Abram James

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I'm an Aunt Tee-Tah Aunt all over again! Welcome to the world, Abram James!!! It's just incredible to finally meet you. We are overjoyed to have you finally have you here with us and so thrilled that you are healthy and thriving. 

10.24.17
10:13am
8lbs 12oz
20 1/4in long

Big sister, Chandler, doesn't quite understand it all yet (that's why she's all smiles)! hahaha!!! 

Bailey H Senior Session

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I could not be more excited to share Bailey's session with you! I loved working with her on her family's property in northern Raleigh. Over the summer I met up with Bailey over a cup of coffee to talk about her vision for her senior session. She shared the things that were most important to her: her family, her horses, marching band, and The Avett Brothers.

Bailey shared, "Oh, and I just love watching Joe on stage with his cello! His hair is SO shiny and beautiful!!! If the opportunity ever came up to braid Joe Kwon's hair, I'd die! Even if it meant putting college off for a year, I'd take that opportunity." I just about spit up my coffee with laughter. She does have a point though, Joe has beautiful hair :) 

Sadly, we couldn't incorporate the Avetts in the session but I was excited to photograph her with her family and a favorite horse. 

"I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget." -- Erin Van Vuren

Best of luck to you, Bailey! You're gonna rock it in your senior year and beyond!!!!

Liz M Boudoir

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We walked down to the river to remove ourselves from the daily monotony of neverending checklists, commuter traffic, and piled-up laundry. Leaving behind the daily grind, we now hear the flowing river, feel the cool water rushing atop our feet, and breathe in the fresh air. She takes in her surroundings. As she stands in front of my lens, she is radiant!

Acadia 2017

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I had gone to Washington on vacation with my sister, then to Texas with Dad to visit family. After being away from home for two weeks, I came back and was beginning to unpack. I must have had the post-travel blues because it was right then that I got a wild hair up my a**.

A long while back my friend, Krista (yes we have the same name), leisurely suggested and invited me to meet up with her in Maine to explore Acadia NP. Now, let me explain that I only met Krista recently. We met back in May at a photography workshop that my pal Mark hosts. I was instantly intrigued to get to know Krista because she is a Nikon shooter, a lover of the outdoors (check out her Instagram feed), and she has a great name! :) We became fast friends.  

So there I was, sitting with massive loads of laundry to fold and I got this crazy idea that maybe I SHOULD meet up with Krista! At the time it seemed like such a far fetched idea. I kept thinking," I mean, why not? I've only known her for 2 months so that equates to something, right?!" I was almost out of full recovery (my arm and belly) at this point, and the idea to head up to Maine kept flooding my mind. Is it weird that I just recently met her and now I'm now thinking of hopping on a flight to go meet up in Acadia with her? I tossed the idea around a bunch as I nervously paced around my house. I decided to see if it'd be realistic so then I checked the flights and shockingly they were open! Without hesitation, I messaged Krista of the plans. I had and a little less than 12 hours notice to fly to ATL (for the weekend) then headed up to BGR! 

Krista came and picked my slightly tipsy self (first-class ride--booyah!) from the airport at 1 am. With an hour to drive back to the park, we were excited to explore a park as photographers and friends. The next morning we stocked up on food, looked at multiple maps, and made a game plan. It was an absolute blast! We hiked, kayaked, saw the milky way and lots of shooting stars, ate wayyyyy to much ice cream, and laughed till our sides hurt. 

Thanks Krista for being my photog/teacher and nature-loving friend! I had the best time with you! Where shall we venture to next?!

Seattle 2017

Our last sister trip was in Glacier NP. We did major hikes that led us to iceberg pools, one big hail storm, and all kinds of wildlife sightings. We were active as we camped and hiked around 43 miles. You can view our last trip here via the time-lapse video I created.  

Needless to say, this years sister trip looked very different! Kylie was over 6 months pregnant and I just had my fat grafting surgery. Despite being pregnant, Kylie was getting around great! Me on the other hand, well I couldn't lift anything over 5lbs and my belly was still extremely bruised and sore (oh and I couldn't wear pants that had a button - pitiful I know haha!). So how could we "sister-trip" with a big baby belly and a bruised belly/super sore arm?! Why we'd eat, of course! We decided to tour some city with our bellies (and appetites) leading the way. 

The day I was cleared by my doctors, and from the belly band, I flew down to ATL to meet up with Kylie. From ATL we decided to take the flight that had the most seat availability to any of the following cities: Portland ME, San Diego CA, or Seattle WA. We were open for whatever! It comes as no surprise now...but it was Seattle for the win! 

Our combo, pregnant/bandaged arm, was quite comical for travel! Having my very pregnant sister lifting my luggage (because it was over 5lbs) for me at the airport and around town made me feel helpless and well, like an a**!  There were also the times where I had to hold my stomach to speed walk across an intersection before the lights changed because the bounciness was just too much belly discomfort. Hilarious stuff! I'm sure people were casting their odd looks but it felt really good to get out and move while healing. 

Despite the strange looks, we laughed a lot and ate ah-mazing foods (see our list below)! We even took a day trip to a favorite place of mine, Mount Rainier NP, to get a little nature time in too. The "hikes" were more like strolls through nature but BOOM, look at that beautiful pregnant lady on top of the mountain -- slay girl!!!! 

Kylie was most patient with me as we had a mini-pilgrimage to some coffee places I've been hankering to try. We even got to attend a coffee tasting at the La Marzocco cafe with Madcap and met cool people along the way! Reliving all the photos again sure has me drooling over all the amazing flavors! I wonder what the next sister (or sibling) trip will look like...who knows?!

Aidan + Chris

THIS couple! Chris and Aidan met on Twitter! (I know, right?! How is that even possible???) From the moment I met them, I knew I wanted to work for them. I even pressed them with, "Hey have you hired a wedding photographer yet? Oh no?! Oh, here's my business card!", and I kept my fingers crossed that they would contact me. 

Needless to say, I was thrilled to be alongside Aidan and Chris for their special day(s). They decided on a family only courthouse wedding with a HUGE party with everyone to celebrate. Their love for each other is absolutely beautiful to watch, and from the zillion toasts given, it was incredibly evident how they are such good people who are very loved! (Oh and a tear or two might of slipped down my face.) 

At the end of the night when I was saying my goodbyes to the bride and groom (like I typically do with all my clients) Aidan leaned over and said, "Hey! We should be friends." My heart completely melted! I love when you jive so well with you clients or shall I say "client-friends!"

I wish you two all the best!

Nicky A

Nicky was the winner of my free portrait session giveaway. She had patience to sit for me as I tinkered with my new fuji camera. We had a blast together wandering around the neighborhood finding some sweet spots. As the photographer, its my job to build trust first then shape the vulnerability into confidence, and Nicky totally owned it! Thank you Nicky for wanting me to take your portraits; it's people like you who make my job so meaningful and fun!

Grayson Highlands State Park

It was a craving that needed to be fulfilled. I yearned for solitude in nature. Maybe I wanted to feel centered or possibly connected? Hard to explain that gut feeling of wanting time to yourself in wilderness. It's a place where you can take a deep breath and step away from expectations while feeling surrounded by something so powerful yet peaceful. 

To feed this desire, last week I packed up the car with my camping gear (and my new Fuji X-T20) and headed to Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. I was woman alone in nature feeling free. Sounds weird to admit, but those wild ponies are medicine for the soul!!!

Now, thinking maybe I can eeek out another solo trip in August possibly to a National Park? My wheels are turning!!! ;) 

Nikki M | Senior Portrait Session

I'm blown away, really! When I was 18, I felt awkward and was so unaware of myself as I headed off to University. Oh, and my senior portraits were comical for sure!!! They were taken in a studio where I sat on a bench in front of a faux stone wall. I also posed in a fake doorways and even sat on a terrible rope swing with cheap fake flowers. Oh and there were those "senior formal drape photos" too! The photographer put me in awkward leaning positions with one shoulder forward or had me looking over my shoulder. OH how times have changed! 

I really and truly adored working alongside with Nikki. Empowering young women, through photography, is so incredibly rewarding and fun! I thank Nikki for her trust in me to provide her with images that are uniquely her own! Her comfortable, cool, and confident attitude will take her far when she heads to Auburn in the fall. 

Her Time

"She has been feeling it for awhile - that sense of awaking. There is a gentle rage simmering inside her, and it is getting stronger by the day. She will hold it close to her - she will nurture it and let it grow. She won't let anyone take it away from her. It is her rocket fuel and finally, she is going places. She can feel it down to her very core - this is her time. She will not only climb mountains - she will move them too." -- Lang Leav

Best of luck to you, Nikki! WAR EAGLE!!!!

Big Bend National Park

Last week Dad and I made the trek out to Big Bend National Park, and what a trek it was!! A 7 hour drive from the Austin Airport to the park entrance and not to mention almost another hour to our campgrounds up in the Chisos Mountains. Once past hill country, the roads were straight as an arrow with 360 views of west Texas desert as far as you can see! This part of the country is stunning to stay the least, and I'm thankful that Dad and I got to share the experience together. We both learned a few camping tricks from one another and shared lots of laughter. Thanks Dad for a great trip!!! Also, thanks to my awesome aunts (Judy, Karen, and Jan) for having fajitas and refreshing bubbly gin and tonics when we got back to San Marcos! 

1 Year Skin Cancer Free

I'm going for it. You guys, this is me being completely transparent and raw, even if I do feel nervously-gutsy. Yes, I did just contradict myself because that's how it's been; I've been a jumbled mess of emotions over the last year. This post is visually graphic and not my typical blog post of showing my portraiture of beautiful people celebrating the most storied milestones of their lives. This is me, letting my guard down, to bring awareness to skin cancer and how it is a lot more common than you think.  

In January of 2016 I had my sister and a close coworker point out a mole on my arm within a week from one another. Both women remarked how it looked different and that I should schedule a dermatology appointment. It's funny how you think you know your body so well, yet you might not see the slow changes that happen. I scheduled my dermatology appointment and got inspected from head to toe. Things were sliced off my body and sent off to the lab. Not even a week later, I got a call and was diagnosed with a stage I melanoma.

"Skin cancer" in my mind hadn't always sounded as scary say compared to "breast cancer," so when I was first told of my melanoma I was fairly calm about receiving the news. Yes, I knew that melanomas are the most dangerous and deadly of all skin cancers, but I was continually told that, "you're going to be just fine" and "you're extremely lucky because this was caught early!" With all that said, my dermatologist referred me to the UNC cancer center. 

During my consultation with my surgeon he said that lymph nodes did not have to be removed nor would I have to go through chemo or radiation. Great. I've got this! He started to circle on my arm with his pen of what he guesstimated the skin that needed to be removed and then it hit me, this was going to be a large and visible scar. Tears began to fill my eyes and my voice cracked as I began to question the surgeon what exactly was this was going to look like? The doctors wouldn't know the shape or true size of what they needed to take until I was in surgery. It was all unknown. I walked away that day with a cancer support packet, an oval drawn on my arm, and overloaded with the different scenarios that could happen in surgery (skin graft vs skin flap, recovery time, possible nerve damage, and other things that I'm positive didn't stick with me.)

On March 15th, I was scheduled to have surgery at UNC, doctors wanted to be aggressive with clear margins because I was considered young to have a melanoma diagnosis.  I can remember the day of the surgery feeling calm all while quietly bewildered by how many doctors and nurses surrounded me for the surgery prep. All of this for me? I thought you're only removing this smallish oval you drew on my arm, right? The doctors were still unsure of the shape of the scar, "it could be a square or moon shape" and they pulled on my arm skin judging different options. Luckily, a skin graft was looking more unlikely. An ultrasound with a nerve block in the shoulder later, my whole left arm was numb and ready as I headed to the OR. 

Post surgery my arm was bundled up in a large bandage and I was blissfully unaware (a combination of the drugs and bandage)! I can remember pounding a Sunrise bacon egg and cheese biscuit in my mom's car on the way home while the next 24 hours was a blur of naps. My mom came over the next day to help me change the bandages and I remember being horrified sitting on my bathroom floor removing the layers of gauze for the first time. I sobbed uncontrollably into my mother's arms as I looked down at my newly shaped arm. It wasn't at all what I had prepared myself for and it all felt surreal. My skin was tightly pulled and in this odd square shape. Skin from the bottom of my arm was now resting on the top. It look like a patch. (I should have requested it to look like a shark bite...would have been way more cool looking! haha!) 

It's taken time, and admittedly I'm still not always 100% comfortable exposing my arm to people or sharing the story for that matter. I love this quote from Marie Forleo and the book Little Bee by Chris Cleave, "Whatever your scars may be, know that they don't diminish you one bit. They don't make you less. They don't make you broken. They don't make you damaged goods. They make you beautiful. So let's make a pact, right now. Our scars are never ugly. Our scars mean we're alive."  

I was never was the girl who tried to tan, and never EVER stepped foot in a tanning bed. I always wore sunscreen by the waterside and reapplied. Yes, I have blue eyes and reddish hair so I am more susceptible to skin cancers, but let me tell ya, sun damage is sneaky AF. The damage doesn't always have to take place at the beach or pool. It's the long commute you have in the car while the sun beats down your left side. It's the times that you've gone for a long run but aren't wearing SPF because it's overcast or, all the time you spend sitting at your desk with the light pouring in through the windows. It all bakes your skin. 

Today, I received the official clearance from my surgeon that I am one year skin cancer free!!! I try to look at this more of a celebration of my scar and of its healing and of my own healing. A year later, the scar is still on the mend as I am having several rounds of reconstructive laser procedures to help with the coloration and shape of the scar.

The awesome (not to mention delicious) pie was made by Ali of East Durham Pie Company. Also, massive thanks to my buddy Mark Maya for taking some portraits celebrating my scar. Thanks Mark for helping me feel badass and beautiful! 

f*ck cancer shoot: Mark Maya 
celebratory pie: East Durham Pie Company
celebratory beer: Ponysaurus
dress: Liberation Threads

Ellie + Brian Durham, NC

Last Thursday I got to meet up with some really rad local photographers to go on a "photo field trip" around Durham. My pal, Mark Maya, is incredibly gracious to coordinate this meet up. During the field trip we scout locations, watch each other's process, and talk gear. How fun it was to gather with other local creatives and learn from one another! (Now that's community over competition!)

I have to hand it to Ellie and Brian for being totally comfortable with a our paparazzi-like crew snapping away zillions of photos. Thanks you two for being amazing sports! 

Emily + Andrew Chapel Hill Wedding

My 2017 wedding season started out with a BANG! I'm so pumped that I finally get to share with you all Emily and Andrew's sweet wedding story. Emily and Andrew met years ago to collaborate on some tunes together, which eventually lead to the formation of their band Mandolin Orange. If you haven't heard their music please check them out. Back in 2009, when I first moved to the triangle area, my friend Gini took me to see Mandolin Orange perform at Cat's Cradle. I instantly loved their tight harmonies and beautifully crafted melodies; anyone in the audience could see and hear their passion for the music as well as for one another.   

They married at Emily's parents house out in the countryside of Chapel Hill. The house was built with intentions of the best natural light which as a photographer was a dream! As the bride and groom prepped for the day, the house buzzed with folk music of a mandolin, fiddle and guitars. I have to say it was one of the most beautiful and relaxing start of a wedding that I've been a part of. Close friends and family gathered for a sing-a-long of the Beetles "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and to hear their vows. Such joy filled the room for Emily and Andrew as they became husband and wife. 

After the service and family portraits were taken, the three of us meandered way behind the house into an open field. We had to dodge the cow patties and thorny bushes but SO worth it for these beautiful portraits that they will celebrate for years to come. Their reception was held, at a personal favorite restaurant, Lantern. Andrea Reusing's phenomenal paring of Asian flavors with local North Carolina ingredients is a meal to remember! 

Thanks again Emily and Andrew for letting me part of your day! 

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Restaurant/Venue: Lantern

Chandler - 1 Year Old

Ahhh finally writing on the blog again! During our holiday together we took one overcast morning and meandered around my neighborhood, East Durham, and found some sweet little urban-vibe spots! I cannot believe how much she's grown in just one year and I'm definitely looking forward to many more! Red hair don't care, girl! I love being your Aunt Tee-Tah. 

Catie + Blake Wedding

Oh the JOY! This bride and groom booked me almost a year ago, so I can't begin to tell you the excitement and anticipation that built up to their wedding day! Catie and Blake had a beautiful North Carolina winter wedding. There might of been a chill in the air but not at all in their hearts. Their ceremony and reception were held at Market Hall, a downtown Raleigh venue that is a versatile and open space. I loved documenting the small details in the bridal room with the massive windows to let in ALLLLL the dreamy natural light (my favorite).

Katie doesn't quite realize yet, but I'm already scheming of ways to take their photos again, my main mission really is to see their adorable labradoole (Charlie) once more. If you missed it the first time check out the blog post here. 

Catie and Blake, I wish you all the love and happiness in your ventures together!!

Venue: Market Hall
Flowers: Southern Petals
DJ: Anything Music DJs
Hair + Makeup:  Bottega Hair Salon
Donuts: Rise
Catering: Beau Catering