As an engagement and wedding photographer, I’ve shot photo sessions in numerous locations. When I arrived at Marvin-Efird Park in Marvin, NC (adjacent to the quaint town of Waxhaw, NC) for the first time, I was struck by all the beautiful light everywhere. Besides being an adorable little park, the slowly setting sun had everything awash in beautiful and soft, golden light. I basked in the warm (but slightly chilly) softness of my surroundings as I scouted locations for Taheerah and Brandon’s engagement photo session while waiting for them to arrive. Many other photographers were present, taking advantage of the gorgeous weather conditions and ethereal light.
When Taheerah and Brandon arrived at Marvin-Efird Park and Taheerah stepped out her car, this photographer was struck not only by Taheerah’s beauty but also by her stunning dress! Not long after their arrival, April from Bloom Wild showed up to bestow upon Taheerah a beautiful and handmade floral crown (and matching ring — more on that ring later!). I immediately escorted Taheerah and Brandon to my the first photography location I scouted for them, a tiny field next adjacent to Marvin-Efird Park’s community garden. Just the way the light fell on Taheerah and Brandon warmed my photographer heart!
And look at how they gazed at each other here!
That golden-hour light at Marvin-Efird Park was pure bliss for an engagement photo shoot!
Next, we took a short walk down to a little path by a fence, where I had Taheerah and Brandon practice their first dance for their wedding day.
They then sealed the dancing with a sweet kiss!
After that, we took another short walk toward the lake, where these beautiful images were captured.
Ugh, don’t you just love this image of Brandon fixing Taheerah’s hair?! It’s one of my absolute favorites from their engagement photo shoot!
Next up, we visited one of the other trails that went alongside the water.
I still can’t get over how absolutely gorgeous Taheerah’s flower crown from Bloom Wild was!
And I can’t forget how Bloom Wild threw in a matching ring! How sweet!
After showcasing the beautiful florals from Bloom Wild, we moved to a large field adjacent to one of the parking lots at Marvin-Efird Park, where these adorable images happened.
And here’s another favorite of mine!
Next, it was time for Taheerah and Brandon to change into their second looks! We went back to the large field, where Taheerah and Brandon stood and looked all cute.🙂
I was totally in love with Taheerah’s second look!
Marvin-Efird Park may be a smaller park (that was super crowded with other talented photographers on this particular day), but it sure boasts lots of scenic options for any type of photo shoot, especially engagement photo shoots in the fall! So, off we went to find a spot with the beautiful trees as a backdrop.
Taheerah was gracious enough to let me borrow her stunning engagement ring for this amazing ring shot on a fall leaf. How pretty!
Cannot get over how cute Taheerah and Brandon are! (This adorable image was Taheerah’s idea!)
They’re also very stylish and good at posing.🙂
At one point, Taheerah and I both spotted a tree trunk that made the perfect spot for the last images of their engagement photo shoot.
How cute is Taheerah falling into Brandon’s arms here?
And that’s a wrap!
I had a great time with Taheerah and Brandon and can’t wait to document their early spring wedding at eXtravaganza Events in Charlotte, NC! Stay tuned!
November is such a beautiful month in Charlotte, NC. Want to know why? Because it’s right smack in the middle of fall! This Fort Mill and Charlotte photographer had the honor of shooting Madison and Cara’s engagement photo shoot on a beautiful Saturday evening in Charlotte at Marshall Park right in the middle of Uptown Charlotte, NC.
Madison and Cara were the cutest couple ever and reminded me of why I was so excited to be documenting their upcoming wedding this coming spring at Southern Charm Events in Rock Hill, SC!
The Charlotte skyline along with the fountain at Marshall Park proved to be a dramatic background.
We even had a photobomber come through on his bicycle, which elicited a few laughs from all the girls and me! He was nice and apologized as he rode by. 🙂
These gorgeous ring shots show off Madison’s engagement ring and Cara’s promise ring. Aren’t they both so beautiful?
On the way to their engagement photo shoot, Madison and Cara made a pit stop and grabbed a blanket. We found an awesome tree to photograph next to! Can I just say how much I loved their little “Love” sign that they brought along?
Leaves! Did I mention all the leaves that blanketed a good portion of the park’s grounds?! Of course Madison and Cara had to go and play in the leaves (along with sharing a few sweet kisses afterwards).
With all the leaves the blanketing the ground, I absolutely had to get some shots of Cara and Madison just chillin’ (and kissin’).
And, speaking yet again of leaves blanketing the ground, can I just brag a little about how AMAZING this ring shot came out?! The rings! The leaves! The symbolized love!
This pose was Cara and Madison’s idea, which I loved because it played out like one big trust exercise! What a fun added touch to their engagement photo shoot!
I am in love with how adorable yet silly Madison and Cara are together. Observe the evidence!
One of my favorite Marshall Park features is the bridge. I just can’t get enough of bridges at parks, especially parks in the middle of the city!
The sun was starting to set, and I made sure to get a few more beautiful shots of Madison and Cara against the Uptown Charlotte skyline during their fun engagement photo shoot.
Gotta love Madison flashing the beautiful engagement ring of hers with that awesome and sassy look on her face! Go, girl!
We finished up as it got colder and darker! (And I have to give a special shoutout to my lighting assistant, my husband Mike!)
Again, did I mention how excited I am for Madison and Cara’s springtime wedding at Southern Charm Events? Stay tuned for their wedding images!
This past spring has come and gone, but this photographer’s memories of Keely & Eric’s Rock Hill, SC wedding haven’t! The lovely and spacious Southern Charm Events venue, with its bright and airy space (and lots of natural light) was the location of this beautiful wedding ceremony. I must say Southern Charm Events has to be one of the best wedding venues in Rock Hill, SC!
Here come the beautiful images from Keely & Eric’s special day. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
The day started with Keely getting her tresses beautifully styled by the talented Jessica of Giglio Hair Designs (with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working before). Makeup was expertly applied by Kelsey Mula Spry, leaving Keely looking even more stunning on her special day.
After hair and makeup were finished, it was time to our gorgeous bride to put on her beautiful dress from David’s Bridal!
(I especially love this mirror reflection shot of Keely smiling!)
Meanwhile, my second shooter, fellow photographer and friend Charity, captured a few cool candid photographs of the groom, Eric, in his handsome suit from Men’s Wearhouse outside while Keely finished getting ready.
We also took time to take capture images of the beautiful details inside Southern Charm Events. I really loved the soft color scheme Keely and Eric selected!
And the cake from Edible Art of Charlotte, NC was quite the work of, well, art!
Not long after, guests began to arrive!
And here are a few more detail shots before the wedding ceremony.
After getting a few accessories on for the finishing touches, Keely was ready to make her entrance!
And Eric made his entrance, too!
Here we go! Keely’s father walked Keely down the path in the back part of Southern Charm Events to meet her soon-to-be husband, Eric.
The adorable flower girl led the way for Keely and Keely’s father.
Eric and the guests anxiously awaited the arrival of his bride…
… and, of course, Keely and Eric were very happy to see each other before taking their vows! (I always love capturing on-the-aisle reaction shots!)
Keely and Eric lovingly gazed at each other while saying their vows.
And here’s the kiss!
Congratulations, Keely and Eric on becoming husband and wife!
Now it was time for the family portraits! Here are some highlights.
And I just had to capture some cute formal and candid images before Keely and Eric stole away for some couples’ portraits. First up: Beautiful solo images of our beautiful bride Keely.
And a few cute candid images!
So, guys, I have to say that the adorable chemistry between Keely and Eric was so palpable! I loved taking both silly and serious shots of them. My camera loved Keely and Eric!
In addition, the sun was setting at just the right time, and here are the results featuring our new husband and wife.
Now it was time for Keely and Eric’s first dance as husband and wife!
Southern Charm Events is the perfect venue for dinner, dancing…
…and cake cutting during a wedding reception!
A few detail shots of the beautiful décor…
and wonderful dessert spread at Southern Charm Events…
While the guests danced the night away durning the wedding reception, I managed to steal Keely and Eric away from them to capture some super-dramatic images outside of Southern Charm Events with my trusty lighting. Behold!
Some more cute candids during the wedding reception as the night went on in Rock Hill, SC at Southern Charm Events…
Split Second Sound really knows how to keep the wedding-reception crowds entertained and moving!
There was some more dancing before the final send-off…
…that featured BUBBLES!
A big congratulations to Keely and Eric!
Looking to book your wedding at a beautiful wedding venue in the Charlotte, NC area? Then, look no further than the Southern Charm Events venue in Rock Hill, SC!
The photography shoot took part on a beautiful warm day in the Ballantyne part of Charlotte. I was one of two local photographers taking part in this photography shoot, and, let me tell you, I felt like a little girl again while capturing these images. We all had a blast!
Children’s Party Plus Shoot Highlights!
Here are some of the highlights from this magical and fun photography shoot featuring some of the Children’s Party Plus character team.
The Mermaid Princess (my childhood favorite!)
The Tower Princess
The Glass Slipper Princess
The Island Princess
The Beauty Princess (another childhood favorite!)
The Crowned Princess
The Lilypad Princess
The Proper Nanny (new for 2018!)
Here are a few more fun images from the shoot!
Besides being a Charlotte, North Carolina photographer, I’m also a parent of two kids! I’m so honored to have worked with the Children’s Party Plus team because their team of characters is warm, friendly, and, of course, loves kids! We even had a mom and her excited kids stop by and ask for a photograph during the shoot (so precious!). These are definitely guests you would want to have at your child’s birthday party!
Be sure to contact Children’s Party Plus if you’re in the Charlotte, North Carolina area and want a fun character at your next family-friendly event or children’s birthday party. Trust me. You definitely will not be disappointed!
In the comments below, answer this question for me: Who happens to be one of your favorite characters ever from childhood (and were they present at this shoot)?
It’s been a while since this Charlotte, NC wedding photographer last blogged about anything, but, it’s true: I’m baaaaaaaack!
Instead of blogging a lifestyle session or beautiful wedding, I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that is personal and also important for me to talk about. It’s May, which means it’s National Mental Health Month.
And there’s this one thing about me you may not know is a part of my daily life:
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (as well as social anxiety).
Mental health has a lot of stigma surrounding it, and as someone living with anxiety I want to help others who have anxiety, too! As a Charlotte, NC wedding photographer, I’ve been fortunate to have photographed numerous weddings in the Charlotte, NC area as well as Boone, NC; the Asheville, NC area; and even South Florida (Wellington, to be exact)! Wedding photography is an exciting field to get into. As a wedding photographer, you get to spend time at gorgeous wedding venues, witness beautiful wedding ceremonies, connect with lots of couples, capture myriad emotions from many different people, and often sample yummy wedding food and cake! I’ve grown to love all the wonderful couples I’ve documented, and some have even become friends! When I first started out as a wedding photographer, I used to get super anxious before weddings and even the day of (but I dealt with it). Eventually, after noticing my anxiety increasing with each wedding, I decided enough is enough!
Wedding photographers have a lot of responsibility on wedding day. With the fun, excitement, and emotion that go along with wedding photography sometimes comes lots of pressure to get “the perfect shot.” There’s also pressure to make sure the timeline is followed as closely as possible (which sometimes isn’t the case, and that’s okay!) and occasionally dealing with strong emotions from a bride, groom, parent, guest, etc. All these events can trigger anxiety on wedding day, especially if you show up mentally and physically unprepared for the day.
Anyone who suffers from anxiety has the extra responsibility of keeping their anxiety in check every day. That isn’t always easy considering life happens, work happens, and anxiety happens. However, anxiety making your days tough for you doesn’t have to be a thing forever.
So, how can you kick anxiety in the ass?
Read on for four tips!
1. Tell yourself, “Anxiety is a liar.”
Anxiety has a really bad habit of making you doubt yourself. All of a sudden, you can go from being the most calm and self-assured individual to feeling like everything that could go wrong that you predicted will actually happen. Kicking anxiety in the ass actually begins when you realize that, as one of my favorite coffee mugs states, anxiety is a liar. (It really is!)
Think about it. Anxiety loves to make you think of all these scenarios in your head that you are so convinced will happen at some point in time. You think about the scenarios over and over again, allowing your anxiety to grow and grow and grow until those thoughts seem like they’re actually real. And then what happens? You turn into a ball of anxiety and lose most of your sense of well being and mental clarity.
One thing I like do every week is check in with the anxious thoughts I’ve been having by using an app called Worry Watch. This nifty app allows you to take inventory of all your anxious thoughts and helps you come to terms with the thoughts. For example, you contextualize the kinds of anxious thoughts you’re having, note the thoughts’ intensity, and decide whether or not the actual outcome was as bad as you expected. Worry Watch has been really helpful for me because I’ve realized how ridiculous and untrue almost all of my anxious thoughts really are!
Why wake up earlier? Because, if you wake up too late when starting your day, you’ll be rushing to get ready. All that will do is feed your anxiety, making it worse. What I personally do is wake up at least three hours before I start working. That’s more than ample time to wake up, shower, get dressed, eat, and just chill. My days end up a lot more relaxed, and the workday is a lot more productive and sane. If you can’t do three hours early, then try 15 minutes. Even waking up 15 minutes earlier can help you feel less anxious!
In order to kick anxiety in the ass, I suggest taking up meditation. If you don’t meditate on a regular basis, you can get started by meditating a few times a week. Kicking anxiety in the ass via mediation is a surefire way to calm your mind and body before you start getting ready for the day.
My favorite app for meditating is Stop, Breathe & Think, and it’s available for both iOS and Android. It has many free and awesome meditations, and you can unlock many more by paying for a subscription. (I’ve found Stop, Breathe & Think to be reasonably priced compared to similar meditation apps.) Other popular apps include Headspace and Calm.
How long do you need to meditate? Honestly, it’s different for everyone, but even five minutes of meditation will make a huge difference. Meditation has been proven to help reduce anxiety, so having it as part of day-to-day routine is crucial to kicking anxiety in the ass.
Ideally, you should meditate upon waking up. However, if that isn’t your cup of tea, then you can always meditate before you go to bed. Either way, once you’re meditating on a regular basis, you’ll enjoy a calmer mind and even a more positive mindset.
3. Get active.
Having a routine in place every day will do wonders for kicking anxiety in the ass. Here’s a suggested morning (or evening, if you’re more inclined to the evening hours) routine based on my own personal routine:
Meditate. As you read above, I use Stop, Breathe & Think to meditate, but I also recommend Calm and Headspace.
Stretch or, better yet, practice some yoga. Often, tense muscles are a sign of anxiety. Another tool you can add to your pre-departure routine is stretching or yoga. Stretching immediately releases tense muscles, thus lowering your anxiety. Try stretching your arms, legs, neck, and hips to release tension all over. Don’t be afraid if you’re not the most flexible person ever. Even a little bit of stretching makes a huge difference!
Don’t be afraid to give yoga a try. If you have experience with or are open minded about trying it, practice some yoga. A short (at least 10-minute) routine always does the trick for me. YouTube is a great place to start. Look for yoga routines that promote relaxation (but make sure it’s not a bedtime routine, or you’ll end up ready for bed, unless that’s what you want). You can also use apps for getting in some yoga. My favorite is the Yoga Studio app, but there are plenty of apps you can try (and purchase if you’d like) that offer up great yoga routines.
Exercise. Exercise. Exercise! Exercise is one of the best, if not the best, way to kick anxiety in the ass! Why is that? Well, every time you exercise, you lower your anxiety levels and also get to experience the feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which make people happy! Now, who wouldn’t want to start their day happy and free from anxiety?
How much exercise? Again, that’s totally up to you, but I recommend at least 15 minutes of exercise. It can be whatever you want: walking, running, lifting weights, etc. I know when I exercise before photographing a wedding, my body is able to easily handle all the walking, running, squatting, reaching, and crouching I do to get those amazing wedding-day shots!
What workouts? My favorite workouts include those by Leslie Sansone. It’s basically walking in place while doing moves that work every muscle in your body. Some of the workouts are pretty casual, while others will definitely help you work up a good sweat! You can also head to YouTube and search for 15-minute workouts or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts. Fitness Blender has an awesome variety of free workouts, including HIIT workouts! Don’t forget to do some strength training as well! A combination of both cardio and strength works wonders! Whatever your preference, I promise you any exercise you do will be beneficial in kicking anxiety in the ass!
4. Leave at least 15 minutes early for every important trip.
One major source of anxiety is not leaving enough time to travel to work, appointments, and, in my case, weddings. I recommend adding, at the very least, 15 minutes to your trip to account for any possible traffic jams, inclement weather, car problems, etc. (The last thing I want to do is notify my couples that I’m going to be late arriving at their venue!) This will also ensure you have extra time to secure parking. Ensuring you have the proper amount of time to get to your destination will help calm you as you drive and/or as you encounter any problems along the way.
4x. Bonus Tip (if this applies to you): Remember to take your medication!
I cannot stress this enough. If you take medication for anxiety, please make sure you take it! If you take your medication later in the day or multiple times a day, try to make sure you have your medication with you. Another tip (and I do this) is to set a reminder on your phone to take your medication if you tend to be forgetful (like me, LOL).
Personally, I take Lorazepam as needed, and in the evening I supplement with magnesium and melatonin (both have done absolute wonders for my sleep and anxiety). Remember, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements along with prescription medication.
Congratulations! You’re now ready to kick anxiety in the ass!
If you follow all these steps (or close to it), you’ll succeed in kicking your anxiety in the ass and see your mental and physical performance improve!
Leave me a comment below, and let me know how you kick anxiety in the ass! I always love hearing how other people with anxiety deal with it. 🙂
Well, as you saw from yesterday’s blog post, I had a fantastic time at a photography workshop hosted by Mark Maya and with Fox & Owl Studio near Asheville, NC. (Note: I’m always ready to leave Charlotte and head to Asheville! Look at this mountain sunset. Just look. at. it.)
I am literally a changed person and wedding photographer thanks to that workshop. Before, I had trouble figuring out what was missing from my images. And then, with a little help from Mark and Shannon and Andrew, I figured it out.
It was me who was missing from my images. My images were images that were missing the artist’s signature. They were great, but they were incomplete.
But things can and will change. And they did.
The styled elopement photography shoot from the workshop was nothing but OMG and EXACTLY what I needed to renew my confidence in myself as a wedding photographer. The couple, married in real life and who comprise Peak Of The Mountain Productions, was seriously en fuego!
I had a seriously hard time culling the images from their styled elopement photography shoot. Like, seriously. Extra seriously. With a cherry on top. (And can I say one thing? I dream of being part of a styled shoot as a model with or without my husband. Anyone looking for models? Call me!)
Joey and Betsabe have an incredible chemistry between them. I literally felt it the whole time during the shoot! Soooo palpable.
That sweet look he’s giving her here! All the feels, y’all. ALL THE FEELS.
I loved having the mountains, setting sun, and river down below as part of the background.
Love this black & white image so much.
These two made us werk. And I loved every damn second of it.
I fell in love with Joey and B’s facial expressions and their playful banter. At times, it was just too damn cute!
It was cold evening, but it was a magical evening at the same time.
OMG, how fucking cute are they?! STOP IT.
Joey and B were cute yet smoldering at the same time.
That part of the styled shoot where it looked like B was undoing Joey’s pants. There were a few audible giggles among us photographers.
What started out as golden hour eventually faded to a magical blue hour.
(Side note: We were briefly interrupted by my husband driving up the driveway, LOL. I didn’t capture any images of that moment, unfortunately.)
And then there’s this. This last image. This is one of my favorites. I love everyone here following Joey and B as we finished up with another amazing styled elopement photography shoot. It was great being surrounded by such talent and sense of community.
*Le sigh* Yup, I’ll be in love with this shoot all month.
So, after short meeting at the end, during which a few of us won some prizes (I won a mentoring session with Fox & Owl Studio, OMG!), the workshop was over. And I was happy yet sad. But more happy than sad.
Just like in yesterday’s post, here are a couple more takeaways I had from the workshop.
5. I learned to become one with my photography. I learned to infuse my images with myself. I suddenly felt my photography, especially my wedding photography, would never be the same again. And I was excited about that. By actually letting my guard down while capturing images, I captured a series of emotions of which the likes I had never witnessed.
My images. They had intense emotion. They had intense connection.
Now, I will admit, it did help having Mark, Shannon, Andrew, and the other photographers prompting Joey and B. I tend to get shy when it comes to posing, but now I realized I was making too much work of posing before. I learned to just let things and my future couples be.
That’s where I want to be, and that’s where I plan on staying.
Again, I have to thank Mark, Shannon and Andrew, and my fellow awesome photographers for making my first photography workshop experience non-intimidating and immensely genuine. I no longer need to be afraid or feel like an imposter or be a perfectionist.
I love the mountains and Asheville and can’t wait to return.
This photographer may live in Charlotte, but her soul is in Asheville.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch
This past Monday, this Charlotte, NC wedding photographer attended her first-ever workshop. The workshop was hosted by the incredible Mark Maya and the kick-ass photography duo that is Fox & Owl Studio. Can I just say I left a different person and photographer? Fo’ shizzle!
Here are three of my takeaways from the workshop:
1. First of all, let me shout to the world that Jessica Nicholson (@themountainmuse) is one hell of a model! We all took part in an alternative bride styled shoot near Asheville, NC that was to die for. At first, the styled shoot was intimidating because it involved me and many other talented photographers all descending upon Jessica at the same time. I felt a little overwhelmed, but that feeling didn’t last long. What helped is the fact that Jessica’s a fucking goddess who didn’t give a shit that it was 40 degrees and she was lying on some snow. Ah-maze-balls. See below for proof.
Jessica really is a goddess. I mean, seriously, look at her. A muse in the mountains of North Carolina.
I am totally onboard with the concept of the alternative bride. Send me all the alternative brides so I can photograph their weddings (especially if they’re in Asheville)!
One of my absolute favorite backdrops is a simple wood wall. The wood siding of the house was absolute perfection. I love the moodiness of these images here in particular.
And then after all that modeling in the cold mountains, Jessica got a hot-tub reward! Kick-ass!
2. The workshop with really helped me get over my perfectionist attitude toward photography. I had a connection to each and every image I captured yesterday and also FELT the connection in each image. Connection is a powerful thing that can make or break an image. Authentic images, especially when it comes to wedding photography, are something I treasure. That’s what I want for each and every client of mine.
3. I learned to be selfish. At first, that thought seemed so scary. BE SELFISH? What the fuck does that mean? I soon learned what it means to be selfish when it comes to photography. It means be intuitive, and follow your heart. I finally learned not to worry so much about the rules of photography. I learned to do whatever the hell I wanted. And you know what? It felt damn good.
Mark, Shannon, and Andrew are amazing educators, and I couldn’t have felt more honored to be in their presence. I’m so grateful to be getting out of my comfort zone with photography and embracing having my heart guide my work. It’s a great feeling to have! Being in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains and not far from Asheville really helped, too. There’s a sort of magic in the air up there that stirs and nurtures creativity.
Stay tuned to a second blog post tomorrow where I show you the images I got from the passionate couples’ styled shoot part of the workshop and share a few more takeaways!