet, as “friends.” I remember that Valentine’s day like it was yesterday…I was on CLOUD TEN AND A HALF. For me, that was it. It was all over. I was ruined for all future potential relationships. If I couldn’t marry him, I wouldn’t marry ANYONE.

It’s been 10 years since that Valentine’s Day and now that crazy crush has a new name…marriage…but it doesn’t feel any different. James alters my whole world in ways that I didn’t know a single human being could. He’s still waaaay out of my league. He possesses qualities that have changed my perspective on life, the world around me, and given me insights on the love of God. Never before have I met someone so genuinely unselfish and giving of himself. I had never experienced love like that. When I realized that God’s love is exponentially more giving, I was blown away. I literally sit in awe and wonder of how God could create such an amazing person. And with such a high starting point, it blows my mind that God is a million times moreso himself.

Today I stand on a mountain with him, sometimes we bathe in the sea; but I still dream…and I will…until the sky falls down on me.

Here’s some pics from last night…Jadon couldn’t sleep so I made a deal with him…if he’d let me take some pictures I’d let him stay up a little later. 🙂 I think I got the better end of the deal.

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Confidence is Beautiful {Emblazon Salon}

Saturday night I had the pleasure of spending my evening at the Emblazon Salon 1-year Anniversary Party…it was a par-tay Mardi Gras style!! Of course I was excited because I got to see my latest fashion artwork hit the walls of the salon for the first time, but I was even MORE excited to celebrate this monumentous occasion with one of my closest friends. Jennifer has worked SO hard for this! Emblazon Salon is her dream, her baby, her work of art. She’s designed and schemed, poured sweat and tears into this labor of love, pulled together the most talented team of stylists I’ve ever seen, and wrapped it up in a purely unique and inspirational package. Saturday night we celebrated their first year in business and it was no surprise that the house was packed, the party was jumpin’, and everyone who was anyone was squeezin’ through that door to shake her hand and wish her the best.

Here are just a few of my favorite pictures from the Winter 2009 Emblazon Salon Collection. All styles, hair, and makeup are original Emblazaon Salon designs and all models are actual Emblazon Salon clients.

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Here’s a shot I took as soon as I arrived, while I could still see the walls!

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rawsii167.jpgKarol (stylist) and Lori (assistant)

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Alicia (one of our models)

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Introducing: the gorgeous girls of Emblazon Salon (L to R back: Lil Jen, Suzie, Karol, Michelle, Sarah, Lori, Rebecca, Center: Jennifer)

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Jennifer and I (taken by Bridget)

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Bridget and I (taken by James)

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A little self-portrait…

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Wedding Crashing

When some of your best friends are photographers, it’s no surprise that what you do on weekends for fun is crash each other’s weddings! It’s like a nerdy photog thing. This past weekend my good friend Andrew Conrad was shooting a wedding right around the corner from my house and he let Joe and I know that we were welcome to pop over any time and get some fun shots. Yep, he’s just THAT chill. And because it’s off season and we’re chompin at the bit to shoot weddings…and it was 55 degrees out in the middle of winter…we were all over that!

I was only around for a couple hours, but here are some of my favorite shots from the lovely wedding of Natalie and Christopher. Enjoy…

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My personal favorite!

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Here’s Conrad, gettin’ the shot (this shot is on his blog by the way and it’s super cute!)

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There’s always time for a jumping shot! 🙂 If you haven’t heard of jumpology, you’re missing out!

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Natalie had THE most amazing eyes. I noticed them glowing in this amazing natural light setting almost immediately and HAD to pull her aside for some quick shots.

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And here’s the lucky guy who noticed those eyes LONG ago! 😉 rawsii092.jpg

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Love this shot of the guys laughing…they were well over the legal limit of fun. 🙂

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This one begs for a caption. lol. You tell me!

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The girls were getting wardrobe-creative…

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The industrial chic environment at Club Noma ROCKS! I thoroughly enjoyed shooting there.rawsii161.jpg

Congratulations, Natalie and Chris! And thanks Andrew for lettin’ me hang out!

{Emblazon Salon} 1-year anniversary!

emblazon1009.jpgOn Saturday night, I’m gonna be hanging out at THE party…the only place worth being this Saturday night…come join us at Emblazon Salon! It’s a Mardi Gras party starting at 7pm with a DJ and appetizers. (Bring your own mask or they’ll provide one at the door). You’ll find us at 115 N. Main St, South Bend, just a couple doors south of Fiddler’s Hearth.

The party will also be the unveiling of my most recent fashion session…the entire{smashing fabulous} gallery on the walls is original Rawsii art and all models are actual Emblazon Salon clients…they rocked it out and I’m so excited about the pictures! Come check it out and wish Jennifer and the girls a Happy 1st year of being the HOTTEST salon in town!

Nolan: He’s 1!

Nolan’s my little BUDDY! I just love this kid! While I’m excited that he’s 1 now, I’m sad because it brings us to the end of our frequent photo play dates! It’s been fun watching him grow up! I knew Mom and Dad before he was born and I know how long they waited and prayed for him, so he’s an extra special blessing: he’s an answer to prayer! I think of that every time I see him! And his smile just lights up all of our lives. Here’s some pix from Nolan’s home-session…a great example of the new direction we’re going with baby sessions here at Rawsii!

Here’s Nolan welcoming me. I think he’s sayin’, “Hiiiii! Come on in! Wanna play???”

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I’m posting this a bit late…this was back around Christmas time! I could have gotten away with it except I had to go and have a favorite that involved a Christmas tree ornament! lol.

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Serious or smiling, this kid is adorable! I love capturing all kinds of expressions in a variety of places.

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nolan12_069.jpg I personally love this shot! I love to see kids in proportion to items in their home environment…this table for instance…if it stays in the family for a few more years, this picture will remind Mom and Dad of how Nolan could barely see over it when he was 1. And look at that great grin to boot!

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Ok, but THIS is the cream of the crop! He was CHEESIN’ by this time! And I loooove the hat! Sorry Vince, I think it’s awesome!

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With reactions like this, maybe I should go into stand-up comedy. I dunno.

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Mom started gettin’ him ready for nappy and got him down to his onesie…he was getting happier and happier with every layer that came off! I love this look! It says: FREEDOM!

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We pushed Nolan’s nap way past late, but he did awesome! He was still happy right up to the last second, playin’ peek-a-boo with his Mom and I. With giggles like this, I couldn’t help laughing…it’s contagious!

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But it was finally time for nap…time to settle down and sleep. Isn’t this a sad goodbye?? Awww…

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Happy 1-year, Nolan!!!

Chicken Soup for the Soul

There’s nothin’ quite as fun as unexpectedly running into an old bff! There really isn’t! It’s like hot chicken soup on a cold day or wrapping up in a big warm fuzzy blanket. It’s kinda like finding a $20 bill in your pocket. You just can’t get enough of those happy surprise moments in life! This afternoon I was tearing down my booth at the art show, awkwardly carrying my 32″ TV up the stairs when I heard a familiar voice coming from a few steps up. “What?!? Did I miss the whole thing?” When I looked up, I just about threw my TV over the railing and did a little happy dance! One of my BEST childhood friends stood there with the biggest cheesy grin on his face! He is seriously one of THE chillest, most loyal, down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet and I have lots of good memories of our little posse going on camping trips, ski trips, havin’ super bowl parties, playin’ pool, roller blading, biking, bein’ the rock, the shoulder, the light at the end of the tunnel for each other. Josh isn’t the only one…there was a whole group of us that comprised this tight knit group…but seeing him brought back so many great childhood memories for me. I feel like I just finished a great novel with happy ending or found that perfect-fit pair of jeans at a 50% off sale.

Or maybe all of those put together.

(Ladies, he’s single and loves long walks at sunset…he’s a catch but you have to get my stamp of approval first!)

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