Viewing entries tagged
Mountain Weddings

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Stephen and Greta /// Always More Room for Laughter

So much laughter. Stephen and Greta are always completely themselves, which means so much laughter and so much ridiculousness. I am inspired by people who can let loose and be 100% present in the moment. I am inspired by the freedom of the now. I want to always create a space where people can be themselves uninhibitedly. This is where honest imagery is created. Stephen and Greta create that space wherever they are. Stephen began jumping in the middle of our shoot at Cone Manor in the NC mountains, remembering that he needed to get his 20 jumps in for the day in order to build up his bones. Greta started laughing hysterically and a space of boundless joy opened up. Watching the two of them interact is watching a young, vibrant love that you know will never fade. They are playful and lighthearted. They are hilarious and adventurous. I love that they can have a soft, quiet moment together and in the next breath run, jump, and laugh uncontrollably.

Stephen proposed to Greta deep in the woods near Cone Manor overlooking the mountains. After Stephen asked Greta to be his partner in life and she said yes, they walked back down the path to a picnic table filled with lanterns and dessert and enjoyed an evening picnic together celebrating their commitment to one another.  When I think of Stephen and Greta, I think of the endless intimate, soft moments that they have together. The ones where it is just the two of them and all they can feel is the warmth of each other’s love.

Stephen and Greta have walked through challenging waters this past year. Stephen was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases. I remember the day when Eddie and I were sitting at a brewery with the two of them and our other siblings and they broke the news to us. They were both broken and disheartened; as we all were when they told us what Stephen was up against.

But I have never seen two people fight so hard against unfortunate odds. They decided that they would not take the grim outlook the doctors gave them and became determined that with faith and a fight they could face anything together. Greta’s support for Stephen has been so beautiful to witness. They have completely changed their diets and the way that they live. They have shifted their priorities and have learned the depths of current sacrifice in order to protect their future. They have made me transform the way that I look at health and my future, but more importantly, they have shown me how to unconditionally support and love someone else and how to fight for one another. Their hope in one another is inspiring.

Contentment. That is what I see within the two of them. They are content and full with one another. You see it in Greta’s eyes when she is watching one of Stephen’s ridiculous acts and you feel it when Stephen wraps his arms around Greta’s shoulders.

It is always so much fun to see the way in which they fill one another with joy, but to be able to capture their raw love through photography is an honor. We had so much fun watching the sunrise above Blowing Rock and dancing and running through the fields of Cone Manor. It is always exciting to go back to the places that have become an intrinsic part of two people’s lives. Stephen and Greta—thanks for being an amazing reminder that each moment is precious and that there is always more room in the air for laughter.

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Rachel and Austin // Fearless Fighters

Rachel and Austin are two of the most genuine, hardworking, passionate, in-love people I know. They are both deep and intentional, both loyal and courageous. I have the privilege of walking through life with them as my siblings and as some of my best friends. Recently, Rachel and Austin had to start their lives over. They woke up in their apartment in Boone, NC to the terrifying sound of someone banging on doors below them screaming “FIRE! FIRE!” With a suitcase in hand that they had packed to go see my sister and brother-in-law in England the next day and their French bulldog, Mr. Willoughby, they ran out of their apartment and within minutes watched it burned down in flames. It is a traumatic experience that they continue to work through as they learn to rebuild the life they created-- from the thoughtful wedding gifts they lost, the personal notes they wrote to one another, the framed photos that filled their walls chronicling the beginning of their legacy together. They have walked through this tragic loss with grace and boldness.

The first thing I thought of when I began figuring out what my part was in helping them rebuild their lives was photos. My husband Eddie ordered large prints of the engagement photos we took of them, which now hang on their walls in their new apartment and in many ways helps connect them back to what they have lost. Photos are incredibly important to Rachel and Austin. Rachel’s childhood photo albums were in their apartment when it burnt down. It was one of the first things she thought of as she watched her apartment and her life inside it succumb to the ruthless hand of fire.

Amazingly, while Rachel and I were adventuring through Scotland together weeks after the fire (a week of adventure that I will hold close to me forever), Austin went to their old apartment to see if he could salvage anything. He saw the remnants of Rachel’s photo albums somehow untouched and borrowed a friend’s ladder to recover them. Peeling the melted pages away from one another, her photos were almost all preserved. We cried together in our rental car in Scotland when Austin told Rachel that her albums had been saved. Out of everything lost, somehow the memories of her childhood were preserved.

I have asked Rachel and Austin to describe how it felt being so close to the end of their lives. I don’t know that they are still able to fully answer this question, but I know that they have been changed. I know that in many ways it is so much harder for them to take life for granted. They have always been dreamers, but now more than ever, they are pursuing their dreams fearlessly. Rachel is pursuing her dream as a writer, and Austin as a motion graphic designer. They truly are fearless, both in their dreams and in their love for one another. I have been inspired and changed by their bravery.

It became such a special honor to be able to create new images of their lives together now as they have fought through so much. They are now living in one of the most beautiful places in Boone. They are surrounded by horses and have the most beautiful view of Grandfather Mountain in their backyard. Willoughby can run around, wade in the creek, eat apples and pears from their backyard, and they can feed the horses carrots in the morning together. They have discovered a new beauty in the Blue Ridge Mountains and are treasuring it.

As their new home has quickly become a significant part of their lives, we decided that an early morning photo shoot in their backyard made so much sense. I decided to take a more documentary approach and let them live out their morning as they normally would as I tried to seamlessly capture the three of them soak in the morning as a family. They have a routine of feeding the horses carrots and walking around the yard together talking as Willoughby runs free.

I love be able to capture the honest. I love that they will have these images to look back on forever that aren’t just posed and manipulated, but truly represent an intimate, significant time in their lives.

Over the years, the Taniwha Trail has also become a significant place for Austin and Rachel. It is the first place they had their photos taken and it is their favorite place to take Willoughby for walks. They now live only 5 minutes away from the trail. We spent a sunset photographing the two of them on the trail, which overlooks Grandfather Mountain, their backyard mountain.

More than anything I felt abundant joy while photographing Rachel and Austin on the hills of the Taniwha Trail. They were radiant and boundless. I thought about the first time I had taken photos of the two of them on these hills and how they were also joy-filled and free then, but how now, years later, with now the beautiful experience of committing themselves to each other forever through marriage and walking through the tragedy of loss together, their joy and freedom were rooted in a new strength and depth. They are grounded. Their laughs are louder, their hugs are longer, and their words are more intentional.

It is the greatest honor to capture these changes and significant moments in their journey, filled with loss but even more so filled with hope and bravery. I am beyond grateful for the gift of telling their story and capturing part of the legacy of two of the most incredible people in my life.




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