Member, Professional Photographers of America

Better Today

Zach and Harlee said, "I Do," on July 7th, 2018 in Groesbeck, Texas at the Groesbeck Convention Center on a day dotted with isolated thunderstorms that completely cleared out by the time of their ceremony.

Meeting you was fate. Becoming your friend was a choice. But falling in love with you was beyond my control.
— unknown

Zach and Harlee met through work.  Harlee told me that meeting Zach was that day was the "craziest thing" since it was during an intubation.  Harlee works at the local hospital and Zach is a paramedic.  After this crazy meeting, she told her coworkers that the she thought he was SO cute!  

Fast forward a few weeks and these two saw each other yet again at a local convenience store.  They talked a little bit and decided to hang out with each other that night - nothing fancy, just sitting around a fire at Zach's house where they literally talked about everything until 3:00 in the morning.  As the night progressed, a horrible storm came in and Zach invited Harlee to stay the night rather than driving home in the storm.  Zach gave Harlee his bed while he slept on the couch.  That morning he woke Harlee up with an amazing breakfast complete with French Toast, bacon and eggs.  

Harlee told me that this "date" wasn't a typical first date, but nonetheless this was their first date and she had a tremendous amount of respect for Zach after this date because he treated her with respect by watching out for her during the storm and taking care of her as well.  

That December Zach proposed.  They went to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and during one of the days they decided to get on a bus to take a helicopter tour.  The helicopter took them on a trip over the Grand Canyon.  During this trip Zach pulled out his phone and asked Harlee to watch a video.  The video was a video of his three children asking Harlee to be their stepmom.  It was the sweetest thing she ever saw!  Zach then showed Harlee a ring and asked her to be his wife.

 Harlee's bridal session

Harlee's bridal session

I first met Harlee at her bridal session where I learned a lot about her, however I did not meet Zach at this time.  I knew he had to be someone special because it was obvious that Harlee adored him!  When I first met Zach at the wedding, he was extremely calm and almost always had a smile on his face.  Seeing Zach and Harlee together was a beautiful thing, but what made it even more beautiful was seeing Zach and Harlee together with Zach's three children.  They each looked at Harlee so lovingly throughout the entire wedding day, especially during the ceremony!  Harlee expressed how much she loved Zach's children when she told me that when when she married Zach she also took on a huge commitment of parenting as well.  She now has three beautiful children that she loves with everything within her!

 Mr. and Mrs. Barkouskie with their three children.

Mr. and Mrs. Barkouskie with their three children.

I am always in awe at each and every wedding (and this wedding was no exception).  Every wedding is completely different.  Every wedding has a different feeling about it.  Every interaction between the bride and groom is different.  During the ceremony, Zach and Harlee symbolized their bond with a Unity Braid Cross.  These can be purchased online, however Harlee's father made it for them.  In fact, he made many of their decorations for the wedding.  There was so much meaning behind all the details!

 Unity Braid Cross made by Harlee's father

Unity Braid Cross made by Harlee's father

Always keep God in your relationship. Choose to love each other even when you struggle to like one another. Always make time for one another, even when it seems impossible. Surround yourself with friends that will support your relationship and strengthen it. Learn to listen to understand, not just to respond. Put old relationships in the past, and don’t compare it to y’alls relationship. And never keep secrets or lie to one another.
— Zach and Harlee Barkouskie
 Mr. and Mrs. Barkouskie

Mr. and Mrs. Barkouskie

Harlee and Zach, I always find a song to dedicate to newlyweds.  Finding your song made me really think!  I wanted to find a song that talked about the love for you two have for each other, but I wanted something that went above and beyond that - a song that could also depict the love that you both have for your children.  I listened to song after song, but none of them felt right until I stumbled upon this one.  It was completely new to me!  I played it over and over, just to make sure that it was "the one."  And it definitely is "THE ONE!"  Harlee and Zach, I hope you always remember that you are each "Better Today" because you have one another in your lives each and every day, and even more so because you are blessed with three beautiful children each and every day.  

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the special details and memories on this extraordinary day!

Vendors

Ceremony and Reception:  Groesbeck Convention Center

Coordinator:  Glenda Bennett (mother of the bride that did an EXCEPTIONAL job)

Florist:  Penny Lenamond at Rusty Rose Flower Shop in Groesbeck, Texas

Cake Artist:  LaNei Cadenhead at Butter Cup Bakery in Centerville, Texas

DJ:  Colby Blacknall

Makeup Artist:  Shelby Ellison (sister of the bride)

Hair Artist:  Meredith McClinton, Hubbard, Texas

Bridesmaids Dresses:  Georgio's Bridal

Bridal Gown:  David's Bridal

Tuxes:  Bealls

Officiant:  Clint Mello (ordained/uncle)

Invitations:  Shutterfly and Walmart

Security:  Limestone County Sheriff's Department

This Is It

Keith and Karen said, "I do," on June 16th, 2018 at the First Baptist Church in West, Texas with a reception immediately following the ceremony at Cottonwood Hall, also in West, Texas.  The church was absolutely beautiful, complete with stained glass windows!  And Cottonwood Hall was the perfect venue for the reception with a large dance floor and bar.  

Keith and Karen met each other at the beach while they were both on vacation.  They were introduced by a mutual friend, Tina (also the matron of honor).  Neither one was looking for a relationship, but they were encouraged to meet on a friend level rather than a relationship level.  They ended up exchanging numbers and reluctantly arranged a first date hiking and searching for fossils in a creek bed.  It was such an adventure...literally!  They encountered a snake and a hornet's nest complete with four stings on that first date!  Keith asked Karen to go on a second date.  This time they would go...fishin'.  They've been seeking adventures, fishing, and just enjoying spending time with each other every since.  

Exactly one year later, Keith proposed while they were on a family vacation at the exact same beach where they first met each other.  They were surrounded by all of Keith's family.  Keith and Karen were officially ENGAGED!!

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Keith and Karen love spending time outdoors together, going on adventures and fishing.  Their honeymoon was actually a fishing trip to Rockport, Texas where they caught lots of trout and red fish.  That is a trip that definitely fits their personalities!  After all, Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

 Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

As we photographed the wedding and captured special moments between them we quickly noticed that they were always surrounded by family.  They have such an amazing support system with wonderful role models!  The way that Keith and Karen look at each other is something from a fairy tale.  It is difficult to describe, but can be felt by everyone around them.  They have so much love and respect for one another.  

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June 16th was not just Keith and Karen's wedding day.  June 16th was also Keith's parents wedding day 45 years earlier!  I was not aware of this until the ceremony when Tommy and Sara were asked to stand by Keith and Karen.  

 Tommy and Sara being recognized for 45 years of marriage.

Tommy and Sara being recognized for 45 years of marriage.

Forty-five years!  That is such a commitment of love!  Tommy later told me that they have been through it all - richer and poorer, sickness and health, better and worse - and every single bit of it was (and continues to be) worth it.  Such an inspiration!  Keith and Karen even included them in the reception with a cake to celebrate their anniversary, the original cake topper from their wedding cake 45 years ago, a jar for anniversary wishes, and a special dance for them.  I have to admit, it made me tear up!  

 Tommy and Sara celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.

Tommy and Sara celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
— Desmond Tutu
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Keith and Karen, as I captured special memories of your beautiful wedding day I was deeply touched by the fact that you have an AMAZING family that surrounds you both and supports you both.  While this was beautifully amazing, what was even more amazing was that you both appreciated this rather than taking it for granted.  You truly do have something special.  

A special THANK YOU to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the beautiful memories from Keith and Karen's wedding day!  

Vendors

Ceremony Venue:  First Baptist Church, West

Reception Venue:  Cottonwood Hall, West

Coordinator:  Ann Marie Dennis

Florist:  Michele’s house of Flowers, West

Cake Artist: Jennifer Sulak Gerik, Hillsboro 

Band/DJ: DJ Michael G, West 

Make-Up Artist:  Brenna (personal friend), Houston 

Hair Artist:  Basy from Salon Posh, Waco

Bridesmaids Dresses:  David’s Bridals 

Bridal Gown:  JoAnns Bridals 

Tuxes:  Squires 

Officiant:  Shea Gutierrez, Elm Mott

Fourth at the Fort!

Our Fourth of July Mini-Sessions were so much fun this year!  In the past we partnered with My Little Play Place in Waco, however when they closed their doors we had to find a new partner.  This year I decided to work with Old Fort Parker in Limestone County.  The property at the Old Fort provided the exact backdrop I was looking for with our All-American themed set complete with Coca-Cola and American flags so I decided to ask permission to use the property.  

 Each session was 10 minutes in length and includes three digital images of the client's choice PLUS two adult passes for admission to the Old Fort at a future date during normal operating hours.  

Each session was 10 minutes in length and includes three digital images of the client's choice PLUS two adult passes for admission to the Old Fort at a future date during normal operating hours.  

It was important to ask for permission to use the grounds as it is private property and trespassing is a serious violation in Texas.  The Old Fort also has an active shooting range that is used after hours.  This is another reason to ask permission to use the grounds.  It would be awful to have people using the grounds when someone shows up to shoot their firearm!  

History of Old Fort Parker

You can watch a short two minute video about the history of Old Fort Parker here.

"The Parker family, members of a group of pioneers settling the Brazos Trail Region in the early 1800s, arrived near the future site of Groesbeck in 1833. Determined to make a go of it despite the longstanding presence of Native American populations throughout the surrounding countryside, the Parkers proceeded to clear brush, plant crops, and build a stockade known as “Parker’s Fort.” The fort was constructed of split cedars, anchored in the ground and rising approximately twelve feet. Blockhouses were built in opposing corners, providing a view of the landscape (and as aides in defense). Within the stockade walls the family and fellow colonists built two rows of log cabins as living quarters, completing the project by March of 1834. Despite the stockade’s heavy construction and defensive features, the colony came under a successful attack by a band of local Native Americans and, once it was over, all members of this small pioneering community were either dispersed, kidnapped, or dead. Nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker would be one of the kidnapped victims, launching a legacy of assimilation and tragedy that tops the state’s list of historic frontier legends. Fort Parker, abandoned after the attack, disintegrated with age. In 1930 the first replica of the fort appeared on the site, followed by a rebuild in 1967. Today, Old Fort Parker provides a living history interpretation of early life in the region courtesy of the Fort Parker Historical Society and the city of Groesbeck. A full, year-round event schedule includes trail rides, festivals, and celebrations. Rental facilities are also available for family reunions, weddings, and private parties." (Texas Brazos Trail)

Special thanks to Sarah and her staff for doing all they do to preserve Old Fort Parker.  If you'd like to plan a trip to visit the fort, you can find information on their website.

Just Come With Me

I first met Jack and Bailey... 

...in April of 2017 when they asked me to photograph their family at Jack's family ranch near Kosse, Texas.  Bailey's parents were also visiting from Corpus Christi so they would be included in the session, as well as Jack's parents.  Their ranch is a beautiful place with lush green pastures and mature trees.  Even though I just met them, it was obvious that Jack and Bailey had a special bond.  

 Bailey and Jack with their parents in 2017.

Bailey and Jack with their parents in 2017.

 Jack and Bailey ALWAYS look at each other with love in their eyes!  

Jack and Bailey ALWAYS look at each other with love in their eyes!  

Jack and Bailey first met...

...in Corpus Christi at work.  Bailey was working as an office manager and Jack was one of the vendors.  He delivered goods to her workplace for a month or two and he would always ask Bailey what there was to do in Corpus.  Bailey noticed that Jack was always very polite.  Bailey's best friend noticed (and insisted) that Jack was interested in Bailey, however Bailey just thought that Jack was being professional by creating small talk.  This continued for several weeks until one day he was in his truck and asked Bailey if he could take her to do dinner.  Bailey told him that he could IF, and only if, he could remember her phone number and she shouted her number to him as he sat in his truck.  

Bailey did not expect Jack to remember her phone number.  He was sitting in his truck and she shouted it to him rather than writing it down for him or allowing him to write it down. But Jack did remember her number!  He sent Bailey a text about an hour later which said, "You owe me dinner ma'am."  

That same evening Bailey replied to Jack's message and told him that she was caught up at work and would not be able to make time for dinner with him, even though she was actually at home.  

The following week Jack showed up to deliver goods at Bailey's workplace and he asked her if she would make time for dinner with him.  Again, Bailey said that she would.  However this time she actually did go to dinner with him.  They drove to three different places before finding a restaurant with good customer service.  They enjoyed dinner and laughed...a lot!  

Over the next few months they continued talking casually.  One weekend Bailey decided to travel with Jack for a weekend trip to visit his parents.  They met his parents at Texas Roadhouse (THEIR place to eat) and then went to the family ranch, where Jack showed Bailey around.  Jack had Bailey put on some torn up dirty overalls and they began working on the ranch.  Bailey had a great time!  It was completely different than her life in Arizona.  

Eventually Jack asked Bailey to move in with him and ever since they have been inseparable.  

Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you was beyond my control.
— unknown

Are You With Me?

One day Jack surprised Bailey with a shopping trip for a fancy dress.  Jack would not tell Bailey why she needed the fancy dress.  The next day Jack told Bailey that they were going to dinner that night and she had to be ready at 5:00 sharp...and she HAD to wear the new fancy dress.  Bailey joked about dressing up for dinner at Texas Roadhouse!  Jack laughed and told her to get ready.

At 5:00 Jack told Bailey that it was time to go and she headed to the garage as she normally did.  Jack told her to just use the front door.  After all, "It's easier," he said.  Bailey questioned Jack about this as she walked out the front door and saw a limo waiting for them.  Bailey was so excited and began to get tears in her eyes.  They enjoyed the limo ride to Del Friscos Steakhouse in Houston, a beautiful restaurant with an amazing view.  They enjoyed a delicious dinner, even though Bailey noticed that Jack was acting...different.  Jack told her that he loved her and would continue to love her forever and he would do everything he had to in order to give their family a good life.  He went on to say that it was not the right time to get married because they weren't stable enough yet, but he just wanted her to know that she was his world.  

When they finished their meals, they decided to order dessert.  Bailey ordered cheesecake since that is their favorite dessert.  Jack left to the restroom and was gone for awhile.  When he returned Bailey told him that she didn't know it took 20 minutes to bring out dessert.  About this same time the dessert arrived...and it said, "Will you marry me?" Bailey began to panic because she was sure that the waiter brought them the wrong plate!  She looked at Jack to tell him how embarrassing it was that they brought the wrong plate to their table and saw Jack on one knee with a ring.  Bailey jumped into his arms as she cried and said, "YES!"  She gave him her right hand instead of her left hand!   

jack-and-bailey-engagement-smith-family-photography

Jack and Bailey are engaged!

Jack and Bailey, this song is for you!  I am beyond excited for you two!

You're Still the One

On Saturday, May 26, 2018, Brooke and James made each other a promise in front of their family and friends - a promise to love each other forever.  

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Brooke and James were married on a rather warm and sunny day in Thornton, Texas at the new Thornton Civic Center.  Their wedding was actually the first wedding to take place there and everything was absolutely perfect!  Brooke stated that the venue was so much better than she expected and I must say that I completely agree with her.  The lighting in the building is incredible!  There is so much natural light that pours in through the windows and completely fills the very neutral colored space.  I LOVE the way the city of Thornton used parts from the old Thornton School building in their new civic center!  

 The new Thornton Civic Center

The new Thornton Civic Center

James and Brooke first met when they were high school students at Groesbeck High School in Groesbeck, Texas.  James was a junior and Brooke was a freshman.  Brooke was dating James's best friend when they first met, however after a few months that high school relationship ended.  James and Brooke soon began dating.  Their first "official" date was going to a high school play that school year.  This date led to many more wonderful dates over the years.

Eventually, James decided to propose to Brooke in the driveway of the house he grew up in at Old Fort Parker State Park.  But this wasn't his original plan.  His plan was to actually propose to Brooke down by the water at the lake, but there was a problem.  There was construction going on at the state park and they were in the process of building a new boat ramp at this time so James had to improvise.  The driveway would have to do!  

James had a white Chevrolet pickup truck in high school and still to this day he owns and drives this truck.  After all, it is his baby!  James picked up Brooke on this particular day and drove to the driveway.  He got out of the truck, ran to the front of the truck and opened the hood.  Brooke had no idea what he was doing so she waiting in the truck patiently for James to finish looking at this truck.  He finally walked back to the driver's side of the truck and leaned over to kiss Brooke...and then proposed!  Brooke was completely surprised and answered, "YES," without hesitation!

From the minute I met Brooke and James, I could tell they loved each other and were completely comfortable around each other.  They were both very laid back and nothing seemed to stress them out at all.  After years of high school and the years after high school, they are still so in love and respect each other.  The way they look at each other is truly breathtaking!

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Love is when you look into someone’s eyes, and suddenly, you go all the way inside, to their soul...and you both know, instantly.
— unknown

Family is very important to both Brooke and James and so it was vital that they were included in the details of the wedding day.  Brooke's mom and cousins made the cakes and cupcakes.  The cake stand was truly unique!  It was a custom, one of a kind, cake stand made from pieces of wood that was built by Brooke's cousin.  All of the wood that was used throughout the wedding (cake stand, guest book, table decor, etc) came from their family land near Bremond and Kosse.  They will truly be keepsakes for generations to come!

 Custom wood pieces built by family using wood on their family land.

Custom wood pieces built by family using wood on their family land.

Do what you want. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to do this or that. It is your wedding day and you can do what you want.”
— James and Brooke Davey

Brooke and James, I have a wedding wish for you.  Love is best when shared.  Together you are stronger because together you are ONE.  Here's to a happily every after!  Thank you for allowing me to capture some of the memories from your beautiful wedding day!

Special thanks to Angela Bailey and Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the beautiful memories from Brooke and James's wedding day!

Vendor Credits

  • Venue:  City of Thornton - Thornton Civic Center, Thornton, Texas - Kenny and Pam Capps
  • Cake Artist:  Jennifer Lloyd (mom) and Jamie McCaleb (cousin)
  • Make-up and Hair Artist:  Vanessa Coatney (sister)
  • Bridesmaids Dresses:  Pat's Gowns, Waco, Texas
  • Bridal Gown:  David's Bridal, Waco, Texas
  • Officiant:  Ricky Joe Waller, First Baptist Church, Kosse, Texas

 

Let's Talk Cards

Cards are a great way to share your favorite photographs with your family and friends.  You can send them anytime of the year for any occasion.  We realize you have plenty of choices when it comes to cards and that is why I only order your custom cards from professional print labs.

Customized

Our most popular card that we offer is the Flat Card.  They are simple, yet sophisticated.  Flat cards are two sided cards that are completely customized based on your needs.  You can choose from a wide variety of pre-designed templates or we can design one for you that is completely unique.  No two cards are exactly alike - EVER.

Paper Choice

The options don't stop there!  There are several different types of paper for you to choose from.  They're all fabulous so there's no need to worry about choosing the wrong one.  

  • Classic Felt is one of the finest papers made and has a luxurious feel and smooth finish which create a timeless option for your cards.
  • Potato Paper in an innovative paper with rich colors made from particles of potato starch so your card has a distinctive texture.
  • Pearl Paper offers a subtle shine to your custom cards.  Although this paper is gorgeous, it is not recommended for small text as it can be difficult to read.
  • Linen Paper has a "canvas" type texture and is one of our most popular paper choices.
  • 100% Recycled Paper is made from recycled waste with a bright white matte finish.  
  • Cotton Paper is made from 100% cotton, blending old world elegance with new world sophistication.

Fast Turnaround

Your custom cards will arrive within 3 business days from the time you place your order.  There are also express shipping options (for an additional fee) if you'd like them quicker.  We have even received them in less that 24 hours!  

See for yourself just how gorgeous they are the next time you need cards!

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Introducing the Class of 2018!

Time is flying by!  The end of the 2017-2018 school year is just weeks away.  Everyone is ready for summer break, but the members of the Class of 2018 are extremely ready!  One chapter is ending and another is beginning.  Many decisions must be made.  College?  Apartment?  Roommates?  Job?  Bills?  And so many more!  

Parents will be excited, yet a little sad, and at the same time so incredibly proud.  They too have many unanswered questions which revolve around those same decisions.  

Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child raising, they are unemployed.
— Erma Bombeck

To the Class of 2018, those that I had the privilege of photographing and those that I did not, I wish you the very best.  Just remember when things get tough in your adult life, what feels like the end is merely just the beginning.  

Senior year is for the tears, facing the fears, and the cheers. You find out how close you are to some and how far away you are from others. You’ll have your lasts and your firsts, then look back on it and remember it forever.
— unknown

Texas Bluebonnets!

It’s not only the state flower, but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat. The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.
— Jack Maguire

Every spring many central Texas roadways and pastures are covered in beautiful blue wildflowers, the Texas bluebonnets.  Many people LOVE to have their kiddos photographs taken sitting among these gorgeous blooms and for that very reason I offer Limited Edition Bluebonnet Sessions.  These sessions are limited to four per year and can be taken at any time during the bluebonnet season.  You might be asking yourself, "Why would someone pay for a bluebonnet session when they can just take their own pictures of their kids?"  While that is true, some people want to invest in professional wall art of their little ones enjoying Texas bluebonnets.

 Sneak Peeks of our four Limited Bluebonnet Sessions in 2018.

Sneak Peeks of our four Limited Bluebonnet Sessions in 2018.

If you're interested in booking one of our four Limited Edition Bluebonnet Sessions for next year, consider signing up for our weekly emails so you'll be notified when booking begins.  

Even if you prefer to take your own bluebonnet photos of your little ones, please use caution when doing so.  You can read more about this on our blog article that was recently published in the Groesbeck Chamber of Commerce quarterly magazine or you can find it on our blog

Bluebonnet time is when the sky falls onto Texas.
— A. L. Walker

I Challenge You...

Decisions, decisions.  DSLR camera or smartphone camera?  Today's phones have awesome cameras compared to those of phone cameras just a few short years ago.  Editing those photos using apps is insanely easy!  So why do you even need an expensive DSLR camera if you already have a phone with an awesome camera?

For me, there is a difference between photos taken with a DSLR and those taken with a mobile device.  I take way more personal photos with my smartphone.  It is so much more convenient to pack around.  It's much smaller, much lighter, and much quicker.  However, when I am taking a photograph of something super important I choose to have my DSLR ready.  Why?  Well, it does take better photographs.  

Beyond this great debate, YOU make the photo beautiful...the person behind the lens is making that happen...not the camera.  Cameras are not magic.  They are machines that do what they are told to do. 

So...I challenge you to be more creative with you smartphone camera!  Use it for more than taking quick snapshots of your kiddos.  Every once in awhile play around with it's features and find beauty in something that surrounds you.  I have even compiled a short list of some tips to use during this challenge.

1.  Frame your photo.  Don't just point and shoot.  Actually put some thought into what you want the final product to look like.  Turn on the grid and frame the entire scene, not just the subject.  How do you want this to look when you post it on social media?  

2.  Lighting.  Some things to consider before you frame your photo deal with lighting.  Look around and find an area with good exposure and even lighting paying attention to avoid harsh shadows.  I've recently discovered the sky feature.  Game changer!  Use a flash to enhance the front part of your image while keeping the details of the background.  Just play around with it and have fun!

3.  Explore!  Get out and explore new areas.  When you find something that catches your eye, frame it, check your lighting, and capture it.  Imagine that you're taking the photo for the cover of a magazine.  What do you want others to see?  And make it happen!

4.  HDR.  If you're taking photos of nature or landscapes, HDR might be fun for you to experiment with.  HDR is a filter option that significantly adds more lighting and detail into your image.  Beware, this option is not often favorable when a person is your subject.

5.  Fun tricks.  Do a quick Google search for fun smartphone camera tricks.  There are a ton of them out there!  Check out this awesome video I found on YouTube!  

I hope you accept this challenge and have fun!  And remember, no matter what you use to take your photos, the most important element of a beautiful photo is the person behind the lens.

Fishin'

Karen and Keith were now engaged with a wedding date set in June of 2018!  Such an exciting time in both of their lives!  There are TONS of details to attend to - venue, dress, bridal party, food, drinks, flowers, shoes, cake, photographer (that's where I come in) - the list goes on and on it seems.  

One day Karen was talking to a good friend of mine and she mentioned her need for a photographer for the upcoming wedding.  My friend referred her to me and gave her my contact information.  I LOVE referrals!!  She contacted me and soon after I was hired.  Yay!!

I actually met Karen and Keith in March at their engagement session that was included in their wedding package.  They were so much fun to be around!  You can see the genuine love they have for one another, which just makes you want to be around them.  She informed me that they had some ideas about certain poses, or themes if you will.  They are very active in the outdoors and LOVE fishing together so they did want to incorporate fishing into the session somehow.  

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Keith and Karen met at the beach, where they were encouraged to meet and exchange numbers.  Reluctantly they did meet and arranged a first date hiking at Keith's cousin's house where they looked for fossils in the creek bed.  It was such an adventure...literally!  They encountered a snake and a hornet's nest complete with four stings on that first date!  Keith asked Karen to go on a second date.  This time they would go...fishin'.  They've been seeking adventures, fishing, and just enjoying spending time with each other every since.

Keith romantically proposed one year later at the same beach where they first met each other.  They will say, "I Do," in June and I am beyond excited for them!  

Say, "CHEESE!"

School portrait day.  It's such an exciting day for the students!  They get to dress up in nice clothes, fix their hair and head off to school and anxiously await their classes turn for portraits.  Just think back to your school portrait day.  It was exciting!  And YEARS later, everyone still LOVES looking at those portraits - especially the class portraits!  There is definitely a certain amount of historic value in those and they bring back so many memories about your childhood classmates.  

As exciting as it may be, some students do find portrait day to be a tad nerve-racking.  They really aren't sure what to expect.  I find this to be true with the younger students, as well as with the shy personalities.  Rest assured that I work with the classroom teachers to make this a positive experience for everyone.

I have put together a tip sheet for parents - a guide to help prepare parents and students for portrait day.

school_portrait_day_tip_sheet

Spring portrait day is my favorite!  There are always two background choices.  I always have a very spring-like background with flowers or trees and I have another one that has a rustic theme to it without flowers.  To see the background choices for Hallsburg Elementary's 2018 Spring Portrait Day, click here.  Seeing the background choices prior to portrait day will help you plan your child's outfit for their portrait.  

Remember, school portraits are meant to be an exciting and fun experience while documenting a time in your child's life.  I also believe that these portraits should be affordable to all families with a starting price of $5.  

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate in contacting me.  

Chicks, Chicks and More Chicks!

Our Easter Mini Sessions were nearly sold out!  I'd like to think it was because everyone wanted to spend time with me...but it's a lot more likely that people wanted cute photographic memories of their little ones with CHICKS!  

As I work through all the fun images and get them ready for galleries, I can't help but have a smile on my face the entire time!  Each family created so many memories for their kids, as well as for me!  Just check out the slideshow gallery below to see for yourself.

Mini Sessions are something new I'm doing this year for holidays.  They are meant to be a fun, low cost way to have holiday themed photographs of your child.  Our next mini session event will be 4th of July themed and will take place in June.  If you'd like to be notified when booking begins, please consider signing up for our newsletter.  

Shout Out!

As a business owner I constantly rely on other businesses to help me provide the best service to my wonderful clients.  One such business owner that deserves a shout out is Angela Bailey.  She is the owner of Angela Bailey Photography in Waco, Texas.

Angela has been assisting me capture memories at weddings for the past year and I has agreed to continue to do so for 2018.  There are so many benefits to having two photographers at a wedding!  And I am reminded of that each and every time I upload her images after a wedding.  Her images add variety to mine in so many ways which enhances the collection that I give my clients.

Without further ado, meet Angela Bailey!

Hello! Nice to meet ya’ll! I’m Angela Bailey – lover of all things pretty, clearance shopping, and diet coke. I was born and raised in Waco, Texas. I moved away for a short time, but came back as fast as I could! I love (LOVE) Waco and living in Texas. I’m a wife and mom to our two sweet girls. They are my everything. I started taking photos to document the faces and events of those I love. That hobby turned into a business, and now I’m 110% hooked. Family photography is my passion – every family has a story to tell and my job is to help you tell that story. Nothing makes me happier than catching that perfect moment on camera. I love my clients and the trust they put in me. I take photos in Waco and all surrounding areas. I’m here to help with family photography, newborn sessions, headshots, weddings, and everything in-between. I look forward to working with you!

 Angela Bailey

Angela Bailey

I Loved Her First

I loved her first
I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she’d find you someday
But it’s still hard to give her away
I loved her first
— Heartland

February 10th was a HUGE day for our young daughter, Lily.  She was going on a date with her dad!  They were going to the Daddy Daughter Dance in Riesel, Texas.  

Lily was so excited when she heard about this date!  She had to go dress shopping, shoe shopping, and we couldn't forget the accessories!  Her older sister curled her hair before the big day and then we went to Groesbeck for a photoshoot.  It was truly a magical day for Lily!  And the best part was that she got to spend the entire night dancing with her dad, being treated just like a princess - just like we hope she's treated in the future.

Although the dance was a lot of fun, I feel that it taught Lily some important lessons about life and relationships.  

daddy_daughter_dance_smith_family_photography

Fathers have a HUGE impact on the lives of their daughter.  The role of the father is one of the most important in a daughter's life.  A father can set the standard for how a girl should be treated - as someone special.  Little girls seek approval and attention a lot!  If she is getting that from her father, it satisfies her needs.  If she does not receive that attention, she might seek it elsewhere.  Fathers often have busy lives due to work demands.  When a father gets to spend quality time with his daughter she is being told she is important and that her dad is making time for her and only her.  She is special and should be treated as such.

I do understand that not every little girl has a father in her life.  But every little girl can have a positive role model in their life to show them that they are special.

Creating Unique Valentine Cards

Young kids LOVE Valentine's Day!  They LOVE giving their friends and teachers cards and candy!  They LOVE their classroom party!  

As a busy mom it's super easy to buy a box of cards from the store and call it good.  But it's just so...boring.  Those cards seriously just hold the candy and will find their way to the trash can by the end of the day.  Why not make some super cute cards for your kiddos to exchange - cards that are truly unique?

I am going to share four super simple personalized Valentine card ideas that your kids' friends and teachers will LOVE!  

1.  Cut out some pink and red hearts from construction paper and tie them to strings.  Then tie the strings of hearts to an umbrella.  Add as many hearts as you'd like!  Take a photo with your kid holding the umbrella.

vday idea 1.jpg

2.  Buy a pair of inexpensive heart shaped sunglasses and have your child be a sassy model wearing them!

vday idea 2.jpg

3.  Buy inexpensive paper hearts that look like a doilies.  Then write each friends or teachers name on a heart.  This Valentine takes a little more time to prepare since they are even more personalized for each individual.

vday idea 3.jpg

4.  Make a mustache out of brown or black construction paper and take it to a popsicle stick or straw.  Your child can hold the mustache up to their face as if they are in a photo booth.

vday idea 4.jpg

With each of the above ideas you can use a free photo editing software, such as BeFunky, to add text, frames, graphics, etc to your personalized Valentine cards.  

I'd love you to share any ideas you've tried for creating personalized Valentine Day cards!

These ideas were found at:  https://www.masteringyourfancycamera.com/2018/01/15/4-adorable-and-easy-photo-valentines-for-your-kids/

Love Bugs!

Who wants adorable photographs on their little ones on fun days, such as Valentine's, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Christmas?  Nearly all moms want these photographs, but they don't want to spend a lot of money on them since they are just for keepsakes.  Typically, these photographs are shared online rather than printed and placed on walls.  For this reason I am offering Themed Holiday Mini Sessions at a low price with digital images rather than prints.  

These sessions are only $40 and include your choice of three digital images.  

We had a lot of fun at our Valentine's Day Mini Sessions and we're looking forward to our upcoming Easter Mini Sessions in March!  

 These two cousins had a great time at their Valentine Mini Session!

These two cousins had a great time at their Valentine Mini Session!

Easter sessions are next and will be held outdoors with a bunny!  Pre-booking will begin on February 13th for our newsletter subscribers (so watch your email) and booking for non-newsletter subscribers will begin on February 16th.

Themed Mini Sessions Are Here!

Every year I am asked if I am going to offer holiday themed mini sessions.  I have never offered them before because I always offered holiday themed photographs at My Little Play Place for their themed parties.  However, now that My Little Play Place has closed, I feel that themed mini sessions now have a place with Smith Family Photography.

As a mother, I want photographs of my children with the various holiday themes, but I don't want a full session with lots of prints.  I just want a few prints or digital images to share online.  So that is what I decided to offer.  These themed mini sessions will include three digital images for $40 with the option to purchase additional images or prints.  We will offer the following themed mini sessions:  Valentine's Day, Easter, 4th of July, and Christmas.  We will also be offering free Halloween photos to existing clients at our FIRST ever Client Appreciation Party!

Mini Session Schedule

  • Valentine's Day :  January 20 & 21
  • Easter:  March 17 & 18
  • Fourth of July:  June 23 & 24
  • Halloween:  October 20 (existing clients only)
  • Christmas:  December 1 & 2

Booking will begin approximately 30 days prior to the event, with a special pre-booking for newsletter subscribers followed by an invitation for non-newsletter subscribers to book.

If you'd like to sign up for our newsletter and be the first to hear about special events such as these, please send me your name and email address and ask to subscribe.  

HO, HO, HOPES!

On December 19th I took photographs of kiddos and their families with Santa at a Christmas event for the HOPES program.  The smiles were contagious to say the least!  What is HOPES you might ask?

 Kenda with the HOPES program taking time to visit with Santa at the HOPES Christmas Event.

Kenda with the HOPES program taking time to visit with Santa at the HOPES Christmas Event.

The HOPES program serves families in McLennan County that have kids ranging in ages from prenatal through Kindergarten. It is a free program where the parent educators come along and support the parents with their child/children. The visits usually consist of a parent child interaction that involves items that they most likely have at their home already, child development, and overall family well being.

Children that participate in the program are better prepared for kindergarten. Once a month HOPES hosts a group connection which allows the families to come together and participate in family activities or where the parents can learn from each other.

The December group connection was focused around Christmas. We were lucky enough to have volunteers to play Santa (Richard Aleman) and take pictures (Smith Family Photography). Kenda stated that she "felt that pictures with Santa were a big deal since the majority of our families do not have the opportunity to get them done." HOPES will be printing the pictures and giving them to the families. Each child was also able to receive a gift through generous donations. HOPES was able to serve 26 families that night (almost 90 kids)!

One huge component of the program is literacy and providing board books to the families, both English and Spanish. Many of the families now read books as a family, which is something that was not done before being a part of the HOPES Program.

The HOPES program is always accepting board book donations in both English and Spanish if you'd like to donate.  If you'd like to donate books, please call Kenda at 254-732-0482.

 

With You I Am

When I meet a couple at their engagement session I learn about them - and how they feel about each other - just by watching them interact with one another.  I absolutely LOVE this part of my job!  

When I met Tobie and Chad in November of 2017, I could instantly tell how they felt about one another.  They genuinely love each other on a deep level.  They have the type of love that is full of compassion, support, respect, and encouragement.  When I asked Tobie to tell me their "story," she explained this very type of love.

tobie_and_chad_love_story

Tobie and Chad met unexpectedly in July of 2014.  Tobie was a single mother of eight month old twins, a full time college student, and she also worked part time.  One day her storage building was vandalized and had her belongings stolen.  

During this time, Chad was an investigator for the county.  Any guesses how Chad and Tobie met??  You're right!  He picked up Tobie's case!  He worked really hard to recover her belongings.  Even after most of her belongings were recovered and the case was closed, Chad continued to text Tobie.  She was focused on her twins and school at this time in her life so she had to blow Chad off several times.  However, Chad was not going to give up on Tobie.  He continued to reach out to Tobie and after a month, they finally decided to go on a date to the Prairie Hill Drag Races.  They had an amazing first date and were inseparable from that time forward.  Maybe it was love at first sight?  Fate?  Call it what you want, but they were meant to find each other.  

After six short months Chad decided to apply for the DPS Academy and Tobie applied for the OTA school.  They knew that realistically only one of them would be chosen to advance their careers at this time since only one thousand applicants are chosen for the DPS Academy and only two hundred applicants are chosen for OTA school.  Any guesses who was chosen?? 

THEY BOTH WERE!!  

Before Chad left to the academy, he purchased a home for them, even though he would not be living there while he was at the academy.  About one year later, Chad graduated the academy with Tobie in the audience supporting him.  Earlier that day she took her first final in the OTA program and drove straight to Austin to watch Chad graduate.  

After graduation from the academy, Chad was stationed in Corpus Christi for a year and a half.  Tobie and the kids saw him once a month.  Tobie says that their relationship had never been so strong.  They never doubted their future together even though it was difficult living apart.  

In April of 2017 Chad was stationed in Limestone County and Tobie graduated one month later in May.  They purchased their dream home soon after and have plenty of room for their cattle, which is a big part of Chad's family.  

Chad popped FINALLY popped the question in September of 2017 on a family outing.  They loaded up the truck and went to the river on Chad's grandparent's land.  Tobie and Chad sat on the tailgate as they watched the alligator gar with the noise of the kids playing in the background.  Tobie was taking photos of the kids as they were playing.  During this time Chad says, "Let daddy take picture with y'all," and told Tobie to turn around and count to three before she turned around to take his photo with the kids.  When she turned around, Chad was on one knee with the kids posing behind him.  Tobie caught the exact moment!  

 Chad's proposal to Tobie 

Chad's proposal to Tobie 

It was far from what most people would consider perfect, but it was better than Tobie could have ever imagined.  They were at their special spot with their three most prized possessions.  Tobie told me that they are "far from perfect, but God blessed the broken road."  She explained how they have had to endure several struggles to become what they are today.  They appreciate one another because they know what it's like to not be appreciated.  Together they make a family...a whole family.  They have kept the Lord their number one throughout all their trials and tribulations and thank him every single day for their life together.

 Chad and Tobie are engaged!

Chad and Tobie are engaged!

A Letter to All the Beautiful Mothers

I absolutely LOVE photographing people!  I love watching the way they interact with one another.  I love watching them be genuine with one another.  I love it when I can SEE how they FEEL about one another!  However, there is one thing that I do not like and that is when I hear beautiful mothers talking about how they don't like certain parts of their bodies.  You are BEAUTIFUL!

Women, sometimes men, but mainly women, put so much time and effort into planning their photo session.  They have to go shopping for the perfect outfits, bribing kiddos to cooperate (and husbands too), making sure everyone stays in a great mood, choosing a location that fits with what you have in mind for your wall art, etc.  I notice, believe me...I NOTICE.  I love that you put so much time and effort into your session before it even began!  I want nothing more than you to absolutely LOVE and CHERISH your photographs because they will last a lifetime and the generations to come will LOVE and CHERISH them as well.  

Photography is the memory of our lives.
— unknown

But...

...so many BEAUTIFUL mothers ask me to...

  • "Can you make me look skinnier?"
  • "Please hide me somewhere behind my kids."
  • "I just want photographs of my kids.  I need to lose 10 pounds before I am in them."
  • "Can I see what the photo looks like on your camera?  I hate the way I look."
  • "Photoshop me as much as possible!"

...the list goes on and on.  And it makes me sad.  This makes me sad because you can't even recognize your own beauty.  I'm not talking about being the perfect size, with perfect makeup and hair, and gorgeous clothing.  I'm talking about YOU!  I'm talking about the way you LOVE your family.  I'm talking about the way your family LOVES you.  The way your family looks at you is breathtaking!  

Life is not perfect.  It isn't meant to be.  Life is messy, yet beautiful.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.  Life is meant to be lived in moments.  Moments are meant to be photographed and documented.  

I can promise you this, I was THAT mom.  I have TONS of photographs of my kids, but where am I in these photographs??  I was hiding.  Every single time the camera came out, I ran.  I needed to lose weight.  My hair wasn't fixed.  My outfit wasn't picture worthy.  But my kids...they were adorable!  And all I think when I look at those photographs is how I miss holding them in my arms, getting slobbery kisses, giggling with them as we played, and snuggling.  I can never get that time back.  I hold onto these memories, but at some point they will be lost in my mind.  Lost for no one else to SEE.  My own kids won't even SEE us interacting with one another. 

But I'm certain that IF I did allow myself to be photographed with my children, they wouldn't look at them and laugh at my hair or outfit.  I'd like to think they would cherish those photographs because they are documenting a moment in time between us...our beautiful family.

So to all the BEAUTIFUL mothers out there...BE PHOTOGRAPHED!!  As difficult as it may be, do it for your children and your grandchildren.  You won't be sorry...I promise.  

 I stepped out of my comfort zone and was photographed.  I'm not as thin as I used to be.  My hair was not perfect.  But our foreign exchange student said it best..."I will never forget that family picture."  I am glad I am in this photograph...for my memories and the memories of my family.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and was photographed.  I'm not as thin as I used to be.  My hair was not perfect.  But our foreign exchange student said it best..."I will never forget that family picture."  I am glad I am in this photograph...for my memories and the memories of my family.