Starting this year, I knew I wanted to make some changes in my business. I knew there were areas I could use a little help as my business has continued to grow. Earlier in the year, I hired a private photo editor to help speed up the back end of things with client gallery delivery and editing consistency. Next, I knew getting help on the front end would be a good idea as well! I loved using different local photographers as second shooters up until this point, but I really had a heart for being able to build a little community where I could invest in just a couple growing photographers to both help me serve my couples better on the day of the wedding with consistent shooters but also invest in their growth and mentor them even outside of wedding days. That desire led me to create an application an to open up two shooting intern positions this summer, and I had some of the sweetest people apply! I was thankful for each girl who sat down for an interview with me. And I'm thrilled the search ultimately led me to these two sweet beauties- Haley & Taylor!
So today on the blog, I wanted to introduce them to you! They've already started working behind-the-scenes and at a couple of my weddings so far, but you'll be seeing a lot more of them around, especially if you are an NLP couple this year or in 2020! I'm confident that they will treat you as their own and do everything they can to enhance your experience by lending a helping hand on your wedding day, capturing unique angles and supplementing my photography in the best way. I can't wait to introduce them to you, so keep scrolling! :)
Hey friends! My name is Haley Collier, and a few of my favorite things include coffee, my doggies, my hubby, & celebrating people! I’m from good ole’ South Carolina (Go Tigers!), but I don’t care for sweet tea all that much; peach tea is the bomb!
My photography journey started in high school, making my friends pose every few minutes with my little point and shoot camera from Wal-Mart. It remained a hobby until about 4 years ago, when I challenged myself to learn manual mode! Ever since then, I’ve been learning & growing! Photography allows me to serve people, and bring their unique beauty to the forefront. It makes my heart so happy!
When I’m not behind a camera, you might find me loving on my Great Danes, Lucy & Ellie, watching FRIENDS reruns on Netflix, or thrift shopping at my local Goodwill.. ohh, did I mention I also work as a sign language interpreter?! That’s right!
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with Nichole to help serve her NLP couples in the best way possible. If you’ve ever met her, then you know she’s like a ray of sweet, warm sunshine! She’s already taught me so much, and I’m so excited to see what’s to come!
Hey ya'll! My name is Taylor Courtney, and I am so excited to be one of the Nichole Lauren shooting interns! I am originally from Massachusetts, which is where most of my family live as well as scattered around the east coast. My parents, siblings and I moved to the south when I was 4 years old, so if anyone asks where I'm from, I say South Carolina because I have been here for most of my life.
I first fell in love with photography when I was in middle school. I had a passion for photographing landscape and small details in nature (which is why detail shots have always been my favorite part of the wedding day). I enjoy capturing photographs from a different perspective and angles some might not see at first glance. In 2013, cousin reached out to do maternity photos with her first baby, and that's when I entered the portrait photography world! It is such a beautiful thing to be able to freeze such special moments in time for a families and couples.
Outside of photography, I have recently found an interest in fashion and shopping, I love looking through Instagram to find inspiration. I am currently watching Black-ish and One Tree Hill on Hulu. Anyone else find themselves, 10 episodes deep in a series in one day?! My new favorite drink at Starbucks is an Iced Cocoa Cloud Macchiato. And it doesn't matter what season it is, I will drink iced coffee all year long.
I am soo excited to assist Nichole during wedding season and to photograph these memories for NLP couples! It warms my heart seeing the love between two people on their best day!
This summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel abroad. My plans were to visit a friend who lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland and explore from there. I love any chance I can get to travel, so having friends all across the world is a nice perk. Plus, while I've been many places, I've always wanted to see Ireland and England (specifically London), so I jumped on the $350 Norwegian Air ticket to Belfast and headed there! I spent a total of 11 full days over there exploring, and we ended up going all over the place very spontaneously which made it incredibly fun! So, instead of giving you a day-by-day synopsis of the trip, I'll include my recommendations for each city below along with some "fancy camera" pictures from my trip! It was so fun putting this blog post together and reliving my trip. And I can't wait for my next adventure! Can you guess where I'll be headed next?
Belfast, Northern Ireland
There's something pretty special about Belfast. It's a city (and country) rich with history, and a unique, troubled past. An amazing city for sure and easy to overlook, so if you ever have a chance to visit, you really should add it to your list! Here are some of my favorites from a few of the days I spent exploring this charming city. Head to the Ulster Museum first to get educated on just what Northern Ireland has gone through in the very recent history. And make a stop at the beautiful Botanic Gardens on your way out.
Many don't know that the Titanic actually was built in and set sail from Belfast. There is an amazing museum that you must visit if you're in town. City Centre and the Mall are both fun places to go. The Mall has an amazing 360 degree view at the top of the glass dome. and there are plenty of cute coffee shops along the way. St. George's market is a great place for some locally crafted goods and food. Also, make a stop at Maggie Mays for breakfast or lunch and head to Five Points for snacks and drinks accompanied by live Irish music in a very authentic atmosphere in the evening. For the more adventurous types, there are plenty of outdoor excursions like hiking Cave Hill or visiting the Belfast castle. Be sure to stop at the local Tesco (grocery store) before you head up for a £3 meal deal to take with you! I ate a lot of these!!
Probably my favorite part of Northern Ireland, though was exploring the North Coast for a day. Buying a rambler (bus) all-day ticket lets you get to places like Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge easily and quickly. You could easily spend more than a day exploring along the north coast, but it's an amazing experience even if you have only one day to hop around.
We got to spend three full days in London after we bought spur of the moment tickets aboard RyanAir for $30 a pop. Best. Decision. Ever. I have been dreaming of going to London for a while, and it was all that I imagined and more! Truly one of my favorite cities in the world, and I got just enough of a taste for it in three days and can't wait to go back!
If you only have a couple of days in London, the best way to see the most things is...you guessed it...those very touristy double-decker tour buses!! It was actually really fun riding around London on top of one of those, and it really wasn't a bad price for the time it saved us from walking around. Plus, having a live guide on the bus really makes it interesting and fun! We basically just rode the bus around both days to get an overview and then stopped where we wanted to explore more. Also, our ticket came with a river cruise as well! So that really was a great value! Here were some of the highlights.
Definitely do the London Eye. It's a little pricey, but it's a once in a lifetime experience you shouldn't miss if you can help it. Hyde Park was beautiful! And we got fish and chips at a restaurant in the park for lunch. Big Ben was under construction, so that was a big bummer! But we got to attend Evensong at Westminister Abbey which is a really cool experience, AND you don't have to pay admission. Visiting the outside of Buckingham Palace and watching the changing of the guard was fun, but I liked the night before when we walked down the road toward the Buckingham Palace and witnessed none other than PRINCE WILLIAM himself riding down the street in his Range Rover and within a couple steps from me. I had a serious fan girl moment, and it was totally unexpected!! But one of my favorite parts of London by far was the London Dungeons. Definitely an experience like none other. You go through the Dungeons as actors recreate parts of London's not-so-nice history for you, and it was an experience I'll never forget!
The Irish Coast
For the last leg of my trip, we flew from London to Dublin to meet up with a couple other friends who had arrived a couple days prior. We spent the rest of the trip in our little rental car, driving along the southern Irish coast, hopping from Airbnb to Airbnb, and it was just the best!
Some of my favorite sites included the iconic Cliffs of Moher, Killary Fjord, Connemara National Park- The Diamond Hill Hike, Dunamase Castle, and Kylemore Abbey. One of my favorite memories of this leg of trip, though, was when we headed to Dog's Bay a beautiful white sand beach in Ireland of all places! The water was crystal clear and the sand was pure white. You could have easily mistaken your location to be a Caribbean island, which seemed so crazy to me! But as soon as we all jumped in, we realized we definitely weren't somewhere tropical with the 40 degree water. It was freezing!!! But honestly one of my favorite memories of the whole trip!
We ended our last night in Galway at an authentic Irish pub/restaurant called The Quays. It was the BEST time! The band was amazing!! They played a mix of Irish traditional music and American music with an Irish twist, so we knew a lot of the songs, but it was really a unique experience! Even just wandering around Galway was a highlight and definitely my favorite city in Ireland! A great end to an even better trip! Bonus points if you sing Ed Sheeran's Galway Girl in the car as you drive around! Good times!
This part of the world was truly amazing, and it was also so nice going somewhere we spoke the same language. But they all had super cool accents! If you ever get the chance to venture to either Ireland or the UK, I highly recommend it!
The Big Apple! I've been here multiple times before ever since I was little, but this time was different. This time I visited a friend for a few days who works in Times Square, and since it was during the week, I had a good bit of time to bounce around the city by myself! Being a girl from a smaller town in South Carolina, I was a little intimidated by the thought of walking around big, bad New York City all by my lonesome. And yes, I'm 23 years old and very well-traveled, but I still get a little nervous especially in such a big city! But I'm here to tell you, I made it! And it was totally not intimdating at all. In fact, it was invigorating. Having no one with you, really opens up all your senses to the world around you because you aren't relying on someone else to lead you around. This helped me experience NYC in a whole new way that I never had before. Everything is so vibrant and fast-paced. Immediately stepping out of the train station and into the city, I was hit with a rush of city life, and the vibe was phenomenal and invigorating. Don't get me wrong, I love my little city and would not be interested in moving to NYC full time, but it was so fun to visit, and, in case you're planning a trip up there soon, I thought I'd condense it into a blog post for you to enjoy! So, here's how I spent my days with a few tricks of the trade mixed in along with pictures from my trip!
Enjoy this video with some highlights from my short but sweet trip to the Big Apple! And if you're headed there soon, I hope it's an amazing trip!
With the start of my Fall semester tomorrow (!!!), I've been doing some thinking. This summer has been incredible! I was able to throw myself into photography full time, and between weddings and portrait sessions, I traveled to 5 countries, 10 states, and rode on 16 flights to get me everywhere. I saw Prince William, Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Swift, Def Leppard, and Journey with my own eyes, and I've done everything from sailing off the coast of Maine to riding around in a double-decker sightseeing bus in the busy streets of London. It's so easy for me to look back on all the fun and amazing experiences I've been blessed to have this summer and be a little bummed about going back to school. After all, law school is anything but easy. And with family and friends back home, it can seem a little daunting to be going back to a place where I won't be able to see them as much. There is so much new happening, and while it is exciting, it's going to be a lot of work, and I know I can't possibly be alone when I say I'm a little overwhelmed at the thought of the start of another school year. So I thought I'd share a little of my heart and hopefully some encouragement with you today along with Sam's senior graduation photos. You might remember his senior portraits from this past year. He was a pleasure to work with, so I was excited to capture his actual post-graduation photos this past week!
God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called.
Whatever mountain you're facing, whether it's back to school or something else, God hasn't called you to it because you are perfect or self-sufficient in your own right. Did you get that? He hasn't called you because you're the best or even good at what he's called you to. Instead he promises to equip you for what he has called you to. He is able to equip you for whatever road lies ahead, but that means full dependence on his strength and not your own. It's happened before in your life right? He is willing and able to do it again!
The only thing that's required is faithfulness.
It's nice to have things all figured out. Trust me, I am the planning queen. Having my ducks in a row helps me feel safe, but it's a false sense of security. Ultimately, we don't know what the future will bring. We never can approach anything in this world with 100% certainty apart from God's love for us and His word. While that seems a little scary and more reason to be anxious, it's actually so freeing! We don't have to get it all perfect. There is so much room for mistakes and grace. The only thing we must do is be faithful. We must follow what his word has revealed to us to do, and the rest requires faithfulness. A day-by-day surrendering to his will and an open hand to follow where he leads. Living like that might be unnerving for someone who loves control and thrives off it (like me :)), but it also sounds incredibly unique. No two days will be the same when you follow the Lord's leading.
In light of eternity, this matters because...
My favorite teacher in elementary school used to respond to us in class when we brought a pointless issue up to her by posing this question: "In the light of eternity, this matters because?" She was teasing us mostly but with a little bit of truth. And it's always stuck with me. And whenever I feel overwhelmed by my circumstances or I make a big deal of something in my mind and cause unnecessary or irrational grief, this saying always comes back to me. My law school GPA isn't going to matter in heaven. The amount of times I was able to give an amazing answer when cold-called in class won't matter either. The Netflix show I binged watched to take the stress away also won't matter. What will matter is how I use my talents to further God's kingdom here on earth and how I've impacted others for Him as well. Doing my best, taking care of myself because I am His, and reaching out to others is what truly matters. And keeping eternity in the front of my mind helps put that into perspective.
So, whatever it is. Whether you're off to your first day of high school, college, grad school, law school, med school, or a new job, I wish you the best! It's going to be a great year. You've got this!!
This isn't my typical post, and I definitely thought long and hard before hitting "publish" on this one. Full disclosure, this post has been sitting in my draft box for close to six months. In many ways, I don’t feel qualified to write a blog post about dating. I come from a broken home. I’ve only been in a serious relationship for a little over a year, and I’ve made countless mistakes along the way. I have more than a handful of character flaws that have reared their ugly heads time and again. Everything from a quick temper and selfishness to jealousy and impatience. So I don’t want it to seem like I’m being preachy or taking for granted where I’ve come from to get to this point. Relationships are hard work. I’ve experienced some of my lowest lows in the past year but also some of my highest highs, and the things I have learned about myself and the growth I have experienced while dating have been beyond anything I could have ever imagined or predicted.
As I was scrolling through Pinterest the other day, I saw a quote that said,
“I remember the times I prayed for the things I have today.”
And it just struck me right then and there. How often is my life just normal to me now when it wasn't always the way it is now. There was a time before my boyfriend. I had a life that was a world apart from him, a world where I didn't even know of his existence on this planet. Weird. And when I was single, I was pretty happy for the most part. I’ve been a pretty independent person my entire life, and sometimes even a little hesitant to let my guard down, especially when it came to guys. But still there was always a desire within me for a relationship. And while I was a happy, pretty fulfilled person, for the longest time, that desire mattered a great deal to me. In some parts of my life that desire consumed me but in different ways throughout different seasons. There would be times of longing where I looked around and saw others happy and wanted that same happiness. There would be times of crushing on guys from afar and romanticizing what wasn't actual reality. There would be times of bitterness where I questioned my path and why it hadn’t worked out for me yet. There would be times of impatience where I tried to approach guys as just a means to an end, looking at every guy as a potential relationship instead of recognizing them for the actual person they were. Then there was disbelief, an almost cynicism that there wasn’t a godly guy left out there that was still single and valued the same things I did but also didn’t have any weird quirks or heavy baggage weighing from his past. Maybe you're like me.
People would tell me, "it will happen when you're not looking," or "God will bring someone along in His timing, I'm certain of it," balanced by the constant prodding of various family and friends on the other end of the spectrum with the classic "are you dating yet?" and "you know you need to put yourself out there for the guys." I was perfectly happy, and then it would just come in waves. I would feel like I was doing something wrong, that I needed to change or be something I wasn't because I was falling behind. Then came the feelings of being not pretty enough, not flirty enough, not aggressive enough, not wild enough. It all became about ME. And that's why it wasn't working. If my relationship over the past year has taught me anything, it's that it's not about me, it never has been. And yet it has everything to do with me, but not in the way I thought. A relationship was never meant to be about pleasing myself. It was always about letting God cultivate my soul through a relationship to become more like His Son. Its purpose was meant to draw out myself in ways I had never seen before and to teach me lessons about where I needed some work. The purpose was the same as every single other thing in my life: refining me for God. And if that's how I thought about it when I was single, I don't think I would have worried about being behind or feeling enough as much because the wait was all part of the process. There was never a time where I was in some weird void. I was always in a stage of a part of the relationship. What I'm getting at is that who I was becoming as a person in my singleness had every bit to do with who I would be in a relationship, the kind of person I would draw to myself once I did actually date seriously, and how I would eventually impact that person with the way I treated him. The importance of that period of "waiting" which really wasn't waiting as much as it was cultivating was monumental.
Looking back on that season of my life, it was so worth the wait and the work. Not settling for less than what God wants is something I hope I will never regret, no matter how long it takes, even if the person I'm with now isn't the final destination for me. I just want to say before I dive in, take heart, because I'm confident if God's given you this desire, He will make it happen. And that's the attitude I had started resigning myself to about one year and four months ago. It all started when I was having a conversation with my dad back in November of 2016. We were catching up, and he asked if there were any guys on the horizon. I responded in the negative, but this time I didn't feel let down, I remember telling my dad something to the effect of, "I have that desire to be married, but I'm okay right now. For the first time in my life, I'm just confidently expecting God to make it happen, but I'm not letting it consume me, and I'm not frantically looking." One month later (down to the exact day), I met my boyfriend. God's sense of humor gets me every time. And it was almost as if God was waiting for me to come to that point. I needed to learn that lesson before I could move on. Only then had I reached the next level of the game, and could unlock new power-ups.
Feelings < Choices
Relationships feel good. Done the right way, they can literally be so life-giving, it's insane. So much of your happiness can rise (and fall) on the shoulders of one person, and that's amazing and terrifying all at the same time. It's so easy to let that dictate your mood, but the problem with feelings is that they can be deceiving, and they rarely last in the same form over a long period of time. Cultivating a friendship through deliberate choices was the best thing we did even if I was impatient at some points along the way. Slow and steady truly does win the race. Here's the thing about waiting. A lot of us feel the strain of it intensely when we aren't dating. We think that once we find "that person", we won't have to wait anymore. But waiting doesn't just magically stop once you start dating. We're always waiting. At the beginning of the relationship, I waited impatiently for the DTR or the "I Like You" talk or when he would ask me to be his girlfriend. Now my waiting looks a little different. My eyes are turned more toward future stability, the prospect of marriage, waiting for the day long-distance is no longer a thing. And it is so easy for me to fall back into those same traps I experienced while single. When will it happen? Am I measuring up? Are we behind? It's still hard to focus on cultivation rather than empty waiting and biding the time. Going with emotion is easy, letting the wind take you wherever it wants is simple, effortless. But grounding ourselves firmly with two feet planted walking deliberately step-by-step through the wind blowing in the opposite direction is a little trickier. Actually it's infinitely more difficult. And you're bound to get knocked down, pushed back a few feet, and even confused as to why you're still walking against the wind when it'd be easier to just float with it. Cultivation takes some walking against the wind.
Embrace the Lows
I had a view, like I'm sure many of us do that relationships move in a linear fashion. I had an idea, like many other areas of my life, that if I worked hard enough, I could make anything work the way I wanted it to work. That relationships should continue in a steady upward climb until you get married, or if that upward climb isn't happening the way it should, you break up. But it isn't so black and white. We crave the clear cut lines, we want to know if something will work out before we invest a lot into it. This goes for homework, cooking, exercising, and practically anything else we do in life. We like to have a certain amount of certainty, and the stakes are even higher when it comes to placing your heart in someone else's hands for safe-keeping. We want to know we're safe and that we can trust in what we're doing. But here's what I know now. Relationships look a lot more like this:
That's why they say don't rush. I mean what if you got married at that first dot? You'd be in for a rude awakening wouldn't you! But what if you broke up at that second dot? Well, you might have missed out on an amazing relationship that just required some work and perseverance. And contrary to what we want to believe inside our souls, this graph is normal. In fact, from what I've read, if the above graph doesn't ring a bell with your relationship (maybe not so dramatic in highs and lows, but you get the general idea), you should be extra cautious. Maybe that freaks you out, but for me, learning that was a comfort! Not every low was a crisis. Yeah, the hard times suck, yeah doubts creep in every now and again, but that is why you date. It's not an unconditional commitment. You can back out anytime, and you want to have these ups and downs, especially the downs, now when you can sort through them without the added burden of stressing to make a marriage work or feeling trapped after discovering something you didn't "sign up for" because it never came up when you were dating. Lows are great! They show you the true core of your relationship and whether or not it has the strength to withstand difficulty, both of which are super important things if you're planning on being with this person for life. On the same token, grace is more important than perfection. Oftentimes the desire for perfection stems from a fear of insecurity. Perfection is worry-free, predictable, linear in most respects. It is easily measurable with perfect straight lines, but insisting on perfection denies the work Jesus did on the cross to redeem our failures and mistakes and turn them into something beautiful. The lows definitely give richer meaning to the highs that follow. Progress isn't linear.
In church last month, we had a sermon about apathy. Our pastor put up a chart on the screen that categorized our life activities into three categories: Good, Bad, and It Depends.
The point he was trying to make was that we have a pretty easy time categorizing good and bad things. We obviously don't condone murder, but we do typically encourage things like being a good parent or citizen, for example. However, we place a lot of emphasis on just steering clear from the bad that we forget about the middle category. We think neutral things like social media consumption, television and internet usage, eating habits, etc. are pretty neutral, but in actuality we should approach it from an "it depends" perspective. Each situation is different, and in order to determine whether something is good or bad is subjective based on our personal motivations and specific circumstances. Those things could be bad given the right context or consumption pattern.
I think we often do the same in relationships. We think about what we for sure want and what we for sure don't want when looking for someone to date. (Which is necessary and helpful!) Yet we fail to really consider the gray areas. How do they spend their time? What do they enjoy doing? How often do they look at Instagram/play video games/watch TV? How do they fill their free time? Sounds silly, but neglecting to think about that middle category leads us onto one of two paths. Either we excuse behavior we wouldn't normally accept because that person is "pretty good" in other more black and white aspects of their life and we downplay gray areas we really shouldn't be ignoring, or we strictly adhere to our set way of thinking about what our ideal person should look, act, and be like that we lose sight of giving grace to others for doing things a little bit differently than we do or lacking to make room for inevitable human mistake.
Either extreme isn't helpful. Just because someone is "good" doesn't mean they are good for you or even that they're on the right track spiritually. Conversely, just because someone may have done "bad" in the past or makes mistakes in the present does not mean they are bad or that they haven't experienced growth since then or currently. (Obviously prayer, common sense judgment, and advice from multiple wise friends and counselors is essential in determining whether or not the person is truly suitable to be pursued in light of the circumstances.) Look at the gray. Observe the areas that aren't so black and white to determine their true character because these are the areas that don't always have an easy "right" answer. You'll learn a lot about them by how they act in those areas because a lot of life is lived in the gray.
Need isn't a bad word
Many of us I'm sure have cringed at a couple of star-crossed, infatuated lovers who profess how much they need the other person or can't live without them. If you're anything like me, there would always be a cynical bone in my body that would think, "Wow, that's kind of presumptuous of them. What if they broke up? I mean they are an individual person. That's silly. They don't need anyone." And then when people like that do break up, you wonder how could they have been so wrong about their feelings? Their words start losing value. They seemed so sure, and then months, weeks, or even days later, those emotions seemed to disappear into thin air. And then you continue to think (because thinking to yourself is fun), "I don't need to do that. I don't need to need anyone. That's just unhealthy."
We associate need with weakness. And words have also cheapened our view of need in a very real way. But, here's what I think. Need is the single greatest quality to look for in another human, romantic relationship or otherwise. Find yourself a guy/girl that recognizes their need... for something bigger, for God, for others, for love, their need for authority, discipline, perseverance, and find someone who recognizes their need for you. Need is a true sign of humility. And the humble person finds great favor with God. No, I'm not saying an unhealthy type of child-like need for you to coddle them or someone that just keeps you around to make themselves feel better and tries to fill every void in their life with you and you alone, but a person who recognizes their zealous and healthy pursuit of you as filling a God-ordained need that can only be met in a satisfying and committed relationship with the opposite sex. (And I'm not saying all of us will get married, but it is in God's will for most). And not only that but also someone who is in tune with giving to meet your needs. That's the sign of true love. They've got your back. My uncle explained it to me this way. Imagine two sticks propped up against one another. Lean too much, and if one stick falls, the other does too, but lean just enough on the other, and you still stand your ground and can pick up the pieces if need be.
In the first scenario, the focus is inward, into the relationship itself. In the second, the relationship is focused upward, on the Lord with closeness to each other as a result of the focus on God. But the key here is that need isn't a bad word. You do need someone else for a relationship to work, and dependency is something that you can get better at and need to cultivate for any real transparency and vulnerability to ever take place.
Highlight Reels Mean Little
Just a quick note, but an important one. We all know the couple that seemed hot and super into each other all over Instagram one minute and broken up the next. That being said, take social media with a grain of salt. Just because someone has a cute cuddly picture on their feed does not mean that everything in their relationship is perfect. In fact, the opposite may very well be the case. You never know what's going on in the inner lives of people, so the comparison game is never healthy. In the end, it really does not matter how adorable your pictures and captions are if your relationship is in shambles. If your relationship is going well, you'll probably be out there actually investing in it too, not just posting about it. Avoid comparison at all costs.
It seems this post was a lot more of a jumbled compilation of my thoughts rather than a coherent multi-point applicable post, but if you're curious about reading more on dating (even if you're not currently in a relationship it's seriously never too early to start!), I'll include my list of books I've either read or bought and hope to read soon on dating, marriage, and relationships:
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Psalm 145:15-16 (ESV)
I've been really excited about this post! I finally have all the photos I took in Iceland with my professional camera edited and ready for you to see! This was such a great graduation gift, and a place I had been dreaming about visiting for a long while. It finally became a reality, and I'm still in shock that it actually happened. Read on for what we did, some cool pics, and a lil video that I put together at the end. Enjoy!
We were set to leave on an 8 pm direct flight. We made it all the way up the coast of Canada, and they had to turn the plane around to land the plane in Boston due to unexplained technical difficulties! It was a little scary at the time, but it turned into an overnight at a five-star hotel and $120 in food vouchers in Boston, and an unplanned day trip!
Day trip to Boston!! We took the train into the city and walked around, went to a fresh market, and sat in the park before using up our food vouchers at the hotel restaurant! Then, we hopped on another 8 pm flight bound for Iceland. This time without a hitch!
Arrived in Iceland 6:30 am their time but 1:30 am our internal clock time. Needless to say, we were TIRED! What better way to fight off the jet lag than a nice dip in the premier local hot spring, The Blue Lagoon? We headed there first, and it was absolutely amazing! We spent the rest of the day settling into our condo, taking a look around the city and grabbing a bite to eat at Rok before going to the top of Hallgrimskirkja for a spectacular view of Reykjavik. We slept well that night!
I spent the morning at the National Museum of Iceland learning all about the island's history and culture before grabbing a bite to eat at the University of Iceland cafeteria and taking a peek in their gift shop. It was a very cool campus! Then, we headed out for an afternoon adventure! We drove to Geysir (also a clothing brand in Iceland) and saw an active one called "Strokkur" (Icelandic for "churn") erupt before our eyes. Next, we headed to the most breathtaking (and very cold :)) place. It was a waterfall maybe even more majestic than Niagara Falls called Gullfoss which is Icelandic for "Golden Falls". The pictures don't do it justice. After that we head back to the Geysir Hotel for dinner!
This was arguably my favorite day! We saw so much as we traveled the Ring Road to all the iconic sites along the Golden Circle. We started out at Seljalandsfoss waterfall. So pretty! And we enjoyed donuts and coffee/tea at a little pop up stand by the falls. Next, we stopped at a little building on the side of the road that was showing informational videos on Iceland's active volcano, Eyjafjallajokull. This baby erupted back in 2010, and you might remember it from a few scenes in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Sounds nerdy, but man, it was a very cool video and so interesting how it affected all of Iceland and could happen again at any moment. Along the way we stopped to see wild Icelandic ponies, and everywhere I turned there were these adorable sheep and little lamb that I wanted to take home with me (just wait till you see). They were too cute!
Next, we stopped at probably my favorite spot in all of Iceland. Skogafoss is hard to beat, especially since you can take stairs to climb what otherwise would have been a treacherous hike to the top of the falls. You get a phenomenal view of the scenery, and it's unlike any other place I've visited.
A big way I actually found out about some beautiful places in Iceland that I wanted to visit was from watching a Justin Bieber music video of his song "I'll Show You." Don't judge me! I'm not a huge fan, but the video is amazing (minus the scenes of Bieber in his boxers lol). Dyrholaey was one of the places we wouldn't have known to visit if it hadn't shown up on that video as Justin sat on the cliffs. Sadly, our car didn't have four-wheel drive, so we could not make it up the terrain to visit that exact spot or see the lighthouse, but we found another spot to enjoy the view closer to sea level. This was by far the COLDEST part of the trip!! Since Vik, Iceland was closeby, we made a quick stop there to walk on the black sand beaches and enjoy the small-town charm (and beautiful church!) before heading on.
The final two spots were to visit a glacier and the iconic plane wreckage of a DC 3 American Navy plan that crash landed in the middle of Icelandic nowhere (seriously) in 1973. It was a very cool sight to see after the 45 minute walk to get there one way. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, but it was worth it!
Look at this awesome house build into the side of the mountain!
Before hopping on the plane back to America, we stopped at a local geothermal spa for a relaxing soak. It was a such a great trip! I took quite a few videos while we were traveling and tried my hand at a little bit of video editing. This was a first for me but ended up being so fun! Not planning on adding video to any of my wedding packages soon, though. ;)
Happy Wednesday, friends!
I got to fulfill one of my all-time dreams last week, and I still can't get over it. I have been saving, working hard, and dreaming big about the day I could attend a full photography workshop with one of my favorite photographers, and my dream finally became a reality!! (PSA: don't give up on your dreams!) Not only did I get to attend a workshop, but I got to attend a Katelyn James Workshop!!! The only downside was going back to my regular 9-5 job was a little sad after an amazing two days packed full of content and fun activities where Katelyn made us feel like we could conquer the world. She was seriously such an inspiration and so real with us. I think the fact that stuck out to me the most was that she started exactly where I did...running her business while she was in college. And she continued to teach herself mostly just by trial and error. She would admit to us many times, "I'm not the best at this." or "I'm definitely still learning in this area." And it helped me realize there is always room to grow no matter what stage of your business you're in. What an encouragement to see one of the leading photographers in the industry being so transparent with us! It's something I needed to hear and a big part of why I walked away with a refreshed perspective of my business. By the end of the workshop, I felt that I had not only learned a ton of valuable information, but I had also gained a new friend. Katelyn's spirit is so genuine. It's no wonder she is doing so well in this industry...it's all because of the way she serves her clients and strives to be a real part of their lives!! She encouraged us to seek our "why" for our business, and brought us all to tears as she closed out the two days with a heart-to-heart in her living room about focusing on what truly matters. I can't thank Katelyn and her family enough for hosting us in their brand new home, cooking delicious meals for us, and just spending time getting to know us. It's an experience I'll never forget, and if you ever get the chance to go, DO IT! You won't regret it! Enjoy some behind-the-scenes from the workshop and be on the lookout for a full post with all the pretty styled shoot images coming soon!
I got to road trip up to Virginia with my friend Christi who is also a photographer! Check out Kingsbridge Photography to see her amazing work. This girl has been killing it (especially on Instagram) ever since we got back from the workshop!!
Confession: I might have "fan-girled" a tiny bit when we pulled into Katelyn's driveway. I mean, just look at her house? It was so stunning inside and out, and Katelyn, Michael, and Evy greeting us on the first day at their front door was priceless.
The Alsops kept us WELL FED, and for a girl who likes to eat (and often) this is no easy task. I did not go a minute being hungry in this household. Katelyn's super sweet sister (Emily) and mom (Mrs. James :)) cooked amazing meals for us morning, noon, and night, and every so often we would be sitting in Katelyn's living room learning a module, and Emily would pop in with a SNACK TRAY filled with delicious goodies. I thought it was heaven!!
Of course I had to get sweet Bokeh Boy in some pics! The poor little guy was probably so tired of portraits by the end of it all!
Creating foregrounds during our styled shoot with Katelyn on Day #1! :)
Just a sneak peek of styled shoot images to come! How gorgeous is this setup?? And it was all staged right in Katelyn's living area in her home!
We got sweet little Evy in a picture too! She was all smiles and giggles the entire time. So sweet!
Look at how cute Christi is getting her new headshots! And how adorable is this little box of goodies Katelyn gifted us on the first day. Filled that notebook up so quick!!
Just a little sneak of our amazing models for the styled shoot. OOH, friends I cannot wait to show you the rest of the images from the styled shoot!! Check back soon for the full post!
Prior to my birthday this year, I had been using a makeshift camera bag (which I was pretty proud of at the time) that consisted of a faux leather Forever 21 bag and a cheaply made Amazon camera bag insert. It did the trick for a while...but then my equipment collection grew, and the strap broke during one of my shoots. Needless to say, my makeshift bag became a pain, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend time finding (or spending money on) a new camera bag when there were other things I felt like I needed to focus on in my business. Well, thank goodness for sweet people in your life who know what you need!
A few months ago I invited my boyfriend, Hunter, to come along to an engagement session with me for the first time. It was out of town in NC, the couple was bringing their adorable dog, and it was supposed to end up snowing, so we made a day trip out of it....
Being the thoughtful (and very generous!) guy that he is, he noticed and remembered the dilapidated bag at that photo-shoot and surprised me with a brand new, super nice leather designer camera bag on my birthday about a month later... from a brand that hadn't even been on my radar until I got this gift from him! (Does he have great taste/research skills or what?!) When I was first starting out in my business, I knew I was so curious about what gear to start investing in and also what I would need to bring along to shoot at my first session and eventually my first wedding, so I thought it might be helpful to share what I keep in my bag. Plus, it gave me a good excuse to photograph it! So I've broken this up into three sections: The Essentials, The Gear, and The Bag. Have something else I should add to my checklist to bring along to shoots and weddings? I'd love to know what's in your bag in the comments below!
THE ESSENTIALS - MORE THAN JUST TAKING PICTURES
THE GEAR - EQUIPMENT FOR EVERY OCCASION
THE BAG - FEATURES I LOVE MOST
Aaaaannnndddd my super cute Kelly Moore Westminster Hobo bag is on sale at a pretty good price right now! So if you need a new bag, check it out!!
It's only been a week since graduation, and I'm already doing some big time reflecting. I've hit the ground running with my new part time job and have taken on more weddings than I've ever photographed in such a short amount of time. God has been really good, and I think the busyness of this time is truly a blessing because He knows that if I graduated college and started off bored, my life would be miserable. I am a person that truly feeds off of a full schedule (like the ones we keep in school), and little did I know, life would get even busier after college (at least for this first few months)! Something that has been on my heart lately is helping other, growing photographers. I've been trying to go over in my mind the things I have learned over the past two years as well as the questions and roadblocks I've run into while starting and running my business. I want to be a resource and encouragement to other photographers just as the people who have mentored me have been. So today, I thought I'd share how it really is running a business while going to school full time. Plus, I wanted to share a little of my senior session that I'm in love with! Julia Rose Photography did such an amazing job, and it was so fun to be in front of the camera for a change!
Maybe you're student thinking of starting your business while in school and you feel a little scared or overwhelmed at that thought. Maybe you're a student who's already started a business, and you've got so much going on that you feel a little discouraged and are reconsidering that decision. I hope my advice and reflection will be a help and encouragement to you!
How can it be the last day of the year?! 2016 has held a lot of good times and a few not-so-good times, but, overall, I'm so thankful for all the events that happened this year because a lot were pretty monumental- in my personal life and my business...
I started the year by traveling to Washington D.C. in January to attend my very first photography conference with friends. February brought my 21st birthday and a party with some fabulous people. In March, I adopted my favorite snuggle buddy, Oslo Baby and planned and executed my very first styled shoot. I went on to have three more in June, July, and September respectively. This summer I completed my first corporate internship as a full-time 9-5 employee living on my own in the Queen City, and I started my senior year of college shortly after. Since then, I have been able to participate in my first bridal show, invest in a Katelyn James Workshop (which will be happening next year) and a brand new camera body! But most of all, I am so thankful for all the connections I have made this year. I have made so many new friends in and out of the photography world, and that has made this year a really awesome one. 2016 was not perfect, but I've grown more as a person and within my business more than I ever have, and I'm thankful that this year has left me refreshed and ready to grab up all the opportunity 2017 has for me.
I'm heading to a little New Years Eve get-together with friends tonight, but I hope you enjoy this little recap of my favorite moments in photography for 2016. I love my clients so much, and it was hard to narrow this down!! Happy New Year! Let's make it our best yet!
I love travel and adventure. I love seeing things from new perspectives. I love to find good food in exciting places. And I love making moments last for as long as possible.
Follow along for behind-the-scenes on Instagram!