Monday, December 08, 2008

I Remember Snow in September

Once upon a time, I visited Colorado.
I drove through the mountains.
I saw sunshine through snow.
I remember.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Photog Blogs

Photography: The art, practice, or occupation of taking and printing photographs. (

This definition makes it sound simple enough, doesn't it? One takes the picture. One prints the picture. The practice of photography is thereby complete. The art of photography is a little more complex, involving training, practice, discipline, and creativity. And we all know that it takes awhile to develop the particular artistic flair that distinguishes one photographer from another. It still doesn't seem too terribly complicated.

But what about the occupation of photography? These waters are a bit more... elusive and turbulent, in my mind, and rather nebulous. I've heard some claim that all a person needs is a nice camera to make money in this realm. I strongly disagree with this statement. But what does make a successful photographer? How do some rise to the $5k per wedding bracket within 2 years of doing business, while others inch along year after year, barely scraping by? How does advertising and branding play into the equation? What makes a successful website? How do photographers get their names out there for the public?

I don't really have the answers to these questions. I'm not in this for the money (I consider money a necessary evil). I don't care about success or fame as our culture defines it. I pursue professional photography for other reasons. Photography is not my passion; God is my passion and pursuit. But in the pursuit of God, He has led me to also pursue professional photography, and I see it as a means of touching my other passions: people, communication, and discipleship. My dream is to one day pursue missions photojournalism, if the Lord wills, to document the faithfulness of God in the lives of His saints worldwide, to support those who are passionately walking out their individual God-given callings, and to use my images to motivate further Christ-centered pursuit in the hearts of Christian young people in the United States.

Until that day comes, I'm in the business of portraits and weddings, trying to earn enough to purchase necessary equipment, acquire training and experience, and put money away for those days of international travel that are, hopefully, on the horizon. I work hard now with an end goal in mind. I want to be successful, so that I can do more of what I love later on.

So here we are back at those questions: what makes a successful photographer? What distinguishes one from another? About a year ago I sat down and did some research in this area. Again, I don't have all the answers to these questions. But I have come up with some good ideas. And these have come as I've studied other photographers.

I started collecting blogs. Actually, what I mean is that I started making wise use of Google Reader. In the course of my research, I stumbled upon a few of the top wedding and portrait photographers in the country. I noticed that almost without exception, these photographers use their photo blogs as one of their primary means of networking and advertisement. So I subscribed to a few with Google Reader. Every once in a while one of these blogs would link to another incredible photography blog. So I subscribed to that one, too. I started collecting photo blogs the way some girls collect shoes. To date, I subscribe to 77 photography blogs. I look at poses, lighting, composure, wedding coverage, and advertising styles every single day. I hope that looking at great images will increase my ability to see potentially great images when I look through my viewfinder.

I've listed a bunch of my favorite photo blogs below. If any of you know of any other great, out-of-this-world photo blogs that I could add to my collection, I'd love to check them out! Note: I don't condone, recommend, or approve everything that I see on these blogs, but for the most part these are clean, good photographers with good eyes and lots of creativity. Definitely worth learning from, in my opinion. Just had to put that disclaimer in. =)

And if any of you are interested in learning more about the business of blogging, check out this article.

Cheers and blessings to each of you on your photographic journeys!


Adam Barnes | This guy is openly Christian in life, work, and worldview. I love most of his work.

Amelia Lyon | A husband-wife shooting team. Very, very beautiful work.

Ann Hamilton | I just started following her. Her work is great.

Bebb Studios | Cool husband-wife team with cool post-processing.

Becky Hill | Fresh & creative.

Benjamin Derkin | Very, very cool work. Always creative and inspirational.

Cathy Crawley | Sydney, Australia-based wedding & portrait photographer. Cool stuff.

Daniel Lanton | Fine-art portrait photographer, who is also a Christian. Very photoshopped, but incredibly gorgeous work.

David Schwartz | Beautiful lighting, most of the time. I like this guy.

David Witttig | He has a very different perspective.

Fred Egan | Beautiful, beautiful work.

Gabriel Ryan | This guy is good.

The Image is Found | Another husband-wife team. They're very creative. Not always to my taste, but still very creative. And they have quite the sense of humor...

Jasmine Star | By far one of my favorites!!! Jasmine is a Christian, and her husband JD second-shoots for her. She is pretty much ridiculously awesome. And her work is out-of-this-world amazing.

Jeff Newsom | This guy has some gorgeous work.

Jeremy Lawson | Quirky, funny, creative. And goofy-cool.

Jessica Claire | Another of my all-time faves. Jessica's work is always a treat to look at.

John Lyons | Pretty good work.

Jose Villa | Shoots in some amazing places. And his ring shots are incredible.

Joy Lyn | It's Joy (Jensen) Phillips! Her work has always inspired me.

Juxtapose This! | She has come good stuff on here.

Kelly Moore | Just flat-out amazing. I always look forward to her blogs.

Kyle Barnes | A natural-light portrait artist. Very nice work.

Leo Patrone | I just stumbled upon his blog today, but I like what I see.

Love Life Images | Pretty amazing work. Check out each individual photographer's blog instead of the Love Life blog.

Mark & Candice Brooke | Husband-wife team. Some good work.

Michael Norwood | Stunningly beautiful.

Morgan Matters | Fresh and bright

The Parsons | Another Christian husband-wife team. I love that combination. =)

Poser Blog | Amazing, amazing work right here!

Rae Leytham | Creative and cool

Scarlett Lilian | I think this gal's a Christian, too. Some cool stuff, but I'm not a huge fan of how intensely saturated her images are. She definitely goes for the high-glamour look.

Scott Strazzante | Chicago-based photojournalist. Usually posts just one image. Good stuff.

Sloan Photographers | Another husband-wife shooting team. Cool work.

Stacy Cross | She has a good eye for detail

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A View of the World Inside-Out

Coffee shop. Hot americano and photo edits. Quiet contentment. Window seats, conversations with a good friend, prayer, truth spoken and received.

Life is beautiful.

Until confronted by selfishness. And brokenness. And emptiness. A pretty, middle-aged mom caught up in her life. The man with her, lonely as well, completely consumed by the unhappiness of his current marriage. Life is unfair. The past has been hard. The present is empty, unless they make something of it. "Just out to coffee" turns into questions about divorce attorneys (he needs one, she knows from personal experience which local ones are cheap and which ones are good). They go on their way, but not before discussing whether or not he could rent a room from her.

Life seems to me less beautiful than before.

Afternoon turns to evening. Table replaces the window seat, a latte replaces the americano, and a different friend sits beside me. The hour passes quickly and feels five hours too short. She leaves. I stay. Quiet contemplation on subjects of love, trust, and loneliness. 1 Corinthians 13 is open before me.

Selfishness confronts me once again. And brokenness. And emptiness. Loud high school girls out to coffee with their priest. Disrespect for teachers. Cheers because an older, conservative priest will be on sabbatical for several months. The f--- word unabashedly jumps from a 17-year-olds lips.

Life seems gray as I leave, and my heart teeters between brokenness and judgment.

The evening turns to night, and my view turns inward. Laptop open. Thoughts swirl. Emotions grow too strong to dismiss. Tears blur my sight. Once again, I am confronted with selfishness. And brokenness. And emptiness.

But this time it is my own heart that condemns me.

Lonely in the midst of friends. Self-centered in the face of needs. Judgment where love should reign. Despair in the face of grace. "Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily satisfied." C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

My heart turns back to 1 Corinthians 13. Questions. Self-examination. Truth told. Shelter sought and found.

What is love? How do I love people?
How do I show Christ to those around me?

Do I envy the relationships that other people enjoy?
Am I patient with the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification in others?

Do I rejoice in others' growth? Do I bear all things for the sake of that growth?

Do I believe that God is working good in the lives of those around me?

At what point does my love for my God-family end?

Love is not duty for duty's sake or right for right's sake. It is not a resolute abandoning of one's own good with a view solely for the good of the other person. It is first a deeply satisfying experience of the fullness of God's grace, then a doubly satisfying experience of sharing that grace with another person. - John Piper, Desiring God

We are all constantly teaching and learning, forgiving and being forgiven, representing Christ to man when we intercede, and man to Christ when others intercede for us. The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages. - C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be daily laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. - C. S. Lewis, ibid.

I have no answers to share, no steps to achieving unselfish, Gospel-centered love. Just this: God has not finished His work in me yet. And that I am uncertain of my next step, but certain of God. And this is enough.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I have only one response to this Election...

In God we trust
and the government is on His shoulders
In God we trust
through democracy and tyranny alike
In God we trust
He uses both good and evil men

In God we trust
so we fight for peace and He fights for us
In God we trust
even when He fights us for someone else
In God we trust
even when He looks like the enemy

In God we trust
even though our hearts are bankrupt
In God we trust
for more than just the value of our dollar bills
In God we trust
but there’s no gold behind these notes of reserve

In God we trust
even through our great presumption
In God we trust
even though He favors no nation-state
In God we trust
even when the blessing is a curse
__Derek Webb__

Friday, October 24, 2008


Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Praying at the abortion clinic in Richmond

there’s a time for peace and there is a time for war
a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
this too shall be made right
-- derek webb --

Click here for more photos

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

A New Journal

I just finished the first entry in a new journal. I love new journals. I find excitement and anticipation in flipping through 200 blank pages, knowing that in 3 months every one will have words on them. It didn't used to be that way. I used to take more than a year to fill a small journal. But my journaling habits took a dramatic change a couple of years ago when I overheard a friend talking about her journals, that her entries were letters to God, more like prayers and honest reflection than a diary. At the time, she was 25 and just starting her 25th journal.

Such a simple thing-- journaling to God-- was a brand new idea to me. I included God in my journal, to be sure, but as an afterthought. "My day was... and this happened... God would you..." I decided to try my friend's method, and began each entry with "Dearest Father..." It was a breath of fresh air, and it brought new depth and purpose to my devotional times with God.

Yes, I just started a new journal, which makes me think of the events that will fill the next few months-- mostly, the unknown events. When I started my last journal, I had absolutely no idea what God would do in me as I filled those pages. Changed relationships, changed perspectives, changed jobs, changed worldview, changed dreams. I had some pretty well-established dreams and ideals in June, and they are completely different now.

Then I think of the plans I have for the upcoming months-- five weddings to shoot, portrait sessions, starting my own business, visiting friends, the holidays, weddings to attend and participate in, etc. This journal will be full. I'll probably ring in the New Year with it. I might last through the end of January... maybe.

There's a lot happening in the next few months. I can't wait to see how God changes me, what "theme" this journal will hold, what circumstances He drops in my lap. He likes to surprise me.

So much to look forward to. So many areas to trust God. I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Matt & Tori

Matt asked. Tori said yes. They are on their way to happily ever after.

Click here for more photos.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What does it mean?

What does it mean to change the world?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dreaming Again

Once upon a time, I dreamed.

I don't mean sleepytime dreams, or rosy daydreams, or even those dreams that happen in the strange in-between period of half-awake and half-asleep, hardly conscious, but somehow aware of what floats through the mind. No, I don't mean those dreams.

Once upon a time, I dreamed wide-awake.

I dreamed of changing the world.
I dreamed of affecting people for the cause of Christ. I dreamed of joining hands with saints of old in a long line of passionate individuals working for the kingdom of God. I dreamed of traveling the world, leaving my mark on the ground beneath my feet, and on the hearts and lives I touch. I dreamed of communicating truth with excellence, resulting in transformed lives. I dreamed of being an Elisabeth Elliot, a Darlene Diebler Rose, or a Gladys Aylward. I dreamed of hearing the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of your Master."

I dreamed of changing the world. But sometime in the last year, I stopped dreaming.

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, or why my dreaming lost steam, slowed down, and died out. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I expected God's plans and promises to take a particular form, and they looked very different than I envisioned. Perhaps it was because I tend to ask God about my dreams after I attach my heart to them. Maybe I just grew tired of God peeling back my fingers to wrench my "dreams" out of my hands so He could actually do something with me. Or it could be that I was just too close to God's work to see what was taking place.

Whatever the reason, I stopped dreaming. Stopped asking. Stopped looking. God still worked on me, and in me, and through me. I didn't stop seeking Him, but I did stop inquiring of Him, and my perspective shrunk into something small and shallow. I was so focused on life that I couldn't see the context of God's work and direction. But last week something changed.

God asked me to lay my heart on the table and allow Him to move it, change it, guide it, and fashion it when and how He wants. My former "yields" looked more like "Fine! Take it!," followed by a heart lock-down, but God asked more of me than a huff-puff pout. He asked for my whole self, no-holds-barred. I wrestled. I questioned. He answered the same: Surrender. Give it to Me. He gave me the grace, so I gave back heart. I set my desires, plans, and longings on the chess board, then stepped back to watch His masterfully-designed plan work itself out. It hurt. There were tears. But when the tears left, peace settled in, and has remained. My soul can breath again, and I didn't even know it was stifled.

I can't see my way ahead. I feel as if I'm at a trailhead with 5 possible routes before me. I know the routes and what they look like from where I stand, but I'm blindfolded and don't know which way I walk. I am not stationary. I'm being pushed, or drawn, along by a force outside of myself. It's as if I'm playing "Blind Man's Bluff." I can feel movement around me as God changes people and moves circumstances, and changes and moves me. I can feel it, but I cannot see my way ahead. Yet He draws me, and I follow after Him.

Once upon a time, I dreamed. And in surrender, I have begun to dream again.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kat Carter

High school seniors are pretty close to the top of my "favorite to photograph" list. And spending an afternoon shooting Kathryne Carter was absolutely incredible. How else would you describe spending three hours with a girl with a passion for God, photography, pro-life activism, Mexico, and hair design? Nothing short of fabulous, just like Kat. Thanks for an incredible shoot!

Click here for a more pictures.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Glimpses of Self

"It is a good day to me when Thou givest me a glimpse of myself." This is one of my favorite quotes from the book The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotionals, by Arthur Bennett. God has given me many glimpses of myself in the past several weeks, and I'm learning a lot about myself. These lessons are very good, and very painful at the same time.

I'm just learning that my insides aren't as clean as I thought.
That my love isn't as pure as I thought.
That my mind is more deceitful than I thought.
That my motivations are more selfish than I thought.
And that God is incredibly more gracious and faithful than I thought or expected.

These are good lessons. Any time I see the depth of my own depravity and sinfulness I'm grateful. It hurts, because, once again, it shows how far away from God I really am, and how much farther away I have the capacity to go. But it is always good, because God's grace is what shows me my sin and draws me back to Him.

This week I began reading through Song of Solomon in the Amplified Bible. I love to read this version every once in a while because it reminds me that Scriptre has depth as well as breadth, and it challenges me to dig and press on and pursue a greater knowledge of Christ and His Word.

As I've read through Song of Solomon this time, I actually paid attention to the footnotes, which are, in fact, questions as opposed to notes. They challenge me to examine my heart and my relationship with Christ. I've included the questions below, along with the corresponding excerpts from Songs.

Tell me, O You whom my soul loves, where You pasture Your flocks... Songs 1:7
Does my spirit crave the Divine Shepherd, even in the presence of the best that the wold can offer me?

I can feel His left hand under my head and His right hand embraces me! Songs 2:6
Do I have a constant sense of my Shepherd's presence, regardless of my surroundings?

Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away. Songs 2:13
Do I take time to meet my Good Shepherd each day, letting Him tell me of His love, and cheering His heart with my interest in Him?

Let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely. Songs 2:14
Do I realize that my voice lifted in praise and song is sweet to Him, or do I withhold it?

Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom. Songs 2:15
What is my greatest concern, the thing about which most of all I want Christ's help? When He asks to hear my voice, what do I tell him?

Come away with me from Lebanon, my [promised] bride, come with me from Lebanon. Depart from... the lion's dens, from the mountains of the leopards. Songs 3:8
Do I heed Christ when He bids me to come way from the lions' den of temptation and dwell with Him?

Oh, I pray that the [cold] north wind and the [soft] south wind may blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out [in abundance for You in whom my soul delights]. Songs 4:16
Am I willing to have the north wind of adversity blow upon me, if it will better fit me for Christ's presence and companionship?

[But weary from a day in the vineyards, I had already south my rest] I had put off my garments-- how could I [again] put them on? Songs 5:3
In my weariness from earthly cares, do I hesitate to answer when the Divine Shepherd knocks at my door, and so turn Him from me?

His voice and speech are exceedingly sweet; yes, He is altogether lovely [the whole of him delights and is precious]. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, o daughters of Jerusalem. Songs 5:16
Is my Savior unquestioningly the One altogether lovely, the One above all others most precious to me? Can I tell how and why Christ is more to me than any human being or than all earthly possessions?

Baseball Game

Contraband. =)

Just a fun night with the Danahers and the Hintons.

$1 tickets.
$1 hot dogs.
$4.25 sodas. (total rip off)
Enough people to begin (and end) our own "wave."

Yeah. Tons of fun. =)

What's a baseball game without Skittles?

Peter & Amie


Laura & Katie


Some of a lot of us. =)



The dad.