Grand Haven, Michigan
It was touch and go whether or not Tim and Abby could have their wedding on the Grand Haven pier like they had hoped. The catwalk is now removed and the boardwalk in under construction but the wedding went off as planned with a perfect golden sunset to boot. Thirty of their closest friends and family were invited to the wedding but they had at least thirty more uninvited guests who shared in their day. There were fisherman, photographers, boaters and teenagers but everyone seemed united in Tim and Abby’s love for a few short moments.
Brett and Jaclyn’s intimate backyard wedding was surrounded by fields of corn and close friends and family. Jaclyn wore two dresses that day – – a beautiful intricate gown for the ceremony and a sparkly short dress for the reception. But, I won’t lie, one of my favorite things about this day was seeing her two-year-old son be included in it all. He walked down the aisle with Jaclyn and she held him as they exchanged their vows. He snitched a bite of the frosting before the cake was served and had a kissing contest with the bride. I loved that she was a mother first and a bride secondly.
Bridal gown: Madison James
Reception gown: Kate Spade
Florist: Greenville Floral
Pew rentals: Fancy Fray
Wedding cake: Haans Bakery
Tent rental: Dad’s Tent and Party Rentals
Hair and makeup: Thomas & Company Hair Salon
Photo assistant: Maddie Chitwood
I was a little mad at the sun the night I photographed Whitney and Adam’s engagement session at Kruse Park — a place special to their hearts. The sun was out for the first 10 minutes and then it decided to hide from us. Despite my disappointment, Whitney and Adam are so fun, genuine and go-with-the-flow that I quickly forgot that golden light we were hoping for. (However, because their wedding happens to be on my birthday, I’m putting in a special birthday request for that perfect light.)
Whitney and Adam, thanks for being amazing and I can’t wait until September!
North Muskegon, Michigan
“Life provides the wind, you control the direction of its sail.”
Isaac took Jennifer for a sail aboard “Wind Tune” on their second date. It worked.
Enjoy this sneak peek and I’ll post more soon. Thanks for the adventure, you two!
Go early. Stay late. Listen. Those are three rules that I have learned were so important to be a successful photojournalist. Last week I photographed this wonderful assignment for the Detroit News. I got there early, stayed REALLY late and I did a lot of listening to one of the most interesting people I’ve met in a long time. When that gentleman collapsed among the crowd, slightly injured after his firecracker stunt, he yelled, “No photos! Only her!” I appreciate the trust that John Fletcher “The Human Firecracker” had in me to tell his story visually. Happy retirement to you, John, and thank you.
Read Francis X. Donnelly’s Detroit News story and see more photos here.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve assisted in shooting a handful of beautiful and unique weddings with some super-talented photographers. I know that each one of them has helped me grow in some way and I’m forever grateful.
The workload from my own weddings has kept me from getting around to editing these but my computer told me in a spinning-wheel-of-death kind of way, that I needed to make room and purge some files. It’s funny how my to-do list is sometimes dictated by the squeakiest wheel.
I know I sound like a broken record when I say that I love couples that make their wedding day uniquely their own. But it’s true. Nolan and I have been friends for years. (He’s responsible, actually, for me meeting my husband – – who actually second shot with me. How serendipitous is that?!) Anyhow, I was pretty sure Nolan’s wedding would be full of artistic touches because he already has great taste (hint, hint: HILARY!) Well, I was right. They found a great artist co-op loft for the ceremony and dinner. And the dinner was before the ceremony (cool, I know) Their dog, Henry, was there for it all. He even snitched one of the desserts unbeknownst to the guests. (The secret is out now!) They wrote their own vows. Hilary said to Nolan that she will remember “that marriage is a marathon and not a sprint.” I could go on and on about how great this celebration was: they made their own centerpieces and thank you gifts, they were married by relatives, the bridal party was Hilary’s two brothers and Nolan’s two brothers, their guests made pies, Nolan’s mom made his wedding band and Hilary wore her grandmother’s, they walked over to their favorite watering hole after dancing to their favorite band. To me, it was what a wedding is supposed to be like.
Nolan and Hilary, may your marathon be long and happy.
I love families that play a little during their photo sessions and play the Renbargers did! We actually weren’t expecting snow during our session but down it came and the little ones had so much fun catching snowflakes with their tongues. The cold kept our session short but I’m so glad they were up for the outdoor challenge. Here are a few of my favorites!
“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” – John Ruskin
A toddler who is expressive and loves to read (no, REALLY loves to read) + a Boston terrier who is just as expressive and waits for crumbs dropped by the toddler who takes her eating “very seriously” + a really fun (and hip) couple = a really great family photo session.
Thank you, Motts. You were incredible. Oh, and now that I heard you added another Boston terrier to the mix, we should do this again sometime!
Justin and Amanda picked up my business card at my favorite local sandwich shop in town. The two set up a time to meet with me and I quickly realized that I recognized them both. I had photographed Justin as a firefighter during my newspaper days and Amanda works at the pediatrician’s office where I take my kiddos. Sometimes, stars do align.
With all the serendipity set aside, what made this day wonderful for me was how Amanda wore her emotions on her sleeve. I’ve never seen a bride laugh so easily and fight back tears so courageously. Amanda was nervous, lightheaded, happy and in love — and she (and Justin) allowed me the honor of documenting the roller coaster of the day.
And one final thing, Justin wrote a love letter to Amanda for her to open before walking down the aisle. She was too emotional to read it, too fearful that the tears wouldn’t stop once they started, but I got the chance to photograph the letter. I didn’t dare read it for the words weren’t meant for me but I focused in on one single word: SOULMATE.
Indeed, Justin and Amanda, you are soulmates and I wish you years of love.
Ceremony: Westwood Reformed Church
Florist: Chalet Floral
Cake: Giggles Goodies
Hair and makeup: Salon 297
Photo Booth: Rhythm of the Night Entertainment
DJ: Quality Sound
Catering: Harris Hospitality
Second photographer: blinkPHOTO
I love Natalia for being so unique. Vintage clothing, a viola and her tutu-wearing pug probably topped my most interesting senior session this year. And, we had some amazing light and a kind local who let us “borrow” his farm for the day. Congratulations, Natalia, in all your future endeavors.
Traverse City, Michigan
The Hulls are special people. Over the years, I’ve been blessed with Mrs. Hull’s homemade fudge, had a private flight over Harbor Springs in the airplane Mr. Hull built himself, been kayaking, hiking, ice-skating, sledding, skiing, seen a hockey game or two, had a competitive game of croquet and had more good conversations than I can count. I’m glad we’re passing the friendship down to the next generation. My hope is that I’ll always be there with my camera to capture it all.
(NOTE: Oh, sure, there are some standard group family photos but I just wanted to share a few of my favorites of these wonderful people.)
Here’s a little peek from Evan’s senior session. Evan is awesome and here’s why: after accidentally getting locked inside a local marina, he scaled the chain-link fence like a Ninja to free ourselves, he shared his hoodie because I wasn’t prepared for the temperature drop (shame on me) and, lastly, he wins the can-stand-without-any-props-and-not-look-awkward award. Thanks, Evan, can’t wait to share more!
Crystal Mountain, Michigan
I have a confession to make. You know the show The Bachelor? I watch it. I also watch sappy movies. What gets me more than Hollywood love, however, is REAL love. Emily and Ryan have had a long-distance relationship for years. She was in med school in Florida and Ryan was founding a tech company in San Francisco. From coast to coast, they always found a way to make it work. During their wedding vows Ryan said, “YOU are home to me.” No episode of the Bachelor or any Nicholas Sparks movie could top that.
I have another confession. Emily and Ryan’s wedding was one of my favorites. Besides the whole real love thing, they had amazing friends and family (I mean even Emily’s dad took the time to give me some sound business advice!) It might have also had something to do with that the pouring rain stopped in time for the wedding. It might have had something to do with the fact that one of my best friends in the world, Carrie Turner, helped me shoot this wedding. It might have had to do with the beautiful location and amazing staff at Crystal Mountain. It might have had to do with how much FUN Emily and Ryan are. I mean what bride and groom spontaneously decides to go down an inflatable slide after they get hitched?!
Ryan and Emily, may your love always feel like home.
Second photographer: Carrie Turner
Venue: Crystal Mountain
Videographer: Epic Motion
Florist: Field of Flowers Farm
Cupcakes: Cake Connection
Invitations: The Print House
Dress: Paloma Blanca
Wedding gown sash: Susan Brennan
Reception dress: Anthropologie
Bride’s boots: Ariat
Bridesmaids gowns: Jim Hjelm
Disc Jockey: Double Trouble DJ’s
Band: Mike Davis Trio
This past weekend I had the joy of heading to one of my very favorite northern Michigan towns for a wedding. It was the first time I met the bride and groom so I learned a lot about them as the day progressed. For instance, I found out that Justin has liked Rachel since kindergarten. I know. How sweet is that? The most wonderful thing of all, to me, was not the gorgeous location of the ceremony, nor the big beautiful barn where they celebrated but that everyone talked about how different Rachel and Justin are from each other. These two took those differences to create one amazing love story.
“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap.” – Ani DiFranco
“The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.” – Edwin Way Teale
Days before Nate and Andrea’s spring wedding, rain threatened their celebration. I think I checked the extended weather forecast compulsively for days but when May 4th arrived, the sun came out, trees and flowers were blossoming and two people that have loved each for years, tied the knot. When true love is involved, all things are possible indeed. Andrea and Nate, may sunlight always follow your marriage.
And thank you, Emily Zoladz, for assisting me with photographing this wedding. Your images helped capture this day perfectly.
June 24, 2013
The third Monday: As I made breakfast, I told Yuri and Harper to find something they wanted to do until it was time to eat. Yuri grabbed a book (which he decided to try to read upside down and backwards) and Harper grabbed an animal — so typical and so expected but I love it just the same.
After we ate, I decided to dig out all the photos I could find of my father who passed away last month at a much too young age of 57. I told every story I could remember to tell them about their Pap. You see, my parents divorced when I was too young to even remember. I lived off-and-on with my dad until I was Harper’s age — just ready to start kindergarten. But anyone who knows me, knows that my memories stay with me. I told them how my dad would drape my little legs over the handlebars of his motorcycle and drive down the country roads of Unityville, Pennsylvania. I told them how he would laugh because I was scared of the “eyes” that grew on potatoes when they rested in the bin a little too long. I told them how he indulged my sweet tooth and let me eat sugar cookies for breakfast and how he would let me comb his hair hours at a time. I told them how my dad teased me that, although I didn’t inherit his height or his wild nature, I sure got his ears.
Yuri captured the sweet photo of Harper listening to one of my stories and Harper took the photo of me smiling. As I edited the images for this post, I looked at the photo of my dad dressed as a cowboy in his fifth-grade school picture next to the photo of me smiling and I noticed I inherited a lot more than Danny Kessler’s ears. I see our smiles are the same. My eyes crinkle in the same places. Our chins are identical. A few freckles dot our cheeks. My time with my father was far too short but my memories will stay with me for a lifetime.
June 17th, 2013
The second Monday: They say home is where the heart is. My special day set aside for Yuri and Harper was shared with twenty of my family members that gathered at Shrine Mont in Orkney Springs, Virginia for a family reunion. They came from New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Missouri and Kentucky. Trust me, a posse of young cousins was much more intriguing to Yuri and Harper than their old mom but I still shot a few images (and Jon shot one too) to document a slice of the day. Then I set the camera down and let it all sink in. I let Yuri and Harper form new relationships. Yuri learned to play chess (well, sort of) with his big cousin, Andrew. Harper rode on her Zanny’s back pretending she was riding a horse as the Virginia sun transformed her freckles. We put together puzzles, hiked, read books and swam. We talked and talked some more. Yes, without a doubt, everyone called Virginia home and we all left with our hearts better for it.