Mason and Amy {Lifestyle Session | Athens, TN}

Ben calls these sessions “Just Because” and I (Alan) like that title.  Sometimes you need pictures just because you haven’t had them in a while, just because you want to document this season of life, just…because!  That’s the reason for our recent session with the Merrymans; no special event to commemorate, but pictures to be taken “just because.”  Meet Mason and Amy, some of our dear friends from Cleveland TN.  Mason is the type of guy where you would feel comfortable with your life in his hands.  In fact, that’s exactly what I do!  As my belayer when climbing, my life could not more literally be in his hands with him holding and anchoring my rope!  Talk about trusting a guy!  Amy (who should be an inspiration to all of us; she recently lost FORTY POUNDS!!!  Way to go!) has also picked up climbing lately.  Can’t wait to join you guys at the cliffs when warmer weather arrives!

The four of us got together a few weeks ago for some Christmas themed pictures and then some “just because” pictures.  We could not have picked a more perfect late fall evening!  The temps were just warm enough, and the sunset was stunning.  Deep golden glow that seemed to last forever.  We had a great time hanging out with you guys; hope you enjoy your images!
























The District Gallery {Fine Art Gallery & Framery | Knoxville, Tennessee}

Let me begin by saying that if you haven’t visited The District Gallery in West Knoxville, you are missing out on a real treat. The owners, Jeff & Denise Hood, are amazing. From the moment I met Denise, she was the essence of warm & hospitable. And spend a few moments with Jeff & you’ll realize he is discerning & truly gifted in his trade as an artist & master framer; his art installations have taken him all over, from Key West to Canada. Not only do they have a beautiful Fine Art gallery, crafts & gifts, but they can frame just about anything imaginable. I was highly impressed by their work & have begun using them as my framers of choice. Every time I visit the store, I long for the day when I can purchase several pieces of Fine Art for our home & studio.

Just prior to Christmas I was privileged to visit the Gallery & photograph their beautiful space. Below are a few of my favorites. However, admittedly, I’m not certain these photos do justice to the experience of visiting the store for yourself. And you should see the beautiful crafts & gifts.









I’m pretty sure one of my blog readers will see this owl pillow & find a way to purchase it! Super cool pillow.



I so badly want this zebra head for my office!




Amy Cuen Senior Session {McMinn County High School, Athens, Tennessee}

Occasionally you meet a family that has a wonderful impact upon your life. When Joy & I first moved to East TN from Memphis following grad school, Joy worked as a 6th grade teacher. In her class she had a young man by the name of Alfonso Cuen. Little did I know that several years later, Alfonso’s father, Abel, would become a dear friend. Abel & his wife, Gaby, have two beautiful kids, Amy & Alfonso. And that is what brings me to this post. I was very honored to photograph Amy’s senior session a few weeks ago.

Amy is such a pleasure to know. She is a Senior at McMinn County High School in Athens, TN & making plans to study pre-med at Lee University in Cleveland, TN next year. We are super thankful that she’s staying close to town… maybe we can get her to come hang out with our family some more & take her up on the babysitting offers!

Although I was concerned about scheduling a December session, with the possibility of freezing temps, the day turned out to be gorgeous… I’m talking, in the 70’s! We took some pics inside but it wasn’t long before we were out running around through town. Amy, you did a beautiful job… congrats friend!


Love her dress! And this wall is perfect.



Such a great smile.




Great job friend! Looking forward to being around your family even more.


The Grand Tetons {Jackson Hole, Wyoming}

Welcome to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming…my new favorite place in the world!  Jenn and I recently returned from a skiing trip, but I’ve already made plans to return for a week (or two!) in the fall just to photograph the place.  Those close to me know that it’s my not-so-secret dream in life to become a landscape photographer a la Rodney Lough Jr…and there is no better place than in Wyoming.  Now, to be sure, it was a little bit cold.  -11 F when we arrived and this is not including any wind chill!  In fact, it never got up to freezing while we were there; a bit different from East Tennessee.  However, we didn’t let a little thing like almost-instant-frostbite-temps get in the way of our fun!  Below are some of my favorites from the trip.  I would’ve photographed much more, but we only saw the sun for about 1.5 days.  We arrived in the middle of the worst storm that the area had seen in two years; great for skiing, but not so much for photography.

We counted at least 5 of these antler arches spread throughout the town and town square.  They are made from elk antlers that are shed annually.  Also, while researching for this blog, I learned that each arch weighs almost 10,000 pounds!!!  Not so sure I would’ve posed underneath one if I had known that at the time!


Ah, the Moulton Barn on Mormon Row.  This iconic barn is one of (if not the most) photographed barn in America.  Absolutely gorgeous!  For a sense of perspective, the base of the Tetons in the background is 7 miles away from the barn!  This image has definitely earned a spot in my top 3 favorite images of all time, and is something I can now cross off my photography “bucket list!”



I literally walked through knee-to-waist deep snow to capture this image!


The lone sunset we saw occurred the first evening of our trip.  We got full value out of it though; the intensity of the colors was breathtaking!



Prior to the trip, I had grand plans to photograph the night sky, but mother nature had other ideas.  This image of Orion’s Belt, while not anything special, was the last of three consecutive 30-second exposures.  That’s it; 90 total seconds of clear (relatively) night sky.  I’ll have to fix this when I return!

This is the Miller House on the National Elk Reserve.  Apparently it’s famous…


A herd of elk passes through.

While the elk were a bit skittish, the mountain goats had no problem letting us get close!


Pure luck seeing this wolf.  He just happened to cross the road about a mile ahead of our car and we followed him for a bit up the hillside.  If we hadn’t seen him first from the road, we would’ve never known he was there.  He (she?) could COMPLETELY disappear in the surrounding vegetation!

On our last day there, an anticipated break in the clouds had me making the trip back to Mormon Row.  Since these are the most photographed barns in America, I thought I would add a few more shutter clicks to the count.



Other news and notes from the trip:  You’ll have to take my word (well, that, and a video of me falling down on Facebook) that there was actual skiing accomplished on this trip.  I just never was quite brave enough to lug the camera up to the top of the slopes!  Also, it’s amazing the difference between being 30 and being in your 20’s.  What began as plans to ski for 4 full days quickly turned into me skiing 3 half days and Jenn making it for 2.  If I’m not careful, I’m going to get old soon!  Finally, at the risk of this sounding like a fisherman telling about the one that got away, I can’t help but think of all the images that I didn’t have an opportunity to capture.  The lighting on Mormon Row was never quite right, Jackson Lake was too windy and cloudy, and I didn’t even get to see Oxbow Bend.  Such is life when working with nature I guess.  However, I cannot wait to return one day and do this place photographic justice!  Until then…