Kayden & Kylie- Best Friend Session

On an overcast/ rainy day I met up with Kayden and Kylie downtown and was so excited to document their friendship!

This session was a gift from Kayden to Kylie for her birthday. I haven’t had anyone approach me to do a friendship celebration shoot before and I am in love with this idea!

These two met through a home school center (6+ years ago) and their friendship has blossomed in the past few years! Kayden had just graduated from Dougals J Aveda a few days ago and Kylie is just finishing up her last year of high school. It was so neat chatting with them about how home schooling and being self directed was such an important part of their lives!

While photographing them I kept thinking of my own best girl friends. These friendships are so special and life giving and deserve to be celebrated just as much as romantic! I have done family photos, senior photos, birth photos, couples, engagements, but never a best friend session before.

Taking the time to get photos taken is a way to memorialize where you are at in that time, who you are, your style and fashion, and what a better person to document that with than your best friend; the person that is there with you through the ups and downs no matter what.

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Thank you so much Kayden and Kylie for being such wonderful gals and having such a beautiful friendship! Congrats to you two for all you are accomplishing in your life right now, and best of luck to the future :)

The Keane's- Sunflower Family Session

I was lucky enough to spend this beautiful day with my favorite family in a beautiful field of sunflowers. Malerie had let me know about this farm and I knew we had to do some photos there! And I’m so glad we did.

Forrest was so excited to pick out his own sunflower, he even picked one out for me  too. He was such a good trooper and helped us with getting bear to look at the camera and smile :) 

I was so impressed how well he could hold his brother as well! 

I am always so happy to see these guys, Malerie and Austin are such an inspiration to me. They are the best parents, spouses to each other, and friend to me. I’m always thankful to have them in my life :) 

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Nathan Conroy- Lookbook

Oh Nathan! 

What a wonderfully handsome guy! We got together to take photos the day after his last day being a barista with me at Lantern. (I’m not crying, you’re crying) 

Nathan has been signed by a modeling agency and needed some more photos for his head shot and portfolio. We had chatted about doing some photos for a while, and we couldn’t have picked a better day! 

Art prize insulation’s led to cool roof shots and the misty rainy weather brought us the best ambient lighting.

Lainey Sharkey- Senior

Lainey’s senior session couldn’t have landed on a better day! The sun was truly our friend and we got some really dreamy shots at Lake Michigan.

Lainey is from my neighborhood back where I grew up, in New Hudson. When her mom Jennifer reached out to me for photos, I was so excited when they said they wanted to take photos on the beach at Lake Michigan!

We ended up going to Kirk Park and had such a wonderful time :) Lainey and were climbing all up and down the dunes and even playing in the water, and yes I did end up driving the hour home soaking wet but it was totally worth it.

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This was my first time taking photos at Wealthy Studio’s and I was so happy with the results. I was a little flustered after arrival but everything fell into place. One of our missions of the day was to take Lainey’s year book senior photo. We needed a blue backdrop and a professional headshot for her. I couldn’t find the backdrops anywhere, and then she found them in the bathroom! go figure.

After a minute or two, we had everything set up and were back in action. We then walked around east town and took some city- style photos with the cobble stone brick road and a dreamy blue wall just behind wealthy studio’s.

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Overall, this was such a lovely session on a beautiful summer day! I am so proud of Lainey for all of her acomplishments and so honroed to have been hired to document this special part of her life :) Thanks, Laniey!

Ellie's Portrait Session (ft. Arie)

When I went to meet up with Ellie, I was honestly so exhausted. I was still recovering from a long work week and had photographed and edited a session earlier that day.

I was really doubting my creativity and skills when we started taking photos. I felt like my pose ideas weren’t working out and the locations weren’t as interesting as they could be. After a little bit, I started to loosen up and things began to fall into place. Once I started editing, I felt like my confidence was restored. Not because these are the best photos, the best locations or poses, but because Ellie’s true beauty and elegance was shining!

She is radiant.

And then I remember, the photos are for her. She asked me to take these photos because she wanted to have some documentation of herself. She was looking back for a photo of herself and couldn’t find any after her high school senior portraits. She is a beautiful woman and deserves to look at photos of herself and feel that! We had a great time walking around and trying out poses even if they felt a little weird at first. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, either way we had so much fun taking them.

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After we relocated, I felt like the magic really began to happen! When I was feeling stuck, I decided to take some risks and practice some in-camera double exposure photos.

In the past, I’ve only ever played with this setting at home. I’ve seen it done beautifully by so many wedding photographers I follow on social media, but it has never been a go-to setting I use with a model or a client.

1/10 usually turn out alright for me, but Ellie and this beautiful skyline just clicked! After Arie joined us, I wanted to depict these beautiful gals and the wonderful city we all live in and have had the pleasure to all meet in. Sadly, the sun began to set quickly and we had to call it a wrap on the photos. I would definitely recommend roof top photo sessions at sunset. Also, I would recommend trying something different. Try something you aren’t comfortable with, there is no way you can predict the result.

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Mary & Sean Maternity

Mary and Sean have been part of my life since I was 9 years old. Mary was my babysitter every summer since I can remember and she is the closest thing to a big sister I’ve ever had. After ten years of dating, these two had the most memorable and beautiful wedding that I was so lucky to be a part of.

When she told me they were expecting, I was over the moon. I know these two are going to go into parenthood with the grace and love they have shown each other through the years.

They have always been an inspiration of how to grow together and to support each other while accomplishing their goals.

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Taking photos outside their historic home felt like a perfect way to represent their solid foundation with all the life and work to come in the future. Thank you two for the opportunity to document the beginning of your growing family! I love you both.

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Michaeleen & Ridley

Michaeleen and I were two ships in the night when we first met! I actually was her replacement at the coffee shop after she landed a dream job at a local church. We never actually got to work a shift together, but we always had such easy and kind interactions in passing.

As I’ve been dog sitting more as a side hustle, I have been photographing pups and sharing them on instagram :) She reached out to me and asked if we could do some photos with her best pal!

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Ridley was such a sweet and kind border collie! We even talked with a gentleman on our walk who told us all about how he had a border collie and how he believed they were hands down the smartest dogs out there. He even suggested we watch a video about a pup named Dazzle. He told us to look it up on “that thing.. whats it called.. the internet?”

Worth a watch.

Thank you Michaeleen and Ridley for a great afternoon walk and refreshing coversations :)

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Devin, Damien, Autumn

This was a pretty special photo session to me for a few reasons. I met Devin when I was still in school, she was actually my graphic design for the illustrator Professor! At this time, I am still pursuing illustration in school but I was photographing in most of my free time. Photography was starting to become more than just a hobby for me. I began using my graphic design and marketing skills for my photos and less for my illustration… I suppose the thing you spend your free time doing is usually a good indicator of what you really love to do.

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After Devin saw my photos, she suggested I reach out to a friend for an opportunity to be a wedding photo intern. I ended up working for a wedding photographer for a summer and learning lots about the flow of a wedding day and what to expect day of. I now use this base for how I run the photos when I shoot my own weddings now :)

Post-grad Devin ended up hiring me as a nanny a few days a week after I had babysat here and there for her. Damien and Autumn have such strong and bad-ass personalities! I grew so much watching these kiddos this past spring, but ended up giving up nannying to be Devin’s design assistant for her business Hatch. I was able to help her accomplish some projects, take the lead on some designs, and offer photography for her through her business. I learned so much while I was working for her, and have taken everything along with me as I hustle my way into the world of freelance and entrepreneurship.

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This session was a celebration. A celebration for Devin being a single, bad-ass, mom boss. This woman kill s it! She runs Hatch Creative Services, Devin DuMond Fine Art, Women Who, and is raising these beautiful humans.

I knew we had to find an area to photograph that would highlight their fun, artistic, and rad style. We started right in my own neighborhood, Creston, Grand Rapids. Lions and Rabbit’s had recently hosted Creston After Dark where multiple artists were commissioned to paint murals in the area. These efforts are keeping true to the saying “Keep Creston Funky!”

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To go in hand with the fun black patterned outfits and funky murals, I wanted to capture the more quiet and soft side of this family. Devin’s home is BEAUTIFUL. I love the soft bright fabrics, dark and solid wood furniture, and classic windows. With so much natural and dramatic lighting, I didn’t even need to add any flash or artificial lighting.

I love these bedroom photos because they show the reality of a photo session with kids. They move. They cry. And sometimes the want to jump on the bed. These are just some of so many photos of the reality of parenthood and the goofy, wild nature of children. This is why they are probably my favorite subject to photograph. To be able to capture this pure joy is truly a gift!

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Chris & Relin Engagement

I am seriously obsessed with these two!

A while back, Chris messaged my on Instagram and asked if I would be interested in an engagement session for him and his fiance. I met Chris years ago in a college English 101 class! I felt like we had a bond because our prof was wild and our table of four made it through the course as a team. We all exchanged our socials and phone numbers and have kept up with each other online since!

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I had never met Relin until we had our consultation over coffee but I could tell she was a gal with a vision! I was so excited to take on the challenge of bringing her ideas to life. Her inspiration was the Addam’s family, dark colors, spooky woods, and candle light!

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Our first location was outside Fountain st Church. It would have been a bonus if we could have gotten inside, but the architecture outside seemed like a perfect complement to the wooded photos we would take at sunset.

I had scouted out Townsend park to be the perfect place for these photos! The way the light still comes in through the tall skinny trees is stunning.

The best surprise of this location was how the color of the sun hitting the trees brings together Relin’s firey hair and the flames of the candles.. holy harmony!

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Moral of the story: If you ever take photos at dusk/ sunset in the woods, bring candles.

These photos were so romantic and perfectly depicting the style of this couple! They were so much fun to work with and so prepared! I brought a couple candles along with me, but Relin brought multiple tea lights, candle sticks, and a rose. She also bought that dress at Burlington and sewed the sleeves on herself! How bad ass!!

I am so excited to announce as well that I will be photographing their wedding next summer. This is my first wedding booked for 2020 and I am beyond honored and excited that these two trust me to capture their special day and to capture it in their own specific style. Thank you Chris and Relin! Congrats!

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Embracing the Unknown

Finding joy and acceptance when plans go awry (ft. my whole Peace Corps spiel)

Family Vacation in Florida (Where I am writing from right now)

Family Vacation in Florida (Where I am writing from right now)

If you’d have told me I am sitting where I am right now two years ago I probably would have had a panic attack. And I spent my morning reading The Moth stories on a beach in Florida. Doesn’t sound very panic worthy.

Photo of me jumping with joy in Portland, OR the day I found out I got accepted to the Peace Corps

Photo of me jumping with joy in Portland, OR the day I found out I got accepted to the Peace Corps

I had a plan. That plan was graduate with my BFA, do the Peace Corps, in that time find out what I want to do with the rest of my life while living in a beautiful place and working within a new community building relationships abroad, and then go to grad school on the United States Gov't’s dime.

If you have already heard this spiel about why I couldn’t go, feel free to skip this paragraph.

I got accepted as a co-teacher in Thailand to depart Jan 3rd 2019. During the medical clearance I came across two bumps in the road. 1. I had a history of being on anti-depressants and mood stabilizers for approx 6 months when I was a senior in high school. 2. I have a blood condition (G6Pd deficiency) and If i take the anti-malarial medication I needed in Thailand I would (probably) die. So the first issue was a hard emotional hit and was the source of most of my anxiety during the peace corps process. I knew I was stable. I knew I was emotionally ready for this experience, I had worked really hard over many years to do better emotionally every single day. Yes, I still struggle and am always working to improve but I knew I was capable. The letter from the Peace Corps Psychologist said they did not believe I was “Emotionally capable to handle the tasks presented as a Peace Corps Volunteer” So of course I had a mini breakdown and then decided to appeal. I had to call almost a dozen offices before I could find a psychologist that could update a mental health evaluation and write a letter of recommendation. After explaining my situation to the doctor, she was more than happy to help and deliver all documents needed. Then comes the blood condition. This was a really tough time. After my primary doctor wouldn’t sign a waiver presented by the peace corps I was passed around from a hematologist to a cancer doctor to an infectious disease doctor to a travel clinic and was on the phone with the CDC every day trying to learn more about this condition and if there was a way to accommodate it. Turns out, there is not. And due to this, I had to decline my offer to serve in the Peace Corps. And of course my long-term-long-distance relationship (she left a couple months prior to serve Peace Corps Ethiopia) began to fall apart at this time too.

So I’m going through a breakup with someone who lives across the globe, beginning my final semester of college, and have zero plan for where I would be in six months after thinking I had a plan for the past 5 years.

I spent months, and part of me still is, coping with the life I thought I would be living and accepting that it was not the path for me. I began journaling through this time and was writing three pages a day to help through my coping process and, more pressingly, find a new plan!

Journaling changed my life and got me through this time. I now use this skill more as needed but am grateful to have it as a tool. It slows down my mind and helps me let go of these demons that are stopping me from embracing the unknown. I began to open my eyes and see what was around me. I had been emotionally prepared to pick up and leave Grand Rapids. Then I started to see… I was actually happy here.

Sweet Dayna

Sweet Dayna

I had the most wonderful ray of sunshine as a room mate (Dayna!) and was making art I was happy with. We live with two of the sweetest kitties and my rent is cheap! Our landlord is great and that is never a worry. I met a wonderful gal I started seeing (Mary!). I love Grand Rapids coffee culture so I applied to every coffee shop I could find an email for. I love kids and I landed a nannying job with my past professor and then she hired me as her first employee for her design business.

Lantern Coffee ended up emailing back for an interview and (WHOOOOPP) I got the job. I interviewed at Starbucks the same day so I was more than thrilled I could work at a locally owned small shop instead of the monster corporation that is Starbucks.

Pouring a Latte (I’m still in training on espresso!!) and I was proud of this one ;) pic snapped by Dayna

Pouring a Latte (I’m still in training on espresso!!) and I was proud of this one ;) pic snapped by Dayna

A few months have passed, and I am so happy to be where I am. Working part time coffee shop, part time nanny, part time photographer, part time design assistant, part time administrative assistant, part time doing craft shows, having my art up in coffee shops and cafe’s.

Now I am really embracing the unknown. I am asked quite often, “What’s next?”. To my surprise I can answer with a smile and say “I have no idea!”. All I know right now is that I'm happy, I’m in love with my life and everything isn’t perfect and that’s okay. I have some plans, I do. I want to take trips around the country, I want to go to Amsterdam, I want to go to Peru. I don’t have any set dates but I have faith they will happen. I have faith everything will happen with time as long as I am happy in the day to day.

And I love working in a coffee shop! Lantern has been a serious blessing. The customers and my co-workers rock and I am happy to see them every day. I am so happy and excited learning this new skill that I can carry with me wherever I go and it’s a great thing to know I could find a job in almost any city working in the coffee industry.

Sweet love

Sweet love

Uncertainty is a bitch, but it has taught me to enjoy every moment in a way I never thought I could. I am a planner, I always have been. I am a planner that has planned myself into a deep deep pit of dead ends. I am a planner that has had to let go of all control. I am a planner who has found freedom in uncertainty!

I could run my photography business full time. I could run it part time! I could go into tattooing, craft shows, continue my education, go back for a teaching certificate, do the Ameri-corps, move to Chicago, move to Boston, move to California, stay in Grand Rapids. The possibilities are endless and I’m ready for whatever the next step is, ready to embrace it as much as I am embracing today.

Thank you to every person I have come in contact with in the last six months- I probably couldn’t have gotten to when I am without you. Thank you Shelby and Delaney for always being a text or call away. Thank you Dayna for being my sunshine even when we are snowed in for days. Thank you Mary for showing me the sweetest love, kindness, and patience. Thank you lantern for saving me lots of money I was spending in coffee shops (!!!$$$$$$$!!!) And of course, Thank you Peace Corps for throwing my life off the track I thought was best for me and teaching me to embrace the unknown.