Maren and Max: A Michigan Wedding

I’m not sure where to start with this one … other than to say that I adore Max and Maren. Adddoorrreeeee …. I first met Maren four years ago, when she was a student at Ball State taking part in a course that gave birth to this incredible musical. Then, in 2011, I followed along for my day job as Maren and a handful of other exceptionally talented theater students traveled to New York for a student showcase I wrote about for the university’s alumni magazine. It was shortly after this that she told me someday I was going to photograph her and Max’s wedding.

That someday came earlier this month, on a gorgeous Friday in Maren’s hometown of Novi, Michigan. I count all my weddings as special, but this one even more than most. I’m sentimental about it for a lot of reasons, but primarily because I don’t often get to see a couple move together through college and on to their wedding day.

Max and Maren, thank you. THANK YOU. For picking me. Trusting me. Allowing me to give you these memories of this most special day of your lives together. I’ve said this to my couples before and I’ll say it again: Your wedding day goes by so fast, in such a fragmented way, that years from now, how you remember it will be defined by these photos. I hope you love them as much as I do. Much love to you in your marriage! XOXO – G

PS – And yes, yes, if you couldn’t tell, Max and Maren are one GOOD LOOKING COUPLE. Theater weddings, man … I could shoot a few more of these!

maxmaren-(6-of-545) maxmaren-(7-of-545) maxmaren-(31-of-545) maxmaren-(35-of-545)I love that this moment—Max and Maren reading the letters they wrote one another—was happening at pretty much the exact same time.maxmaren-(59-of-545) maxmaren-(63-of-545)My second shooter and dear dear friend April was again with me for this wedding and I’m SO grateful to her for all the work she’s done for me this season and seasons past. Like this shot she captured of Maren with her awesome younger sister, Amelia. This is so candid, so real, it’s become one of my favorite moments from the day. maxmaren-(84-of-545) maxmaren-(100-of-545) maxmaren-(105-of-545)Maren and Max got married at her dad’s church, where he officiated the ceremony. I’ve shot a lot of weddings and I can’t recall one that got me as choked up as this one. When Maren’s dad spoke about the “talk” he had with her the night she was born, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. maxmaren-(112-of-545) maxmaren-(123-of-545)On the limo ride over, I asked Maren what moment of the day she was most looking forward to. She shared it would be walking back down the aisle as Max’s wife. Then this happened and well, I think this might be one of my favorite recessional shots EVER. maxmaren-(144-of-545) maxmaren-(162-of-545) maxmaren-(258-of-545)Them. This church. So special. maxmaren-(262-of-545) maxmaren-(269-of-545) maxmaren-(284-of-545)Oh Maren. You are sooooo pretty. (Aren’t her eyes gorgeous? The perfect shade of people-spend-lots-of-money-on-colored-contacts-to-replicate-them green.)maxmaren-(291-of-545) maxmaren-(301-of-545)This was right around the time April and I both stood back to agree that Max? He was BORN to wear a tuxedo. maxmaren-(302-of-545)Another plus in the “Awesome Husband Material” category for Max? The fact he bought Maren this tandem bike off Craig’s List, then spent months restoring it for their big day. maxmaren-(314-of-545) maxmaren-(317-of-545)I was so lucky to get these two in front of my camera. maxmaren-(338-of-545) maxmaren-(352-of-545) maxmaren-(354-of-545)Let’s celebrate with a little bubbly! maxmaren-(368-of-545)maxmaren-(374-of-545) GAHHHH…the light, these poses. I love them! That image on the left there? Not every couple looks this good doing this (paging Baby and Johnny). But of COURSE these two do!maxmaren-(375-of-545)The hotel where we all stayed and the reception took place had some great nooks for a few more relaxed portraits before the party began. maxmaren-(403-of-545)When the hotel lobby has a tic-tac-toe board for its guests, you as a wedding photographer get creative. Also, how CUTE are the girls’ TOMS here? I LOVE this shot! maxmaren-(417-of-545) maxmaren-(418-of-545)Because, you know, I haven’t given you enough reasons to love these two, they made their grand entrance dancing to Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True.” maxmaren-(440-of-545)Speeches and cake and cake and speeches (there were some GOOD ones at this wedding too… tear-inducing for sure!)maxmaren-(447-of-545) maxmaren-(454-of-545) maxmaren-(457-of-545)Here they are ……the Ball State crew. So proud to be affiliated with this group of Cardinals — chirp chirp everyone! maxmaren-(477-of-545)And finally, the dancing. Dance-the-night-away dancing of epic proportions (of which April and I actually ditched our gear once we were off the clock to come back and join in on). What a FUN night! maxmaren-(484-of-545) maxmaren-(514-of-545) maxmaren-(535-of-545) maxmaren-(526-of-545)Max and Maren, thank you AGAIN!!! I love you both!

Mallory and Ben: A Fort Wayne Wedding

I told Mallory earlier tonight I was going to get her wedding posted this evening and even though I know it’s WAY late, I still wanted to keep my promise! (Plus I’m just too excited to go to bed NOT having posted these images!) What a wonderful day these two had on September 20—perfect weather, surrounded by all their beautiful friends and family. Mallory is a sweetheart to the core and I could see the way she wanted everyone to feel taken care of throughout the day (including her photographer!). With that in mind, I’m so hoping she loves these images as much as I do, because I’d hate to disappoint a gal who has to be one of my sweetest, most considerate brides! Mallory and Ben, it was a PLEASURE to meet and work with you both! Congrats on your status as newlyweds and here’s to loving marriage now as Mr. and Mrs! — Gail

004_malloryben 014_malloryben Of all the getting ready photos, this image made me smile the most. Mallory’s getting help slipping into those high heels of hers from her new sister-in-law, Anita (Ben’s brother, Andrew, and Anita got married earlier this summer). It’s fun to see a couple at that age where they’re in that season of going to one another’s weddings, supporting each other through one of the biggest days of their lives. I love it! 034_mallorybenSo grateful to have my second shooter, April, there with me on this day! She captured this B&W shot of Ben and Mallory’s sweet first look and I think it’s my favorite from that special moment! 042_malloryben 045_malloryben 046_mallorybenHELLLOOOOO BEAUTIFUL BRIDE! Mallory was stunning — her hair, her makeup, her dress, that bouquet! I was also extremely smitten with a great patch of light I found for us to shoot our first round of portraits in. WOW to these! 084_malloryben 085_malloryben 089_malloryben 095_malloryben 100_malloryben356_mallorybenWhat great (and good looking!) families they both have! 117_malloryben 121_malloryben 134_mallorybenNow that’s a GOOD looking wedding party! Also, I absolutely LOVED the colors of this wedding! I told Mallory she did such a wonderful job on the color of her bridesmaids’ dresses and their bouquets were just incredible! The colors popped! Oh, and what photographer DOESN’T love a group of guys wearing socks as cool as these?! 141_malloryben 145_malloryben 146_malloryben 160_mallorybenMallory, STOP IT. I mean, seriously, STOP. YOU ARE STRAIGHT UP GORGEOUS. 167_malloryben 177_mallorybenThis photo is maybe my favorite of these two — such a photogenic pair! 188_malloryben 191_mallorybenCeremony time! 203_malloryben 225_malloryben 244_malloryben 267_malloryben 291_malloryben 295_malloryben 336_mallorybenFrom Huntertown (where they got hitched), and on to downtown Fort Wayne for a few more bridal and wedding party photos (these guys were troopers too — their limo got a flat tire, so they found themselves walking everywhere!)

338_malloryben 342_malloryben 348_malloryben 351_malloryben 360_malloryben 375_malloryben 382_mallorybenMallory and Ben had their reception at the Freemason Hall in downtown Fort Wayne. I’d never shot there before but it was a great space for a party! 385_malloryben 400_malloryben 410_mallorybenI’d never seen this idea before but I thought it was clever: Ben set up a 50/50 drawing for their honeymoon. Guests could pay a $1 to vote, and as the night went on, he eliminated the options. The winning choice? The Caribbean! And Mallory and Ben split the $150 (or so, I think?) with Ben’s little brother who had the winning ticket. What a fun way to snag some extra honeymoon cash, right?! 390_malloryben 414_mallorybenOh this is fun: Ben is a detective and his dad is the sheriff of Allen County (and yes, that’s slightly intimidating). But I loved that Mallory and Ben also had a “donut cake”. Here are all the cops digging in. That’s not stereotypical at ALL right? ;) 427_malloryben 430_malloryben 433_malloryben 458_malloryben 481_malloryben 507_malloryben 519_mallorybenIf you couldn’t tell, there was a LOT of fun and dancing and FUN and DANCING that went down at this reception. I definitely wanted to be a guest! 511_mallorybenAnd finally, because it never gets old, a few behind-the-scene shots in the photo booth! SO FUN! 538_malloryben 534_mallorybenMallory and Ben, THANK YOU again for trusting me to document your big day! It was an honor and it’s been a blast getting to relive it through your post!

August 2014 Self-Portrait: How a Visit from a BFF Saved My Month

I’ll be honest, my heart wasn’t into creating a self-portrait for the month of August. And I think that’s because, well, really, my heart just … wasn’t into August. It was a hard month (but to clarify, like, first-world-problems hard….I mean, God, this was a month that on a grand level brought with it the Ferguson debacle, the James Foley-ISIS tragedy and Robin Williams’ death—it was like, everywhere we collectively turned there wasn’t a hole big enough we could hide in to shield us from so much craptacular news).

For me, it was a sucker punch that involved throwing out my back for the first time. For some reason, I took this to as my Great Sign I’m getting old. (Or maybe it was the conversation I had with a coworker: “How’d you throw it out?” “That’s the thing, I don’t even know…I just, like, sat up?” “Ohhh man…you’re getting old.” But feeling miserable physically this month reminded me SO much of how challenging it is to be your best self (mentally, spiritually, creatively) when, physically, you feel like one big hot mess.

The bright spot to this otherwise blah month was a late August visit from one of my photo besties, Tina. It’s entirely to her credit she’s kept up our pact of seeing one another at least every two years (since having a kiddo on this end has thrown a mega wrench into this mama’s traveling agenda). But we’ve made the time for each other in 2012, 2010, and 2009 (the year we met at Melissa Jill’s photo workshop in Arizona), so it just feels so good to have this constant friendship of a fellow creative  in my life, one with whom I know when you DO get together, we can pick right back up where we left things last at the airport.

This time was especially meaningful as Tina finally got to meet my boy! She doted on Dean and we made a trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum with her as guest. I was grateful at her suggestion I bring along my professional camera so she could take a few snaps of us as a family. Admittedly, I teared up going through these files. It’s not every day you have a professional photographer tag along on a family playdate (one more reason I’m so so grateful to her paying us a visit).

Then there is this: I see pictures of my son and I together so seldomly that, when I do, it’s an emotional punch to the gut. Knowing you’re a mom and SEEING it? It reenforces this whole impossible-to-wrap-my-head-around mind bender that is the fact WHOA, I HAVE A KID. Of course, I wouldn’t trade Dean for the world, but sometimes I think every parent on the inside still has moments where they think, “How did I get here? I mean, seriously, wasn’t I JUST in high school? college? a newlywed?”

Be the gift of today is the present it is. And speaking of presents, as if Tina wasn’t already A+ material in the best friend department, I came home yesterday (after a long day at work) to a thank you package from this woman! Inside, wrapped in a perfect bow, was a fresh journal to start pouring out my thoughts and plans for my next book and a Cars’ Mater book that already Dean has had us read to him a dozen times.

Tina, if I haven’t said it enough already, let me say it again (and more publicly this time): I love you to the moon and back, with that little spot on the map of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as a pit stop inbetween.

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What I’m Loving Round-up: August 2014
What I’m Loving Round-up: August 2014

A sweet summer dress that has me paging Betty Draper, an intense sci-fi thriller that made me bite my nails to the quick, and a brick of a book with a Scottish love story that I cannot stop obsessing about ... here's a peek at a few of the things I was loving this month.

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DEAN: 21 & 22 Months

Oh son, I seem to be slipping a bit with these letters of yours (notice how I’m combining a few months here?) So it goes … but really it’s with good reason. This summer has been a DOOZY in so many ways. These last couple of weeks, your mama has thrown her back out twice (the harbinger of getting older, for sure), you’ve been sick with a nasty upper respiratory infection, and, as a result, we’ve been down and out for the count a bit too. Did I mention a house project of converting our sunroom into a new playroom for you? Because oh yeah, there’s that too.

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So you’ll have to forgive me for hitting a snag here with this project of mine. But let this be a valuable lesson: Life gets in the way. It always does. With everything. But especially passion projects. Dean, I don’t know what you’re going to do with your life. Maybe you’ll want to be a doctor, maybe you’ll want to be an accountant, maybe the garbage man (or a fire fighter since you can’t get enough of fire trucks right now) but whatever it is, I hope you do it with all your heart. And if it should be a creative passion or series of projects you’re wanting to chase, well know this, my boy: There’s a very good chance you’ll have to fight for the right to keep that passion of yours alive.

Maybe it’s because this has been a summer of highs and lows for me with a few of my own creative projects, or maybe it’s because I’m just winging it here with this particular letter to you, but all I can think about is wanting to put down in words this kernel of truth: That whatever dream it is you chase some day (especially if it’s one that involves words, or oil paint, or photographs, or tap shoes), never let life stand in the way of you pursuing it.

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The reality is, your dreams may not involve (or lead to) money. But life? Life DOES involve money (in the form of mortgages and bills and roofs that need replaced and tires that get worn on your car and daycare for your kids). So unless there’s a lottery win in your parents’ future (and there won’t be, since we never play), then the chances are great you’ll need a steady income, which will come in the form of some kind of job, which may or may not (but probably not) be of the sort that allows you carte blanche to experiment with your art all day*.

I know you can’t comprehend what it is we do every night after we kiss your sweet toe head goodnight. But most often, we’re chasing our creative dreams: Your daddy in the garage, in the makeshift wood shop he’s built from the ground up, making toys for you, dreaming of making them someday for other children too. And your mama? Writing. Or editing photos. Because those are the pursuits that sum up her creative dreams.

And dreams, my son, are important to have. They can sustain you in this weary rat race called life. I hope it comes to pass that someday, you’ll be the proud owner of more than a few of your own.

**If someday you happen to become a famous actor, or the next Jackson Pollock, or a rock star or best-selling novelist, well, feel free to come back (and I’d prefer you visit me in person, not just call or text or project yourself into the air in the form of some fancy future hologram) and proudly prove just how wrong I was!