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just got back from a vaca on 30a, more specifically rosemary beach. and now that im back, it feels more like a work trip than a "vaca" per say. but one that allowed me to capture so many families, a bride and groom so in love it made my heart skip a beat, and of course some of turkish-t's new threads. below are some snips & tips of some of my favorite moments among those 10 days...

special thanks to my amazing nanny, eileen - the best of the best


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take a nanny you can share 600 sq ft with and also doubles as a model

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early mornings were made for the beach - wide open spaces, sandcastles, and chasing waves.

if they can't bike, they can scoot, or cruise to all the coolest local waterholes

pool time

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friends make vacation more fun, especially when they can transport beer and tuna dip by bike

when all else fails, find the nearest spa 

or book a room...

 

 

remember you got the nanny??

road trip tips with kids...survival mode

so if you can tell from the above picture, I'm by no means the expert on travel.  but i do have some experience - good and some not so great - that i thought id share my favorite one stop shop for mommies out there headed for the highway this summer and also some our favorite car activities that have gotten us through half of our travel so far this summer. i'm currently on a 6 week road trip solo with my three girls (2, 5 & 7 years old), and its an adventure...but we are all better for it.  trying new foods, adapting to crazy daily schedules, finding new activities, and exploring cities to make the most of our days together.  its not easy being without my super involved and helpful husband, but its certainly been bonding time not only with my girls, but with our family and friends we are seeing along the way.

for the road tripping families out there this summer, my first recommendation is hit up the Dollar Store.  you are in and out for under $30.  first thing on your list there: a trashcan. no matter if you are in a minivan (me) or a fabulous suv, kids are messy, gross, and eat constantly - (why did we have them again??) - and a trashcan is your first essential to a road trip.  second, a great recommendation by my dear friend (thank you amy!), a plastic caddy - these have handles at the top, a drink holder built in and a side to put snacks, or lunch in....and when they are finished eating, you can fill it with a new activity... bringing me to #3.  ACTIVITIES.  the Dollar Tree has awesome activities that will most likely at some point get strewn among the car, but cost $1, so you can clear the floors and trash them all at the end and not think another second about it.  from figurines, to puzzles, play doh, art activities, to tea sets - my kids are always thrilled to have a new shiny object to play with.  and lastly no brainer but - snacks, snacks, and snacks.  maybe a big lollipop or two :)

and then there are the family games - our favorite is road bingo - you can get the cards at any toy store or amazon.   another fun idea that my genius friend came up with (christie & emily I'm looking at you!), the jelly bean taste test.  get different flavors of each jelly bean, kids close their eyes and get to taste one and guess the flavor.  books on cd are awesome and you can check them out at your local library or get cute disney ones at target too which my girls love.  alphabet game, name things you see outside in alphabetic order or just grocery items, and the always class i spy game.  lastly, one of our FAVORITE new things is to the WOW in the world podcast - its produced by NPR and is chock full of science and learning in a very fun format for kids.  my girls look forward to them every week.  just download them all before you leave town and if you've got bluetooth, you'll be in business for several hours of entertainment.

happy trails friends, and good luck out there.  safe travels with your littles.  i LOVE seeing all your adventures through instagram! below are a few from our recent adventures....xoxo

a cultivated family life

this session all started with a dad.  and a mom who had no pictures with her daughters.  john called before mothers day, his wife wanted pictures of their family....documenting the spaces the live in, the girls at play, and life at home as the fuller family. and boy was it fun.  they live in the  cozy and historic whitland area of nashville, and their home is full of color. vibrance. books. vintage pieces. amazing artwork. and a cultivated family life.  its all around them.  every nook and cranny filled with love. and you know what's amazing?  whitney (mom) never apologized when i walked in the door for the toys, the corners with kid artwork spread out, the casual living room setup with puzzles, library, games, and more that fills their girls daily lives with curiosity and wonder. im guilty of it, the constant need to apologize. when people walk in my home and dolls and artwork and evidence of kids is right under their noses, immediately apologizing for the mess and my life with kids. whitney was a reminder to me to stop doing that. life with kids SHOULD be messy.  should be fun.  should be colorful.  before we know it, the mess will be gone, kids grow up, and we'll miss the colorful family life with little ones.  

i don't take the fact that you moms invite me into your homes, your private family moments and spaces. thank you for trusting me to see the life you've cultivated for you family and document those spaces in ways your kids will treasure for the next generation.  and then in this preview with whitney yesterday, a tear or two shed when she held prints in her hands with herself and her precious girls.  a pinch me moment that she shared with me and i'll never forget. 

#documentyourdays #mommiesinthemoment

the tie that binds us

when i met margie in november 2015, baby boy byers was a fresh newborn and i showed up ready to get all the pretty little announcement photos and some of big sister with her new brother.  what i didn't expect when i showed up, was to meet someone who would later would support me in some of my most difficult moments health-wise id had in years.  just prior to us meeting in november, margie had been diagnosed with bells palsy.  sounds scarier than it is, bells palsy is a neurological nerve condition that causes temporary paralyses half of your face.  yup, weird shit.  id never heard of it before, and she'd mostly recovered so i honestly didn't notice it at all.  fast forward seven months later, im diagnosed with the same condition and the first contact i made leaving the doctors office was margie.  its a physical health condition that is scary and isolating.  she was constantly checking on me, offering advice to all my questions and concerns, and recognizing my tears and sadness in dark times.  more importantly she was my beam of light at the end of this dark tunnel; that i would get better, it would go away and its only temporary.  and she was right, it did get better.

special thanks to margie.  a lifelong friend, in sickness and health, in happy days and sad, and in capturing many memories through the lens for her sweet family - the original tie that binds us.  ill always be thankful our paths crossed at just the right time.  

my little piece of advice for the day, reach out to the ones who you love, or who have loved you...supported you and given you the lift in life when you needed it most.

happy memorial weekend to you all...xoxo

at home with baby lamar (and apache)

my favorite part about my "job" are the new people i meet.  and no better way to get to know new friends fast is to show up on their doorstep with a bunch of camera gear and ask to look around in the first 2 minutes.  how's that for intimate right off the bat??  houses are cleaned up of course, but i want my families to be themselves.  so shoes off, casual clothes, and a sunny normal day at home with little ones is my preferred way to go.  its the closest to real life i can get to them without spending an entire day shooting the life of that family documentary style (which I've contemplated doing...any takers?).  

and this family couldn't have made a warmer welcome to me on saturday afternoon.  it was a gorgeous day, and apache the dog was a total gentleman and on his best behavior as we took TONS of pictures of his baby brother, lamar, and mom and dad.  i couldn't help but be distracted by the gorgeous decor.  between the vintage rugs, mid-century wood pieces, and amazing light fixtures and art around every turn, it was a dream shoot with this family.  

soon to be three

i dont do a ton of maternity shoots, they aren't something i seek or even on my radar...but more and more moms are requesting them and if the timing is just right (26-30 weeks max into the pregnancy), we'll meet up and play for a morning to capture these moments in time.  and i didn't do maternity photos myself, but of course i wish i did.  those moments are long gone for me now, and i love thinking back to those intimate times with my unborn girls.  and also the time with my husband, moments built on anticipation for the next chapter, growing our family.  my morning with this sweet couple brought all those memories flooding back, and i can't wait to meet their little bundle this summer.  

xoxo

baby harry at home

this family was SO easy and fun.  dorothy is a laid back mom, and we have several mutual friends, so this was a breezy newborn session with sweet little baby harry along in tow.  big brother, boone, was on the move throughout the session. he wasn't so sure about me at first, but after some time he settled right in smack dab in front of my lens and i had a blast channeling his boy energy into all sorts of fun activities with dad around the house.  and then harry, he's settled right in with this family in their gorgeous home in nashville.  loved getting some moments with just mom and then with dad too. but our prize for the day were the sweet connection between brothers that you know will only grow and deepen.

xoxo

sand, sunshine, and my favorite towels ever...

its no secret that im a fan of turkish-t.  ive loved this company ever since i moved to nashville in 2010, before i started my photography journey.  i had an immediate connection and draw to this line of towels.  so simple in design, but genius in concept and brand.  we moved here from florida, and so we had TONS of beach towels...thick, terry, heavy....and the constant concern about mildew and fitting them in my cute beach/pool bag.  and then i walked into a local store in nashville, ashblue, and there they were.  simple stripes, clean, thin but absorbing and weightless. not to mention endless possibilities for how to wrap them, use them...and the colors.  they had my heart.  over the next few years i started and grew my little business, met sue along the way when i was connected through a dear friend, lindsay. and sue became a role model for me, and a creative colleague.  im so grateful for her vision and drive, and also for her friendship, support and guidance.  

this past spring break, sue sent me with lots of new colors, designs, textiles, and patterns.  it was play time and when i travel is when im most inspired.  i had never been to the house or beaches we would be for the next week, but i knew the environment would be my new playground with these amazing designs.  summer is only 8 weeks away friends, so get ready with some new linens for the pool - to buy visit www.turkish-t.com

special thanks to my gorgeous models - morgan storm, burney dawkins, and all the sweet little cousins who had a ball dancing and posing for me. 

xoxo

baby dean

i spent a friday morning with the brookshire family and it couldn't have been more gorgeous and sunny.  baby dean came into their lives a little earlier than planned, but he's made every day since complete for this household.  i loved my time with them as they settled into life with a growing three month old - we started outside with fresh air and sunshine, and made our way through a day with dean - morning talk and laughter around the breakfast table, and cozy moments in their bedroom where he spends most of his time.  yet another morning with a new client, i never would have met before my photography days, and i couldn't be more thankful to be putting these memories for this sweet family in print.

xoxo

building a portfolio

its always fun collaborating with other creatives.  fine paper, design, art, and now model.  kat and i were chatting about photography and her styling and hair talents.  it quickly came together that a shoot would be easy and fun.  kat is different from my normal models (ill give you a hint, she doesn't wear diapers or need snack incentives mid-session) and i like different.   as much as im obsessed with my family sessions, mixing it up and pushing myself creatively keeps me on my toes.  we walked into the session with open minds and inspiration, and walked away with images in print to build on....

model:  @hairbykat

hadden at home

after a few chats and emails with mom, i was so excited to meet this sweet family of 5.   lauren designed baby hadden's nursery in soft pinks and lots of textures and layers, and finally a gorgeous iron crib from restoration hardware.  her attentive fur-brothers, rollie and charlie, were there for every minute of our little session, and were so loving and gentle with their new baby sister.  our breezy session with little hadden awake and taking breaks to nurse a bottle every few minutes, a trooper throughout the hour.  little sips and then sweet smiles - we even found a dimple - it was a dream in their beautiful three story home.   can't wait to watch her grow and what life brings this sweet family next...

three months in with the samples...

loved my newborn shoot with this sweet family in their new home, but this shoot felt like a refresh.  new year, she's three months older now, and her big sister is in the routine with her little sister.  they are a family now, and bailey is in her little three month groove.  after a busy, BUSY fall this shoot was a kick start to a 2017 full of fresh shoots.  some of the same families, but we know each other better now.  we have a groove too, and its my job to capture these families in the way i know they want to keep in print forever.  its also my job to exceed expectations, find these new beautiful moments when a family is in a new stage of family life.  and this shoot felt like i accomplished that.  little details, cozy moments, and a family ready to take on the first year of sweet bailey's life together.  

family dynamics.

its not often i leave a session feeling inspired and refreshed.  with new ideas, and new dreams for my own personal family growth.  and this was a two hour double session with multiple families, a LOT of people to coordinate and corral.  but this was different.  i spend most of my days in the fall months with younger families (who i dearly love with all my heart) with kids the same age as mine.  its SO fun bc they AREN'T my kids...so i can relate, play, get messy with them and it comes so easily since i have my own at home and know those preschool ages so well.  but this time around i had a bunch of "kids" who were all my height and some were drinking beer.  so yea....took me a minute to figure out what "games" we should play.  ring around the rosy probably wouldn't work.  admittedly i was a little nervous and thrown off my game for a minute.  how do i organize 10 teenagers/20somethings to be natural in front of the camera??  well it took a few mental minutes on my end, but they made it so easy for me.  these young adults....siblings, cousins, step-cousins...they are obsessed with each other.  ive never seen anything like it!  they were playful, cooperative, happy, adjusted and respectful....to each other and of course to me.  we joked about ring around the rosy, and then they thought it would be fun, of course at a high speed that led to most of them catapulting into the woods...but they were up for anything and everything.  and they wanted it all documented.  piggy back rides, holding hands, playing animal games, lining up for an updated portrait, even kissing significant others in front of me!  it was a magical end to my fall season of over 70 family shoots.  the cherry on top?  the vintage vw van owned by abbie, a dear friend of one of the sons.   

the overall message i gained from this shoot. these "kids" couldn't be more different from one another - and these parents have embraced, cultivated, loved each of these kids independently from the others. they see big dreams in each of them and have allowed the space for them to grow and that example has given their siblings and cousins to gift each other the same thing.  leaving the 2 hour shoot, they were all still taking pictures of each other - jumping around, dancing, on one another's back, cartwheels, playing in the vw van. i saw LOVE and RESPECT and a HOME.  that home has no direct road or set path, it always evolving and dynamic and flowing.  and im still captivated.  couldn't be more proud to know these people, and to have the images in print for them to cherish.  

xoxo

mr and mrs duncan

photographing a bride and groom is a journey.   lisa contacted me over the summer and she was just the full package bride in my eyes.  lisa is super motivated and organized, but quickly offered her trust in those creative people around her, including me, and the planning process was totally calm.  her fearless wedding planner, blair laborde, took the reigns and put together a stunning affair.  with simple and understated details, so the focus remained on the reason we were all there in the first place. lisa and walker.  their love.  the connection that had been built on friendship, trust and solidarity.  lisa and walker were a dream to photograph on their wedding day. lisa was cool and collected (and gorgeous).  walker was eager and ready (and dapper) and these two made this day feel like a walk in the park with some very special accents of course.  her blue strappy stilettos, blush pink ribbons, and heavenly lace from her stunning dress to the tiered cake.

special thank you to my guru and dear friend, sara moe, for shooting this with me. 

design and planning - blair laborde 

new place with some familiar faces

two of my favorite brothers, in blue, on a gorgeous farm in brentwood.  and it was so much FUN.  smith, hibbs, mom and dad - all together and i was so thankful dad could take off that afternoon at work to explore with us and get in the memories.  i love this sweet family and so thankful that heather has asked me to capture her boys in these fun stages.  hibbs now in big boy kindergarten and smith still in toddlerhood, it was a brotherly love that is just beginning.  soccer, roaming through the fields, and exploring hand in hand with mom and dad.  there's nothing better to document. its the ordinary moments. maybe in a new place so that makes it interesting.  but just a regular afternoon of family.  and i loved how the story unfolded that early afternoon before a 4 pm sunset (thank you daylight savings!).  

xoxo

ross & moss

yet another very fun shoot with this family.  i feel like we know each other pretty well now after three little shoots together.  this particular GORGEOUS fall day at radnor lake was just as easy as the others...with a final bang to end the session.  our sweet little nature walk ended with ross and moss - lake water moss that is.  thankfully he was a trooper about it, and more importantly mom was a total trooper too.  mess.  life.  kids.  the greatest plans never go as they should with little tikes and those are the memories we'll keep from this day.

and for those of you needing custom designed cards next year for the holidays, or newborn announcements, vance is your go-to girl.  stay tune for more on that front....

foster the fun

i was SO honored when rory asked me to capture her family.  she wanted FUN, real photos of her little clan and so we picked a park close to our neighborhood.  an iconic park in nashville, but one where they could spread their wings, literally in some cases and be playful in a gorgeous sunset park evening.  i try not to play favorites, and loved each little foster's personalities, but evie stole my heart and the show pretty quickly.  she LOVED the camera, and i loved her for it.  she also reminded me SO much of my little middle child, tate.  beats to her own drum.  

this family is the epitome of natural...free...kind....and loving and glad i was able to capture these memories.

thanks to rory for trusting me.  xoxo

emmeline & co

when emily called about a session, just a few days after i closed out my fall shoots, we had a little chat about exactly what she was looking for.  i whole heartily admitted to her that i was in need a break.  after over 70 family sessions this fall and a gorgeous wedding in belle meade, my creative inspiration tank was running on fumes.  she got it right away.  we postponed a few days to a weekend slot, and i got a solid 5 days off to catchup on a few work items (hello, accounting...) and be with my family.

by saturday, refreshed,  i was eager to meet another new family and since we'd chatted by phone about our plan for the morning, it was a breeze.  it doesn't always happen, but talking by phone or in person about expectations for a family session is really important.  i want to know your goals, and i want to meet them.  i also want you to know it will be fun, easy and casual with trust and a little free will.  

the steffens were open, willing to share and love, and i was so thrilled to be the fly on the wall for and hour with this family.  another "pinch me" session in the books.  thankful for each and every one of you that lets me in your home and lives.  

xoxoxo

an honor to serve

ive mentioned my friend, connie, several times on my instagram feeds.  and most of you know my love for yoga.  i met connie because she was in my teacher training class for yoga certification a few years ago at epic yoga in brentwood.  through some guidance of the epic yoga owner, she emerged from that training with an idea to bring yoga to the military, where they are.  and to serve.  her husband, greg, has deployed many times and is still in the reserves.  she recognized a really huge gap with soldiers, their care, and the enormous suicide rate - 22 military suicides a day.  ft campbell currently has the highest military suicide number in the nation, and she immediately went into action.  i tagged along as her assistant and partner, pregnant at the time with my youngest.  photography in the meantime has taken off for me, so now (when im available and have a sitter lined up) i go and document her incredible gift she gives these soldiers weekly. we reminisced this morning about that first time up there on a helipad with 20 soldiers.

three years later, she's still going strong and has branched out to reach the military on bases across the country through her nonprofit Joined Forces Yoga.  she hosts trainings for teachers nationwide, and has recruited volunteer teachers to serve through her nonprofit.  connie is AMAZING and an inspiration to me. she's dedicated her life to this work.  these soldiers give so much to us.  they give their lives for us every day.  

connie (and members of her nonprofit including myself) were honored yesterday for her service with a certificate of appreciation and also a black heart - the heart insignia is worn on each soldiers' helmet to signify their unit.  we are honored, humbled, and grateful for their recognition and its a token we will cherish forever. 

thank you to the soldiers who serve.  there's no greater gift.  and thank you to the 2nd Brigade Army Strike for having Joined Forces Yoga each week. 

learn more at www.joinedforcesyoga.com  and please consider a donation or volunteering with us!  donate mats, blocks, money, time....

labordes

this session was particularly meaningful for me this year.  blair and i have been friends for a few years now in nashville, and blair has been one of my biggest cheerleaders in building my craft over the past few years.  it all started with a wild and free sunset adventure on the beach in rosemary, and i feel like it has come full circle as they are now settling into their gorgeous home in belle meade after many years of moving for cregan's school and work and renting.  on top of that, blair and i collaborated together on a gorgeous wedding in november ant our shoot fell just a few weeks before the big event.   blair and i have worked so closely together this fall and im thrilled about her building her own brand and business.

kate and monroe are so thick as thieves. kate, whimsical and spunky, and monroe, sweet and gentle - they balance each other perfectly and they love each other hard.  when i showed up, they were ready to play, dance, swing and show off all their favorite spots in their new home.  while mom and dad got dressed, true personalities of these two in action unfolded and loved being a part of the everyday life of this family in their new stage.  Blair and cregan are still putting the finishing touches on their new nest, and i can't wait to photograph it when it's finished. my favorite current piece, cregan's heirloom vintage leather sofa.