20 Years

Ten years ago this week, we took family photos in Amarillo. It was a weird time – Chuck was living back in Chattanooga to help care for his mother while the boys and I stayed in Texas waiting for our house to sell. He came back for our anniversary, and I scheduled these photos for us. It was the last time we dressed up in coordinating outfits and paid a photographer to take our picture. The boys were seven and four years old. We could very easily see over their tiny little heads.

Today, Chuck and I have been married for 20 years, and to celebrate, I decided it was time to retake this sweet photo (and one other), but also to capture some new ones. Hold on tight, y’all. Stephanie with Adara Photography knocked it out of the park.

We are still just barely able to see over their heads, though we know this won’t be a thing for much longer.

Our boys are now 17 and 14 years old. They are both in high school, braces-free, and embracing our love for traveling. Despite it being a tough year, we have laughed a lot together.

While family portraits were a priority, so were photos of Chuck and me as a couple. Twenty years of marriage is no small feat. We aren’t still here because it’s been easy or because we’ve been lucky. Seeing us like this reminds me that hard work and dedication is not overrated.

The other photo I wanted to recreate from 2010 was an image where we deliberately bookmarked ten years of marriage:

It felt silly then and a little silly now, but Chuck was a good sport. If we do this right, we could wind up with a sweet collection of memorable photos marking each decade as we cross its threshold.

One last thought: Many years ago we started talking about booking a big trip to the U.K. to celebrate our 20th anniversary. It was something we daydreamed about, something worth waiting for.

Then, after taking the boys to Iceland in 2017, we realized that international travel was far more accessible and affordable than we once thought. Shortly after Bill passed way in April 2018, we decided that waiting for that big trip didn’t make sense anymore. Life was short and unpredictable. Instead of waiting two more years, we took the big U.K. trip that October. It was perfect in every way possible, and while part of me – that annoying, meticulous, perfectionist part – wanted a big round anniversary number to commemorate with a trip like that, I know now it was absolutely the correct time to go.

After all, little did we know what 2020 had in store for us. Not only was Dad’s illness lurking, but so was a global pandemic. How even more heartbreaking would this year have been if we’d waited for 2020 and had a huge, incredible trip to cancel.

All that being said, when this pandemic is over and the borders open up, go where you’ve been wanting to go. Figure it out. Take the trip. Don’t waste time.

Above all, go with the person who makes you laugh like this:

Photographer to the rescue

A handful of folks contacted me recently saying they needed a photo for their Christmas card STAT! Either another photo didn’t pan out or nothing from their cell phone’s photo album would work. Sure thing, I said. Name the place and time.

This last one was a real treat since it was a referral. (Referrals are the BEST, by the way.) I remember hearing our Aunt Benny talk about taking care of little baby John Charles in the early 2000s, and now little baby John Charles is 14 years old and he has an 11-year-old brother. Time flies when we aren’t looking.


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Big families, babies, and bagpipes

The season is winding down since the fall foliage has faded, but it was a busy October and November and I couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks to all of you who trust me to take your family photos.

Here are a few examples from recent sessions with three different families:

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The Wire and Favorite Photos

I’m down to it. The wire. The end of the semester. Everything’s about to be due and I’m feeling the pressure.

In the next three weeks I must complete a synopsis of both my novel and one I’ve read this semester (they are not easy to write), a mock query letter, an essay about the pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing, a fifteen-page introductory paper for the novel, a mock dust jacket for the novel, and – oh yeah – the novel. Even though the rough draft is finished, it’s not tidy. It’s fraught with misspellings and needs a good going-over.  The errors have mostly to do with fast typing. It’s maddening.

I’ve been a lucky little photographer lately and have enjoyed a smattering of photo sessions with wonderful people. That blessing will continue over the next few weeks and, honestly, I’m grateful because it allows me to be creative in a way that has nothing to do with graduate school. Here are a few of my recent favorites:  Continue reading “The Wire and Favorite Photos”

Photo shoot: McCormick Family

A sweet family from Michigan contacted me via Craigslist and asked that I take a new portrait of them during their vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains. There were 15 people total (grandparents, kids, and grandkids) and it had been many years since they’d had a family picture taken. I jumped at the opportunity.

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With so many people, it would’ve been nice to have an assistant! Overall, I was pleased with how the photos turned out, but more importantly, they were happy. They don’t all live in the same town – one is a missionary family in Haiti, one daughter lives in Denver… My family is also spread out among many states, so I know how important it was to capture the brief time they had together.

If you would like to book a session, shoot me an email! ♥

Sherrod family photo shoot

Last week I drove to Lake Junaluska to take photos of one of my favorite families. Jimmy was ordained in the United Methodist Church and, though I didn’t go to the ceremony, I captures moments in the aftermath when the family of four had some down time.

Cuteness abounds in these tiny faces! It’s a privilege to document their little lives from the beginning. (Click on the photos for larger versions.)

Catherine in black and white Catherine's blue eyesSuch cuteness. I love the squash mouth ♥
Eyes and squash Henry at the treeThis little ham knows how to pose for me and I know I have about .25 seconds to capture it.Henry on the stairs Henry's smileCongratulations, Jimmy!
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Family Photos

The very idea of having family photos taken is stress-inducing, especially with small children. Sit still, smile for real, stop fidgeting, get back here and sit down, stop being silly, Why is it so hot in here?, my shirt itches, one more picture and then we’re done, I’M SERIOUS, CUT IT OUT OR I’M GONNA…

Yes, been there, suffered through that. You can imagine Chuck’s enthusiasm when I said, “Hey, we’re getting pictures taken next week.” It was only when I assured and reassured him that the session would be totally laid back and carefree that he agreed to show up.

Chris and Tiffany Pirtle are amazing. Combine their talent with perfect weather, coordinating outfits, and child bribery, and you get family photos that absolutely rock your socks off.