Engaged and In Love {Chris and Jamie}

I’ve been dying to blog Chris and Jamie for awhile now but I’ve been so far behind on my blogging! I’m shooting faster than I can blog at the moment, which is a good problem to have.

Chris and Jamie have a unique trailing story that I’ve been excited to share because way back in the day Jamie’s life and mine crossed paths a bit. Back in high school Jamie and I attended the same school for one year. I was much more of a nerd than she was (imagine that!) so our paths crossed very rarely in a school of over 2000 students. But I knew who she was…come on now…look at her…EVERYONE knew who Jamie was!!! She just has this thing about her that makes her amazingly memorable and it’s not just outward beauty…it’s an aura of happiness and calmness.

Obviously Chris thought she was pretty memorable too!

See, Jamie and Chris met online way back when the internet had no reputation for being scary. False identities weren’t running rampant yet and chat rooms were just a cool way to instantly meet and talk to people…on the other side of the country, for instance. They became fast friends and the chat room novelty made the distance between the girl in Indiana and the boy in Alaska seem so very short. So short, in fact, that it seemed like nothing at all for Chris to decide he was just going to fly on over and meet her face to face. No big deal…what’s a little 3000 mile journey to stop him from meeting this girl of his dreams?

They met and enjoyed one another’s company, but friends they remained. Jamie was in a relationship. But Chris’ mind had been altered…his standard of measure had been raised. He didn’t know if he could settle for anything less than Jamie ever again.

Life and years passed. Jamie came to a place where her heart was broken and it was almost as if she went back in time to where she last felt secure and safe…she found her strength in Chris who had always been there for her, demanding nothing, waiting all those years. Not waiting anxiously or bitterly, just waiting for God to provide the glimpse of perfection he had seen in Jamie.

Now they are perfectly together. They are so solid together, so comfortable with each other, and so ridiculously gooood loooking. 😉 Without further ado, I give you, Chris and Jamie:

And Zoe. We can’t forget Zoe.

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This is the REAL Chris and Jamie…models by day, comedians by night…

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My personal favorite…I feel like this picture is from a forgotten dream I had once.

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A little illustration of what some skilled off-camera flash can do. Here’s the natural light rendition:

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And the off camera flash version:

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A blast from the past {State Theater}

When my friend Lester offered to let me shoot in his theater, I was excited, but I should have been WAY more excited than I was!! I had no idea what was there…I had no CLUE about the amazing interior of that old building! I walked in and spent a good 20 minutes with my jaw on the floor looking around at all the detail, the 5-story ceiling, the amazing textures, the architecture! WOW! You know how the scene from the Titanic took the old staircase from the ruins and then showed it in all it’s former glory…well, yah, that was what my mind was doing! It was incredible to think of all the stories and the events that the old dilapidated hall had seen!

Then, when I finally was able to snap back to the present, I went to work telling a few stories of my own. With pictures.

My assistant Bridget is not only very helpful, but stunningly beautiful as well and she so very kindly allowed me to turn her into a model for a day. We had SO much fun!

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This is probably my favorite image of the entire session. I think her choice of attire ended up being just perfect for this old building where my overactive imagination pictured girls in ballroom gowns and men in bow ties. In this picture I can almost imagine that the building isn’t old at all…it’s brand new.

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Big Little Guy! {Ayden}

Ayden’s about to move to a new home so documenting his life at his first home was was kind of sentimental. Someday he’ll look back at these pictures with no memory of this house but he’ll know what he looked like there. I love pictures that are both historical and artistic.

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This is one of my FAVORITES. It’s hard to get babies to turn in just the right light…often you have to sacrifice perfection in other areas to salvage the great moments that happen when babies crawl AWAY from the great light. But I managed to distract him in the right direction for this perfect shot. Love his eyes here!

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I love this…he looks like he’s going to launch right at me!

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Could he look any cuter? And littler? And yet he’s the big guy on campus…he doesn’t know he’s such a little guy!

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Adore this smile! 🙂

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The voice in my head picked up an accent.

About one year ago I attended an all day photography seminar in Detroit. It was scheduled to run from, I think, 9am to 9pm. The speaker was Australian photographer Jerry Ghionis, one of the top 10 photographers in the world. The day was jam packed with practical information and I couldn’t believe that this amazing world-famous photographer was not only giving away just about every secret we’d ever wanted to hear, but he was ENTERTAINING! I had never learned so much in just one day. At 9pm when it was time to wrap things up, Jerry (who had been talking to people during his breaks and had only had one meal all day) said he had more information to give us and “Should I keep going??” We all cheered and he continued on till amost 11pm! That single day changed my entire year.

But the week I spent studying with Jerry in Dallas this month changed my entire life.

From the moment we arrived till time to say goodbye, we felt like Jerry was there to give us every ounce of his attention, every answer to every question, and most of all, his friendship. He’s such a personable guy, we all felt completely comfortable with him. Of the five days, we spent two of them shooting with Jerry, watching him dissect a scene and dream up photo concepts. He personally reviewed our work, our businesses, and met with us one-on-one to answer questions. He started class earlier than planned and extended it later. After eating dinner together, we all wandered around and shot some more. It seemed the only limit to what he would give us was our need to sleep. Ours, not his!

I can’t begin to reiterate everything I learned…it’s overwhelming and so very very detailed! But that’s ok because I came home with a little voice in my head that says “Mum” instead of “Mom” and “fringe” instead of “bangs.” And somehow makes “staircase” sound like “steakhouse.”

After an overdose of instruction, we were set loose with our models to put it into practice. No pressure…the timer was set to 10 minutes and the SOTC photos would be reviewed in class the next day. Hmmm…no pressure at all. This was the shot I submitted. I was very happy with it and Jerry gave it a good review. Our lovely models did a fantastic job…Ben and Amy are actually photographers themselves and I really liked them a lot.

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Here are the other two shots that I took in my 10 minutes and I considered them but they didn’t make the cut. I love them BUT…I could only use one!

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When I came back from my 10 minute shoot, I shot over Jerry’s shoulder and caught these shots. These are all SOTC and some may be imperfect or cropped badly but I left them as is because they’re purely documentary anyways. We were all crammed in a small space and usually couldn’t choose our angles…I shot to help me remember what Jerry was saying while he was shooting on each of these sets.

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This is my own shot from day 2. Jerry gave it a rave review which put me on, oh, cloud 9.5.

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More shooting. The set…

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The shot…

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There are so many more pictures, but this is getting long already…I’ll move on.

One of the BEST parts of the week was my awesome roommate, Pam. We really connected and enjoyed many late night conversations. I know that God sent me to Dallas as much to meet Pam as He did to meet Jerry. I came home encouraged in my home life and my career…it was a fantastically balanced week. God also allowed me to make another wonderful friend on my flight home…again, I was so thankful for every single person I encountered.

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Here’s a shot of me taken by Mariae of Pink Posh Photography.

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And a shot of me and Mariae together. She is a VERY talented photog from Austin. I wish I had gotten pix with more people but we all had flights to catch and ran out of time. So many GREAT people, new friends, and fabulous talent!

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We went out on Thursday night to Jerry’s favorite kind of venue…a karaoke bar! He totally ROCKS…if he hadn’t been a wedding photographer, he’d have been a wedding singer! lol. But since the rest of us were less vocally inclined, he sat down for a couple rounds of Jenga between numbers. And that’s when we found out he does have a weakness…he flat out sucks at Jenga! HA! I guess you can’t win ’em all, right?

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Jerry’s groupies!

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Baby got Back…starring Pam, Mariae, Leslie, and Kelly

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Look at how happy Jerry was to see me! (vs. last time) 🙂 I didn’t have to photoshop it at all!

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I can’t say enough good things about Jerry’s assistant, Sally! She is SO sweet and hospitable, intuitively helpful, organized, and amazing. We all just fell in love with her and still enjoy keeping in touch every so often.

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All Smiles {Reese}

Little Reese is 6 months old and CUTE as a button! Look at this girly SMILE! She is definitely a happy child! Granted, the crazy performances Mom, Dad, and I put out were enough to make Oscar the Grouch giggle like Elmo, but HEY…look at the amazing results!

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I love this picture because the outfit Reese is wearing is an antique and has been in the family for generations. And the table she’s sitting on is a family heirloom as well! The layers…the combination of sentiment and Reese’s beautiful expression make this one of my top fav’s!!

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I saved the very best for last! I think this has got to be my favorite Reesey expression ever…you can see her new little teeth and her little happy look just makes me want to pick her up and kiss her little pudgy cheeks! She is SO beautiful!

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One year old {Micah}

One year sessions are some of my favorite, but they also mark the end of a whole YEAR of frequent visits with some of my favorite little people on the planet! So that makes them bittersweet. Micah’s 1 year photo session was no exception. But we had fun…he did a fantastic job of chillin’ and showing off his active and happy personality. LOVE this first shot beyond words!

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Then he decided to show off his birthday balloons…this is his “Are you comin’…there’s tons more back this way!” look…

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LOVE these balloon shots! Smiles like this can’t be faked!

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Micah has a great dad who loves to toss him around…

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…and teach him the important things in life like BASKETBALL! 🙂

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Outdoors was a little too exciting…I mean who can concentrate when there are awesome and amazing CARS driving by all the time? I know I can’t!

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YOU try being more interesting than a car! YAH, I DIDN’T THINK SO!

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I don’t remember what I did to finally get such a great smile in spite of the cars, but I’m quite certain their neighbors were all peeking out their windows and gossiping! 😉 hahaha

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Micah, I had a blast documenting your first year!! When you’re two, I hope we get to hang out again!

My Family

I’m skipping a few overdue posts to squeeze this in today. We had a great visit with my family this weekend and before Sunday dinner I pulled a couple of my siblings outside for some quick photos…

Here’s my little sis, R. She’s SO gorgeous, I just love taking pictures of her! That’s her natural hair color and I am SO jealous! I have people that work really hard to give me color that vibrant!

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And this is my little Rockstar bro, N and his girlfriend, R. Aren’t they adorable? LOVE the 2nd shot so much!!!

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Prairie House Massage

Every winter in Indiana is cold and let’s face it, a little depressing. We’re all scrambling for pick-me-ups to get us through to warmer weather. This winter it was providential that I stumbled across a little piece of indoor sunshine in the way of a super cool guy named Jeff. Jeff and I met at Art Beat. I was manning my booth and I turned around to see this tall intellectual looking guy peering at one of my pieces thoughtfully, arms crossed, one hand on his chin. I didn’t want to break his concentration so I left him alone for a bit, but after awhile I just had to know what he found SO intriguing about this particular picture! Turns out Jeff is the President of Bike Michiana Coalition and he was drawn to one of my all-time favorite images, a picture I took of a man and his son on a bike while in Romania last summer. The picture kind of subtly represents Jeff’s world…Jeff is a former Minister so the fact that the image was taken on a missions trip is appropriate. He’s promotes everyday bicycling and that’s clearly represented. The image has a strong artistic pull for the viewer because there’s a lot of unknowns and the hands in the image slightly resemble Michelangelo’s “God and Adam.” Lastly, Jeff is a highly trained and very talented Massage Therapist and I think it’s only appropriate that the man in the picture is bare-backed and ready for his 2pm massage! Ok, maybe I’m grasping at straws on that one, but hey! After studying the image for awhile longer, Jeff asked for my business card…and the rest is history. A large print of the image now proudly hangs in his office at Prairie House Massage in South Bend, giving his clients a deep and profound look at Jeff’s multi-faceted world and artistic taste.

When I went in to pay Jeff a visit and see my artwork on the wall, it just so happened to be one of the WORST weather days this winter. I could hardly see the car in front of me, the drifts were measured in feet not inches, and the wind was trying to blow my van off the road. I stumbled through the front door and up the steps, thawing and dripping as I went. But when I walked through the door of Prairie House Massage, it was as if rays of sunshine landed on my face and warmth enveloped me instantly! It was so warm and welcoming! It was “sit on the front porch with a cup o’ tea and chat in the sunshine” warm. In the midst of a very cold winter, it was especially welcoming and I knew that this place would be FUN to take pictures of! It has such a soul because of how much Jeff puts himself into everything he does.

You can bet that on really cold Winter days, and after shooting a long Summer wedding, and amidst stressful Fall deadlines, and probably just during Spring fever, you’ll find me filling up on R&R at Prairie House…it’s one of my new favorite places!

(for more information, visit www.prairiehousemassage.com)

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Jeff has expertise in medical massage including Oncology and Sports, among others.

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A new spin on a couple’s massage…Jeff will teach you how to give a better massage so you can take some knowledge home with you! I thought this was brilliant!

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The Contest Results

Well, as all of you have probably seen already, the 2010 Rawsii Wedding Photography Giveaway pulled in well over FOUR THOUSAND votes! It’s not fair at all to say that the contest pulled in those votes because all three of these couples were working their tails off to spread the news and rally support far and wide. I was hearing updates nearly every day that involved campus rallies and mass emails, support groups, canvasing, flyers, and phone calls. It was so fun to keep track of the whole production!!! I watched the map with all the little dots on it for hits around the country and in a few cases around the world. Aaron’s military connections brought in stories of platoons casting votes overseas in spite of massively slow internet connections. Amanda’s Chiari support groups rallied around her and spread the word far and wide as well. But I loved that in spite of all that widespread publicity, I could definitely see huge hot spots in Iowa and Ohio and Colorado. That just shows that all these couples were surrounded by communities who love them. For a long time it was a very close race, but in the end, Aaron and Christle surged ahead and took the contest by over 500 votes. Congrats you two!!! I’m so excited that I was touched by your amazing story and now I get to BE at your beautiful wedding! I get to be the storyteller that captures the moments for your children and grandchildren…it’s truly an honor!!

Aaron and Christle will be receiving 2-photographer Wedding Day coverage (that’s me + an assistant) along with a 20-side Storybook Album, a disk of all their images, an Engagement Session, a Guest Book Album, Keepsake Cards, and Online Proofing at no cost.

But that’s not all…

As the week progressed, I found myself becoming more and more saddened that two of these amazing couples were going to walk away from this contest having worked so hard for nothing. I mean, I chose each of them to be finalists because they deserved it. While it seemed like a grand idea at the time, I was beginning to see that they all deserved to win and even though I had avoided making the choice myself, I still didn’t like that it would end with walking away and saying goodbye. So I did what any red blooded person would do…

I came up with a 2nd and 3rd prize…I know, I couldn’t help myself!

Brock and Amanda will be receiving their wedding coverage for free and a complimentary disk of images and 50% off an album if they would like one. Brendan and Mollie will have their wedding covered by my good friend and business partner, Andrew Conrad of AG Conrad Studios. He has agreed to vacation travel with his lovely wife to Colorado for a few days to shoot their gorgeous wedding free of charge. He’s very talented and even mildly amusing so I know that they will have a GREAT time.

I feel blessed! I feel that God led me straight to these three couples for a reason and that I’m fulfilling my purpose in extending His love directly to them. I’m blessed to have friends like Andrew who also see giving not as an obligation but as a privilege and opportunity. I’m blessed to know all these amazing people and to see how many other people love them and are touched by their lives. I know each of these couples were encouraged by the mass outpouring of support as well!!!

I’m looking forward to giving away more weddings in the future. Watch my blog for details about 2011!

And because I can’t possibly post with out a picture, here’s a sneak peek shot from a recent engagement session that I’ll be blogging about in a few days…

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