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My wedding dress

11 Sep

(Did you miss Part 1 about how I met my husband slinging mud? Click here.)

 

 

I left off my story with a search for the perfect wedding gown. The show, “A Wedding Story” was on TLC during the day and I became an addict! “Say Yes to the Dress” wouldn’t be on air for a couple more years, but the producers of TLC were on to something as we brides-to-be stayed glued to the sappy romances of others in between classes. Everyone said that I would “just know” when I found  my dress. With friends in tow, we all headed to the mecca of all wedding stores.

Let me just say now, as a second-hand clothing junkie and lover of all things vintage: I never should have set foot into this store. But I was 20 and as I said, I still hadn’t nailed down my style or how to make my visions of vintage bliss come true.  The customer service was TERRIBLE and I was treated like scum because I hadn’t nailed down my wedding date exactly. We were waiting on a confirmation from our venue for a Friday or Saturday night wedding. Apparently, this wasn’t good enough for the staff of this mega store and they needed an engraved invitation to treat me like a valuable customer. Can you tell I am still bitter?

After this lack-luster experience, I decided to shop on my own at a local boutique. If you know me, you know that I LOVE to be around people. I am high-energy and get even more energized by conversations and laughter with friends. I mean, I am an actress after all. What would you expect? But for picking out my wedding dress, I decided to visit my second bridal store alone. It was liberating to not have the opinion of well meaning friends about the type of dress that I should purchase.

The little Lakeland bridal boutique (which has since closed it’s doors) was wonderful. I tried on many gowns and the owner could tell I wasn’t finding exactly what I wanted. She pulled out a ivory, spaghetti strapped gown featuring a detailed overlay on top of a structured bodice with a unique train and gorgeous scarf for me to try on. On the hanger, it wasn’t looking very promising, but it was a combination of what I was looking for, so I tried it.

 

It was perfect.

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I felt like a bride. It was unique and classic, with just a hint of my figure and a decidedly romantic charm. The train was my favorite part, as it reminded me of a little garden of flowers at my feet. With the gown came a distinctive scarf that could be worn in a myriad of ways. This strikingly different piece made me love the dress even more! I decided that the scarf would be for the reception, giving a cute transition in my appearance from one location to the next. This dress was very different from the style at the time and was moving me towards my vintage wedding.

Knowing that this was “THE” dress, I put down my payment, was measured for a custom gown since the overlay could not be altered in house, and left the store floating. No one else had seen it, not my mom, not any of friends, but I knew it was the dress for me. In this regard, I was fiercely independent and knew I made a wonderful decision.

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Months later, my Mom joined me at my final fitting. I was nervous as I stepped out of the dressing room, rethinking my certainty months before. Catching my breath, I stepped out of the dressing room and in front of the angled mirrors. As tears rolled down both my Mom and my cheeks, I knew that this dress had changed me from a little girl into a woman in so many ways. And that I had made the right decision for my wedding dress.

As a gift to my parents, my best friend borrowed her mother’s camera (her mom was a photo journalist), we bought a roll of color and a roll of black and white film and we headed to Hollis Gardens to take some bridal portraits. Yep, I said “roll” because digital cameras were not up to professional standards back then. Most people didn’t even own digital cameras and you definitely wouldn’t photograph something of importance with digital. For my shoot, we didn’t know what we were doing, but we had a great time and my parents loved the images.

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Almost 10 years later, I still like my gown. It was unique, classy and I purchased over half of it with my own money (Mom and Dad had a dress budget and this dress went way over!). It was my first grown-up clothing purchase and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve been thinking about doing a trash the dress session this summer in celebration of my 10 year anniversary. But I don’t know if I feel ready to let it go just yet.

 

(Stay tuned for a post about my photographer and the actual wedding day, the last in this 3 part series about my love story.)

And baby makes 4 {Lakeland Maternity Photographer}

16 Aug

Baby bumps are seriously miraculous. A mother expecting a child is a beautiful thing and it is a true privilege to capture this special moment in a family’s life. Anticipation. Joy. Glow.

 

This family just happens to be my brother, his wife and their son. You might recognize them from their last maternity shoot or even their one year anniversary photos. They are naturally photogenic and cute as a button! I might be partial, but their love for one another shines through in every image. And could my nephew be any cuter?

 

They have chosen not to find out the gender of the baby, which adds another layer of fun to this pregnancy. You will have to wait to find out if their little bun will be wearing pink or blue.

 

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Baby Bump Love / Lakeland Maternity Photographer

31 Jan

The new year began with a shoot with Ben and Drew, a couple who are expecting their first in March. It was a beautiful January afternoon when we did their shoot at Circle B Bar Reserve. Both Ben and Drew are runners and they showed me along some of the paths they enjoyed using. The light was beautiful and complimented the adorable couple and their obvious love for each other and their little one-to-come.

 

To see more pictures of Ben and Drew, click here and here and here. Yep. I’ve photographed them a couple of times.

 

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Lakeland Maternity Photographer

Kiss Interrupted / Lakeland Family Photographer

3 Nov

Sometimes the perfect shot can be interrupted.  While photographing a family, I always take pictures of just the husband and wife. Too often, parents can forget that they were a married couple first when the demands of diapers and school lines take over their day to day lives. During my photo shoots, we take a brief moment among the pictures of the family and the kids, to take a picture of the people who started the family: the husband and wife! Sometimes this shift of focus takes the kids by surprise and funny things can happen.

While doing my Holiday Mini-Shoots at Circle B Bar Reserve, the last family I was photographing had one of those unexpected moments. Here are a couple of the beautiful shot we captured of the husband and wife as the kids “helped” me make their parents smile.

Lakeland Couples Photographer

Lakeland Couples Photographer

Lakeland Couples Photographer

They turned out so well! I was excited about how well the girls were doing and the wonderful shots I knew I had captured for my client. And then I suggested the parents kiss and chaos began. The oldest child yelled, “NOOOOOOOO!!!” and ran straight for her parents, interrupting any further photos I planned on taking. It was hilarious! Then both of the girls started trying to attach me and the camera to stop any further picture taking of their parents kissing. I was laughing so hard!!! This is what I captured and thought you all would get a kick out of it. I just love my job!

Lakeland Couples Photographer

Lakeland Couples Photographer

Lakeland Couples Photographer

Christmas Photos 2 / Lakeland Family Photographer

28 Oct

Round 2 of Holiday Mini-Shoots! Check out the first batch here. Enjoy!

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

Lakeland Christmas Photographer

New Business Cards / Lakeland Photographer

12 Apr

I have just used up my last business cards this month and am ready to go a little fancier. This what what my old business card looked like:

Lakeland Portrait Photographer

 

This is fine. Clean. Professional. Informational. But I want my business card to show my work. If my images are already on the card, that allows people who see them without taking the extra step of going to my website. Hopefully this will leave them wanting to see more images and they will hop right on the computer and see more!  So, here is the front of my new, improved business card:

Lakeland Wedding Photographer

 

And here is the back:

Lakeland Family Photographer

 

I still need to make some more promotional pamphlets and fliers, but this is a good start. One day I hope my business will be large enough to hire a professional to design all of my business needs. Until then, I have me and my husband. We make a pretty good design team and that makes it all worth it!

Family of Four

15 Mar

Downtown Bartow.  Classic tastes.  Beautiful images.

Tampa Family Photographer

Tampa Family Photographer

Tampa Family Photographer

Tampa Family Photographer

Tampa Family Photographer

Tampa Family Photographer

Tampa Family Photographer