Baby J

Baby J

The longer I do photography, the more I adore sessions like these - capturing real moments. Getting to hear a big sister whisper, "welcome to our family, baby". Watching family take in every feature - each smile, dimple, patch of hair - for the first time. Seeing grandma's "ooo" and "aaah" over their newest grandbaby. Watching the way a beautiful mama gazes into her new baby's eyes, seemingly promising him all the love in the world. These are the moments that demand to be held still. 

I've known this family for years - D and I went to high school together and I had the honor of doing him and E's engagement session, wedding and multiple family sessions! This week, they welcomed their third babe into the world, and I was lucky enough to be able to scoot over to the hospital to take some images of some of some of his first hours on earth. His family is absolutely smitten with him - he'll be one incredibly loved little man.

Welcome to the world, baby J.

mamalove
meetingbrother
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S & J {engagement}

S & J {engagement}

I absolutely love it when a couple decides to choose a location that is significant to them, or include props in a session that shows a part of who they are, both as individuals and as a team. 

I have known Sarah for awhile - she was in one of my favorite weddings years ago, and I casually follow her on social media. When she booked me for her upcoming wedding, I was beyond thrilled. And every time she would post a picture of her horses, I would think, "Oh man - I hope she wants to use these beautiful beasts in her engagement session!"  

Wishes do come true. :) 

love and horses
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Working with two massive animals does make a session slightly more challenging. And brought with it several fantastic laughs and epic photo bombs. 

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Sarah bathed her large white horse, Dragon, before the session. He was wildly unimpressed by this and decided to roll as soon as his human turned her back. #whitehorseproblems

A few more bloopers below. Scroll on through for a few more smiles.  

All in all, it was a perfect session, horse rolls and licks included. Enjoy scrolling through this gallery with dozens more images from this gorgeous couple's engagement session. Cannot wait for their wedding this July!

T & A {engagment}

I'm obsessed with this couple. They were beyond amazing to work with. Gorgeous. Fun. Super flexible. And clearly so very much in love.

boiling springs love

We met up at the always beautiful Boiling Springs Lake and spent an hour or so getting to know each other better, talking, and taking some stunning images of this amazing couple. 

My favorite piece of their story? They met in KINDERGARTEN!! PEOPLE!!!  That's insane. One of them passed a love note to the other, in the most articulate and romantic way a 6 year old can, and they became boyfriend and girlfriend. Life took them very different directions and after individual success in different areas, heartbreak and loss, love brought them back together. True story. 

Enjoy some images from their engagement session. T & A, cannot wait to share your day with you at MoonStone Manor in October! 

A Dreamy Day in the Poconos

A Dreamy Day in the Poconos

This day was dreamy.  An amazingly gorgeous couple, a small, intimate ceremony, and stunning venues - I'm not sure it could have been any more perfect. 

skytop wedding

Travis and Jaime's story began several years ago - a boy from Mexico and a girl from Chicago - they found their forever love through a glitch in modern day technology.

They dated briefly in the fall of 2014, but the stars hadn't quite aligned yet - and after awhile they lost touch.  Fast forward with me to September of 2016 - a random bug in Apple's iCloud resulted in an accidental text exchange from Jaimie to Travis! I know, right? What are the chances? Travis responded, and although 2 years had passed since they had been in touch, both of them realized that the other person had never been too far out of their minds or hearts. The rest follows as a true love story.  

Travis likes to workout, camp, and play sports. He also volunteers his weekend time to help at the United Cerebral Palsy Association and help those in need. Jaime is in software sales, and enjoys cooking, hiking, hunting, and has played collegiate sports.   Inseparable as a family, they enjoy nature and hiking and spending time with Jaime's two children.

Their wedding day involved so many of the things they love - nature, hiking, and family. Their quiet private ceremony was held at the French Manor Inn

I knew from the very moment I saw Jaime that day that this was going to be a day filled with love and laughter. There was no big pomp and circumstance - just a delightfully simple morning prepping to see her husband to be. 

The began their day together with a First Look - a trend in weddings that I adore.

One of my favorite aspects of the day was watching the connection between Travis and these two gorgeous children - the love between them was undeniable and breath-taking. He gave them gifts before the ceremony - and those moments before officially becoming a family of 4 could not have been any sweeter. 

Overcast skies and random down pours required a change in ceremony location - but ended up working out perfectly. Jaime's mom performed the ceremony (I mean, how awesome is that?) and parents and close friends watched as Travis and Jaime promised themselves to each other forever. 

A lunch was held afterwards at Skytop Lodge, which served as the perfect backdrop for time with family and photos after lunch. 

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Jaime and Travis - may the rest of your lives be as magical as your wedding day! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it!

“I LOVE YOU WITHOUT KNOWING HOW, OR WHEN, OR FROM WHERE. I LOVE YOU SIMPLY, WITHOUT PROBLEMS OR PRIDE: I LOVE YOU IN THIS WAY BECAUSE I DO NOT KNOW ANY OTHER WAY OF LOVING BUT THIS, IN WHICH THERE IS NO I OR YOU, SO INTIMATE THAT YOUR HAND UPON MY CHEST IS MY HAND, SO INTIMATE THAT WHEN I FALL ASLEEP YOUR EYES CLOSE."
~PABLO NERUDA

Adoption Day!

Adoption Day!

"WHAT TURNED OUT TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST DECISIONS WE WOULD EVER MAKE WAS NOTHING WE EVER PLANNED FOR."

This was the first thing Laura said to me when I asked her to share the story of their journey towards adoption. 

Several weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to photograph the court hearing for an adoption. My job takes me to some pretty interesting places and events, but this may have been one of the sweetest days on the job in a long time. 

Their adoption journey was not something they had planned. 4 years ago, they were planning their wedding and dreaming of starting a biological family. But when they began learning the statics surrounding children in foster care, they couldn't help but take action.

"WE DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE MASSIVE NUMBERS OF KIDS IN NEED OF A FAMILY. THERE ARE NEARLY 500,000 CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE IN THE UNITE STATES ALONE. THOSE 500,000 CHILDREN WOULD FILL TWO ENTIRE FOOTBALL STADIUMS! THE STATISTICS LEFT US WONDERING IF WERE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE A PART OF THIS WHOLE FOSTER CARE THING. WE HAD WATCHED FRIENDS AND FAMILY GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS. WE KNEW IT WAS MESSY. AFTER SEEING MY SISTER AND HER HUSBAND GO THROUGH A REALLY TOUGH DAY IN THEIR PROCESS TO ADOPT THROUGH THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM, I TOLD TIM, 'THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN DO THAT!' HE RESPONDED BY TELLING ME THAT IF THIS IS WHAT GOD HAD FOR US, WE COULD DO IT.'"

As Tim and Laura continued talking about beginning to foster, Tim began to feel very strongly about taking in a child with an autism diagnosis. Tim and Laura had both worked at a school for children with severe autism. They were trained and well equipped for the task at hand, but the idea of bringing a child into their home who was diagnosed autistic was slightly daunting. They continued to process what this would mean for them, and pray about what steps to take next.

Laura's sister was in the process of adopting two children, and while their social worker observed their extended family all together, she instantly knew that Tim and Laura would be the perfect parents for Donnie, a beautiful blonde haired, blue - eyed boy with a pretty significant autism diagnosis. She approached them with this and after taking about a week to think through what this would mean for them, they told her they were interested in moving forward. She emailed them a picture of Donnie, and they instantly fell in love with his amazing, infectious smile. 

They quickly began to acquire the necessary training required for being an approved foster parents in the state of Massachusetts. Their home study was completed in March, four long months after completing their training. The process was tedious and required an incredible amount of patience. 

"I WOULD LOVE TO TELL YOU WE LEARNED OUR LESSON IN PATIENCE, BUT I'M STILL JUST AS IMPATIENT AS I WAS BEFORE WE STARTED THIS PROCESS. WORKING WITH CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES REQUIRES A TYPE OF PATIENCE I'M NOT SURE I WILL EVER POSSESS."

On April 2, 2016, which ironically (or amazingly?) happens to be Autism Awareness Day, Tim and Laura met Donnie.

"I WORKED AN OVERNIGHT SHIFT THE NIGHT BEFORE, BUT THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS GOING TO FALL ASLEEP AS WE DROVE THE HOUR INTO BOSTON TO MEET DONNIE! HE MOSTLY PLAYED ON HIS IPAD AS WE HUNG OUT IN THE LIVING ROOM WITH THEM. HIS FOSTER MOM, WHO IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING AND POURED HER LIFE INTO HIM FOR MANY YEARS, TOLD US HE DEFINITELY LIKED US BECAUSE OF THE WAY HE ALLOWED US TO SIT BESIDE HIM WHILE WE PLAYED ON HIS IPAD ON THOSE FIRST FEW VISITS."

Building a relationship with a child who has a severe trauma history, lands on the far end of the autism spectrum and often struggled with aggressive and self-injurious behaviors was not an easy process and came with some unique challenges. Tim and Laura went into their first few times with Donnie with eyes-wide-open, recognizing that trust would be difficult to earn.

"THERE WAS NO REASON WE SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED HIM TO TRUST US OR WANT TO KNOW US. SO MANY PEOPLE HAD BEEN UNTRUSTWORTHY IN HIS 9 YEARS OF LIFE, AND WE WERE ABOUT TO REMOVE HIM FROM THE PLACE HE HAD MADE A HOME OVER THE LAST 3 AND A HALF YEARS. WE SPENT TWO MONTHS VISITING WITH DONNIE BEFORE HE MOVED INTO OUR HOME, AND AFTER MANY HOURS OF WII, IPAD AND LEGOS, WE BEGAN TO BUILD A RELATIONSHIP."

Donnie officially moved in with Tim and Laura on May 28th. He had poor verbal-skills, weighed 57 lbs, wore size 8 slim pants, and was used to a diet of McDonalds, pizza and Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies. Vegetables were a non-existent part of his meals. However, with help from their previous training working with autistic children, a little help from Vitamix, some super sneaky vegetable hiding, a huge dose of patience, and an even larger dose of unconditional love, Donnie began making incredible changes. 

"TODAY, HE SPEAKS IN FULL SENTENCES MORE THAN EVER, WEIGHS 74 POUNDS, WEARS SIZE 10 REGULAR PANTS, AND EATS A FULL BOWL OF BROCCOLI WITH HIS DINNER EVERY NIGHT - TO EARN IPAD TIME OF COURSE! HE CONTINUES TO MAKE AMAZING STRIDES THAT MANY WORKERS CONSIDERED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM, AND WE COULD NOT BE MORE PROUD OF HIS COURAGE TO TRY NEW THINGS."

On March 3rd, after 9 months of having Donnie in their home, the adoption was made official.

After 2,028 days in the foster care system, family and friends crammed into a small courthouse outside of Boston and watched Donnie legally become a member of the family. Donnie officially had a forever home.

A couple observations about this amazing day:

I've had the chance to watch Tim and Laura love on Donnie a couple of different times now - and let me tell you - they are amazing with him. They have learned his trigger points and how to avoid them, they have learned how to redirect him when he begins to become overwhelmed, they have learned what makes him laugh, they have learned how to effectively deal with his tantrums and self-injurious behaviors. No one else could be as perfect for Donnie as they are. 

It was truly amazing to see what an incredible support system Tim, Laura and Donnie have. They say it takes a village - and Tim, Laura and Donnie have an astonishing one. It is amazing to watch Donnie interact with these people who have become his new family. He is one unbelievably loved little man. 

"HE IS OUR SON, AND WE ARE HIS PARENTS. THIS IS NOTHING WE EVER PLANNED FOR, BUT IT WAS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE GREATEST DECISIONS OF OUR LIVES."

"ANYONE WHO EVER WONDERED HOW MUCH THEY COULD LOVE A CHILD WHO DID NOT SPRING FROM THEIR OWN LOINS, KNOW THIS: IT IS THE SAME. THE FEELING OF LOVE IS SO PROFOUND, IT'S INCREDIBLE AND SURPRISING.“
~ NIA VARDALOS ~

Lessons From Abroad

Lessons From Abroad

If I could toss all caution to the wind, and spend the rest of my life in a constant state of wanderlust, I would. In a heartbeat.  I love to travel - for work or pleasure. Living abroad and international travel have taught me so many valuable lessons about everyday life and the way I view the world. 

Traveling has given me an enhanced cultural awareness and a sensitivity to various cultures and customs. It has schooled me in the art of sensitivity - being able to recognize where people have come from or what they may be currently experiencing. 

Traveling has enhanced my ability to recognize body language and non-verbal communication skills.

It has taught me the importance of adaptability and flexibility; the importance of organization; the importance of resourcefulness.

Adventuring has taught me the necessity of stress management and has compelled me to learn the value of a healthy sense of humor.

The bottom line is this: traveling has the ability to leave us speechless - but it also has the incredible power to turn us into story-tellers. My international experiences have taught me an extraordinary amount in regards to my role as a photographer and story-teller, equipping me to be more confident in my ability to hold life still in timeless images.

Every time I pick up my camera, whether it's to take images at your wedding, at a lifestyle session with you and your family, or just for fun, my goal is always to preserve moments and experiences in an attempt to describe the world the way I see it.

Enjoy browsing through the travel galleries below!

I SEE SOMETHING SPECIAL AND SHOW IT TO THE CAMERA. THE MOMENT IS HELD UNTIL SOMEONE SEES IT. THEN IT IS THEIRS.
~ SAM ABELL ~


INDIA


PHILIPPINES


FRANCE


TRINIDAD & TOBAGO


THAILAND


THE UNITED STATES

Let Me Introduce Myself...

Let Me Introduce Myself...

I absolutely love what I do. But I am not your run-of-the-mill photographer. And so, it'd seem strange taking up this section by telling you all about my photographic endeavors...

About how I stumbled onto photography quite by accident - involving a dear friend, a camera phone and a blog…  But, upon picking up my first camera, it was love at first click...

Or all about my philosophy of photography - how it's changed me and stretched me...

About how I've learned to see photography as more than just an art form - but as the art of observation - finding something beautiful in an ordinary place...  

India - laundry

About how I've come to find that photography has very little do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them… That beauty is all around us - in the unexpected and unforeseen - we just have to be willing to look for it. 

India Door

Or more importantly, how people are the reason that I do what I do - because usually, each family that I meet, each couple that I photograph, become friends. Friends whose unique personalities I have the honor of capturing- each smile, each tear, the quiet, private moments, the space filled with laughter...

But - I figured that might bore the ever-living daylights out of you…

So, let me tell you about ME…

I currently live in the Central PA area with my husband, Ryan, and my Great Dane pup, Moses. He's pretty much the most adorable thing ever. I'll let you decide if I'm talking about my husband or the dog. 

I love cake. A lot. It may be my greatest weakness.

Music moves me.  Sometimes to tears. Sometimes to really embarrassing dance moves.

My faith is incredibly important to me. It is my anchor. 

I grew up in South East Asia - it changed the way I view the world and gave me an insatiable desire to travel and explore our incredible planet. I come alive when I am able to capture and document other cultures and the beauty that lies in each and every country I have a privilege of stepping foot in. Traveling has softened my heart to the needs caused by poverty, preventable diseases, human trafficking and all the men, women and children affected by these things. I know, without a doubt, that living abroad growing up and adventuring the past few years has directly impacted  and changed my photographic style and voice, allowing me to be fully comfortable in any place and any situation. 

I have a degree in Counseling. Not in Photography. And I'm constantly amazed at how well those two things work together.

I love adventure. I love trying new and exciting things. It revives my soul. One of my favorite adventures involved jumping out of an airplane. 

When I'm not chasing beautiful light for photo sessions, or making ridiculous noises in an attempt to get children to smile at the camera, I can generally be found hanging between two trees, journaling, coloring or reading a good book. I've been known to turn my hammock into my office as well - somehow, hanging and enjoying nature makes editing way more fun. 

I thrive in high stress situations - which is one of the many reasons I adore wedding photography.

I photograph weddings very differently now that I've been a bride myself.  It made me realize, more than ever, that we have a great responsibility to take care of our memories - whether that be weddings, capturing your family the way it is now, or catching memories of life as it is happening.

I absolutely hate to have my picture taken. Ironic, eh? But seriously - I am probably every photographer's worst nightmare when it comes to taking photos. My husband and I will pose for the occasional selfie - but we pretty much draw the line at that.  Don't be like us! :) 

And as for photography - well, I love it. I come alive behind the lens of a camera. Sometimes, I even gasp taking images of beautiful people. (But really, brace yourselves. I'll be doing a lot of this during your session). I am never more comfortable than when my camera is in both hands, faithfully clicking away, capturing moments.

I picked up my first "professional camera" 10 years ago and have never looked back. My grandpa always told me, "Love what you do, and you'll never work a day in your life…"  I am blessed beyond words to be able to do what I love - capturing people's memories - altering their lives by holding it still.

I'd be honored to capture yours. 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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