From Minneapolis to Chicago & just about every region in between, we have captured couples this past year. One common thread that ties them all together is their mutual love for each other and thrill of a great adventure. Many of them have a great passion for the outdoors and enjoy taking in every moment of it together whether it be fishing, hunting, jogging, hiking, or camping. While some live in the big city, they often have roots here in the Northwoods or Central Wisconsin and it is their down-to-earth personalities that make them all so easy to get to know.
Katie and I are an open book. We may share with you much more than you ever hoped to know when it comes to life, marriage, and raising a family during one of our meetings; our story stretches back over nearly 20 years. Many of our couples met online or through mutual friends while in college or grad school. In our initial hangout dates with our couples, I like to ask how our couple met and more often than not, one will look at the other and hesitantly say, “Online!.” I then reassure them that they are not alone and it isn’t weird. We think online dating or long distance relationships are great! They’re often driven by strong communication and algorithms designed to match people based on their personalities and interests. Gotta love psychology!
Dating can be rough. I know that Katie and I wouldn’t know where to start. We’re so very thankful that God matched us when we were pre-teens to become best friends and it wasn’t until nearly a decade later that we would say, “I do.” It is so neat getting to have conversations with couples from around the country who are willing to open up and share a part of their story with us. Even more so, it is is an honor when couples entrust us to capture one of the most important days of their lives. We feel privileged to be able to spend our weekends with such extraordinary people who place a premium on their wedding experience and their marriages as a whole. They know this [marriage] is a once in a lifetime event and they want to embrace it for all it has to offer and hold dear to every passing moment; because they know it will fly by so very quickly.
You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Hold on to one another and invest as much time in your marriage as you will on planning your wedding day! Life is truly made up of all the little moments and you will remember the times that you slowed down and intentionally reflected. Make time, better yet, schedule time to be alone without your phones, screens and the like and simply be present with one another. Listen. Be quite. Just exist in one another’s presence. That feeling of complete comfortability combined with butterflies is what we all wish for in a soulmate. Take a walk, ride a bike, go on the trip you always wanted. Sometimes life gets a hold of us and once it does it is hard to step off the merry-go-round. If you’re the journaling type, which we hope you are, take a few moments out of your week to put pen to paper. Write it all down, the good with the bad. When you look back and reflect, you will want to be as true to yourself as possible – and to your future generations who read your words you will want to provide wisdom. Share your mistakes, your frustrations, your passions and your regrets. Life is short, but also precious – so cherish and revere it. #liferevered. Make memories and dream big!
“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
Photographing Bridal Parties is one of the most intimidating aspects of wedding photography. How good are you at speed dating? You have 30 seconds to make them like you or at the very least listen to you. If you can do that then you have to make them smile or even better have a good time! People are more interested in how you make them feel and the experience you offer for the short 30 minutes to an hour than the ‘quality’ of images you produce. If you can combine fun, beauty, and speed to your bridal party photos people are not going to forget their experience with you.
For Katie and I, we generally attract outgoing, down-to-earth, laidback couples who have friends and family who know that their wedding photographs mean a great deal to them. Very often our couples request that their guests put their phones and cameras away so they can simply be present. Your bridal party is there to enhance their overall joy and excitement for the day. While I take the lead when it comes to bridal party photos, Katie is able to capture the in-between moments that happen on the side. These tend to me some of my most favorite images when culling through a wedding. Ideally, we like to overlap our coverage as much as possible. When Katie isn’t photographing the reception site directly after the ceremony, she is alongside me with her trusty 50mm.
A suggestion to our couples would be to come with ideas of where you would like to go and give us the freedom and time to create some great candid and posed bridal party images. We love suggestions and Pinterest boards to get a feel for the types of images the really speak to you as a person. For us, we like images that feel natural and unforced, yet have a stylized feel. Movement and location are really key. We like to shoot portraits a few hours before the sun goes down. As you can image, during the midday it can be difficult, especially for those who are sensitive to light or the heat. We want to keep everyone looking a feeling great. Secondly, we don’t want you to feel like your entire wedding day was spent in front of us! We like efficiency and truly want to focus on the two of you! Those are the photos that are going to grace your home and fill your album. Let’s make some fun memories and ensure that everyone has a great time. Wedding photography isn’t what it use to be!
This has been a year filled with adventure, home-life refinements, and growth. Our family added Eveline and Flex, our Pekachu puppy. This year we have been watching our children grow and mature, some more than others. We are reminded daily that life is precious at every stage of life. We continue to have our eyes opened to God’s grace in our lives. In spite of our ourselves, he has sustained us through it all! Often we are our own worse enemies, believing the lies we’re told. For us, every part of our life has been a leap of faith, hoping that through our failures God would be glorified in our weakness both as parents and as entrepreneurs. It isn’t that we have a “leap off a cliff” type of faith, but more that God has brought us to the edge without much choice. I am thankful for that!
The overwhelming lie we hear and tell ourselves often is “you’re not enough!” I have to admit and confess that perfectionism and the illusion that “we have it all together,” is something we perpetuate and allow others to believe. We think our lives and homes should be clean and tidy and our Instagram feeds should be perfectly curated with beautiful images. As a child and even into my college years, I wanted straight A’s, a 4.0, I wanted it to be perfect. This is how I funded my expensive hobby, photography; my father fiscally motivating my efforts. While having high expectations can be good, I fear it has robbed me of joy and hindered my walk with the Lord and certainly robbed me of YEARS. So much of my value I feel came from what I could do and how well I could do it. Do I have value even when I am not doing anything? The hard truth is yes, especially for someone who HATES sitting still.
Even in our brokenness, by God’s grace, we are HIS! It is in the stillness that we can commune best with him. A struggle I think for any parent. Sadly, my joy has not been KNOWING God. It hasn’t been the focus of my heart and the framework I have built my life around.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Until a few short years ago, my main focus has been school and paying for it! Over the past seven years, it has been our business. How can I be the best? Through it all I have leaned on my own self-sufficiency. Thinking that I can do it all on my own; online schooling, self-help, YouTube. This is a lonely and isolating place to be and it isn’t where God wants us.
While the Bible tells us to be dependent on no one and to lead a quiet life, It never says we have to do life and faith alone. While God does demand perfection, but it is never something we can do apart from Christ. Our salvation is rooted in our complete dependence on Jesus! And because he has already done the work we can rejoice in his free gift. Sometimes harder said then done, especially when everything isn’t going the way we would like.
The perfection God asks of us is of a heart that finds so much fulfillment and satisfaction in the God of grace that it is able to extend grace to those who don’t deserve it.
None of us deserve Grace and in our journey as parents, there is a constant tug-of-war between the law & gospel, yet so much of what causes tension and disharmony is setting biblical emphasis on worldly unrealistic expectations. In short, projecting our own sinful desires into the expectations of our children; how clean they keep their room is not a reflection of how much we love them or how much God loves them. They are not valued because their handwriting is neat or they scored the winning goal in the soccer game. They are valued first because God made them and second because they were given to me to shepherd. Grace meets us in navigating what are realistic expectations and what is disobedience. Addressing the hearts of your children is far more important than addressing why their sock drawer is always left open. I am a person who is often looking for ways of making things better. That is a nice way of saying I see flaws. Lots of them. In everything. I spend hours perfecting skin, removing blemishes, cropping out ipads, and culling out the not-so-wonderful rejects that no one ever sees all for the sake of creating the illusion of perfection. My soul can become burdened by this. Altering binary in a virtual world can feel frivolous and cumbersome for a person who longs for relationships, adventure, and simply moving. It points to the reality that we were made for more!
We live in an age where work isn’t so much a location as it is a state of mind and one that is very hard to escape. We’re always connected. The news feed, inbox, and calendar dauntingly move forward to infinity. The constant stream of information at our fingertips keep us longing for more, to satisfy our innate hunger for knowledge. Our distraction and our constant search for entertainment are idols that rob us of joy. GUILTY. So where is that balance?
The answer: I don’t know, but God does. He promises that when we put him first everything else will come into order. Our God, the one who created the Universe out of NOTHING and holds it all together for his glory, will sustain us and provide for us! He is a God of order and structure beyond all measure, yet has mercy on his children. As parents and as business owners, it is our goal is always to become more like Jesus and to raise disciples, serving other well, administering grace and kindness in all its forms. This takes a lot of prayer!
In a beautiful way we can’t quite fathom, Jesus loves our children more than we do.
Special Thanks to Courtney Smith for capturing our family and for being an inspiration to us!