The McDonalds {Family Lifestyle Session | Athens, TN}

Fall is hands down my favorite time of year.  While Jennifer prefers the warmth (and beaches) of summer, I prefer the more moderate weather as the year starts to wind down.  Of course, there are several other bonuses as well:  beautiful colors, fall festivals, football season!  What’s not to love about it?  With all of this goodness around, it’s the perfect time to update family portraits.  This is where Jenn and I found ourselves last weekend; in beautiful East Tennessee photographing a really fun family.

Meet the McDonalds:  Brandon, Ashley, Madison, and Parker.  Of course, this is not the first time you’ve seen this beautiful family here on the blog.  They have been featured in family session’s and Christmas card designs.  Madison, who really knows how to work the camera, wants to grow up and be a princess.  Despite feeling under the weather, she was so much fun the entire afternoon!  Then there’s “little” Parker.  I use the term loosely here because Parker is well on his way to NFL linebacker status!  We also figured out the best way to make him smile was to have Jennifer run around in circles; she left exhausted, but we got the smiling shots we needed.  Great work Jenn!  Thanks Ashley and Brandon for allowing us to spend an afternoon with your sweet family.  We had a great time.

Don’t mess with this sheriff!  He’s all business!Despite not feeling 100 percent, Madison was all smiles.  Great job!While Jenn was getting some shots of the kids, I stole Ashley and Brandon away for a few minutes.I love the sweet interaction between big sister and little brother.What would fall be without a few pictures with some pumpkins.  Also, I learned that there can be orange, white, and even green pumpkins.  Who knew?!

Grant & Fernanda {Vintage Inspired Engagement, Tennessee}

It could’ve only been orchestrated from above. How else would you explain how a San Antonio, TX-born, Memphis, TN transplant who ventures to Tuscaloosa, AL for college meets a Belo Horizonte, Brazilian-born, Birmingham, AL transplant who speaks English with a Southern accent? Whew! Meet Grant & Fernanda or should I say, the future Mr. & Mrs. Grant Luiken! This is their story.

As I’ve heard it said before, sometimes the most enduring relationships begin slowly. As is the case for Grant & Fernanda. They met for the first time through the University Fellows Experience at the University of Alabama… Roll Tide! After 2 years of friendship they began working together following Grant’s study abroad in Uruguay. On the first day of the job together, sparks began to fly. Who says you shouldn’t date a co-worker?! After much prayer, the couple entered into a relationship together. And that’s what finds us here today!

On a beautiful late April afternoon, Grant took Fernanda to a pre-scouted lookout in Moundville, AL where he had prepared a picnic for the ‘two youngins’ in love!’ At the right moment, Grant got off the tailgate & knelt down to wash Fernanda’s feet. He spoke of Christ’s love of the church (John 13) & it’s model for marriage. “In the same way that Christ serves the church,” Grant said, “we want to serve each other for the rest of our lives.” He then asked her hand in marriage (accompanied by a sparkly ring) & she said, “YES!” {And all the readers said, “Awwww!”} Afterward, they headed back to Tuscaloosa where Grant had an engagement reception party waiting behind his apartment doors. Nice!!!

You can see why I’m honored to share in the stories of couples like Grant & Fernanda. While getting married on New Year’s Eve in Tuscaloosa, AL, they were kind enough to drive up to East TN for their engagement session. And they rocked it out! After discussing our ideas for the session, they wanted to do a vintage-inspired e-session. They had the perfect clothes & I found some great locations which resulted in one of my favorite engagement sessions to date. Without further ado:

We began our session at the Historic L&N Depot & Railroad Museum in Etowah, TN. The old train station & active train tracks provided a fantastic backdrop.
Watching these two interact was really beautiful!
Can’t miss the train!
After the depot, we opted to visit a local Mennonite Community in Delano, TN. A lovely couple in a Muscadine Vineyard… what more could you ask for?
One of my favorites!
And yes! We ate plenty of Muscadines… fresh off the vine!
Beautiful!
And, across the highway is the Hiwassee River. (Btw, I was standing at the very edge of a log that was hovering over the water for this pic, I seriously almost fell in at one point).
This nearby field was perfect.
And we ended the afternoon with a short hill-top hike to catch sunset while enjoying our Muscadines.
I love these two pictures so much!
Clearly one of my favorites!
Grant & Fernanda, I am so happy for you & your families. You are such a pleasure to meet & I can’t wait to ring in the New Year with you guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed your sneak peek!

Knight Rifles {Commercial Shoot}

Increasingly, I find myself shooting commercial products & editorial type features. I love solving the challenges that differing types of photography present. Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to shoot for Knight Rifles. I was immediately impressed with the quality of workmanship put into these guns & it comes at no surprise that they are one of the most well respected & valued makers of Muzzleloaders in the country. We spent a day photographing the new lineup of guns for their upcoming catalogs & promotional materials. All in all, we photographed over 100 variations to their fleet & still have more to photograph. What a great day! And, I can’t say enough about the guys I was privileged to work with at Knight, they are exceptional! Thanks Knight Rifles for the opportunity; I look forward to doing it again!

Below is one of their CarbonKnight Muzzleloaders.

Savannah and Russ {Engagement Session | Knoxville, TN}

Between Jennifer and myself, I would definitely say that I am the more technical shooter while she goes mainly by feel.  Each approach works equally well, but I love studying the “rules” of photography.  Composition, thirds, and leading lines…these are the things that excite me about photography!  Weird, I know.  Of course, more often than not, “breaking the rules” creates stunning images as well.  However, the other day, I discovered a photographic rule that should NEVER be broken:  When you get a chance to shoot in Neyland Stadium, always take it!  This was a first for Jennifer and me; we’ve never done an engagement session in an SEC stadium before.  When we first met up with Russ and Savannah, they mentioned trying to do a session here and we were pumped.  Both of them had attended UT, and Savannah had an old friend who could get us on.  As we entered the field, I was blown away by how massive this place was; definitely an intimidating place to play football.  Although our time there was severely limited, we had a blast!  Check out our images below.  As this was only half of their engagement session, look for more about Russ and Savannah in future months! After leaving the stadium, we still had some good light left so we made the short trip to the World’s Fair Park.Some dancing at the amphitheater was in order!Here’s a nice problem to have:  Savannah’s engagement ring was SO bright I had trouble getting it exposed correctly with her hand!These are my favorites of the day.  Small slits of sunlight through the trees made for some dramatic backlighting.