Well, January is almost over.  30 days ago we began another new year full of new seasons of life to experience with my sweet family and our community of friends.  I feel like I’m on the cusp of the greatest year of my life.

Its funny to look back on this time last year.  I wrote a blog about slowing down, describing the journey of our family as my mom began to battle breast cancer, I shared about my hormones & the goal of getting them balanced.  Plus I wanted to:
  • Be more present & intentional.
  • Re-do my website with a responsive design and make it more personalized to me.
  • Blog more personal things
  • Plant a vegetable garden and/or be involved in a CSA so I can practice some canning for the winter months
  • Spend less money
  • Learn to rest & relax
  • Read books.
  • Finish our front porch
  • Investigate a solution for making our attic a “useable” space
  • Fix our front yard – it floods so bad when we experience a lot of rain!
  • Take a restful trip with Kevin
  • Condense my student loans!
  • Be even healthier…..this includes resting, being active, remembering to take my vitamins, etc.
HA!  Isn’t that funny?  I can’t help but laugh.  One by one let’s go down the list of 2016 goals and see how the year shaped out!
– Throughout my PREGNANCY, Kevin and I spent time together with friends and family.  The fact that I was able to get pregnant was nothing short of miraculous.  My hormones aligned & we made the sweetest little baby boy in all the world.  While I was pregnant, we talked about raising a family and what we wanted our lives to look like.  I tried to really put down my phone & engage with those I love.  Also, my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis kind of kicked me in the butt and made me remember not to take things for granted.  In 2016 I tried my hardest to be intentional with people & to live each day as if it were the last.
-Still working on the website – coming soon!
-Blog more personal things – still working on this one, but this blog is a good start!  Soon I’ll share some of my favorite nursery items, breastfeeding, & of course I’ll share some recent photos I’ve taken of my clients!
-Vegetable garden…..coming this spring/summer with lots of help from my dear hubs!
-Spending less money will always be a goal of mine!  Throughout the process of designing Hou’s nursery, buying maternity clothes & baby outfits, staying home for 15 weeks on maternity leave, I tried to be a good steward of our money & spend wisely!  Even now, while being a working mom, I make it a goal to meal plan for a week or two at the time to help us plan ahead and not be caught without a plan for dinner which leads us to picking up food that is more expensive/not as healthy!
-Rest & Relax.  Ha.  2016 started restful….first trimester exhaustion anyone?!?  I was in bed some nights by 7 with no dinner cooked!  The end of 2016 brought us our sweet baby boy which was not so restful!  But, hey, HE IS WORTH IT!
-Read books- still a goal!  Do all the little hardback baby books in Hou’s nursery count?  :)
-Finish front porch – DONE!  And, little did we know, we’d end up building a massive wrap around back porch this year, too!
– Attic space….well that plan was changed & we are so happy with the results.  Instead of remodeling our attic & making it into a spare room, we decided to convert our office into our master bedroom.  This gave us a total of 3 bedrooms & 2 bathrooms and enabled us to add that huge deck I mentioned!
– Front yard wetness – still working on that.  We need to level the yard out, bring in some dirt & then put down grass seed.  At least we know what needs to be done.
-Restful trip with Kevin – no big trips were taken, but we did take a lot of time to rest & do things together while it was just the 2 of us before baby Hou arrived in September.  I still remember our last trip to the movie theater before he was born; everyone was right when they suggested us to go to a movie!  At the age he is now, I feel like a trip to the movies is so far from reality!
-We condensed my student loans this year thanks to BB&T!  Now we won’t be paying as much & will have them paid off sooner than if we hadn’t condensed them!  Praise the Lord!
-Healthier?  Well….I had a baby in 2016 so I definitely took care of myself.  I had to remember to rest, not over-do it and take mental breaks for the both of us!  
Now, what about my plan for 2017?  Can the plan be to have no plan?:)
Let’s first start with goals for my business:
  • Shoot no more than 12 select weddings.  Currently I have 3 on the books.  These have been covered in prayer & I ‘m so excited about the couples I get to spend time with!
  • I will be photographing LIMITED lifestyle (family, maternity, senior) sessions; and I will book no more than 2 weekend lifestyle sessions per month.
  • Mini sessions will be back this year – Spring, Summer & Winter!
  • I’d like to increase the amount of printing I do for my clients – save the dates, invitations, promotional items, etc.
  • I’d like to blog more personal projects!
  • RE-DO MY SITE!  (By golly, this WILL get done in 2017!)

How’s that sound?  There’s something refreshing about putting all that on “paper”.

Thank you all for supporting me in my dreams!  Can’t wait to share my personal goals & our family goals for 2017!  Yay – stay tuned!

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Another Year, Really??? | Part Two

My last blog took you on a journey through my life in 2015.  What a whirlwind huh?

My hope for part 2 of that blog is to clearly communicate where my personal life & business is headed in 2016.  I’ve set some personal goals for 2016; I figured it would be most appropriate to share them with you today.

  • Be more present & intentional.
  • Re-do my website and make it more personalized to me.  Also switch to a responsive design.
  • Blog more personal things
  • Plant a vegetable garden and/or be involved in a CSA so I can practice some canning for the winter months
  • Spend less money
  • Learn to rest & relax
  • Read books.
  • Finish our front porch
  • Get my hormones in balance!
  • Investigate a solution for making our attic a “useable” space
  • Fix our front yard – it floods so bad when we experience a lot of rain!
  • Take a restful trip with Kevin
  • Condense my student loans!
  • Be even healthier…..this includes resting, being active, remembering to take my vitamins, etc.

As far as professional goals for my business goes, let’s go back in time a little.

I’ve been photographing since September of 2010 and I’ve learned SO much since then.  I’ve been hands on with some of the best photographers in the US, ran a successful business, met some of the best people who I can now call friends….and all because I decided to jump and go after something I enjoyed.  I graduated from Mount Olive College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Visual Communication.  And, for those of you that don’t know, I do work a full time job (in addition to photography) in Public Relations at our local community hospital.  It provides health insurance for our family, retirement and gives us financial stability so that we can live a generous life.  I love the people that I work with at the hospital and my “real” job gives me a chance to give back to the community by planning & promoting wellness events in our town. My loving husband, Kevin, is an ordained minister and is the Worship & Creative Pastor at our church.  He’s been there almost 6 years!  He’s also a phenomenal songwriter & skilled musician.  He writes music for himself & his band while also writing & playing with Matt Bartlett & Majesty Rose.  He’s actively involved in The Burn Goldsboro, a 24-hour prayer movement here in our hometown & he also travels with the other 3 bands to lead worship & play shows around NC & sometimes other states.  In September we will have been married for 4 years!  Crazy.  Time flies.  And, we have an adorable dog, #thedogliza, who we’ve had for about our entire married life.  She really is our baby.  We are passionate believers in living life in community with people.  In fact, most nights during the week our time is spent gathered amongst friends and family, sharing a meal together (or a doughnut).  :)

In 2015, I photographed 16 weddings & engagement sessions and over 20 portrait sessions while working my full time job.  8 of those weddings were in cities that were outside of Goldsboro, more than 60 miles from my house which required an entire weekend away from home and of which I had to use paid time off from work for the commute.  While I loved the traveling, the adventures, and the people who were in front of my camera, I missed out on a lot at home in the meantime.  With everything that happened in the last 6 months of 2015, my direction quickly shifted from photography to loving on my family.  I felt pulled in so many directions….I wanted so badly to be there for my loyal clients & capture beautiful memories, blog their beautiful images & get lots of likes on social media…..but at the same time, my family was most important.  For months I asked the Lord what was going on….”God, what am I doing?  What should I be doing?  Should I quit photographing?  I’m tired.  I need balance, rest & creativity.”  And I just didn’t know what the answer was.  I didn’t want to lay down photography because I felt like I was supposed to be doing it, and honestly I had worked so hard for 5 years learning the ins & outs of running a business.  But I knew, SOMETHING had to give…..before I wore myself out and got burned out.

To help you better understand, for me, a normal week during wedding season looked something like this:

Sunday – attend church, have lunch with our community of friends, facilitate life group at our house, head to grandmas house to spend time with family
Monday- work 8:30-5
Tuesday – work 8:30-5, Taco Tuesday with friends/family
Wednesday- work 8:30-5, photoshoot until 7 or 7:30, head home, download photos, rate photos, begin editing while cooking, Kevin arrives after youth group, eat dinner at 9, back to editing photos, bed
Thursday – work 8:30-5, photoshoot until 7 or 7:30, head home, download photos, rate photos, begin editing while cooking, Kevin arrives after band practice, eat dinner at 9, back to editing photos, bed.  If I didn’t have a photoshoot, I’d continue editing, responding to clients or blogging
Friday – work 8:30-5, unless I had an out of town wedding.  If so, I took the day off to pack & travel to wedding, then attend the rehearsal, charge gear, go over shot list & get ready for bed.

Saturday – Wedding days are an easy 12 or 13 hour day.  I shoot would typically shoot the wedding, download photos, rate photos, then go to bed with a very worn out body.  I would choose to drive home really late or get up early & drive back home to be back for church to support Kevin & to see our family.

The moments in between those things were filled with thoughts in my head; thoughts about mini sessions, shoot locations, payments, quickbooks, what outfits to wear, wedding schedules, how to grow the business, how to love on my clients, clearly communicating with brides, social media, editing photos, paying bills, cleaning gear, downloading cards, charging gear, buying batteries, signing contracts, meeting with new brides, designing albums, editing albums, ordering albums, etc. etc.  I don’t want it to seem like I’m complaining about all the work that comes with running a business, because thats not the place I’m coming from at all.  It just got to be a lot.

After my moms cancer diagnosis, I began thinking of what 2016 would look like: needles, infusions, chemo, radiation, doctor visits, medication…..moments I wouldn’t have chosen for myself or my family.  But yet, thats what we face.  And with all that lying before us as a family, and all the other things I want to be present for this year, I’m setting a new vision for my business.

  • In 2016 I will shoot no more than 10 select weddings. These will be weddings that I prayerfully consider before booking.
  • For 2016, I’m saying no to other types of sessions so that I can spend time with my family.  I will no longer be photographing family portraits, senior portraits, maternity or lifestyle portraits.  (If you have already booked a session, of course I will honor that!)
  • To compensate for the above, and still be able to photograph for the families I so greatly love, I will be offering 3 rounds of mini sessions in 2016.  The dates for those sessions are as follows: March 19, July 30, November 12.  I plan to stick to those dates….unless there’s a lack of interest or if something unforeseen happens in my mom’s care & I need to cancel or reschedule.
  • As best as humanly possible, any engagement sessions will be scheduled on Wednesday or Thursday evenings like I did in 2015.  Kevin is away on those evenings and by me shooting while he’s not at home, I’m not compromising our time together as husband and wife.  The weekends will be reserved for family time, weddings or the occasional bridal shoot!
  • I’m not sure what 2017 will look like, if these changes will stay the same for then or if it will all be different….for now, I’m just taking it one day at a time.
  • I will still be blogging.  Heck, I may be blogging more….who knows?  For a long time I’ve wanted to blog recipes from my kitchen, goals & dreams, our house renovations, essential oils, and natural living…..so keep an eye out. I promise I won’t be silent.
This was not an easy blog to write or an easy choice to make.  I shed a lot of tears in making this decision.  For me choosing to do less & making drastic changes for my business in 2016 was a choice between two good things and I’ve come to realize that there is no choice that will turn out perfectly in every way.

Proverbs 3:6, promises that He will make our paths straight if we acknowledge Him in all we do.

So instead of just wasting time not making a decision for the fear of making a wrong decision, I want to demonstrate my trust in Him by actually making a decision — having made peace with the fact it won’t all be perfect, and yes, it will be hard, but ultimately good.

There is no perfect job.  There is no such thing as perfect health on this side of eternity.  There is no perfect spouse.  There is no perfect church.  There is no perfect time to have kids.  There is no perfect decision.  Each choice will have just enough imperfections to make them some combination of good and not so good.  The great news is that my imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.

God, I trust You beyond any fear I have of making the wrong decision. Today, I hand over all my uncertainties to You.  May you glorify yourself in my life in 2016.

I hope all of this makes sense to you, clients & friends.  Thank you for supporting me in my dreams & in my desire for a more intentional year.  As weird as it may seem, I’m looking forward to a more empty calendar and seeing how much time I can spend with my family & friends.  I promise I don’t love you any less.  I just need some space with the Lord, surrounded by those I love, to breathe, rest & dream again.


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Another Year, Really??? | Part One

I cannot believe that 2015 came and went as quickly as it did.  On one hand I’m really sad that it flew by so quickly, but on the other, I’m so incredibly relieved.  Today I’m writing part ONE of a blog to share with you what my 2015 has looked like.  Sometimes I find it hard to be vulnerable in a blog because it feels so impersonal, but I feel its crucial to know where I’m coming from before I can share what lies ahead for me, my family & my business in 2016.

2015 was a very full year…. here’s a month-by-month synopsis:
  • In January 2015, we moved my brother into his apartment in Fuquay Varina to begin his Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Campbell University.  We spent intentional days snuggling with our sweet niece, Abella.  There’s nothing quite as cozy as a cold winter day with a squishy newborn swaddled tight & cuddled up on your chest.  I miss her being that tiny!  The remainder of the month I spent my free time making homemade vegetable broth, canning, visiting antique shops, and making more homemade products with our doTERRA essential oils.
  • February is always one of my favorite months.  February started off with a superbowl party.  I tried dry-needling on my neck and shoulder area for the first time.  We attended a party to celebrate Lindley & Patrick’s engagement & got to meet the wedding party.  I turned 26 and celebrated by being surrounded with friends and family.  On this night I found out that our friends Gage & Megan were pregnant!  My sweet friend Majesty played a show at the Paramount on my actual birthday and I was lucky to get to be there for it…she even sang to me.  :) We celebrated Valentine’s Day with chocolate covered strawberries, glass bottle Cokes & dinner at our favorite restaurant, Los Fogones.  We got a little bit of “wintery mix” and then some snow later in the month.  My friend, Amy, her daughter Hayden & I made 30 freezer meals in one night – we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, we laughed, we sang Taylor Swift, we were delirious, we cut up what felt like 1,000 veggies — all in all, we made memories together.
  • On March 1 we sat in a booth at Ed’s in downtown Goldsboro and talked with one of our dear friends, Scott.  Together we prayed and dreamed about what it would be like if he and his wife were to move back to Goldsboro.  We shared dreams for our future families and what it would be like to be in community together again on a daily basis.  Kevin led worship in Edenton & it was so nice to get away for a few days and relax with our friends, Gage, Megan (& Ollie, in her belly!).  We went to see Dance For Christ with our friends Amy & Josh & their daughter Hayden.  Kevin went to Romania for a week to teach & equip worship leaders there.  Gateway (our home church) always loves on our Pastors & their wives during Pastor Appreciation Week in March.  We are always so blessed by our congregation that week; they always remind us how genuinely amazing they are!  I can’t think of any other people I’d rather be vulnerable with, make memories with & grow close to!  Finally, as a church we wrapped up Matt Chandler’s “Recovering Redemption” series.

“God does some of His best work amid our worst pain. Our senses are never more awakened to our need for His love than when we’re most helplessly exposed. God isn’t the author of this evil and suffering, but His power is great enough to turn the darkest nights into something beautifully redemptive for His children.”
– Matt Chandler

  • Easter was early this year.  Of course, like in year’s past, mom read to us “The Country Bunny & the Little Gold Shoes”.  We celebrated at our yearly Good Friday Service & Sunday morning worship service.  Of course we went to a few egg hunts around town; Kevin played at Bethel’s Eggstravaganza with Majesty and Abella wore her tiny pink converses….adorable!  We photographed our first wedding of the year in downtown Raleigh.  Our local community college experienced an active shooter.  Kevin, Kelley, Wanda & I went to see Bryan Adams at the Red Hat Amphitheater.  We (somewhat) attended the Pickle Festival….in the midst of a downpour.  Sadly, all the music shows were rained out.  We ended April with a trip to Atlanta to photograph an Indian wedding, an answered prayer!
  • After our shopping around in Atlanta, May began with Patrick & Lindley’s first wedding shower.  We celebrated Mother’s Day with our moms, photographed Dana (my intern) & Zane’s wedding in New Bern & then headed back to Goldsboro for the Air Show!  Kevin played at the show with Majesty – it was SO hot outside!  We visited the State Farmer’s Market, spent some time in our ENO hammocks & spent lots of time with our friends.  I feel like this month was where a lot of the deep bonds in our friendships were strengthened. I wrapped up the month with a wedding in Richmond, VA; my mom & friend Abby tagged along with me.
  • June….half way through the year!  I started out the month celebrating my dad’s birthday on June 1.  I took a walk on the trail behind the hospital with friends and then visited Mount Pleasant,NC with my friend Lauren to photograph a wedding.  We made homemade ice cream for our church’s Ice Cream Freeze Off.  Sadly, we didn’t win, but our friends’ Red Velvet Cheesecake (aka Jesus Wept) ice cream did win!  Somewhere around mid-June we realized we had officially developed this habit of playing cards and drinking coffee with our friends on Monday nights.  And then Tuesdays we would go eat Tacos for $1.  In June, I wanted to be intentional about cultivating meaningful friendships – see #fruitfulsummer.  We celebrated my parents anniversary & June 20, we celebrated Kevin’s birthday with a burger bar in the front yard with sweet friends!  We celebrated Fathers Day with our dads!  Kevin went to summer camp with our student ministry in Anderson, SC, then stopped by Charleston, SC to visit the AME church were 9 people lost their lives…..he also discovered ancestry.com & spent hours researching his family’s history.  When he returned we visited Simply Natural Creamery for the first time with my family.  Papa Sam was hospitalized this month, we all knew his health was deteriorating quickly.
  • July 1 brought about a whirlwind of emotions…it kind of hurts to even remember it.  Papa Sam was moved from the hospital to Kitty Askins Hospice Center.  A good majority of our days were spent there – morning, afternoon & evening.  We decided not to keep our traditional July 4th plans of going to Emerald Isle & instead we stayed behind to be with Papa Sam and our entire family as we anticipated his last days were among us.  We were reminded of how loved we are – friends came to sit with us and bring us food during our long stay at Kitty.  In the midst of all this, my mom & I had planned a “tool shower” for my brother so we celebrated him & power tools together.  2 days later, on July 13, 2015, Papa Sam passed from earth into Eternity; The words of Jesus love me will never be the same to me.   I still remember standing on that balcony after he took his last breath, watching the sun set.  It was so peaceful, so beautiful.   We celebrated his life in a service on July 16 where Kevin delivered a beautiful eulogy and tribute to the life he lived & the Gospel message he so gracefully preached.  After the graveside service we all went to Cracker Barrel for dinner…all 30 of us.  Remember how we had brunch with our friend Scott in March and prayed he would come back to Goldsboro?  In July, Scott and his wife Blaire moved back to Goldsboro…another answered prayer.  Life continued with a friend’s retirement from the military, another wedding to photograph, and a trip/vacation to Florida to visit friends from college while Kevin led worship at a camp in Daytona Beach with the Matt Bartlett Band.  While we were there, early on Sunday morning we received news that our friend, Davey, our “sound guru” at church, had gone to be with Jesus after a short battle with stomach cancer.   We returned home for his funeral.  Kevin and our worship team led in a few songs & I had the incredible honor of capturing it all. Life…..is but a vapor.
  • My brother got married in August!  Woohoo…Happy times!  And remember our friends, Scott & Blaire…..well….they’re pregnant!  Mom, Dana (intern-ish), Carla and I traveled to Elkin, NC to photograph another wedding.  It was nice to be away from home for a few days and to take in the scenery of vineyards & mountains.  Kayla turned 16…and that still blows my mind….she was 10 when I first met Kevin.  We attended a wheelchair hockey game, sat on the back porch, enjoyed time with family & celebrated my brothers birthday.  Kevin played a show with Majesty in Mount Olive, my friends & I planned a wedding shower for Kelley & we started weekly Wednesday night planning meetings for Kelley & Santi’s wedding.
  • Its September, already!  The month started out with a wedding in Winston Salem, NC with Dana & Lindsey there to help!  Weekly planning for Kelley’s wedding continued.  Dana photographed another wedding with me – this one was in Saxapahaw, NC.  We tried Rabbit for the first time and I fell in love with that tiny little city.  On September 16 my mom had to have bi-lateral breast ultrasounds to follow up on a few suspicious areas they found on her mammogram.  That same day I began praying for my friend Andrea (our friend Davey’s daughter) who was undergoing some testing for her neck pain.  Kevin & I celebrated 3 years of marriage in Raleigh, NC.  We visited Joule’s Coffee shop & he played at Sparkcon with Majesty.  On our actual anniversary we started a new bible study at church & went out for dessert with Carla & Majesty afterwards.  I second shot a wedding, , I rekindled my love for doTERRA essential oils; a new product line launched & I scheduled an oil class at my house to share the oils with friends & family.  My mom had a breast biopsy to further test the areas they had found on her mammogram and our friend Andrea received news we were hoping she wouldn’t: breast cancer.

“If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past five months, it’s that we are all called to be brave in unique ways. You are called to be brave.
But be warned, because when you declare it, it will be tried and tested.

I really do believe we all have bravery inside of us. And that when we own our stories, when we admit that the hard stuff exists and we choose to trudge through it, that’s when our bravery grows. That’s when we get stronger. And when your life feels like it’s crumbling, all because you took a chance on that brave—you took a chance on yourself—know that God doesn’t leave loose ends. He puts the pieces back together, in time. And your brave will be taller and stronger and more refined than it used to be. It’s not easy; it’s costly.  But that big, tall, strong kind of brave is so worth it.”
-Meg O’Connor

  • On October 1, Blacklist started back….that’s pretty much the only time you will catch Kevin and I in front of the TV together!  Kevin and I visited an indian restaurant in Greenville for the first time & reminisced the indian wedding we photographed earlier in the year.  We attended the wedding of our friends Kristina & Tyler, had our first family dinner with “framily” (friends that feel like family) and I planned & successfully executed a huge event for work, a breast cancer awareness walk – “Think Pink.” Over 364 people from our community attended the walk (does not include staff members & some others who didn’t register), and 12 women scheduled screening mammograms!  My friend Andrea attended and was surrounded by her friends & our church family who all wore shirts I had designed as a fundraiser for her.  For the first time in my job at the hospital, as I was walking around the track I got teary eyed because I saw first hand that I was making a difference in my role.  My lucky brother won over $2,000 worth of apple products in a contest on HIS radio, my mom & I successfully pulled off Kelley & Santi’s wedding day, we attended the Wayne Pregnancy Center fundraising banquet, I photographed a wedding in Southport with Dana & Kevin played with Majesty at the Restore One Gala. I received gifts from that secret sister gift exchange, too!  At the end of the month, we found out that my mom needed to have the benign spot in her breast removed, so we went for a surgical consult.  We made memories at Trunk or Treat and ended the month photographing our sweet friend Andrea’s family photos before she started chemotherapy.
  •  Daylight savings time ended, which for my signifies the start of things beginning to slow down in the photography realm…no more shoots during the week.  We attended the ribbon cutting for the downtown Goldsboro streetscape, Kevin played with Majesty at that, and the following day they played a showcase in Durham, NC.  I had my first appointment with my oncologist to take a look over my medical history & to look into my hormone imbalance.  We celebrated our friend Andrea’s 40th birthday, my mom had surgery and 2 breast lumps removed (they found an additional suspicious shaped one & decided to take it out also). We celebrated as our favorite restaurant, Los Fogones re-opened; it was especially special for us because we had the honor of helping to re-brand for them.  The hospital partnered to help build a playground in Goldsboro so I was able to participate in that alongside my brother, some of his classmates, and over 200 other volunteers.  The Monday that followed, November 16, we found out that the additional lump they found in my mom’s breast was breast cancer.  I really really really hate cancer.  The next day Kevin and I had to head to Asheville, NC for a conference for work.  While we were there he spent time songwriting while I attended classes.  I was asked to present to the attendees & on the last night we attended a dinner where the hospital was presented with 6 awards for excellence in healthcare public relations and marketing.  I was honored to have played a part in our winning of awards, but was also very ready to be home and be with my mom.  We returned home on Friday afternoon.  Saturday I photographed 8 families as part of my Christmas mini sessions & Kevin lead worship at Cardboard City to raise awareness for homelessness in our Community.  That Sunday was one of my favorite days in November – we stuffed over 140 bags full of Thanksgiving meals for families in need!  Majesty (& friends/band) had an online show in our living room, I had to have a breast MRI, we spent a LOT of time hanging cups in a line for a backdrop at church, we celebrated Thanksgiving with a deeper appreciation for our families & friends and then my mom, I went shopping at 3 AM on Black Friday & Kevin bough himself a gun!  We crossed an item off of Kevin’s bucket list by going to see Glen Hansard at the DPAC and afterwards we picked out our Christmas tree.  We ended the month by helping my mom decorate her Christmas tree – this year’s color is PINK!
  • At last, December.  This month I held a Norwex party at my house and was excited to learn about all their natural cleaning products!  My mom had to have an additional surgery to remove more of her breast; we found out that the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes & they were able to get clean margins.  I photographed a wedding in Downtown Raleigh with help from Shannen, we walked in the Pikeville Christmas parade & I surprised my mom with a trip to Raleigh to see “A Christmas Carol.”  I started a GoFundMe page to collect money for my mom’s breast cancer treatment & I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from our friends & family.  A group of 28 of our closest family & friends went to Mikes Farm, Sweet Abella turned one year old and had a blast at her Minnie Mouse party, and we went to Bahama Breeze to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  We celebrated Christmas with the church staff at a lovely Christmas party full of cheesecake & gifted everyone with homemade rosemary bread & chocablocks!  We made Christmas Candy with Kevin’s family & somehow found the time to mail out Christmas cards in the midst of all of mom’s doctor’s appointments and testing (if we missed your house this year, I ask for forgiveness.  They were mailed in shifts, and the first shift check-off got lost….so I picked up where I thought I had left off….jello brain!)  On Christmas Eve we celebrated at our church’s annual Christmas Eve Service (one of my favorite services of the year) and then we went to grandmother’s house to play games, including PieFace!  So much fun.  We sang carols & remembered last Christmas where we gathered around Papa Sam’s hospital bed to sing to him.  Christmas day was a whirlwind.  We watched Abella open gifts with such joy, full of wonder & awe.  We took time to be grateful for the gifts, large & small that were given.  We gathered at Kevin’s parent’s house for lunch & then everyone came to our house for a Burrito bar dinner & gift exchange.  Kevin taught at church on Sunday morning, Tuesday we found out that mom will need chemotherapy for her cancer treatment & tonight we had dinner with our parents for New Year’s Eve & now we are going to bed (its only 10:30 pm!).

And there you have it; my 2015 in review.

We are anxious for new year that awaits, new roads to travel down, new lessons to learn, hurdles to jump, tears to shed and unspeakable amounts of joy – of this I’m sure.  Until I sat down to write this blog I hadn’t really taken the time to process everything we went through this year.  The last half of the year, especially have been full of grief and sorrow.  Some days things just don’t feel right; navigating the holidays has been very different this year, but my goal has been to CHOOSE joy in all things and in that I’ve spent more time with my family and friends, holding them close and really treasuring their friendships and influence in my life.

I am extremely blessed, more than I deserve; next week I’ll reflect a little more on 2015 and I’ll continue to be even more vulnerable about a few things happening, personally & professionally, in 2016.  I hope you’ll come back and hear my heart.



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Kelley & Santi – Gurley House Wedding – Goldsboro, North Carolina Wedding Photography

Our family has grown a lot this year; in August we celebrated with my brother as he married his middle school sweetheart. Then, only 2 months later, we watched Kelley & Santiago walk down the aisle as husband and wife at their Gurley House Wedding.  My mom & I had the privilege of helping Kelley plan her dream wedding; we met every Wednesday for 2 months to discuss what the day would look like.  She dreamed of a romantic, multi-cultural, outdoor garden Gurley House wedding & looking back at these photos, I think we achieved just that!  It was a perfect day full of golden light!

Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani01Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani02Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani03Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani04One of my most memorable moments of the day was Kelley’s first look with her dad.  Just as he did when she was a small child, he picked her a dandelion and as they fought back the tears, she placed the small flower in her bouquet to carry with her down the aisle.  Though she was marrying Santiago, she would always be his little girl.Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani05Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani06Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani07Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani08Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani09Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani10Kelley chose to incorporate fresh cut flowers & greenery, such as moss throughout her decor.  It was also important that we capture the cultural elements of their wedding, as guests traveled from Canada & Argentina to attend.
Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani11Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani12Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani13Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani14Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani15I absolutely love this photo of Santiago seeing Kelley for the first time, that smile was so genuine & full of love!  Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani16Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani17Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani18Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani19Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani20Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani21Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani22I’ve never seen Kelley more radiant and full of joy than this day; isn’t she lovely?Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani23Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani24Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani25Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani26Carrying through with the garden theme, Kelley ordered rosemary & lavender hand-made soaps by Jennifer Masterson.Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani27Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani28Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani29And that cake….how remarkable??  Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani30Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani31Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani32Goldsboro_Wedding_Photography_Brittani35Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani33Sharing a dance under the twinkly lights, Kelley and her dad left tears in everyone’s eyes.  It was such a memorable moment from the night!Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani34DJ Semaj kept everyone “movin’ & groovin'” on the dance floor!  I loved how he infused popular wedding songs with Argentinian flare.  Goldsboro_Wedding_Photograph_Brittani36

As we wrapped up the evening, the cold settled in ( 35 degrees in October!) but the fresh coffee, glow sticks, dance moves & all-around-happiness kept everyone warm.  It was a day I’ll always remember!  Seeing Kelley & Santiago so happy is something I will always treasure.  May you both look back on this day with joy & know that we are proud of you & are always only a phone call away!  We love you both!


A very special thanks to all of the vendors who worked together to make Kelley & Santiago’s Gurley House Wedding so special!

Ceremony & Reception Location: The Gurley House & Titia’s Garden
Hair & Makeup Artist : Cassie Erdmann
Wedding Coordinator: Paula Schultze
Florist: Elva Graham / Green Thumb Florist
Catering: McCall’s BBQ & Seafood
Wedding Cake: Mickey’s Pastry Shop
Wedding Cake Florals: Elva Graham / Green Thumb Florist
DJ: Semaj Yarn / Fuzzy Wuzzy Dj Services / LiveAction Entertainment
Second Shooter: Abby Haveri / Abby Haveri Photography

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Carl & Amanda – Haw River Ballroom Wedding – Saxapahaw, North Carolina Wedding Photography

I can’t believe its nearing the end of October.  Where has the year gone?  Seems like days just keep passing by faster and faster.  I’ve sat here at this little table pondering what to write about this wedding I get the joy of sharing with you today.  Week in and week out I get to spend my days with incredible people.  Sometimes I feel like all of my blogs sound the same: “two wonderful people who I love very much got married & there were pretty little details, lots of laughs, tears, and meaningful memories.”  But it is so true.  If I were to write anything else it would be a lie!  I literally have some of the most incredible clients whom I get to call friends at the end of it all.

The past couple months have been crazy.  People have passed from earth into eternity, friends have announced they are expecting their first child, we’ve celebrated with our siblings as they have gotten married, friends have been diagnosed with cancer, people are having surgeries, life is happening right before our eyes.  Some of it is great, in fact most of it is.  But then there are the days where we get heart wrenching news and it is so weighty.  Today as I sit in this cute little sandwich shop, I’ve spent a few minutes just reflecting on my life, my career(s), my friends & family, my clients & business; ahhhhh…..how beautiful my life really is.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” | Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

That brings me to Carl & Amanda’s Haw River Ballroom wedding in Historic Saxaphaw, NC. They are two beautiful people who I’ve had the honor of getting to know this past year.  Photographing their wedding was a such a wonderful time.  Their Haw River Ballroom wedding was inside the music venue set in the former Dye House of Saxapahaw’s Historic Cotton Mill. With three levels, a riverside deck, a concessions bar, a full service stage and sound system, gorgeous historic detail, solar and geothermal power and an idyllic rural setting, there is just no other place quite like it.  There was so many beautiful places to capture memories, so many beautiful people, an overwhelming amount of beautiful decorations….it was truly a beautiful day.

I loved spending time with Amanda as she got into her wedding dress.  She was so excited about marrying Carl.  Everyone around her was full of joy and so giddy!  The atmosphere surrounding their wedding day was full of so much joy, its almost hard to describe!
Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography01Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography02Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography03Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography04Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography05Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography06Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography07Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography08Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography09Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography10Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography11Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography12Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography13Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography14Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography15Carl & Amanda chose to have a First Look before their Haw River Ballroom Wedding.  And, wow, what a first look it was!  As Carl saw his bride for the first time he kept saying “wow!” and had her do a couple of spins to show off her dress.  They were enamored with one another, captivated and content being alone in their first moments together.  Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography16Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography17Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography18Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography19I loved that there was a tree swing nearby; it was so whimsical & provided Carl & Amanda with a unique photo opportunity.  Their child-like excitement about being wed was so precious.  I truly love these images.Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography20Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography21Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography22Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography23Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography24Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography25Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography26Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography27Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography28Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography29Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography30Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography31Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography32Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography33Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography34Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography35Haw_River_Ballroom_Wedding_Wedding_Photography36Their Haw River Ballroom wedding ended with a beautiful sunset & sparkler exit!  It was such a beautiful day & so much fun to photograph.


Carl & Amanda- Thank you for being our friends & for letting us capture your day.  It was so wonderful.  May it be the start of a beautiful life together.  My prayer is that the days that await the two of you, no matter how many trials or days of suffering, you choose gentleness & compassion as you adventure into your beautiful life together.

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