Happy Mother's Day! | Mindful Motherhood

In honor of Mother's Day this Sunday, I thought I'd give a little shout out to one amazing mom, Katie Tuttle! You've probably seen her face around here before, but I just wanted to share a few fun photos from her daughter's first birthday party last weekend!  So I glad I get to be Aunt Holly to my friends' kids too (or Holly Baby if you ask Teddy). If you want to follow Katie's motherhood journey and postpartum yoga practice, you can find her on Instagram HERE.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommas out there! 

(don't worry, we'll be back to your regularly scheduled programming of all the weddings shortly)

atlanta lifestyle photographer
first birthday
atlanta lifestyle photographer
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first birthday luau
atlanta lifestyle photographer
 June's first birthday was luau themed!

June's first birthday was luau themed!

atlanta lifestyle photographer
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atlanta lifestyle photographer
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atlanta lifestyle photographer
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 Fast Forward 13 years...

Fast Forward 13 years...

 Had to get one of my own with the birthday girl :)

Had to get one of my own with the birthday girl :)

HVL Photo Travels | Christmas in New York

Last December, my mom and I took a spontaneous trip to NYC.  I got tickets to the Jimmy Fallon Monologue Rehearsal and then not much convincing was needed for us to use up my parents hotel credit card points, some skymiles, and book a trip to New York... in December... where dreams come true.  Seriously though, New York at Christmas time is kind of magical.  Everything is decorated and it just feels happy.  In the book, "1000 Places to See Before You Die" there's a whole section devoted to NYC at Christmastime.  I think I might need to start making annual treks to New York.  There's always something new to see.  This time we were in the city for only a few days, but we got to do and see some new and exciting things!

new york city christmas

Day 1 - December 10, 2016

We got to the city, dropped off our bags at the hotel and started to stroll around the city.  We went to go see the New York City Public Library, wandered by the Chrysler Building, went into St. Patrick's Cathedral across the street from 30 Rock and did a quick trip into Macy's, who's storefronts are definitely worth a see.  

new york public library christmas
new york city public library christmas
new york public library christmas
new york public library

One thing to note is that apparently lots of people are there to also see all of the Christmassy things so foot traffic by Rockefeller Center was pretty nuts. Oh, also, apparently Santa Con was going on so there were Santa's EVERYWHERE.

grand central station christmas
grand central station christmas
st patrick's cathendral
st patrick's cathedral christmas
rockefellar center christmas

Day 2 - December 11, 2016

We hopped on the subway and headed over to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  I'd seen the outdoor memorial before, but hadn't had a chance to go into the museum.  It is definitely worth the trip.  It is one of the most somber museums I've ever been in.  One reason is that anyone 20+ is old enough to remember that day and how it made them feel.  To see and relive that day is sobering.

st paul's trinity church
one world trade center
9 11 museum

After the museum, we took a train under the river to Brooklyn.  Next time I go, I want to hang out in Brooklyn more.  We got pizza at Grimaldi's in DUMBO and took some photos by the water because that was one of the reasons this photographer wanted to go there. Side note on Grimaldi's - apparently the Original Grimaldi's was in a smaller building a few doors down from this one.  Then they got bigger and moved to the building pictured.  Then in the 90s Grimaldi sold his pizzeria and rights to his name to the now owner, Ciolli.  Here's where it gets good - a few years ago, Grimaldi opened up a new pizzeria in the original Grimaldi's place with it's original brick ovens!  Since he couldn't use his own name, the new/old place is now called Juliana's.  So, which one is the real deal? Next time I'm there, a trip to Juliana's will be on the list.

Grimaldis pizza brooklyn dumbo

After pizza, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge!  This was also on my list of things I wanted to do and let me tell you, it was freezing, but worth it! It started snowing an hour or so later when we went to a market set up in one of the squares where my friend, Tiffany was working!

brooklyn bridge dumbo
dumbo brooklyn
manhattan new york city
brooklyn bridge
brooklyn bridge new york
brooklyn bridge
 had to include some iphone pics :)

had to include some iphone pics :)

That night we went and saw Matilda on Broadway, which was awesome and TKTS pulled through for us.  We had only enough time to run back to the hotel real quick, but we made it the theater and seats were great.

matilda nyc

Day 3 - December 12, 2016

The day we left, we went and got some Stumptown Coffee, went to look at the giant tree at Rockefeller Center and then piddled around while we waited to see Jimmy! 

jimmy fallon monologue nyc

Quick shout out to my friend, Kristen for snagging a photo of us!  This was the day that instagram live was new to Instagram and Jimmy Fallon was testing it out during his monologue rehearsal that we were at!  KP saw us when the paned over the audience and took a screenshot! MVP.

What are some of your favorite things to do in NYC? What should we do next?

 

HVL Photo Travels | Washington D.C.

I'm getting the travel itch again so instead of buying a plane ticket I'm sharing some photos from Washington D.C.... much cheaper.

I had the opportunity this year to attend the Jeremy Chou Workshop in D.C. and after two full days of learning and styled shoots I had a day on my own to explore and sightsee.

As we'd been shooting film all week, I decided to keep it going and only took along my Pentax 645nii to capture places around our Nation's Capital.

Scanning and Developing | The Find Lab

 Washington Monument

Washington Monument

world war II memorial
 World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

washington memoria reflection pool
 Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

 Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

 DC War Memorial

DC War Memorial

 Potomac River

Potomac River

 Thomas Jefferson Memorial with Airplane

Thomas Jefferson Memorial with Airplane

 National Archives Museum

National Archives Museum

HVL Photo Travels | Key West, Havana, and Cozumel

In light of Irma, I decided it was time to share some views of the Caribbean in it's sunnier days.  I'm so glad I was able to visit these places and hope that the towns and the people are safe and recover well.  Our hearts go out to you!

This year for our mother/ daughter trip my mom and I decided to go on a cruise.  I'd never been on one before and they're actually pretty affordable.  We started researching and I came across one on Royal Caribbean that listed Havana, Cuba as a port of call and that was that.

A week before our set sail date, the President announced that he was cancelling Obama's policies about our relationship with Cuba, which meant our ship might no longer be headed to Cuba.  Thankfully, we were still allowed to go as planned.  If you're interested in traveling to Cuba, you can read up on it here.  In summary, there will be no more independent travel, but group tours will be allowed.  

Day 1: June 21, 2017 - Tampa

Mom and I arrived to Tampa the day before and we were able to go to a Tampa Bay Rays game.  If you haven't learned already, I love baseball and I love travel so getting to visit a new ballpark to check off the list was awesome.  Also, Tropicana field was like none other.  I had the hardest time wrapping my brain around it because it was INSIDE.  This makes complete sense for Florida as it is either very hot or very rainy.  It wasn't crowded and it also happened to be $2 hotdog night!  We ate our hotdogs and had some OJ (tropicana field... it felt appropriate) and went and saw the live devil rays in their tank.  The next day, we checked onto our ship, The Empress of the Seas, and began our journey!

Day 2: June 22, 2017 - Key West

On Thursday, we woke up to the bluest water I have ever seen.  We docked in Key West and explored around.  Technically we were still in Florida just with more chickens. 

key west
southernmost point key west

We took the trolley and saw the Ernest Hemingway House, the lighthouse, and stood in line to take a photo with the Southernmost Point in the Continental US.  We found the Starbucks because we wanted Key West mugs to add to our collection, but apparently those don't exist... just Florida.  (Starbucks, if you're reading this, please make a Key West Mug.  Thanks!) Key West is mega touristy and while I enjoy some touristy things (like famous buildings and museums 'cause I'm a nerd) I'm more of a go where the locals go kind of girl.  

hemingway house key west
key west

If you've ever been on a cruise, you know that they provide various forms of entertainment.  One of our favorite activities was the guest lecturer! She is a professor and has lived in Cuba and our nerdy selves loved listening to her about the people and giving us lots of helpful insight for our next day in port.

Day 3: June 23, 2017 - Havana

havana cuba
havana cuba
plaza vieja havana cuba
havana cuba

On Friday morning, we woke up in Cuba!  Falling asleep in one country and waking up in another is a unique experience that I hope everyone gets to try at least once. It took forever to actually get off the ship and into the city.  We signed up for a walking tour as there is very little information about Cuba on the interwebs including maps.  When we were in Paris, we downloaded city maps from google to our phones so that we could still make our way around without internet.  You can't do that for Havana.  It's blocked.  

havana cuba
havana cuba
havana cuba
havana cuba
havana cuba

Eventually, we made our way through security and customs and exchanged our money.  Got that Cuba stamp in my passport!  Note: There are multiple currencies in Cuba.  There are CUP and CUCs.  The CUP is the Cuban National Peso for the local Cuban people.  CUCs are the Cuban Convertible Peso, which is supposed to be equal to the US dollar.  After fees, it comes out to about $0.87 on the dollar.  Be careful though because 25 CUPs are worth 1 USD.  Always check your currency.  

havana cuba
havana cuba
havana cuba
havana cuba

I feel like I learned so much about Cuba and it's culture that there may not be enough room in a single blog, but I can share some of the highlights.  Finally walking out into the city after so much anticipation was amazing!  You walk to the Plaza Vieja and the city is alive with hustle and bustle and antique cars and vibrant people everywhere. 

havana cuba cars
havana cuba
havana cuba
havana cuba

We took the walking tour, which actually also turned into a partial bus tour as well.  They took us to a place where we could try Cuban coffee, cigars, and rum.  While I felt the tour was a bit too long and I would have preferred to walk around on my own, we learned and saw a ton.  We eventually broke off from our group (I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T do you know what that mean?) and got lunch at a local restaurant, bought some treats on the street, along with some cigars, coffee, and rum to bring home, and  explored more on our own.  We went to the Camara Obscura, which is super cool and only cost 2 CUCs.  It's this crazy lens that projects the city in real time.  It's not recorded or digital.  It's on the roof of a building in one of the plazas and also has a great view of the city.  Next time, if there ever is a next time, I'm jumping in a taxi and heading out to see the rest of the city.

havana cuba
havana cuba
havana cuba

Day 4: June 24, 2017 - Cozumel

Cozumel was actually one of my favorite stops because our activities (or funtivities) were some of my favorites. We debated back and forth about what we wanted to do and I'm so glad we chose what we did.  We booked the Jeep Tour.  These Jeeps were old and falling apart (I'm talking exposed wires, non working dash, and alignments that would make you drive in circles.) . I'm pretty sure none of these cars would have passed an emissions test in Atlanta, but that just made it more authentic. :) We made some friends who happened to be in our tour group the day before and jumped in the jeeps.  We drove first to a beach to go snorkeling, which I'd never done before, but was so fun! Our guides were really great too because no activity felt too long or short and we got to experience it all.  After snorkeling, we drove over to a little beach where we were originally supposed to go, but the water wasn't clear enough for snorkeling.  Then, we went to a lighthouse which had some pretty views and some giant waves crashing on rocks, which is my fave.  We also saw some mayan ruins before heading back to the ship.  

Day 5: June 25, 2017 - Day at Sea

On our day at sea, we avoided the pool since that was where everyone was going to be.  We got some coffee and went to a second (yep) Cuba lecture by the same professor.  I still find it all fascinating and it was nice to be able to hear more since having experienced a little bit of the culture.  For the rest of the day, we hung out and read books and just enjoyed some rest after exploring 3 cities in 3 days.

Day 6: June 26, 2017 - Arrive in Tampa

Landed back in Tampa and made our declarations.  

Have you ever been on a cruise before? If you have, or want to go on one, where would you want to go?

 

Good Neighbor Day Airshow 2017 | PDK Airport Atlanta | Father's Day

For an early Father's day this summer, we took my Dad to the PDK Good Neighbor Day Airshow. It happened to fall on my one open June Saturday, which was perfect! My Dad loves planes.  Actually, the first time I ever flew in a plane as a kid, my Dad was flying it.  It was a little tiny plane and I remember him getting his pilot's license and taking us up.  Touch downs were my favorite because it felt like a rollercoaster.  Maybe this is one of the reasons I like airports and flying to new places so much.  Next week, I'll actually be flying out to Washington DC for a workshop! I think it's important for those in the creative industry to also invest in professional education to continue learning so I'll be heading to the Jeremy Chou workshop for a couple days and can't wait to share more about that with you later!

I'd never been to the airshow here before, but it was awesome and also terrifying.  I brought my camera along and hope you enjoy seeing a few photos from the day!

good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
 Found my future car.... little lavender Porsche... I'll take it!

Found my future car.... little lavender Porsche... I'll take it!

good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
 This guy landed his plane on the back of a moving truck.... what?!?

This guy landed his plane on the back of a moving truck.... what?!?

good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow
good neighbor day airshow

HVL Photo Travels | Boston

A couple friends and I decided to take a quick girls' trip this past July ... like 48 hours quick.... Once of the girls couldn't take any more time off work so we left on Friday night and picked a destination that was in the same time zone and settled on Boston!  My inner nerd came out hard core.  

 Outside of Paul Revere's House in the North End

Outside of Paul Revere's House in the North End

boston north end travel photographer
 Site of the Boston Massacre

Site of the Boston Massacre

There were definitely more photos on our phones, but I did bring my camera with me of course. Here are just a few moments from our trip!  Enjoy!

We stayed at the Yotel (yes that's really what it's called).  It was one of the most interesting hotels I've stayed in.  I would describe it as if IKEA made a hotel.

 The Old State House

The Old State House

 The Granary Burying Ground - Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams

The Granary Burying Ground - Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams

 Harvard

Harvard

 Trying to find the entrance to Harvard that Lorelai and Rory went through on their trip to Harvard.

Trying to find the entrance to Harvard that Lorelai and Rory went through on their trip to Harvard.

For transportation we mostly took public transit - the MBTA.  We opted for the day passes so we could hop on and off as we please. The day pass also includes the ferry across the harbor.

My best purchase might have been my Freedom Trail book I got at Faneuil Hall.  1. Because I'm a nerd and 2. because we were able to do the Freedom Trail at our own speed while getting all of the historical fun facts about each location.  If you care, it's called "The Complete Guide to Boston's Freedom Trail" by Charles Bahne. In the back of the book it even tells you the hours and admissions for all the stops.

 Wired Puppy coffee break on Newbury St

Wired Puppy coffee break on Newbury St

boston travel photographer
 Walking along the Charles River

Walking along the Charles River

boston travel photographer
 Charles River

Charles River

North End might be my favorite area of the city.  It's full of Italian food (we at at La Galleria 33), canolis (go to Mike's), and a cute coffee shop called, 'The Thinking Cup'.  The historical sites like Paul Revere's House and The Old North Church are also in this neighborhood.

I also enjoyed walking around Harvard and walking along the Charles River.  There's this beautiful trail that it goes along for a nice view and a leisurely walk.

 Riding the Swan Boat at the Boston Public Garden

Riding the Swan Boat at the Boston Public Garden

 Swan Boat

Swan Boat

 Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Boston Public Garden

Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Boston Public Garden

 Boston Public Garden

Boston Public Garden

We also visited The Boston Public Garden and rode the classic swan boats ($3) and saw the statues of the bronze ducks from the children's book, "Make Way for Ducklings".  The "Cheers" bar is also close by.  

 Bunker Hill

Bunker Hill

 The Old North Church - "one if by land, two if by sea"

The Old North Church - "one if by land, two if by sea"

 Old North Church

Old North Church

Next time, I want to go to a game at Fenway Park and visit MIT.  

What would you want to see/ do if you visited Boston?

 

How Did I Wind Up Here? | Reflections

My journey to becoming a full fledged, full time photographer was a slow, yet also quick one.  

I got my first DSLR (aka “fancy camera”) when I graduated from UGA in the spring of 2011.  It was fun to play with and took way better pictures than any other camera even on AUTO.  I was the friend that brought it to tailgates and trips and my camera would get passed around so we could document the day’s activities.  This was also during the time when “Facebook Albums” were pretty prevalent and you had to try to come up with witty album names. 

 Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

It wasn’t till maybe a year later when a recently engaged friend suggested that I take their engagement photos.  So I did!  And I have been photographing them ever since :). We could probably have some kind of art exhibit of the Tuttle family and the evolution of Holly Von Lanken Photography… maybe one day. ;)

Anyway, I loved getting to photograph them!  It was so much fun and it made them happy.. which made me happy!

I was at the stage in my life when several friends were starting to get married and I would volunteer to take engagement photos for them for fun/practice/as a wedding present of sorts.  At this point in time, I never would have thought I’d be where I am now - not that I have “made it” by any means, but where I am in that I am my primary provider and I can sit at my computer at home at 11:36am on a Wednesday drafting this blog post.

 Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

So let’s fast forward a little bit..it’s circa 2013 and I’m stalking Kaitie Bryant’s website almost daily and learning as much as I can.  If you know me, you know that when I get interested in something, I will research it till no end.  Around that time, I worked up the courage and asked Kaitie if I could shadow/ follow her around at a wedding just to see what it was like… and she said yes! And it was awesome! At this point though, I still never considered that this could be a job or even a side hustle for me.  It was just a fun hobby.

At the end of that year, I was in my friend’s wedding.  The photographer for that wedding was Chloe Giancola, whose husband was one of the groomsmen.  At the reception we got to talking and I asked to second shoot with her and she said yes! I ended up second shooting with Chloe for the greater part of 2014.  I learned a lot from Chloe and was able to see how the flow of a wedding day went.  I learned to shoot in RAW and in manual that year.  It was an excellent year of growth.  During this time I was also going to workshops and doing more research and toying with the idea that this could be an actual business.  Still I never dreamed it would be a full time gig, but could be a hobby that paid for itself because let’s be real - photo gear is expensive.  I made a really terrible Wordpress website, which hopefully the world will never have to see. I really hope it’s not still alive somewhere in the depths of the internet.   I made some homemade business cards - also pretty embarrassing - and continued to invest in learning this trade.  

 Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

Things turned when I booked my first weddings during the later months of 2014.  I had been told, “If you’re going to shoot weddings, you need to have a business license.” So that’s what I did.  I did more research and learned everything I could about business licenses, taxes, and all that other nasty legal stuff that if you’re going to have a company, you need to know. In October 2014, I officially launched “Holly Von Lanken Photography”.  

Also, can we give a quick shout out to the first weddings - the couples who trusted me the most and decided to take a risk?  Thank you Andersons and Timmons!  The Timmons booked me first, but the Andersons were the first wedding I shot that was “mine” in January 2015.

 Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

From there, things grew.  During all of this, there was a lot of prayer.  I prayed and asked God if this was really something I could or should do.  I prayed that I would do a good job and that the couples would love their photos.  I prayed that God would send me the “right” couples - not the couples who had the most aesthetically pleasing weddings (although that’s always a plus), but those who were excited to get married and weren’t going to sweat the small stuff and who I genuinely liked.   These are prayers I’ve prayed many times and will continue to pray along with many others.  

God kept answering my prayers.  I remember praying to shoot 5 weddings in 2015.  I thought that was a pretty good goal for having shot zero in 2014.  I ended up shooting 12.  

 Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

I may also need to mention that during this time I was also working full time as a teacher, teaching high school Spanish.  I really did enjoy teaching and I loved my students (most of them ;)).  However, it became really difficult to do both full time teaching and photography.  Plus, I was driving about an hour to school and back every day.  More prayers were prayed about what I should do and probably for another year of prayerful consideration and meeting with Shanna Skidmore, a creative business consultant, I decided to make the switch to full time.  I finished out the 2015-2016 school year and then jumped into full time photography life.  

This summer marks the completion of the first full year of full time photography and I’m so thankful for the clients, vendors, and friends I’ve met along the way.  It’s been good to reflect on various things about my life and my career being one of them.  The Lord is ever faithful.

I wanted to share this story for this anniversary of sorts, but also for other creatives because I’ve been there.  I know about the long hours, the considerations, the one million resources out there that everyone tells you that you “need.”  I’ve found some of my most helpful encounters came from being able to sit in front of another human being and just talking.  Don’t get me wrong, there is value in webinars and online courses and there are great ones out there.  They are perfect for reaching the masses, but there’s still nothing like a face to face meeting over a nice warm cup of coffee or working with someone in a hands on environment to learn.  

 Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you.  

With all that said, I want to give creatives starting out more opportunities for one-on-one, face-to-face meetings.  This is why I decided to start offering mentoring sessions for small creative businesses.  This could be a one hour conversation over coffee to figure out the government side of a start up.  It could be to get clarity or work on action steps to achieving your goals.  It could even look like setting up processes to make your business run smoothly.  I also realized that there are those out there who need some practice with using a DSLR camera whether simply for themselves, to hone their skills, or because they run their own businesses - maybe not even a photography business, but want to know how to take better images of their products.  

If any of this sounds like you, I’d love to chat and help get you where you want to go.  Thanks so much for reading and being along for this crazy ride. 

Word to your mother,

Holly

HVL Photo Travels | Chicago, IL

Last fall, I travelled to Illinois to visit family, take senior portraits for my cousin's kids and visit the great city of Chicago.  We were in the actual city for less than 24 hours so I definitely need to come back and check the architectural boat tour off my list, but I love getting to explore big cities!  When I told my family I was coming up, I made two requests.  One - to touch the bean and Two - to eat deep dish pizza.  I like to think I'm pretty low maintenance and we did both of these things and it was the best! Expectations exceeded!

chicago illinois travel photographer

One thing we did learn is that parking is mega expensive.  If you can take the EL, I'd suggest it.  If not, park in one spot that isn't timed like the parking deck at Navy Pier and keep it there all day and walk or uber/ lyft yourself around.  I introduced my aunt to Uber while we were there and I think she's a fan now.

bean cloud gate chicago illinois photographer
bean chicago cloud gate
bean cloud gate chicago illinois

This photo doesn't show it, but I did in fact, touch "The Bean".  The Bean is actually just a nickname for the "Cloud Gate" in Millenium Park and it's actually not that old.  The sculpture was built between 2004 and 2006.  It makes for a beautiful photo op - hence all the people, but also reflects the city's skyline on the other side. 

The Bean chicago cloud gate
chicago photographer
chicago photographer

We did a lot of walking and also got to see the boats on the waterfront of Lake Michigan and the Buckingham Fountain.  For lunch we got deep dish pizza from Gino's East!  It takes awhile to bake, but it's yummy!

chicago streets photographer
chicago skyline

The view from Navy Pier was one of the best skyline views and you guys know what a sucker I am for a good view.  Also, for those of you who remember that amazing World Series game that Cubs won last fall (yes I stayed up through the rain delay to see history happen - I can't wait for someone to make a movie about it) well, we were there a week or two before that happened - thus the Ws. Blue Ws fly everywhere - on signs, tv screens, ferris wheels - with pride for the Cubbies.

chicago skyline
fly the w chicago

Thanks for reading!  Where are you traveling this summer?

Horsetooth Reservoir | Colorado | Personal Reflections

horsetooth reservoir colorado photographer

I sat for a long time just staring at this photo on my computer. Just thinking. Remembering. Pondering life’s changes.  This is Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, CO.  This photo was taken this past January, but I’ve been here before about 2 years ago.  In July of 2015 I travelled here with my friend Caitlin.  We were staying in Boulder with her family, but made a late afternoon/ evening trip to Fort Collins to visit the town and go to the drive in movie theater there.  A old college friend of mine owns a shop in downtown Fort Collins so we saw her and she gave us a tip that we should go see Horsetooth Reservoir before the movie, so we did.  We followed the winding roads up the hill at sunset.  When we turned the bend and saw the view of the mountains and water and the sunset colors on the horizon, it was breathtaking.  We drove to the top as far as we could and I made Caitlin stop the car so we could get out and I just wanted to stare at the beauty of God’s creation.  It was so tranquil and lovely and green from summer.

This past January, my family travelled to Colorado for my Uncle’s funeral.  He was killed while on duty working security near Union Station in Denver.  The reason for our visit was much different than mine had been two years prior and that weight has been carried with us.  However, it was good to see extended family and before we left to fly home to Atlanta we had a little bit of time to explore so I told my family about Horsetooth Reservoir, which was a short drive from where we were in Loveland, CO.  It looked much different this time.  The earth was brown from winter.  The wind was strong and cold so we didn’t stay long and it was the middle of the afternoon, so no colorful skies this time.  But, the view was still beautiful… just in a different way.  Time changes things.  Seasons change.  I am not the same person I was 10 years ago or even two, but I am reminded that God’s love is constant always.

I was reading this yesterday morning about creating space to be with God and allow Him to move.   This photo has also reminded me of that.  These wide open vistas are something I want to run to - physical space to be with God and his creation.  Building space doesn’t have to look like this mountain. It can be building out time for rest, prayer, and activities that are life giving.  This is definitely something I have to work at - especially when I feel like I have so many moving pieces of life all happening at once, but I am thankful that the Lord is sanctifying and refining me each day and that he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

 

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;

I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,

in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;

With singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

Psalm 63:1-5

 

10 Days in the Life of a Wedding Photographer

"You’re a photographer, right?  So, like, what do you do all day when you're not shooting?"

I get this question often.  It’s not that people are trying to discredit my profession or think that I just sit at home watching Netflix all day.  They are just genuinely curious.  It’s not a typical 9-5 job.  There is the flexibility that I can do laundry while I’m working or take a personal day if I need to, but many people don’t realize that running a photography business is actually less time shooting and much more time actually running a business.

To show people what I do, I decided to keep a record of everything I did for 10 days.  Each week could look different, but this may give you a good idea as to what a photographer does behind the scenes and what the day-to-day might look like.

DAY 1: Sunday, February 19th

10:30am - Church

12:30-5:00pm - Simply Foxhall Workshop - Hosted by Simply Cater.  I photographed the styled shoot element, shot some behind the scenes of the event, and spoke.

Side Note: I don’t typically work on Sundays, but an opportunity came up for me to speak and photograph at this event.  Last week I was talking on the phone with organizers, emailing, and preparing my talk - “How to draft your perfect photo timeline.”

BTS of Amberly, of Wrennwood Design, lighting the table at the Simply Foxhall Workshop

DAY 2: Monday, February 20th - President’s Day

Some of my friends with 9-5 jobs had this day as a holiday, some didn't.  I decided to go "halfsies".  Also seeing as I worked the day before, I felt no guilt about taking a half day.

AM- uploaded, culled, and began editing photos from Sunday

PM - took off to spend time with friends, rest, and read

DAY 3: Tuesday, February 21st

AM - Did some styled and BTS photos for Maybe to Yes Workshop at 433 Bishop

Then, had to leave for a little bit to go meet my clients for their engagement session in Cabbagetown.

PM - Returned for the afternoon portion of Maybe to Yes for more BTS shots.

At home “after hours” - uploaded engagement photos and day one of maybe to yes and culled images, Sent headshots to a friendor. 

BTS of Taylor, of Taylor Dawn Design, at the Maybe to Yes Workshop

DAY 4: Wednesday, February 22nd

AM + PM - At Maybe to Yes all day - headshots, styled shoot, and BTS photos

"After hours" Started drafting blog post for Brianne McMullan Events

DAY 5: Thursday, February 23rd

AM - uploaded and culled Maybe to Yes workshop and styled shoot photos from day 2, Returned emails, Booked an engagement session, Called ga doe about log in info

Went to the Atlanta Youth Academy (AYA) to hang out with my mentee, Precious.*

*Yes, this is one of the perks to making my own schedule.  I can volunteer in the middle of the day!

Returned groom’s suit from Sunday’s workshop

PM - Finished editing Simply Foxhall Workshop photos, Uploaded to online gallery, Returned more emails

Some goodies from Grice Grove that were at her pop up shop at Simply Foxhall Workshop

DAY 6: Friday, February 24th

AM - Chapel at AYA and 2nd graders were leading. (When I went the day before, Precious and her teacher asked if I was coming and who could say no to that sweet child so I went two days in row.)

Posted blog post and promoted on social media

PM - Uploading the rest of SFW photos to online gallery, Reviewed a portfolio/ website for a newer photographer, Met her for lunch, Sent Simply Foxhall Workshop photos to the organizers of the event, Edited MTY headshots

Our new Tuesdays Together Atlanta leaders and speakers at Maybe to Yes - Kristen Green and Sarah Chancey

DAY 7: Saturday, February 25th

8am - Engagement Session at O4W park - again I don't normally do portrait sessions on Saturdays that I don't have weddings, but she was flying in from Nebraska and thus, I broke my own rule again... must get better at that.

No more work this weekend! 

DAY 8: Sunday, February 26th

Church

Sabbath aka no work or emails for me today!

Taylor taught attendees about styling and they got to play with pretty paper, ribbon and jewelry

DAY 9: Monday, February 27th

AM - Emails - following up with brides, discussing engagement sessions, with my CPA to file my taxes, Submitting shoots to publications, Signed up for webinars, Editing -worked on MTY, finished editing an engagement session, Planning/ dreaming for future fun things like workshops, mentoring sessions and a summer intern. Be on the look out for all these fun things potentially happening in the future!

PM - Exported engagement sesh and uploaded to online gallery, Posting to social media, Blog post planning

DAY 10: Tuesday, February 28th

AM - Respond to emails, Finish blog post, Post blog post, Cull images for styled shoot submission

PM - Went on a run (again with the work perks - I give myself freedom to run in the middle of the day), Submit to publication, Research engagement shoot locations, Listen to Ashlyn Writes Webinar, Start editing MTY Workshop day 2

 

So there ya have it - 10 days in my life and what I did.  Like I said before, every week, every day could look different depending on what is necessary to accomplish that day.  Some days look more exciting with workshops and photo sessions while others tend to be a bit less exciting like doing taxes and talking to people on the phone at various government agencies.  Through it all, I'm happy to get to run my own company for as long as the Lord wills it.

Peace up, A-Town down,

Holly

 

HVL Travels | The Wizarding World of Harry Potter | Universal Studios | Orlando, Florida

Alright friends, this post is long overdue...and also long.  My mom and I took our mother-daughter trip to Orlando last June.  I have asked many times about going - part joking because I knew she probably wouldn't care to go, but mostly serious because I love Harry Potter.  So I was surprised and pumped when she brought it up that that should be our destination and it was awesome!

Going to a theme park as an adult without children seemed like a silly idea at first, but once we got there, I realized we were definitely not the only ones - especially the millennials - and once we got back, I started seeing my facebook feed show up with tons of other people and their photos to the Orlando theme parks.  Alas, here is my post about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and our tips and insights from our trip.  Most of the photos here were shot on iphone because sometimes that's the best camera option in your pocket.

First up, Cabana Bay.  We stayed at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  It's one of the few resorts within walking distance to the park and we loved staying there for multiple reasons.  First, we got a package deal that included our accommodations and park tickets which just made everything easier.  We did the 3 day pass, which was great because we didn't feel rushed or that we had to stay at the park all day long to get our money's worth.  There are multiple ways to get to the park.  We got a lot of use out of the walking trail, but when we were too tired from the hot sun, we could take the shuttle or even rickshaw (yep).  You valet your car and since it's so close to attractions there's no need to really use your vehicle unless you want to venture out, which also means you don't have to pay for expensive parking at the parks.  

The resort itself is full of retro flair, which I am a huge fan of! If you wanted to just have a hotel day, there would be plenty to keep you busy with a lazy river, movies by the pool, a bowling alley, food court etc.  For the lazy river, you can purchase floats from the resort, but we just brought our own from home.

Because we got the package deal, it came with early entry into Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.  On the second day we figured out our rhythm.  After you get into the park, you make your first pit stop at the Starbucks that's in the "Port of Entry" section of the park.  Then you follow everyone back to Hogsmeade and get in line for something.  Then, you can sip while you wait - because you will still have to wait even if you got in early - just not as long. 

For those of you that know me, you know I'm a pretty frugal traveller.  As you also know, almost everything inside a theme park is way over priced.  What we did, was packed snacks and *empty* water bottles to bring into the park.  Once you're inside, you can fill them up at the water fountain.  *They check bags at the entrance to City Walk - no liquids.

A few other vacation food tips - share meals.  You're probably not going to have a place on you to store your left overs (and are you really going to eat them later?) and they always give you so much food in restaurants, but sharing is cheaper and more efficient and may possibly leave you with room for a treat later. ;)

As far as Universal Studios specific meals - if you're going to eat lunch inside the park, we would suggest the little french style cafe near the entrance of Universal Studios.  There was room inside to actually sit at a table, it wasn't too ridiculous in price, and was one of the few non greasy/ heavy food options.

Another suggestion if you just want to take a break and sit inside, is to go to the Three Broomsticks.  You have to order something if you go so we got fruit cups and Butterbeer! The butterbeer was yummy, but super sweet and I drank maybe half of it - probably should have shared that too.

I bought a KAVU backpack and it worked great.  It was big enough to hold everything (phone, keys, tickets, money, snacks, etc) but small enough to fit in the lockers.  

Most rides won't let you carry your belonging with you so you have to leave them in the free lockers outside each ride, which identify you by your fingerprint (whoa).  You just have to remember which locker you used. 

Now, I thought I was a pretty big fan, but apparently not judging by the other patrons at the park.  I didn't dress up or have a wand, but if I had a child and took them to Universal, I would definitely take them to Ollivander's to buy them an interactive wand.  They're about $50, but going in the shop and watching the "wand choose the wizard" is entertainment in itself.  

We had a park-to-park pass which allowed us to go to and from each park and ride the Hogwarts Express.  I really liked the Hogwarts Express.  It transports you to the other park, but it's also a ride and it's different each way.

As a person whose body can't handle roller coasters anymore, I would say that if you can only do one park, pick Universal.  The rides are more show like and built indoors, which means you get to stand in line in air conditioning.  Although, in the Harry Potter parts of the parks, standing in line can be part of the experience.  For example, at Hogwarts, you go through different parts of the castle before you ever get to the ride. Also at Universal, there are also street shows, which I was a fan of.

A couple other insights we noticed is that the single rider lane moved pretty fast and if you're ok with potentially not sitting next to your friend, it might be worth it.  Also, there were a ton of Europeans in Orlando - mostly British, but I'm pretty sure I heard every European language and more during our trip.  

I really wish the Jimmy Fallon ride was open! Not till this spring.

We didn't feel the pressure to only stay at the park so we did venture out a little and explored some other parts of Orlando.  The Rifle Paper flagship store is located nearby in Winter Park so we ventured over there one day and explored the town.  We also saw a movie over at the City Walk movie theater one night.  

If you've made it this far in the post, I congratulate you.  Keep on exploring whether close to home or far away!

HVL Travels | St. Augustine, Florida | Film Photography Series

HVL Travels | St. Augustine, Florida | Film Photography Series

Earlier this fall, my family and I went to St. Augustine as we have in years past.  With me, I took only my film camera and my iphone for photography purposes.  These were all taken before Hurricane Matthew decided to make a visit to the Oldest City.  Historically, St. Augustine is resilient city and I know that it is well into the clean up and restoration phases post hurricane and we can't wait to visit again!

HVL Travels | An American in Paris | Part II

HVL Travels | An American in Paris | Part II

Last week, I posted the first installment of our Paris trip.  If you missed it, you can find it HERE.  Traveling has become one of my favorite things and once I get going, I just don't want to stop! During our weekend in France, we took the TGV train down to the Provence region of France.  It's much quieter and quainter in these small towns and was a nice little getaway.  We also learned a bit about Van Gogh's time here and ate at the Cafe Nuit, styled after one of his famous paintings.  

HVL Travels | An American in Paris | Part I

HVL Travels | An American in Paris | Part I

This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel abroad to France for the first time.  I'd never flown across an ocean or received stamps in my passport (apparently Mexico and Canada didn't care last time I was there) so this was a big deal!  My friend Christy, her sisters, and I got to spend several days in Paris with a little excursion to Provence in southern France.  This trip was one for the books and it's taken me so long to finally get my photos rounded up with a few of our "pro tips" and fun facts. 

Weep, Laugh, Mourn, Dance | Personal Post

Yesterday was one of my hardest days as a wedding photographer. Now don’t get me wrong.  It had nothing to do with the wedding or the couple.  In fact, my couple was super sweet and flexible when logistical things caused the timeline to get off.  It didn’t rain when there was the threat of it and by any standard, it was a beautiful wedding in the Classic City.  

As a wedding photographer, I get to celebrate with couples quite often.  In Romans 12:15, the Bible tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  Naturally, I am a pretty empathetic person, which means that I get to rejoice a lot with my couples.  I’m thankful that most days are happy ones and that I get to celebrate with them.  Yesterday, I did celebrate with this couple, but before I did, I wept with others.  

A week ago today, a friend of mine lost both his wife of six months and his mother in a roadside car accident where a drunk driver was involved.  Yesterday was the funeral for Elise Martin.  I had the pleasure of knowing Elise, if only over the past several months.  I was really excited when she and Adam signed up to be on our flag football team because that meant I was going to get to know her better and see her more.  Now, her team t-shirt is sitting in the trunk of my car waiting for me to give it to her.  Our church community is mourning deeply for her loss and the loss of Adam’s mother.  We are shocked, devastated and confused.  We ache together as the body of Christ and will be aching for a long time to come. 

In Ecclesiastes 3:4 it talks about how there is a time and a season for everything, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn; and a time to dance;”  For me, all of those things took place yesterday - weep, laugh, mourn, dance.  It’s hard and confusing to know that in life there is both/and - possibly even in the same day.  

It's been rough week and yesterday was especially hard, but the Lord brought me to today.  I know that in the days ahead I will continue to weep and rejoice together with those who are weeping and rejoicing, but also weeping and rejoicing in tandem trusting that the Lord is orchestrating all things for his glory and our good.  

St. Augustine | Family Vacation

Part of me hesitates to write this post because St. Augustine has felt like one of my family's best kept secrets, but alas here I am writing.  My parents started going down to St. Augustine each fall when I was in high school.  I haven't always gone with them because of college and life, but this past September my brother, sister in law and I were able to go with them!  It was our first official family vacation with all 5 of us.  It was such a welcome break and we got to walk away with some fun family memories as well.  Of course I brought my cameras, but I didn't capture every single moment.  Sometimes you just need to be present in the moment.  Here are some of the photos on film and digital.

St. Augustine in the fall is fantastic.  It's still warm enough to hang out by the pool or on the beach (unless there's a storm coming in which case it is quite windy like this year), but the crowds aren't there.  I've never really been the "SPRING BREAK WOOO!!!!" type so this is a huge plus.  

The historical district of St. Augustine is beautiful and ancient.  It's also home to nearby Flagler College.  This year happened to be 450th anniversary of the Nation's Oldest City and there were several festivities in place.  We missed the visit from the King and Queen of Spain, but we did get to board the ship, "El Galeon Andalucia", which is an authentic wooden replica of the ship that was once part of the Spanish fleet.  The crew members are all from Spain and have been traveling along the coast. I even got to use a little bit of my Spanish ;)

Of course we ate great food, but how about some shuffle board? 

We tried to get up early for sunrise one morning.  Unfortunately, the colors weren't there, but pretty nonetheless. 

My brother and sister in law and I biked to pier on Wednesday morning, where they have farmer's market.  The storm was coming in so many of the vendors weren't there that day, but we did walk out on the beach so I could get pelted by sand in the wind tunnel under the pier because that's what you do as a photographer when you want a certain shot.

Some advice for beach trips before I sign off: 1. DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS - they will never leave you alone... if only I had video... 2. Securely pack your film... some of mine got lost in transit :( 3. Always bring a headlamp for night time beach walks and crab chasing :) 4. The carousel only costs a dollar... just do it.

Colorado Hiking Adventures | Film Photography

A couple weeks ago, my travel loving friend, Caitlin, and I set out for Boulder, Colorado where we got to enjoy the outdoors for a week.  I of course took along my trusty Pentax K100 and shot a couple rolls of film.  Here are some of my favorites from the Fuji400H.  The Portra 160 will have to come later :)

First stop, a hike through The Flatirons.

Next stop, Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, CO.  Great suggestion by my girl Amanda over at Sunday Supply Co.

Last, but not least, was our treacherous and steep hike up Mount Sanitas in Boulder, CO.

 not even halfway to the summit....

not even halfway to the summit....

...and then I switched film.... Portra160 coming soon! (Then you'll get to see us at the top!)

NEW! We made it to the summit!  Here are the final photos on Portra 160 from our trip up Mount Sanitas in Boulder, CO!

University of Memphis Grad | Colt Von Lanken | Personal

Today is my big brother's 28th birthday! Last time I got to see him, we were celebrating his graduation from the University of Memphis where he graduated with his MBA as a FedEx Scholar.  I'm so proud of him and his accomplishments.  

Congratulations and Happy Birthday,Colt!