Thanksgiving ’10

However cliche it may sound, every day should be a day of thanksgiving. As I was doing some morning reading, I reflected upon Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” I’m reminded today of the value of a thankful heart. How many times daily do I find myself discontent when confronted with an uneasy circumstance, a slight inconvenience or a sense of entitlement that robs my gratitude?! I’m ashamed that it happens more frequently than I’d like. I’d rather be characterized by joy… rejoicing! When I realize what God has done on my behalf through the Gospel, rejoicing naturally follows!

This year for Thanksgiving holidays, we had a ton of stuff going on but it was one of the most enjoyable Thanksgiving weeks I remember. First, my former college roommate & one my best mates, Nathan Smith, brought his family over for a 2 days. As customary, we laughed until we almost puked… several times. We played music, grilled smores, threw football, built fires, played with kiddos, & more. It almost seems wrong to have so much fun. Plus, I’d be remissed not to mention that he is one of the most gifted musicians & worship leaders I’ve ever known… check out his work here. The following day I drove to Lincolnton, NC to do a commercial shoot for Nvisionative, one of my favorite creative agencies. Owner & good friend, David Poindexter, & I were able to share a meal together & enjoy some quality time. Of significant note, we ate at a little Mexican restaurant that had the worst cheese dip ever… seriously, it was like eating half & half with a splash of goat’s cheese & water. The food left much to be desired but time with David was just what I needed.

When I returned home from NC, we were shortly thereafter expecting more company. Rather than making the usual trip down to Alabama (Joy’s parent’s home), we invited her parents & her sister’s family to join us at our home. It was great… Joy & I cooked a turkey for the first time & it turned out perfectly… it was so good I may never try to cook one again. And, our boys enjoyed the company of some of their favorite people on earth! My brother-in-law made a game out of throwing football at a dead limb, eventually knocking it down from the heights of the tree.. & there was much rejoicing! Then, with the assistance of my father-in-law, we cleaned out gutters & made a few adjustments to our home’s exterior.

And there are so many other things we did that I’ve failed to mention like watching the Iron Bowl with my family, spending excessive time wrestling on the bed with my boys, rearranging furniture, sharing meals with friends from church, etc. As I look back upon it, I couldn’t have asked for a more blessed week; my soul is rejoicing.

It’s about lunch time here in TN so I deemed these Thanksgiving day meal pics appropriate. What about you? What did you do for Thanksgiving? Any memories you’d love to share?

The Montooths {Athens, TN}

I jetted home from an early Sunday am shoot in Chattanooga just in time to catch a moment before meeting up with the Montooth family: Seth, Kimberly, Boston & Adalyn. We met up at a nearby college in town, Tennessee Wesleyan College. I met Kimberly when she was a bridesmaid for Shelby & Jake’s wedding. She & Seth have two beautiful children, Boston & Adalyn, who are 15 months apart. Since our boys are the same distance apart, we shared stories of our crazy lives! It was great to get to know this lovely family better & I look forward to hopefully many more of these sessions!Adalyn is such a cutie… she is a pleasant & content little girl!
Boston reminds me of my boys… 100% all the time. I had to resort to James Bond type maneuvers in order to catch him still.
What a great looking family!
One of my favorites!
I wanted to capture a few of Seth & Kimberly alone… love how these two look at one another!
After a quick wardrobe change, we made our way toward the city square. Boston broke loose, wanting to run & turn circles.
Here’s Seth & Boston as they are giving one another “eskimo kisses” as I called them growing up. Love it!
Thanks Montooth family! I can’t wait for you to see the rest!

The Ketchams {Lifestyle Session, Spring City, TN}

I wish someone was in the passenger seat when I was following the Ketchams out to their family farm; it was nuts! There I was, driving up a huge mountain, venturing down a few long country roads, looking into the rear-view mirror attempting to memorize the landmarks… tall oak tree beside a stream, red tractor, a bunch of cows, etc. I thought to myself, “If they are wanting to shoot me & dump my body somewhere, this is certainly the place!” I first realized we weren’t in “Kansas” anymore when we turned onto Possum Trot Rd. As if that weren’t crazy enough, we then took a sharp right onto Big Neck Rd. Okay, enough already, who’s in charge of naming these roads? What is a Possum Trot… does anyone know? I digress.

We eventually pulled the car over beside a long barbed wired fence. Unexpectedly I glanced to my left, an incredible field opened up & I quickly noticed the late colors of fall in the foreground with evergreens in the distance. It was beautiful. And when I think about it, every time I have the opportunity to spend some time with the Ketchams, I am greatly encouraged. They’re such a fun family. You may recall their pics from earlier this year when I was in their home for Andrew’s newborn lifestyle session. This session was different; the wind was freezing cold but the location couldn’t have been more scenic & perfect. Sometimes it’s just too cold outside & you just want to cry.
But everything is better when you’re in your momma’s or daddy’s arms.
I love this picture… maybe I’ll photoshop our family into it & have it enlarged onto a huge canvas for our living room!!
The Ketchams recently purchased a cafe in downtown Athens, Stonehaus Deli. It is by far one of my favorite lunch stops; I’m a fan!!
It’s so neat to see Laura with Andrew! I love the privilege to photograph friends & their families.
On the property is also an old barn… we stopped for a few pics.
This is real life!

Pictage Partnercon {NOLA}

Annually, I jump in the Honda & head south to New Orleans for a week to attend Pictage’s PartnerCon. It happens to be one of the most anticipated weeks of my year. The experience lends itself more to a reunion of all your college friends rather than a work conference. It is at PartnerCon that I have developed some deeply meaningful relationships with some of the best photographers in the country & I inevitably leave with solid business advice & ways to offer better service. Most importantly, I leave further enriched with friendships.

There were many highlights from the trip. One of my favorite sessions was one evening with Ralph Alswang & Paul Morse as they shared their stories & photos of when they were White House Photographers for Presidents Bill Clinton & George W. Bush. It was so intriguing to hear them recall their daily duties & highlights of shooting behind the scenes of our nation’s presidency.

Also, I’m rather partial to my dear friend, Melissa Jill. I loved having the opportunity to spend time hanging with Melissa & to hear her present on “5 Key Lessons” she has learned thus far in her business. She never ceases to amaze me with her generosity & honesty coupled with her business acumen. Great job friend!

There were many others who I thoroughly enjoyed meeting or getting to know better. If I were to mention all the names & all the reasons I’m grateful for them, it would take days. Until next year PartnerCon friends, here are a few pics to document the trip.

This year, I stayed several blocks away from the conference (hosted at the Astor Crowne Plaza on Canal St.) on St. Charles St. Each morning I would catch the trolley, settle onto it’s old wooden benches & enjoy the 15 minute commute.

This year I rarely brought out my camera. I focused rather on learning as much as possible & taking advantage of conversations. The following picture (along with the first pic in this post) was taken at sunset from the sundeck of my hotel.

Another highlight of my trip was the opportunity to share coffee with a family friend, Sarah Rhodes. Sarah is from Scottsboro, AL & a recent graduate of Auburn University who just months ago moved to New Orleans to pursue her dream & use her degree in Fine Arts. Check out (& buy!) her work at From My Bookshelf Etsy store & her Sizarah Etsy Store. We met up for coffee at Rue de la Course, opted for a spontaneous photo shoot & visited a used bookstore. It was super-fun!

The McConkeys {Lifestyle Session, Englewood, TN}

It couldn’t have been a better evening to spend time with the McConkey family. From the moment I turned onto their driveway just off the country road, I knew their home was be the perfect landscape for pics. Jason & Chrissi’s home is nestled on one of the most beautiful pieces of land you could imagine… muscadine vineyards, open fields, mountain views… ahh!

It was just a few weeks ago that Jason & Chrissi welcomed their newest addition, Taryn. I was privileged to visit the family to capture this transitional season of life. Taryn’s big sister, Kendyl, was doing a wonderful job helping mom & dad out with little sister. Visiting families during this time of their lives is one of life’s great pleasures!

Kendyl was eager to read one of her favorite books. Chrissi, a school teacher, almost made me forget what I was doing… she is such an incredible story teller. I was totally into the story!
Taryn was so pleasant… simply content to rest wherever.
Love those little wrinkles!
You simply can’t beat seeing a mother with her child.
What a great big sister!
I found out Jason & I have several mutual friends; it was great getting to know him better. He has a beautiful family!
See what I mean! The views are incredible.