Life Is Better with You – Jen & Jeff’s Magical Wedding at Melrose Caverns

“Woah, woah, life is better with you. Woah, woah, life is better with you.” – Michael Franti.

If you really want the ear bug from this song, take a listen here. This was the song that Jen and Jeff played for their first dance. The cutest, sweetest first dance ever. And now that you’ve listened (and if you haven’t, go listen, because it’s awesome!!) and can hear it in your head, it’s seriously the perfect soundtrack for their magical day.

When I met Jen and Jeff back in January and then again for their engagement session I could feel their magical vibe right away. And their wedding at Melrose Caverns just outside of Harrisonburg, VA a few weeks ago had not only their magic but the love and magic of their friends and family. Think unicorns, dragons, crystals, sparkles, special momentos and a mystical venue! What an amazing day.

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All the incredible floral arrangements, boutonnieres, fans and other details didn’t come from a florist. They were hand made, just like all of the other decor, by family and friends.

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Each layer of this cake had special significance. It was also made by a family member. If I recall the bottom layers were in remembrance of beloved family and the top layer signified all the possibilities for the future. And how about the unicorn and dragon on top! And I had a slice of that cake. Let’s just say I’ve been craving more since then!

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All weddings are special for me. I always feel so honored that the couple wants me to capture their day for them. This one was a little more special because my own husband was second shooting for me! We got to work our own magic together. More magic!! And fun. Because the couple and their friends and family were that much fun. There were no nerves, no drama, just joy and tons of love.

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The ceremony was performed by a friend and every word had so much meaning. She even had them place seven crystals, each with a different meaning and significance toward their union, into a special box.

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Loved their little dance down the aisle and the path after the ceremony! Loved it!

This was also one of the larger bridal parties I’ve worked with and can I just say how awesome they were! Sometimes it takes a while to get all those portraits after the ceremony. They were patient and SO easy to work with. What absolutely wonderful people. And of course the officiant blew some magic fairy dust onto the couple!

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And then reception fun. So much reception fun. And Jen and Jeff changed outfits for reception shenanigans. Loved the sparkles on her second dress,his hat and both of their light up shoes!

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Oh and it might have been a little hot that day! Hence the Marilyn Monroesque shot:)

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Congratulations Jen and Jeff! I wish all the magic from your special day to continue every day for the rest of your lives!

 

Posted in Bright Souls, Couples, Weddings Tagged , , |

Wine Adds a Smile to Friendship and a Spark to Love | Paradise Springs Winery Wedding

“Wine adds a smile to friendship and a spark to love.” – Edmondo de Amicis

That quote needs no explanation. Obviously. The smiles, friendship and sparks of love are all in these images from Vicky and Rob’s wedding held at Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, VA.

Vicky and Rob met at Paradise Springs where Rob is the head winemaker. So it was the most natural choice for them to step into their journey together as husband and wife here. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon with an amazing backdrop, vows at sunset and a rocking reception with a LOT of super fun people.

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Not to mention a gorgeous couple!

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A meaningful ceremony and then onto reception shenanigans!

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I may or may not have been having as much fun as the guests while I was working. Ok, I definitely was. I love watching what’s happening on the dance floor and catching the fun and energy. And I LOVE it when people engage with me. Those always make such fun images. So, yeah, get up in my face!

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Somewhere along the line one of the props from the photo booth made it inside and oh yeah! I wish I could remember what song was playing!

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And who doesn’t love some air guitar!!

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Here’s to Vicky and Rob! Thank you SO much for allowing me to capture your special day. I’m so blessed to have met you and I wish you all the best in your new life together.

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And all of this awesomeness was made possible by some amazing vendors!

Venue: Paradise Springs Winery

DJ: Randy Richmond from Bialeks Music

Cake: Fluffy Thoughts Bakery

Wedding Gown: Casablanca from White Swan Bridal

Hair & Makeup: Steph and Sondra at Bridal Artistry

Flowers: Twinbrook Floral

Caterer: R and R Catering

Photo Booth: Facetime Photo

 

Posted in Bright Souls, Couples, Weddings Tagged , , , |

You Are Made of Awesome So It’s Only Natural You Are Beautiful – VA Portrait Photographer

“You Are Made of Awesome So It’s Only Natural You Are Beautiful” – First and Chic Blog

I’ve taken to finding quotes that help describe my sessions and clients. It’s fun and I think imparts a deeper sense of connection to what I’m honored to experience. And there’s a whole lot of awesome and beauty in this post!

Back in February I found and joined an AH-MAZING all female networking group. It’s kind of hard to call it networking when really it’s more about female entrepreneurs uplifting, guiding and supporting each other in a wonderful sisterhood kind of way. Joining Femworking was one of the best decisions I’ve made for both my business and myself!

Naturally I have met some incredible women, one of which owns a women’s enrichment society, Charmed Cardinals. More sisters joining together to enrich themselves on a much different level from the typical GNO that usually involves copious amounts of alcohol, a wicked hangover and definitely not feeling uplifted the next day! As soon as I heard what this group was about I thought I’m striving to do the same thing with my Goddess photoshoots — uplifting and empowering women and helping them to connect to their Inner Goddess.

Charmed Cardinals offers its members monthly experiences to get together, learn something new and connect. Well the owner and I both knew we had to do a photography experience. And we did just that a few weeks ago!

I created and led a workshop on how to look great in photographs! Tips and tricks for those times when you’re not being professionally photographed or when you’re out with friends and someone pulls out the iPhone and proceeds to snap away. A girl has got to be prepared! Especially when those photos can wind up on social media outlets. Then after the tips and tricks we got down to the business of letting them practice their newly learned skills in front of my lens!

Can I just say how lucky I was to have six gorgeous women to play with and photograph?! And that they all are truly made of awesome! Seriously oozing awesome.

Now I know how nerve wracking it is to step in front of a camera. I recently had a photo shoot done and I pretty much completely forgot everything I know to guide clients. Yes, I was totally nervous! More on that to come in another post. So I can only imagine that these lovely ladies were a bit nervous and maybe feeling awkward. But that’s ok because my job is to quell that. My job is to guide them to stand and pose in ways that usually feel weird and awkward but make a great image. But more important my job is to make them feel comfortable so they know they are rock stars full of awesome, because they truly are. My job is to help them connect with their Inner Goddess. And connect they did.

Thank you Charmed Cardinals for the opportunity to provide this experience to your lovely members!

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Posted in Bright Souls, Glamour, Glamour Photography, Goddesses, Headshots & Promo, Portraiture, Virginia Portrait Photographer

Every Time She Laughs I’m the One Who Falls in Love – Old Town Alexandria Sunrise Engagement PhotoSession

“They told me that to make her fall in love I had to make her laugh. But every time she laughs I’m the one who falls in love.” – unknown

This. This quote describes this amazingly adorable couple I had the extreme pleasure of photographing a few weeks ago. When I write a blog post about my clients, I try to find words that fit them and their session. I don’t know where this quote came from, but it was a gift from the internet to me:)

Jen, Jeff and I got together on a Saturday morning … EARLY on a Saturday morning for their engagement session. This lovely couple referred them to me. I remember meeting them back in January to chat wedding photos. I LOVED that they had their wedding notebook and that Jeff is just as involved with all the planning as Jen is. We hit it off right away. The vibe between client and photographer is so important and can make or break your wedding day photos! Anyway, they gave me the distinct honor of photographing their wedding and part of that is engagement photos! Yay! Because I LOVE photographing couples in love!!

Anyway, back to the early Saturday morning. So Jen and Jeff wanted a morning session and I thought well then we have to go for sunrise. I’ve captured sunrise images a couple of times and even though it’s a challenge to get up that early when you’re not used to it, it is so worth it. And their session was no exception.

We decided on Old Town Alexandria and River Farm for their locations to get some of that small town America vibe and lots of fun garden pics. And the stars and planets all aligned for a perfect morning session. Just the Saturday before it was cold and snowing! But this Saturday couldn’t have been a better Spring day.

So we started off at Founders Park on the Old Town waterfront. It was truly magical capturing them at sunrise.

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Then it was time to tool around Old Town. Right off the bat we stumbled upon this kick ass painted garage door at the Torpedo Factory! I had never seen this before and it made a perfect backdrop. The vibrant, energetic, full of life colors match Jen and Jeff’s personalities perfectly. And that’s when the laughter began. These two were silly, fun and laughing the whole time. They made each other laugh and I could feel why they are in love with each other. I mean let’s face it, if you’re with someone who can’t make you laugh then you really need to not be with them! My husband makes me laugh all the time, often at his own expense, which makes it even funnier for me!

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Before any of my sessions, I send a questionnaire asking couples how they met, things they like to do, etc … to get some ideas of how their session should unfold. Jen and Jeff like to kickback and have a cocktail or two so I thought, let’s do that. So I grabbed a couple of beers and brought them with me. We found a spot to sit down so they could have their “cocktail” while I snapped some photos. Now, here’s the thing, the bottles were empty. I’m not trying to break any laws or get anyone in trouble, most of the time:) But what’s pretty funny here is that we passed a police cruiser parked right where I wanted to stop and we were being all covert … with empty bottles. What?! I’m pretty sure there’s nothing wrong with carrying some empty bottles around. Anyway, it all worked out and nobody was the wiser.

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Then it was time to change and hit the Farmer’s Market! It was fun to walk around and check out one of the best farmer’s markets in the area. And you know, have fun with vegetables. Tell me you’ve never picked up a cucumber and made a joke about it:) My plan was to see if they would be up for maybe a little dancing in the middle of the market. Sure enough, they didn’t even hesitate. Because they’re awesome like that! I remember one of the vendors getting a pic of them on his cellphone!

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Then it was time to head to River Farm where they shared some Dandelion wishes, a little picnic and more laughs.

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There was so much laughter and love that morning. There will be so much more at their wedding in September. And I know every time one of them makes the other laugh, they will fall in love all over again. Congratulations Jen and Jeff! Thank you so much for including me in this special time of your life.

 

 

 

Posted in Couples, Engagement, Virginia Portrait Photographer Tagged , , , , |

Light Like No Other – VA Portrait Photographer

A few weeks ago I had the honor of photographing a mother and her two daughters. I’ve known the mom for over 16 years now and have known the girls since they were born. I see and feel their bond and connection. It warms my heart knowing the love, respect and admiration that exists between them. And I wish I could have experienced that. I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my mother.  Not everyone does.

My mother was mentally ill — bipolar, personality disorder. And she never sought treatment for it even though she was fully aware she had a mental illness. There was a really bad stigma surrounding mental illness when she was growing up and even though perceptions and attitudes shifted over the years she never bought into it.

As a child I knew something was wrong with my mother and that she needed help. I also bore the brunt of her anger and disenchantenment with life because of her mental illness. My father bore a great deal of that as well. But he was a grown man. I was a little girl. As an adult I became keenly aware of her mental illness and tried helping her many times, always hoping that someday maybe she would come around and we could have a decent relationship. But that never happened.

So over the years I withdrew from her. I cut emotional ties at a very young age, in fact I remember when that happened. I was eight years old and she was threatening to kill herself, showing me the handful of pills she was planning on taking and telling me that she wouldn’t wake up the next day. My thoughts were who is going to make my breakfast and take care of my brothers? So I cut the cord. Why be connected to someone that might not be there the next day? There were many, many, many other instances where that disconnection would prove necessary and vital for my own well being.

And she never understood why I disconnected. It was for self-preservation. And eventually my mother died and I was relieved that it was all finally over.

I embrace my story. I don’t use it as an excuse for everything that hasn’t or isn’t going my way. I’ve forgiven the wrongs I felt were done to me. All of my experiences related to this (as well as other life events) brought me to who I am today, so ultimately I’m grateful for it all.

I’m not relaying this to be dark or to elicit sympathy. I guess what I’m getting at here is that if you have a good relationship with your mother or your daughter, be grateful. Be grateful that any conflict is just superficial and meaningless in the big scheme of things. Be grateful for that bond and connection because not every mother and daughter has it. Be understanding and compassionate to each other. Be forgiving and loving. And if you have a good relationship with your mother or daughter honor it. And if you’re like me and you didn’t or don’t have that, know that you are not alone. It’s very challenging when society deems that we must all have this relationship when sometimes it’s just not possible.

I’m seriously not trying to be Debbie Downer here! I only want to share my experiences and how they affect and drive me to use my vision and talent. Maybe that experience is more lighthearted like this one. Or sometimes maybe it isn’t. Either way, we are all shaped by our experiences and as a portrait photographer those experiences help to shape my work. And that work is to create images that will always be there to remind you of something whether it’s the goofiness of your kids, whether it’s your own personal power or whether it’s the love between you and your mother/daughter.

And now onto the light!!

Simply put this mother and her lovely daughters are beautiful, loving, kind, talented, intelligent and overall AMAZING. Talk about light. They beam it from their very core. What’s that song, something about it’s so bright I gotta wear shades? So, we did a photo shoot to capture ALL of this and honor their wonderful relationship. And it was SO. MUCH. FUN!!!

I wanted to create three distinct looks for them so we went with something more casual, something more glamourous and something more creative with a vintage/boho flair. I knew they would all have fun with hair and make-up and the whole day was meant to be a dress up, pampering, mother/daughter day out. We did groups shots, individual shots and mom with each daughter by herself. We had chocolate covered strawberries, tea and snacks. It seriously was the perfect girls day.

And I had the extreme honor, pleasure and joy of creating images of these three beautiful women for them to cherish for the rest of their lives. It’s difficult to call it work when it brings me this much joy and satisfaction. As I viewed and edited each image, looking at their eyes, their energy and that light, I was constantly finding myself tearing up. This actually happens a lot when I’m editing my clients’ photos!

And now I present the utterly beautiful, incredibly amazing, Sosa Ladies. Put your shades on folks.

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Posted in Creative Photography, Families, Glamour Photography, Mother/Daughter, Portraiture, Virginia Portrait Photographer

It’s about YOU! – VA/MD/DC Glamour & Boudoir Photographer

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I’m offering a Valentine’s Day special, because, well Valentine’s Day is coming up. It’s a mini photo session that includes hair, makeup and a couple of digital prints (plus some AMAZING print products and a cool app upgrade). But why would you want to do this? What if you’re not in a relationship and there isn’t anyone to gift glamorous, sexy photos?

Well here’s the thing, it’s not about anyone else. It’s about YOU. Yes, the gorgeous photos I’ll capture of you can certainly be a gift for someone else but first and foremost they are a gift to yourself! And why not gift yourself? How often do you put yourself first, ahead of your spouse, significant other, children, family, job, friends, commitments? Probably not often. I know I don’t.

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Well it’s about time you did, because you know what will happen? Some good old fashioned self-love and nurturing.

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But wait, there’s more that will happen. Think about your day-to-day life. How often do you take the time to look sexy, to get out of those yoga pants? Ever feel like you just get up, wash your face, brush your teeth, get dressed and then make your way through the day? Hey I do it! Yoga pants rock but sometimes enough is really enough.

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What if you took the opportunity to have someone do your hair and makeup? What if you took the opportunity to put on a sexy outfit (or be even more daring if you want!)? And then what if you took the opportunity to exist that way in photographs? I’ll tell you what will happen. You will be empowered. You will connect with your inner Goddess and she WILL shine through. And once she shines through there is no dimming her light. And you will always have your images to remind you she is there. She is ALWAYS there.

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Don’t think you have her in you? Trust me you do.

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Book your mini session now. Or gift yourself with a full session. Better yet get that significant other to gift it to you!

Here’s to some serious self-love this Valentine’s Day!

 

Posted in Boudoir, Glamour, Goddesses, Portraiture, Virginia Portrait Photographer

Mother/Daughter Vintage Portrait Session | VA/MD/DC Portrait Photographer

Over the summer I had the opportunity to photograph a gorgeous mother/daughter session. The daughter was getting ready to leave for college in LA where she would be studying acting (she’s gonna be a huge star one day!) and they wanted a vintage, old hollywood glam, noir type of session with a bit of an edge. Sure! I love stuff just like this. Really gets some creative juices flowing.

The first step was finding a good location. The one place I had been dying to shoot in had closed. So I searched the good ‘ole internet and found Manassas Junction B&B and the owner graciously allowed us to use the parlor for photos. It worked out great. Although the lighting was a little tricky.

Then it was time to edit these. And there were so many options to really enhance and pull out that vintage and noir feel that we wanted. I finally narrowed it down, after trying option after option and loving them all. And I realized in this process that one of the things I really love about what I get to do is the styling and creating a scene or tableau and then the creative editing. So that you can really experience the image, feel what it’s saying. So yes, I love Photoshop. There’s a whole camp of Photoshop loving photographers out there and there’s a whole camp of purists that say Photoshop is a cop out. Even if you do a lot of editing, you still have to get the basics down in camera and create a composition and scene. You can’t Photoshop everything.

So finally, here they are. I could probably keep playing with these forever but at some point you have to just say no. It’s an addiction.

Thank you Jen and Hannah!

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Posted in Goddesses, Portraiture

Survivor | VA/MD/DC Personal Branding Photographer

What the? Two blog posts in one day? YES! Normally I would wait until a weekday morning to do another blog post. You know when people are at work and looking for anything to distract themselves from what they have to do:) Not a Friday evening when folks are sitting down with that cocktail to end the week. But I just couldn’t make Paige wait another second for her sneak peeks.

I met Paige through Pure Prana Yoga Studio as well. I was teaching Vigorous Vinyasa Friday evenings and she was a regular in that class. I remember her learning to do headstand without being next to the wall because she was going on a yoga retreat where there might not be a wall to literally lean on. Then a few years later we ending up in the same teacher training at Pure Prana! After our teacher training ended we decided to get tattoos together to mark that time. Paige was working in a somewhat conservative field and got her tattoo on her foot where it could be disguised somewhat.

Then life got complicated. My husband became paralyzed from a staph infection and I got tied up with some care taking and his recovery, which over the last five years is at about 90% or so. Pretty miraculous stuff. Then Paige had a stroke. Yes, you read that right. How does a healthy, fit, yoga and meditation teacher have a stroke?? Because life throws serious curve balls at you and doesn’t care how healthy and fit you are or that you take the time and work at being stress free. Paige has recovered very well from that stroke, although, just like my husband, just because you look ok on the outside, doesn’t necessarily mean all is 100% hunky dory. There’s always lingering things and really you are never the same person again. But maybe you’re a better version of yourself.

Since then Paige has stepped out of the conservative work life and is now working for herself teaching yoga and meditation full time! So she wanted some photos to use for some marketing purposes. But she also wanted to capture who she is right now. Which is awesome. She might be a different version of herself but her awesome personality and silly self that I remember is still very much there. I knew going into this session that it would be a blast and that there would be lots of laughing. And she got another tattoo! On her forearm this time. To mark the journey of being a stroke survivor.

We got together on a fabulous Fall day to get some images of her and her hubby along with their cute little dogs. I wanted to get some shots of her meditating at home because I knew the dogs would be right there with her:) Then she and I headed into Old Town Alexandria where we hit the train station and she did tree pose, right there. She had just been able to do tree again recently on the side that was affected by the stroke. We tooled around the streets, she ran, she played in leaves and she meditated under a beautiful tree.

Check Paige and her musings out at PaigesYoga.com. It has been wonderful to reconnect with her and I’m so grateful she trusted me to capture her, where she is right now.

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Posted in Couples, Headshots & Promo, Personal Branding, Yoga

Serenity Now | VA/MD/DC Yoga & Personal Branding Photographer

Serenity now. And not the Seinfeld, Frank Costanza version! But real, true serenity now is what I was honored to photograph a couple of weeks ago. Faith, who I know through Pure Prana Yoga Studio, wanted some yoga photos and headshots, personal branding is what I would call it. Faith teaches Yin Yoga as well as restorative and therapeutic yoga with the goal of making it accessible to everyone and their unique needs. If you’ve never done a restorative type yoga class, stop what you are doing and go to one of Faith’s classes at Pure Prana or the Yogi Underground. This type of yoga is SO needed in our lives of running around and trying to power through everything. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Faith wanted to make sure that the photos showed the quiet and stillness of the practice, basically the serenity. Well that wasn’t hard because the moment you meet Faith her energy exudes just this. So it wasn’t hard to capture what is innately there. I also wanted to take her outside, in nature, where that quiet, calm energy also resides. Combine Faith with that and hello relaxation:)

Thank you Faith, so much, for such a wonderful morning. And now, prepare to be relaxed by simply gazing upon Faith’s beautiful essence.

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Posted in Headshots & Promo, Personal Branding, Yoga

Polka Dots, Stripes and Rainbows | VA/MD/DC Family Photographer

I had planned on posting the sneak peeks today from one of my favorite family’s sessions a few weeks ago. Then I realized it was also their 6th wedding anniversary. So once again, we are taking a stroll down memory lane. I have had the honor of capturing so many life events for Dave and Carrie, all starting with their engagement session in 2009.

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Then later that year they trusted me enough to photograph their wedding. I was still very, very new to this whole journey and had only photographed two other weddings prior to theirs!

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Then things were all quiet for awhile until their baby girl joined them in late 2011. They decided to do a Year in the Life series. So we started when the little one was about 3-4 weeks old.

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The second session of the Year in the Life was when little Miss was about 4 months old.

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Next up about 9 months.

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Then we got together when she was walking and was just over 1 year.

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Since then we have gotten together every year for annual family photos.

2013 fun in the leaves and lots of cuteness!

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Last year I noticed the big difference between two and three. There was the obvious communication but something more about her shining personality was just bursting through.

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And now here we are in 2015. She’s a kid now! No more baby or toddler, but full blown dancing, performing, popcorn eating sassafras kiddo! And look at that smile!! If this isn’t one happy little girl, I just don’t know what is. Her cheeks had to be sore from smiling so much! And I LOVED her outfit. I even said as much and Carrie said she picked it out herself. YES!! And we even had a chance to get the rock hands in at the end. Considering her favorite song is “Rainbow in the Dark” it was very appropriate:)

We had so much fun on such a beautiful Fall morning. And, Dave and Carrie had moved to Philadelphia earlier this year. But they still wanted me to do the annual photos. Man I am blessed. So we met half way in Bel Air, MD at this cool mansion, the Liriodendrun. Next year I’m headed to Philly:) Happy Anniversary Dave and Carrie! I am beyond grateful that you have allowed me to capture your lives.

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Behindthescenes

Posted in Couples, Engagement, Families, Kids, Weddings