I interrupt this feed of weddings, engagements and seniors with a gorgeous event I got to shoot back in April. People, get ready for whimsy.
All this and more is what colors the experience of Susie Davis's (aka my cute mom) Acts 246 Dinner, where women gather to break bread and seek Jesus.
Susie loves people through beauty, and this wouldn't be her event if it wasn't basically all white everything with touches of pink Geranium blooms, vintage linens, vintage china and silverware, and candles in abundance adding a little glitter to ambiance.
It also wouldn't be my mom's event if a local Austin artisan wasn't included and spotlighted in some way. She used these little turquoise ring dishes as parting gifts, which were made special for the dinner by the talented Julie Spako.
But once the tables were set and the candles lit, the real fun began when the guests began to arrive. My mom has childlike exuberance, and I think that makes people feel super loved and valued.
Little sister Sardy (Sara Regan of Davis Music) got some of those welcoming genes too.
Soon though, everyone has arrived and it's time to gather together, share a meal, and share our hearts. There was laughter. There were tears. There was joy, healing and encouragement. It was Acts 2:46.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
Though the sun eventually went to bed, we stayed late into the evening celebrating community (and birthdays) and worshipping under the stars.
If anyone out there needs a worship leader for their event, you can't do better than Sara. She can lead full band sets for huge DNow group. She masterfully ushers the Spirit into a room with a handful of women. She's gifted and anointed.
Being part of this event reminded me of the immense importance of community. I left grateful to have met and photographed so many women who deeply desire Christ-centered connection. Differences like age, interests and home addresses didn't matter. Regardless of it's packaging, every heart in attendance was seen, loved, and held gently in the arms of acceptance, encouragement and understanding.
I also left so grateful for my Mom, who cares for people deeply and loves Jesus with all of her being. If you'd like to get to know her better, I'm willing to bet the feeling is mutual. Encouragement and joy just explode out of her, and if you'd like to get some of that in your life, she hosts a podcast that is guaranteed to leave an impact. She also blogs, writes books, and is better at Insta than I am.
If you'd like to be part of the next 246 event with Susie, she has them regularly and would love to have you! Head to her website for more info.
When was the last time you heard someone use the word "affable"? Well, you're about to hear it because that's exactly what Ben is - affable. This is the most kind-hearted, fun, amiable senior guy out there. He's incredibly easy to talk to and so much fun to spend time with. Honestly, as a married woman in my twenties who spends her spare time home decorating and snuggling a bunny rabbit and taking baths anytime it gets below 80 degrees outside, my ability to relate to senior guys is pretty low. But that really didn't matter when I went over to Ben's home on Lake Travis to take his senior portraits. What you see is what you get with this one. Doesn't his smile just make you warm and happy inside? That's exactly what it's like to spend time with him. I left this session with a smile on my face, thanking God I get to do this for a living. Congrats Ben!
THROWBACK. I shot this couple's session back in early spring, before trees had color and the air was warm. Posting it today to remind myself to be grateful for heat because it brings such vibrant colors! However, winter offers a gorgeous landscape that I really love, too.
Cynthia and Cody are hilarious and fun and they love to play as you'll see below. Yes we did talk about Lord of the Rings the almost the whole session and no I do not regret that. It was a treat to spend time with these guys and find the beauty in a landscape right in the middle of a transition from winter to spring!
When spring arrived and the redbuds bloomed, I couldn't get my camera out fast enough! Small town Texas sure makes for a quaint background, doesn't it? All these old trees and pretty streets, not to mention the amazing churches, paint such a romantic backdrop for a gorgeous couple's session. Having great models helps too. :)
When Kenton and I moved to Navasota in the fall of 2015, we began to pray for friends. We knew maybe a handful of people in our new area, and soon found ourselves quite secluded in our new normal. One year later, God answered so faithfully with Heather and Joe. We laugh about how God ordained our friendship is. There are numerous overlaps in our lives. They were exactly what we needed in that season, and we were exactly what they needed in that season. God is faithful, and when we get dry, he gives us rivers in the desert.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
I can't even count the "new things" God has done in me and Kenton since he brought Joe and Heather into our lives. We are truly different people than we were before we knew them. We're new. And we're so much more aware about the extreme importance of community. God used the season of isolation for good. But when he brought these two into our lives, we grew and sharpened.
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
We love these two SO MUCH and we thank God for them constantly. Years from now, when our kids ask about our life before they came along, Kenton and I will say this:
"Well, we lived in a pink brick house in a teeny, tiny Texas small town named Navasota. Bowie was just a puppy then but his precious personality hasn't changed. For a few months we drank a lot of slurpees. We both regret and don't regret this. Mom had just started doing photography and Dad had just started his job at camp and was killing it. And we prayed and prayed for new friends, and God was faithful, because that's when we met your Aunt Heather and Uncle Joe!"
Thank you God for your faithfulness and for awesome humans like Heather and Joe!
Get ready to get sick of the word dreamy, because this senior portrait session was DREAMY DREAMY DREAMY DREAMY.
We danced to Ed Sheeran.
We laughed until our bellies ached.
We frolicked in wild flowers.
We found golden hour.
We let our hair down.
We enjoyed succulents in abundance.
I accidentally dressed like a cowboy.
Ashley and her sister Abbey (a cute friend of mine from Camp Allen) drove to Navasota for Ashley's senior portrait session and basically made March 31, 2018 a spring day never to be forgotten. I don't need to elaborate any more - I'll let the photos do the talking.
Congrats cute Ash! You and Abbey come to my neck of the woods any time and we'll do it again, but next time we'll step it up even more with BEYONCE and BLUEBELL, what!?!?!
I really hit the jackpot with getting to photograph some amazing senior guys this spring! Jakob's session was such a joy. If people don't want anything to do with high school guys, thinking that they're anything but good company, it's because they haven't met Jakob. This young man is kind, respectful, thoughtful, and sweet. He was so patient and enjoyable during our session, even though spending an hour taking photos was probably low on his list of interests for that day. And at the end of it, I know he actually had a great time! We walked around Bull Creek, enjoying the amazing landscape of one of Austin's finest public parks and had great conversation ranging from his hopes and dreams to his plans for next year and everything in between. I'm always amazed when I meet seniors who plan to pursue a major that will involve math and science, and let's just say that this smart cookie may be helping you with your taxes one day... or helping me for that matter! Actually that would be great. Jakob, call me when you graduate and you can use your awesome brain to assist me with all things numbers and spread sheets! Congrats!
I don't think I'll ever recover from this couple or this small town Texas engagement session. Honestly, Hannah and Alex are the most amazing people and I feel so blessed to get to be their photographer during their engagement season and wedding! Hannah and Alex, are, first of all, basically out of a book they're so good looking. Second, they're completely down to earth, funny, and love Jesus. Plus they'll soon be a family of three with sweet Katherine, and I'm pretty sure she's out of a book too.
We started in my front yard because I'll never get over what happens when I tell people to stand inside redbud trees. Then we drove down the road to one of the most beautiful, historic houses in Navasota, which just happens to be the offices of Fultz & Fultz here in town. When I went to ask permission to use the house for the session, their sweet receptionist not only greeted me warmly, but also gave me a tour of the house, which was built over 100 years ago! Navasota might not have HEB or Chick Fil A, but we do have crazy pretty historic homes. Then I took Hannah, Alex and Katherine to another of my favorite small town scenes, a sidewalk that is draped with redbuds and nestled between blooming wisteria and spirea bushes. Yeah, this is real life people. But as if the setting weren't magic enough, sweet Katherine flitted around collecting blooms for bouquets... one for her mom, one for herself, one for me - she even put a flower in my hair. This family is, simply put, whimsical. And this was just their engagement session! I truly can't wait for their wedding day in June! Please enjoy all the whimsy and pretty and lovely love in this small town Texas spring engagement session.
Okay, this was a fun one. I interrupt my regular stream of human portraits to bring you something a little different!
I got a call in mid January from Jill, who said she found me on Google because she needed some photos of her dog for a magazine. I thought, "Well that's pretty cool!" I love being an equine photographer, Jill sounded so kind on the phone, and we all know how I feel about dogs. So win, win, right?
Wrong. It went more like WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN!
I arrive at Jill's property in Anderson, Tx, to an astoundingly beautiful vista of golden, rolling hills dotted with sparkling lakes. It's 60 degrees and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect winter day in Texas. There's a truck to my left with Labrador Retrievers in abundance, each excitedly barking and whining in anticipation, waiting for their chance to get out and do what they love: derby. For those of you who don't know (I didn't before this), derby is essentially the sport of duck hunting, but the dogs are in the spotlight. I'll do my best to describe it accurately, because it's truly amazing. When I arrived, Danny, a hall of fame winning professional retriever trainer in the states, was running another dog through some drills. A dummy (white thing pictured below) is already hidden about a football field's length away from where Danny unloads the dogs. He brings them to his cue spot, and then at the slightest utterance of a voice command, the dog is careening, I mean booking it, through the tall grass towards the spot where the dummy is hidden. Labs were made to run! Then, suddenly, Danny blows into a whistle once and the dog stops in his tracks, turns, and looks back at Danny, awaiting direction. I literally had to hold back tears watching because if that's not a beautiful metaphor for how we ought to respond to God when He speaks, I don't know what is. Danny has the dog's attention, and he lifts his right arm once. Then, the dog immediately turns and begins to run again, but this time with a trajectory to the right. Danny and the dog are communicating! With his arm Danny says, "a little to the right" and the dog sprints in that direction. Again, Danny and the dog are about half a football field away from each other as this is happening! They repeat this process of whistle, stop, stare, and new direction until the dog finds the dummie and proudly runs back to Danny. Truly, it's absolutely incredible to witness. I was blown away.
So I come to find out that this is why I'm here. Larry, Jill's retriever, has won the Purina Derby Retriever Award, which means she's the best at what I just witnessed in the states! And what's even more amazing, is that Larry is female, and female dogs rarely beat male dogs in this category simply because of the size difference. But Larry is incredibly fast and very intelligent and she, Danny and Jill are and amazing team who happened to beat the odds and win this award, which not only grants Larry the "top derby dog" title, but also a magazine cover of Retriever News!
As I slowly learned more details about the situation, it dawned on me how big a deal this whole thing was and how completely blessed I was to be part of it. What I originally saw as a really cool opportunity I was excited about, was turning into one of the most unique, cool things I've gotten to do in my photography business, as well as a total blessing in my life. I got to meet Jill, who is the loveliest, most genuine, kind hearted person I've met in a while. And I got to meet Danny, who is also deeply warm and kind, and witness how excellent he is at his job how he loves what he does because he cares for and respects the animals immensely. And finally, I got to meet, spend time with, and photograph Larry, who is utterly gorgeous, exuberant, sweet, and wholly happy doing what she gets to do.
As I stood at the top of the hill after the session I had to take a video (below) because I never wanted to forget how blessed I am and how amazing this day in Anderson, Texas was with Jill, Danny, and Larry!
Many thanks to sweet Jill, you have been a joy to work with and it's been a blessing to get to know you. Many thanks also to Danny - meeting you, hearing about your life and watching you do what you love is incredibly inspiring. And finally, many thanks to sweet Larry, because you probably could care less about winning this award because you simply live to do what you love and please the people who love you!
You know those people who are just easy to be around? The kind who genuinely want to get to know you and ask you a lot of thoughtful questions about yourself? The kind who leave you feeling refreshed and cared for after spending time with them? Bailey is one of those. He walked right up to me in those fresh kicks of his and introduced himself with a handshake. During our session, I learned that he's a tender heart willing to put others first, but he's also got the swagger of someone who knows who he is (which is pretty rare at 18). He's humble and interested in others and he's got a good head on his shoulders. We had a great time walking around Bull Creek in Austin on what happened to be one of the prettiest March days you could ask for. Wherever Bailey ends up and whoever he ends up meeting along the way, I've got a good feeling he'll be leaving the positive, uplifting impression he left on me. And he'll probably be sporting some sweet kicks while he's doing it, too. Congrats Bailey!
Erin and Tim didn't get their engagement photos done before they got married, so why not now?! We had such a blast walking the grounds at 7F Lodge and utilizing their c u t e little chapel for these photos. What a great venue in College Station! And what a wonderful morning this was - such cheerful couple, a brisk morning, and the sun deciding to peek out of the clouds right as our session started! Not that we needed the sunshine that much, because Erin and Tim are all kinds of happy. They laugh a lot, are out to have a good time, and, oh yeah, they love each other :) Such a happy memory and such fun photos!