russ + courtney + baby

As a storyteller, I’ve come to understand that one of the best things you can do is celebrate the “ups” in life – truth and love, the good times and the hopeful moments. Cherishing happiness + joy makes it easier to process the bad… and we all know that life has it’s difficult times. I’m grateful that photography allows me to be able to be a part of so many amazing stories, because of the constant reminders to me that life is beautiful. And today, I have some more good to share with you. :)

I recently spent some time with Russ + Courtney in downtown Grand Rapids for a maternity session. Maternity sessions are not my most popular type of shoot, but I always love being able to hang out with soon-to-be parents! I’m honored that these two would allow me to commemorate this beautiful time as a family. Russ + Courtney’s personal journey to parenthood has not been easy – it’s been a path marked with difficulty and grief. But in just a couple weeks, they are anticipating the arrival of their son… and that is a wonderfully awesome, good thing to celebrate. Russ + Courtney, THANK-YOU for sharing your story with me and allowing me to capture this exciting time in your lives. Can’t wait to meet the little guy!!

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michael + trisha – troy, mi wedding

My last wedding of 2012 was spent celebrating Michael + Trisha! Yay!

I have come to really appreciate and enjoy my time with these two. The way Michael + Trisha care about each other and their family and friends is admirable. They respect each other, know how to make each other laugh and know how to love each other so well. Michael + Trisha so graciously invited me into their story and it has been an honor to share in it with them.

These two chose to enter their marriage amongst an intimate gathering of family and friends in southeast Michigan. The ceremony was held at North Hills CRC and dinner followed at The Iroquois Club. There was no snow for this December wedding, but we dodged the rain drops for portraits and stayed warm with a fire and hot cocoa at the reception. It was a perfect Christmas wedding and a wonderful way to cap off the 2012 season! Congratulations, Michael + Trisha!
Trisha, you were a gorgeous bride!Snuck this frame right before Trisha saw Michael for the first time that day. She was nervous, but excited to see her groom!

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the don’t give up project

This has been a long-time coming, and it’s hard to get it into words, but I want to share with you about 72 hours from last August, and how it is continuing to mold me…Approximately six months ago, I started an intentional journey. I got on a plane in Detroit (I actually missed my first flight by 2 minutes… worst feeling in the world), and headed west. The destination was Divide, Colorado, and I was heading to spend a few days in a large mountain lodge with about 20 strangers.

I didn’t know what to expect.
I didn’t know what to feel or
how to handle myself.
I felt inadequate and nervous, but
I knew,
within the depths of my soul,
that this trip was
necessary.

I was attending a workshop/retreat with the Parsons. Jeremy + Ashley are an awesomely fun, totally-in-love, photo-taking duo based out of Kansas City, MO. I have followed their work since 2008 and I am continually inspired not only by their photographs, but their life, in general. For the past few years, their work and their approach has taught me and affirmed in me that there is a different way to be a photographer. There’s a different way than just trying to be your own boss or take pretty pictures or have the best equipment or be the hippest + coolest artist. Their approach has taught me that it’s ok to care and to feel. It’s ok to adventure and it’s ok fight for good and for beauty. The past couple years, they’ve been inviting other photographers to journey with them… to discover a better story about themselves and about others.

So on August 7th, 2012, I met up with a handful of strangers at the Colorado Springs airport and hopped in a van to the mountains. This wasn’t a “how-to-shoot-like-us” workshop. This wasn’t a “tips and tricks” seminar or conference. This was a retreat… an experience. A time to get away, to reevaluate ourselves, and to connect with other photographers who have similar dreams and goals. We spent three days laughing, crying and encouraging each other. We read stories together and shared our hopes and our fears. We embraced whimsy, watched the sunrise and wandered through the aspen trees. We drank lots of coffee and ate the best food I have ever eaten. Oh, and we took a lot of pictures, too. :)

I learned a lot about myself in those three days and I gained a greater understanding for WHY I want to spend my time photographing individuals, weddings and life events. But, I’m continuing to figure it out. I’m still writing my own story and striving to be a better author of it every day. I’m grateful to be on this journey and to be able to share this crazy life with wonderful family, friends, and all the amazing individuals who invite ME into THEIR stories to photograph them.

Why am I telling you this? So maybe, you can better understand where I’m coming from as a photographer, as an artist. Or maybe, you can connect with these words and will invite me into your story. Or maybe, you’re a photographer and you feel like the Don’t Give Up Project was created for you. If so, you’re in luck, because my friends, Jer + Ash are traveling to the great lodge one more time this March. And maybe, just maybe, you’re meant to be there.
Jeff + Erica were there to videograph our days together. They put together a really lovely film that you can see by clicking here.The second afternoon, we followed Jeremy + Ashley as they photographed Jayden + CarolineThis is Stephanie. She has a heart of gold.On our last day, we woke up before the sun and ventured outside to photograph our amazing chefs for the week, Dave + Jessi.this is jeremy + ashley. just two people trying to live a good story and share it with others. so thankful for them.

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anne + cody

Welcome back, winter! If you live in the midwest, you’ve probably been able to witness some weather craziness this month – 55 degrees one day, 5 degrees the next, 4 inches of rain, then 8 inches of snow… rinse and repeat. While some find the temperature rollercoaster maddening, I find it kind of wonderful. It’s like January just wanted to mix things up this year and I’m ok with that. So today, it’s winter again. And the snow, ohhh, the snow! It’s so gorgeous. I’ve been distracted by the flurries and showers all day long as I look out the big windows in my office. As treacherous and as blustery as this white stuff can be, I long for it every year. Snow makes everything a little more magical. There is a quietness and a stillness about the earth and for now, I’m thankful for the beautiful gift… even if it leaves again next week.

On this snowy Thursday, I’m excited to introduce you to Anne + Cody – one of my 2013 couples. The love story between these two began long ago – when they were just kids. This summer, they will finally become husband + wife and I’m thrilled to be a part of this new chapter in their lives! These two were hoping for a snowy engagement session when they scheduled it for the middle of January. But alas, their session came after a few days of mild temperatures and even the deep snow of the great up north had a hard time sticking around. Fortunately, we were able to find a little bit of snow on our adventure, so we took what we could get! Here are a few favorites from our afternoon together…

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josh + michaeleen – allendale, mi wedding

Remember this cute couple? Well, they tied the knot – yay!!

I may be a little bias towards November, but it is one of the BEST months to get married. I think people have low expectations for November in Michigan (rightly so… I mean its not fall… and its not quite winter). But often, November is surprisingly awesome – and the weather this day did NOT disappoint! It was a perfect November Saturday – a little chilly, but sunny and gorgeous. Michaeleen + Josh had a shorter engagement (about 5 months), but proved that you don’t always need a long engagement to plan a beautiful wedding. Having met at Grand Valley State University, Michaeleen + Josh decided to have their ceremony in the chapel on campus. Their reception followed at the Main Street Pub right down the road. I loved all the details that Michaeleen + Josh (and friends + family) pulled together to make the day perfect. From the handmade boutonnieres and hair pins to the mustaches and nerf guns, it was nothing short of a fun celebration. Laughter and joy ensued all day long and I could not have been happier than to be there on that day to capture this wedding story.

Michaeleen + Josh, thank-you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me to be a part of your story. I loved every single minute of your day and we are thrilled that you are husband and wife. May these images continue to be a reminder of that wonderful day in November and the commitment you made to each other :) Without further adieu, here’s a little preview of your day…
Josh may have gotten his guys the best groomsmen gift ever… Nerf guns. No one was safe that day.Every moment is an exciting moment with these two. Here’s a few images from their first look…Love all the ladies different dresses!…not even the photographer was safe from the Nerf guns!!For her toast, Katie, the maid of honor, coined a rap about Michaeleen + Josh’s love story…to the tune of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” theme song… complete with a backup beat-boxer! It was pretty legit!

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