Shaun & Stacy’s Wedding | The Signature at West Neck | Virginia Beach Photographer

Shaun & Stacy’s Wedding | The Signature at West Neck | Virginia Beach Photographer

I’ll never forget the first time I met Shaun and Stacy. We spent hours getting to know each other over coffee at The Signature. I remember thinking as I left, “I REALLY want to be their wedding photographer!” And I was thrilled that they felt the same about me. We just clicked…became friends instantly, and if you know them, you know what I mean.

Shaun and Stacy got married on a beautiful September day at The Signature at West Neck. From start to finish their day was filled with emotion, thankfulness, and love.

Stacy and her bridesmaids got dressed at Shaun’s parents house which is filled with photos and keepsakes that speak of deep family ties and strong affection. One of my favorite pre-ceremony moments was when Shaun’s grandfather fastened a bracelet on Stacy’s wrist that HIS wife had worn at their wedding. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including mine.

Shaun and the guys got ready at the Founders Inn and Conference center. Amy of Amy Bare Photography covered this portion of the day. What a fun bunch of guys, and the ring bearer was especially cute.

As always, weddings at The Signature are executed flawlessly–the staff is friendly, organized, and flexible. After a beautiful ceremony, family pictures on the putting green, and some of my all-time favorite romantic shots out on the bridge, the reception kicked off with the couple’s first dance followed by a delicious dinner and dancing.

After Stacy and her dad danced, Shaun led his mother to the dance floor, where, to her surprise, her siblings and husband serenaded them with “Edelweiss,” the song she sang to Shaun as a little boy. What a poignant moment–the convergence of childhood memories, present joy, and future hopes. I might have cried.

Shaun and Stacy are amazingly thoughtful. One of their groomsmen’s birthday was on their wedding day, and they held a mini surprise party for him during their wedding reception. That’s right, on their special day they not only thought about their friend’s birthday but they shared their celebration with him by having the guests sing “Happy Birthday” to him and having him blow out candles on a cake they had made for him. I cried…again.

The evening continued with lots of dancing and great conversation and concluded with a sparker-armed enthusiastic crowd of family and friends cheering them on. What a joy and blessing to be a part of celebrating their day and what a privilege to have captured and preserved it for them and future generations.

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Amazing Vendors:

The Signature at West Neck

Amy Bare, Amy Bare Photography was my amazing second shooter and assistant.

Andrea Wallis, wedding stylist extraordinaire set up all the pre-ceremony still life shots.

Palette of Petals, had gorgeous, vibrant arrangements.

Kristi. Class of 2016. Virginia & North Carolina Senior Photographer

Kristi. Class of 2016. Virginia & North Carolina Senior Photographer

I’ve know Kristi since 2002. Her mom, blog author Vaneetha Rendall Risner,  was my best friend in college, and now our daughters are best friends, too. It is a beautiful thing.

Kristi is graduating from Trinity Academy of Raleigh, NC in 2016, and I was blessed to be her senior photographer. Kristi is a very talented young lady. She is brilliant, hilarious, and an amazing basketball player. She has a fantastic basketball highlights video HERE if you want to check it out.

Every year our family gets a Christmas letter from Kristi’s family. And we have a tradition. No one reads the Christmas letter until we can all read it together. It’s more fun to laugh hysterically as a family than by ourselves, and almost equal to the hilarity of the actual letter is my inability to get through reading the whole thing because I laugh so hard I cry—LITERALLY cry. Tears rolling down my cheeks cry.

So rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to let you into Kristi’s world through some excerpts from these family Christmas letters. (Permission granted by her mom, of course.)

Hard to Wake Up Kristi (2014)

Kristi is a challenge to wake up in the morning. I wrote a whole post about her on my blog several months ago so I apologize if this is redundant for the three of you who read it. Kristi’s alarm clock sounds like a jackhammer. Literally. I mean all 113 decibels of it. It is louder than a blaring car horn (110 decibels) but not quite as loud as a jet engine (120 decibels). Her clock also has a 12-volt bed shaker and strobe lights. So as a jackhammer is booming in her ears, her bed is shaking violently and bright lights are flashing in her face. But usually as I enter her room, she is sleeping peacefully with the alarm blasting inches from her head. I’m awake. The whole house is awake. Mocha, our high-strung poodle is on the edge of insanity. I fear I’ve made the leap over.

This is no ordinary alarm clock. It’s called the sonic bomb. According to Amazon: “The volume can be adjusted for those who do not want to have a heart attack when they wake up….it feels like an earthquake is happening, and you WILL wake up in a total panic…

At first, the alarm worked beautifully. But Kristi quickly became oblivious to the piercing sound, intense shaking, and blinding lights. Completely understandable. I decided to call the company to see if they had a better model, since they specialize in hard to wake sleepers. When I explained the problem, there was stunned silence. The salesman finally said, “I have been working here a long time and I’ve never had that request. I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do.”

Fashionista Kristi (2009)

Kristi loves playing basketball, grudgingly plays the piano and hates wearing dresses. She owns 3 pairs of shoes – basketball shoes, flip-flops and crocs and they work for everything. They all go with athletic shorts, which are also appropriate for every occasion. When spotted in a pair of jeans one day, a friend asked Kristi if all her basketball shorts were in the wash. They were. But apparently Kristi feels her clothes are pretty fashionable. I offered to let her wear one of my dresses or skirts for her piano recital (one of the few instances her shorts didn’t work), but she summarily rejected my offer, saying “I don’t want to wear anything that out of style.”

Fashion Consultant Kristi (2014)

Kristi has taken over from Katie as the fashion police. Just yesterday she told me I needed to stop wearing my old coat because it looked awful. Minutes later, she noticed my new shoes and said they were cool. But before I could bask in the unsolicited praise, she added, “I like them because from the knees down, you look like a little old man.”

Ambitious Kristi (2014)

Kristi had some interesting costumes for school spirit week this year. For “Dress as Your Favorite National Holiday” (one wonders where they come up with these things), she dressed as a slice of pizza. Apparently National Pizza Day is November 12. And for “Dress for Your Future Career”, she donned an Indian salwar chemise and wore a headset. Her career? A tech support agent. While she might struggle with the customer “service” part, the fact that she’s willing to aim so high kinda brings a tear to my eye.

We headed to downtown Norfolk for Kristi’s senior portrait session. The evening was cool (for September) and the light was gorgeous. We began in the financial district of Norfolk and then headed toward Pagoda Gardens. The evening’s sunset cast a beautiful orange glow as we finished our session.

Kristi has grown into a wonderful, kind, and beautiful young woman. She has a rare gift of wit and intelligence accompanied by humility. She is fun to be around and she brings joy and laughter to her family and friends. I’m excited to see what her future holds and how God is going to lead and direct her. I’m so thankful to be Kristi’s friend and to have had the chance to capture her beauty through our senior portrait session.

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St. Mary’s Home. A beautiful place for beautiful people. Virginia Family Photographer.

St. Mary’s Home. A beautiful place for beautiful people. Virginia Family Photographer.

Have you ever come to the end of a day and known that you spent it in EXACTLY the right way? That’s how I felt after I finished my family portrait event for the children and families of St. Mary’s Home. I can’t think of a more fulfilling, rewarding, or fun way to spend a Saturday.

Saint Mary’s website says, “St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk is a special place full of love and laughter, where children and young adults from all across Virginia live, play, go to school and receive complex, professional, around-the-clock care in a nurturing, comfortable environment to help them achieve their fullest potential.”

I love that…”achieve their fullest potential.” We are all born with God-given gifts, abilities, and limitations. We are not like each other. Each of us has particular strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and we each have a unique purpose. I love that at Saint Mary’s the children who live there are nurtured, taught, and loved in ways that help them fulfill their purposes and develop their gifts.

Saint Mary’s is a beautiful, modern, 80,000 square foot facility that is located in Norfolk, VA just off of Kempsville Road. Everything about Saint Mary’s is warm, welcoming, and cheerful. Original artwork adorns the walls, a heated, outdoor pool is housed at the center of the facility, gardens and flowers surround the perimeter, and the classrooms are inviting and stimulating. Teachers, physical therapists, and occupational therapists come to Saint Mary’s to be sure each child is challenged and educated. Local community groups and businesses generously provide rich activities for these children such as a spring prom, days at the Virginia Aquarium, Old Fashioned Photos at the oceanfront and a host of other opportunities. It is a happy place to be and it is filled with happy people.

Before my family portrait event, I sent a questionnaire to each child’s parents so that I could find out a little bit about them. Interests of these dear children range from Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift to Hello Kitty and Curious George. Several of the young ladies love purple, fuchsia, and zebra stripes, and Frozen is a favorite movie choice. It was such fun watching them respond with joy and excitement to Adam Levine being blasted from my iPhone and to see their mischievousness show itself when we weren’t expecting it.

The staff of Saint Mary’s is kind, loving, thoughtful, skilled, nurturing, compassionate, friendly, and selfless. And somehow those words are just not enough to communicate the feeling one gets being at Saint Mary’s and seeing the way the staff and children interact with each other.

I loved spending my day with these wonderful children and their amazing, loving, caring parents and siblings. There was much love, laughter, and joy to be had by all.

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Shaun & Stacy are getting married! Virginia Wedding Photographer

Shaun & Stacy are getting married! Virginia Wedding Photographer

When I met Shaun and Stacy, I knew right away that we’d become friends. Not only are these two very much in love, but they are really fun to be with. Both Shaun and Stacy are quick to laugh and enjoy each other without reservation. One thing that really stood out to me when I met them was that they were genuinely interested in me as a person, not just in my photography skills. We met for hours, not just talking about their relationship and their wedding, but about their careers, hobbies, favorite restaurants, and their dog, and we also talked about my family and how I became a professional photographer. I love connecting with the people I’m blessed to photograph. I love that what began as a meeting to talk about wedding photography ended with two new friends.

We had a perfect afternoon and evening for Shaun and Stacy’s engagement session. We began in Virginia Beach on the trails at First Landing Park. The light was magical as it filtered through the trees and Spanish moss. We finished on the bay side of First Landing Park with a gorgeous sunset.

Shaun and Stacy’s wedding is just weeks away, and I can’t wait. I know their wedding day will be filled with much joy, love, and laughter, and I am so thankful that I’ll get to be a part of it all.



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Sadie is ONE! Virginia Family Photographer

Sadie is ONE! Virginia Family Photographer

Sadie is one, and I got to go to her birthday party.

I met Sadie when she was just a few days old, and I’ve been blessed to have photographed her (and her family) four times this year. Sadie is about as cute as they come. She is cheerful and smiley and loves to be on the go. Sadie is an “all in” kind of girl…just look at those cake pictures! She is loved dearly by her parents, big brother,  big sister, and countless number of family members and friends (as well as her photographer!)

I love that I get to see little people grow up and develop personalities and preferences. I love watching them explore their worlds and interact with people and their surroundings. I love capturing those looks that define who they are. I love that I get to preserve those looks in images that will grow in value as the children grow up.

Bob Dylan says, “Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.” I’m so glad that Sadie’s family is taking care of their memories. They are, after all, only lived once.

I’d love to capture and preserve timeless memories for you. Call to set up your one-of-a-kind session! 757.362.4353

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17 Years and Five Kids Later

17 Years and Five Kids Later

Seventeen years ago I was the mistress of ceremonies for Mike and Farrah’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding held at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk Virginia. Mike and Farrah’s love for each other was romantic, fresh, and full of hope.

Seventeen years later, they are parents of five kids and though life has not been easy (is it ever?), they have kept their commitment to love each other and to persevere in their marriage. Years of love, forgiveness, tears, laughter, certainty and confusion, but ultimately seventeen years filled with the goodness and grace of God.

On May 17, Mike and Farrah renewed their wedding vows to each other standing on the same spot where they first made them. Their five children acted as their wedding pary, and the pastor who officiated their ceremony seventeen years ago, Eric Hughes, senior pastor of Redeemer Church Chesapeake, led them through their vows once again.

In some ways, this celebration was more meaningful than the first. It represented promises kept and vows fulfilled, and it confirmed their intention to keep keeping their promises.

I’m thankful to have been part of Mike and Farrah’s wedding and their anniversary celebration. I’d love to be a part of your memorable events, too. Call now to schedule a wedding, event or family portrait session. I’d love to capture and preserve priceless moments for you and those you love. 757.362.4353

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Congratulations Class of 2015!  Virginia Senior Photographer

Congratulations Class of 2015! Virginia Senior Photographer

I love taking senior pictures. I think it’s because I love teenagers. I love the teenage years…so full of opportunities, decisions, energy, and yes, angst. But I love seeing potential in people. I love seeing young people not just through my camera lens but through the lens of possibility. One of my favorite educational writers, Debra Bell, once said, “Giftings are clues to callings.” That phrase has stuck with me as I mother my four daughters and as I interact with people of all ages. Each of us really does have a set of gifts…talents, proficiencies, passions, and those gifts are clues to what we should do with our lives. It’s fun to uncover those gifts and talents and to explore how they might be used.

I have four daughters, and they have very different types of gifts. One is gifted in writing and foreign languages, another is my “social leader” and has a teaching skill, one is very athletic and helpful (she’ll actually do dishes without being asked), and the fourth has a way with children and animals and is sensative to how people are feeling. One of the things my husband and I have made a priority in our parenting is to help our girls not compare themselves with each other–or anyone else for that matter.

When we realize that we can’t do EVERYTHING but that we are made to do SOMETHING very specific, it frees us to enjoy how we are made and to pursue what we should do without comparing ourselves to anyone else. And that’s what I’d want the Class of 2015 to remember as they begin the next chapter of their lives. Each of you is unique, and the way you’re made is not like anyone else. You have something to do.

This year I was fortunate to photograph seniors in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Alexandria, Virginia. We took pictures on the beach, at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, at the historic Francis Land House, in woods and fields, at sunrise and sunset, in industrial workplaces, in parking garages, and on city streets. I love how location, wardrobe, and even time of day reflect the distinct and exceptional personality of each of these graduates!

Thank you for choosing me as your senior photographer! Thank you for letting me capture and preserve a very special part of your life! I pray that you find your unique call in the next stage of your life and that you experience great joy and success. I am FOR you!