Allie - A Portrait Session

This particular session was a lot of fun! I took my cousin, Allie, down to the Southern Railway in Knoxville as well as to a pretty spot on Melton Hill Lake. Both locations were perfect for what she wanted, and though we had blue skies, we had the occasional cloud that gave wonderful, even lighting. I feel like I discuss my great love for natural lighting quite a bit, so I won't go into more detail on that. 

Here are some of my favorite shots from down on the dock and in the field:

Needless to say, Allie is gorgeous. It would probably be difficult to take a bad picture of her! Now, I know I see lots of portraits done near lakes and rivers, so I think it is important to mention the significance of the lake to my cousin. She has grown up living on this particular lake, spending lots of time out on the dock and riding in the boat. Our fathers (who are brothers) love all water sports and it only makes sense that their infatuation with the lake has been passed on to their children. Although Allie was excited to take photos down at the old train station, including Melton Hill Lake seemed like a no-brainer.

Without further ado, here are some of the shots we took at our second location - the train station!

Having never shot at Southern Railway before, I did my research before going. I wanted to know what I was getting into and whether or not the location would be versatile enough for our needs. We weren't disappointed! There were lots of railcars, unique textures, and a good mixture of colors that all made for great backgrounds. Due to our time constraint, we couldn't shoot even half of what was there. In light of that, I look forward to going back sometime soon for another session. If you have any interest in having your pictures done at a railway station, let me know!

And, as always, to find more photos and keep up with my day-to-day projects, find me on Facebook (Thousand Word Photography) or on Instagram (@thousandwordphotography). I look forward to hearing from you!




Boys Will Be Boys...

My most recent shoot was yet another double session, only this one wasn't for a senior and his family, but for a newborn and his family. I have taken pictures for the Smiths before, and have actually known them for quite some time. They have been my teachers, fellow theater performers, and good friends. They run their own business called Smith Studios where they teach voice, piano, and acting lessons. (I highly recommend them if you are in the Johnson City area.) If you hadn't guessed, yes, they're pretty talented. The Smiths also have four little boys - the newest arrived just at the end of March. 

Can you say adorable? And look at all that hair! I'm pretty sure I didn't have that much hair until I was two at the very least. 

After taking photos of the newborn, we tackled the family session. With four boys, three of which were running around and not really in the mood for sitting still with a baby, we had our work cut out for us. 

It is at this point that I should make one thing perfectly clear: Kids running around during a photo session is NORMAL. And guess what, I love it! I can understand that parents feel frustrated that their children won't all smile at the same time, but I also want you guys to know that there's no reason to be embarrassed or get upset. Boys will be boys. Kids will be kids. That is a BEAUTIFUL thing. It is true that, occasionally, you can get a photo where everyone looks at the camera, has big smiles on their faces (but not too big), and that matches what parents have in their heads. However, I encourage those who are getting ready for a family session to expect even the sweetest of children to get a case of the goofs. Don't worry that it bothers me, because it doesn't. I genuinely love it. 

Besides, as the years go by, you know the crazy photos are the ones that will bring you the most joy. I mean, don't you think this one will still get a laugh when this little boy has a little boy of his own? 

Yeah, I think so too. It'll turn into a classic for sure. Both sessions were loads of fun, especially because I could see the growth of the other three boys since the last time I took their pictures. That's always a fun part of being a family photographer. Altogether, I was pretty pleased with how the images have turned out. 

So, the next time you worry about bugging a photographer with rowdy kids, don't! For me at least, it is a joy to play around and get cute candids of children being exactly that - children.  

A Double Session

About a week ago, I had the pleasure of doing what I suppose I'll call a double session for some friends. I first took senior photos, and then family photos. I say this was a double session since the two were connected (the senior belonged to the family I took pictures for). The trees are blooming now, but there was not a whole lot of green just a week and a half ago, so it took a while to determine where we would have the shoot. We ended up near downtown Knoxville along the river. The weather was perfect for photos - warm and overcast. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it is when the sky cooperates to give such soft light. It makes my job much easier. 

Of course, the family I took pictures of made the job easy too! They are a lot of fun and I was happy I had the opportunity to take their son's senior photos as well as their spring family shots. We had a relaxed evening of walking along the river and everyone was very cooperative, which made for a happy little photographer! 

Over the years, I've noticed that guys often feel awkward during senior sessions (or, really, during any photo shoot). My theory is that guys simply don't have their photos made as much as girls do. They aren't used to it, so they don't know what is expected or what they're supposed to do. Having grown up with three brothers, who were often the unwilling subjects in my early photo shoots, I understand how difficult it can be to get nice pictures where the guy doesn't look like he's being held at gunpoint and told to smile.

That being said, all that is required (the majority of the time) is an explanation of the goals for the session as well as which poses might be best. Armed with that information, they can decide what they like and don't like. In the end, they look more natural and confident in the photos. 

This specific senior knew he wanted his guitars incorporated, so we just went from there. As you can see, the results were really nice:

On top of getting lots of great images, I was also able to enjoy listening to him play. He's quite talented! It is always a treat to bring along something that a senior really treasures so it can be a part of the shoot. 

To wrap things up, both sessions went smoothly and I hope I'll get to work with this fun-loving family again soon. 

The Bowers

This past week my family had the opportunity to catch up with some friends - a family we only get to see every few years. The Bowers stayed with us for two days before heading to their next destination, and that gave us plenty of time to talk and play games. The last time they were in town, their oldest daughter was only a baby. In between some other jobs, I snuck in a little photo session with them as a gift. Since it was on such short notice, we decided to take the pictures in my own backyard. Even though I had to work hard to keep distractions out of the photos (random camping chairs, the grill, my dog, etc.), I was pleased with the images we got. The girls (ages 3 and 1) were cooperative and fun to work with, so we actually got a family picture with them both looking at the camera and smiling within the first few shots. It was great! I couldn't help but post the picture I took of the eldest girl. Her eyes look amazing. She is so precious. (And before you ask, no, her eyes aren't edited to look bigger or brighter!)

Maybe when they come through again, I'll take some more family pictures!

Axie's Accomplishments

While I always love getting to know new people, it is also a great joy to capture my friends' milestones. Axie and I first met when I was in college, and we became fast friends (after she got used to how loud I am). Even though I moved away, we've still kept in touch through lengthy phone calls and messages. Her kind-heartedness and encouragement have cheered me up on many difficult days. It only seemed right that I would take her senior photos when she finished school.

Axie had a few different ideas about locations for her session, but we ended up heading over to Doe River Gorge. It is a place that will always be special to me since I was baptized in the river there many years ago. Of course, Doe River Gorge is also a wonderful background for pictures! We played around, shooting pictures and talking until the sun was too far down to take any more without using a flash. By that point, we were a little cold anyway, so we called it a day.  

The session was a great experience and it was a pleasure to celebrate my friend's accomplishment this way. With her love for learning and teaching, I know she will go far! 

Justin + Sarah - An Engagement Session

Back when it first started getting chilly outside (chilly for East Tennessee, anyway), I had the wonderful opportunity to take engagement pictures for Justin and Sarah. Before the session, I spent some time getting to know them and their story. After all, knowing a couple and how they interact is crucial to having a successful session. 

It didn't take many questions before they were both laughing and reminiscing about their love story thus far. Although they grew up not far from each other and had many mutual friends, they didn't meet until college. Once their paths finally did cross, it seems that they both went head over heels pretty quickly.

The rest is history, including the photo shoot! I've included some of my favorite images, but it was incredibly difficult to choose which ones I would post. Justin and Sarah were easy to work with and happy to try goofy things, which is something that always makes a job fun. 

When You Give A Girl Some Glitter...

At the tail-end of this last summer I took pictures for a little girl's fifth birthday. It was a blast to  put together a session that was fitting for her personality. For the first bit, we set up some lights inside her playroom and had a tea party with some of her dolls and stuffed animals and allowed her some cookies and milk (looking back, I might should have kept the sugar-eating for last). Then, we moved outdoors to take advantage of the afternoon sunlight in the backyard. We hung up some of her princess costumes and she danced around as I took some candid pictures.

Finally, I gave her a teacup full of glitter. She chose the colors from my collection and then threw the glitter into the air. It was such a hit that she kept asking me to fill the cup with glitter again! Needless to say, her head and shoulders were sparkling by the time we were finished. Below is just a small sample of the pictures we got with the glitter: 

Presenting: The Burtons

In contrast to the wedding I shot earlier this summer, where I didn't know the bride and groom before they contacted me to be their photographer, for the Burton wedding, I knew almost everyone involved! The bride, Lisa, I have actually known since sophomore year of high school. My, how time flies! Part of what made this wedding so enjoyable to shoot was the fact that everyone (even those I had just met) was kind and encouraging. The bridal party was willing to be goofy, which was tons of fun to capture, as you can see in the picture below: 

Another reason I was enthusiastic about this wedding was the venue. Zak and Lisa chose to have their ceremony and reception at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN. Although I do not have the building itself in these pictures, you can see it (and the interior) if you look through the gallery for this wedding. Not only are there huge windows (which is a great thing when you're a photographer), but there are some nice green areas that are perfect for group pictures. In fact, they had the ceremony itself outdoors. This time, there was no rain to chase us inside! 

Altogether, it was a huge blessing to me to be a part of this wedding. I pray that God blesses Zak and Lisa Burton with grace, patience, and lots of laughter in the years to come! 

Thomas Wedding

This summer I had the opportunity to shoot another wedding! This wedding holds the distinction of being the first I have been hired to do by someone I had no prior connection to. It was neat to get to know the couple in our first meeting and, finally, capture the joy they felt on their wedding day. 

Although some rain drove the wedding ceremony indoors, we were still able to go out and get some great pictures afterward.  (This was especially fortunate as the venue was in a beautiful green golf course on a lake.) The wedding was intimate, which made it particularly special to the bride and groom. I learned a lot about how to keep the shot list flexible and still catch all of the moments that were important to the couple. Since the wedding was so small, it was also the first one I shot without any assistant. To be honest, I was a little concerned about that, but I had no need to be. We had figured out all of the details ahead of time that gave me plenty of wiggle room, even without the help of a second shooter.

Now, all I have left to do is to wish the new Mr. and Mrs. Thomas many happy years together!


Brizendine Wedding

This beautiful January wedding was blessed with some of the best weather we could have asked for. The skies were blue, it wasn't too cold, and everything ran smoothly. Both the bride and groom's families were a joy to work with, which is probably an understatement.

I got a huge kick out of the bride's family's "initiation" of the groom during the reception. Without his knowledge, they had planned (and even scripted) the whole thing. It was very similar to the initiation of Nemo into the dentist's fish tank in the movie Finding Nemo. They had, of course, informed me this would be taking place, so that I was able to get hilarious pictures of the surprised groom. 

From my experience with this couple, it was clear that they know how to make one another laugh, even in tough times. I pray God will bless them with joy and laughter through the coming years. 

Dawn Graduates

This high school senior session was especially fun as I have taken Dawn's portraits since she was in 8th grade. We decided to take pictures in downtown Bristol and were worried we might get rained on or freeze to death. It was a blessing that the sky was only overcast (which is actually wonderful for getting beautiful skin tones!) and that it only got a little chilly toward the end of the session. As a result, the pictures came out really well. 

It has been so amazing to watch Dawn grow up during the last five years. She is a talented actress, singer, and poet. I look forward to seeing what God does through her in college and beyond. 

Shell Wedding

This wedding may have been one of the most challenging ones I have shot to date, but not for the normal reasons a wedding can be difficult (low light, ugly venue, etc.). In this case, the lighting was perfect, the wedding took place outdoors in a pretty field, and everyone was fun to work with. What caused me trouble was that I was the first shooter AND the maid of honor. It's not that easy to play both of those roles at the same time, so I have to give a big thank-you to those who helped me pull it off. 

With that being said, it was a rewarding experience to shoot and participate in the wedding of one of my best friends since middle school - one who has continually encouraged me in all of my creative pursuits. I pray that God will bless their marriage and use them to strengthen one another as the years go by. 

Laurio Wedding

While all weddings are beautiful and romantic events, this particular wedding was very unique. From the Lord of the Rings-inspired wedding bands to the Disney references and zombies on the wedding cake, everything subtly communicated this bride and groom's interests and personalities. They didn't feel as if it was necessary to choose only one thing to incorporate into their wedding. They fit as many "nerdy" references in as they could, and yet their ceremony and reception were very classy and elegant. It was a blast to capture their big day! More pictures from their wedding can be viewed in my gallery. 

Sara's Senior Pictures

It is hard to believe that my little cousin (who is now noticeably taller than I am) is graduating from high school! She's smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous - all of which make for amazing photos. We drove all over Knoxville to take various pictures at various locations she liked and had a blast. Here are just a few of the photos I took of her: 

Sara will be going to the University of Tennessee in the fall and plans to study business. I look forward to seeing all of the challenges she overcomes while in college. I know she will excel at anything she puts her mind to!

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Blushing Bride

The lovely bride featured in this post is none other than my cousin, Lisa. We took these pictures in her parents' living room. Aren't those windows amazing? It was a lot of fun to take her bridal photos since we weren't originally sure I would be able to since she lives 13 hours away (by car). I'm so glad it worked out for me to be there!  

Winstead Family

These photos contain one of my very favorite families - the Winsteads. They are gracious, caring, and a lot of fun. This session was spur-of-the-moment after our church's Easter service. Everyone was color coordinated, so it made sense to take advantage of the opportunity and get some family pictures. 

Jordan's Senior Pictures

I've known this particular senior for at least two years now, but I had a lot of fun getting to know him a little better during his photo session. He even played a little bit of guitar while I took pictures. He plans to attend college in the fall and study both psychology and sociology. Good luck, Jordan!

Goodnight Bram

For a while now I have wanted to take more pictures of newborns and, quite recently, I got the chance to do just that! This cute little boy was only a few days old when we took his pictures, which made him a very drowsy and adorable subject. In case you didn't know, it is best to take newborn pictures within the first week of a baby's life. Once they get a little older, they're still extremely cute, but not as easy to manipulate without making them fussy. 

Bram was originally due at the beginning of a three-week camping trip my family had planned and I was hoping he would arrive early so I could take pictures of him before I left. That didn't happen. Every few days I would hear that the baby still hadn't come. To his mother's dismay, I may have been praying that he wouldn't come until we got back. Thankfully, she has forgiven me for it! Bram arrived just a few days before our trip ended, so I was able to get great newborn pictures after all. 

Sweet Sixteen

I recently had the pleasure to capture some fun pictures of a young lady named Bethany. This session was designed especially to celebrate her sixteenth birthday and I must say that we had a blast! She is a very talented person and it was a joy to celebrate with her by taking pictures. Here is a little glimpse of her shoot: 

Great Expectations

When visiting with family over the holidays, my cousin, Katie, asked if I would mind taking maternity pictures for her. Normally, we live too far apart for me to come over and take pictures, so we made the most of the opportunity to snap some cute pictures while I was in town. Being around extended family for Christmas always makes for fun shots that we all enjoy looking through. Here is just a tiny sample of the ones I took for Katie: