Annette reached out to me a few weeks ago, wondering if I could photograph their family when her daughter and son-in-law would be back in town. We had planned for a Saturday morning, but the forecast was looking terrible for Saturday so we made a quick call to reschedule to a Thursday evening and it ended up being absolutely perfect.
The Fulton family welcomed me onto their farm and it was so beautiful! Perfect summery light filtering through the trees, a beautiful front porch, classic red barn, and a sandy beach and stocked pond that they put in years ago.
It was so much fun to meet this family! Rick and Annette are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year and Taylor & David are celebrating their 5th anniversary so it was especially great to get photos of the couples together, as well as, of course, variations of all other pairings.
Many years ago, I met Becky at a styled shoot I did (she modeled for us) and now, years later, we got to reconnect! She’s married now and has a daughter who is just a few months older than mine. She and her husband are building a house so we started their session there which was so fun and will hopefully be so special once it is done being built to remember this time of waiting and anticipation. (This first shot is through where the fireplace will be!)
I have a lot of couples ask if they can bring their dog(s) along to their engagement session for a few photos. I end up photographing a lot of pups and yet, ironically, I don’t have any pets of my own! When it comes to photographing dogs, while I don’t have any experience as a pet owner, I do have a lot of experience as a photographer and I rely heavily on that to get the best reactions from both the animal(s) and the humans.
Here are 5 tips if you plan on having your dog in your engagement photos:
1. Be realistic. What I mean is that animals are similar to children; they have short attention spans and are usually really excited to be in a new place (grass! trees! water! new smells! adventure!) with new people (me…with an exciting “toy” that I’m looking through that makes clicking noises). Expect that the first few minutes will simply be letting your dog explore a bit and get used to what is happening. Your dog may not look at the camera. Your dog may not want anything to do with your beautiful family photo. And that’s okay! Those happen to be my favorite photos! Play with your pup and let me capture real life for you. The imperfect is what makes it perfect.
Their first date was in December of 2017 and it was also the first time they met in person. He recalls being a little nervous at first, but mostly because he was afraid there would be awkward silence. As it turned out, the date went really well. They talked about their families, what they wanted in a partner, if they wanted kids, and a lot of other topics that, for some, might seem too deep for a first date, but for them, was just the confirmation they needed that they were a perfect match.
That first date led to many more dates and just a few months into their relationship, they were madly in love. Samantha describes realizing that what she felt for Zach was so genuine and deep. “[This wasn’t] the puppy love that everyone has growing up when you are dating someone and you think you are in love, but the love that is true and honest and so real that it almost knocks you off your feet.” Zach says that for him, it happened over time. “I started to know once we went from seeing each other every few days to every day. When, when we would spend a day of two apart, I would start to miss her and I knew I wanted to be with her and spend more time with her. Shortly after, we moved in together and it felt natural, like I was home.”
He proposed a year ago, May 14, 2019. “It was a Tuesday. Sam was working from 2-10 that night so I made plans to meet up with her dad and ask him for his blessing to marry his daughter. After he said yes, I had planned on waiting a day or two before asking her. However, on my way back to Cedar Rapids, I decided to do it that night. I stopped at the store and bought a bunch of candles, champagne, and some other supplies. Once I got home, I set up with candles all over our bedroom. I made a little sign for our dog, Max, to wear that said, ‘Will you marry my dad?'”
“When I got home,” Sam says, “I walked in through the garage and all the lights were on in the living room and kitchen, but I couldn’t see Zach. So I said, ‘Hello?’ and Zach yelled from the bedroom, ‘I’m upstairs!’ The door to our bedroom was closed almost all the way and when I opened the door, there Zach was, down on his knee with a ring box in his hand with hundreds of candles all over the room and our sitting on the bed with the sign around his neck. Zach started talking and I honestly don’t know what he said because I said, ‘Yes!!’ and hugged him before he could actually ask me to marry him! It was everything and more than I could have dreamed of. It was so simple and so perfect and intimate.”
Sam describes Zach as being kind and loving and easy going and Zach says that Sam is outgoing, loving, caring, and confident. They are both looking forward to seeing all of their loved ones and enjoying the food at their wedding, but most of all, “finally being able to be married to Sam” and “getting married to the love of my life.” They are a sweet couple who trusted me with complete confidence even when we had to make some last minute changes to our locations due to the crowds at the lake. I am so, so excited to get to celebrate with them this October as they finally become husband and wife!!!
One year ago, we celebrated their wedding on a beautiful, summery Friday afternoon. As they approached their first anniversary, Kristin reached out to me to see about doing an anniversary shoot and it worked out so perfectly in our schedules that we ended up being able to do it on their actual anniversary. I cannot tell you what an honor it is to be able to not only celebrate a couple’s marriage with them, but then to get to celebrate their first anniversary as well? It was such a joy.
We threw around a few ideas, including going back to Rapid Creek Cidery, where they got married, or having them put on their wedding clothes again, but ultimately, this ended up being perfect: a summery shoot in the Fossil Gorge, giving them an entirely unique gallery of images.
Happy first anniversary, Kristin & Bryce! I am so happy for you guys and the love you have within your own new family unit. It was so much getting to do this all over again with you and I am so honored to be part of so many milestones in your life together.
When Henry was just a baby, I posted about some of our favorite children’s books. Perhaps obviously, at that time, we were solidly in board books, but we have always been a family who reads and our book collection has grown and grown and grown over the years. Currently, my kids are 2 and 5 so, while my 2 year old still enjoys some board books, she’s entering the full-on picture book phase. And my 5 year old, now a self-taught and avid reader, is moving into chapter books, but he still loves a good stack of picture books (doesn’t every kid?). So, while this list cannot possibly be complete, I have compiled it based on both of their shared interests at the present time. In other words, these are books that both kids love to read.
For parents and grandparents trying to grow their own home libraries, here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years of collecting:
Hardcover books are more expensive, but they are worth the extra money! Hardcover books get read more because the spine is clearly visible on the bookshelf. Softcover books tend to get hidden in the shelves and most don’t even have a spine so the only way to find out what they are is to pull them out and look at the cover. We always read the hardcover ones first because the spine is what my kids see and read when they are picking out stories from the shelves. They also hold up better in overall use so factor in longevity, especially if you plan on having or have more than one child.
Always check consignment shops for books. They are so cheap (!!) and are usually still in decent to good condition. I know our favorite authors so it’s easy to scan through quickly and see if there are any books that we’d like.
I keep a list of books we love but we don’t own yet on Amazon where it’s super easy to keep tabs on any sales or price shifts.
Books are a great reward/incentive instead of toys. We have plenty of toys, but if I have to choose between the two, I’ll any day spend money on books over toys.
The best way to find your favorite books is to use your library! Books that we keep repeatedly checking out are books that we usually end up buying. We have checked out thousands of books at our local library and we keep finding new favorites every time!
Lastly, pick and read stories to your kids that include a variety of ethnicities and cultures! The best way to start teaching inclusivity and anti-racism to really young kids is with books that show lead characters in a variety of skin colors, clothing and hair styles, and traditions.