Fourteen Months as a Full Time Wedding Photographer

Fourteen Months as a Full Time Wedding Photographer

Fourteen months ago today, I was traveling towards Pine Bluff, Arkansas with just a few cameras, my husband of two weeks, and giddy hope that maybe, just maybe, this crazy dream was becoming a reality.

Fourteen months ago today, I photographed my first wedding as a full time photographer. As a I-graduated-college-and-quit-my-job-and-now-this-crazy-dream-is-all-ive-got full time photographer. As a I’ve-been-doing-this-for-two-years-but-i-still-don’t-feel-ready-to-be-a full time photographer. It was a terrifying, beautiful, and exciting day, and somehow over a year has slipped by and here I am. Still chasing my dream, and so much closer to it than I ever thought possible in a mere fourteen months.

I thought about rattling off a few statistics on how many weddings I’ve photographed over the past fourteen months to validate just how wonderfully successful this past year has been. But honestly? I consider this past year a success not because of the weddings I’ve photographed, but because of the things I’ve learned and the person those lessons has made me.
I’ve learned to put others before myself and serve them in ways I previously couldn’t have imagined.
I’ve learned a bit more about the depths of the beauty of marriage, and the uniqueness of each time a family is joined together… yet how it’s simultaneously universal and timeless.
I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others, because really, what good does that do?
I’ve learned to create the work I love, even if it means doing what no one else is.
Especially if it means doing what no one else is.
I’ve learned a lot about my habits, and I’ve learned how to become more disciplined and driven.
I’ve learned that the key to success is to continue working when everyone else takes a break.
To stay focused and train hard.
I’ve learned that, in an age of Facebook and email and constant notifications and distraction, those who can still focus and pay attention have a major advantage.
I’ve learned that being a business owner not only builds skill in your craft, but in your character.
And I’ve learned to embrace that, be present, and celebrate the little daily victories that are part of this crazy, beautiful, strange one life I’ve been given.

Looking back, it’s crazy to think that I’ve really been a full time wedding photographer for fourteen months. An eight-hours-a-day-but-really-more-like-twelve full time wedding photographer. I’ve grown in ways I never thought possible, created friendships that mean the world to me, and learned what it means to be so thankful for someone that my heart could explode.

To those of you who have trusted me to serve you over the past fourteen months… Seriously. I’m so thankful for you that my heart might possibly explode with gratitude. It’s because of you that I’m here today, and I’ll never be able to explain how much each and every one of you mean to me. And for those of you who have trusted me to document your wedding in the future? I’m so excited and thankful and happy that you’re in my life that I just can’t even.

The past fourteen months have been fantastic, but the best is yet to come.

An Intimate Backyard Cliff Wedding | Zach & Colleen

An Intimate Backyard Cliff Wedding | Zach & Colleen

Waves gently lapped across the rocks below the window Colleen gazed out of. In just a few short hours, she would stand below that very same window and promise her forever to the only one she wanted to spend it with.

Looking back inside, she smiled at the friends who were there to prepare with her and laughed at their silly shenanigans. The lively group spent all morning together, casually putting on their makeup, doing their hair, and creating joyous memories together.

Soon enough, the time had come. Colleen walked down the stairs, linked arms with her parents, and slowly made her way outside the house, around the pool, and to the edge of the cliff to meet her future husband. Surrounded by only their closet friends and family, Colleen and Zach said their vows and sealed their marriage outside of their family’s home that beautiful May afternoon.

When Cassie (Cassie Jones Photography) asked me to assist her with this wedding and told me a bit about it, I couldn’t have been more excited. Beautiful, intimate, and authentically joyful weddings like this one make my heart come alive, and it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of Zach and Colleen’s cliff wedding.

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Just Being Real for a Second

I’m just going to be real for a second.
Life. has. been. absolutely. crazy.

Over the past year, Lucas and I have lived in an apartment about two blocks from where we went to college. While it served us well throughout our first year of marriage and we created countless beautiful memories there, it was definitely housing aimed towards college students… and about six months in I was struggling with being content where I was, but very much wanting to leave. We had several long talks about our future and whether or not it was worth it to move… the last thing we wanted to do was get all moved and then leave Arkadelphia a few months later. Realistically looking at our goals and expectations, it looked like we were going to be living in Arkadelphia another year or two… and I honestly couldn’t imagine living in a cockroach infested apartment with hardcore parties seeping through our shared walls for another two years. We didn’t want to buy a house because we didn’t want to be stuck in Arkadelphia forever, but it’s very difficult to find houses for rent here. We began looking anyway… and by the grace of God found our house literally the same day.

About three weeks ago, Lucas and I began moving in. It was an exciting time… and then became a very stressful time as we frantically tried to find enough hours in the day to finish moving before we left for a family vacation the following week. We honestly moved the last of everything about three hours before we hoped in the car and left the lower 48 for a week.

Our time in Alaska was beautiful and wonderful and a really, really great time to get away from our routines and work for a few days. I think it was something that both of us needed, and we couldn’t have felt more blessed to have the opportunity to go.

When we returned, we immediately jumped into making our house livable, and to be honest, it’s still a complete and total mess one week later. I’m trying to have a bit of grace with myself, knowing that there are only so many hours in the day, and this is a very unique time in our lives where we can’t be expected to juggle everything perfectly. But even through what’s been one of the craziest seasons of life we’ve had in a while, God has been so incredibly faithful and we couldn’t be more thrilled about where we’re at.
We just got to spend a week in Alaska.
I’m busy pursuing my dream and working a job that I absolutely adore.
Lucas is just weeks away from getting his CFI rating and beginning to teach aviation students at Henderson.
We live in the cutest house, and I couldn’t be more excited to make it ours.
To have a place to invite friends over with our own four walls.
To be able to do laundry whenever I want.
To get a kitten. I’m especially excited about that one. :)

Truly, God is currently blessing us with more physical blessings that we could ever possibly deserve or ask for. Yet even when things are going well (even if just a tiny bit crazy! :), I want to keep my eyes on the greatest blessing He could ever possibly give us – Himself. Our jobs, the house, even our soon-to-be-kittens will one day all be gone… but He will remain. Where my treasure is, there my heart will be also… and I truly desire my heart to be fixed on The Only One worthy of being treasured.

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A Sweet Romantic Northwest Arkansas Engagement | Ryan & Bethany

A Sweet Romantic Northwest Arkansas Engagement | Ryan & Bethany

She looked over and smiled at him as he drove his truck up the mountain that cool, clear night. It was the day after Valentine’s Day, and Bethany and Ryan made a stop on Mount Sequoyah before heading home from their date that night. After Ryan backed into their spot, they climbed up into the truck bed to enjoy the evening. As they sat talking, Ryan plugged in a few strings of twinkle lights lining the truck bed and smiled. They talked for a long time that evening, and just as they were about to leave, Ryan asked the question that Bethany had waited four years to hear.

On Monday, Lucas and I met up with Bethany and Ryan to explore on of their favorite trails near Lake Fayetteville together. As we walked along the trail, we talked about their Bethany’s nursing studies, Ryan’s future at law school, and their hopes and dreams for the future. We had a wonderful time getting to know the two of them, and couldn’t be more excited to share this season of life with them! Bethany and Ryan, thank you for trusting us to document your love, and we hope these photographs remind you of that love for a lifetime.

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

sweet natural engagement session in northwest arkansas

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A Lookout Point Elopement in Hot Springs | Renae & Chris

A Lookout Point Elopement in Hot Springs | Renae & Chris

After a day of preparing, anticipation, and thinking about five o’clock, it was finally here. The time Renae would marry Chris. She took a deep breath as she walked outside and began to descend the staircase toward the labyrinth at Lookout Point in Hot Springs, Arkansas. At the bottom of the stairs, she followed the path around several curves and crossed a small bridge to meet Chris. Together, arm in arm, they made their way to the center of the labyrinth. Just the two of them and the officiant.

Together, under the clear blue sky, they said their vows, exchanged rings, and bound their lives together in a sweet, simple, and beautiful way. When the ceremony was over, they walked back up the path together hand in hand… this time as husband and wife.

Honestly, I couldn’t have been more honored to document Chris and Renae’s elopement. It’s an incredibly special thing to not only be one of two people to witness the first moments of a marriage, but to preserve what it looked like and how it felt forever. Renae and Chris, thank you for allowing me to do document these memories for you. I hope you cherish them for a lifetime.

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