Thursday, March 24, 2011

Meet Hayden, Jake & Lynleigh

There's SO much to be said about the love of your family. We've all met those families that you can feel the sense of fun when you're around them. They're quick with a laugh and there's a loving, welcoming feeling that you get just from being in their presence. Speaking of, here's one of those families now.....
We spent last Saturday afternoon with Hayden, Jake, Lynleigh and their mom, Joyce. In the course of a couple of hours, we trekked ALL over the big city of Jefferson taking pictures. It started off as most shoots do with everyone being very mannerly and polite and it soon became painfully obvious that Joyce had bribed them to behave---NO kids are that good without massive doses of tranquilizers or the threat of incarceration! I was dumbfounded! Who has EVERRRR heard of kids being well behaved when there's another option available to them??? If I'm not mistaken, it was the promise of pizza and spending time with some fun family members that got these guys right on in line. But, pizza or no pizza, it was my mission to put this good behavior stuff behind us and have some fun!
Jake has such a beautiful, easy smile. He's that kid that just makes you want to smile when you see him. You're reasonably sure that there are some mischievous thoughts going through his mind but he does a dang good job of restraining himself from acting on them. Even when he was a little apprehensive about what we were asking him to do, he'd immediately fall into place and then that beautiful smile would seem like it just
popped out of nowhere!
Lynleigh and our youngest daughter are in the same grade at school so I remember her from way back. She was always that sweet little girl with the beautiful eyes that I'd see when we'd go to school functions and she just oozes sweetness. She really does. She has a bit of a shy laugh but I have a feeling that she can really let loose when she's at home. She's the kind of kid that you want your own kid to hang around and be friends with because you can just see the niceness in her. Now before you get to thinking that she's all angelic, I can tell you that the biggest smiles came when I asked her to think about mean things that she could do to her brothers. In fact, I think that I may have heard a giggle or two when those thoughts crossed her mind. I like that in a kid.
Keeps things interesting.
Hayden TRIED to be shy. He really did. In fact, he gave it the best effort of anyone that I've seen in a while but I just knew that we could get past that. The very mention of a certain name could bring about a beaming smile like nobody's business! I will not disclose that name because what happens at our sessions, stays at our sessions. I'm not selling him out like that. As a slight disclaimer, I do have to say that I got the same beaming smile when his mom mentioned pizza as when we mentioned a certain someone so I'd say he's right on track of where a good looking guy his age should be!
I found out that the kids don't like wasps or dried squirrel carcasses. Don't ask me how I know that....just trust me.
I found out that kids do love teasing each other and they love it when they've been told that the last picture has been shot!
I also found out that these are some of THE sweetest kids that you'll ever have the pleasure to meet! They are smart, funny, polite, loving, chatty, giggly, and loved beyond measure. Every now and then, I'd look around and catch a glimpse of Joyce watching them while Tanya was shooting and she'd look like it wasn't possible to smile any bigger or be more proud of these three little people who are destined to change the world for the better. If you ever want to see what love looks like, take a look at Joyce when she's watching her children. It's all over her face. All of that goodness in them has a purpose and I can't wait to see what comes of it in time. As we watched their van driving away when we were done, there was no doubt in mind that we'd spent time in the presence of people who are loved.
Thank you Hayden, Jake, Lynleigh and Joyce for a very fun afternoon. You guys are wonderful and we hope that you like your pictures as much as we like y'all!
Good night Everybody!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meet Casey.......(Jefferson, GA Photography)

Have you ever met one of those people that you just flat out like right off the bat? I mean, it's not like you sit back and question if they are really as nice as they appear to be because you just sense the genuineness that they exude. Well, that's Casey.
I met her years ago through a mutual friend and the first things that I noticed about her were her big smile, her beautiful eyes and her heavy southern drawl. At that time, she had her hair pretty close to what I'd consider being shaved and I marveled at how she truly lit up a room when she walked into it. She didn't know me from Adam's house cat but she start talking to me like I was her childhood best friend.
You can't be around her for very long without hearing a big ole' "LORRRRRDDDDD", "SHUUUUT UPPP", "GIRRRRRLLL"----or whatever her exclamation of the day happens to be! She is quick with a smile and she never seems to meet a stranger. She's got a way of making everyone feel like they are the most important person in the room when she's talking to them.
A long time has passed since I met her that first time but she's one of those people who only seems to get prettier with time. The shaved hair grew...a lot...and occasionally boasts a few extensions here and there. You just never know what the style of the day is going to be! What doesn't change is the sweet heart of the person who is wearing it.
Casey has had her share of personal trials but she always comes out smiling. And, there are more than a few people who can thank her for the helping hand that she's willingly extended to them. Her help always comes with a "no strings attached" offer. She truly does things out of the goodness of her heart. She's the first in line to support any new endeavor for anyone and she's the cheerleader in everyone's corner with no selfish motivation on her part. There are very few Caseys in this world and that's a dang shame because we could use more of them!
There's no denying that she's beautiful but when you really get to know the person that she is, she gets even prettier.
She's funny, smart, a loyal friend and a talented stylist. She has her own fashion sense and she's not afraid to break bad and throw on the jewels (or hair...whatever the occasion may warrant!). You can hear her laugh for miles around and there's no way to hear it without joining her in it!
She's been a blessing to my family and taking her pictures was absolutely our pleasure. Being able to call her a friend is an honor!
Thank you, Casey, for a fun afternoon and for suffering through the drive-by whistles and stares to take these pictures. I know they were really meant for me but you believe whatever gets you through the day!

Happy Day Everybody!   :o)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Meet Taylor and McKenna....

I don't even know where to start on this one. You see, I met Taylor and McKenna years ago when they were just little peeps and in my head, I think that I thought that they'd always stay that size. So, when we set up a time to do pictures with them and these two teenagers stepped out of the car, I had to realign my whole way of thinking. Their cousin Ryan came along with them and I'm convinced that she has got to be one of THE sweetest kids in the entire world. You never looked her way that she didn't have a smile on her face and was offering to help in any way that she could. You cannot meet this child and not love her right off the bat!
When I caught a glimpse of Taylor, I was sure that there was some mistake. I was expecting her shy smile and quiet personality but what I got was this beautiful girl with a confident smile and a contagious laugh. She is a bit more quiet than McKenna but she managed to throw a few zingers my way on more than one occasion! She's smart, funny and just an all around nice person.
THEN, there was McKenna.....I could feel trouble brewing from the moment that I saw the grin on her face. There was no mistaking the mischief behind that smile! The last time that I saw her, I'm pretty sure that she was working on growing in some teeth and she'd already developed a personality as big as her grin. Time had only enhanced that part of her but the scrappy little girl that I remembered was now this beautiful teenager.
These girls were all for getting down to business but there were times when we had NO choice other than to take a dance break. I mean, when you've got to dance, you've GOT to dance! It didn't matter if it was in the middle of the street or at the saw sharpening shop, when the groove hit them, there was no controlling it!
Once they got that out of their system, it was back to the business at hand. The smiles started flashing and we were back on track.

They were scared that they'd appear to be too responsible if they kept up this behavior so the frolicking soon commenced. Now, I can understand the need for this as I am quite the seasoned frolicker myself so we just stood back and watched them Forest, run!
I offered to frolic with them but McKenna assured me that she thought that I was somewhere around the age of dirt so it would probably be best if I sat tight with my Geritol and walking cane. Taylor never chimed in with McKenna to offer an opinion but I've got to tell you that there was a visible look of relief on her face when she realized that I was going to hang back. It hurt a little but I moved on.

All of that frolicking can wreak havoc on a girl so in Taylor's down time, we managed to snap a few pictures of her. She was a sweetheart....climbed fences, was nice to her sister and even said that she wanted to look JUST like me when she grows up. Ok, I made that last part up but the rest of it is true.

It was almost impossible to get a smile from McKenna. She is such a serious, solemn child so we were THRILLED to get shots of her that showed a different side of her personality.

The abuse that I suffered at the hands of these two isn't something that I can talk about without fighting back the tears so I'm going to skip it. I'll just summarize it by saying that, in time, the wounds will heal.

In all seriousness (which I normally avoid like the plague), I have to say that a day with these teenagers was probably one of the most fun days that I'd had in a long, long time. Teenagers in general get a bad rap sometimes but these girls are smart, funny, beautiful, caring, loving and some of the sweetest spirits that you'll ever have the pleasure to meet. I only hope that you enjoy these pictures even half as much as we enjoyed taking them and having time with these peeps.

Thank you Taylor, McKenna, Ryan and Jenny! We had an awesome day with y'all!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Meet David, Mark & Lorelai Grace

I met Mark and David through our sweet friends, Carla and Lisa. You may have remembered them from a few blog posts back that was about them and their cute kids, Charlie and Sam. We all met at a party given by another friend and there were never any awkward moments of silence like you sometimes have with people that you meet. It was like we were all instantly fighting for our turn to talk and we laughed until our sides hurt. It's pretty much been that way from that night on.

I remember cracking up laughing when David told about one of the first conversations that he and Mark had where he told him that he liked the Tennessee Volunteers and Mark wanted to know what they volunteered for. To me, that's funny all on it's own but if you know Mark, it's even funnier. In fact, he's probably one of the funniest people that I've ever met and he doesn't even have to try. His off-beat sense of humor and his lack of a "filter" about what stories he tells can absolutely crack you up!
But not only is Mark funny, he's probably one of the sweetest souls that you'll ever meet. He would give you the shirt off of his back if he knew that you needed it. He'll drive an hour away to return the box to you that you left in his car. Or, he'll bring you a book of pictures for the time that you missed with Lorelai so you can feel like you're a part of things from the beginning. Mark has carefully sketched out his plans for what he's going to do with the lottery winnings that he's going to have one day and his fortune will be short lived because he's got something special in mind for almost every single person that has ever crossed his path. He truly enjoys making people happy. I love this man.

Then....there's David. I feel like we should cue some sort of dramatic music here. David and I have an unspoken rule that we will never say anything nice to each other. Ever. But, since that rule doesn't apply to writing, I can tell you that David is one of the best friends that you could ever ask for in life. He is as generous as Mark and will do anything in the world for the people that he loves. David has a fantastically creative mind and he has no problem standing up for what he believes in and for the people that he loves. I honestly don't think that there is anything that he wouldn't do for you if he loves you. Give him the slightest hint that you need something done and he'll forego his own needs to help you accomplish your goal. David is a true friend and although I will never admit it to his face (because that's not how we roll), I love him and am thankful for him. I almost threw up a little bit as I typed this because the thought of being nice to David is so against everything that I believe in.
I've saved the sweetest for last here.....this is Miss Lorelai Grace or "Lolo" to those of us who know and love her.
I don't even know where to being with her. I can say without hesitation that the very sight of her sweet little face can make you feel like your heart is going to explode with love for her. From the very first night that we met her and she wasn't content until I was covered in chocolate and various other pieces of our meal, I've loved her. I have always liked babies and kids but there is something different with her and we loved her from the start.

She walks into our house and takes over. She and Tora became fast friends but I've seen her wrap every single member of our family around her tiny, little finger. Too many days without her and we all start going into withdrawals. It's just a given that we've GOT to see her! She's a very talented performer who can alternate between singing "the itsy bitsy spider" and "snoooooop dog, snoooooop dog" all in the same car ride. She's no lightweight at dancing and raising the roof either.
Although she looks all dainty and sweet, don't let her fool you! Just last night I was changing her diaper and popcorn fell out of it. I wouldn't have been any more surprised had it been a switchblade or a part of a cheeseburger. She's not scared of anything that I've ever seen and I've yet to find anything that slows her down. Unless, of course, you find a good Dora the Explorer movie and you hear that sweet, soft little voice singing along to the theme song.

Trust me, I've heard the back and forth and the not-so-subtle opinions about gay families but you can say whatever you want, you'll find few families that measure up to this one--gay or straight! I'm not going to get on a soapbox about this issue because this is about a family of people that love each other. If you'd like to know my opinion on these issues, feel free to e-mail me anytime and we can discuss it there. For now, I'll focus on Mark, David and Lolo. The way that they live their life and love each other every single day is a testament to the strength of their family and their own quiet little rebellion. They have their own problems and issues just like any other family but they love each other enough to keep pushing through them because that's what families do.
This is a home filled with love and laughter. They want only the best opportunities in life for their daughter. They know that starts with the strong foundation of two people who love each other and who work for the common goal of building the best life that they can for their child.
We love this family and we are blessed to have them as members of our "chosen family" that I've talked about before. I sincerely hope that every child in the world can grow up surrounded by as much love as Lolo has in her life.

Thank you Mark, David and Lolo not just for a wonderful afternoon of picture taking but for a lifetime of friendships that we treasure.
Happy Day Everybody!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Can Accept My Limitations.....

I am not a pet photographer...REPEAT....I am not a pet photographer!

It's not that I don't love the furry little guys because I do. I love cute little puppies with their wet noses and the way that their entire back end shakes when they wag their tails (I think that someone once made mention that my back end did the same thing. To my knowledge, their body has never been found). I love the way that cats make you work hard for the slightest acknowledgement that they notice you. I love the way that some of them can look at you like they understand every single word that you're saying and I absolutely LOVE the acrobatic skills of baby kittens. I say that I'm not a pet photographer because I stink at taking their picture and it drives me bonkers!

A friend asked me to take some pictures of her dogs for her partner's birthday and I was happy to oblige. I mean, how hard could it be? It's not like you have to worry about their outfits or if they have a few hairs out of place. I didn't anticipate a lot of time in Photoshop making sure that the dark circles were removed from underneath their eyes or that I've covered a stray eyebrow here and there.  I've taken pictures of people with their pets many times before and was pretty pleased with the results. However, I learned the hard way that this undertaking was way out of my league!

I arrived with camera in hand and thinking that in 20 minutes or so, I'd have some masterpiece worthy of a gallery showing......cute dogs, beautiful home.....this was a win-win situation for me. As I stepped through the door, I was met with a onslaught of energy! I was pushed back against the door and it was hard to decide who I should acknowledge first....scurrying feet, tails wagging, tongues was a madhouse! Then, I persuaded Shannon and Bonnie to step back and let me meet the dogs.

There was sweet little Josh. He has the most sincere expressions and loved to mug it up for the camera. He was determined to get in any shot that he could and was quite tolerant of the pimp jacket that his mommies insisted that he wear. I could sense the shame that he was feeling but he was a trooper.

Then, there was Sidney...the Sidster....the Sidmeister. He just seemed to be over all of the hoopla before it even really got started. His one focus in life was working those eyes for a treat. I consider him to be quite indecisive because he couldn't even decide to go with a blue or a brown eye so he chose both. I think that he did it to show off but he wouldn't own up to it, even if you asked him.

Not to be shown up by the boys, Olive decided she'd steal the show! She was an explosion of playful energy. She wanted to give love and kisses to anyone within a zillion mile radius. She ran, she jumped, she name it. She kinda reminds you of that kid in the daycare center that's always on top of the sliding board or the bookcases but that you can't get mad at because she's so dang cute. There's Ritalin for those kids but for Olive, there's parents that appreciate her eccentricities and energy so it all works out in the end!

Even the slightest mention of treats could bring this trio to a screeching halt. They'd fool you into thinking that they were little angels until the last treat was dispensed and then they were off again! It's amazing how these guys can work you in the same way that little humans can work their parents.

The cats around this place have the right idea. They have their own space and it wasn't uncommon to see one of them slinking in and out of the bedrooms or through the fence. I wouldn't swear to it but there were a couple of times when I was sure that the cat gave the dogs the finger through the window. This one little beauty seemed to have the demeanor of a tiger...she was bold and could stalk a ribbon like nobody's business!

So, the day wasn't a total bust. I got a shot (totally out of luck!) that could be used for the birthday canvas but I learned that pet photography is NOT my specialty! I have a new-found respect for my friend, Julie, who IS a pet photographer....and a DANG good one at that! Her website is a work in progress but she is THE best pet photographer that I've ever met. Not only that, she's probably one of the nicest people that I've ever known. If you need pet pictures taken, call her and you will be blown away at what she can do! You can check her limited web presence out at (how cute is that name?!?) and she can send you more samples of her work.

As for me, call me for people pictures. I can handle those but I'll leave the four-legged friends to the people who do it best!

Have a tail wagging good day!