I've been spending a lot of time at the beach this summer. I leave my chairs, umbrella, blanket and towels in the car at all times, so I'm ready to go on a whim. Like many, I used to avoid the beach, terrified of being in a bathing suit in public. I honestly didn't go for years. But when I turned 30, I decided to stop caring about cellulite and wrinkles and sizes. I owe a lot to the growing body positivity movement, because those messages of self acceptance have helped me to enjoy more experiences wholeheartedly, when before, I would shy away. I'm not saying it's easy. It's still a challenge to turn off the negative self talk (a BIG challenge). What I am saying is that there's a lot to be gained by letting go a little. Like magical sunsets at the Atlantic Ocean.
Katie and Jordan's engagement party was held on the rooftop of Intuition Ale Works downtown on a hot and humid Sunday. Their first date took place on a series of rooftops and Jordan proposed to Katie on a rooftop, so it was only fitting that their friends and family came together to celebrate their engagement on one. After the party, many of the guests stayed and took a guided tour of the brewery. Lots of fun all around!
Gosh, I don't even know where to start. First of all, this couple is just so great--from their obvious love for each other to their beautiful, welcoming, open hearts (I'm gushing). I'm just such a fan. Second of all, yesterday's light was just awesome. There has been smoke from a nearby fire filtering into Jacksonville's skies the past few days, and while uncontrolled fires are no cause for celebration, the effect of the hazy clouds was lovely for photos. I really loved hanging out with Issis and Arthur yesterday, and I hope it shows in their engagement photos.
I had the pleasure of capturing Family First Firm's annual party at the Capen House in Winter Park a couple of weeks ago now. The weather and event space couldn't have been better. I love photographing events for all of their little details and fun, candid moments. So grateful to the Family First team for bringing me down to Winter Park to help celebrate the great things happening at the firm!
Issis and Arthur hired me to shoot their backyard engagement party a few weeks back and I just realized I hadn't shared their sweet and spirited party here yet. Issis made me feel completely at home and I even ran into someone from college that I hadn't seen in years. We'll be working together again soon for a dedicated engagement shoot, and I couldn't be more excited to capture this amazing time for them.
I've been drawing on my iPad lately and it's been a lovely new creative outlet. I joined a 40 day drawing challenge and it has spurred my imagination more than I could have anticipated.
Here's another in the series of friends having babies. Gabe and Rachel are welcoming their second boy, Alex, soon. We spent yesterday morning together capturing this sweet time before they become a family of four.
Just a few quick shots of my special roomie on the back steps behind our apartment.
Another sweet maternity session for the books. The Tanners are dear friends and this was my gift to them for their baby shower. Maternity sessions are quickly becoming my favorite thing to do. What an amazing time of love and anticipation for a growing family.
I did a year-in-review post last year, so I thought I'd make it a tradition and do it again. It's fun to scroll through my Dropbox, where all of the photos I've taken are stored, and remember just how much has happened the past 12 months. It's amazing what we can fit into 365 days.
Last year, I shared 16 photos, but this year I just couldn't narrow it down, so here are 32 of my memories from 2016. They aren't necessarily my favorite photos aesthetically speaking, but they are dear to me for what they represent--sweet, fleeting moments filled with love, adventure, and new experiences.
Like I did last year, I want to share a list of some of the experiences for which I am grateful.
- Babies! My nephew Mason was born, Ella visited from England, and Bailey Lynn celebrated her first birthday.
- Weddings! My sister got married and it was absolutely beautiful. I also attended an old friend's wedding. The vows and the ceremony were the most memorable I've ever witnessed. Many tears were shed.
- Firsts! I played tennis and shot a wedding and went on a cruise and got a big tattoo and started painting and visited Kennedy Space Center and tried Ethiopian food.
- Travel! I went to Vegas, New Orleans, the Bahamas, DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.
- Life! So many sweet and tender things, some big and some small: entering a new romantic relationship (rooted in a deep, long-standing friendship), watching sunrises on the beach, making new creative connections, volunteering, sitting in the afternoon sun on a cool day, walking through my neighborhood at sunset, smelling magnolias, visiting with old and new girlfriends, watching hot air balloons twinkle and light up the night sky, returning to my beloved mountain lake.
It's popular to say that 2016 was a terrible, no good year, with celebrities dying, Aleppo, inequalities and violence growing, and our political system falling into what feels like chaos (though this last part really depends on your personal perspective). But when I reflect on my personal story, I am lucky to see a lot of beauty, and it's that beauty in the face of the uncertain and unthinkable that gets me through. There were hard times for sure--medication changes, emotional vulnerability and heartbreak, tough decisions. Sometimes I didn't live up to the person I want to be. C'est la vie.
2015 was a time of big transition. 2016 brought me back to Florida and into a new sense of home. 2016 brought me love, adventure, connection, and a burst of creative energy. And 2016 brought me a deeper sense of self, born from a lot of hard work and introspection.
I am grateful beyond measure.