The Simmons Family | Telliquah Falls, TN

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Simmons family have become some of my favorite people in the world… the whole bunch of them. I have known Mike & Kay for some time now as they were friends of my parents when I was growing up. Mike was my vice-principal when I was in Junior High (I think he had hair on his head back then, ha!). He serves as principal of Athens Junior High & has become a wonderful friend & source of encouragement/accountability in my life. Kay works for the Athens Chamber of Commerce & is an excellent example of biblical womanhood. Each of their children are incredible & I have gradually grown in relationship with them each over the past year.

When Joy & I moved back to East TN from Memphis after completing grad school, we got back in touch with Mike & Kay & were privileged to hear the testimony of what God had done in their lives over the past few years. We immediately shared common interest. Before long, Mike & I started a men’s group & Joy & Kay were regularly meeting to encourage one another. They introduced us to Cornerstone Church of Knoxville where we now attend.

This past year has been a year the Simmons will never forget. Within 6 months, 3 of their 4 children were married. Mike reminds me that they have quite an investment in Ben Finch Photography this year as I was privileged to shoot 2 of the 3 weddings. Many parents might fall into despair as their full nest is almost emptied but it has been wonderful to see Mike & Kay’s love for one another simply increase as their children ‘leave & cleave.’ I love their example.

They began a tradition last year to spend a few days during Thanksgiving at Telliquah Falls in the foothills of the Cherokee National Forest. This year they invited the Finch family up on Friday for dinner, photography, & to watch the Iron Bowl. We took advantage of this wonderful opportunity. It was a gorgeous day & the colors were amazing but I just loved how these turned out in B&W. Be sure to sign the guestbook to view all the pics.

01

The whole gang. From L to R: Loren & Jake Simmons, Bethany & Peter Hedger, Kay & Mike Simmons, Meggie & Josh Simmons, & Drew Simmons.

02

Love this pic. Before the shoot I asked Drew to bring his laptop & Grudem’s Systematic Theology; I thought they would be appropriate as he ‘waits on his woman.’ I had to retake this shot several times due to one couples’ wild behavior (you know who you are!).

03

04

We ventured out into a scenic field to capture a few more casual family portraits.

05

Jake & Loren were married in July at Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. They both serve as interns for VFC (Volunteers for Christ) at CCK & are such a pleasure to be around. They both possess a very graceful presence about them. Their wedding was one of the most wonderful ceremonies I have ever attended & I was very fortunate to be able to photograph. If you would like to view their wedding pics, click here.

06

07

The 5 guys!

08

What beautiful ladies!

09

Bethany & Peter Hedger begun the ‘year of weddings’ in March. They are such a riot to be around & I love watching them interact. Their engagement shoot I will never forget as we ventured up to Buck Bald for an unforgettable sunset & a slow dance overlooking the Cherokee National Forest. Peter leaves no room for doubt that he is in love with Bethany. We are very excited for the couple as they are soon to be with child. Congratulations guys! If you would like to view their engagement & wedding pics, click here.

10

11

Josh & Meggie were married in September in Greenville, SC. They met when Meggie was in college & Josh was serving on staff for Campus Outreach at Furman University. Sometime after Meggie’s graduation, they were able to pursue relationship & reveal the feelings they had for each other all along. I have informed them that they are going to be my models for the Ben Finch Photography shooting workshop to be held in the near future.

12

13

Daughter & mother.

14

Bethany is consoling her single brother. Drew was such a great sport despite all the hugs, kisses, & hand-holding occurring all around him.

15

16

17

18

Father & son. Am I the only one who is entirely jealous of Drew’s beard? You have a gift my friend!

19

Some of our favorite people. So thankful for the example their marriage has served to many. Love you guys!

20

21

22

If you would like to see all the images from this session, please sign our guestbook by clicking on this link. If they are not ready for viewing, you will receive an email when they are made available. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving ’09 | Embracing the Unexpected

Sometimes we must embrace the unexpected; this was the case this year for Thanksgiving.

The plans were set for us to head out Wednesday before noon to Muscle Shoals, AL, to visit my extended family. Things were going great as I was able to wrap up a few projects early Wednesday am & was ahead of schedule for our travel. When I arrived home to pick up the family, Joy told me that Brennan (0ur 19 month old) wasn’t feeling his best. The night before Joy took Brennan to see a doctor friend & he wrote our son an Rx. But, we wanted to stick to our plans & left the house in route for AL. We made it to Chattanooga before things fell apart. As we stopped for lunch, it was evident that Brennan had a fever & wasn’t going to make it 3 more hours in the car. I decided to turn around & we would spend Thanksgiving at home. As we drove home I remembered that my mother wasn’t able to take off an extra day of work so she was staying behind too; maybe we could spend the day together.  She said she would love to drive down & would stop on the commute to pick up a few things for our meal. We were so thankful for the unexpected gift of this time with my mom.

I must confess I’m not the biggest fan of traditional Thanksgiving food. I suggested we switch it up a bit & forego the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, etc. I opted instead to pick up some Tuna steaks & Salmon. We would also have black-eyed peas, Joy’s famous homemade sourdough bread, sweet potatoes, & fresh-fruit for dessert. It was big-time!

I couldn’t resist sharing with you. What memories did you make this year during Thanksgiving?

03

01

04

02

Christmas on the Square | Athens, TN

It is certainly true that in Athens, TN, we have a wonderful community tradition, Christmas on the Square… and it takes place before Thanksgiving (I think the official name is ‘Old Fashioned Christmas’ but I like the other better). And why not? Christmas on the Square has been going on for several years now & is a great afternoon/evening of taking advantage of our fun downtown. There is much to do as the shops display their new Christmas products, arts/crafts/food vendors line the square, church choirs sing from the courthouse steps, Santa is in the park for photo opps, & a petting zoo magically arrives complete with reindeer & baby pigs with sweaters on (my favorite… although I am slightly bitter there weren’t any llamas). And, don’t forget the horse & buggy rides that circle the block with excited passengers.

This is simply part of why I love our town.

Since I have my office/studio downtown off the square, it is an ideal opportunity to open the door, display the gallery, & let people in on my latest projects. This year I had more visitors than ever. It seemed like I rarely took a break from conversations & eager visitors were very complimentary of my work; it was a great night.

Here is a view of my studio from the street. I work out of the 2nd oldest building in our town, the “Samuel Cleage” house, which is located on the National Historic Registry. One of my favorite FYI’s is that if you do a Wikipedia search on Athens, TN, my building is on the front page (see for yourself).

05

I chose to highlight a few of my favorite products: coffee table books, signature leather wedding albums, proof books, & my “Inspire Guide” (more on my Inspire Guide to come in a future post). People loved these items!

02

Friends have been asking me for almost 2 years as to whether I was going to make these available for purchase… I simply call it Alphabet Photography. I have built an extensive collection of photographs from nature, buildings, gates, signs, & etc. to piece together images that look like alphabet letters. As you can see below on the mantel is the name “Brennan.” This is just an example of how to take advantage of these pics. These are the actual pics & frames that are hanging above my son Brennan’s crib; most of the letters in his name were photographed in other countries. I sell 5x7s for $10/letter for the first 5 letters, then they are$5/letter afterward. And, I have multiple images for every letter & can accommodate for just about any name. If you are interested in purchasing, leave me a comment below or shoot me an email.

03

04

01

The only regret I have from the other night is not getting additional pics from inside the studio & of the images I have on gallery. I guess I will have to that in a later post! Have a great day everyone & thanks to all who stopped by Saturday night & visited. And, thanks to all you who faithfully stop by on your daily digital commute… you mean so much to me!

Balch & Borwick portrait session

Welcome to my new blog! I am so pleased to be making a transition from my old blog that I have been using for almost a year to this new, updated, & super cool blog. Foremost, I wanted to be able to showcase my images better & I think you will see a drastic improvement of how I am able to present my images to you. Second, I wanted to stay consistent with the look & feel of my main portfolio site at benfinchphotography.com. Hopefully, you will notice that I try to keep my design minimal so that my images are what standout. I sure hope you enjoy & welcome your feedback on the new look.

And, I am very excited to feature this portrait session as my first post. This past Sunday evening I met up with the Balch & Borwick families. Gil & Melanie Balch are some of our best friends & they have two lovely little girls, Isabel & Ava. Gil & I have been friends since we were 4 years old & lost touch after high school until they moved back to Athens about 2 years ago. We love their friendship. Gil’s sister Kelly, & her husband Bob Borwick recently moved to Athens after having lived in Seattle for several years. They have two beautiful girls as well, Lyella & Holland.

We began at my studio for some indoor shots & played around in the floor for a little while so that the kids could warm up to getting their picture taken; it went great. Although my plan to use a white backdrop didn’t quite work out, I am so pleased with the final images. These girls were so easy to photograph & were very willing to participate. If you would like to see all the images from this session, please sign our guestbook by clicking on this link. If they are not ready for viewing, you will receive an email when they are made available. Enjoy!

Holland was quite fascinated with the camera especially after I showed her a few pics of herself. Isn’t she beautiful!

01

I love how the next two images show Lyella in the process of giving Ava a kiss on the cheek. She loves her cousins.

02

03

Isn’t this picture a riot… it is probably my favorite picture of the day as it captures such expression & emotion on Lyella’s face.

05

I have these really cool plantation shutters in my studio that Isabel & Lyella loved to peek through & laugh at one another.

06

Here are Gil & Melanie’s little girls, Isabel & Ava. Isabel’s big brown eyes just make me melt when I see her.

07

Holland was such a great sport & seemed quite content to just be in on the action.

04

08

09

10

Don’t you love this! Big sis giving little sis a kiss on the head.

11

Little Ava couldn’t quite stay awake through the session; she didn’t have to… she knew she would look good in a pic even asleep.

12

I absolutely love this one!

13

14

Here is a pic of the whole family. From left to right: Bob, Lyella, Kelly, Holland, Gil, Isabel, Melanie, & Ava.

15

A huge thanks to the Balch & Borwick families for letting me share an hour or so on a Sunday evening with you guys. I can’t wait for all our little ones to grow up together. I guess it works out quite nicely since we are in the business of having little boys!!!