Elizabeth and Dustin's Lake Cumberland Engagement Session

When it’s that quiet on the water everything you say glides quickly across the surface. Sometimes it comes back. You can hear every small splash, every swoosh your hand makes in the water, and occasionally individual drops. You naturally reduce your voice in a reflexive response to the quiet. It makes everything seem just that much more still.

Elizabeth and Dustin’s September engagement session was the kind I wish I could do every day. But with both of them stationed outside Kentucky, I was only able to talk to them on the phone beforehand. Having never met them, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Elizabeth had only a few requests once we decided to do their session at Lake Cumberland. 

She wanted a lot of candid shots.

She wanted to get photos of them in uniform.

And she wanted to get in the water.

This was all music to my ears and I already knew it was going to be a ton of fun.  

I met them at Haney’s Appledale Farm, an orchard known for their fried pies. Seriously, while I was waiting for Elizabeth and Dustin, a car pulled up and a group of women jumped out only to be incredibly disappointed that Haney’s had already closed and they weren’t able to get their hands on one of the fried pies. 

(Note to self, go back and get a fried pie)

When they arrived we started in the orchard in their respective camos (she’s Army and he’s Navy) and then changed into his summer whites and a playful blush dress.  

Here’s the thing I love about Dustin and Elizabeth, they are both a spectacular combination of fierce and funny. They are both total badasses and I could spend the rest of the blog bragging about them, but they also both balance that out with this wonderful light-hearted, joking nature that made this session extra awesome. 

Not that they needed any help with this, but part of getting great candid photos is providing prompts that bring out natural reactions and encourage joking around. I sometimes ask them to tell me a funny story about early in their relationship. She told me about how she had to wake up earlier than he did when they were both in Lexington and so she would often cook him breakfast. One day he was raving about how awesome the biscuits and gravy were that morning… but she finally confessed that she had run out of recipes, gone to Magee’s, brought them home and put them on a plate. She had to come clean knowing that she wouldn’t be able to replicate the dish again. I love this so much!

We headed back to the car to drive down to the lake and received no shortage of honks from cars driving by. I mean, they looked phenomenal and very out of place on the country road so I’m hoping they brightened a few days!

While they changed into their final outfits (countdown to water!) I worked on some shots of her ring. Elizabeth laughed and said that would make Dustin happy, that he’s super proud of it.

If not for the wild group of children splashing in the water, the lake would have been quite peaceful. But, kids will be kids, especially without adult supervision, and they enjoyed shouting at Elizabeth and Dustin to tone down the PDA. We got some laughs out of it and then moved along the beach to get in the water. 

The lake was calm and surprisingly warm. Warmer than the air temperature. 

The mud made it too sticky for me to wear my flip flops so I had to ditch them and trust I wasn’t going to step on anything that didn’t want to be stepped on. We started with just feet, and then before I knew it we were all up to our waists. It was after sunset and the parents had shown up and taken the kids away so suddenly everything seemed really calm. Compared to the chaos of two other outfits and driving to a different location and being shouted at by a pack of wild children, everything was really serene. 

We stayed in the water like that for a while, soaking in the moment with occasional clicks of the shutter and a few laughs and splashes mixed in for good measure. It was probably my favorite end to an engagement session to date, not just because it made for some of my favorite images ever, but because for just a few minutes life was pretty dang peaceful. 

And we could all use a little more of that.  

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Jess and Monte's Keeneland Engagement Session

These days I have couples that meet in all sorts of ways. Some still meet in college, some know each other from high school, occasionally couples will meet in a bar, but an increasing amount meet online, whether that be a dating app or a social media platform.

One of the amazing things about our current time is that geography is no longer such an insurmountable barrier to finding a partner. I can remember as little as 10 years ago having a conversation where the other person was saying that they think you should only date in your small geographic region. I’m so glad that’s no longer the strict norm. Because… love! Because… adventure! And because I know and have worked with so many lovely couples that wouldn’t be together if that were the case. People are much more flexible when it comes to work and their lives, even if it means picking up and moving to a different state to be with someone you can see a future with or simply landing in a different (or better) dating pool. 

Jess lived in Florida last year. Monte lived in Kentucky. They had a mutual friend that Jess worked with and when they posted a photo of Jess, Monte immediately was interested and commented on it. I didn’t get specifics, but I imagine it was something like:

“WHO IS THAT???” (Jess is completely stunning, as you’ll see in their photos)

That led to them talking online which progressed to her taking the leap and moving to Kentucky in September. (When she said this I immediately had to apologize, on behalf of Kentucky, that this was the first winter she experienced)

Monte wanted to propose on the beach but he wasn’t sure how to make it a surprise. Since they were serious enough for her to move to Kentucky, they had also already talked about marriage and decided that was the direction they were headed. But… how to make it a surprise? How to get her to the beach without her suspecting anything? Especially when she had just moved in September...

So he called in the backups… her mom.

Jess’ mom phoned and put on an Oscar-worthy performance, crying and acting all sad saying she missed Jess and seeing if she’d come home for a short visit.

YES! Go Mom!

Jess flies home and Monte takes advantage of her being gone to get the ring and get ready for his big moment. He flies down (unbeknownst to Jess) a couple days after her and arranges to be on the beach at sunset. Jess and her mom head to the beach to watch the sunset and there’s Monte, with the biggest surprise. 

And all of this because two people weren’t willing to accept geographical constraints. 

Jess and Monte are currently planing their January wedding in Florida, which, if anything like last winter, will be an excellent time to get out of Kentucky!  

When I look at these photos I love how sensual they are, the way she looks at him, the way he gently holds her. I also love how beautifully and seamlessly they transition from polished and formal inside Keeneland to bohemian and a little rugged on the grassy grounds after sunset. Thank you two for making my job so easy!  

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Brittany and Nathan's Kincaid Engagement Session

As promised, I have another adorable proposal story, this time Brittany and Nathan. Just like Sean and Jessica, Brittany and Nathan also met when they were still in high school. In a little foreshadowing, he actually asked her to be his girlfriend with a ring pop.

*collective awwwwww from all the readers*

Fast-forward to more recently, they’ve been together a while and Nathan decides it’s time to take the next step. They are in Florida on a beach trip with Brittany’s family and have plans to go out for dinner. Brittany’s mom keeps suggesting that maybe Brittany should wear something nicer for dinner... hmmmm?

Brittany starts to wonder…

Then Nathan suggests they go on a walk on the beach before dinner.

Brittany’s spidey senses are definitely tingling. So much so that in the elevator on the way down to the beach she gives him a hug so that she can feel if there’s a ring box in his jacket or pants.

Yes. She patted him down in the elevator. I couldn’t help but laugh over this and Nathan later agreed that it definitely felt less like a hug and more of a pat down.

They walk to the beach where the hotel had set up table and chairs and tiki torches for dinner, and of course she said yes!

One of the things I love about this story and the previous blog is the role family plays in many of my couple’s stories. When I hear about excited moms almost giving away the surprise or dads helping orchestrate proposal details, it’s sweet to know that there are so many young people in their 20’s and 30’s who are so close to their families that they couldn’t imagine not sharing this huge step with them somehow.

When I met Brittany and Nathan for coffee the first time we spent nearly an hour talking about their years together so far, their wedding plans, and their dreams for the future.

Then… out of nowhere the woman next to us leans over and says “well, if you ask me, I’d say you just forget the whole wedding thing and elope to Vegas”.

 

Ummmm…. WHAT?

 

Who is this stranger that just hopped into this meeting? I was so surprised that I didn’t really have anything to say but Brittany nailed it.

“It’s really important for us to have our families there”

Here’s the thing… if you want to elope… do it. If you want to trade promises with your soul mate on top of a mountain or by the sea, go for it. You can spend that wedding money on a cool trip and go on a real adventure.

Oh, and call me, I’ll come document it!

But… if you can’t imagine taking such a big step without being surrounded by your friends and family, then by all means… have a wedding! You’ll spend all day getting hugs and cheers and being wrapped in warmth and love by your favorite people in the world, it’s a feeling unlike any other.

And I absolutely can’t wait for Brittany and Nathan to feel that when they trade I-do’s in front of their families and friends this spring! 

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Jessica and Sean's Keeneland Engagement Session

It’s probably not a huge surprise that I love proposal stories, especially when they are kind of funny, and the next couple of blogs are two of my favorites.

Jessica and Sean actually went to rival high schools, both were in band but he was a little older. After he graduated he came back to play with her school’s band director and she was straight-up swooning over the talented, handsome, college guy.

I met Jess through Tuesday’s Together, a monthly meetup through the Rising Tide Society. If you’re not a creative entrepreneur, you may not have heard of RTS, but essentially it promotes community over competition ("a rising tide lifts all boats"). This means it’s a fantastic group of people that constantly cheer you on and share knowledge from their own successes and struggles. So basically, it’s full of really awesome humans and Jess happens to one of them!

When I asked them about what their early relationship was like, they said things got serious fast, they just kind of knew that “this was it”. Sean knew that he was going to propose for a while, but getting the chance to put the details into place was going to be a bit tricky. He went to get the ring on a day that Jessica happened to be sick, so part of taking a little bit longer to come home was that he said he was going to get her medicine.

The impressive part here is Sean’s extreme efficiency when it comes to ring shopping. It sometimes takes me 20 minutes to decide what I want for breakfast. Do I want eggs or pancakes? Sweet or savory? How healthy do I want to make this meal? Sean was in and out of the jewelry store in less than that amount of time. He claims he walked in with a certain cut, color, and design in mind and they had 3 rings that met his criteria. After that it was a quick decision and he was out.

IN LESS THAN 20 MINUTES.

Clearly, I’m very impressed by this. I’m over here still trying to decide if I want to add blueberries and a side of bacon to my pancakes.

Anyways… it was quick, but back at home Jess was not particularly happy about how long it was taking to get the cold meds. How long does it take someone to run to Walgreens? Apparently a little longer when there’s a secret mission involved…

Sean wanted to propose on Christmas at her family’s house. He had told her to open THAT present last. The way it was supposed to work was that her mom was going to text Sean and he was going to sneak in and be there waiting for her when she read a note that said to turn around.

However… just like with weddings, sometimes things don’t always go as planned and often it makes for really charming moments.

Her mom was so excited about the unwrapping that she forgot to text Sean.

ADORABLE!

So, Jess reads the note, it says to turn around. She does. And…. nothing.      

In her head, I imagine her internal monologue goes something like this: ‘Ok… this seems like a proposal… but what if it’s not? What if I’m reading too much into this? Why is my mom recording me? What is supposed to be behind me? AAAAHHHHHHHHHH’

She texts Sean.

 

“Ummmmmm….”

 

He was waiting in the car and of course immediately ran inside and finished the job.

Which leads us to their gorgeous session and, what I feel, is definitive proof of why everyone should spring for hair and makeup for their session! Check out their photos below!

 

Hair: Lauren Prather (@thestylistlauren)

Makeup: Caroline Lee (@carolineleemakeup)   

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Waiting For Moonrise

Every once in a while I'll throw in a personal post about my travels, life, or other musings. This is the first.


We lie on our backs and point into the air, drawing invisible lines with our fingertips to connect the stars. By my final night we’ve amassed a respectable group of known constellations and what I feel, at the late hour, is an equally respectable group of ones we’ve completely made up. Shooting stars and satellites make their way across the sky, and usually after five we forget to keep counting. We don’t have watches or cell phones; time is measured by moonrise. The glow creeping on the horizon and dimming of the otherwise bright Milky Way tells us it’s almost time. Mars has already risen, the moon isn’t far behind. And when it does rise it’s so incredibly bright compared to the darkness we’ve been enjoying that it’s almost painful, like looking into the sun, but we don’t look away. Like what often happens when humans are overcome with emotion or wonder, we try to put it into words for each other, as if we’re not all looking in the same direction.

It makes me feel like I’ve never really seen the moon before.

And I agree, it’s exactly what I was thinking. On clear nights we cross the dunes, spread blankets, and then head-to-head we turn ourselves over to the skies. We forget everything about our lives outside of this moment, our own struggles, the chaos of our planet these days.

And every night when I see the Milky Way or the moon rise over the Atlantic it always feels like it’s the first time I’ve really seen it.

Thanks to my family, I’ve been traveling to this island for twenty years now. Many of those beside me on the blankets I’ve known for almost as long and some more recently. We all met on this little barrier island and they too are compelled to return every year at the same time, well after we reached the age when our parents no longer dictated our vacations. Not everyone we grew up with here feels the same, some never return. But that’s okay. I get it, it’s not for everyone.

heat. sand. sand spurs. mosquitoes. bugs. more bugs. sometimes an Indiana Jones level of bugs.

But when the sun starts to set and we break bread, reminiscing about summers past while the next generation shrieks through a game of tag in the grass, I remember why I need this place as much as I’ve ever needed anything. We’re one big very extended family, entertainingly diverse but with a single common thread. And it’s enough. For two or so weeks a year we put aside our differences in lifestyle, politics, and religion (which we know exist, because well, Facebook) and cook for each other, wash dishes together, help repair tents and campers, watch over children, and share meals and drinks and dancing and laughter and sometimes tears. We celebrate successes and milestones from the year and lend shoulders or an ear for the losses. I’ve missed two years, one in Scotland and one in Oregon, both beautiful places but both times I remember being so incredibly heartbroken.

Sometimes I think it’s odd that I feel this way. How is it possible to be so incredibly in love with a place? But no, it’s not necessarily the place, is it? It’s the feeling. It’s addictive. It’s a drug that I can’t get but one time a year and only at a very specific time and location, and then it’s gone. It can’t be rescheduled. There are no rain dates.

It’s the high of spending every day with a family you’ve chosen and who love you unconditionally through your best and worst. It’s hugging each other as often as possible because you have to cram a whole year’s worth of moments and feelings into a week or two. I often wonder what life would be like if we were all this free to express ourselves and our gratitude?     

And of course, there are those intoxicating hours on the beach at night. Laughing with some of my favorite people in the world, taking deep full-body breaths of warm, salty air, not caring that I’m covered with sand, damp with humidity, and will likely only get a handful of hours of sleep. Tomorrow doesn’t matter. And maybe that’s why I love it so much.

When I get on the ferry to leave it’s the strangest combination of melancholy and fulfillment. Some years I’ve cried, knowing that I won’t feel this for another year. At the same time, however, I feel so incredibly fortunate that I have this. I have a place I can go to actually feel at peace. But it’s fleeting, having such hard spatial and temporal constraints. This time. This place. And even more terrifying is that it’s so geologically transient. Rising sea level projections are half a foot on the low end in my lifetime and are multiple feet on the high end, enough to either compromise or completely inundate the island.

And so we do the only thing we can do when faced with the possibility of a punctuated future, a future in which we don’t get to watch our own children and grandchildren playing soccer with their own adopted beach families. We pack our cars, our tents, our campers, our coolers. We stock up on bug spray, implements of shade, solar panels to run fans, and cooking supplies for the chowder-offs. We drive for hours, sometimes days, to a tiny island in North Carolina to live off the grid and love by the sea.

And although it’s never really enough, it’s enough until next year.     

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In memory of Butch Carnes, a beloved member of our Ocracoke family. 

Brittany and Bryan's Parklands Engagement Session

It’s said that there’s an exact moment when a man realizes he loves a woman, a moment that he can later easily pinpoint. Sometimes it’s a grand, sweeping moment. During a special day or gesture. Maybe on an unforgettable adventure. Other times it’s just a tiny, fleeting instant. A certain smile over the shoulder. Watching her laugh from across the room.

Although I can’t say if this is true, this is what Brittany told me she had in mind when she asked Bryan when he knew he loved her. And, of course, he was totally caught off guard.

We met for their engagement session at Parklands just outside of Louisville. It was a steamy June evening, the temperature dropping just below 90 when I arrived a little early to pick out a few shaded spots. As I wandered around I thought about how fortunate I am to be able to do something like this that forces me to get outside and walk around beautiful places and pay close attention to things like lighting, color, and composition. I love the challenge of calculating sunset time and angle and shutter speeds and aperture and all the facets of a great photo.

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After Bryan was put on the spot about the whole “when did you know” thing, he made some mental calculations of his own. He realized it was when they had gone on a trip to Lawrenceburg almost a year previously. That was how he decided that he’d propose there, on the riverfront.

When our session began, the humidity made the air feel like you were walking through heavy fabric, like you needed to push it out of the way to get through it. We knew it was going to be hot, so we game-planned. Fans, ice water, towels, oil-absorbing sheets.

But beyond all of the stuff we could bring and beyond all the editing tricks, the key to an amazing session (or even wedding) in not-so-awesome weather is the ability of a couple to be so happy to just be there and to be positive. To keep smiling and laughing and maintain closeness regardless of what nature throws their way.

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So, when Bryan and Brittany returned to Lawrenceburg he planned to take her down to the riverfront and propose but the weather was awful. It was cold and rainy and not at all ideal weather for asking the love of your life to marry you. So, what did he do?

They got pizza. And stayed inside.

And he postponed. Because sometimes you just have to roll with what nature gives you. The next day the weather improved and they went down to the riverfront and he finally told her that it was in that spot a year ago that he knew.

During their engagement session, some rowdy and giggly teenagers were leaving the park. One asked Brittany if she was getting her senior pictures done. We laughed and said no, they were engagement pictures.

“Oh! Well then I hope you have a really fun wedding and love each other forever!”

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I thought this was adorable, this 15-year-old’s take on marriage.  

Of course, I hope your wedding is really fun, Brittany and Bryan, and I can’t wait to capture those fun moments this fall... I'm already certain I'll be laughing most of the day.

I also hope you love each other forever and am so grateful that you chose me to be a part of the early stretch of that journey.

But the not-15-year-old me also hopes that you continue to weather storms together regardless of what nature, or life, throws at you, just like you did in your engagement story and just like you did on a very hot, humid evening in Louisville.  

Because look at how beautiful it can be.

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Katherine and Dana's Sweet Cincinnati Elopement

"I've got a plan... and I need your help. Don’t tell Katherine."

Dana called me a few days before the ceremony to fill me in on what was bound to be the cutest wedding interruption ever. 

“We’ve talked through the ceremony with Christina (the officiant) and decided we’re going to cut out the call for witnesses part. What Katherine doesn’t know is that Christina is going to ask anyways. And at that point our dogs are going to come tearing around the corner.”

Dana told me how Katherine is usually a rock, that it was she, Dana, that gets emotional. I can relate, I tear up at nearly every wedding. But that by having the dogs run up that maybe, just maybe, Katherine might get a little teary.

I’m always game for a secret mission, so I agreed to help in any way I could.

The ceremony was scheduled for a warm, sunny morning in June at the Church of the Immaculata in Cincinnati. It’s on Mount Adams overlooking the Ohio River that marks the border between Kentucky and Ohio. This is especially symbolic for them as Dana currently lives in Ohio and Katherine in Kentucky and they've spent much of their relationship commuting back and forth between the two states.

I told Katherine I’d be there an hour beforehand to help set up and get some photos of her in her dress. What she didn’t know is that I was scheduled to meet Dana an hour BEFORE THAT to fine tune the details of our plan.

Dana arrived with wedding nerves firing. She ordered champagne and a triple shot of espresso, excitedly telling the baristas that she was getting married.

“I never thought this would happen for me” she told me as she had her espresso, and then her bubbles. She described how a friend had taken her phone and then swiftly grabbed her index finger to unlock it, downloading a dating app. Dana gave it a shot but no one really interested her. She even deleted it once or twice and then reinstalling it.

But then…

She saw Katherine. Her photo popped up and she clicked favorite or like or super like or whatever that particular app calls someone saying ‘hey there, I like what I see!’

At that very moment Katherine was sitting with a group of friends, also getting frustrated with her dating app options. She picked up her phone, ready to delete the app.

And that’s when the notification from Dana popped up.

Seconds later and they likely wouldn’t be getting married.

I told Dana that I loved this story because it was like the modern-day version of passing someone on the street. The right time, the right place.

And that perfect timing was what led to us having coffee and champagne and planning the great dogscapades of 2018.

Dana had her dogsitter go and pick them up and the plan was for me to start taking photos of Katherine and not, under any circumstances, let her walk around the back of the church once the dogs were there. This wasn’t too hard since Katherine and Dana wouldn’t be seeing each other until the start of the ceremony, so I just told her that Dana was in the parking lot.

Katherine and Christina stood at the front of the church and Dana came around the corner. The beautiful thing about elopements and small ceremonies is you get to see how a couple really is with each other. Katherine adjusted Dana’s hair. Dana brushed grass off of Katherine’s shoes. It was a sweet beginning to watching these two commit their lives to one another.

Then, moments later, it was time. I had stepped out wide enough to see the dogs patiently waiting on the side of the church. We had been worried they would bark and give it all away.

Not a peep.

It’s like they knew how important their job was.

I heard Christina call for any witnesses. I saw the look of confusion on Katherine’s face. And then I watched that transform to joy when Dana called for the boys and they came running full-speed around the corner.

They jumped and barked excitedly and everyone laughed and Katherine even had to wipe her eyes a little. It was every bit as awesome as I thought it might be.

After some dog hugging and celebration from Dana for pulling off the stunt, it was back to business. I watched them exchange rings and vows and thought how amazing it was that we could be here on this stunning morning doing just this.

There was more champagne and hugging and laughing after it was over. They were both completely glowing with happiness and we relived the moment the dogs came running around the corner at least five times. I watched them continue to gently care for each other just like at the start of the ceremony, brushing hair out of the way here and wiping a brow there.

And when I finally left I didn’t feel just like I was a photographer taking photos. It felt like I was a witness, myself and the dogs, to something extraordinarily special on the steps of the Immaculata, overlooking the river where Kentucky meets Ohio.   

Scroll down to see some of the highlights from their morning…

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Macy and John's Spring Engagement Session

"After we got ready for today we realized we both had put on the watches we gave each other for our first Christmas together!"

These two. Oh my gosh. I absolutely love Macy and John's dynamic. If every couple were as kind and honest to the other as them, there would be SO many more smiles in the world. 

Let's talk realness for a moment. When it comes to engagement sessions, the guys aren't typically the ones planning for weeks and showing up all giddy and glowing. However, they tend to enjoy themselves once they realize it's not as excruciating as they expected and actually, *gasp*, a little fun. This session was on a cloudy, nearly foggy, chilly day at Jacobson Park, not necessarily a day you'd want to be outside lounging on a blanket trying to look all relaxed. When Macy, halfway through the session, turned to John and told him how much she appreciated that he was there and that he was doing a wonderful job, I couldn't help but think that they've got this relationship thing figured out. And that's not an easy feat. It's no secret that healthy relationships take a lot of work. John knew how important this session was to her and was therefore willing to do whatever it took to produce amazing photos and Macy recognized that.

Then, when I asked about the right-hand ring she was wearing, Macy told me that it was also a gift from John. Laughing she exclaimed 'recieving gifts is definitely one of my love languages!'

See what I mean? This relationship has amazing foundations because they understand what it takes, are clearly making the effort to learn the fundamentals of communication, and their wedding is still four months away! I have no doubt at all that it's only going to get better with time for Macy and John.

Also... about that ring.... that's a funny story.

The ring is in the shape of a horseshoe. She pointed out that it also kind of looked like a U, for Usher. Now, I work with quite a few couples, on top of students and anyone I meet teaching, so I have to learn a lot of names. Admittedly, I'm generally pretty happy if I can keep track of first names. Usually my correspondence is with the bride-to-be so that tends to be the last name I associate with a couple, mostly just from the repetition of emails and texts.

So....

Of course I completely forgot that John's last name is Usher. When Macy said the U was for Usher I must have had the most puzzled look on my face and when we both burst out laughing I realized which Usher. No, she doesn't wear a ring for the R&B singer... but now everytime I look at these photos and see the horseshoe ring I can't help but giggle!

I don't doubt that their August wedding is going to be special. If their family and friends are anything like Macy and John, it's going to be incredibly genuine and fun. And most importantly, I bet these two are really going to be present in a way that not everyone is on what is often a hectic day. They're going to make a point to check in on each other, steal quiet moments to celebrate together, and truly enjoy the entire day, and what it stands for, from beginning to end.

And that's how it should be ❤️

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Red River Gorge Engagement Session

When I suggested a little adventure for Tori and David's engagement session, she replied "the more nature the better!"

Yes!!! 

We picked the Red River Gorge to try and get amazing, sweeping views. This meant a little bit of a haul for them since they are in Louisville. These two, however, are no strangers to travel or adventure, and I loved hearing about their recent global wanderings and plans for their Utah wedding. Sure, the east doesn't haven't quite the dramatic scenery of the west, but that doesn't mean we don't have stunning backdrops!

With so many options (so many!) we settled on a spot that had awesome views but was a little longer of a drive on a bumpy gravel road. The trail wasn't long, but definitely had the potential to be muddy. A couple weeks beforehand I went out and the road and trail were covered in snow... but, it melted. Phew. Then we got snow. AGAIN. 

Winter wasn't done yet. Had we only known (here we are a few weeks later and it snowed today)...

But, at least for this session, the odds were in our favor and we had one warm stretch, just enough to melt the snow. We watched the weather for days as it flirted between sun and rain and snow and finally the forecast landed on snow and freezing rain... not starting until a handful of hours after our session. Win! Although the clouds moved in towards the end of our time, we still had plenty of beautiful golden light streaming through the trees.

I had worked with Tori before their session on styling and they were PERFECT! The muted blues and greys of their first outfit looked magnificent with the winter landscape. And that skirt! Within a week I had ordered one for myself (true story). Their second, more formal styles definitely got me thinking how awesome of a spot this would be for an elopement or intimate ceremony. Also, guys, if you have any doubt at all about wearing a suit for your session, I hope this convinces you to reach for one... there's simply no substitute!

My favorite moment was when I asked David to sing to Tori in a Mickey Mouse voice, Happy Birthday since her birthday was coming up... and I could hardly shoot from laughing so hard. Even the other sunset-seekers at the overlook were giggling, which just made us all laugh even more.  Sure, we were all shivering by the end of the shoot, especially once the sun disappeared, but it was 100% worth it!

Check out some of their photos:

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Formal Champagne Engagement Session in Lexington

“Can you at least tell me if I need to put all my stuff in 3.4 oz bottles in a Ziploc bag?”

That’s what made me laugh the most about Tawny and Matt’s engagement story. He flew in her family and had planned an airport proposal with their help. Matt told her that they were going on a surprise trip, so she packed her bags and kept asking what kind of weather she should pack for, how many days, and he would give her vague answers. Finally, the question about if they were flying. He hesitated and, as all women know, flying-while-female requires a little advance notice since you have to put everything you use on a daily basis into tiny bottles and somehow cram it into a quart-sized bag.

And then get the bag to actually close.

Yes, he told her, we’re going to the airport. So, things went into tiny bottles and tiny bottles were crammed into bags and off they went.

But of course, once they got there, they headed for short-term parking. Naturally, she was perplexed. He confessed… but only a little bit. He told her that the surprise was that he flew her dad and stepmom in for the weekend…

But, inside, her dad (an incredible artist) had made custom paintings that when put in the correct order, helped pop the question.

So, here’s the thing about Matt and Tawny that I love: in the short time that I’ve known them, I’ve discovered that they’re fundamentally awesome people. When our first session was rained out, I proposed a sunrise session (full disclosure: I’m not a morning person but will always make an exception for photos).

That didn’t work.

Why?

Because Matt volunteers with an overnight homeless shelter and wouldn’t be done until 9 AM. As if I didn’t adore these two enough already, that kind of sealed the deal. I was counting down the days to their session because I had a feeling it was going to be nothing short of stunning (I sent them my style suggestions and just knew they’d knock it out of the park). The day FINALLY came and it wasn’t raining! But... it was pretty cold.

Ok, it was really cold.

Although you know what? These guys freaking rocked it. Like absolute pros. They were just as good if not better than the models I’ve shot in very uncomfortable temperatures.

They snuggled, they nuzzled, they laughed, and they had me cracking up, too. And, this was a first, at the end of the session they gave me a thank you gift. What?!? That’s my job! The perfect pair of sparkly earrings… I’ve worn them 3 times already this week!

So, Matt and Tawny, thank you two so much for being such kind, incredible people. Thank you for braving the cold, having impeccable style, and taking on the adventure of a February photo session. If your friends and family are even half as awesome as you two, your wedding day is going to be wonderful and filled to the brim with joy and laughter. Although I’m extremely bummed I’m not available for your date, you’re in great hands and I cannot wait to see the photos!

   

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Cozy Winter Distillery District Engagement Session

 

"You're so beautiful. How'd I ever get so lucky?"

That's what Andrew wrote on one of the photos from our session that Elizabeth posted. 

And he's right, she is. Maybe she's always so full of life, I'm not sure since I just met them a few weeks ago, but I suspect he's partially responsible for the laughter and smiles.  

I can tell she feels the same way about him, too. When both people feel so incredibly fortunate to have found the other it produces this almost tangible gratitude. And that's an energy that you just want to be around.   

We had so much fun exploring the different corners of the distillery district in Lexington in the late winter sun. In between shots they had me laughing, especially telling stories of the dynamics of having a dog, a cat, and a rabbit under one roof. I can't imagine, two cats produce enough wild antics in our household. Besides, if I had that trio I'd never get anything done because I'd always be taking photos of every. single. adorable. interaction.

February can be dismal in terms of weather, but we were given an amazing, golden evening. It was warm enough to be comfortable, but not too warm that getting all cozy, wrapped up in a blanket or curling up for champagne was out of order. Andrew effortlessly opened the champagne and poured their glasses. I need him around on all of my champagne sessions.

Personally, I feel like any time is a good time for champagne, but a blanket, a field, and the setting winter sun seemed like the perfect end to the day. He leaned towards her and gently kissed her. They were both giggling. Maybe it was the bubbles. Or maybe it was the closeness that an engagement session brings. It's time set aside to make beautiful art while looking a person in the eyes that you have chosen as your forever person.

Just look at them. 

Can all days be so beautiful?

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