+

That one time I almost died!

 

This story began 27 years ago.

Some of our friends from church organized a rafting trip to Ohiopyle, Pa. We were going to take a ride down the Youghioheny River and navigate some Class III and IV rapids!

“Let’s do this!” said the naive 23 year old me.

My sister-in-law nervously asked me if I was afraid. “Heck no! This is going to be great!” I boldly told her.

Then came the release forms to sign!

Wait! What? There was danger involved?

Then I became a little nervous.

We listened to all the safety instructions, put on our life vests, carried our raft to the river and began our 6 hour voyage.

In our raft, we had my husband, my brother-in-law, my scared sister-in-law and myself. We sat on the edge of the raft, like we were instructed, and started paddling down the river.

The first few minutes of the trip, we traveled through some beautiful and calm water with no white water in sight. Then….we bumped into a rock that was hiding under the water. And next thing I know, I was catapulted out of the raft!

Mike was able to grab my vest, hoist me back in and plop me back to my spot.

Phew!

We continued on our adventure. At this point, I was a little more nervous and my sister-in-law was terrified! But there was no turning back!

We enjoyed a few more minutes of beautiful, calm water before we heard the thundering roar of white water!

Okay, I am exaggerating a little. It wasn’t a roar. It wasn’t even thundering. Honestly, I don’t think the water was making any sound at all at this point. But the water WAS moving a LITTLE faster when we hit another stupid rock and I flew out of that dang raft again!

And again, Mike reached down and grabbed my vest, hoisted me out of the raging river and plopped me back to my spot on the edge of the raft.

Yes, dear sister-in-law, now I was scared!

Especially when I heard the for real sound of white water!

I tried to remember what the instructers told us to do but all I could remember was what they told us not to do. And that was to not sit on the bottom of the raft! Which is exactly what my sister-in-law and I did!

Th next 5 hours and 45 minutes of this trip were spent in the bottom of the raft praying to Jesus that we would not die!

He heard our prayers and we made it off the river. But we both swore that we would never do that again!

I am older and braver now and decided to try white water rafting again. This time it was Mike, Emma and I on the trip. And they were only class I and II rapids.

It was fun and I didn’t die.

Thank you Jesus!

+

Sam + Kenzie

Sam and Kenzie were married on March 28, 2020. Right in the middle of a statewide stay at home order during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They had plans for a huge celebration with their many friends and family. We had spoken of all the plans they had for their wedding day. Kenzie and her mom told me about all the details they were so excited about. Just talking with them made me so excited to be able to celebrate with them.

But as we drew closer to the date, it became clear that they were not going to be able to have the celebration that they had been planning. At least not on March 28. After much counsel and prayer, it was decided that they would go ahead with a private ceremony on their chosen date. They just wanted to be married!

They were so surprised and touched when so many friends and family showed up in the church parking lot to celebrate with them. They honked their horns, cheered and waved posters. They even “passed the plate” and gave them a little money. So, so thoughtful!

This couple is so sweet! I love the way they interact with each other and the way that their faces light up when they are together. When I am with my couples, I like to hear their love stories and this is what Kenzie and Sam shared with me about the way they met…

We met in the parking lot at CTEC (school). I saw him and yelled out, “Hey are you Sam!?” He turned around surprised and said, “Yeah….” Before ducking into my friends car, I yelled back, “I’m Josiah’s sister!!!”.

He was already friends with Josiah. They met at Ross’ Granville Market (where they worked together) and they hung out just a little bit. We met again when I started working there. A couple months later, Sam and I started hanging out and watching movies. We did this a couple of times over the course of 3 years. I had no idea if he liked me or not.”

In August of 2019, we confessed that we liked each other. After going out on a few dates, he asked me to be his girlfriend. A couple weeks later, we knew that we wanted to get married and we wanted to do it this year. First we chose October 10th, 2020 then we moved it to March 28th, 2020- although, he officially proposed on December 2nd, 2019, after we had already started wedding planning!”

This is their story. What’s your story?

ReplyForward

+

Lacie’s Maternity Session at Dawes Arboretum

Lacie really wanted a snowy backdrop for her maternity session. So we waited for a beautiful snowfall and headed to Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.

I love how important it is for her to capture these milestones in her life. She realizes how quickly these moments pass and she told me that she wants something to look at to help her remember this time. And she wants her little girl to have a photo of herself in mommy’s tummy!

And I am so happy we did this! It was really cold and our hands and feet were numb but look at these results!

Simply beautiful!

+

DIY Newborn Photography

So many of us have been affected by COVID-19. My heart and prayers go out to you!

I recently had to turn down a newborn session and I felt so torn about it. Part of me really wanted to go and document this time for them (for a brief second). But I believe that would be irresponsible for me as a photographer, an American, a mom and a Grandmother.

This new mom said something to me about being disappointed about not getting photos in the early days of their newborns life. And then she said that she would take some with her phone.

My response?

YES!!!

DO IT!!!

These are crazy days like we have never experienced and they are a part of our story! They NEED to be documented.

I told this momma that I would put together some tips and send them over to her. Then I thought I would share them here. Here you go!

1.   Lighting 

The most important element is light. My favorite source of light is simply a window. Avoid direct sunlight, however. If sunlight is shining through the window, you may want to wait until a different time of day. I like to place the baby at a 45 degree angle with the window. You can use a white poster board, foam board or even a sheet to bounce light from the window to light up the shadows.

In this photo, the baby kept turning towards the light. I loved how it lit up his face, but I should have used a reflector to light up the shadows. But hey, with newborns, you just have to go with it sometimes. They certainly call the shots! 

2.   Comfort

If you do want those naked baby photos, you’re going to need to crank up the heat. And when I say crank up the heat, I’m talking 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Personally, I typically have parents turn up their heater to 75 degrees and I bring along a space heater that I have pointing towards the baby at all times. (Don’t put the heat too close!). I always figure that if I am sweating, then the baby is warm enough! In the photo below, we were able to get this shot because the room was plenty warm and she did not even wake up!

3.   Posing Tools

Once you have a warm room and some nice window light, the basic setup for newborn photos is really simple: grab cushions off your couch, a bean bag, chairs from your kitchen, and a boppy or other pillow, then cover it all with a pretty textured throw that doesn’t show wrinkles.

4.   Props

My favorite props are things that you can, most likely, find around your house!

Fuzzy blankets- great texture makes great photos plus keeps the baby warm which keeps them more comfy.

Chair or sofa

Baskets

Crates

Throw rugs

Hardwood floors

Use your bed with lots of pretty pillows in the background

5.   Be Patient!

You are at the mercy of the baby when it comes to newborn photography and you need to embrace that fact and be patient.  Make sure the baby is fed, dry and completely asleep before attempting to pose baby. I have spent up to 3 hours trying to get those posed photos of babies! 

Pro tip: Wait until the baby is sound asleep and in position before taking off the diaper. It lessens your chance of being peed or pooped on. If you want naked baby shots, be prepared for pee and poop- 100% of babies will do this in a session!

I use layers of  changing pads under the baby to protect pillows and furniture and to keep babies comfortable. When one gets soiled, I pull it out and have a dry one underneath and ready to go!

5.   Perspective

The most common thing to photograph on a baby is the face. Just make sure you’re not shooting up the baby’s nose. The dark (and usually red), unattractive nostrils will end up dominating the shot.

Make sure the baby’s head is composed higher than the body. You don’t want it to look like the baby is falling down hill! The images below demonstrate tilt nicely. 

5.   Don’t Forget the Details and also Mom and Dad

You want to capture and remember those sweet little mouths, their hair, eyes, ears and even the umbilical cord. Use the macro feature on your phone to get close ups of these. They do a pretty good job.

Also remember to get photos of mom and dad holding baby. In my opinion, these are the most important!

This is just a short list to get you started capturing some beautiful photos of your new baby. I would love to answer any questions you may have and I definately want to see your images!

God bless you and your little one!!!

+

Chandler + Kenna + their baby girl!

All these new parents are making me feel so old!

I have known Chandler since he was born. His mom and I were pregnant at the same time and we delivered our babies 5 days apart. I taught him in Sunday School. Hung out with his family. And was there when he graduated from High School.

So, needless to say, I was very happy to do photos for him and his wife!

Kenna and Chandler met with me at The Dawes Arboretum for a quick maternity session. I did not know at the time that this is where they had their first date. And also where Chandler proposed to Kenna. Perfect!

This was my first time meeting Kenna and I instantly loved her! And that hair? OMG!

I cannot wait to meet little miss Farah! And if she doesn’t have gorgeous red hair like her mom and dad, I think I might cry!

+

The Traveling Dress

Over the last couple of months, I was blessed to able to participate in a traveling dress project with some pretty amazing photographers. I have known these ladies for almost five years and I am amazed at the talent!

One dress traveled across North America and even to Australia!

Each participant had one week to photograph the dress. I chose to have the dress in March, in time for Lainey’s 7th birthday. She was so excited!

It was a little cold. And the trees were bare. But I think the results were beautiful!

+

Tyler + Taylor

When I first met with Taylor, it was one of those “like at first sight” moments. There was just something about her that clicked with me. So, when she asked me to photograph her wedding, I was thrilled!

I asked Taylor about how she met Tyler and this is what she said:

“Tyler and I were high school sweethearts. We went to school together, but didn’t really find each other until the summer between our junior and senior years of high school. We went to college, started our careers, and started talking seriously about marriage and our goals for the future. Finally, after almost 8 years together, on one very cold but beautifully sunny Sunday in January, he asked me to marry him.”

Tyler and Taylor’s wedding was held at The Grove By the River. It was a beautiful ceremony with their families and closest friends.

The entire day went without a hitch. This couple was so easy to work with- as were their families. Whenever I would ask Taylor about something, she would tell me, ” you do you, Shawna”! So, I did and I loved it!

+

Robbie + Liz Williford

Liz and Robbie met through shared friends in the fall of 2016. It was evident there was always a mutual crush at work. But it was a slow, glacially-paced process as they got to know each other little by little over the course of a year.

And then one day in November of 2017, Liz and Robbie took a walk in the woods. Just the two of them. And they opened up for the first time and talked for hours on end.

After that day, they became inseparable. They alternated cooking dinner for each other in the evenings. They read together. Searched out the best cappuccinos in Cincinnati. They hammocked, horseback rode, hiked and camped together.

They also started going to church together and vowed to serve God together.

Then they decided they wanted to travel the whole world together, starting with the Canadian Rockies. And it was on their first trip to Canada that Robbie told Liz that he deeply loved her, couldn’t live his life without her, and that he intended to marry her one day. It was on their trip to New Zealand, that Robbie asked Liz to be his wife.

And as they say the rest was history from there.  

Their wedding was held on June 15, at the beautiful Ault Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a very rainy day, but that did not have any effect on this couple. They stood before their God, family and friends, and vowed to love, honor and cherish each other.

I have no doubt that they will.

That is their story.

What’s your story?

+

Emilia Jane

On June 12, Andrew and Kaylissa welcomed a new baby girl into their family. After being induced on Tuesday evening, Emilia Jane was born at 6:54 am at Licking Memorial Hospital.

Based on Kaylissa’s track record of laboring for 48 hours, everybody was pleasantly surprised when this little one arrived so quickly!

I received the call from Andrew at 6:30 am that Kaylissa had gone from 5.5 cm to 7.5 in a matter of minutes. I arrived at the hospital at 6:45- just in time to capture her arrival! Knowing how important these birth photo were to this mom, I am so thankful that I was able to be there to document her arrival.

It seemed like everything had gone perfectly for this birth. But, after mom was moved to postpartum, things took a slight turn. While Kaylissa was up brushing her teeth, she began to feel lightheaded and her heart was beating extremely fast. She told Andrew that she did not feel right and turned on the call light. When the nurse arrived they discovered that her heart rate was at 232 bpm! They called for the Dr. and he determined that she was in SVT.

Soon, the room was flooded with about 15 people, all working to get an IV in and give her the medication that she needed to get that heart rate down. Kaylissa said that when they brought in the crash cart and put the pads on her, anxiety sank in and she became very emotional. She looked to see her husband in the corner, holding their new baby, and all he could do was stand and watch this happen.

By the time that they got her IV in, her heart rate converted on its own. After a multitude of tests, they are not sure what happened. Every test came back normal.

Kaylissa and Andrew are so grateful that the God they serve, was with them during all of this. He kept his hand on her and for this they are very thankful!

+

Camron + Brooke

This couple was married at the beautiful TCB Farm in Lancaster, Ohio. This venue has a barn that has been restored to use as a wedding venue- I loved how the stalls were converted into dressing areas for the bride and groom!

The ceremony was held outdoors beside a small grove of trees and a stream. The wedding party entered the scene through double doors then down the aisle to meet in front of the stream. It was so perfect! But I didn’t expect anything less for this couple.

The officiant was also the father of the Groom and my uncle. He did a wonderful job performing the ceremony. His sons, who were some of the Groomsmen, had a wager going to see how long it took before Dad choked up. I think he made it somewhere around nine minutes!

Brooke and Camron had been dating for about 5 years and they have the sweetest love story. When I asked Brooke about how Camron proposed, this is what she said to me:

“Camron was traveling a lot for work, so we didn’t get to see each other very often. One day, he sent me $200 and told me to buy myself a dress and to get my nails done because he wanted to take me out to a nice restaurant when he got back. He made reservations at The Barn on Rocky Fork at 7pm on October 17th, which just happened to be his moms birthday. I told Camron that we should bring her with us to celebrate her birthday and he said that she already had other dinner plans.”

“He picked me up 2 hours before we needed to be there and I questioned why we needed to leave so early. He didn’t really have a good answer, so at this point I was a little suspicious. When we got there, they sat us in the very back corner and I didn’t think anything of it.”

“The entire time I was thinking to myself, maybe he’s going to propose. We finished eating our dinner and he asked for our check and I felt my heart sink because I thought that this would have been the perfect night. About that time, he started to slide out of the booth and popped the question- of course I said yes!”

“I turned around and there stood my parents, his mom and my sister. It felt like a dream! It took about an hour before it finally sunk in that I was marrying the love of my life.”

That is their story.

What’s your story?

+

I did it again!

Shoot and Share Contest 2019

With a little bit of hesitation, once again, I entered a collection of images into the Shoot and Share Photo Contest. This contest is free to anyone. You can enter up to 50 images into 25 different categories. And anybody can vote. Not just photographers. Anybody. Voters randomly view and vote for their favorite photos. No one knows who took the photos and the photos with the most votes wins!

This year, 583,150 images were submitted! And 90 million votes were cast!

Out of my submissions, here are my top winners…

This image made it to the top 10% in the Pets and Animals category!
Placing 806/24,540
This one finished in the top 20% in the Phone Photography category.
Placing 976/7,593

This one finished in the top 20% in the Bride category.
Placing 3,273/17,869
My beautiful niece finished in the top 20% in the Maternity category.
Placing 4,108/26,188
My granddaughter finished in the top 20% in the Share Joy category.
Placing 6,128/52,643
Baby Jaxon finished in the top 30% in the Birth Photography category.
Placing 1,334/6,231
This bride finished in the top 30% in the Bride category.
Placing 4,549/17,869
Here she finished in the top 30% in the Bride and Groom category!
Placing 11,550/45,058
And my favorite photo finished in the top 30% in the Families category!
Placing 9,415/41,527

A huge Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this photography journey with me! I am so excited to see what 2019 brings my way!

+

The Angeletti Family

It was a BEAUTIFUL fall day when I drove out to photograph the Angeletti family! I had never been to their home and was pleased to find a gorgeous stone house.

Nadja asked me to photograph the family on the front porch, but I told her that I was concerned about the direct sunlight and went to search for a shaded area.

We found a spot and Nadja and her daughter, Sha, went to work to set up everything that we needed. I was amazed how they worked so well together placing pumpkins, mums, wheelbarrows and crates! As they set up, I was told the story of their home…

About two years ago, they were given an opportunity to buy this home. But the best part is that this was the home that Mao had lived in as a child. And the stone pathway leading to the porch was laid by Mao. He gathered the stones from the river, carried them home and created the path that his children and grandchildren walk on today.

So guess what we did? We took that family photo on the front porch! We gathered Mao and Nadja, their children and their grandchildren and set up their family photo. Sure the lighting was not what I wanted but that is not what it is all about. It’s about the story. And this is a story that I had to share!