Donna

March was a crazy month this year. In it were the seasonal changes of a new spring, paired with a roller coaster that I call “everyday life”. I do believe that our lives often reflect the changing seasons of the year.

Jon and I found ourselves packed into the car, headed for West Virginia and the people he calls family. I had images of rolling hills filled with old trees and gray clouds, and that image was correct. What I did not imagine were the people I would meet; some of them rough and some of the graceful, and some of them just plain wonderful. This post is about one of those wonderful people.

Donna Morningstar is the wife of an acclaimed local music legend in West Virginia, Mike Morningstar. My Jon has looked up to Mike for years, and their invitation to spend a couple days with them on their farm seemed like an island of hope in the middle of a hard month. So we packed the car, got on the road and set out with high hopes. Little did I know that I would be finding a calming soul in Donna when I arrived. I would get as much out of this visit as Jon would from sitting and playing music with Mike.

When we pulled up to their house after 24 straight hours on the road, we were greeted by a small woman with long black hair. The porch was filled with gourd instruments, grown in the garden and shaved by hand. This was the kind of home that had bad TV signal and chickens eating in the driveway. This was a good place.

Having trained horses for years, Donna had also become a “collector” of sorts, somehow acquiring her seven horses and ponies and a donkey through various friendships and clients. Each has their own story, and after hearing all of them I can’t help but wonder if every horse isn’t some sort of glorious and majestic misfit in the world. Big animals, they require an insane amount of care and can easily fall sick.

Below is proof of the morning I spent out on the farm with my camera in hand, falling Donna around as she made the morning feeding stops and let them out to pasture. I found that this small and humble woman embodied grace and beauty in the best way, from her soft voice to the way she cares for every living thing around her. Enjoy.

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Pat & Amy | Presidio Engagement

I photograph couples in love, and it never gets old. While in San Francisco to shoot a dear client’s wedding, I was able to capture these precious portraits of my lovely friend and her fiance. Amy and Pat used to live in the historic Presidio neighborhood in San Francisco, so we thought it was only appropriate to trek through those stately tall trees while the sun shone through. With views of The Golden Gate bridge behind us and Andy Goldsworthy’s forest sculpture as a backdrop, it was truly a pleasure to take these photos. From the beginning, this couple has been building their relationship around strength and adventure. Years of long distance dating led to Amy’s move to California after college, and from there it’s just gotten better.

Amy, I wish you and Pat all the best as you embark on this new season in life! Such strong love will carry you far and through many exciting adventures!

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Todd & Melody Phoenix Engagement

Melody has been an absolute joy to work with in years past, and I was overjoyed when she asked me to photograph her October wedding at a winery near San Francisco. As soon as we reconnected during her engagement session, all of my memories of her grace and joy came flooding back. It was also a real treat to meet her new family!

As a former professional basketball player and a motivational speaker, Melody strives to empower other people with an excitement for life and accomplishing their goals. Seriously, her passion for this is so evident in her personality…she always builds up and encourages those around her. Her groom is such a lucky man! As a photographer, I long for clients just like her, and relish the opportunity to capture images of genuinely happy people; Melody is that kind of bride.

So, take a moment to explore these images of the couple and their girls before their upcoming wedding. SUCH JOY. Trust me, you’ll see what I’m talking about 😉

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Inna in Red

 

Brave beyond measure, Inna came to the U.S. from her home country of Russia at a young age….alone. A talented dancer and now a wife, she exemplifies grace and beauty in her own unique way, and I was so happy to take these portraits of her. She was an absolute natural in front of the camera! She also managed to trek through the desert on heels, earning respect from all the female hikers….so I’d say that this shoot was a success.

 

 

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MODEL CALL AUGUST

Will You Be Mine: Surprise Engagement

“Up for a late night proposal?”

……..

When you get a text like that at 10:30 pm from a dear friend, you just get into GO mode, especially when he is about to propose to one of the kindest, most radiant Christian girls ever to live on this planet…his sweet Colleen. They met through swing dancing, and Anthony knew just four days after they started dating that Colleen was the woman he wanted to marry. In fact, he wrote that realization down on a sticky note and saved it in the canvas you see below! His plan was to pull it out when the time came to propose to her, and that’s exactly what happened last night. So when he asked me if I was up for helping make his proposal a reality, I grabbed my friend and fellow photog Ryan and we jumped into action, creating a romantic candlelight proposal in less than two hours. I’m pretty sure I broke at least fifty traffic laws driving around for flowers (Walmart, yo) and lighting (CVS ftw), but I had a blast helping my two dear friends promise their love to each other. Ryan lent me his camera so that I could hop into professional photographer mode and capture these secret photos of the two love birds, so please enjoy this small look into their incredible night!

Colleen and Anthony, I am so proud to call you my sister and brother in Christ, and thank you for including me in this special occasion. These are the moments in life that I live for.

 

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A Study in Refinement

This shoot was a blast to work on, and I had the pleasure of photographing the very talented Courtney Larsen in Christian Dior for Angelic Magazine. With our concept being to showcase spiritual refinement, we set out to capture images that progressed from darkness to light. For the full spread of published images, visit http://issuu.com/angelicmag/docs/july2014issue. I loved this project, and I hope that it will be a light for those who read it.

 

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Amy

There are some people in life that are a balm for your soul, and this woman is one of them. The first time we met seven years ago at a birthday party, we talked and laughed all night before even being formally introduced…her sense of humor is CRAZY GOOD! Now she is all grown up, and even more beautiful on the inside than she is one the outside. Her heart for Jesus is as deep as the ocean and as wide as can be. I have seen her be a faithful friend, a safe place and a loving daughter. I am so happy that she is my friend! Enjoy her session here as you get a glimpse at a full life in this lady’s face!

 

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Wonderous Light

As I end the blogging tonight….I wanted to ask: is this light for real??

 

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Breaks are good.

The art of taking a break is a lost one, I think. After I graduated from design school, I was burnt out from seven years of college with an unhealthy view of what it meant to work. I would sit in front of the computer for 18 hours at a time if I had to. After I had my hands on that degree, my mind and body decompressed to the point of having to redefine work…what is it, and how do I work hard while staying healthy? How do I not swing to the other extreme and work too little? Photography is an answer to that. It is a passion that I pushed aside for about three years while finishing assignment after assignment at school, and it a provides a work structure that I love.

The beauty of photography is that each session is a mini project, with a goal at the end to accomplish: deliver beautiful images to a client with wonderful customer service along the way. Everyday is a learning experience, and I am loving it. I stumble and make mistakes, but what comes from the ashes is a new perspective and vision that beats what I had in place before.

And this is where breaks come in…

A break is only worth something if you are working hard leading up to it! I always feel so much more accomplished when I take a break after a morning doing office work or editing. Today, my sister wanted to play tennis (she is the lovely girl below), so we biked up to the public courts and swung away at the ball for a bit. I AM TERRIBLE, PEOPLE. I once took lessons as a teenager, and the instructor actually suggested I retake the class. Talk about embarrassing. At least now I can hit it to the wrong court without him frowning at me. Plus, taking a break was good. I spent time with my sister. It reinvigorated me to come back and write this post…to do what I am learning to love.

So the next time you are planning your day and realizing that it is full to the brim with all work and no play, consider making time for a break. Your work will feel less exhausting, and so will your brain. Although my back is feeling those volleys…..

 

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