Alex and Natalie share a love based on faith, and on serving others. Their engagement photo session in Des Moines was a fall dream-come-true!
This is probably one of my very favorite wedding days. Not because it was the most extravagant (it was wonderfully simple) or some new exotic location (Omaha is not all that new!). Rather, it will forever be a favorite day simply because Naomi is like a sister to me, and James & Naomi have a way about them where everyone feels like family!
Logan is the younger brother of my friend Alycia, and when we were emailing about their fall anniversary photo session, she mentioned her youngest brother needed some senior photos taken! I absolutely love when I get repeat couples, and also when friends and past couples refer their friends and family to me! Word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing...but the one with least control. So, getting to meet and photograph Logan was such a blessing. Not to mention, going in knowing that he's a football-playing, motorcycle-driving guy was just a bit intimidating. However, he quickly warmed up to my camera. After a cloudy afternoon, we had a great (sunny!) evening exploring McHone Park in Boone! Enjoy some of my favorite photos from Logan's senior session!
It's no secret that my favorite time of year is Christmastime! Track it back to my birthday in December, or living in Germany during my early childhood (land of all things magical and Christmassy!!), watching the local Nutcracker Ballet every year, or simply the sheer romance & nostalgia it pulls us all into. (Don't tell me you can't listen to classic holiday music and wish for a minute you lived back in the 1950s!) The winter holidays bring out our biggest hopes & dreams; even with the stress of the end of the year, we each feel like a carefree child for a few moments when we get caught up in the first snow.
During high school, I'd get so excited for the end of the year, that I would break out my Christmas CD's in October. I've matured just a bit since then, thankfully, but November 1 always reminds me that even with the freezing and gloomy weather heading our way, there's something wonderful coming on the coat-tails of the winter winds. Christmas.
I realize we've just welcomed November to the calendar, but I just couldn't wait to start daydreaming about my Christmas (ok, and birthday!) wish-list. Being an adult, though, means that gift giving is actually often more fun than receiving! So, I figured that I'd share some great gift ideas...just in case you get stuck when you start thinking about Black Friday shopping or just Christmas gifts in general.
I don't know a single person who doesn't love a good candle. What I've learned during my few years as a candle connoisseur is that the 3 wicks are generally the best--they allow for more scent to be released! My current favorite candle was a surprise...$8 for a LARGE candle from TJ Maxx! They have a wonderfully broad selection, and often have multiple size options. If you want to give candles as a gift, go here first, and you'll get more bang for your buck than you do at Target.
2. Echo Dot
For the tech person in your life, this would be a fun addition! (Unless, of course, they already have one.) I don't personally own an Echo Dot, but they're fun and useful for checking weather, playing music, or managing phone calls hand free!
3. Art from a local artist
As a small business and artist in my own way, I always try to support local businesses and artists when I can! It can be hard to get off the ground, especially when it seems everyone is so concerned about "cheap art" these days. So, here are a few suggestions for you!
--Lauren of Wild Akers creates all kinds of beautiful lettering and design work. ALSO, she has some sweet custom christmas cards!! So, if you've had someone take your family photos, pick your favorite, and order from Lauren instead of mint.com or something!! Her etsy shop is here. (Bonus points for her super clever business name!!!)
--Amelia M. is a good friend of mine, and she has been pursing her own career in art! Everyone who knows her speaks highly of her character, and her work. She's mega talented, and has an etsy shop full of watercolor prints, and larger paintings! Shoot her an email if you want custom art for your grandma, significant other, or even just for yourself. ;) That's allowed!
--Myself! I won't say much here, but I DO offer Gift Certificates for photography sessions! If you know of a friend or family member who would love a family/portrait/anniversary session, but they just wouldn't spend the money on themselves (or maybe don't have the money to spend), you can purchase a full or mini session for them!
4. A Hammock
Hammocks are super "in" these days. If you have a high schooler or college student in your family who enjoys the outdoors--this would be a GREAT gift for them! I purchased my hammock two years ago, and have loved using it during the warmer months. (Last February, I even pulled it out on the weird 70* day we had!!) For a starter hammock, I recommend checking out OuterEQ on Amazon. I purchased a double hammock so I can share with a friend, as well as straps (not included with the hammock). This brand won't break the bank, and been durable and comfortable so far!!
5. Coffee (or coffee related items!)
It's hard to go wrong with coffee. Check out a local store for some beans (Sidecar in Cedar Falls, Burgie's in Ames, and Horizon Line in Des Moines) or if you aren't sure what they like, buy them a mug! You really can't have too many, and who doesn't love a mug from their favorite shop!? Even better, purchase a handcrafted, artisan mug from a potter! Need a few suggestions? Erin Carpenter lives in Ames, look into the gift shop at the Cedar Falls Hearst Center, or look around online. (Shopping for a tea lover?! Check out Gong Fu Tea in Des Moines!!)
If you know me at all, you knew this had to be on here someplace!!! ;) A few great reads (or wanna-reads):
--Katie Davis Major's latest book, Daring to Hope
--It's What I Do, an autobiography by Lynsey Addario, an amazing woman and war photographer
--Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I'm behind on reading this, it seems, but it was amazing!
7. Local Wine or Beer
For the 21+ friends in your life, gift them something local! In the central Iowa area, I suggest a brew from Alluvial Brewing or Boone Valley Brewery, or a quality wine from Prairie Moon Winery.
I rarely do sunrise sessions (mainly because I feel bad making people get up so early, ha) but it's ALWAYS worth it. Always. And I think you'll agree with me after seeing Kat's photos!
Amelia Renee is a Des Moines senior photographer, also serving Ames, Cedar Falls, and beyond.
The most common questions I get from people is, "How did you get started in photography?" and "When did you start a business?". Since I haven't been very regular about blogging personal or business things of late, and now that winter is on it's way and my sessions will *theoretically* slow down, I wanted to share some of my story!
Elizabeth and Chris's wedding day threatened to rain. I'd been checking the Des Moines weather throughout the previous week, so that was no surprise to me. Still, nobody wants to have their wedding day shuffled by unexpected rainstorms! Thankfully, the skies were dry when everyone arrived at the church. After Elizabeth finalized her makeup and jewelry, she headed to a nearby barn for her first look with Chris! It was such a sweet moment, and they chatted for a good few minutes before starting more portraits. The sun even peeked out during bridal party photos! We wrapped up family photos (a part I rarely blog, but that is just so important during a wedding day) and drove back over to the church. Not long after, rain was pouring down outside!!! Everyone kept marveling at the miracle that the weather held while we were outdoors. Amazing!
The ceremony was held inside the new sanctuary of the Saylorville Baptist Church. It was simple and sweet--and I loved the foot washing portion of the ceremony! There were tender tears and huge smiles during the ceremony, especially as they were pronounced man and wife! On to the reception (with a few more portraits, because why not?!) and more tears, more laughs, and wonderful words said. Elizabeth's best friend gave a sweet speech, Chris' brother's toast made more than one person cry...and the "mad lib" game answers shared were HILARIOUS. Can I request all my couples do that instead of having glass clinks for kisses?! The Wagners' day was beautiful, and I was thankful to be part of such a wonderful wedding day!
People, and new friendships, are some of the very best things about life. (I'm also an extrovert and suuuuper people oriented...so that's probably why!!) It's been so fun for me to get to know Emily and Rich over the past 3 years. They are servant-hearted people, generous givers, and so kind! As I've gotten to know them and spend more time with them, I've also been able to watch their family grow. Last year, they added the cutest (and strong willed!) little girl into their family. It's been amazing to watch her change and grow, both physically and in personality! She definitely wasn't sure about the camera (or me, for that matter) but we still managed to capture some fun family photos!
It isn't too late to schedule a family session this fall! I have a few spots open yet in November, so shoot me an email via the contact page above if you want some updated family photos for your Christmas cards!
Ashley and David have become good friends to me over the past 6 years. Although I can't remember the first time I met them, I knew they were cool older college students, and yet I somehow scored an invitation to their wedding! It was a gorgeous day, and a sweet memory. Just a few years after that, they came to work at Iowa State...and I've been able to spend lots of time with them, through work and fun. David has introduced me to my favorite game (Codenames, seriously, you need this in your life!) and Ashley mentored me last year over lots and lots of coffee. It was SO fun to find out this spring that their family is expanding, and "Lil' Party" will be joining the crew in just a few weeks! We cannot wait to meet her (& find out her real name). These two will be fantastic parents, & it's going to be a sweet new season of life for them!
Our staff team and the rest of our region headed to Honey Creek Resort at the end of September. I'd never even heard of the location, but it ended up being a highlight of the fall! Honey Creek Resort is right on beautiful Rathbun Lake (you can jet ski, kayak and paddleboard on it), there's a golf course, and a state park--all right there. Inside, there's a wonderful lobby for lounging, conference rooms, a sweet restaurant and bar, and best yet...a waterpark! Although it's built for families with young children, some of my co-workers and I enjoyed it regardless. ;) And outside, you'll run into lots of wildlife (we saw quite a few deer) and could explore for hours on end. Some of the girls, Sarah, Liz, Emily & I all went out to explore at sunset and I snapped a few photos out by the water. I definitely hope to go back soon and would recommend anyone looking for a weekend getaway to check out Honey Creek for your next trip out of town!
Katie and Jackson's wedding day was beautiful, from start to finish. These two had been waiting for well over a year to get married--and excitement was in the air! Katie and the ladies were up early, happily getting ready at the home she grew up in, before heading over to the Celebration Farm!
Jackson and Katie's first look was so sweet--they wrote letters to each other and read them. I loved that! If any of my other couples want to do that...count me in! Also, it was a bit muggy and hazy from the wildfires happening in the country--but the clouds covered up the sun during the ceremony--which was so perfect. It made the heat more bearable for guests, and not squinting possible for the bridal party!
There is more I could share, but I'm going to just share the photos and let you enjoy this beautiful day for yourself!
A few years back, I got a request from my friend Ben...he was getting ready to propose to Joria, his girlfriend, and one of my childhood friends. We set up a plan, headed out to Big Woods Lake one sunny afternoon, and the rest is history.
Now, just a few short years later, Joria's younger sister, Danae is engaged! She mentioned that her wedding will be "woodland" themed and wanted some of their engagement photos to fit that. Without thinking, I suggested Big Woods in Cedar Falls. It wasn't until we were out there that I remembered the connection to Joria's own engagement! I love when life intersects like that. :)
Dan and Danae are so sweet together. They were constantly affirming each other, holding hands, and saying sweet things! I'm excited to be part of their wedding--my first 2018 wedding, not even a week into the new year! It's going to be a fun day, I have a feeling. ;)
It's been a dream of mine to shoot some epic senior photos in Des Moines for a while--and in August, it finally happened! I got an email from my dear friend Brittney's mom that her younger sister, Sydney, is going into her senior year of high school & they wondered if I did senior photos? OF COURSE I SAID YES! Senior pictures just happen to be one of my favorite things to photograph. We set a date and time, decided to meet in Des Moines, and prayed for good weather. As you will see, the weather was absolutely perfect!!! Golden light, a little breeze, and the feeling that summertime youth will never end.
I love just about every photo from Sydney's session! She made it so easy for me. Also, she came super prepared with 5 outfits, nails done, and even got her makeup done! (For real, airbrushed makeup is an AMAZING thing!!) However, I had to pick just a handful of Syd's photos for the blog post. Scroll through them below, and turn on some Johnnyswim while you do!
My fall schedule is filling up fast, but I do have a few week evening spaces in October and early November for family sessions or engagement sessions...2018 brides and seniors, I'm still booking for next year. Shoot me a note if you like what you see!
I am so thankful to have been the one to document Madeline and Steven's first day of marriage! These two are beyond the best together, and I loved how joyful and God honoring the day was! The way Steven looked at Maddy all day, and the sweet way she always rested on him, shows the deep level of love and tender care they have for one another. These two tied the knot at Trinity Bible Church in Cedar Falls, and held their reception at the beautiful Old Fifty-Six Barn in Grundy Center!
Enjoy a few of my favorite moments and photos from their wedding day!
Once the girls were all ready, we headed over to the first look location. Since their reception was at a barn, but too far away to get to before the reception, Steven and Maddy decided to have their first look at the barn where we shot their engagement photos! I love the consistency in that. Plus, it was a gorgeous spot!
Hello there! It's been a hot minute since I blogged--or really have done much of anything photography related, beside show up with a camera in hand at a session or wedding. August was CRAZY for me (two jobs make for a busy schedule!), but September is finally allowing me a little space to breathe again & get into a normal schedule. That means editing and blogging and new photos to share!!
Anna is such a sweetheart. She runs for CFHS, and also enjoys hanging out with her friends when she isn't in class. Her older brother goes to ISU (Go Cyclones!) so while she doesn't quite know where she wants to end up after high school, I'm rooting for Iowa State. ;) Enjoy a few of my favorite photos from Anna's senior photos!
Summertime always flies by too quickly! This year, being in Ames allowed me to enjoy a slightly slower pace of summer (at times) and also take a lot more photos. My sister came to town and we decided to see Wonder Woman (SO GOOD YOU GUYS)—but beforehand, I stopped by a local field to take some photos with her. Ya know, gotta make those summer sister memories! ;) Also, don't you love that Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors shirt?! I'm maybe obsessed with that band (and Ellie Holcomb.)
Miranda & JP are just too cute together! The evening of their session was full of slow wanderings around their rural Iowa town and countryside. We started off in a park, then moved to downtown Atlantic, and finally ended up out on JP's family's land! These two met on Valentine's Day (isn't that just adorable?!) and although sparks didn't fly that first night, over time, they became interested in each other and have been together ever since! Not literally—Miranda has been studying at Iowa State University, while JP has been working on the farm. He's a legit cowboy! That means there's a real good chance these two could be the Pioneer Woman & Marlboro Man of the midwest. ;) I'm excited to explore more of Atlantic with them when they get married in March!
Megan and Kelly met up in Minneapolis in early 2015—in a bar, hit it off, and have been together ever since! I love that! How fun that they could totally star in a television show…they've already got the meet cute! ;) What I really love is what Megan told me in one of her first emails to me. "Kelly proposed to me on December 1, 2016 in New York City in Central Park during a carriage ride at night. Yep, pretty magical!" They will get married this December 1…an exact year from when Kelly proposed! Isn't that gorgeous!?
Since Kelly had to relocated to Des Moines for his job, we decided to shoot their engagement photos there. Megan will be moving down after their winter wedding in Ankeny, and then the distance part of their relationship will be over. I'm betting they are excited about that! Megan and Kelly really balance each other out in personality and interests. They enjoy vastly different music, for example…which I said means they just get to keep learning new things from each other! We started off at Grey's Lake in Des Moines, and then moved up to the Iowa Capitol building (and even found a rooftop to catch those last rays of sunlight!).
That Des Moines skyline will forever have my heart! It's been a dream of mine to shoot engagement or wedding photos here at sunset—so glad these two were accomadting of that!
Danggggggg girl—work it!
Check back in December to see Megan & Kelly's wedding photos! I can't wait:)
One of the joys in being a photographer is that it's a natural way to connect with people…including friends from my high school days! It's wild to believe that my class graduated from Cedar Falls High seven years ago. What's even crazier, is that I haven't seen many of my high school friends since then. So much can happen in seven years, so when Annie emailed me about updating their family photos, I jumped on that!
Annie married Josiah a year after we graduated, and they now have two adorable little boys! Their family is fun and caring—I could tell just how close they are when their oldest told me that his favorite superhero is his daddy. *cue all the heart eyes* It was a treat to shoot some family pictures for the Smith family…you just can't go wrong with cute little dudes in chambray, right?!
I hope your week is off to a good start—mine has been busy (I'm in-between apartments right now) so I'm staying with a friend, jamming out to boy band music and ready for some more coffee with my lunch! This senior photo session was a blast to photograph, and I'm excited to be blogging it today. Kelsie will be a high school senior this fall, and she's just so full of joy and life and giggles. It wasn't hard to be comfortable with her as we wandered the beautiful Iowa State University campus, and a gorgeous field just south of Ames, for her senior picture session. We even got to use some fun balloons (since she'll graduate in 2018)—although I did learn that you have to ask for helium at Hyvee—oops. Made for some extra laughs, though!