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engagement session


Serendipity (n.) finding something good without looking for it


Justin and Lauren were average children in average families. They both grew up spending lots of time at bowling alleys due to their parents being on leagues and hanging out with friends. Justin and Lauren were friends from the beginning. They each attended the other’s birthday parties until Justin turned six when his family stopped bowling.

Years later they met again in high school. This meeting was chance and brief.

Fast forward a few years when Justin and Lauren met for the third time. This time they met at their place of employment, On the Border in Waco, Texas. Justin worked as a busser and server while Lauren worked as a hostess and server. They continued developing their friendship and it didn’t take long for them to begin dating.

They went to Freddy’s in the Baylor area for their first date. Justin explains this date as the beginning of a great friendship.

Exactly one year after their first date Justin proposed to Lauren while they were on a cruise. He wanted it to be memorable so he chose that particular date, which also just happened to be elegant night on the cruise.

He asked. She said, “YES!”

He asked. She said, “YES!”

Justin says they were definitely meant to be be because they couldn’t be more of a match. They have most of the same attributes, and some differences. That mix of similarities and differences is what makes their bond even stronger.

Justin and Lauren will wed on December 14, 2019 in Mart, Texas.

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!!


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.  

Sobota Gerik Wedding - Reception (413).jpg

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

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!  


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

Just Come With Me

I first met Jack and Bailey... 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... 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 are engaged!

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


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.  


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!  

Happily Every Masters


That was the catch phrase for a beautiful day in September.


On September 30, 2017 McKenzie and Harlie were married at the Thornton Rodeo Grounds in Thornton, Texas.  Everything about their wedding was GORGEOUS!  I heard SO many guests compliment her dress, which was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!   

Harlie received so many compliments on her stunning wedding dress!

Harlie received so many compliments on her stunning wedding dress!

When I meet engaged couples I like to hear "THEIR" story - how did they meet, what was the first date, how did he propose, etc.  I first met Harlie and McKenzie at their engagement session in February of 2017.  At that moment I just knew their wedding was going to be spectacular!  They just had a chemistry together that others can see and feel.  It's difficult to explain, but can definitely be experienced.  

Engagement Session - February 2017

Engagement Session - February 2017

At their engagement session I learned that they were high school sweethearts and both attended Groesbeck High School.  McKenzie was one grade above Harlie, but they were both in the same Spanish class while she was a freshman and he was a sophomore.  While they knew each other at this time, they weren't dating.  However, just as the summer began they did start dating.  One of their most memorable early dates was after Harlie's sister's softball game.  McKenzie picked Harlie up so they could hang out.  McKenzie was driving his 1992 Ford single cab pickup with a standard transmission.  While they were on the way back to Harlie's house, McKenzie said he wanted her to try to drive his truck.  Harlie, being the go-getter she is, jumped at the chance.  She stalled the truck about four times and blinded herself when she accidentally turned on the bright LED lights on the gear shifter!  She jumped out of the pickup and said she would never drive that truck again and they laughed the rest of the way to her house!  

Nearly six years later, McKenzie proposed to Harlie in their living room just a few days before Christmas in 2016.  It was a quiet proposal with just the two of them in the living room.  Harlie said is was sweet and romantic.  Just the two of them.  In their living room.  With their ugly oversized Christmas tree they chopped down a few days earlier.  It was definitely not the envisioned proposal (public with someone photographing the event), but it was definitely the perfect proposal!

This Christmas tree was the perfect backdrop for the proposal!

This Christmas tree was the perfect backdrop for the proposal!

Harlie and McKenzie informed me that it was great being high school sweethearts for a lot of reasons, but mainly because they learned so much about each other through those high school years.  They never had to introduce those awkward puberty days to each other because they were experiencing them together!  They went on to say that it makes them feel accomplished in their relationship when they look back and see how far they've come in relation to all their friends' relationships that have ended.  They've made it this far because they communicate with each other.  COMMUNICATION IS KEY!  Harlie explained that McKenzie is terrible at communicating at times so she has to make sure she is asking questions and updating him throughout the day to keep the line of communication open.  

As I write this at the age of 39, Harlie's words are running through my mind, "Communication is key."  When McKenize is not communicating as well as she'd like, she picks up the slack and makes sure she takes the active role of initiating the conversation.  This is so important!  It's so easy to sit back when your partner is sitting back.  But we all know when both people in a relationship sit back and no one takes the wheel, a wreck is inevitable.  

So today I challenge you to take the active role in your relationship and COMMUNICATE!  

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting with capturing the memories from this special day.

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.

Andrew & Brittany

Each and every wedding inquiry I receive makes me feel very blessed that a special couple has considered me for their wedding photography needs.  My pricing structure is different from other many other photographers and I realize that it does not fit every couples needs.  Wedding photography is something to be valued.  After all, you only get one shot at capturing THAT day.  It is important that you choose a photographer that you "click" (haha) with.  Some couples just hire me for their wedding.  Others hire me for their engagement session and/or bridal session, as well as their wedding.  Neither way is right or wrong.  As I said, each couple has different needs.  

With that being said, there are definitely HUGE perks to hiring one photographer for all of your wedding portrait needs.  One such perk is that the photographer and couple get to know each other pretty well.  That makes the portraits feel much more comfortable and genuine.  The photographer gets to know the couple and often times, their families.  This bond that is created also provides the couple with consistent portraits from engagement, to bridals, and finally the wedding.  The style is the same since they decided to use one photographer for the entire wedding.  The photographer can design their Save the Date cards and wedding invitations as well, which saves the couple time and allows them to spend time with one another and their families and friends rather than designing invitations.  


Andrew and Brittany are one such couple that decided to hire one photographer.  We met for the first time on October 14th in Hillsboro for their engagement/family session.  Brittany has two beautiful daughters that they wanted to include in the session.  We all had so much fun!  As the session progressed, everyone became more comfortable with one another and the session became so much more relaxed and the laughs came pouring out!


At the beginning of the session we were able to get some very posed shots and I REALLY had to work at getting some smiles from the girls.  (In case you're wondering, I won!).  


After several posed shots, the girls were super excited for portraits with just them...and even came up with their own poses!  I love it when kids get so involved with the session that they ask to do certain poses.  That is a sure sign that they are enjoying themselves!


From there we moved on to the couples portion of the session.  Andrew and Brittany brought some wedding decorations that they are going to use at their upcoming wedding.  During one of these poses, a Hillsboro Fire Department truck drove by with the sirens going.  At the moment the truck was passing, I randomly had a joke that entered my mind...which I blurted out...because that's what I do :)  I said something like, "Hold that pose right there.  With the fire truck in the background it will be like they are coming for you two because your love is on fire!"  Laughter!  Genuine laughter, which created genuine smiles!  


Andrew and Brittany soon joined in on the jokes when they began laughing hysterically during the next pose because Andrew made a comment about their bellies touching!  Again, genuine laughter!  LOVE IT!!  


From this 45-minute session we all learned about each other.  When I arrive at their wedding, I have already met the bride and groom.  I know what type of personality they have and what makes them smile.  And their beautiful girls will already know me and will most likely not take long to warm up to the camera.  The portraits that I will capture on their wedding day will be genuine and full of emotion.  

Needless to say, I am super excited for next October!!