Every now & again two worlds collide. When they meet it provides a much needed balance that neither could achieve on their own. I often experience such a collision as I take a 15 minute drive southeast to Delano, TN. It is in Delano you’ll find a Farmer’s Community of Amish families. You’ll realize you’re in the right place when you drive underneath a railroad bridge & the road opens up to a new community. Within a few moments you may realize a simpler life takes place here every day, somewhat undisturbed by modern culture… where food is hand-prepared & home-grown, where tools, clothes, homes & vehicles are carefully crafted from skilled hands. Essentially they live off the land in tight-knit fellowship with their brothers. Some may shame such an antiquated form of life but I rarely leave without a sense of envy. I envy a simpler life. I envy a closer community. I envy how little they fear man, rather choosing the approval of God. I love this community & deeply respect my Christian brothers & sisters in Delano, TN.
When our family is afforded the opportunity to have friends visit, we become eager to share some of our favorite places, foods, sights & sounds. This past weekend we enjoyed hosting Wilson & Amy Hillman. Amy was one of Joy’s roommates in college for a year & they became close friends. Amy is such a beautiful person with a wonderful sense of humor; I loved having her around! Wilson quickly proved to capture the affections of my son, Brennan. We’re still hearing Brennan say, “Where’s my friend Wilson?” It was a genuine pleasure to know him better! The Hillmans now live just south of Jackson, MS, so it’s rare we have the opportunity to visit. Amy contacted me several months ago to see if I would be able to schedule a photo session for she & Wilson. Her thought was that she would surprise him for his birthday & come spend the weekend with us. At some point during the visit, we would sneak away for an hour or two for photos. When Saturday morning arrived, I woke with anticipation of all the things I wanted to do with Amy & Wilson. I suggested we take a short drive to Delano to visit the Farmer’s Market & then cross the street to G-Creek & hike the bluffs over looking the Hiwassee River. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!
Farmers in the field threshing some sort of cane.
The Farmer’s market is a site to behold. Fruit, vegetables, & more are packed into a small building for guests to come purchase home-grown & homeade goods. Inevitably I always leave with a watermelon, granola cereal, & a plate of Sorghum sugar cookies.
The last Saturday of each month, they open the Animal Market. We lucked up & were able to visit.
At one point, Wilson & I almost had Amy talked into buying a rooster to take home with them. Can you imagine driving eight hours with a rooster in the back seat? Fun times I guarantee… it’s all about making memories!
After leaving the market area, we escaped to a nearby vineyard to capture some pics.
This is definitely one of my favorites! Yes!
Seriously people… East TN is where it’s at!
I made a suggestion that we ascend the bluffs overlooking the Hiwassee River & they were completely up for it. I was thrilled! It’s a short but strenuous hike straight up the side of the mountain but once you reach the top, the view is incredible!
The following two seem so effortless… these two are a great fit!
Wilson & Amy… I’m still humbled at the distance you guys drove to come visit & have me photograph. Thank you! Please come back anytime!
I sat down to pen & introduce Matt & Rainey when emotions flooded my mind. As thoughts kept pouring forth I did my best to journal & structure them in a way that’s readable, the content of which will have to be another blog post. What I realized is how therapeutic it is for me to create… to photograph, write, design, draw, architect, etc. It’s a process as all worthwhile things seem to be. Everywhere I look there seems to be a resurgence of people starting creative service type businesses. I imagine most do it for similar reasons, it’s likely the feeling they possess when they create. How much pleasure we feel when we watch people create. It’s the reason I’m humbled to see Kyle Lambert finger paint on his iPad. Or, I’m enamored when a friend, Casey Baugh, puts his brush to canvas. Similar yet to when Donald Miller pens his narrative or David Platt pours from memory Romans 1-8. On & on I could easily list people who inspire & humble me when I perceive their ability. And, in no way would I consider myself a colleague but I believe we share one thing, the desire & satisfaction that comes from creating.
And that’s what brings me to introduce Matt & Rainey. What pleasure I enjoy when I am able to spend time photographing people! I’ve known Rainey Emendorfer & her family for years & was thrilled when she chose me as her photographer. It would prove an opportunity to know her & her family better while also providing a context to have a brief glimpse into her & Matt’s life together. Whether she knows it or not, Rainey is an encourager & possesses such a positive outlook that’s easily contagious. And, Matt is effortless to get to know & a genuine pleasure to be around. It’s no wonder why they are such a great couple!
Sunday afternoon Matt & Rainey came over & we hit the town to begin their engagement session. First stop was downtown Athens where an old building provided a perfect backdrop.
This is their pup… Charlie (or Charley?). He’s a Labradoodle; I thought about trying to keep him!
Next, we ventured a few miles down to the road to a field my dream house would sit upon! They both had on cowboy hats so it seemed obvious we had to get out in the dirt. The hay was freshly cut & we had a great time running around.
Following the engagement session, Matt hit the road home while Rainey had a wardrobe change for her bridal session. I wish so much that I could post those for you now but their top secret until October 16. Just trust me when I say, “She’s gorgeous!!!”
Last week, along with my favorite sidekicks, we set out gallivanting toward the beach for a family vacation. Our destination was the white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast, specifically Panama City Beach, FL. The trip couldn’t have come at a better time. Personally, it marked a pause in a very busy year, helping me refresh before I finish up 2010 with several more weddings, e-sessions, lifestyle shoots, & other projects approaching fast. I needed inspiration if I were to continue being creative.
As I reflect on my favorite things about our trip, I realize there was so much I enjoyed. I loved the excitement I saw in Joy’s eyes as she introduced Brennan & Knox to the beach. I imagine she whispered in their ears, “Boys… this is mommy’s favorite place in the whole world… I now get to enjoy it with you!” And, I loved the sight of our boys in their rad surfer shirts as they dug trenches in the sand (there’s just something innate in every boy that makes him want to dig huge holes in the sand). And, I loved sharing a few days with one of my best friends who serves in the Navy & is stationed in PC. And, I loved being around my mom & my sister & her family & friends. And, I’m thankful for that last night we shared when they took me out for my birthday, saying goodbye to my 20’s. These things, my dear friends, are the things that make life so enjoyable… the sheer grace of God to enjoy our favorite people & our favorite places. And sometimes at the same time!
One special night I was able to meet up with some dear friends, Brandon, Ashley, & Madison McDonald (you might remember their Christmas card I did, click here). The McDonalds were a short drive away, staying in Ft. Walton Beach, with their friends, John, Kressa, & Kyndal Stewart. They decided to share a session; it was perfect! I loved capturing these wonderful families on the beach.
The McDonald Family. Congratulations to the McDonald crew as they will be expanding their family… I’m excited to hear, come October, what they are having!
Madison is one of my favorite little girls… she’s a doll & she loves hanging with Mr. Ben!
The Stewart Family. It was a pleasure to see Kressa & to meet John & their little girl Kyndal.
I loved seeing Kyndal excited… she’d open up her mouth really big & her eyes would glow!
Thanks McDonald & Stewart families… I had such a great time with you! Let’s do this again next year… what do you say?!