meet payden.

She is the first daughter of my oldest brother, and sometimes, I swear she reminds me exactly of myself when I was 17. There is a sweet confidence about her, and she is still a complete smartass. Believe me, in half the shots below, she was making me laugh.

We had so much fun shooting her senior pictures. I am a little biased, I guess, since she is my niece and all. It was probably in my top three favorite shoots ever. Not just because they are of Payden (that girl has got the looks, that’s for sure), but because I found new spots to shoot and tried new poses. And the horse! I’ve never used such a big animal before, but she definitely wanted pictures with her Braveheart.IMG_7652a

IMG_7677aThis shoot gave me a different kind of confidence that I have not felt before. I am much more comfortable with the idea of being someone who can shoot people and capture their personalities. IMG_7731a

IMG_7771aI didn’t have to give her a lot of direction because she had an idea of what we both wanted. She wanted pictures that were pretty and model-y, and I wanted pictures that showed how laid back and relaxed she is. I wanted her pictures to be the most gorgeous ones I’ve ever done, and bingo, I think we nailed it. payden1collage

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IMG_8004aWe shot these on two different evenings, and she wants another spot, which I’ll share later when they are all finished.

tink.

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Oh the 4th, she wanted to do a photo shoot. Her idea, not mine. Somehow I think she was coaxing her way away from the fireworks because she has no interest in blowing things up and loud bangs. Her mom and sisters were doing enough of that anyway.

And somehow they turned out to be some of my favorite pictures of her, ever. I love those accidental facial expressions and full-of-love eye shots that she can give you through lens. Her little innocence is just sitting there, waiting to be lapped up with light. I love that too.
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I hope that she never loses that part of her, that innocent love for life. That as she grows older, she doesn’t have to endure the weird or cruel things other kids can say. I know that someday she will have to stand up for herself, be stronger than everyone else, and brush off negativity, but still, I wish I could protect her little heart from that kind of worry.
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Disability brings scars, in both physical ways and emotional ways. In the 10 years that I have been paralyzed, I have felt myself become stronger, more resilient in many ways, but still, there are parts of me that are gaping wide open with things that I wish I could change, things that still cut me deep. I think it will be the same for Serenity. Her hands may bring attention, and she will either ignore it or she is going to fight it with all the attitude she can muster.

She is still one of the most beautiful people I know, no matter what.

our wedding : part 1

Our entire wedding could not have gone any better in my mind. It was magical and nerve-wracking and completely blissfully full of love.  Greg and I had all of our friends and family there to watch us take these vows to each other. It was perfect.untitled (34 of 258)

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We picked the Victorian Veranda Country Inn almost right away. It was only the second place that we looked at, and from the moment we drove into the driveway, we knew that this was the place.  It just had that feel to it.  And it was yellow. No-brainer.

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The morning of the wedding, I was running late (of course) and as soon as we got to the Victorian Veranda Country Inn, it was a race to get ready. Darcy and Maria put their dresses on, and then after a glass of wine, we started on mine. It’s not easy to get a big wedding dress on when you are sitting, believe me. Melissa, Chris’ second shooter, helped out with getting the train out of the way. That girl was a life saver!

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The boys all got there before we did and hung around until it was time to get dressed. I love that Chris snapped pictures of Grant, Greg’s brother, in my chair. It’s just funny.  There are also pictures of them racing. My boys being themselves, for sure.untitled (46 of 258)

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But being late all worked out and after Aunt Bev sewed me up (she carries thread and needle in her purse, haha), we headed out to get pictures together.

I was so nervous. Not because I was getting married, but because there would be 200 people there watching me get married. That glass of wine (half a glass actually) calmed me down, and then as soon as I saw Greg, it was gone. I wanted to scream to the heavens that HOLY CRAP, WE ARE GETTING MARRIED!
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All photos by Chris Gharst. An amazingly talented local photographer and friend.

weekend recap.

The weekend was a slow one, a pretty quiet one. I like it that way, where I can go out in a t-shirt and without makeup. My favorite.

On Sunday, Greg and I took a little ride out to our soon-to-be home and the lake nearby. We are so close (less than 2 miles) to the lake, and I imagine that we will be spending quite a bit of our summers there in the future. I suppose we will have to get our fishing licenses (again). Then we came home and I spent over an hour pinning ideas for my office and bedrooms. I am slightly obsessed with putting together our new home. It’s going to be so much fun.

Anyway, while we were out, I got a few photos of the lake. I am looking forward to so many new photo opportunities. They are just screaming at me.

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rose garden.

I took a little trip to the Rose Garden at Gage Park yesterday. Greg went to ride his bike, and I had some down time. The sun was out, and even though it wasn’t the best shooting conditions, my camera was along for the ride. It’s so calming how taking photos, harsh shadows or not, can clear my head and make me focus on things that take away all the stress. Taking photos distracts me.

I love the Rose Garden. It’s pretty and quiet, and I can roam, looking for pretties. Yesterday, I was chased by a bumblebee. I was warm in the sunshine, and I saw more battered roses than pristine ones. It must be due to the hail and rain we have had lately. Still, even in their weathered stage, they are pretty, petals or not.

Looking forward to small photo excursions like this.

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and june, it was.

march_17We lost our dad last night around 6:45pm, and even though it was hard, it went in one of the most peaceful ways I could have imagined it going.

The night before, around 12:30 am, he had had an “episode” where he got worked up, his heart rate spiked, he was sweating and freaking out. He cried. I called my sister and brothers, and we all were here clear up until he passed last night, along with the nieces and nephews and grandbabies. We sort of kept a vigil over him, making sure he wasn’t in any pain or anxiety, and my mom noticed his heart rate was dropping pretty rapidly. We all gathered around his bed, and as my sister-in-law finished The Lord’s Prayer, he passed away. And the sun came out from behind the clouds, the first time all day. It was surreal. It was something that you might not believe unless you had been here.

There was something bigger than us here last night.

He is at peace. He is in no more pain. And he made it to June, just like he said he would.

I love you Dad. May you rest in peace.