I hear the click of the camera. It’s not me. I’m not pressing the shutter. I’ve heard the clicks all morning and it feels so strange. This is the most important day of my daughter’s life and I’m not photographing her. It feels so wrong yet, paradoxically, it feels completely right. I chose to disengage so I could completely engage.
I chose to be present.
On this day, I use my God given lenses to drink in every moment – my eyes. My eyes drink it all in and my heart creates its own slideshow that I will replay until the day I die.
My fingers are not on the shutter….they are buttoning her gown and putting on her veil. They are embracing my firstborn, holding her close remembering the day I heard, “It’s a girl!” A girl. I cried for joy over my beautiful baby. Now, I cry again…still tears of pure joy. She has grown into a beautiful woman I am ridiculously proud of. She has found the love of her life and I know he will love her until his last breath. Yes, joy. Joy tinged with sadness that the years that once seemed so long suddenly became too short.
Years becoming short is the reason we must choose to be present. It’s so easy to be consumed by technology and numerous distractions. Even the joy of photographing our families can actually cause us to miss out on moments. Sadly, that very joy of documenting every moment often means we aren’t even in the photos our kids will one day look at. “Where is Mom?”
Well, on this day, I chose to be “Mom”. That’s all my daughter wanted and needed. If I’d had a camera in hand, so many beautiful photographs of me experiencing the moment would have never happened. I’m in the picture. I’m present.
I challenge you to be present in your own life. Turn off the phone/TV. Put the camera down.
Just live. Just be.
Disengage to engage.
It’s the best gift you can give to your family, one they will unpack for the rest of their lives from a box labeled “Memory”.
Hair & Makeup for me: Face Forward
Bride’s Hair: Erin Doak
Bride’s Makeup: Face Forward
This last week of 2017 did not go as planned. I became sick with a horrible cold/mild flu. Thankfully, I’m starting to feel better. So, as I sit here, warm and cozy on my couch while the temperatures drop, I want to share a session that has my heart: my 2017 Beauty Revived Senior Session.
Each year, I ask all of you to nominate a deserving senior who is making an impact on the community around them and/or is facing or has overcome incredible obstacles in their life. This senior wins a free Beauty Revived senior session with professional hair and makeup! I’m always excited to read the nominations showcasing the many incredible young people in Alamance County.
This year, a young lady in our midst was nominated twice! As I read about her, I knew she was my Beauty Revived Senior for 2017. Kelsey is fun, witty, and full of personality. I so enjoyed getting to know her and her family.
Beauty Revived Nomination One:
“Kelsey is an amazing girl! She is always willing to jump in and help anyone, anytime. She adores children of all ages and enjoys teaching them and sharing with them! Kelsey is also very passionate about YoungLife & WyldLife and sharing her faith with others.
In September of 2015, very early in the volleyball season, Kelsey was playing and went for the ball that ended in her tearing her ACL and meniscus. She was devastated and it was a very painful experience. In October, she had surgery and the healing process began. It was a very long and trying time, but she persevered through. Kelsey continues to play volleyball and be on the team even though her playing time is reduced due to continued pain in her knee. However, she is the biggest cheerleader for her team and is always there for them! Kelsey took a painful experience and uses it now as a testimony of perseverance and that everyone has a purpose no matter what they are doing!”
Beauty Revived Nomination Two:
“I had the pleasure of having Kelsey volunteer each day in my classroom last year for an hour a day. I can’t begin to say how extradinary this young lady is. Her kindness and patience working with my first graders was so admirable. She went above and beyond what one may expect a high schooler to do in a classroom. Kelsey made it her mission to not only help children grow academically, but also provide love and support to those students that just needed a little extra attention. Getting to know her better, I came to realize that Kelsey exhibits these qualities in every aspect of her life. She is one of the most dedicated, caring young ladies I have ever met. She is such an inspiration and will do wonderful things as a contributing member to society. I nominate Kelsey with hopes of her receiving something special as a thanks for always making others feel special and loved. She would truly appreciate this opportunity and deserves to be celebrated and made to feel as special as the lives she touches on a daily basis.”
Hair & Make Up by the talented Adrienne Coggins of The Loft Styling Studio
The end of a year always always brings with it reflection on the year(s) past. At least, it should. It seems lately the month of December drowns me in activity and it’s all I can do to just survive, much less reflect.
So, I carve out time. I must. Time to be still.
I’m carving out space right now. In between photographing Nutcracker rehearsals with Burlington Dance, I find myself at The Blend, sipping coffee and enjoying a smoothie bowl. A little down time. A little me time. A little time away from all the distractions at home. There’s always something that needs doing. Photos need editing. house needs cleaning, Christmas cookies need baking, and dinner needs cooking. And me? I “needs” a maid. Any volunteers? Haha!
Seriously, though, I feel so blessed. This year has been eventful, to say the least. My youngest had two surgeries, both of which were, thankfully, successful. My oldest became engaged to the love of her life! I went to Holland for my niece’s wedding! It’s always wonderful when I’m able to be back in my second homeland, surrounded by my in laws and our wonderful friends. My husband was able to travel to Holland twice, once for work and once to be with his mom as she underwent surgery to remove a growth from her kidney. She is doing well, and has been declared cancer free. We are so, so grateful to God for this.
Regarding my business, I was feeling discouraged and low but then ended up booking some of the most amazing seniors this year! Each session was so much fun and I loved the connection I felt with each individual client. I don’t want to just photograph people. I want to get to know them; figure out a bit of what makes them tick. It was fun to get creative, drawing out the beauty and personality in each young lady. I know this is what I want to keep doing. I want to deliver quality service, beautiful art and an unforgettable experience. I want to give a piece of myself in the process…encouraging the young souls who stand in front of my lens. May they walk away feeling more confident, more valued and more loved. May they glimpse the love of God for them…the destiny He has placed on each life. Destiny. So many young people are so lost and confused now. They don’t understand they ALL have a calling. They all have a purpose. Their lives have meaning.
One of the lovely young women I had the pleasure to work with this past fall was Alyssa. I photographed her brother, Brandon, a few years ago. Talk about reflection! How is it even possible young Alyssa is now a senior?! We went to the popular location of Glencoe Mill Village. Alyssa is an avid soccer player and full of personality. She accessed her inner model during our shoot! And I had to access my portable step stool. (#shortgirlprobs)
When photographing seniors, one of the points I am sure to communicate is my heart to capture the lady emerging from the girl. Our society puts so much emphasis on perfection, looking “hot” and “sexy”, and marketing the female body. I hate this. What happened to class? What happened to being a true lady? What happened to modesty and elegance?
As a mother to two young ladies myself, I know how I want my daughters presented.
I know I want them to be respected, valued and protected. I want them to know their worth.
I want them to understand that when you act like a lady, you are treated like a lady.
When I stand behind the lens of my camera, I see the young lady in front of me. I see their inner and outer beauty. I see their potential. I see their womanhood. I see their worth. What I see is what I try to show them.
They are beautiful. They are not objects.
They are women.
It’s so exciting to show them just how beautiful they are…to see their eyes light up! It’s nerve wracking to be photographed. I’m reminded of this every time it’s me in front of the camera. When I can put them at ease with a glimpse of what I’m photographing, it changes everything. I watch them visibly relax, bloom and begin to radiate confidence as the session progresses.
I’m excited to share Michelle’s sessions with you. Yes, sessions. She booked a summer and a fall session. It was so much fun to build this relationship and to photograph two completely different vibes. Vibrant summer and the rich, warm colors of fall.
Michelle is an avid soccer player, so we incorporated some soccer photos into her fall session. She brought glamour to the soccer field!
Michelle’s sweet personality shines through her photos.
I think she exemplifies her favorite quote perfectly:
Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.
On a hot and humid fall day, four years ago, I photographed a young lady from Raleigh named Nicola. Despite the unseasonable warmth, she dazzled in her photographs. I loved working with her and her mom. In fact, as we were finishing up, her mom said, “We will definitely contact you when my youngest daughter needs her senior photos.”
True to her word, I received an email a few weeks ago, asking if I had availability for Rachel’s senior session.
- Four years? How has it already been four years?
- They actually contacted me after all this time! I feel so incredibly honored!
It felt like a reunion as we met up the day of the session. This family is so warm and encouraging. Though I hadn’t met Rachel yet, I felt like I knew her. She is a fashionista and a natural model. She’s smart, driven and carries herself with humble confidence. Her natural beauty is undeniable but it’s her inner beauty that defines her.
Thankfully, her day was pleasant and the fall light was absolutely magical. In fact, in her last outfit….a flowing white maxi dress…she looked like a woodland fairy. Just Breathtaking.
I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to photograph someone who truly values what you do and makes the effort (driving all the way from Raleigh) to work with you. It makes the hard work completely worth it.
My passion is to truly show the young ladies who step in front of my lens, vulnerable and a little unsure, their incredible worth. They all have a story. They all have dreams. They have all had moments of pain, disappointment, joy, rejection and victory. They are all about to embark on a new journey…letting go of what they know to embrace the unknown, with all its uncertainty and hope. My prayer is they will walk away from the short time with me feeling encouraged and valued.
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