When Clementine first called me to schedule a family portrait session, I realized that she was talking in slightly hushed tones. It came out a few minutes in that she was taking this step of setting up a family portrait while carrying around her two week-old baby boy, Ollie. Now, if you’ve been through the exhilarating/exhausting experience of dealing with a toddler and a tiny baby at the same time, you know that finding the energy and motivation to shower, let alone schedule a family portrait ON TOP of all the chaos borders on the miraculous. At least, that’s what I was thinking as we spoke; when we all got together three weeks later, I saw just how awesome Clementine and her family really are.
When I arrived in Old Providence for the evening shoot, Clementine was still feeding the baby. That left Chris and Henry to meet me and tour me around the house and grounds. One of my favorite parts of a family photography session, especially those that happen in the family home, is finding those beautiful, and often overlooked, locations around the house. A spot that really caught my eye was a beautiful old tree in the backyard with the evening sun sinking low in the sky behind it. Henry’s sandbox, which he adores, is also right there, so it was ideal. Once Clementine and Ollie joined us, that’s where we got started, and the images were gorgeous.
When we were all done in the yard, I really wanted to get a few more shots of Henry and Ollie together, but Henry was getting a little antsy, so I asked Clementine if there were any little treats we might use as a bribe. It turned out that Henry had been introduced to the wonderful world of Twizzlers just a couple days earlier, so we used those to coax him into a few pictures with his little brother. Watching him eat the candy was hysterical; the Twizzlers disappeared so fast it was like they were being devoured by an electric pencil sharpener.
Toward the end of the shoot, we switched up the location. First, Chris and Clementine plopped Henry in a wagon and we tooled around the neighborhood a bit. As we walked, neighbors came out to congratulate Clementine and Chris on the new baby. The whole time his parents were chatting, Henry was a sweetheart, and I couldn’t believe how relaxed Ollie stayed. When we got back to the house, Clementine, still holding Ollie in her arms, got down on the ground and did some chalk drawings with Henry. A talented architect, she doodled a perfect likeness ofMike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. in no time flat. It was actually kind of amazing.
I loved having the chance to spend the evening with this wonderful family. Their laid-back vibe was so pleasant to be around. They make this parenting thing look easy.
It’s always interesting when life and work intersect. When Alex called to schedule a family photography session, I was thrilled, of course. And then, at the end of our discussion, when I asked where I’d be headed for the shoot and Alex told me his address, I laughed. Alex, his wife Talla, and their two year-old son Davis live next door to the first house I lived in with my husband. Theirs is also a house I’d been in many times before since our friends Hunt and Nicole had lived there for years.
To catch the best of the morning light, we scheduled the shoot for 7 AM. That’s about an hour before Alex, Talla, and Davis usually get up, so the timing was definitely a shift for them—and Davis did so well. When I arrived, Davis was just finishing his cereal. Perhaps because he was still waking up, Davis initially refused to wear his shirt, which was actually pretty cute. So was the fact that Alex and Talla just went with it. The result was catching a bunch of adorable images of Davis dressed only in his shorts and sandals. He’s the cutest little guy, right in the middle of that transition from baby to “big boy.” He runs and jumps, knows the sounds the animals makes, colors by himself, and knows when someone needs a good hug. He’ll be a great big brother.
One of the huge benefits living near Midwood Park is that many of the houses have gates at the back of the yard that open into great settings for a shoot. So that’s what we did, spending most of our time in the Midwood Community Garden. By the second half of the shoot, Alex and Talla convinced Davis to put his shirt on, and I got some lovely shots of him playing in the perfect morning light. Davis was wonderful the entire time—he’s a sweetheart—and Talla, who was in the second half of her third trimester, looked beautiful. It was such a sweet time to spend with all of them. On the one hand, we got to celebrate Davis and the two years Alex and Talla had spent with him as their only child. On the other, we had the chance to record that brief moment just before the new baby arrives on the scene. An added bonus was meeting Tad, their pup. He was so patient with Davis, and he came with us for the whole shoot. The shots of Talla and her fur-baby are some of my favorites.
I loved spending the morning with these sweet people. I had a great time with Davis, and I also appreciated having the chance to relive, just for an hour or two, that delicate moment just before the second baby arrives. It’s amazing and hectic and it changes everything, in the best possible way.
When I first heard that Colby and Elyse were going to get married, I thought my heart would explode from sheer joy. As I have written about in the past, Colby and Elyse are family to my husband and me. But it’s more than that. Over the years, it’s become a kind of running joke that Mark and I and Colby and Elyse are actually the same couple. Colby and I are spontaneous, loud, and a little unpredictable; Mark and Elyse are a little more laid-back, a bit more likely to find the corner of the room at a crowded party. Every time we get together, Mark and Elyse whisper conspiratorially about getting me and Colby out of the house so they can sit quietly in a dark room and watch creepy movies.
At any rate, I would have been ecstatic just to attend Colby and Elyse’s wedding. But to take part in it, and to spend so much of the day with the two of them, capturing images that I hope they’ll cherish their whole lives…it meant everything to me. The whole experience was only augmented by the fact that Colby and Elyse had so carefully chosen every single detail of their day to reflect who they were as a couple. One of the sweetest details was a fanned-out collection of recipe cards at every place setting; each card displayed a favorite recipe made by one of Colby or Elyse’s grandmothers. To top it all off, the flowers were handled by Elyse’s dad, who is a florist in the Lake Norman area. The arrangements he created for the altar were particularly lovely.
And then there was the wonderful little bonus of watching my husband, Mark, officiate the beginning of the ceremony. He spoke about the nature of love, and about Colby and Elyse as a couple, and then handed the proceedings off to the pastor who would complete the honors. When Colby and Elyse recited their personalized vows to one another, I barely held myself together, and I wasn’t alone. Observing it all, seeing it through my eyes and through my viewfinder, I couldn’t miss the overwhelming atmosphere of joy— first at the ceremony site, Kadi Fit, an open-concept studio space the ladies beautifully repurposed for their ceremony, and then in the upstairs venue space at the Galway Hooker, where Colby had waited tables years earlier.
Right at the end of the ceremony, as people were heading out to the reception, the light rain that had been falling for hours decided to let up just enough for me to take the ladies out for some shots with vintage Bentley in which they were ferried to and from the ceremony site. The results were some of my favorite romantics I’ve ever captured.
From the food to the music to the company, Colby and Elyse created an experience for themselves that was unique to them. Elyse wanted to make sure there was copious yummy food at the reception, and she scored there. Colby’s biggest priority was the music, also a huge win. The band was the Java Band, and they were amazing. One of my very favorite moments of the night was when Colby, a talented singer, grabbed the mic from the bandleader and sang for Elyse. And when Elyse took the mic to thank everyone and addressed the special meaning of a night when two women were legally married…I could hardly contain my happiness and love for the two of them. Right at the end of the night, during Colby and Elyse’s exit from the reception, they ran through a gauntlet of sparklers. Apparently, it was fun, because both ladies went back solo for a second go, thanking people as they ran.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these two. I love them so dang much and I am incredibly grateful to have them in my life.
Wedding Coordinator: Carla Eustache, Style Perfect Events
Ceremony Location: Kadi Fit
Reception Location: Waterford Hall, The Galway Hooker
Hair and Make-up: Lovely by Lindsey
Floral Design: Clippers Flowers of Lake Norman
Band: Java Band
Bentley Rental: Queen City Party Charters
A big thank you to Emily Renee Photography for helping me capture Colby and Elyse’s wedding day and for covering me so I could spend a little time on the dance floor celebrating with my dear friends.
You can see images from Colby & Elyse’s engagement session HERE.
Elizabeth and Ricky met their freshman year of college, at Wake Forest University. On the night Ricky received a bid to his fraternity, one of his brothers introduced him to Elizabeth, and pretty much as soon as he met her, Ricky knew he was done, that he had found the person he wanted to be with. In short order, Elizabeth found out that Ricky had a fantastic sense of humor, especially when he was around his friends and family. She fell in love with his love of all things fun and funny, and Ricky fell in love with Elizabeth’s sharp mind and wit. In short, they’re a perfect compliment to one another.
This was the exact dynamic I observed when I met up with Elizabeth and Ricky for their engagement session on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. I’d met Elizabeth during our initial consult, but I’d never met Ricky in person. He was exactly as sweet, kind, and personable as I’d heard he would be. One of my favorite aspects of the shoot was just listening to Elizabeth and Ricky telling old college stories as we walked around the beautiful campus. They were so loving and naturally affectionate with one another, and I could tell that part of what made them work so well was how they filled in each other’s gaps.
Their engagement story is just as sweet as they are. One day, not long after they’d returned to DC from a trip to Spain, Ricky told Elizabeth he wanted to head out for a celebratory dinner—he’d just started a new job, and was about start med school. They decided to walk to a restaurant called 1789 in Georgetown, but since they were early for their reservation, they decided to check out Holy Trinity church. As they were walking around the exterior, Ricky suddenly dropped down on one knee and asked Elizabeth to marry him. After they had a delicious dinner, they headed to Ricky’s sister’s home in Georgetown to celebrate with family. Ricky had also secretly invited some of their close friends, so the party was on. The ring Ricky proposed with was a round cut diamond with two pear shaped side stones. They’d discussed what kind of ring Elizabeth might like, and Ricky had it made by his family jeweler, Colin Shah of Shah and Shah, in Washington, DC.
For our shoot, we started at Wait Chapel on the Hearn Plaza, then made our way back through the columns of Reynolda Hall. After that, we made sure to get some shots near the beautiful magnolias at Manchester Plaza, visited the famous Davis Field swings, and then finished in the gorgeous Reynolda Gardens. At one point toward the end of our time in the gardens, the sprinklers suddenly went off right where we were shooting. I was mortified, but Elizabeth and Ricky were completely cool about the whole thing, seemingly more concerned about my camera getting wet than their outfits. The quick misting was actually the perfect cooldown on such a humid summer night.
I loved getting to know these two better and having the chance to explore one of North Carolina’s loveliest campuses with two people who once called it home.
For the past several years, ever since Lauren was pregnant with her younger son, Peter, I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot portraits of this beautiful family on a regular basis. Normally, Lauren and Nathan schedule their portraits for a date in the Fall, but when Lauren learned she was expecting again, we decided to postpone until spring. The new baby—Marie—would be a couple months old by then and ready for her turn in front of the camera.
Each time I have the chance to see the Lebiodas, I find myself amazed by their flexibility, and by the sweetness and warmth with which they treat one another. So that we could take advantage of the soft early morning light, we planned to start at 7:15 AM. If you’re a parent, you’ll know how early that is to have a 4 year-old, a 5 year-old, and a 2 month-old up and running. But they were, and as always, they were incredibly charming and well behaved. I started by taking Lauren, Nathan, and Marie outside for a few initial shots, and when the boys, Henry and Peter, finished up their breakfast, they joined us.
The Lebioda’s house provides a ton of location choices for a photographer. It’s built into the side of a hill overlooking Lake Wylie, and whenever I shoot there, I feel fortunate for the abundance of options. This time, we spent the majority of the session outside, moving inside for a few images in Marie’s nursery, and shots of the boys playing while Marie had a snack break. When we have our sessions at their house, we always end on the playground. It’s a way of thanking the boys for being so good, which they always are. This time, we had even more reason to thank Peter and Henry, who were almost unbelievably sweet to their little sister, doting on her at every move. That little girl is lucky for the older brothers in her life.
I love getting the chance to watch families form and grow, and being able to renew my relationships with families year in and year out is an added bonus. Since I saw Henry and Peter last year, Henry finished kindergarten and learned to read, and Peter finished pre-school and started playing tee-ball. Just before she turned 3 months old, little Marie learned to roll over. And with any luck, when I have the chance to see them again, there will be a whole new level of skill and accomplishment each of them has reached.