Lucas

Little Lucas came into this world sometime in the early morning hours of a Tuesday back in January. I was supposed to try to be present before and during the birth but with my schedule it didn’t work out. So I ended up meeting the little guy and his new parents later that evening when he was about 16 hours old. Now, I’ve never been through a birth nor have I been present at one but I hear it’s a rather intense experience. Every time I have been to the hospital hours after a baby is born, somehow the mom never looks like she just went through labor. And Alyssa was no different. She was up and walking around, hair looked fresh, skin was flawless… and then she was holding the most perfect little boy that she gave birth to (and from what I heard) like a champ!

Her and Ian were so smitten with their little guy, and rightfully so! I took some pictures of their first few hours together in their hospital room as a family then we made plans for me to come to their house a few days later for more newborn pictures.

Alyssa is a teacher so it made perfect sense when she wanted a few of the pictures of him with certain books and she also had alphabet Bible verse cards (which I need!) to spell his name. He was such a champ through the whole session!

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The Thornburg Wedding

Kayla and Nate met on a blind date and a few months later they knew they were meant to be. They decided to have their wedding on the one-year anniversary of their first date. Even though it was two days after Christmas, the theme of the wedding wasn’t holiday nor winter; it was all blush, lace and pearls!
The ceremony and reception took place at a venue called The Balcony on Dock St. however, this was actually that venue’s very last event! After their wedding on December 27, the venue as that name has ceased to exist. Kind of sad because it’s a wonderful little spot for a small wedding. It’s located in the heart of downtown Wilmington on the third floor of an old, historic building. Inside, the original wood floors and exposed brick on the majority of the walls give it a really industrial, rustic feel.
Kayla and Nate did not want to see each other before the wedding but they did decide to meet beforehand and have pictures taken together where they couldn’t see each other, but could touch each other. The guests in attendance were close family and friends, probably around 75 total. Perfectly small and intimate.
The “altar” was decorated in a shabby-chic way with old doors framing where they would stand under, and a sign with “I have found the one whom my soul loves” was handwritten on the board across it.
When Kayla was 14 her parents gave her a promise ring that she would stay pure until she was married. After her father walked her down the aisle, he took the promise ring off of Kayla’s finger and gave it to Nate, symbolizing that he was giving away a pure bride.
After the ceremony, guests went downstairs and outside to the courtyard to enjoy cocktail hour while we took pictures all along the riverwalk and side streets with cobblestone roads. It’s so different taking pictures on busy city streets as opposed to a private venue, but downtown Wilmington is so beautiful!
Back at the reception, Kayla and Nate danced their first dance together. They had YouTube’d a choreographed dance to Ed Sheehan’s “Thinking Out Loud” and learned all the moves (which was so adorable!). Then guests were served dinner and the bride and groom mingled around to each table. The father-daughter dance was also choreographed and very cute to watch. When it came time to “cut the cake”, they actually cut two desserts. Kayla likes cake and Nate likes pie so they both cut a small piece and fed each other their desired sweet.
Kayla opted to not have a DJ with dancing at the reception. Instead they had someone play music for the background and one fast song to dance to and one slow song for all the couples to dance to.
At the end of the night, guests left with little jars of locally sourced honey and they said farewell with a sparkler exit for the new Mrs. and Mrs.
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Kayla’s Bridal Session

It was a beautiful October day when I shot Kayla’s bridal session around downtown Wilmington. And, confession: this was my very first real bridal portrait session! say what?!

Well, I’m pretty sure bridal portrait sessions expired sometime around 2001 up north. I have never once seen modern-day photographers show them on their websites or offered them in packages so I never gave it a second thought when I was shooting weddings. Then I move down here and all I hear about are bridal sessions. And lemme tell you, Northerners, y’all are missing out!😉

A bridal session is so much fun! You get to spend an afternoon taking pictures of a beautiful woman in a beautiful location and you’re left with 255-too many amazingly beautiful portraits of the bride! It is a dream session for women who love having their pictures taken because there’s no one there to get mad when we suggest 1,000 more poses *cough, the guys, cough, cough*. 

So this particular day, we met at the Graystone Inn which a gorgeous Victorian era bed and breakfast in downtown Wilmington. This is where her and future hubby would spend their wedding night together and where she was going to get ready with her ladies on the day of the wedding so the owners were gracious enough to open their doors to us and we had the run of the enormous mansion. We did some shots inside and outside then we headed to the waterfront to finish the session.

I’m not sure how bridal sessions are supposed to go. All I know is we had a lot of fun, took a lot of pictures, got creative with poses and I was left with way too many good shots to choose from. Of course, the intention behind this session is to have one good picture to post at the wedding reception. It was a hard decision, as you’ll see, but in the future post of their wedding you’ll see which one she ended up loving the most!

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New Ventures into the Fitness World

I’ve known miss Kristy for years and even though we’ve moved thousands of miles away from each other we’ve still remained long-distance friends. When we met, she was a new mom to a beautiful little girl. Like most women and moms, she started going to the gym to get back to her pre-baby body. She did a fantastic job at it and got really toned. Then she got pregnant again with her second child and I followed every step of her journey and gym life on social media. She would post her gigantic belly (like seriously- it stuck out like 2 feet from her tiny frame; and she was all just belly!) after her spinning and gym workouts and it was so inspiring!

Well, after Chase came into the world and she was cleared to work out again, she hit the gym hard. One thing lead to another and she ended up teaching spinning classes, all the while gaining her amazing body back. Her husband got a different job and they moved to a different state but she picked right back up at a new gym. She started teaching spin again, took lots of classes and has become a personal trainer. Through all of this, she obviously became addicted to working out and with the help of her other friend Terin, who is a World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) Pro Figure Competitor, she worked towards the same goals as Terin. After years of very hard work, blood, sweat and tears, Kristy is now an OCB Bikini Competitor, just starting out and hoping for Pro IFPA status in this coming April at her next competition!

Now that you know Kristy’s back story, here is how I come in to play. Like some ladies who are addicted to Pinterest, I’m constantly pinning workouts and fitness inspirations to try to lose the 30 lbs I’ve put on since moving down south three years ago. Tons of pins later, seeing all of the fitness models and fitness memes circulating the internet, plus the fact that Kristy posts tons of gym selfies from her iPhone I became really anxious to offer her a fitness photoshoot. Someone who has worked as hard as she has, deserves some professional quality pictures to show off her amazing body. Plus, as a personal trainer, she should have some on hand😉

Now, here’s the problem: fitness photoshoots are completely different from how I shoot. Of course, we could have a session outside like some shoots are, but at the end of November in New England, that’s really not an option. That day ended up being so cold and it poured rain! So how is a natural light, lifestyle photographer supposed to shoot indoors, at nighttime, with no off-camera flash?

Um, just wing it?

Okay, sure. Treat this like a wedding reception of sorts. Boost my external flash and do lots of research on posing and angles.

Luckily for me, Kristy had Terin part of the photo shoot as well and Terin has experience with fitness shoots so she helped direct the session. I think the images came out rather good for my first time attempting something completely out of my element! ….and then a few weeks later my pudgy self got a few personal training sessions from Kristy via lots of texting and I’m down almost 10lbs! So now I can say that my images of these two beautiful women are just as inspiring as the ones I have been pinning of other women. If you’re inspired after reading this, and certainly if you live around Cape Cod, go find Kristy and let her change your life for the better!

And I need to point out that both of these ladies are mothers of two babies. So, here’s your inspiration!

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December Family Sessions

The last few families to squeeze in a session for Christmas cards in December. These are the slackers! Just kidding. (kinda…)

So let’s start with the Dolce family. It’s so awesome to grow with a family and see how their babies change. Frank (the hubby in these pictures) and my husband are good childhood friends so we had them over for breakfast at our house before I took them out for their family session. It is essential to fill up on a good, hearty meal before venturing out in the woods for pictures! Plus, if little Nico gets used to seeing me, then he’ll work the camera for me later on, which he absolutely did! His big, fun, and wild little boy personality completely shown through during our time outside!

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So the next family I met was the Matthews Family! They are the sweetest family and they moved up here from Texas. They wanted to have a session that showed the North Carolina landscape which, I assume, is different from back where they came from! So, a paid afternoon to walk around hiking trails in the woods? Yes please! Oh, and also? Their two adorable children were so sweet and fun plus their two little Dachshunds tagged along. One was a few months old and his little brother who was practically the size of my hand and they stole my heart. I tried getting them to sneak into my car when we left the Nature Park, but then I realized they’d probably be missed.

I was also let in on a little secret (which isn’t a secret anymore at this point) so see if you can figure it out from one of the images below!:)

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Last but not least; the Crocker family! Like a lot of country lovers, they wanted to utilize our 1950 truck for their pictures, but Mr. Ralph doesn’t move at the moment so they came over to my house. All day Debbie and I were texting because the weather was a little iffy. There wasn’t any real precipitation predicted to come until late in the evening, and we were shooting for around 3:00. But after watching the skies, I told her it may be better to start at 1:00 because it would be cloudy all day and it’s better to do a cloudy session early in the afternoon when it’s still bright. So they headed out and literally as soon as I met them at location #1, it started to sprinkle. I assumed it was a passing cloud so we decided to just go for it. We got out of our cars, we took some really cute pictures and less than 10 minutes into it, the sprinkling had turned in to rain. So we rushed back to our cars and drove to my house. I figure it was still a passing shower, so while we waited I put on some football and brought out the chips and salsa and we hung out for a little bit. After checking the radar, I saw that the forecast had completely changed and it wasn’t going to let up at all. I felt so bad because they drove almost 45 minutes here just to have pictures of our truck. I tried thinking of ways to go outside but stay out of the rain, but it just didn’t seem like it would work. But instead of being discouraged, Jaime, Debbie and Kaylee were like, “screw it! let’s go outside!”. So outside we went. I stood with an umbrella and they got all kinds of wet.  I need to give props to the Crocker family for not caring at all and making the most of the situation! I wish the sky could have cooperated but it was still  fun way to end the session!

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Christmas minis at the farm!

Like I stated in my last post (I hope you’re reading these in order!) I love real Christmas trees. Stemming from my family’s tradition of cutting down our tree every year, plus my love of farms, I decided that I really wanted to offer mini sessions at a Christmas tree farm when I went back up north to MA for Thanksgiving. Down where I live in coastal NC, tree farms are virtually nonexistent but up where I come from they are as abundant as the Waffle House is down here. Anytime I go to Massachusetts there’s always a list of friends that want to see me. Unfortunately, every time I do make it up there, my schedule is always jam-packed with people to see and things to do that I don’t always have the extra time to see everyone. So I figured if I offer mini sessions, it will give me the time to see everyone, plus get them their Christmas photos they all wanted! So around mid-September I started calling around to farms in Western MA to see if anyone would let me use their land. One of them got back to me, and it was a little farm named Allen Tree Farm  in Westfield where I went to college!

The only non-ideal thing about this session was my only free time was on a Saturday morning between 8 and 10:00. After that, my husband and I were headed 3 hours away to Cape Cod for a wedding that afternoon. So my time was very limited and I was only able to get three families in (plus one more that my mother so graciously accepted to shoot that afternoon since I could not!) but these three families are my friends so I was super excited about that! Anyone who knows anything about outdoor photography knows that any time but Golden Hour is not an ideal to shoot portraits unless it’s cloudy or there is ample shade. Well, that morning was chilly but not a cloud in the sky! It proved a little difficult, but I brought my Christmas music with me and we jingled all the way through the morning! Or you could say, we rocked around those Christmas trees! (I could keep going if you want me to…)

I can’t thank the DeBonee, Ramos and Gabriel families enough for driving out to Westfield for a brief rendezvous with me! Oh, and props to Ashley (the last session) who still came even though she was in a half-leg cast and hobbling on crutches from a very bad motorcycle accident!

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Christmas minis on the beach!

I kept going back and forth about offering mini sessions for Christmas this year. The upside to doing it, is I can get more family sessions done in a shorter span of time and after a huge rush last year, I decided that mini sessions were probably a good idea. So now my only obstacle was deciding on what to do! I love getting creative and I love design. I also love Christmas trees. I thought of an idea to bring a Christmas tree to the beach and let families decorate it. I contacted the town to make sure it was okay first, then I put my plan into action. I was doing the mini sessions about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. I knew that I saw trees at Walmart before Thanksgiving last year so I was hoping and praying it would be the weekend that I was planning on. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The trees arrived a week later so I was forced to buy a fake one. Oh, the horror! For those of you who don’t know, I grew up going to awesome Christmas tree farms with my family to get our tree. We would always go the first Sunday of December, after church, hunt for the perfect tree, cut it down ourselves and bring it home to make our house smell amazing. So I have never and will never own a fake tree. But when I set it up in my house before bringing it to the beach, I was like, “wow, this is so pretty!” ….maybe having one isn’t so bad!

After a few last minute cancellations I had three families come to me that day to the beach on Oak Island. Each session was so much fun! I played my Christmas music playlist while they decorated and one family brought their own hot chocolate to drink after they decorated! I loved that idea, I actually meant to do the same but completely forgot! Though, the day certainly wasn’t Christmas and hot chocolate weather! They were forecasting temps in the upper 50s, but with my experience, they’re always off by a few degrees, so I thought it was going to be colder. I told everyone to bundle up just in case, and it ended up being 65 degrees!

Afterwards, I just sat and enjoyed the view of the tree all decorated, on the beach at sunset. It was too pretty to take down! Here’s the Best Family, the Boldt Family and then the Morris Family!

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Mullis Maternity

Kate and Mike were expecting their first child in the New Year so we planned their maternity/Christmas card session just before Thanksgiving! This session is pretty much one of my favorites so far because we literally went all over Wilmington to get different shots. As a result, there are probably a dozen beautiful backdrops for this beautiful couple. Downtown Wilmington is so beautiful, the lighting was gorgeous, and of course Mike and Kate themselves are a model couple. As I was shooting them I kept swooning over what I was seeing on the back of my camera. Sometimes I wish I could clone myself and hire myself to take pictures of me and my husband. This is just one of those examples.:)

So Kate and Mike came up with the game plan and I happily tagged along. They live and love the historic downtown Wilmington area so they knew they wanted pictures done there. Kate also wanted pictures across the Cape Fear River, at the Battleship Park with Wilmington in the background. Due to lighting and traffic at that time of day, we started across the river first and walked around Battleship Park getting all kinds of beautiful shots. Then we went back over to Wilmington to get some pictures on the Riverwalk. We parked two streets over from a beautiful, quiet cobblestone side street so I suggested we start there then come down to the Riverwalk for sunset.

I keep forgetting that women are pregnant when I do maternity sessions. Not being a mom myself has proven that I just don’t know what it’s like to carry around that extra weight, on my bladder, while trying to look cute in heels. So while I suggested we do all this extra walking (up and down hills!) Kate happily obliged and didn’t complain once about being uncomfortable! (well, only once, when I had her lay down on a concrete sidewalk. Like I said, I forget that women are pregnant during these sessions…) We ended the session right at sunset and it was a beautiful evening! I congratulated them but mainly her for being such a trooper and walking all over Wilmington with me. I think it was worth it because these pictures are gorgeous!:)

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Christmas families, part two!

This next round of families are both very near and dear to my heart; one is family and one is like family and I’ve watched these kids grow so much in the last few years!

I met the Lake family at one of my favorite places to visit and have a session; Fort Fisher. It was a beautiful fall day, one of those that was finally starting to get a chill in the air. Road construction was happening on the road that I wanted to take some pictures at and at first I was a little let down that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. But then I looked towards the work trucks and saw that they were creating a big wall of dust that when it hit the sunlight through the trees did something magical! So I told them if they could get over the smell of new pavement being burned and poured, let’s start there!

The lighting was beyond beautiful through the whole session, as it always is at Fort Fisher. There were a few melt downs (I’m not naming names… ;)) but I was definitely able to get a few good ones!

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For the Pridgeon family, we met at the Wilmington Arboretum. I had never been there before, but what a neat place! It’s definitely a great place to spend some time with family and children and the best part is they are dog friendly!

It was mid-November and another near 80 degree day. Didn’t Mother Nature know we needed to take Christmas pictures? Humid, mid 70’s and flannel do not mix. But again, you would never know warm it was by these pictures! We walked around the whole arboretum taking pictures, bribed poses with gold fish (for both Sadie and Nate!) stopped for some play time and left with some great candid shots of this beautiful family!

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The beginning of Christmas season!

I had two sessions in early November that weren’t really Christmas themed in any way but they kicked off my Christmas card season which is always my favorite time of the year! They also both took advantage of our old 1950 truck that’s parked in our backyard. Good ol’ Ralph is getting a pretty good modeling career out of being a 66 years old!

First up was Liza, Nate and their fur baby Smoltz. Back in I think, September, Liza and I made plans to have the session at my house to use my truck then I came up with a grand idea to end the session with a bon fire and roasting marshmallows. It all sounded all kinds of cute and dandy and I even planned on that being our Christmas card this year.

So now comes the day of the session where it’s supposed to be cold for Christmas time and perfect bonfire weather, and good ol’ North Carolina decided to give us 80 degrees and probably 99% humidity. Nothing says Christmas in Dixie like bundling up for summertime weather! Poor Nate was sweating while starting the fire and we were being eating alive by mosquitoes! But through it all they kept a happy spirit, kept their layers on, sat by the fire, and gave me adorable pictures! Just look at them! You would never know it was beach weather that day!:)

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So the second session was the Morris family and it was a family/first birthday combo session. Remember Caswell’s first debut to the world? Yeah, well, now she’s one year old and she’s taking the world by storm with her new found ability to stand and her dazzling, wide-open smile!

This session was a tad bit colder and with a threat of rain coming, it was the better day for a bon-fire and marshmallows. And you can always count on Cammie to have everyone dressed in perfect Southern coordination!

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