Just a dusting of snow…

Children sledding in the snow

The weather forecasters knew it was a difficult snowstorm to accurately predict, they said it themselves.  A giant snow storm swept from Maine all the way down to Texas, moving briskly from West to East dumping snow, ice, and sleet in every place it touched – while maintaining below freezing temperatures. The conditions in North Carolina were ripe for a good snowfall.  

Snow covered bench and trees

But what had been originally forecasted for only a dusting of snow during the morning hours of Wednesday, turned into 7 inches of fresh powder across 16 hours.  Our area officially closed down for 2 days.  As many people know, it takes only less than an inch of snow in this Southern state to shut everything down.

My fiancé and I decided to venture out in our 4-wheel drive Volvo during the height of the snowfall, to enjoy the snowy sights of Downtown Winston-Salem and to take a couple of snow photos.  

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We ventured to Innovation Quarter, Long Branch Trail bridge, Liberty Street, the Artivity Park, and to the West End and Ardmore neighborhoods and Miller Park.  

Snow in the Artivity park

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The photos we captured were magical!  The many layers of falling snowflakes provided depth to each image, transforming them into wintery pieces of art.  

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Downtown was mostly deserted except for a few cars, city buses, and people walking down the street.

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Snow days are my favorite.  The quiet falling snow creates so much peace.  It is a gentle reminder to slow down and relax during our bustling lives.  A time to enjoy a hot cup of chocolate and watch the snowflakes accumulate outside.  I always appreciate these delicate snow storms that bring calm for just a little while.

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Soon enough the sun does come out again, shining brightly on the reflective snow and the morning rays settle their golden cast on everything it can reach.  The warmth begins to melt the layers of powder and just like that, the peaceful snow day is soon just a memory.

Locations:

ARTivity on the Green Park

The Tap West End

Long Branch Trail

Miller Park

Bailey Power Plant

So the Adventure Continues…

 

Imagine having the most beautiful wedding at your family’s farm surrounded by all of your closest relatives and dear friends while you exchange your vows on the front lawn. Everyone sharing special moments, lots of laughter, and dancing the night away until it was too darn cold on a late November night to continue. Then immediately the next day being whisked away by your adoring husband to Italy on your forever honeymoon. Sounds like a dream, right?

Well…This was quite the wonderful reality for Bride-to-Be, Summer who took only 6 months to plan her entire wedding and details to a ‘T’ all the while preparing for what many would call “The Dream Life” in Italy.  Summer, a former high school math teacher turned military wife and travel blogger met her husband Stephen, a paratrooper for the United States Army, on eHarmony in 2016. Their quickly budding relationship hit its first roadblock soon after they had been dating.  Stephen was scheduled to be deployed to Italy for 3 years to continue his service.  They successfully managed a long-distance relationship with Summer flying over to visit Stephen on his long breaks enjoying each other’s company in the beautiful Italian countryside and traveling to other European countries together.  They were soon engaged and officially married in the middle of 2017. They just couldn’t wait any longer!  Summer left her teaching job readying herself for the military life and big move overseas to be with her husband.  But first an official ceremony and after-party to celebrate was a must.  Since Summer was a little girl, it had been her ultimate dream to be wed to her forever husband on her family farm.  Stephen recognized the importance of this event for her; he along with her family set out to make her dreams come true!

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Summer and Stephen exchanged their vows in front of family and friends on November 25th, 2017 at Dillon Farms in Colfax, North Carolina.

wedding couple holding hands at ceremony

It was an unseasonably warm day for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  While many people were still in food coma from Turkey Day, there was quite the hustle and bustle on the farm. The Bride and Bridesmaids enjoyed mimosas while getting dolled up for the big event.  The Mother of the Bride, Terri was putting the finishing touches on the ceremony site complete with a spray of roses and greenery on the wooden altar handcrafted specifically for the their ceremony.  The Father of the Bride made sure the Reception and Cocktail areas were exactly how Summer had envisioned; cozy, floral, and inviting for all the guests to enjoy after the ceremony.  The Groom and Groomsmen enjoyed snacks and manly cocktails while relaxing in the family’s RV as they watched Star Wars.

The ceremony took place in the front yard of the Dillon home. A semi circle of white chairs faced the altar filled with excited guests witnessing the couple’s vow exchange.

Wedding guests seated at ceremonyStephen ,dressed in his Army Service Uniform stood along side his Best Man and Officiant – Summer’s Uncle, a U.S. Air Force retiree. Summer was escorted by her father from their farmhouse down the long driveway to her final destination, in the hands of Stephen.

A very touching poem was read called These Hands reminding Summer & Stephen the importance of their joining their lives together.

wedding couple holding hands at ceremony

“These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.

These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.

These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.” –Author Unknown

A lot of happy and sad tears were shed as the day progressed. A happy time of celebrating their union but also many goodbyes before their adventure continued 5000 miles across the ocean. After the ceremony, guests took their chairs to the reception tent awaiting the arrival of the bride and groom. Their first dance was to the Feels Like Home song by Chantal followed by the father daughter dance with a surprise twist. Summer and Vic had been secretly planning a choreographed duo to The Time of My Life by Bill Medley and 24K Magic by Bruno Mars. It was quite the hit as they busted a few planned moves on the dance floor as Stephen and guests watched. The party continued on with more dancing, laughter, and hugs.

Father Daughter Wedding Dance

Dancing at wedding receptioncake cutting at wedding

It was a bittersweet farewell as the night came to a close. The happy couple were sent off by excited guests via a fiery sparkler exit ending with a big bear hug from the Bride’s father.  It had been a very successful wedding day.

 

The newlyweds were ready to begin their next adventure together in Italy! We wish them the best as they live out their dreams and forever honeymoon. We look forward to following their journey as they navigate this next part of their adventure!

Congratulations SGT & Mrs. Stephen Bowers!!!

Groom holding wedding dress for bride

Vendors

Venue: Dillon Farm

Dress: Church Street Bridal

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse/ ARMY

Makeup & Hair: Hilarie Abel with The Loft Salon

DJ: DJ Vittles

Catering: Ron Bullock Jr from The SmokeHouse Bandits BBQ Competition Cooking Team

Cake & Cupcakes: Godino’s Bakery

Wedding Coordinator: Susan Orr

Wedding Photographer: Brittany Butterworth Photography

Planning, Design, Hand Lettering: Summer Bowers, Outside This Small Town

Florals: Terri Dillon

Tent, Ceremony, & Reception Rentals: Triad Event Rentals

Bartender: Jaclyn Dienes

Wood Pieces: Dillon Lawn & Tree Service

 

 

 

 

Katie & Euphoria … A Dream Horse

Katie & Euphoria
Euphoria PA (Masquerade PA X Donatella)

Katie donning a beautiful, silhouette dress matching her long black hair, slowly led her crystal white mare toward the location of the photo shoot.  Having photographed Katie before, I knew we were in for a creative, artsy equine photo session!  Let the fun begin; “time to capture their unique personalities together” was my initial thought.  This pair took to the camera almost instantly!  Their newly formed bond shone through immediately.  Euphoria looked to her new owner for a little extra confidence, while Katie kept her new horse calm and focused.

Katie and Euphoria have only been in a partnership for three short months, since Katie stumbled upon this beauty on an impromptu trip to Sandspur Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona while on a business trip to Dallas, Texas.  She decided to extend her trip into a short vacation, where she was first introduced to Euphoria. It was love at first sight, according to Katie.  She rode a couple of other horses, but knew Euphoria was the one for her!  Katie couldn’t look away from her big, expressive eyes, which seemed to draw her gaze and interest even more.

Katie and Euphoria

Euphoria PA (Masquerade PA X Donatella) is a 7 year old Purebred Arabian mare who arrived at Cedarbrook Arabians the beginning of the Summer.  They have enjoyed taking lessons, hacking around, and just learning more about one another.  Euphoria’s personality just keeps getting bigger and brighter the more she opens up to Katie.  Her ears prick forward when you enter her stall, especially when she knows there might be peppermints involved — her favorite treat.

Equine Photo Session with Katie and Euphoria

When asked what Katie’s favorite characteristic is about Euphoria, she had a difficult time choosing just one.  After much thought, she did settle on one important quality; Katie loves how sweet she is.  Euphoria knows no stranger and seems to have an affection for each person she meets.  The mare has not encountered a person she hasn’t liked.

Katie mentioned one time she had a really terrible day, so she decided to go to the barn late that evening and spend some time with her favorite horse.  She sat down in the corner of her stall when Euphoria came right over to her, gently resting her head on Katie’s, and falling asleep. At that point, Katie felt peace and so connected to her.  A really special moment she will never forget.

The duo just competed in Euphoria’s first ever horse show and their first together at the Rocky Mount Charity Open Show in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  They had stellar rides and won a few ribbons; a cherry on top of their awesome performance.  This show was the first of many!  In April 2018, they plan to compete in Raleigh, North Carolina at the JB Hunt Horse Complex at their first A-Rated Arabian horse show. After qualifying there, the pair is hoping to make their way to the Region 12 Arabian Horse Championships in Perry, Georgia.  The ultimate goal is to compete and win at Nationals.

After spending a lot of time together with this duo, I know the future is bright for them as they continue to strengthen their bond. Their loyalty, trust, and friendship are already strong.  Good luck to Katie & Euphoria as they pursue their dreams!

Equine Photo Session with Katie and Euphoria

Missy & Brian | Family & Maternity Session

The Walsh Family

Photo Sessions in Wilmington, North CarolinaIt was a beautiful day for a two-in-one maternity and family session with Missy and Brian Walsh, and their 3-year-old daughter, Kate. Not only were we able to capture pictures of the family of three, we also had a little quiet time to photograph the expecting parents alone.

The Walsh Family Photo Session in Wilmington, North Carolina
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

What started out as a windy session on Wrightsville Beach with a shy little girl, turned into something special when we moved to a much quieter place at the New Hanover Arboretum. In her “Princess Dress”, as Kate referred to it, she began to open up and steal the show with her adorable personality. With a little provoking of “say cheese”, Kate would strike a pose and smile big for the camera showing us all how it is done. It was easy to see how much she adores her parents in the way that she hugged their necks, held their fingers and looked up at them with admiration throughout their photo session.

Missy and Brian met and started dating over 12 years ago. This upcoming November will mark their 9th wedding anniversary! Missy is an accomplished horse trainer in Wilmington, North Carolina.  We actually met showing horses together on the Arabian horse show circuit – a passion near and dear to my heart.  She manages a barn and a riding lesson program at the beautiful Cedarbrook Arabians.

A New Addition

The Walsh’s are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their baby boy Michael, due soon on November 9th. They are most excited about a new addition to their family dynamic and watching their love grow with this bundle of joy. Missy said they’re most looking forward to seeing who the little guy resembles, either her or Brian. Will he have crazy hair like Kate did when she was born? They cannot wait to meet him soon enough and find out the answers to the mysteries they have been wondering about for the last 8 months!

Kate is already planning her big sister duties. She’s promised to hold him a lot, give him his bottles, teach him everything she knows, and love him with all her heart!

Of course, the family is not complete without their fur dog child Jack Russell, Lucy (not pictured). Missy said she’s their protector, loyal companion, travel buddy, horse show mascot, and best friend to Kate. I have a feeling Lucy will also be a “big sister” and protector of baby Michael when he arrives.

The best part about this session was capturing the love and personalities of Missy, Brian, and Kate. It was obvious how much they adore one another through their expressions in each photograph. Michael will be a warm addition to their growing family. He is already loved by so many!

Photo Sessions in Wilmington, North Carolina

Sarah’s Maternity Session

Sarah & Blake | Maternity Session

 

Sarah and Blake’s maternity session was a particularly special shoot. Sarah and I have been childhood friends since we were the age of three and have managed to maintain a healthy, supportive friendship for the last 25 years — especially through all of life’s events, changes, and  many moves. It was an honor to photograph Sarah’s maternity session and capture their excitement.

Sarah and Blake reside in Franklin, Virginia, where Blake operates his own turf farm, and Sarah is busy working as an occupational therapist for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. They have been happily married for 3 years, but have been together for a total of 6! Both Sarah and Blake are enjoying focusing on the arrival of their newborn and embracing the changes that they are going through together.

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It’s A Boy!

Baby Walker Thomas Phillips is due October 8th and the parents-to-be are quite excited. While he will be their first baby, the couple considers Walker’s fur sibling, Brutus, to be just as special and loved. Brutus still isn’t quite sure what to think about all of the new differences in his life, between moving into a new home and the set up of a nursery — which they have decorated in a neutral theme, except for a pop of bright colors dotted throughout.

Sarah says she is most excited about getting to see what her newborn will look like and who he will resemble the most. One of the things she has ultimately enjoyed about her pregnancy is feeling him move and says it is such a surreal feeling, one that she is certain she will miss once he’s here!

The soon-to-be parents have been given advice from their loved ones about their successes and blunders in parenthood, and have been showered with an abundance of love and support from their friends and family. All of these, in turn, have helped them prepare for this next chapter in their lives of parenthood. I am ecstatic to celebrate in life’s newest changes for them and cannot wait to welcome Baby Walker into the world.

Maggie & Chas ⎸A Walk to Remember.

Maggie & Chas' engagement session at River Road Farms in Franklin, Virginia

Maggie and Chas’s engagement session, located at the beautiful River Road Farm in Franklin, Virginia was full of laughter, dancing and chit chat about their upcoming wedding. It was a cool morning in August that we spent roaming the hay fields, pastures, and farm lands looking for the picture perfect spots.

The couple picked an ideal location to showcase their interests. Both Maggie and Chas love to be outdoors — whether that means they’re hiking, walking their dog, or taking trips to places they’ve never been before. On Saturdays during college football season, you can bet that Chas will be rooting for Tennessee while Maggie is pulling for her VT Hokies! They may be sipping on their favorite homemade limon/watermelon mojitos, especially if the two teams decide to play each other again. And on Sundays, you can find them at their favorite breakfast spot, the Roanoker, before going to church.

In fact, it was during one of these beloved activities that “the proposal” happened. As Maggie describes it, “it was a normal morning”, consisting of blueberry waffles and sausage for breakfast. They walked their dog, Coal, like normal, stopping briefly at a bridge over the river that ran between two parks. Maggie had turned her back for a second taking in the view and when she turned around, she discovered Chas down on one knee professing his love for her. Most of what Chas said was a blur, Maggie recalls, but of course she said “Yes!” and they laughed and cried joyfully. This is one walk they’ll remember for years to come.

Maggie will make a gorgeous bride for their summertime wedding in June of next year. I look forward to photographing their special day and know it will be magical, if these pictures are any inkling of what’s to come.

Made it to the One Year mark!

Hooray! It has been One Year!

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365 days since I stepped out from under the corporate world of stability, routine, and complacency. 365 days since I stepped into the life of unknowns, 100% commission, and building a business of my own focused on the craft of photography. While also focusing on the freedoms and rewards that come with owning, operating, and managing my very own, one (wo)man business. I’ve enjoyed making my own decisions, flexible schedule, and deciding how I want to run my business while providing an exceptional service and product to my wonderful, loyal clients. I could easily write down all the goals I have met along the way, and all of my personal accomplishments in the last year, but that’s not how I measure my business’ success. I can only measure it with the many lessons I have learned. The uncomfortable, hard-fought, hours-long lessons that have taught me to be a better photographer, a better entrepreneur, and an even better businesswoman.

I have failed at some things. I have been rejected. I have been so defeated, I’ve wanted to call it quits. I have been in situations where I’ve had no idea how to handle them. It’s been tough being the sole operator. I am the good guy, the bad guy, and everything in between. There’s no asking my boss for permission or to handle issues. There’s no referring to a seasoned coworker for their guidance. There’s just me working with what knowledge I have attained throughout my time in the corporate world, through attaining my bachelor’s degree, and through my certification in health coaching. All in all, I have relied on myself for the answers, making decisions based off of my morals, my gut feelings, and my knowledge base. I’ve learned how to wear many hats, juggle the daily tasks, and continue to be creative and open-minded in my photography.

The biggest reward has been delivering images to my clients from their sessions, events, and weddings days, the special moments I had the honor to capture with my camera. I receive the most enjoyment when I see my clients’ faces when first viewing their images.  Knowing I have documented a specific moment in time that they will never repeat, but can always cherish because of the images is immeasurable. It makes the long hours and difficult times so worth it.

Somehow along the way, I have luckily built a tribe of wonderful people to have on my side when I am faced with difficult moments or need the extra encouragement. These people have offered their unwavering support, professional advice, and empowerment to make the right decisions. They have taught me how to sell my brand, how to photograph in unfavorable circumstances, how to build my online presence, and so much more. They have also celebrated my wins knowing how hard I worked to get that W.  They have also mourned some of my losses, reminding me to get back on my feet to try again.  Without my tribe of people, I wouldn’t be as knowledgable, as confident, as empowered to continue this journey to continue my passion.

Running a business isn’t for the faint of heart and sometimes I have wondered if I am strong enough to do it. I have questioned myself if this is really what I am meant to do, but I have this internal curiosity, much like a cat. A curiosity to see what is around the next corner, what lesson I can learn from the next inquiry, what will come from the next photography opportunity.  I’ve learned I can’t give up because I owe it to myself to keep trying.  Because if I don’t try, then I won’t learn or grow.  If I don’t grow, I will just be mediocre.  If I don’t try to be better than I was the day before, the photo session before, the client before, then I am only guaranteeing myself not to succeed. So success and growth is what I will continue to chase with my curious mind.

I’ve learned to face adversity with open arms, inviting in what I don’t know and tackling what I can. My first year in business has been nothing shy of successful, full of old and new clients, exciting photography opportunities, and new endeavors and paths to entertain.  My business has pushed me, challenged me, and forced me to be uncomfortable and to be better. The growth that has happened in those uncomfortable moments is immeasurable. I welcome Year 2 and gladly look forward to the new lessons I will learn, and the amazing clients I will have the opportunity to work with, giving them images of the special moments in time that they will be able to enjoy and cherish for a lifetime.

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Photo 72 & 73 – The Fan

There is something to be said about a home.

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It is a location where we create a space of peace and comfort; a place that most effectively represents our own selves. It is a collection of chachkas, momentos, hand-me-downs, handcrafted furniture, well-loved pieces, and endless memories.

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People choose to showcase their most prized possessions, whether it be a collection of fine wine or a intricate hand-painted vase picked up on a recent trip. The value of these items is found in their personal definition of a prized possession. It could be a library of classic books, a collage of family snapshots, a restored 1950’s vintage hutch, or an assortment of snow globes from around the world. Their home says everything about what is important to them. People are proud to provide a visual look down memory lane into what they’ve found stylish, what they love, what gives them comfort. Walk into an acquaintance’s home, take a second to look around, what is it they are passionate about? It will be easier to tell than you think.

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Photos 72 and 73 of the #365PhotoChallenge represent the years of time and hard work to make this adorable condo in The Fan Gallery into a comfortable, inviting home.

Photo 71 – Home on the Range

Moo! Meet Emma Cow, the domesticated black angus who was orphaned at birth and adopted by her human family! The big girl is now going on 5 years of age. Time surely flies by and she has certainly grown up to be a “large and in-charge,” sassy gal. She has remained very loyal to her humans and recognizes them especially when they bring special treats and scratching tools. (Cows are extremely itchy.)

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Who would have thought a cow has so much personality and intelligence? Given the right conditions (bottle raised and hand-fed right after birth), proper attention, and love, Emma Cow has turned into quite the pet. Although she only stays on the farm with her fellow cow friends, she enjoys any and all visitors especially at the yearly Harvest Festival in October when she gets the “oohs and ahhs” from 50+ children and adults.

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Emma started out the size of a 25 pound dog with long, stick legs, and in 5 years she has turned into a beefy 1500 pound, massive cow! No need to be afraid of her size, she is as gentle and sweet as they come. (Unless you try to ride her, which is a whole other story!)

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Enjoy Photo 71 of 365 for the 365 Photo Challenge! Follow Emma Cow and her antics on Facebook

Photo 65 & 66 – Baby Ben

There’s something so intriguing about watching a tiny human morph before your eyes into a real person. I’ve had the pleasure to encounter this over the last 9 months with Ben. Every time I see him, he has learned a new “trick” or more formally, a new cognitive behavior. At 9 months, he is full of laughter, curiosity, and 6 teeth.  He is trying to feed himself, play with musical toys, and make sense of the world around him. Watching him learn and grow reminds me that, we as adults, can also learn a lot from children and how they see the world. Even though they may not cognitively understand every aspect of life, they are living in the present and taking in the world that is around them. Enjoying the many different sights, sounds, and feelings, these developing babies have the opportunity to relish in the wonderful parts of life. Enjoy photo 65 and 66 of #365photochallenge