on love

Well folks, Happy Valentine’s Day! :) Today, on this day that the world celebrates love, I want to share a personal post featuring my family – some of the most important people in my life! This past summer, my entire immediate family carved out a weekend to spend together. Now, this is no easy feat. At the time, we had 10 adults, 11 kiddos, several different jobs and travel + sports schedules to manage, yet we were able to pencil off a few days to share some space together. We packed up and headed to “the Thumb” to spend a few days at my grandparents cottage on Lake Huron. This place is a nostalgic + cozy – it’s been in the family for over 25 years. The cottage is nothing fancy, but it’s absolutely perfect and I loved watching my nieces + nephews explore the landscape as I did many, many years ago. It was one of my favorite weekends of the summer and I’m so thankful we were able to create some memories and celebrate our love as a family.

So today, here’s to love – the love of family, the love of friends, the love of a spouse, partner, children, co-workers… whatever love you can celebrate today, celebrate it. And, in case that’s not enough, here’s to summer and sunshine… and the promise that it will return… soon. :)

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brandon + julianne // lovett hall wedding, dearborn, michigan

You may remember Brandon + Julianne from their lovely summer engagement session . Well, a few weeks ago, these two became husband + wife. It was a chilly, wintery Saturday and absolutely wonderful in every way.

Brandon + Julianne wed at the church where Julianne grew up – Faith Covenant Church in Farmington, Michigan. After the beautiful, heart-warming ceremony, the celebration continued in Dearborn at the historic Lovett Hall on the campus of The Henry Ford. This was my first time shooting at this venue, and it did not disappoint! The entire evening was amazing – from the lively cocktail hour to the heartfelt toasts, the delicious dinner and dancing that lasted into the night. It was a spectacular event, but more importantly, I was so touched by the way Brandon + Julianne love each other and the way their family + friends support them and their marriage. It was evident throughout the day as joy + laughter permeated every moment.

Brandon + Julianne, I am so grateful for the two of you, the love you share and the way you welcomed me into the celebration and treated me like a dear friend. It was an honor to be a witness to your union and I couldn’t be more thrilled to share your story today. Congratulations, you two! :)
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october travels + a coffee farm tour

Today, I’m taking a break from my “normal” posts about newlyweds + families + babies to share some images of a recent travel adventure. If you live in Michigan, you’ve been buried in snow for weeks now, so I figured some images of sunshine + warmth would be ok… is that ok? :)

Jonathan + I recently had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala with our friends + housemates, Steve + Rachel. Steve + Rachel are in the coffee business. Over the last several years, Steve has worked at a few different coffee shops around West Michigan and this past April, they opened their own shop – a cozy, happening little place called Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge. Lantern is located in the Heartside District of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s been such a joy to watch their dream of owning their own shop evolve and their plans unfold as they created inspiration boards + found an available building + built out the space + opened the shop + kept it running… whew.

In October, the four of us were able to take a trip together to Lago de Atitlan in Guatemala. This was a region where Steve lived for several months after college and, it also happens to be a very rich area for coffee farming. So, of course, we were excited when we found a great rental house right on the lake that allowed us access to coffee farms + adventures. It was a week filled with relaxation, exploration, and coffee drinking (duh!). It was a welcome end to a busy summer season for myself and a great time to rejuvenate + celebrate with Steve + Rachel. Without further adieu, here are a few of my favorite images from the week along with an in-depth look at our coffee farm tour!
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When we arrived, we took a taxi, a bus, and a small boat to reach our rental. By the time we arrived to the house, it was dark and rainy and honestly, we had no concept of our surroundings other than the fact that we were in a house on water. When we awoke the next day, we were in awe of our view…
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Fishing is a huge “industry” on the lake… and we were greeted our first morning by a crab fisherman who had just emptied his traps.
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Coffee plants were LITERALLY everywhere around us! Guatemala-Travel-Photography-17Guatemala-Travel-Photography-15

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Coffee beans grow on bushes/trees in cherry form. They start as green fruits and turn to red when they are ripe + ready to be picked. Inside each fruit are usually two coffee beans that can be harvested + roasted.
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We took a boat across the lake to San Juan la Laguna for our coffee farm tour.
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Coffee plants begin in a nursery before they are transplanted to the farm.
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The most interesting fact from the tour was that farmers naturally allow for organic composting to happen. The coffee plants are grown in-and-amongst unharvested avocado trees, banana plants, etc. When leaves + fruits fall from the trees, the soil is naturally enriched for the coffee plants. Also the trees allow for some shade which produces higher quality coffee.
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This road intentionally separates the organic coffee plants and the chemically-treated coffee plants. The beans that grow on the organically-raised plants will be shipped to specialty craft roasters (i.e. Stumptown and Intelligentsia) and the chemically-treated coffee beans are sent to mass-produced comodity roasters (ie. store-brands like Folgers and Maxwell House). Lantern Coffee specifically only sources beans from craft roasters with sustainably distributed beans. Their house-roaster is Populace Coffee out of Bay City, Michigan.
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Unfortunately, this past season was hard on this particular region of coffee farms because they experienced an epidemic of “coffee rust”. This is a fungus that drastically decreases production and causes the fruit to rot.
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Raul, our tour guide, took us to the bean-processing facility nearby. Unfortunately, we were there about a week before harvesting began, so we weren’t able to see the beans being sorted, dried and bagged, but it was still cool to see all the equipment and understand the process a bit more!
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These green coffee beans have been dried and are waiting to be shipped around the world. Green coffee beans can last a long time in storage, but once they are roasted, they should ideally be brewed within the first 2 weeks. If you’ve ever had a cup of coffee from a craft roaster, it is so delicious – because it’s fresh!
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We ended the tour with a cappuccino at one of the local cafes! Mmm.
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What a week! I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to explore Guatemala, expand our horizons, and learn more about coffee with these two. And if you haven’t had a chance to check out Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge… you should definitely do so ;)
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scott + laura // holland, michigan wedding photography

THIS day. This day was a good day. A day that had been years in the making… it was the day that Scott + Laura finally because husband + wife! I found myself getting teary-eyed several times throughout the day as I thought back on the last five years and the road these two have traveled together – patiently waiting to start their marriage. It was quite the honor to stand by their side as they publicly committed their lives to each other!

Scott + Laura chose to celebrate their nuptials with an intimate winter wedding. They had a morning ceremony at North Holland Reformed Church followed by a delicious lunch at AlpenRose in downtown Holland. The weather was dreamy – a foggy, mild winter day, with just enough snow on the ground to enjoy for pictures. Holland, Michigan is very important to these two, so it was fun to celebrate downtown and we even had some time to swing by their favorite breweries for some portraits. Seriously, this day was so delightfully wonderful and the perfect beginning for Scott + Laura. Cheers, my friends!
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Even their pup, Macy joined in the morning a bit… and she was happy to announce Laura’s arrival to the First Look ;)
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levi // lifestyle newborn session

Hi, folks! My, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve graced you with a blog post. I’ll blame it on the holidays + traveling + the new year + birthdays + family + friends. All good excuses, right?

I’m thankful for this season. This time on the calendar when life slows down. The days are cold + snowy, allowing for many fires in the fireplace, many cups of cocoa or tea and the occasional bundled walk through the neighborhood. Winter has never been my favorite season, but you know what? It’s not that bad. I actually am kind of enjoying it this year – shhh! :)

Today, I would love to share with you a few of my favorite images from a session I had just before Christmas. This family is no stranger to my camera, and this time, they’ve added a handsome little boy to their clan. These images were taken when Levi was only one week old. He is a handsome, precious little guy and his big sisters and parents love him SO much. I loved spending time with the five of them in their home to celebrate this new life. Congratulations, Carter family!Detroit-Newborn-Photographer-01
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