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GOODWILL: Achievers of the Year

Year after year, I’m inspired by telling the stories of Goodwill’s Achievers of the Year. These are people who have had lives that aren’t as easy as mine but their desire to work hard and be good citizens makes me proud to know them.

And if you’re not familiar with all the wonderful things Goodwill does for this community, you should: http://www.goodwillwm.org/

Changing LIVES through the power of WORK.


WEDDING: Kyle and Sam

Thompsonville, Michigan

Kyle and Sam live in Chicago but they chose to get married at Crystal Mountain in northern Michigan to celebrate the state that they shared some of their earliest and most special memories as a couple. They love the outdoors, the Chicago Cubs, to throw big parties and they really love their dog, Stella. In fact, she was the ring bearer, the table markers were all photos of her, she walked on the bride’s gown as if to give her approval and she even licked the mimosas when no one was looking.

I loved that Sam wore a pearl ring belonging to her grandmother and the diamonds in her engagement ring were taken from Kyle’s grandmother’s engagement ring. The handkerchief she carried, Sam couldn’t bring herself to wash because it was still smudged with her grandmother’s lipstick and still smelled like her.

They entered the reception tent dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and I’m pretty sure Sam’s dad never left the dance floor. Guests warmed themselves by an outside fire to take of the autumn chill. And, oh, the laughter. So. Much. Laughter.

May warmth, laughter and good people follow you all the years ahead.

Ceremony, reception and catering: Crystal Mountain
Florist: Birchwood Flowers
Baker: Kirsten’s Bakery
Hair and makeup: Victoria Sylvester of Escape Salon
Bridal gown: Bijou Bridal, designed by Watters
DJ: Bee Entertainment

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WEDDING: Leo and Samantha

Franklin, Michigan

Samantha and Leo’s love story began on the first day of Leo’s freshmen year at Kalamazoo College when they met. They were friends for a couple years first — the way all good relationships start — and have been a couple for many years since. Thirty years ago, the bride’s parents had their wedding in the same place. The bride wore borrowed pearls and her engagement ring was made from her grandmother’s. Although the rain caused a few logistical challenges, seeing these two surrounded with such great tradition, love and joy made all that seem insignificant. The emotional ceremony had everyone in tears and then, like magic, the sun came out and soaked underneath the tent and left the evening with a quick, golden sunset.

Ceremony and reception: Franklin Hills Country Club
Invitations: Lee’s Specialty
Florist: Frech Sutherland
Baker: Holiday Market
Wedding musicians: Fleur de Lys String Ensemble
Hair: Peter Mansoor – P. La Salon
Makeup: Leslie Paterra – Todd’s Room
Bridal shoes: Via Spiga
Bridal gown designer: Gregory Parkinson
DJ: DJ Tom T
Second photographer: Merissa Hudnall

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SENIOR: Reiko

North Muskegon, Michigan

Admittedly, Reiko said she is awkward in front of a camera and she definitely didn’t want an audience, she said, so we took her senior portraits at her North Muskegon home overlooking Bear Lake at sunrise (which is THE best light in my opinion.) After shooting for a few minutes, there was no awkwardness in my opinion — this girl is a beauty with a great laugh, dimples and just the perfect amount of toughness, too. The only thing that could have been bad was if she fell off her paddle board which nearly happened.

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WEDDING: Seth and Clara

Suttons Bay, Michigan

Rain was in the forecast for Seth and Clara’s outdoor vineyard wedding. It’s not what anyone had hoped for and we all were scrambling for backup options. Our flurry of emails back and forth was all for naught; we had the perfect, ideal September day that Northern Michigan typically offers. And, as I knew it would be, all the hard work of  planning was flawless. The local honey for guest favors, the display of Clara’s grandmother’s satin wedding gown, the old family wedding photographs, the wooden hand-painted box Clara found at a yard sale, the vintage cake topper, sorority sisters cheers and Viking hats — it all had an absolute unique Clara-and-Seth-one-of-a-kind celebration that I’m still pinching myself that I got to be a part of it all.

 
Ceremony and reception: Ciccone Vineyard and Winery
Invitations: Ashley Meyers
Florist: Field of Flowers Farm
Caterer: Uptown Catering
Baker: Baked by Josephine
Hair and makeup: Hanna Wagner Designs
Bridesmaids gowns: Jenny Yoo
Wedding shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bridal gown: Watters
Furniture Rental: Fancy Fray
Tent and farm table rentals: Monstrey-McDonald
DJ: Bee Entertainment
Videographer: Traverse City Video

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Hernandez Family

Muskegon, Michigan

The impetus for this family shoot came when the oldest son was going to be heading off to college at Columbia University in New York City. This close-knit family of four would never quite be the same so it became a priority to document some of their favorite things in photographs: soccer, Pere Marquette beach and, most importantly, talking.

“The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family.” — Lee Iacocca

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Turning One

Clarkston, Michigan

Turning one is a big deal. It means the start of babbled words, wobbly walking and fast-paced crawls. I love that this beautiful Lake Orion family wanted to document this time in their son’s life. Despite mosquitos that thought they were invited to the photo session and air so thick you could cut it with a knife, this kiddo was one of the best toddlers I’ve ever photographed. He smiled the whole time and he loves the family dog (who also knows how to smile!) like a big teddy bear. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your family’s milestones.

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