Looking Back on 2007

posted on: December 31, 2007

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

When I look back at 2007, my experience can only be described as a roller coaster ride. Every great success was also paired with incredible challenges. In the end, it all creates an equilibrium, and perhaps even a slight improvement since the experiences in and of themselves have helped me learn and grow in ways that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

I have to admit that I personally started off this year pretty depressed. I had big-city-girl-living-in-a-small-town blues. It took a long time to find even a few like-minded people here, and in the meantime I spent many days working alone from my desk at home. Most of the people I shared interests with lived in Indy- but that proved to be too far for getting together on a regular basis. My husband introduced me to new people whenever he had the chance, and I embraced his students and colleagues as friends, but the school relationship is a delicate one and no matter how awesome someone was as a person, I just never felt completely comfortable divulging very personal information to them. The two people who I became closest with early on, Jamie A. and Dan P. ended up moving for jobs in other cities just as I was starting to really enjoy their friendship- but that's pretty standard for this town and probably why many of the locals just don't get involved with newcomers anymore.

Luckily I have been fortunate to become better friends with Julie M., Anna & Chris B., and Melissa & Shane- though we still don't hang out NEARLY enough because we all lead very busy career-centered lives (I'm equally guilty). I'm just so grateful for those people who force me to step away from my work for just a simple dinner or lunch together. It's their friendship and persistence on involving me in things outside of my work that keeps me sane and healthy- which, ironically, allows me to work even more!

It wasn't until I met Samantha (aka Sam) that I felt like I had really found a best friend- someone who could understand what I was going through as a photographer, a wife, a small business owner, a twenty-something woman, all while living in Terre Haute, IN. What a difference having a really close friend makes. It completely changed my feelings about living in Terre Haute, as if I wouldn't mind living here for several more years. I helped her launch her photography business into a full time venture and she helped me catch up on mine. That's definitely an over-simplification, but without going into a full page of detail, I owe so much to Sam for how she's helped me. No amount of money will add up to everything she's done for me, and I'm sincerely grateful for her and her friendship. (I love you Sam!)

As of January 2007, I knew that I'd be traveling back to Michigan for nearly half of my weddings, Chicago and Washington DC for a few more, and Indianapolis for pretty much everything else, but what I didn't know was how much of an impact that travel would have on my business and personal life. I thought I was prepared with my new and improved iMac, speedy workflow, and limiting my schedule to only 30 weddings, and yet I had no clue what I was REALLY in for.

I used to think traveling was so glamorous, but now I know that traveling for work is not nearly as glamorous as traveling for pleasure. Consider the traveling salesman. When you're traveling for work, there is no "down-time". Nearly every minute is spent in anticipation or planning for what you're about to do next. Going back to your hotel alone isn't the same as going back home to your family. You have obligations and timelines to keep, and the pressure to deliver keeps the stress level high enough to prevent total relaxation for the duration of the trip. At least that's what it's like for me. Of course I'd never show it- after all, what bride and groom needs one more flakey-stress-head at their wedding?! So, I have to find ways to remain calm and relaxed under so much pressure, which usually means planning much more time than needed in case any small thing creates a set-back... which almost always happens. Semper pratus = always prepared.

With the above said, I would much rather be traveling in order to do what I love, for people I love, than feeling stuck and confined to something less than ideal just to stay close to home. I don't take for granted how fortunate I am to be able to do what I love- it's the most fulfilling feeling in the world and it's that feeling that gets me through the really rough times and pushes me to strive forward. Being able to work with awesome people is the best icing a cake could ever have. And if it weren't for my awesome clients, I wouldn't be able to do what I love.

So, just as I was recovering from the setbacks of 2006, my 2007 weddings started pouring in, along with all of the travel associated with those weddings. Each out of town wedding requires two days of travel- which means two days that I can't do the work that needs to be done behind a calibrated monitor in controlled lighting conditions (post-processing and photoshop work). Add to that: the day for the wedding and a day for catching up on things while I was gone and you've just filled 4 out of 7 days of the week, leaving me only 3 days to accomplish a series of tasks that normally takes 6 days. In late 2006 I was able to streamline my workflow from about two weeks down to one for each wedding, but I was still doing everything on my own because I had not budgeted additional help into my pricing. It didn't take long before I realized that even with an improved workflow and computer, I was quickly falling behind just by the sheer limits of space and time.

I have very high quality standards and will sacrifice many other things before giving up quality, so you can imagine how difficult it was for me to resign myself to finding someone else to help me produce the quality I love in a time when it simply wasn't possible for me to do it all myself. Even more difficult, was finding the right people to help- and for a price that would still allow me to cover my expenses and have just a little left over to reinvest in myself, cover any emergencies, and to add improvements to my business when needed. After several months and even posting flyers at the local art department (which proved unsuccessful), I finally found someone to help me with my editing, but because she only had a laptop, she couldn't help me with post-production. After working on a few weddings, she was quickly able to take my feedback and reproduce my editing style, but that still left the most time-intensive part of the process up to me when I was already at a deficiency of time.

I was desperate and my clients were losing their patience and ability to understand what was going on. I decided that I was going to solve this problem no matter what the expense, and realized that I would need to sacrifice a large part of my personal income in order to make things right. The only decision left to make was deciding who I could put my trust in. After two very strong referrals from other photographers who I admire and are just as picky as I am about quality, I decided to finally send a large portion of my backlog to a post-production company in California. Just as I was getting ready to prepare a ton of work to be sent off, my hard drive crashed. I held my breath until I knew the data was going to be recovered, but what was already a back-log of work quickly became a mountain of despair. Thankfully everything was backed up and all of the data was recovered, but not without the sacrifice of even more time delay. Once I was finally able to start sending my work to the post-production company, I received an announcement that they were on backlog as well, and shortly after that, the California fires began and caused a shut down of operations.


My stress level was so high that I wasn't eating or sleeping (too bad it didn't result in any weight loss!) I was working around the clock just to prevent things from getting backed up any further, all the while maintaining a heavy travel schedule with more and more work coming in the door. Some days I was on the verge of sanity and ready to end my life early just so I could stop experiencing the constant pressure and stress that overwhelmed me and seemed never-ending. Thank goodness for my husband, who knew exactly what I needed when he scheduled a cruise for our anniversary. I realized how vitally important it is to have more balance in my life so that I can be the person I want to be for the people who love and support me the most- because I know how much me being stressed out makes THEM feel stressed out, especially when there's little they can do to help.

Taking the cruise, which allowed me to catch up on sleep and forced me to not look at a computer screen for a few days, renewed my strength and ability to deal with the problems, setbacks, and stress that I was still in the middle of experiencing. As of today, there's still a large chunk of work that needs to be finished, but it IS getting finished, even while I'm on vacation, which is a tremendous improvement and step toward greater progress.

Despite what seems to have been an awful year, a lot of REALLY good things have come out of all the challenges. I have learned so many valuable lessons, and all of those lessons have served to help me make necessary improvements not only in my business, but also in my personal life.

To shorten an already very long, but much needed post, here are the top five things I learned from 2007:

1. Love What You Do
Life is far too short to not enjoy as much of it as possible. With time becoming such a precious commodity for me this year, I realized just how important it is for me to spend my time focusing on the things I love the most. I realized that I was ten times more productive and creative when I was working on a project that I loved versus projects that I didn't love but had to do because I couldn't hire someone else to do them.

2. Outsource What You Don't Love
When you don't love something, it becomes a low priority or something you dread or procrastinate doing when there are plenty of other projects to complete that you DO love working on. There are plenty of people in the world who love doing the very same things you hate doing, and knowing how much more productive you are when you're happy- isn't it better to give the things you don't like away to people who enjoy them more than you?

3. You Can't Grow Alone
Plants need sun and water to grow, and a small business needs outside help to grow as well. I learned that my clients and I are both better off when I try not to do everything on my own. By finding parts of my business that I can can hire other people for, I am able to dramatically improve my turn around times without sacrificing quality, and the added expense is most definitely worth it.

4. Ideas Are Nothing Without Action
I had so many great ideas and projects that I wanted to pursue this year, but I was unable to take action on any of them because I was so busy working on projects and tasks that I didn't love. If only I had freed up more of my own time sooner, I would have had time to take action on some great ideas which would have expanded my business further and potentially brought in even more income.

5. Your Actions Reveal Your True Priorities
In 2007, my actions put work and clients above all other things in my life, including my health and family. I consider my clients to be good friends- so I value the time I spend with them just as much as the time I spend with friends. With the birth of my first nephew, and the increased distance away from family, I realized how important my family is to me and that I want to be available for them whenever they need me. I found myself too often putting my family aside to work on my business, when the whole point of working for myself was to have more freedom in my life to spend with the people who love me through thick and thin, even after the job is done.

I am incredibly blessed and thankful for the people who have supported me in the pursuit of my passion. With everything that has happened this year, my clients, friends, family, and even fellow photographers and wedding vendors have been more than supportive with their patience, understanding, and encouragement of me to continue pushing forward. These are the people who have allowed me to do what I love while living in a town where there's little to no wedding market to support a full time wedding photographer. These are the people who have told me over and over that my quality is strong enough to support raising my prices which has facilitated outsourcing and the ability to offer a larger selection of products and services. These are the people who have given me glowing reviews in spite of my many challenges, which has led to a fully booked 2008 calendar way ahead of plan. These are the people who have inspired me to create award winning images, and have allowed my work to be featured in publications. These are the people who give me the hope and strength to succeed. Without them, I am nothing, and I will never take that for granted. Thank you for being there for me when I needed you most.

Christmas with Dad's Family

posted on: December 30, 2007

Every year my father's parents, brothers, sisters, children, and now children's children get together the Saturday before Christmas and the Saturday before July 4th. Since weddings often prevent me from making the July reunion, I put even more importance in making sure I can make it to the Christmas gathering. This is by far my largest family and I have more cousins than I can remember by name! This year I decided it would be fun to do a mini-photo booth so that I could get quick portraits of just about everyone. So here's a little preview of my relatives...

One of the things I noticed was that as soon as people put the ridiculous hats on, their smiles instantly became bigger. :-D

Because we have so many people in our family, we often start off with a potluck of food, followed by a mass opening of gifts- handed out by a designated "Santa". Shortly after gifts have been opened, the teenage cousins retreat to their annual game of Monopoly while the older cousins and adults relax and chat. The younger cousins often spend about 15 minutes playing with their new Christmas gift and then find something else to do. ;-) This year my aunt Doreen also led some of the adults in a bit of caroling by the piano and the younger kids made some amazing gingerbread houses! The regular monopoly players received custom Monopoly t-shirts created by my cousin Steve, (an aspiring photographer.) In the past, we used to do a secret santa gift exchange, but our family became so large that it became more and more complicated to keep track of them all, and if someone didn't show, someone else didn't get a gift. We then tried the white elephant thing and some people found that too confusing, so this year all of the adults received lottery tickets. I don't know if anyone won anything, but I think my youngest brother Daniel won $1- HA! I decided to give my younger sister and her fianceƩ two large canvases of each other with their baby for their new home and while the picture of her isn't in focus... her reaction was priceless. It was the first time I had ever seen her cry out of happiness! Here's a quick little preview of the evening's festivities..

Christmas at Mother-in-Law's

posted on: December 28, 2007

We had planned on making our regular red-eye drive on Christmas Eve from Michigan to Missouri, but after some fishtailing and 360ing on the highway due to freezing rain just west of Ann Arbor, we ended up spending the night in a hotel and driving all of Christmas day (12 hours). The hand of God must have been carrying our car through those 360 spins on the highway because we were less than six inches from hitting another car as we were propelled backwards and sideways. It was as if I was in a movie because it seemed so surreal that we made it out without so much as a scratch! I'm thinking I cashed in a lot of good karma on that one!! I'm terribly unlucky when it comes to gambling, games, or winning things... but when it comes to life... I'm very, very, VERY lucky.

After arriving safely in Missouri in the evening, we celebrated a small Christmas with Alex's dad and then slept in before visiting his mom the next day. His family is much smaller than mine, and because of that, they celebrate gift opening very differently in that they wait for each person to open their gifts individually so that we celebrate each person's gift together. Of course this also gives me the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the interesting gifts and gift giving that goes on at Alex's mom's house...

Here you see Alex's brother handing out the stockings...

... have you ever seen these dryer balls? Apparently they're amazing. Maybe I'll try them out on my next load. ;-)

Alex's step-dad gets a special gift... (if you don't appreciate bodily humor, you might not want to watch these videos)

My mother-in-law created a pick-a-gift... which was a little difficult for Alex and his brother to figure out...

I have to admit that my first Christmas with this family was a little weird to me, but I have since grown to love them, their interesting gifts, and their celebrations so much. I'm so lucky to have such an enjoyable set of in-laws. ;-)

Christmas at Mom's

posted on: December 27, 2007

We all learned how to play the card game Tripoley together...

My mom & her newlywed husband...

My brother's girlfriend and my husband... (with his bottle of Pomme Lambic)

My brother and myself (with my bottle of Framboise Lambic)... my husband is filming (hence the *hem* interesting close-ups). After looking at this I realized that when someone pulls a card I don't like, I scrunch my face up!! Damn... I need to work on my poker face!

Candid camera strikes again!


posted on: December 20, 2007

To the left is our holiday card for 2007! I'm so proud because it's our first "custom" holiday card as a family. The hardest part was definitely coming up with the concept, the easy part was getting all the props and shooting it! Alex is a cheesemonger and has a very acute palate for cheese. The cheeses you see pictured here are: Jarlesburg Swiss, Aged Gouda, and Babybel. I had no idea what Gouda was until I met Alex, and now I know that it's one of my favorite cheeses!

Everyone asks: "are the cups photoshopped? did you drink all of them?" They aren't photoshopped (I'm kind of anti-photoshop when it comes to photography), I actually bought 24 cups for the shoot for $1.70 with nothing in them, however I have consumed at LEAST that many Starbucks drinks in the span of a month... which means I've basically been on an espresso drip the entire month of December. Green note: the cups were saved to be reused later on.

As for Misty, she was such a good dog for this shoot and for getting all dressed up and wrapped up in lights. I put the reindeer outfit on her early enough that she would look sufficiently unpleasant under the word "Merry". I hope you laugh as hard as I do when I look at this! I love her- and I never thought I could love a foo-foo kind of dog, but she's so wonderful, patient, and adorable that it's hard not to love her. If you didn't get a card this year, I'm sorry! We ordered 300 but there were still some people who accidentally got missed!! Special thanks to Samantha McGranahan, who has helped me with sooooo much more than our holiday card this year (more on her another time!)

As you can see from my Holiday Schedule, we are on our way to Michigan today! This is just the beginning of our multi-city tour of holiday adventures. I'll be back in the office on January 10th to finish up the projects that have been put on hold during the holiday season. While I'm away, I'll still check my email, albeit much more sporadically than normal, so I appreciate your patience while I take time out to spend with my families.

I may also be sending silly, ridiculous, and personal updates to the blog just for fun so you can see what the holidays are like with our various families. Hopefully the family is reading this now so that they'll be ready when the candid camera strikes!! HA! *I love you all and the fact that you let me get away with my antics... AND post it all on my blog for the world to see!!

Who really inspired me to create a custom holiday card this year was Annabel & Paul, one of my 2008 wedding couples in California!! Check out their way-more-awesome-than-mine holiday card from 2006 (rudolph) & 2007 (charlie brown)!! When you see a holiday card like this, you KNOW the wedding is going to be full of fun!!! (umm... no pressure, but now everyone will want to see what your wedding is like!) Annabel is a screenwriter and Paul edits commercial movie trailers, hence the appropriate content:

Aren't they adorable?! And I get to be their wedding photographer! Man, I'm lucky.

Annabel, you didn't know this... but in a recent holiday survey conducted by my family, Charlie Brown's Christmas was listed as my favorite holiday movie growing up! The Grinch is a close second. ;-)

Not everyone celebrates the holidays, so if the holidays just aren't your thing, you can tell everyone to go Scrooge themselves! I was tagged by Shawna Schuab to do the elf thing and pass it on, but I'm going to act like a Scrooge and break the chain! Bah Humbug! Click below if you feel like being a Scrooge too...

Damn I look good in gray sideburns... HA!

Wedding | Save The Date | Baby | Holiday Cards!!

posted on: December 19, 2007

Dear brides, amateur photographers, friends, family... anyone!! Stop struggling to find or design the perfect holiday, wedding, save the date, or baby card. I'm all about making your life (and mine) easier- so if you have some digital images on a disc or on your memory card that you still haven't done anything with, and you've been struggling with how to incorporate them into something swanky, funky, or cool: check out the amazing card designs from PhotoAffections.com....

The process is sooo easy! Just fill in the blanks and send your image!! Seriously- it will make your life so much easier and it will be one more thing you can cross off your list! Move over Martha Stewart and Kodak Gallery... Photo Affections gives you more options and they cost less! You can DIY without doing it ALLL by yourself. See more designs at their website: http://www.photoaffections.com

Special note: I just found out that you're too late for holiday cards, HOWEVER you can still start shopping for the perfect wedding, save the date, or baby card now and then order it when they open back up after the holidays!

Leaving Thursday | Holiday Schedule

posted on: December 17, 2007

That's my dog, Misty, and an out-take from our holiday cards ;)

I have a long list of things that need to be done before Thursday. It's about 250 hours of work and I only have 3 days to do it. Hmmm.... the math just doesn't seem to add up! If you REALLY need something from me before the holidays, email me to let me know NOW. Otherwise, I'm going to do as much as I physically, possibly can before Thursday, but after Thursday- I won't be back in the office until January 10th. Luckily I'll have other people working on things while I'm gone so that I can pick up where I left off and hit the ground running... but I really hate leaving work behind when there's so much to do. However, with our families being so far apart, this is pretty much our only chance to spend quality time with everyone, so we try to make the most of it!!

Here are the items I'm currently scheduled to work on before I leave (this is in addition to my regular schedule of portraits & weddings getting finished, uploaded, and blogged)..
- Prepare seven weddings for editing & color balancing to be worked on while I'm gone
- Holiday Cards for family, friends, & clients
- Tracy & Jeff file corrections
- Sarah & Alex image for paper
- Lacey & Martin image for save-the-dates
- Jackie & Chuck image for holidays
- Tiffany & Jeff album changes
- Robin & Carey email notes
- Katie & Matt discs
- Cara & Sean discs
- Car Alignment & Brakes
- Misty Grooming
- Library Returns
- Household errands

And just in case you find yourself wondering why you haven't heard from me in a while, here's my schedule for the upcoming weeks:
12/20 - 7 hour drive to Michigan
12/21 - Wedding in Lansing, MI
12/22 - Family Christmas Party
12/23 - Time with Family
12/24 - 14 hour drive to Missuori
12/25 - Christmas with Alex's Family
12/26-1/1 - Time with Missouri Families
1/1 - 7.5 hour drive back to Indiana
1/2 - Unpack, wash clothes, errands, repack
1/3 - Travel to California, meet Laura
1/4 - Wedding Rehearsal
1/5 - Wedding in Pasadena, CA
1/6 - Travel back to Indiana on red-eye flight
1/7 - Unpack, wash clothes, errands, back-up images
1/8 - Catch up on email
1/9 - Boudoir in Indy
1/19 - Wedding in Terre Haute, IN
1/20-24 - Workshop in Louisville, KY
1/28 - Workshop in Indy

Is your head spinning just reading all of that? Yeah.. that's how I feel living through all of it (and why I'm still up at 3am)! February slows down a little, which will hopefully allow me to get caught up on everything that's waiting in the wings right now- or at least give me time to work on the larger projects that get put off for the everyday projects. March is ridiculously busy for some reason, and then I have a few weeks to catch up again in April. Let me tell you, it's never a dull moment in my life!!

I'm really hoping that santa will bring me a new MacBook Pro this Christmas so that I can really crank out some more work while I'm on the gone (and hopefully my family will understand)! My PowerBook G4 has had a good 4 years, but with larger and larger file sizes and demand for processing power, it's time for it to retire.

Do you know of any good fiction audio books we should check out from the library before we leave for our roadtrip? I've been listening to non-fiction all year and I'm ready for some really good stories, but I have no idea what's hot in bookstores right now! Leave me a comment and let me know... pretty please with whip cream on top?

PS. Don't forget to scroll down and check out the awesome ugly sweaters and the handmade birds I posted yesterday while I was working on stuff behind the scenes.

LOVE IT: Ugly Sweater Decorating Party

posted on: December 16, 2007

Here's what I love about the Ugly Sweater Decorating Party:
- It's GREEN! Recycling old clothing and making it fun to wear again is totally awesome in my book.
- It's HANDMADE! If you actually turn around and wear your creation, you've just created a unique, one-of-a-kind, custom piece of clothing that NO one else will have. (I knot that was redundant.. so what!)
- It's CREATIVE! How many chances in our lives (unless you're an artist) do we get to be really creative just for ourselves? To create something new and interesting out of thin air without the pressure of someone else having to like it? It's a really rewarding and enriching experience at any age to simply create for yourself.
- It's a PARTY! It totally reminds me of my 7th grade birthday when we had a big cookie decorating party. Mine had so much frosting on it that no one would eat it, but we all had a ton of fun and we laughed hysterically while we were messing around.

I need to thank Katy Regnier for posting about her friend's fabulous Ugly Sweater Decorating Party! Click on Katy's image above to read more and find out where the original idea came from!

So- maybe there will be more Ugly Sweater Decorating Parties this year? I know I'd love to attend one! If you need inspiration for how to decorate your ugly sweater, you MUST check out: We Hate Sheep. We Love Holiday Sweaters. Sullivan Higdon, & Sink let you create your own ugly sweater right online! So fun!

WEDDINGS: Ann Wood Handmade Birds

Ann Wood's handmade birds are the most fabulous things I've ever seen on the top of a cake!! The image above comes to you from Sharyn & Matt's wedding in Washington, DC, which I won't be blogging until forever, but I had to share this with you NOW in case you fall in love and want Ann to do one for you before the wedding season hits and she's so crazy busy that you won't be able to order one!

Ann created glasses for the groom that look just like Matt's and the fabric for the bride's dress is exactly the same as Sharyn's reception dress! Seriously.. could they be any more stylish!?

She doesn't do just wedding cake toppers, these little birdies would make great personalized gifts for any bird lover in your life! Check out some of her other fabulous recent work.....

This owl amazes me from the patterns, to the texture, to the layers, and he even has an incredibly clever name: Chuzzlewit! (photos are from Ann Wood's blog- click an image to go to the original post)

Look at this one all bundled up for winter and ready to go! He even has snow on his hat!

Cara & Sean's Wedding

posted on: December 14, 2007

Cara & Sean's wedding was absolutely beautiful, intimate, and unique! Deer Park Manor in Bloomington, IN did a fabulous job of making the event special from beginning to end.

Breakfast of champions to start the morning off right...

There are a few photographers who are really into textured overlays, which is really cool and trendy right now, but I'm undecided if it will stand the test of time, so I choose to avoid them and stick to a more clean and classic processing style that I know will be timeless. Afterall, weddings are trendy enough as it is! However, this next image really has the feeling of being textured, but it's just hairspray being the focal point with the hair slightly out of focus in the background. Pretty neat, huh? Best part of all- no photoshop required! (I can just see it now... people spraying hairspray in front of their cameras whenever they want the look... he he he)

I usually suggest that brides try to get everything done a week before the wedding so that they can really spend time reflecting on marriage and enjoying time with their future hubby. Well, let's just say that I have yet to see it happen- so don't feel bad if it doesn't happen! There are always things that are left until the last minute, or forgotten about entirely until someone asks you about something that just didn't cross your mind. For Cara, it was her entire seating chart. Even if you're just selecting who gets to sit at one table.. this is not an easy task!! It's easy to underestimate how much time these things take... afterall, when have you had to plan seating for this many people before?! It took several people and the entire morning to get the seating chart done in time for the wedding. For most people, I would just say, if it's not done that morning- it's not getting done!! C'est la vie! But Cara was determined to get it done...

I think a man ironing is hot!

It seems like everyone has a different way of tying a tie.. do people really notice the difference?

For some reason, this one reminds me of a painting.. I just can't remember which one!

Cara & Sean had a beautiful wedding palette of aqua/turquoise, yellow, and green. It was such a beautiful combination- and when combined with the guy's khaki suits, created a casual but elegant look. There were all sorts of fun little details like the wooden fans and fresh sweet tea in mason jar glasses (not pictured).

Licensed to chill..

I don't think I had seen a sand ceremony where the mother's combined the sand at the beginning, but it was an interesting idea, since there were no candles to light.

I love outdoor ceremonies because it gives me the greatest freedom to get in close or to really step back and take it all in. You also can't beat the beauty of natural light and nature's scenery. If you're on the fence about outdoor vs. indoor... just go for the outdoor wedding. I would care to say that 90% of the time it works out with beautiful weather during the appropriate times of year.

I think it's so much fun when you see a really elegant and beautiful bride just having fun and being silly all on her own. It really gives everyone else permission to have fun as well..

Unfortunately the flower girl wasn't interested in having fun OR being silly on the wedding day. But she did enjoy this little boy's company, and I even caught a picture of him kissing her by the fountain! Here she is telling us how she's not going to get her picture taken... too late!

Before everything got underway with the reception, there was a private little taste testing of the chocolate fountain... yummmmay. ;)

I'm guessing the wedding dress isn't quite as tasty as the chocolate. Actually, she's trying to get those really little strings sewn into the dress to pop out so she can bustle the train. Knitting needles usually work best for this, but hey, a bridesmaid's gotta work with whatever she's got!

I love it when the best man gives more of a roast than a toast!

This junior bridesmaid is ready to dig in! Who cares about the bride & groom!

I love the monochromatic look of this detail shot, especially with the shadow creating a strong graphic element and line toward the veil and coat hanging on the chairs. In my eyes, anything can be art.

Man, those bleach pens come in handy all over the place! Again... man taking care of his own clothing... hot.

There are so many things I love about this next image: the leading lines, the perspective, the framing, the lighting and shadows, and most of all the paparazzi in the background.

Watch out! Here comes the bouquet and garter! I think these are some of the best bouquet/garter group shots I've ever captured! I'm pretty sure it's mostly because of the enthusiasm you see- they actually REALLY want them!!

Notice how differently girls and guys prefer to party...

Cara accidentally poured the champagne a wee bit too quickly- and what did I see? A cool ring shot! Now, isn't this much more interesting than posing your hand over a bouquet of flowers? I'm always on the lookout for candid details!

Guys on the dancefloor... also hot... and this kid is learning that at an early age!

Just before dusk, when the light was perfect, Cara & Sean gathered all of their guests out front for a large group shot and Deer Park Manor has this tiny little balcony that makes for a perfect set-up in the front!

Cara & Sean.. thank you SO much for inviting me to be a part of your day! Everyone was so nice that I totally felt like I was just hanging out with family and friends all day. Even though you're out in Chicago and I'm here in Terre Haute - I hope we get a chance to hang out and have beer again at that little bar in Lincoln Park! Keep in touch!!

Thanks for stopping by, now go away! HA! ;-)

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