Mason City Engagement Photos: Lindsey & Matt

Matt and Lindsey met last summer out in Colorado at Eagle Lake Camps. Lindsey wasn't interested in a relationship right away, but Matt was definitely smitten with her! It took some pursuit and prayer before they decided to move forward…but when Matt finally asked Lindsey to be his girlfriend in August on the top of her favorite hike at Glen Eyrie, she said yes with a kiss. ;) And, just 7 months later, Matt asked Lindsey a different question in that same spot…to which she said yes again!

This summer, Matt and Lindsey are again working for Eagle Lake, and so we made time to meet up in Mason City to photograph their engagement session. The evening was perfect, and they seemed to have fun! ;) After seeing how their images turned out, I'm even more excited to photograph these two as they marry in beautiful Silverthorne, Colorado this October! 

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Outfit change….I loved Lindsey's long dress, and simple but gorgeous jewelry!

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Edge Corps: The Final Summit

I love these people—it is amazing to me, how a group of 60-100 souls can go from strangers to family in a short matter of time. Most of these (now) friends were strangers to me until just over two years ago in mid-2015…actually, I didn't meet many of them until November of 2015, or even May of 2016! We've only spent about 20-25 days together. That hasn't stopped deep friendships from forming (and some of those friendships have even turned to marriages). And one cute baby so far! ;)

Edge Corps class of 2015…thanks for being the best out there. It's been an honor and joy to serve on campus ministry staff with y'all, and I look froward to seeing some of you in November, Lord willing, and others of you around the country (or the world!!) throughout the rest of our lives!


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Ames Senior Photos \\ Lydia: Class of 2018

Lydia is one of my senior representative models for the class of 2018 in Ames, Iowa! That means that if you want a discount on your senior photos in Ames, or you go to Ames High School, this gal is your new best friend. 

It was a blast photographing with Lydia! She has lots of spunk, and lots of ideas. We started out getting some photos of her in her cowgirl hat on this old bridge…I love when we get to find hidden gems on senior photo sessions!

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Next up: flower crown time! Lydia has a friend who makes flower crowns for special occasion, like prom (and senior photos)! It was gorgeous—I seriously wanted to steal it for myself. ;)

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Lydia plays on the Ames high school tennis team, so we swung by the courts to grab a few photos of her in tennis gear. She's only been playing competitively for a few years, & she definitely must be the cutest gal out there…and the one having the most fun!

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2nd to last, we stopped at the Furman Aquatic Center in Ames. Lydia works there, and the management was gracious enough to let us come snag some photos of her in her weekly stomping grounds. She does a variety of jobs here, so we tried to capture the essence of a few of them!

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We finally ended the evening with a few more photos in a new dress…and more flower crown photos, of course! Lydia completely rocked her entire session, and I'm confident she'll do the same with senior year and into college.

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Which photo did you like best? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!


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4th of July in Ames, Iowa

This has been my first summer in Ames, and although it has been busy and mainly packed with work, there have definitely been some great moments! A highlight will definitely be going to the Reiman Gardens for the 4th of July celebration. They throw it the night of the 3rd, probably so that adults who attend can sleep in the morning of the 4th. ;) 

The gardens were crowded with hundreds of people, but there was still plenty of space on the lawns to set up blankets or lawn chairs. We brought in dessert and wine, and sipped while we wandered through the flowers and fun art exhibits. A band played music by the butterfly wing, and children ran around waving balloon swords and animals. It felt festive, but not overwhelming…the perfect mix!

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The morning of July 4th, the city of Ames hosts a free pancake breakfast. City counsel members, firemen, and local police were around to chat with locals. The pancakes were tasty—but Chris Cakes always does a great job! After the breakfast, the parade hits the downtown and was lots of fun to watch, as well!

I loved getting to walk around, see a few friends, and observe local citizens all decked out in patriotic colors. This was a fun way to practice my street photography as well! Ames, you've done a great job…I can't wait for the 4th of July in 2018! 

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Cedar Falls Senior Photography Session

Clare met me for coffee in April, and I just knew from the beginning that she was the kind of gal I wanted on my Senior Model team! [If you live in Cedar Falls or Waterloo & want a deal on your senior photos, mention to me that you know Clare!] This girl has a heart bigger than Texas, sees the Lord in the details of life, and cares about each and every person she encounters. Not only is her character amazing, but she is talented. She writes for the Tiger HiLine, the CFHS newspaper, and has been in theatre productions at Cedar Falls High School…where she will be a senior this fall! It was so much fun to photograph her senior photos…and I can't wait to see what adventures her senior year (and beyond) hold for her!

We started off wandering the downtown Cedar Falls area, found some beautiful flowers (one of her only requests!) and then finally made our way outside of town to chase the sunset. You just can't go wrong shooting in a field in June at sunset in Iowa! (Oh…and we ended with some 4-Queens Ice Cream!!) I hope that these photos capture just how joyful and sweet Clare is—of course, they don't compare to being with this gal, but maybe you can just pretend. ;)

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Mid-week encouragement for you

Let's get real today, ok?

I started my ‘business’ with a Canon Rebel, the kit lens, and a cheap 50mm lens. That’s it. I had a few basic pieces of equipment and a lot of dreams…and nothing else. I read the manual, I looked up FAQs and tutorials online, and I practiced. And practiced. 

Practice, and patience, and humility, are the keys to success. You've got to persevere, and there are days you won't want to. That's ok! But then you have to wake up the next morning, and decide, "Do I really want this?" If you do…then you keep going. Praying, sweating, and sometimes bleeding.

Progress is never easy. But, it definitly is worth it if you really want the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Each person's gold is different! Yours might be making a difference in the world of sex trafficking overseas, or helping unwed mothers learn to parent well. Maybe your gold is giving back to your community through a thriving fitness center, or creating a space full of good food and coffee! Whatever your dream, keep pushing towards it, friends! Progress will happen.

I created this graphic from a quote I loved (and posted it on Instagram yesterday). Today, I felt the desire to share it here with you all today! Feel free to pin the below image on pinterest, or share it on social media—someone else might need a little encouragement, too! And just so you can see that progress does happen…below are some embarrassing images form my "just starting out in photography" days. And a few more recent ones. ;)

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I have a lot of feels about engagement sessions!!! Firstly, they're so much fun! What better than a date night that you get to dress up for and have adventures together?! But that's another blog post…this is about the quality of your engagement pics. ;) 

Below: the very first engagement pictures I took. Notice that their faces are pretty dark (you can't see the guy's right eye!), her swimsuit tan lines are visible, & it's definitely not a flattering pose. (Today, I'd have at least shot at a side angle…us ladies always like to look our thinnest/best!)

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Below: a photo from a recent engagement photo session in Clear Lake. This is a genuine moment—you can feel the joy on Anna's face! (Not to mention the natural lines in the background draw you in towards the couple, and the lighting and editing are much, much better!) 

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Below: on the left is a photo from my early days of portrait/engagement photos. The emotion is genuine (win!) but their face are actually not in focus (a big no-no in photography) and their faces are just a little dark for my taste. Also, Adam looks a liiiiiitle like he is choking Kassie. Oops!!!

On the right is an image from engagemet pictures the other night. The lighting and editing (it is usually a mix of both) is so much better, the pose is more natural, and they look like they are IN LOVE! Such a win for the good guys there. ;)  

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The next two images are from weddings. The top image is the wedding I photographed…I had basically no experience, and this was the shot I got of them leaving the church. Notice the hand and small child's head in the forefront of the photo…cringe!

The lower image was photographed at a wedding last fall in Des Moines. Similar lighting and exit…but I have such a better handle on how to use my camera, settings and editing—plus, where to stand to get the image so you can really see the bride and groom's faces!

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Finally, senior photos! Wow…I've come a long way!

On the left, one of my first portrait sessions with Naomi. We found a random bike that I thought would be "cool" to include. It could have been, and the composition is neat, but the photo doesn't really catch my attention. Her pose is also a little awkward…oops!

On the right, one of my senior spokesmodels from Cedar Falls! This was a candid moment, the wind caught her hair, and Clare was laughing about it. The lighting was soft on her face, the background is out of focus so that you look at her, and she is the lightest part of the image..another thing that draws your eye. (Don't you notice now how much your eye focuses on the white stairs in Naomi's photo!?)

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That's all for today! I hope that this has been encouraging for all of you out there desiring to see progress in your work!
It may take time, but it will come if you keep working and learning!

Love always,
Amelia Renee



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My Summer Soundtrack

I remember when Spotify first came out. I was really just starting to listen to music—honestly, I mainly used CDs and the radio then!—and couldn't figure it out for the longest time. (I really liked Pandora in those days, because it introduced me to new music, and I don't think Spotify discover was around yet.) One of my favorite photographers posted about listening to Foster the People on Spotify via social media (I think???) and so I gave it a shot. It took a while, but I finally made the transition to Spotify about two years ago and have hardly touched any other music listening service!

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My senior year, I figured out that I could pay $5/month for Spotify Premium (student version)...and loved it. I tried going back to the free version, but man, it's hard! $10/month is really reasonable for unlimited music, being able to listen ad free, and even being able to download playlists! This last year, I've really dug into using Spotify Discover. My favorite thing is that each Monday, the personalized Discover playlist reloads! I've discovered a ton of music artists that I love. 

Summer always seems to bring new music on the radio, concerts in the warm evening air, and tunes that will remind you of "that summer when…" for years to come. If you love finding new car jams and tunes to sing to as much as I do, this is the post for you. Below, you can find some of my current favorite summer songs!

I Was Born— Hanson

Touching Heaven—Johnnyswim
This song (and band) came on my radar this spring, and I just adore them! They played at Wooley's in Des Moines, but I wasn't able to go. Someday, I hope, I'll get to see them live!

Bus Stop— Andreas Moe
I found this song via Spotify radio and it's one of those great tunes that you just immediately love! Andreas' sound is a lot like Ed Sheerin, just less known. ;)

Something Just Like This Coldplay & The Chainsmokers
You've most definitely heard this song on the radio, but it's catchy and fun. A classic band, and a new one. How does it get better?!

The Cure— Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is not always my go to artist, but this song is pretty good. Check it out!

Cumbia— GAWVI
I just want to dance to this song while the sun sets in South America. Or something. (Latin music is just in right now! Desperado anyone?!)

Yours if You Want It—Rascal Flatts
I listened to pretty much just classical, Christian, and country music in high school. Now, I listen to a much wider variety of tunes…but especially in the summer, I return to country! Rascal Flatts will always have a place in my heart, and I'm super excited that this song feels just like everything summer should, and sounds like classic Rascal Flatts. <3

I'll probably end up with a playlist at the end of the summer featuring these songs, and more that I come across over the rest of June and July. What songs have you discovered lately? I'd love if you share your current tunes in the comments so I can listen to them as well!

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Andrea + Gabe

One look at you; my whole life falls in line.
I prayed for you; before I called you mine.
I can’t believe it’s true...
I get to love you.
— Ruelle // I Get to Love You

Andrea and Gabe's wedding day has been a highlight of my summer! Although we hadn't met in person until their wedding rehearsal, the soon-to-be bride & groom made me feel welcome and at ease right away. Saturday dawned, and any chance of rain almost disappeared. It was a warm and sunny day…just perfect for June, and especially for taking wedding photos outside! I'm so thankful these two trusted me to travel to St. Paul, Minnesota to be capture their wedding day. 

Andrea and Gabe married in the chapel at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, their alma mater (where they met!). It was a sweet and simple day, full of kind people and lots of laughter. A highlight of the ceremony was definitely when Gabe played a song he wrote for Andrea…I don't know if there was a dry eye in the room! The reception was nearby at the New Brighton Community Center, for a late lunch, dancing, and Andrea surprising Gabe with brand new, matching ukelales! These two know how to love each other well! 
Shout out to Sue of Jubilee Flower Studio for doing an amazing job with the flowers! 

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Iowa Senior Photographer: Sneak Peeks!

I am so excited to be photographing so many wonderful seniors this summer and fall! If you are looking for senior pictures in Cedar Falls or Ames (or really…anywhere in Iowa!) I would love to chat with you. I believe in senior photos be personal and fun and an experience where you walk away feeling loved and beautiful. (Or handsome, if you're a guy.)

Senior photos capture such a special time in life—the end of your youth, and the beginning of new things! Like college, and all those AP tests. ;) Let's celebrate your senior year…and life!…together!

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Summer Giveaway Winner!


Summer Giveaway Winner!

Wow! I was blown away by the number of you all who entered the giveaway! It was so fun to hear your favorite summer drinks…I may be adding a few new drinks to try this summer. :)

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For this little contest (although can I really call it that?!), I entered each name into a spreadsheet by entry time. Them, I used a random generator to output a number, and each number corresponded with the winner. Without further ado, this winner of the Mini-Session is….

Alycia Smith!

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Congrats to you, girl! I'm excited for us to find a time this summer or fall to hang out & make some fun photos and just have a blast together! Shoot me an email, and we will start planning your session. :)

And the two winners for coffee giftcards are...

Heather Loftus and Merci Day! Woo-hoo! Just email me via my contact page, and tell me your address and coffee shop of choice if you're in the CF/Ames area…or your pick of coffee chain if not. :)

Thank you to everyone who entered—it was so fun for me to get to do this!

And, be on the lookout for some FUN senior sessions on the blog in the next few weeks! I'm so excited to have an awesome team of Senior Model gals to represent me to their schools this year! These ladies are just a blast, and you'll all want to be best friends with them, too. ;)


Love always,
Amelia Renee



Ames Engagement Photography: Joelle + Kyle

Hey pretty lady won’t you come my way
We got nothing going on today
I got two arms and you belong in the middle
I’ll be the big spoon if you’ll be the little
— Grover Anderson, "Little Spoon"

Joelle and Kyle bring out the best in each other. Kyle is the tall and steady to Joelle's shorter & spicier self. (I'm short too…so I think I can say that! ;) I've known Kyle since we spent a summer in Florida with 150 other college students from the midwest, and I met Joelle when I transferred to Iowa State. It was so much fun to hang out with them in May on the perfect summery evening and photograph their engagement photos in Ames! I can't wait for their wedding this September. Joelle told me they want it to be fun, yet relaxing and homey. If anyone can pull that off, these two can!

I love growing and experimenting as an artist…so I asked Kyle & Joelle to humor me. I love the rich look of these next few photos!

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Finally, we headed downtown Ames to finish up their engagement photos in a more urban setting!

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That's right, you all—I'm so excited that it is summer (and that everyone seems to be in love & either getting engaged or married!)…so I'm hosting a sweet little summer giveaway! One of the fun things about being a wedding photographer in Iowa means enjoying warm weather with couples in love. I want to treat my blog readers, and anyone new here, to the chance to win some fun things!

This is for any of you! Are you engaged? (Or almost?!) Or, are you still single and mingling, and ready for some summer fun? Either way, you're able to enter!



-One winner will receive a free Mini-Session! (Cedar Falls/Ames/Des Moines area)
-Two winners will receieve giftcards to the coffee shop of their choice (some limitations may apply).

Ready to enter?! Here's how it works!

  1. "Like" Amelia Renee Photography on Facebook, tag one friend in my Facebook post, and then comment on this blog post with your favorite drink in the summertime. (Mine is usually an Arnold Palmer!) 
  2. Extra entry: click "share" on my post from Facebook (make sure it's set to public, so I can confirm that you've shared it), and comment here that you did that below.  
  3. Extra entry: Instagram the Giveaway graphic (tagging me @ameliarenee!) and then comment below for each entry—with a link to your post!
  4. I'll enter each entry (I'll check & use each eligible comment on this post) in to a spreadsheet, and randomly draw the name of the winner next week!


The contest begins now, and you have until Monday, June 12, at midnight CDT to enter! The mini-session can be used towards a family, anniversary, senior, or engagement session (…really, anything you can dream up)!

Good luck, and I'll share the winners next week! :)

You thought I was done?! THERE IS MORE EXCITING NEWS!
Brides—I am SO excited for the 2018 wedding season, that I'm offering $100 off for any new 2018 wedding bookings this month! 

If you know a bride-to-be, share this with her! If she books me (make sure that she tells me she heard about the June special from you!), you'll get a special little Thank You gift! 


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That's it for today, friends!! Can't wait to see who wins next week!

*15 unique persons must enter for contest to be valid* 


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Scenic Route Bakery + Asian Fusion= love

Des Moines Engagement Photography:
Naomi + James 

Naomi and James met in college at Northwestern in Orange City. Together, they make a kind and quirky pair! After graduation, these two packed up their dorm rooms and met me in Des Moines for their engagement session. We started out at Scenic Route Bakery, wandered around downtown, took a few photos in front of the Iowa State Capital, and even teased the rainclouds a bit with an umbrella! Naomi and James were so much fun—I don't think we stopped laughing and talking their entire session…so much so, that I drank two tumblers of water at dinner! (Check out Tacopocalypse for the best Asian-Mexican fusion I've ever had.)

Naomi and James will be moving to Omaha after they get married—and have dreams of loving on low-income families, youth in the community, and probably every person they run into. ;) I have no doubt they will do just that!
They get married in Omaha in September and I. Can't. Wait!!!

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Garden of the Gods Photography


This crew of humans are just a few of the fantastic folks I've had the pure pleasure to meet during my time working with campus ministry. We headed to the Garden of the Gods to take some photos…and shoot. They all could have modeled for careers instead!

Here's some "fashion inspired photos" (and some goofy ones) from our time out in Colorado Springs. Yeah? Yeah.



Des Moines Engagement Photographer \\ Elizabeth & Chris

It's always fun to find out someone you know is engaged. It's even more fun when you find out…and had no idea they'd been dating someone! Haha! That's exactly what happened here. I've known Elizabeth and her family since childhood. Her younger brother is getting married in August, and I'm photographing his wedding (so excited!). One evening, I was at Wal-Mart, on a late night grocery run, and out of the blue got a text from Elizabeth asking if I was free this fall for her wedding. I was shocked, but thrilled! Fun to find out she'd been seeing Chris, and they'd gotten engaged early this winter. Now they're getting closer to their September wedding, and I can't wait to photograph it in Des Moines!

Since Chris lives in Omaha, we coordinated their engagement photography session for a weekend that he was already visiting Elizabeth in Des Moines. Her one request was that we do their engagement photos at the Des Moines Farmer's Market! I was pumped—it'd been on my bucket list to go, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. We figured out the May 6 was the opening morning…and so we put it on the calendar and prayed against rain. ;) Sure enough, it was bright and sunny! 

We started out their session at the gorgeous Iowa State Capital building…and then moved downtown to the Farmer's Market. There are loads of fresh flowers and bouquets, so Elizabeth convinced Chris to buy her some. Plus, they work great for photos and brightening up an apartment, right?! ;) So…totally worth it!

These two are planning to show off their favorite photos at the reception (I can't wait to see how they use them for decor!) so I'm blogging just a few favorites. Hope you enjoy them!



Colorado Fashion Shoot

Ok…this wasn't actually a fashion shoot. But it could have been! These friends are all super stylish and secretly models (I'm pretty sure of that!). These are just a few of my favorite frames from our time doing "fashion photography" at Garden of the Gods. ;) More (with some rad color shots!) coming soon!


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Clear Lake Engagement Photography | Anna & Jordan

Jordan and Anna met in college at North Dakota State University (Go Bison!). Jordan remembers seeing Anna at the first meeting for a ministry group, but they didn't actually begin to get to know each other until they both joined leadership the next year. They've been dating for a few years now, and last fall, Jordan proposed to Anna over Thanksgiving break—it was just them, sweet, simple and perfect, if you know either of them! 

Anna and I became friends through our jobs in college ministry. She's been the best person to be honest with…or weird with! Anna brings out my quirky side (I recently "meow-ed" at her for no apparent reason…even to myself!). It's just so easy to be comfortable with her! Since she's such a dear friend to me, it was a joy to have her ask me to be her wedding photographer. Anna and Jordan live up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, so we compromised and met halfway in Clear Lake, Iowa for their engagement photography session! It was pretty chilly, but that just gave them more reason to snuggle close. ;) (We even got a few photos outside the classic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake!) Enjoy their engagement photos! And look forward to this fall...I can't wait to photograph their beautiful garden wedding this September in Minneapolis!

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Friday Fun!

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Photography by Rachel Nerison

Happy Friday, friends!

I did an introduction & some fun facts about me over on my Instagram the other day, then realized I hadn't done that here in a while! If you don't have Instagram, I'm reposting those facts (and adding a few more)! If you do have Insta but don't follow me—let's be friends there! :) 

In case you didn't know, I am a wedding and senior portrait photographer serving Des Moines, Ames, Cedar Falls and anywhere in Iowa (or the world)!

1. I'm 5'1" on a good day. I just bought my first sandal wedges (pictured left) and I think they are going to change my life! I may wear them to every session this summer...

2. Ranunculus are my favorite flowers, but I've never actually seen or had any in real life. Mainly, I just pine over them on Pinterest and Instagram posts. (I've realized that I might have photographed some in bouquets without knowing it, though!)

3. Adoption & foster care are two of the biggest things on my heart. I dream of welcoming in many children to my someday home! 4 to 7 kids (total…biological and adopted) is my dream.

4. I lived overseas as a kid (Japan and Germany!) and am itching to get back. Anyone need a travel buddy?! Other places I dream of traveling: Hawaii, South Africa, Thailand, China, and Canada!

5. I love coffee but sometimes, it just doesn't love me. Most days, I'll just settle and order decaf. Or, I'll grab tea. Rose tea from Stomping Grounds in Ames was my absolute favorite tea, but they discontinued it. Green tea with lemon or camomile are close seconds.

6. Favorite colors are over-rated. (That's how I say I'm indecisive and can't pick just one.) Can I just say glitter is my favorite color?!

7. I rarely get comments on my blog…but comments make. my. day. Leave me a comment below and share a fun fact about YOU! 

I'm heading to Colorado for 10 days after a 7am engagement session tomorrow…so I may be quiet here for a week or so. However, I'll be shooting an engagement photography session at the Des Moines Farmer's Market (the opening day, no less!) so get excited to see those photos soon!!! 

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Rachel & Geoff | Des Moines Anniversary Photos

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Des Moines is such a gorgeous city, and springtime might just be the peak of that beauty. If you've ever been to WaterWorks Park in Des Moines, you'll agree with me! The cherry blossoms on the trees make it seem as if you're living out a fairytale. (Or, maybe walking through a perfume factory?!) I love shooting weddings and engagements in Des Moines, which will be definitley happening this summer. However, this was an anniversary session!


My time with these two was short and sweet—but full of fun and sass! If you're married and don't have kids yet (or do!), an anniversary session is the perfect way to have a memorable date night. Get dressed up, and kiss a lot…what else could be better?! ;) Plus, you'll cherish photos that document your love as it grows and deepens. If you're looking for something fun to celebrate around your anniversary (or any other time), consider this for your next date night!

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Rachel wanted a few new headshots, so we snuck those in on the end—opting for the bright pink trees! I love how they turned out. :) Here are two of my favorites!

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Waterloo Family Photos \\ G Family

I've been able to do 2 sessions of this family (last spring's here!) and it has been just a blast to watch Emma grow up! This was my favorite session. Not only was the light and weather perfect, but Emma is talking and old enough to really have fun with. ;) She let me pick her up at the end of the session and actually didn't want to let go! Hahaha kids really are the best thing.

I am so glad that Katie suggested doing photos out by the bluebells! The Katoski Greenbelt Trail is known for its carpet of tiny blue and purple flowers in Cedar Falls and Waterloo. People come from all over to take strolls, picnic, or take family and even wedding photos among the bluebells! We definitely caught them at just the right time, too!

If you're interested in a family photo session of your own, I would love to connect with you! Just shoot me an email via my "contact" page up top.

Des Moines family photography, Ames family photography, Cedar Falls family photography