Sunday, November 21, 2010

the proposal.

my absence from blogging has been least for me. and before i can start blogging again about life, i have to write a blog about how drastically life has changed recently! i wrote out the proposal (because YAY! we're engaged) the day after it happened. just so i could remember every detail, every smell, every moment that made it so special. and since it has every detail, it is very long. but, i'm putting it here tonight. for all those who wanted to know "the story."

love you, guys!


It happened Sunday night, November 14, 2010. And in a matter of 10 minutes, my life changed forever. Forever for the better. Because I now get to spend forever with the man who risked it all for the sake of our story.

Now, let’s just be honest. I knew it was coming. I did, really. Or maybe I only thought I did?

To really understand the full story, we’ve got to rewind you to November 2nd. My birthday. Adam is always surprising me. Flowers regularly, special dinners, and little presents every now and then. And that’s not even on holidays. He knows how to make a woman feel loved…and special. He’s really great at making things special.

For my birthday this year, he bought me floor seats to see Michael Bublé this coming December. Anyone who knows me knows I love Michael Bublé; his concerts are some of my favorites, and I couldn’t be more excited! So when he said that we should go on a special date this past Saturday, ideas began developing in my head:

Okay, so he just spent money on my birthday…why would he want to do another special date? Why didn’t he want to hang out with our friends while we’re back home? Why does he keep telling me, “You’re so cute, I just don’t know what to do with myself!” Why is he so excited about this surprise on Saturday? And WHY is my mother asking me about wedding stuff all of a sudden?

I thought I had everything figured out. I mean, WHAT ELSE could he be doing?! I was so confident that he would be proposing that I called my best friend, my sister, my mother, and my two other good friends. I needed back-up. And I needed a second opinion. Who knew their words would mirror my thoughts so well.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Bride Wars featuring Kate Hudson, I swear, she is not my sister. But, we have similar personalities…and are both quite impatient. Kate Hudson found her engagement ring in her boyfriend’s stack of sweaters, and after a few weeks of him not proposing (and her best friend getting engaged), she confronts him at his office saying, “Will you just marry me already?! I found the Tiffany box in your closet! I mean, don’t you wanna get married?” To which he replied, “I have never met a more obnoxious...complicated, overbearing, gorgeous, smart, sexy woman in my life. And if you had just waited until tonight *gets out the ring* then you wouldn't be the woman I fell in love with because she doesn't know how to wait. Which is fine, as long as I get to spend the rest of my life trying to catch up with her. Will you marry me?”

With that in mind, Adam regular defines some of my actions as “goin’ Kate Hudson on him.” I pry. I question – very strategically – until I get the answer I want. I am very sly and quite capable of ruining most surprises. In fact, that’s basically what I did this past Thursday. I kept poking and poking until he just told me we were going to go out to Tosi’s for dinner. Which wasn’t the surprise he pumped it up to be. And left me kind of disappointed. So we argued. About him leading me on. About me being too intrusive. About how he says he wants to marry me, but I’m continually left in the dark whether he has a ring, talked to my dad, or even has the actual intention of even asking me to marry him!

After things were patched up between with a renewed sense of love, we continued with our week. Cue Saturday. Rainy, drizzling, and just more of a cuddle on the couch day. So that’s what we did. All day. And I was grumpy, I will admit, for part of it. Enough time for us to get into another argument continued from Thursday night. Except this time, I felt like the fool. Like I ruined the surprise. How I told people about what I thought was going to happen…that disappointedly didn’t. And to stop myself from crying, I got mad. You can’t let tears escape when you’re angry. But once I put my wall down and became vulnerable again, we healed. We communicated. And we cuddled. Because cuddling helps everything. And then my old habit crept back up, “You’re not proposing tomorrow, right? I mean, we don’t have time. We have church, then lunch with Grandma, then Scott’s play, and then we have to go back home. There’s just no time, right?” “Yes, babe. We’re just too busy. But you never know; it could happen sooner than you think.”

We spent our Sunday just as I thought we would. Church. Lunch with Grandma and my parents. A fabulous time watching Adam’s brother play Edna in Hairspray! And then a final trip back to my apartment at 9PM. Nothing out of the ordinary. Adam would follow me back home in my car to help me unload my bags then he’d go to his apartment. I mean, he had class the next morning, and I was starting a new job. And we were tired!

But as we ended the 45 minute drive, Adam calls me and asks me to keep the car running because he wants to come talk to me. Since I ruled out engagement the night before, I thought maybe he just wanted to talk to me about a brake light or something on my car. But, then, he got in my car:

You know I love you, right?

Yeaaaaah. I love you too.

Do you trust me?

Yeaaaah, I do.

Give me ten minutes.

IMMEDIATELY, I start freaking out. Like, sweating, leg twitching, can’t-even-listen-to-music-because-my-mind-is-racing. So, I do what I always do when Adam’s freaking me out. I call my best friend. And the sweet girl, who is a teacher and goes to bed early, freaks out with me. And for ten minutes we try to come up with possibilities of how it couldn’t be engagement. But we can’t come up with any. It HAS to be! Adam wouldn’t be so cruel as to lead me on with another one of this “surprises”! My legs outstretched on the brake and gas pedals, and I reached over to turn my headlights off (after a neighbor poked his head out of the window to see why a girl would still be in her car after ten minutes). And then I see him come out of my apartment. After a quick good luck and one last scream, I say goodbye to Andrea. I knew something was happening. He had his hand holding his stomach as he walks in front of my car to my driver-side door. I asked him if we should get the bags, and he says to just wait. I ask him if I should lock my car, but he just wants to get me inside.

He stops me in front of the front door and takes me in his arms, squeezing tight, and whispering “I love you”s into my ear. After an eager kiss, he asks me to close my eyes. Tight. No peeking. And usually, I’m really really bad at this. I was the baby of my family, so I’m really good at peeking – presents, general things I shouldn’t witness, surprises that just get the best of me – but this time, I knew­. Something big was about to happen. And everything that has happened in my life has brought me Every break-up, every new experience, ever turn-of-events brought me right here. To my front door. And then, I shut my eyes. And I willingly stepped into my apartment and walked into the next chapter of my life.

Immediately, I could smell the light fragrance of candles. Not overwhelming at all, but just faint enough for me to distinguish the white tea light candles Adam had placed carefully throughout the room. He helped me take off my coat and let me slip off my black ballet flats. And I felt something on the ground touch my foot. I knew instantaneously…rose petals. He led me gently by the waist, backwards, through my small dining room and past the couch where my coffee table used to stand. Then he left me, just for a moment. And soon, one of our songs filled the room with music that brought on every emotion. He was going to propose. I knew as soon as the first note was played. I was going to be engaged to the man of my dreams in only a few moments. And as he walked back over to where I waited, the tears began to flow. And I couldn’t stop myself. These tears flowed from my heart, my soul. They shouted joy and whispered comfort. They soothed every anxienty and fed every nerve that left me feeling more alive than I have ever felt.

He let me open my eyes for just a moment while he cradled my cheeks between his trembling hands. He inhaled sharply and let out an unsteady breath through pursed lips. Then he smiled. Mirroring our racing hearts, his voice began to shake. And he told me exactly what he had shown me throughout the past two years: He loved me. He wanted me. He treasured me. And he wanted to make sure that I would be his for forever. Because he couldn’t live without me anymore. He didn’t want to.

Then he led me, with eyes closed once again, to the coffee table that he had moved next to the sliding glass door that over-looked the lake behind my apartment. I could feel him kneel on one knee as he took my hand. He brought it to his lips for a soft kiss just to let me know that everything, everything, is all right. He started speaking to me more words of love, and I asked if I could open my eyes. I was ready to see. I was ready for this.

And I saw everything. The white linens draped over the table and the television, my favorite photograph of us standing in an 8x10 frame, and candles. Oh, the candles. Tea-lights were everywhere. And smooth rose petals accompanied the soft light as if it was its only purpose.

And written with dancing flames that beckoned to be read: Will you?

He didn’t prepare any speeches. He knew he probably would’ve been too nervous to remember them anyways. He spoke from his heart – the exact place that won me over in the first place. And then he spoke the only words I remember hearing,

“I just love you so much. You are everything to me. I was just wondering, if you would spend forever with me?”

I can’t precisely describe the range of emotions coursing through every vein, every nerve. I nodded a very quick yes, and muttered a “yeah” before he took me up in his arms and held me tight. It didn’t feel real to me. We had talked about this moment for months. We had talked about marriage for months. And here – right now, this second – he was proposing. It was wonderfully surreal, and as if I was watching from a distance as it all played out. And then as the song repeated, he delicately took the ring from the box. The exact ring I had picked out 8 months previously. And he slipped it on my ring finger (after almost slipping it on the wrong hand). And he held me. And I put my head in the nook between his neck and shoulder, I just cried. And he cried. And we just breathed. Breathed in the scent of tea-light candles. Breathed in the emotion that sat so heavily in the room—the anticipation, the excitement, the pure joy that ran like currents through my living room. We were engaged. At last.

And after letting me go, I found the video camera that Adam had so discreetly placed on the barstool. He had captured the entire thing on video. He knew how much I wanted this event documented, but he also knew how much I needed to be solely with him. He wanted this even to be intimate. He wanted me to feel comfortable. He wanted it to be like it always is…just the two of us.

Then we brought bags from the car into the apartment. And we poured a glass of wine. And we cuddled. And took pictures. And reveled in this moment. That can now only be relived through the screen of a video camera. No other time will we feel the calm that comes after the rush of asking someone to spend forever with you.

He surprised me. He surprised me real good.

And then finally, without making me become Kate Hudson from Bride Wars, he willingly told all his secrets. How he had bought the ring six months ago. When he talked to me dad. How he planned to propose the Saturday I thought he was going to, but how he texted his friend who was going to help him, “Abort! Abort! She knows!” How it wasn’t completely my fault because the weather would’ve been too bad for a beach engagement anyways. And how he was happy. And I was happy. And we were in love.

We laughed and clinked wine glasses. Toasted to our future and spending forever together. And then we quickly settled into “us.” A new “us” but still the same. It all felt real then.

As we let the candles burn until they were out, he cuddled me and held me close. Whispering how lucky he was and how much he loved me. And I knew. Right then.

I was the luckiest girl alive.

And I still am.

We have traveled the road like many others before us. We have enjoyed meadows of sweet beginnings and faced paths with resistance. We have experienced love that’s so overpowering that none can stop it. And we have stood in the midst of conflict deciding whether or not we this is a life we want. Arguments that end in tears and tickle fights ending in laughter. Harsh words and soft touches.

All of it, my friends. We have a relationship full of joyous, good, raw, and rich experiences.

And that has made the entire journey beautiful…and more importantly, worthwhile.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

my gift to you.

november is one of my favorite months...and not just because its the month in which i was born. november means fall leaves and the last of great apple cider. november means the turkey and mashed potatoes and family-time. november means buying christmas decorations and the start of christmas music. and maybe, if we're lucky, november means the first snow of the season.

and with the first snow, comes the first round of family-update letters that my family receives in the mail. and if you want updated pictures? let me tell: we're cutting $50 off of family pictures just for you families out there who want to deck the halls with pictures of today instead of circa 2005.

so, happy thanksgiving. merry christmas. oh, and here's to a happy new year.

book a session today before all the spots fill up! send me an e-mail at

Saturday, November 6, 2010

[girls just wanna have fun!]

meet steph. and her three fabulous roommates: ally, shaina, and aubrey.

i've known steph since high-school. now that i'm done with college and living on my own, i get to be close to her and watch her live out her college experience -- which, with these girls, is FAB-U-LOUS. we had a great day at the park laughing (mainly at me) and just appreciating each other's friendships. oh, and yeah, they spent most of the time rocking the camera.

shaina, you are breathtaking.

i absolutely love this shot. steph, you are gorgeous. thank you for getting all your awesome friends together for this great shoot!

ally, aubrey, shaina, and steph: i loved being with you guys for an afternoon! you are ALL just so gorgeous, i could dedicate a blog to each of you! :) stay sassy, ladies! ;)

p.s. this shoot yielded such a-maz-ing pictures, i've been taking three entire days to unveil them on facebook! :x

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

portrait [jake]

did i say i was going to blog monday? oops. :\ to be honest, i can't even remember what happened on monday! buuuut, i am officially a year older -- as of yesterday.

and as a 22 year old, i want you to meet jake (as promised, just two days later).

jake went to my high-school. in fact, when i was graduating, he was in 8th grade. and would write me notes. and draw me pictures of harry potter. he was a charmer even back then.

even though our recent windstorm basically suctioned all the leaves off the trees on the 800 acres where we shot, we drove - on golf-carts no less - and found many places where we could still capture a sense of "autumn."

jake was great to work with. he tried very hard to keep his tough-guy exterior, but i've got to say that my silly faces and crazy-out-of-your-world jokes were no match for him. ;)

jake, i had such a blast on our shoot! i wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors!

Friday, October 29, 2010


has it really been a week & a half since i last blogged? yikes; i guess it has. :\

well, in my defense, it has been a crazy week & a half! last week was filled with talk of wedding shoots for next season. i spent lots of time researching other photographers and getting together a price list that offers a competitive price + inclusive package.

and now...i finally have a engagement/wedding package list all typed & printed, ready for those brides-to-be!

yesterday, my grandma was taken to the hospital for chest pain after she had passed out. she spent all day yesterday in the ER and now she will stay there until later tonight. and this afternoon, i'm off to do a senior session down on the farm! ;)

as you can imagine, it's be a little crazy here. i can't wait until monday when i post pictures from jake's session! stay tuned. :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

children + family [emelia]

i've known emelia since she was born 9 months ago; and let me tell you folks, she's only getting cuter. her parents, heather + aaron, are my boyfriend's cousins, so they're practically family. this past saturday morning, we treked through the woods behind my apartment to a small clearing.

the day was cloudy the entire morning before they arrived; and finally, the sun broke through (after much praying on my patio!). the light in this clearing was just what we needed. not too much to blind us, but enough to illuminate this beautiful baby's face.

aren't they adorable?

we spent a good hour out there together until emelia let us know that she.was.hungry. and when she was hungry, we listened! we got to spend the rest of the afternoon catching up and playing with a happy (and full) baby girl.

thanks for coming up to holland, guys! i had a great time! :)

p.s. a big hoot'n'hollerin' "thank you" to adam for making emelia smile so much! i couldn't have done the shoot without you!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

portrait [trevor]

i've known trevor for 16 years. since he was in diapers, actually. i should, because, well, he's my cousin. :)

while i was home this past weekend to help my grandma work the garage sale, trevor came over. and since i had been desperate to use my new lens (50 mm, f/1.8 ii), he willingly obliged to a spur of the moment photoshoot.

he's a junior this year [he's growing up so fast!], and i'm so thankful that they've already booked me for senior pictures! :D if i could say "no"... ;)

we've gotten a lot closer over the summer, since he would stay with me at my grandma's after my grandpa had died. he's a sweet guy and very musically talented! i'm so proud of him!

i love you, trevor anthony!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

personal [my peace]

if you follow me on facebook, you would know that i went on a vacation for the past week. to my favorite place. my peace. its a tradition my family has had before i was even a thought in my mama's mind. a camping trip that ties together family + friends + flee markets + fair food + early morning breakfasts + hikes down to "the rock."

it was my fuel. it gave me the rest i needed to seek new perspective in my work. to challenge my current skills and reach a new potential.

i breathed.

i breathed in fall leaves and cinnamon spice. i breathed in squeezes from my nephews and kisses from my sweetheart. i breathed in my grandma's laugh and the feel of the wine bottle on my lips. i breathed in the muscle aches after horse-back riding and the night-time sounds from my tent.

i breathed in life. more than i have in a quite a while.
and it felt mighty fine.

mighty fine.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Q + A

what type of equipment do you use?
i've got to admit. i'm a canon girl. always have been & always will be. whether its the powershot, the rebel, or my latest investment (60D), canon has always produced bright and popping photos that fit my style.

when did you start photography?
the summer of 2008, my mom's best friend lent me her canon 20D. i never wanted to get it back. i shot everything. since then, i've learned a lot, but that summer was the beginning of a passion that wasn't going to die down!

what are your normal shooting settings?
all my work on here has been done in manual. i'm can have OCD tendencies, so i wanted to have control over how my pictures were going to turn out. i'm always at the smallest f-stop (usually right around 5.6); when i'm outside, i use mainly 100/200 iso and 1/100 aperture.

parents -- do they tag along for senior pictures or do you request them not to be there?
whatever makes them feel the most comfortable, honestly. i haven't had any "hover" parents because they understand that i'm the photographer - and i know what i'm doing. if parents start to hover, i will, of course, listen to their comments & try to incorporate their concerns. however, if the client will loosen up or be more "real" without a parent hovering, i'll suggest they go get a cup of coffee while the client & i just shoot together. but remember, patience is needed in all career fields!

what is the best advice you've ever been given?

j*, my favorite lifestyle photographer once said, "I dove head first into my business when I realized fear shouldn't dictate how I live my life...because the life I wanted to live was trapped in a Canon camera, a unknown blog, and 250 black business cards. That's all I had, but fear couldn't rob me of following my dreams. It shouldn't rob anyone of them."

fear has stopped me from accomplishing a lot of things in the past, but this - this business i have right here - is my dream. and like j* said, fear shouldn't rob anyone of following their dreams.

+ since every post is better with a picture...

Monday, October 4, 2010

portrait [jada]

jada is a gem. (not pun intended: jada....jade)

and just so happens to be the cousin/niece of a family that i've know since second grade. you can only imagine the fun all 9 of us had yesterday...outfit changes, moving ladders which were not our own, standing on top of mamas to get better shots...& that's only skimming the surface.

jada's entire session was great. she was willing to try any pose that i wanted her to, and to be quite frank, looked great in all her shots! we ventured downtown holland, to kollen park, and finally to a private beach where we concluded our session.

jada, you are beautiful!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

children [noah + landon]

fall is upon us, that's for sure. and never is that more apparent than here in michigan. where summers are scorching with heat + humidity by the lake, and winters are filled with piles of perfect-to-jump-in lake effect snow + hot cocoa. and fall sits nicely in the middle of the two. a peaceful transition where sweaters and hats can be worn without a bulky coat. and its the perfect temperature to sit out by the campfire and roast s'mores.

last night, the boys, their mama, and i bundled up in sweaters + hats to go on a hike. because that's a staple of fall too, you know. so, we walked. into the fields and through a woods. over a creek where we all held hands and carried toddlers so there were no accidents. and the kids threw stones and smiles all around.

because there's something about the natural flowing water in a creek. the kerplunk of stones, then rocks, then practically boulders being thrown in.

and we tasted a bit of our favorite season. just enough to whet our appetites and get us even more eager for our favorite camping trip of the year in two.short.weeks.

a place where we're family. where we'll tell jokes and roast s'mores around the campfire. go on scary adventures and breakfast at the picnic table in the chilly morning. ride on horseback and hike. holding hands the whole time.