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Dear Senior, Be Photographed!

During my latest senior session I heard her tell her mother that she did not want to have senior photographs taken.  This immediately made me think about my senior year of high school and how I did not want senior photographs taken.  When I was a senior I just felt like the photographs were a waste of my time.  Just seemed pointless.  Until later in life that is!  Now I wish I had them taken!  And that is exactly what I told Becca at her session.  To those seniors that think they don't want to "waste their time" on senior photographs, I promise you...one day you'll wish you had them.  And then it's too late.

1.  Celebrate!  Your senior year is BIG!  You are leaving childhood and entering adulthood.  You have worked your entire life for this moment.  You have slowly developed into your own self...a unique and amazing individual.  Celebrate this turning point in your life by having yourself photographed.

2.  Express Yourself!  By this point in your life you've found hobbies and other areas of interest that consume a great deal of your time.  Take advantage of senior photographs to showcase these interests by bringing uniforms or props to your session...or even using a location that is special to you.  Make the session all about you!

3.  Memories!  I'm sure you've heard it time and time again, but the years really do fly by.  Right now you're a senior in high school getting ready to graduate.  But before you know it, you're 28 attending your 10 year high school reunion and all you have are the goofy yearbook photos.  Your kids will want to see you...your personality...when you were their age.  I don't see many personalities in the staged senior portraits for the yearbook.

4.  Prime Time!  Everyone looks amazing when they're 18.  So young and full of energy!  You're also more than likely (not all the time) in the best shape of your life.  Document this!  

5.  Gifts!  Use your senior photographs as gifts for friends and family.  We offer albums, books, wall art, cards,  and prints just to name a few of the items.  When my own kids graduated high school last year, we sent everyone that gave them a gift a print for them to keep as a keepsake.  It is full of meaning...and memories.

BE PHOTOGRAPHED! It's better to be photographed than wishing you'd been photographed.

senior_session_with_horse_smith_family_photography

Life After Graduation

Last night was a night to remember for all the high school seniors that graduated.  It was also a night to remember for all the parents, family, and friends.  It is an extremely emotional transition into life as an adult.  Two of my own graduated last night so I can definitely vouch for this!  

I feel like I need to give some advice for the graduates, but I just can't find the right words.  Each time I type something out, it sounds cliche and honestly does not feel like something I would truly say.  So after I type out these words of wisdom I just erase them and walk away.  Graduation was last night and yet I still find myself wanting to give them some advice.  But how, when I can't seem to find the genuine words to summarize my thoughts?  

I finally realized that I am better at writing lists than writing a summary.  So I came up with a list  with five words of wisdom for life after high school graduation.

1.  Some friends will drift away.  As you advance through your life you will realize that friends come and go as you change classes, jobs, careers, etc.  It is just the way it goes.  We need different friends in our life at different points in our lives.  The people who are worth keeping around, will always be there when you need them to be.  Personally, I've had several good friends throughout my life.  I have a small handful of true friends that are always there for me.  We don't talk every day.  We might not even talk for an entire month.  But when I need them, they are always there for me.  THAT is a friend.

2.  Money suddenly has more value.  When you were in high school, your parents probably bought most of your stuff - clothes, shoes, cars, etc.  For example, when I take my kids shopping for shoes I always hear, "but they're only $80."  Somehow $80 seems like a lot more money when you realize you've had to work for 9 hours to make that much money!  

3.  Stay healthy.  Your body is the best it has ever been at this point in your life.  Stay healthy!  Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to maintain your health.  It is so much easier to stay healthy rather than make a move to a healthy lifestyle change later on in life.

4.  Being "grown-up" is not all it's cracked up to be.  Now that you've graduated, you will begin taking on many responsibilities.  With this comes the responsibility of bills.  The bills come week after week, month after month, and year after year.  I am now 38 years old and the bills have yet to stop coming!  There are many perks to being an adult.  One of them is not bills.

5.  LIVE!  Live your life to the fullest!  Don't rush into marriage and a family.  There will be plenty of time for that, I promise.  Take time to do all the things that you want to do.  Travel with friends.  Go to college.  Start a career.  Live your life.  Fly!  Take this time and just do you!

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!  I wish you all the best in all that you do!  

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.
— Brian Littrell

Five Tips for Finding the Perfect Location!

I've been looking at images on Google for over a year now and wondering what it actually looks like in person...and how portraits would turn out at this particular location.  I finally had the chance to try out this location when a family contacted me about a family session.  We were discussing possible locations and nothing was really jumping out at her as a "perfect" location.  I told her about this new location and asked if she'd like to be the first client to be photographed at this location.  She loved the idea after I showed her some of the images from Google.

Now anytime I decide to actually use a new location, I have to actually go to the location and get out and explore.  I want to find spots that will provide a great location for the upcoming session.  I have to consider many factors, such as lighting at different times of the day and backgrounds.  I also look for any safety concerns and consider those with the ages of the clients.  

Choosing the "perfect" location can often times make or break the session.  We obviously don't want to break it!  We want to MAKE it!  Here are the most important factors I consider when choosing a location:

1.  TIMING   I will always suggest to clients that they either choose a time in the very early morning or an hour before sunset.  I'm not a morning person and honestly 99% of my clients would rather have a session in the late afternoon.  Most first time clients want to schedule a session around noon because it is so bright outside.  The problem with noon sessions is the simple fact that the sun is so high in the sky and casts very harsh shadows during this time of the day.  As the sun lowers in the sky, it allows the light to fall softly leaving less shadows.  If you absolutely have to schedule a session when the sun is high in the sky, you will either need to find a very shady area or find a photographer with an amazing flash system.  

 This session took place around 6:00pm, which was about an hour and a half before sunset.  Notice how there are not any harsh shadows.  The light is softly falling on each of the family members evenly.

This session took place around 6:00pm, which was about an hour and a half before sunset.  Notice how there are not any harsh shadows.  The light is softly falling on each of the family members evenly.

2.  SAFETY   When considering a possible location for a client I take into account the ages of all the subjects that will be at the session.  The last thing I want is for someone to get hurt because I put them in a potentially dangerous situation.  This family has an adorable baby girl that is just a few months old.  They typically use a stroller when they are out.  This particular location has stone steps that you must walk down to get to the location.  This is important to know ahead of time so the family can be prepared since strollers and stairs are not a safe combination.  

 Notice the stone steps the family is sitting on.  It would not be safe for a stroller to travel down (or up) these steps.  If I did not know about them before the session, I wouldn't have been able to prepare them for this potential hazard.

Notice the stone steps the family is sitting on.  It would not be safe for a stroller to travel down (or up) these steps.  If I did not know about them before the session, I wouldn't have been able to prepare them for this potential hazard.

3.  PRIVACY   Another factor I always consider is the amount of privacy the location has, or doesn't have.  Some clients are more bashful than others and don't like others watching them during a session.  Some clients have children that are easily distracted by surroundings that are too busy.  Privacy is a VERY important factor for certain sessions, such as a bridal session.  I often tell my clients about the activity level of locations so they can determine if the privacy, or lack of, will be an issue for them.  As a photographer, I can work around others that pop up in the background occasionally.  It honestly just depends on their comfort level and how distracted the surroundings will make them.

 This session took place on a chilly day in April.  There were a few hikes that walked through during the session, but it was pretty much secluded without visitors.  I imagine this location would be very busy during the Texas summer months!  

This session took place on a chilly day in April.  There were a few hikes that walked through during the session, but it was pretty much secluded without visitors.  I imagine this location would be very busy during the Texas summer months!  

4.  PERMITS/AVAILABILITY  Different locations have different requirements.  While some parks are completely free to use whenever you'd like, others ask that you ask for permission prior to the session.  It is a good idea to look at the calendar of events for a particular location prior to booking the session.  For example, Cameron Park in Waco hosts many events.  It is important to know this prior to showing up for a session.  Early in my photography career, I planned a session at Cameron Park for the early morning.  I was greeted at the entrance with a barricade!  There was a special event taking place that made this location closed.  I was so embarrassed!  Luckily I know the area pretty well so I was able to suggest a nearby location and have the session.  I learned a VERY important lesson that day!  

 This session took place at Mother Neff State Park in Eddy, Texas.  It is a State Park, which has an entrance fee.  It is important to know about this prior to the session so the client will be prepared to stop at the gate and pay the entrance fee.

This session took place at Mother Neff State Park in Eddy, Texas.  It is a State Park, which has an entrance fee.  It is important to know about this prior to the session so the client will be prepared to stop at the gate and pay the entrance fee.

5.  VARIETY   Another factor I consider when suggesting possible locations for clients is the overall variety of background.   I always ask my clients what type of setting they are looking for and then suggest places around that idea.  However, I like to expand upon their initial idea when we are at the location and walk around to new areas to provide them a variety of background options. 

 The actual area we used at Mother Neff State Park was small in size, but from photographing the family from the different areas was essential in providing them a variety of different backgrounds for their portraits.  Notice how all five of these photographs have very different backgrounds, yet they are just steps away from one another. 

The actual area we used at Mother Neff State Park was small in size, but from photographing the family from the different areas was essential in providing them a variety of different backgrounds for their portraits.  Notice how all five of these photographs have very different backgrounds, yet they are just steps away from one another. 

In summary, to get the most out of any location for a photography session, one must visit and assess the location weeks (perhaps even months) before the actual session date.  If you take the time to do this carefully, you will avoid wasting everyone's time and avoid disappointments from assumptions.  When I walk a location, I imagine different poses in various locations for different types of clients.  This helps me when I later plan a session at the location.  

If you'd like to learn more about Mother Neff State Park, you can read more here.  There are a lot of hiking trails and camping sites!  

Top 5 Reasons to Have an Engagement Session: Harlie and McKenzie's Engagement

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Harlie and Mckenzie during their engagement session, which was included in their wedding package.  We had an absolute blast during the session, which was FULL of laughs!  

Harlie and Mckenzie have known each other a long time because her mom and his dad used to high school rodeo together.  Due to this, their families have pretty much always known each other.  During Harlie's freshman year, which was Mckenzie's sophomore year, they were in Spanish class together.  On May 29th, right after school released for summer break, they began dating.  Their first date was to the local Chinese restaurant in Mexia...more than likely :)  Harlie said that was almost six years ago so she could be wrong :)  

Harlie and Mckenzie's wedding will take place in Thornton.  The chose that location because it's really relaxed and close to family.  As far as a honeymoon goes, they're still planning that!  But one thing's for sure, they WILL stay in a bungalow on top of the water somewhere!

I love shooting engagement sessions before the wedding for several reasons, but I managed to narrow it down to five reasons.

1.  The couple has nice photographs before they start getting busy with all the wedding planning...and life in general.

2.  The couple has a chance to take creative photographs and just let loose...enjoying this time making memories.

3.  You can also use the photographs for your actual wedding.  Think Save the Date cards, wedding invitations, thank you cards, reception decorations, etc.  

4.  Practice!  The big day is quickly approaching and an engagement session gives you practice being in front of the camera.

5.  Meeting the photographer...and the photographer meeting you!  Both parties get to know each other and begin to feel comfortable with one another BEFORE the wedding.

Songs That REALLY Click: Top 5 Songs About Photography

I listen to a lot of music!  I take a lot of photographs!  I have heard a lot of songs about photographs!  I have decided to share my "Photograph Playlist," which includes my favorite FIVE songs about photographs.  These songs vary by genres so you're sure to find one that you love.  

Without further ado, here are the top five songs that REALLY click: 

1.  Photograph by Charlie Robinson.  

2.  Picture by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.  

3.  Photograph by Nickelback.

4.  Photograph by Ed Sheeran.

5.  Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel.

There are a lot of songs about photographs!  You can find several more here.  I'd love to hear from you...what is your favorite song about photographs?

5 Tips for the Perfect Backyard Wedding

Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting times in a person's life.  You are planning the day that you commit to sharing your life with another person forever, as well as planning the day that your friends and family will be celebrating this momentous day with you.  Traditional weddings can be rather costly, which make a backyard wedding an ideal choice for those couples that are looking for a venue that is more intimate, unique, and memorable.  

I recently photographed a wedding, a backyard wedding, of Kia and Madison Deems.  Their wedding was absolutely beautiful!  And as I work through the photographs of their special day, I began thinking about five tips for the perfect backyard wedding.

1.  Location!  Let's face it, traditional venues can be very expensive!  Backyard weddings take this expense away since the bride and groom typically use a backyard that belongs to a family member or friend.  When choosing a backyard for your wedding, consider the location.  What type of location or setting are you going for?  Trees?  Rocks?  Flowers?  Waterfront?  

 Kia and Madison chose a location on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco, Texas for their backyard wedding.  Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

Kia and Madison chose a location on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco, Texas for their backyard wedding.  Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

2.  Bugs!  If you are planning a backyard wedding, you must take bugs into consideration - especially in Texas!  You want your guests to be comfortable and enjoy themselves at your celebration, not spend the evening swatting at mosquitoes.  

 Kia and Madison were extra prepared and offered their guests sunscreen as well as bug spray.  Photo credit:  Anna Johnson-Smith for Smith Family Photography

Kia and Madison were extra prepared and offered their guests sunscreen as well as bug spray.  Photo credit:  Anna Johnson-Smith for Smith Family Photography

3.  Space.  When planning your backyard wedding, you must consider the amount of space available for guests.  You don't want to invite so many people that you run out of room for your guests.  Obviously, the larger the backyard is, the more guests you can invite.  Often times, couples choose a backyard wedding to keep the special day small and intimate with those closest to them.  

 This backyard is very large, which allowed Kia and Madison to designate areas for different parts of their big day.  There was a setup for the ceremony and after the ceremony, everyone gathered at the nearby tables, patio, and house for the reception.  Photo credit:  Anna Johnson-Smith for Smith Family Photography

This backyard is very large, which allowed Kia and Madison to designate areas for different parts of their big day.  There was a setup for the ceremony and after the ceremony, everyone gathered at the nearby tables, patio, and house for the reception.  Photo credit:  Anna Johnson-Smith for Smith Family Photography

backyard_wedding_setup_smith_family_photography_waco

4.  Lighting.  Backyard weddings can be very dark if the reception spills on over into the evening hours.  For that it is necessary to have adequate, yet romantic, lighting so the guests can mingle with the bride, groom, and other guests.  There are so many creative and unique lighting ideas for backyard weddings!

backyard_wedding_hanging_jar_lights_smith_family_photography_waco
backyard_wedding_candles_in_jars_smith_family_photoraphy_texas
backyard_wedding_candles_for_lights_smith_family_photography_waco
 Kia and Madison used several different types of lights to create a romantic mood for their wedding reception.  My favorite was Madison carrying a lantern to the boat dock to light the path for him and his beautiful bride, Kia, so they could ride a boat down the Brazos River.  Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

Kia and Madison used several different types of lights to create a romantic mood for their wedding reception.  My favorite was Madison carrying a lantern to the boat dock to light the path for him and his beautiful bride, Kia, so they could ride a boat down the Brazos River.  Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

5.  Entertainment!  Every wedding, even backyard weddings, need some entertainment.  Some couples choose to have a dance floor under a tent, while others choose to have lawn games.  Kia and Madison chose to have a giant game of Jenga at their wedding!  

 Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

Backyard weddings are very unique and creative.  They create lifelong memories for the bride and groom, as well as the guests.  When planning a wedding, remember anything goes!  It's your day so make it exactly what you want!

Thank you Kia and Madison for giving me the opportunity to photograph your special day!  It was truly an honor.  

Special thanks to Amber Payne, my dependable other half at weddings.  Thank you for all that you do!

Top 5 Tips for Taking Vacation Photographs

Our summer family vacation is always over the 4th of July.  We enjoy finding new places to watch the awesome firework displays.  Often times we spend this time in the Arlington area and watch the fireworks from the Rangers Ballpark.  In my opinion, baseball on the 4th of July is just about as American as it can get.  Add fireworks to that and you have a PERFECT 4th of July! 

This year we decided to change it up a bit since some of our children are still very small and don't quite enjoy the game yet.  We went to Port Aransas, Texas.  We've never watched a firework display from the beach so that is what we set out to do.  We were definitely not disappointed! 

Our vacation lasted five days and many memories were made during this short time.  Of course I brought my camera and all of the older kids have cell phones with cameras.  Let's just say that several hundred photographs were taken by our family! 

Before we set off for the beach vacation, I did some research about tips for taking vacation photographs.  I found a large array of tips, however one concept in particular stuck with me.  LIVE!  Don't watch your vacation through a lens, but LIVE your vacation!  That was a completely foreign concept for me as a photographer and as a mother.  I have always been the one with my camera ready to capture the kids' cuteness and as I reflected upon this idea I realized that I have thousands upon thousands of photographs of my kids, I only feel that I "lived" a handful of those.  There are so many cute things that I captured in film and/or digital format and many of them do not have a story to go with them.  I was simply pushing a button.  I made a decision at this point and that was to keep the camera handy, but not keep it ready at all times.  However, before I could do this I needed to narrow down instances when I would like to take photographs during our vacation.  I came up with a list of five tips for taking vacation photographs that I'd like to share with you. 

1.  Be prepared.  Before you pack your camera, consider where you are taking it.  We were going to the beach and I know that sand is an enemy to my camera.  For that reason I chose to leave my camera in the house rather than take it to the beach with all the sand. 

 The view of the beach dunes from our back door during sunset.

The view of the beach dunes from our back door during sunset.

2.  Be creative.  Be creative in how you pose your family members and/or the angles of your shots.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  Lay down on your tummy to get a direct view of someone or something or get up above them to get a bird's eye view.  The sky is the limit! 

 Our oldest, William, took this photograph of the two youngest, Lily and Sadie.  The color was very blue due to the lights in the Texas State Aquarium, but he changed it to black and white.  Don't be afraid to experiment and get creative!

Our oldest, William, took this photograph of the two youngest, Lily and Sadie.  The color was very blue due to the lights in the Texas State Aquarium, but he changed it to black and white.  Don't be afraid to experiment and get creative!

3.  Candids.  Candid photographs are real and allow you to feel and see with atmosphere and mood of a particular moment in time.  These are not staged, but instead real photographs without any prompting.  My kids LOVE taking these types of photographs and they are often SUPER close to the subject...usually a person.

 Candid photographs of me and my husband, John, eating Oreos while visiting the USS Lexington.

Candid photographs of me and my husband, John, eating Oreos while visiting the USS Lexington.

4.  Keep the camera handy.  You never know when the unexpected is going to happen.  Often times these unexpected events are awesome once in a lifetime experiences.  If you can capture them, they will be treasured forever.  Keep the camera handy, but don't keep it in your hands at all times.  It's not the end of the world if you don't capture your daughter petting a sting ray.  Sure, it's cool, but living in the moment is so much more important.

 Our youngest making an unexpected kissy face while visiting the Texas State Aquarium.

Our youngest making an unexpected kissy face while visiting the Texas State Aquarium.

5.  LIVE!  Do NOT live life through the lens of your camera.  Do not be scared to put the camera down and live life and enjoy your vacation.  You will still have the memories, even if they aren't recorded on your SD card. 

I’m living inside the moment, not taking pictures to save it.

—Drake, “The Resistance”
— http://www.theminimalists.com/photos/

While we were on vacation, I put down the camera.  I took less than ten photographs the entire trip.  I decided to pass the camera to the kids, who enjoyed playing the part of the photographer.  The camera was passed between four children and each has their own style.  The camera was not allowed at the beach.  It only came with us when we visited the USS Lexington and the Texas State Aquarium.  We LIVED our vacation and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Didn’t have a camera by my side this time,
hoping I would see the world through both my eyes.

Today I finally overcame,
trying to fit the world inside a picture frame.

Maybe you should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes;
it brought me back to life.

—John Mayer, “3×5”
— http://www.theminimalists.com/photos/

Top 5 Tips for Taking Outdoor Portraits

I recently began scheduling all my sessions during the "Golden Hour," which is an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset.  The sun during this time is absolutely beautiful!  It is low in the sky and has a beautiful golden color to the light.  However, some families - especially those with little ones - cannot have a session during those times due to sleep schedules.  Those sessions must be held when the sun is high in the sky and honestly, difficult to work with.  For those times I have a few tips that I'd like to share with you so you too can capture beautiful portraits of your family.

1.  Find some shade!  When the sun is very bright and high in the sky, harsh shadows are created on your subject (think "raccoon eyes").  You don't want to photograph someone standing in a dark cave, but rather someone standing in a shadow created by a tree or building.  You want the light to light the image, but not create harsh shadows. 

 This senior session was a little bit before "Golden Hour" so the sun was still too high in the sky and it was creating shadows on her face so we found some shade to eliminate the shadows, but kept her in the sun for the natural light.

This senior session was a little bit before "Golden Hour" so the sun was still too high in the sky and it was creating shadows on her face so we found some shade to eliminate the shadows, but kept her in the sun for the natural light.

2.  Find light colored walls to bounce light.  Sometimes the shade makes your subject too dark, especially when there are a lot of buildings around.  Look for a wall or other large object that is white or light in color to reflect the sunlight onto the subject.  Large white objects aren't everywhere so this is somewhat difficult to do unless you know the area well.  

 This senior session was held in downtown Groesbeck, Texas in an alley.  While there is plenty of light, the shadows from the buildings do make it a little dark.  This issue is remedied by using the light colored door to serve a reflector and bounce the light back onto the subject.

This senior session was held in downtown Groesbeck, Texas in an alley.  While there is plenty of light, the shadows from the buildings do make it a little dark.  This issue is remedied by using the light colored door to serve a reflector and bounce the light back onto the subject.

3.  Golden Hour.  Many clients question me when I suggest photographing during this time because they assume we will run out of sunlight.  I schedule sessions about an hour before sunset so I can utilize the shade, light colored walls, etc. and then take advantage of the beautiful "Golden Hour."  During this time the sunlight is a beautiful golden color since it is lower in the sky.  

 This family session was taken during the "Golden Hour."  Notice how the light is a beautiful golden color?

This family session was taken during the "Golden Hour."  Notice how the light is a beautiful golden color?

4.  Look for unique locations.  Have you ever heard the phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover?"  The same holds true for photography locations.  Often times when we think about locations for portraits we think of parks or other scenic locations.  However, there is beauty all around us!  There are so many unique structures that surround us and many of them make beautiful backdrops.  I urge you to think out of the box when looking for the "perfect" location.  

 This senior session took place on his family's ranch in Normangee, Texas.  These were the old cattle pens.  They could use some work, but they looked great in this session and provided that rustic feeling to his senior portraits.

This senior session took place on his family's ranch in Normangee, Texas.  These were the old cattle pens.  They could use some work, but they looked great in this session and provided that rustic feeling to his senior portraits.

5.   Backlighting.  If all else fails, use backlighting - that is place your subject in front of the sun essentially.  Their back will be facing the sun.  This can be tricky to do correctly, but don't be afraid to experiment.  You might get some fun glares or a beautiful light haze in your photographs!  The backlight from the sun will create a rim of light around your subject and this looks especially beautiful when the sunlight is leaking in through the hair.

 Backlighting!  The sun is behind this senior and the sunlight is leaking through her hair, which creates a beautiful accent to her image.

Backlighting!  The sun is behind this senior and the sunlight is leaking through her hair, which creates a beautiful accent to her image.

Feel free to share your top tips for taking outdoor portraits if you'd like...or ask me any questions you might have about taking outdoor portraits.  The teacher in me likes to share ideas :)

You can find more information about these tips here.

I Love Weddings! Top 5 Reasons Why I Love Weddings

I just love weddings!  Plain and simple.  It seems almost everybody loves weddings and many people have their favorite parts which are their favorites for very different reasons.  Weddings are incredibly emotional and bring out so many emotions in each of us. 

I recently photographed a wedding in Groesbeck, Texas and as I worked through the images I felt an array of emotions which compelled me to write this list...The Top 5 Reasons Why I Love Weddings!

1.  LOVE!  I love weddings because there is so much love and happiness all around!  The bride and groom are happy.  They are filled with a tremendous amount of love.  The family and friends are also happy - happy for their loved ones that will soon be united in marriage.  At this wedding, the venue changed slightly due to flooding in the area.  The wedding was supposed to be outside, however the grounds were very soggy and the weather on March 19th was pretty windy and chilly as well.  This caused the wedding to move inside a small building.  To some this might have caused the bride to become upset, however Courtney had a carefree attitude and was determined to make the small room absolutely beautiful for her wedding day.  When I showed up the day before to look at the venue, she was super calm and just told me, "When you get here tomorrow this room is going to look so different...it's going to be crowded, but it will be beautiful."  When I showed up on the wedding day and saw the small room, I was honestly shocked!  I NEVER would have imagined it would have looked so amazing!  Love kept her calm.

 The Visitor's Center at the Historic Old Fort Parker site in Groesbeck, Texas was a wedding venue.  The wedding had to be moved indoors due to recent flooding on the grounds.

The Visitor's Center at the Historic Old Fort Parker site in Groesbeck, Texas was a wedding venue.  The wedding had to be moved indoors due to recent flooding on the grounds.

2.  THE DRESS!  I love seeing the bride's dress at a wedding!  There are so many beautiful dresses out there that and bride's look absolutely stunning in them!  Courtney wasn't any different!  The look on the groom's face when he sees his bride in the dress is priceless.  Many people don't notice this since they are all looking at the bride as well.  Seriously, how can you not look at her as she's coming down the aisle?

 A beautiful bride in a beautiful dress!

A beautiful bride in a beautiful dress!

3.  DYNAMICS!  I'm a people watcher.  Everywhere I go, I watch people.  I am intrigued by the way they interact with one another.  As a photographer I get to watch people and photograph them interacting with one another.  I can honestly say that in two years of photographing families, I have yet to find two that are the same.  They might look the same at the surface, but their mannerisms and behaviors towards one another are completely different.  This isn't a bad thing at all!  Imagine how boring this world would be if we were all the same?  This wedding was not only a union of a couple, but a union of a young family.  Courtney has two children that Dustin married as well.  Watching him interact with those young boys melted my heart.  They are so lucky to have a man in their lives that cares for them that much.  It is obvious just how much those young boys are loved by their parents, family, and friends. 

 The first family photograph!

The first family photograph!

4.  KIDS' REACTIONS!  Look at the photograph above.  The look on the boy's face says SO much!  Again, I'm a people watcher so I love watching facial expressions.  This image cracks me up because the young man looks like he is telling the world, "This is MY mom and I will ALWAYS be here for her!"  His mouth is clenched and his eyes are almost glaring at me.  Either he really dislikes me (which I doubt because everyone adores me (: ) or he's giving the world a secret message that he protects his mom.  I'm pretty sure she feels the same way about him too!

5.  THERE'S ALWAYS ONE IN EVERY CROWD!  At every wedding that I have attended, there is always one guest that is the entertainer.  I LOVE watching them!  They just have a fun attitude that draws attention.  Well, this wedding there were TWO entertainers!  Courtney is a lucky lady because she both of them as dads!     

 When Courtney danced with her dad, they had an upbeat song which was fun to watch them dance too. 

When Courtney danced with her dad, they had an upbeat song which was fun to watch them dance too. 

 Courtney's dad striking a pose.

Courtney's dad striking a pose.

 Two fathers, both with big personalities!

Two fathers, both with big personalities!

I am sure you have your own top 5 reasons why you love weddings and I'd love to hear about them!  Feel free to comment below.