Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lady in Waiting.

Last year I saw this t-shirt that said "Always late, but worth the wait." I couldn't help but chuckle and be tempted to buy it, but I didn't. I know it's a bad habit, I don't want to rub it in. If anyone knows me, they know to tell me to get to a destination half an hour earlier so I will actually get there on time. It's not that I mean to be late, it just... happens. (Except to weddings, I'm never late to that. ha!) I think it has to do with my pet peeve of waiting. I would rather be late than have to sit around and wait for others to get somewhere. I know, it's a terrible cycle with how I then make others wait. I'm trying to get better. I promise.

But today, I think God is the one chuckling as He makes up for lost time and all the times I've made others wait for me. Between my last trip to Chicago and this trip to Las Vegas for a destination wedding, I have never had to wait more in my life on all the airline delays. On my way back to the airport today, after having my AM flight reschedule to late PM, I heard one of my favorite worship songs "I Will Praise You in this Storm" on the radio, which is exactly what I needed to be reminded of considering the airline delays this time were because of thunderstorms in Dallas where my connecting flight is.

But as I sit here... waiting... and waiting... and waiting in the Jacksonville airport, with now yet ANOTHER delay, I was thinking of all the other areas in my life that I am currently waiting on that I need to remember to praise God in the waiting.

I'm waiting to hear further news about my Aunt Ruby's condition.

I'm waiting to meet my husband.

I'm waiting to buy a new car.

I'm waiting to find a new church home.

I'm waiting to be a mother.

I'm waiting to grow out of acne.

I'm waiting for time off to take a real vacation.

And as I write out my list, I realize, all the things I'm waiting on really are so trivial compared to a lot of needs people are waiting on (except about my wonderful Aunt Ruby!) Yesterday I was getting a pedicure and on either side of me were a mom and a daughter getting pedicures. Their eyes were red and dark circles under their eyes and I could tell something was wrong. Then the daughter started talking about her dad in ICU and how they were waiting every day for her dad to recover. She then went on to tell me how her poor mom had been by his side 24 hours for the past 3 weeks, and she finally kidnapped her mom to get out of the hospital and do something nice for herself like the pedicure.

God doesn't need fireworks to talk to me. It's in those everyday moments where He truly puts into perspective for me what is important in life. Family, love, and health. I do always keep those three close to my heart, but so many times in the busyness of life, I can't help but get distracted like any human being.

I told the daughter and mom that I would be praying for their dad, Terry. I hope you will lift him up in prayer too as they wait the ultimate wait for his recovery, God willing.

Gotta run, my flight is FINALLY boarding. Woo hoo!

Stay tuned for some fabulous pics of Corinna and Bobby tomorrow in Vegas!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Until the Last Moment: A tribute to my Aunt Ruby

It's the times like this I feel so privileged as a photographer to be able to capture the moments that mean the most in life.

I am currently in Varnville, South Carolina, a city of no more than 200 citizens, sitting in my Aunt Ruby's beautiful old historic southern mansion, full of cracks in the walls from the lives that have lived here since 1945, and creaks that serenade each step in the wood floors. I'm sitting in the formal parlor editing pictures I took throughout the day of some of the last moments with our beloved Ruby who is prognosed to only live a few more days. Other family members are gathered in the kitchen sharing their favorites stories of the woman who leaves an incredible legacy behind.

"Boy, if those kitchen walls could talk," Aunt Ruby said to me about an hour ago, letting out a small chuckle in between the pains that haunt her body right now. "The stories that have been exchanged and shared with me by everyone in town. I don't know why my kitchen is so popular."

One reason might be her famous macaroni and cheese. It was the way she used a dash of this and a pink of that made it famous amongst everyone in our family and around the town Varnville. Her daughter in law told me today that they will be passing out the secret recipe at her funeral for everyone to have. It was that famous.

Another reason Ruby's kitchen was so popular was simply because of her love. A mother of seven, including two grown disable sons she has raised their entire lives, she also became a mother to everyone's life she touched. As my mom told me earlier today, "I was always drawn to Aunt Ruby. I've told her things I've never even told my own mother."

No matter what, Ruby was always there with a compassionate heart to serve a good meal and simply listen, without judging, to all who entered her kitchen.

Aunt Ruby was the kind of lady who didn't just go to church on Sundays, she lived and walked her Christian faith every day of her life. She truly was the greatest example of Jesus in my life the way she so selflessly lived to serve others needs before her own. As I told my mom tonight, "I know the reason I was always so drawn to Aunt Ruby was because of how her actions spoke louder than her words."

But tonight, it was her words that had me in tears. My cousin, Carmen, was providing Ruby some pain medication, and I peeked my head inside her room.

"Come here my beauty queen," Ruby said as she extended her feeble arms wide.

I rushed over to give her a big hug knowing it might be one of the last.

In the midst of all her physical pains, she boldly tells me, "I don't know what is going to happen, but I trust in the Lord. What will be will be. I am now satisfied."

I am now satisfied. What powerful words. What peaceful words. There, in a moment when she feels her worst, when she knows her death is approaching, she still finds peace and contentment and doesn't hesitate to trust the Lord. Yet, to so many of us who are blessed beyond measure, we wear blinders that prevent us from finding that true satisfaction in the Lord with our small everyday worries. "I am satisfied." I truly became humbled in her presence.

So today, I did what I know best. I picked up my camera and documented "one moment more" with this lady of greatness as family and friends tended to her fragile last days with us.

It's too hard for me to pick favorite photos to post, because each shot and emotion tells a story in itself, so I would love for you to watch the slideshow to see every single one of my favorites. The family has also asked me the honor of showcasing this at her upcoming funeral. To those reading this blog, I pray that this inspires you to reach out to your loved ones and embrace each moment you are given with them. As my mom always says, “Whatever the question, love is the answer.”


And here are a few significant shots.

Beautiful Ruby resting her eyes for a moment.

Ruby's handicapped son, Chris, on his knees praying for his momma. Chris was considered a miracle baby considering he only weighed one and a half pounds when he was born and wasn't supposed to live past a few weeks. Now in his 50s, I have always admired him in how despite his circumstances growing up, he is genuinely one of the happiest, most loving people I know. Without him realizing it, that has taught me a lot.

A few years ago, Aunt Ruby told my mom, "I want to know what people are going to say about me at my funeral before I die." In this photo, everyone is gathered around as my mom reads a tribute written by her brother Jeff, who couldn't be there, wrote about her on his blog. The even greater thing I love about this photo is how I caught my cousin Mike in the corner turning away to wipe his tears streaming down about his mom.

After reading Jeff's letter, my mom sings Ruby's favorite hymn to her, "Peace in the Valley."

A shot my mom caught of me feeding Aunt Ruby the town's famous watermelon they celebrate each year with parades, carnivals, arts and crafts and dancing at the Watermelon Festival.

May God bless my precious Aunt Ruby.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jenny & Scott: An Island Celebration

So I guess the commercials are right. True love can indeed be found on Jenny and Scott met a few years ago on the internet dating site and now are blissfully husband and wife. Last month they shared their vows on the beautiful island of St. John in the caribbean, but this past weekend, they celebrated with family and friends at their island themed reception, with a calypso band and all, at Glen Kernan Country Club. In addition to marrying Scott, Jenny was also excited to become a new mom to Scott's three sons. They all had fun dancing the night away celebrating their new family full of a lot of love!

Here's the slideshow of their day!

Gorgeous Jenny.

All in the family.

A minor boo boo.

Like father, like son.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Katie & Adam: A "Precious" Bride

The church got silent, and soft strums of Parker Roberts' guitar began to play.

"Come.. to... me... my... precious... bride," he began singing as the doors opened and Katie walked on her dad's arm toward her groom, Adam. Though the song was written as a worship song to the Lord, who Katie and Adam so passionately love, I couldn't think of a more beautiful song to be playing for the most important moment in her life. Seeing Katie's emotion as she walked down the isle and hearing that song playing, I totally lost it as tears formed in my eyes trying not to sniffle so that it wouldn't be heard in the video.

It's moments like that I feel so honored to be able to capture a couple's most precious day. Katie and Adam, your love for each other and your shared love for Christ has truly inspired me and been a beautiful reminder that true love is worth the wait.

Here is Katie and Adam's highlight intro. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Smitha & Shym: A vibrant Indian wedding

This weekend I shot a destination wedding with Scott Watt in Champions Gate, FL for Smitha and Shym. I adore Indian weddings for all their color, color and more color! And I also love all the sparkly jewels and over the top decadance. Their celebrations are nothing short of detailed fabulousness. It is always fascinating to me too to follow all the traditions that differ from American weddings.

Smitha was amazing to photograph with her supermodel looks. I told her she reminded me of Jaslene on this season's America's Next Top Model, only more gorgeous. Shym is one lucky guy! They shared such a beautiful simple affection for each other that I enjoyed capturing for them.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A sparkling Ruby.

A few years ago during a visit to my Aunt Ruby's, she pulled a pale pink sparkly chaffon dress out of her closet to show my mom and I.

"I've had this dress for years, but never had anywhere to wear it," she told us.

"I know the perfect place, you can wear it to my wedding one day," I said trying to encourage her.

"Honey, I love you, but I'm not getting any younger," she said knowing how picky I am when it comes to guys and that my wedding was probably waaaay off in the future. ha!

She did however get to wear the dress to my grandparent's 50th anniversary party a few years ago, and she looked absolutely stunning in it as she sparkled the night way.

But now, my heart is saddened, because Aunt Ruby will not even get to be at my wedding one day like I had hoped.

This weekend, my family and I found out that God is getting ready to take her home soon. Last week, she was put in the hospital and the doctors have discovered that she has pancreatic cancer with a prognosis of 4 months. Or as her son, sweet Chris, said when he heard the news, "Momma only has one more Watermelon Festival to go." The Watermelon Festival is an annual event held each summer in their small town of Varnville, South Carolina put on every year to celebrate their beloved fruit with good ol' fashioned parades, carnivals and arts and crafts. It's the one event Aunt Ruby and Chris and Larry always looked forward to every year.

I was in Orlando over the weekend shooting a wedding and staying with my grandparents. My grandma is Aunt Ruby's one and only sister, and we called her Saturday night when Aunt Ruby was coming in from the hospital. Despite the news, Aunt Ruby sounded in good spirits and was glad to be home. She decided not to undergo any treatments like chemo, and instead let the good Lord take her home when He's ready. And what a celebration that will be as the angels dance in the heavens welcoming one of their faithful servants.

One of the greatest Christian ladies I know due to her example of faith and continuous giving strength, Aunt Ruby has been blessed to live a full 83 years. But my heart is also saddened for her boys, Chris and Larry. Due to their mental disabilities, Aunt Ruby has taken care of them their whole 50+ years, and all they have ever known is the old Southern home they have grown up in and still live in to this day. Now their world is about to be turned upside down and my heart breaks for them knowing how much the loss of their mom is going to break their hearts.

For those reading this, I hope that you will take a few moments to pray for Aunt Ruby and for God's comfort as she lives out her remaining days. Also please lift up Chris and Larry as they transition in a new life without their mom now under the care of their other siblings.

Before Aunt Ruby was sent to the hospital, she and the boys were featured on the cover of their local newspaper for some makeover changes to the columns on their historic home built in 1911. God always has interesting timing with things like that, but I'm glad Chris and Larry will be able to carry on this photo and article in remembrance of their mom.

Click to enlarge to read the whole thing.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Partnering up with friends in Chicago

Whew. I am glad to be home... for the time being. I have never had so many problems with delays and mechanical issues with planes than my trip to and from Chicago this past week. But despite the travel frustrations, my time at Pictage's Partnercon in Chicago was well worth the trip. Partnercon was a great get together of meeting a lot of my favorite photographer inspirations, seeing old friends, making new friends, checking out awesome product vendors and soaking in a ton of knowledge learning from top photographers in the wedding industry. I didn't realize until last minute that even the photographer, Robert Evans, who shot Tom and Katie's wedding, was a few rows in front of me at the closing session. Yes, as in THE TomCat's wedding in Italy.

Below are some fun pics with my fabulous photographer friends! Enjoy! And be sure to check out their awesome websites below!

Shlya Photography
Katie Thermes of Jenna Walker Photography
Diana Nash
Jefferson Todd
Jonathan Thrasher
Jim Christianson
Carlos Baez
Charles Bordner of Imagine That
Tim Co.
Fred Egan
Carole Foret
Claire Kayser

And here's a fun one Carole Foret snapped of me getting some tips from Fred Egan.

Also before I left for the airport, I was able to squeeze in a quick visit with my best friend from high school, Chrissy, who now lives in Chicago. I originally was supposed to shoot her engagement session with her new fiance Eric, but due to plane delays and not getting until a day late, they have rescheduled to come instead to Florida to get some pictures done on the beach here in her hometown.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"The Fabulousness of Me"

My cousin, Becky, and I sitting on the fabulous Carrie Bradshaw's stoop in NYC when we were there in the city shooting a destination wedding for New Year's Eve.

I just got a voice mail from my "soul sister" and cousin Becky. She is graduating from nursing school tomorrow (WOO HOO GO BECKY! Go to her myspace and congratulate her). She was calling to say how excited she was that my parents and I will be driving all the way there to help her celebrate her pinning ceremony in Crestview, FL.

"It really means a lot to me that you are still coming despite having to jet off to Chicago the next day. I swear, I can't keep up with your travels, you should write a book called 'The Fabulousness of Me.' "

Ha! I guess I do live quite a fabulous life. Sometimes in the midst of all the hard work, late hours, and exhausting travel, I need to be reminded just how blessed I truly am. In a way I feel like I'm graduating too, to the next level. Just this time last year I was beginning my marketing efforts for my business and God was getting that daily annoying prayer from me for more work, more clients and more wisdom how to grow my company and serve brides. Now, today, I have more work than I can keep up with and I get paid to travel all over. So fun! I truly do love my job and even more so the amazing couple's and others in the industry I have met along my journey!

With that said, I am definitely in the heat of wedding season and my blogging might start slacking, but I'll try to keep you up to date with as much as I can going on. Here's my current spring/summer schedule:

May 4-5: Crestview, FL for Becky's graduation
May 6-9: Chicago, IL for Engagement Session and a photographer's convention with, my print fulfillment company
May 12-13: Orlando, FL wedding
May 19: Jacksonville wedding
May 30- June 1: Las Vegas, Nevada wedding
June 1-June 3: Vero Beach, FL wedding
June 8-10: New York City wedding
June 16: Jacksonville wedding
June 22-24: Vero Beach wedding
July 6-7: Savannah wedding

July 8, I can breathe and sleep again. :-)

Also, in the midst of shooting and editing, there are a lot of EXCITING things developing with my company and some new changes you will see late July. Stay tuned! I can't wait to unveil it all!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Happy Retirement Daddy!

Well, it's official. My dad has passed along the workaholic throne onto his princess. A few weeks ago he officially retired, or, ahem, is "redirecting" as he states. So in order to celebrate his "redirecting," we took a quick family vacation this past weekend down to Miami Beach, Florida where he could eat at one of his favorite restaurants, Joe's Stone Crabs. (If you haven't realized by now, most of our family vacation spots revolve around food and the restaurants we go there for. ha! )

Though I'm in the heat of wedding season, I enjoyed this much needed vacation with my best friends. I said I was going to take a break from work and not take pictures, but I couldn't resist not capturing such a gorgeous place and the fun things we were doing. Friday night we had dinner at the famous chef Emeril's restaurant, then got my dad up for a few dances in the hotel lounge. On Saturday, Mom and I indulged in massages at the spa and then hit the beach. It was fun to lay out on South Beach watching my parents play and flirt in the water like they were just dating for the first time. Later it was off to dinner at Joe's and exploring some South Beach hot spots.

Check out this fun slideshow of us around the gorgeous Loew's Hotel and hitting the South Beach night life.


I'm so proud of my dad and all he has accomplished in life! He has been a great example of hard work paying off. He's also where I get my entrepreneur blood from, and he has been a great coach and business mentor.

The view from our window. We were down there on the white sand later that day, but I don't have pictures of it because I didn't want my camera to get sandy. :-)

Momma checking out daddy's crabs. ha ha