Archive for August, 2017

Charlotte Wedding Photographer, Elizabeth & Ricky

What a beautiful day!  In part, what made Elizabeth and Ricky’s wedding so memorable was the incredible sense of intimacy I felt from everyone in attendance.  What I was fortunate enough to witness on their wedding day wasn’t just a party—it was a beautiful celebration of two people who meant everything to those who had gathered together to send them into the next chapter of their lives.  The night before, I’d shot the rehearsal dinner, and in toast after toast, the attendees praised Elizabeth and Ricky’s character, and their respect for one another.     

Having been together since their freshman year of college, Elizabeth and Ricky had given their friends and families a good long time to get to know one another, and I have no doubt that was what accounted for the extraordinary feeling of support and love that surrounded the couple as they said “I do” to one another.  Watching Ricky and Elizabeth’s families interact was so touching.  One of my favorite memories of the night was watching the siblings pair up in every conceivable combination on the dance floor as the night moved along.  And then there was Elizabeth’s dad, who pretty much owned the dance floor from moment one.  You know that old adage about dancing like no one is watching?  This was that.  He killed me. 

It was a huge blessing that Elizabeth, Ricky and their respective parties all got prepped and primped at Charlotte Country Club.  Having everyone in one location is a ridiculous luxury, and the extra time gave Nathan and I the ability to shoot pre-ceremony portraits around the lovely grounds of the club.  Once we got what we needed there, it was on to the wedding venue, Christ Church, in Charlotte. 

Because everyone was running absurdly on-time, my assistant Nathan and I had the rare opportunity to capture a few portraits of the bride and groom in the sanctuary before the ceremony began.  The results were some of my favorite day-of-wedding portraits ever.  I particularly loved the way Elizabeth’s cathedral-length veil looked against the black and white checkered flooring that runs up the aisle of the sanctuary.

The reception was a blast.  At one point, the lead guitarist for the band, The Michel Jons Band, played a portion of a song with his mouth.  I think that’s when you know you’re in good hands musically. Needless to say, the dance floor was packed all night long.  

Happy 1st anniversary you two! I hope you enjoy this look back at your wedding celebration. XO, P

Ceremony Location: Christ Episcopal Church

Reception Location: Charlotte Country Club

Reception Coordinator: Alicia Wagner 

Hair and Make up: Who’s the Fairest?

Floral Design: Place for Flowers

Cake: Charlotte Country Club

Band: Michel Jons Band

Thank you to my second photographer, Nathan, for helping me craft this beautiful collection of images for Elizabeth & Ricky.


You can see images from Elizabeth and Ricky’s engagement session on the campus of Wake Forest University HERE

Charlotte Engagement Photography, Susan & Charlie

When I was a lot younger—maybe in college, who knows—I remember someone telling me that most of us know the person we’ll marry by the time we’re 18.  That didn’t really work out in my particular case, but there’s something so sweet about meeting a couple who knew each other as friends when they were kids.  That’s how it worked for Susan and Charlie.  They kinda/sorta knew each other through a mutual friend, but they didn’t really get to know one another until the wedding of some friends in 2012.  At this point, Susan was leaving for Seattle in a month to start her residency, so the timing was a challenge from the start. 

When Charlie decided to make a trip to Seattle to visit mutual friends, Susan and Charlie decided to meet up for dinner.  They went to, and I’m quoting, “a Hawaiian/Asian/Taco fusion” joint, and as the ancient proverb tells us, tacos help dreams come true.  As they got to know one another, Charlie realized how much he loved Susan’s ambition, confidence, and kindness, and Susan saw in Charlie a strong sense of family, a warm sensitivity, and a smile she could fall in love with.  At any rate, something started to simmer between them, and these two long-time acquaintances started to develop into something more.

Charlie proposed during a trip to Maui he had scheduled, ostensibly, to celebrate Susan’s 30th birthday.  He’d already recruited help in finding out Susan’s ring size and had picked out a winner.  Now he just needed to find the perfect spot.  This turned out to be more challenging than you might think.  For his first attempt, Charlie planned a hike through forest and lava fields to a beautiful and secluded beach.  But after Susan injured her knee and was attacked by insects, Plan A went in the scrap pile.  So the next night, after a luau, Charlie got down on one knee and proposed during a walk on the beach.  The rest is history.

For our shoot, we met at the UNCC Botanical Gardens. We spent most of our time in the Suzie Harwood Garden, and specifically in the Mellichamp Native Terrace, which is full of beautiful plants and flowers native to this area.  Because Susan and Charlie are from here but now live in Washington, it was sweet to be able to photograph them in a place that really represented their roots, botanically speaking.  The setting was perfect for this romantic portrait session.   

Charlotte NC Family Photography, The Russ Family

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 of Mike 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.

Charlotte Family Photographer, Alex, Talla & Davis

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.

Charlotte NC Wedding Photographer, Colby & Elyse

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

Colby’s Dresses: Classic Bride and Formals

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.

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