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.


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?



The Connelly Family

I met the Connelly’s at Dawes Arboretum for a family session. I hadn’t seen their little girl for a whole year so she was a little shy at first. But after a while, she warmed up to me and ended up having a great time. You can actually see the progression of our session in her smile!

I absolutey love working with families and I especially love it when I finally make friends with the littles!


Casey + Onalee || Wedding ||La Navona, Gahanna, Ohio

From the moment that I saw Casey and Onalee on their wedding day, I knew it was going to be a great day! They were all smiles from the very beginning! I absolutely love it when a bride and groom decide to leave all worries at the door and purposely make the decision to enjoy their day.

This was the first time that I had photographed at La Navona in Gahanna, Ohio. I can honestly say that I loved it! The venue was beautiful and the staff was so helpful. The bride and groom suites were very nice and comfortable with everything that the wedding party needed to get ready for the day.

  • Venue and catering- La Navona Gahanna, Ohio
  • Second Photographer- Taya Wilson (images not shown)


Eddie and Kim’s Courthouse Elopement

For some people, a courthouse elopement may not seem ideal. But the stress, high stakes, and high expectations that come with an extravagant wedding does not sound fun at all for some couples.

We all know that a wedding is meant to celebrate the beginning of a lifelong journey. However, it can be the source of tension between family members and, unfortunately, sometimes even the couple. Instead of focusing on why they got engaged in the first place, they end up trying to please everyone but themselves.

Whether it’s for these reasons or the fact that they simply want an intimate setting, some couples choose to elope instead of having a traditional wedding.

When Eddie and Kim asked me to capture their courthouse elopement I was thrilled! A lot of people don’t see the need for a photographer for a courthouse elopement but having someone to capture those special moments can make all the difference. Every wedding deserves to be treated equally and every couple deserves to have their fairy tale images to enjoy for the rest of their lives.

No matter if it is a huge ball room wedding or a simple courthouse elopement downtown!

I hope you can feel the love between these two beautiful people when you look at these images. I hope that you can see the beauty in the simplicity and the raw, real emotion between two people who love each other. I hope every image brings you joy and tells the story of Eddie and Kim’s love.


Joshua + Abigail Lewis

Josh and Abigail Lewis’s wedding was absolutely beautiful! They were married alongside their closest friends and family. These moments are to be held very dear, especially since even gathering together with one another – for any occasion – has been rare during the pandemic. 

They were married at The Legacy on Possum Run which is a beautiful venue. It allowed for such a unique backdrop for their pictures in both intimate and corporate settings. The depth allowed us to capture shots not always possible – like the album cover pose for the groomsmen. They also have beautiful rooms for the bride and groom to get ready. So much thought was put into the design of these rooms. From the mini fridge to the pool table- they really thought of everything.

One of my favorite parts of being a photographer at events like a wedding, is that I get to pay attention to and capture the moments that made the day so special. A personal favorite is when the bride and groom opt to have a first look. It allows the capture of an intimate private moment with the newlyweds for the first time on their big day. 

Josh’s raw impression of Abigail was so pure; seeing her put him into a flood of emotion that is subtle but powerful as he looks at her in her dress for the first time. These intimate moments are never forgotten, and ones I love being able to freeze in time for the couple. 

Looking at this session reminds me of what a joy the occasion was: the food, live music, and love shared by all was such an amazing way to begin the story of Josh and Abigail Lewis. Thank you for allowing me to help preserve your story. 


Jaycee’s Newborn Session

When a new child is born, nothing is ever the same. Life for a parent and even grandparent is forever marked by this moment, and time is now measured in two halves: before and after the birth. I know this is true of my own life, and I can’t help but remember that the world itself is measured by a baby born in Bethlehem. 

This is probably why I love sessions like these so much, not just because of the photography tactics I get to use, but because of the moments in people’s lives we get to capture together. 

Meet Jaycee – the first little girl born to Justin and Lacie (which is where her name comes from Justin + Lacie = Jaycee).

This little blessing was a joy to shoot, and a personal joy for me, as I also had the privilege of doing a newborn session of her older brother Jaxon when he was born. 

We met at my studio for the session and were able to capture the pure innocence of Jaycie and the clear love her parents and big brother have for her. The looks Jaxon gave his new baby sister were precious: he will be such a good big brother. 

We can’t wait to see Jaycee blossom – but I’m sure Justin and Lacie will soak up these moments, as they don’t last long. Luckily we were able to capture a few for them. 


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?


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



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!