Danielle + Reece are troopers. You probably can’t tell, but it was at most 10º on this day. The wind was bitter, and the atmosphere was gearing up for two feet of snow over the next week. However, these two made it look like summer and never complained for a minute, even when I asked them to lie in the snow.
At least it should be warmer for their wedding in August. I cannot wait!
When Teresa + Brian visited Asheville for their venue visit, they told me point-blank that this was not going to be a traditional wedding by any means. They had planned for their entire family to officiate the ceremony at Cataloochee Ranch. Teresa joked that it might be a hot mess, but at least it would be special. They wanted their weekend to be an incredible experience for all involved.
My favorite moments:
// Teresa rode into the ceremony on a horse. It took a lot of perseverance and patience to coax the horse to allow her to get on (it was scared of her veil), but it was worth it.
// Their ceremony was beautiful. I loved that their entire family + bridal party was involved with the service. Their parents helped them exchange vows, and their friends offered wisdom.
// There were moments at this wedding that I forgot I was in North Carolina. The view from Maggie Valley is incredible. While we were in the pasture taking photos, a herd of horses galloped toward us. They were incredibly curious and tried to get into our car.
// Even though they flew in from NYC, Teresa and Brian planned every last detail. They put together all of the florals and decorations. They even brought a wind chime to bring in that little extra ambience for their ceremony.
// Of all the weddings this fall, they truly had one of the most beautiful fall days. The light and temperature were absolutely perfect.
Let me introduce Melissa + Matt by sharing that their Christmas card featured Matt’s beard with ornaments dangling from it. My favorite thing about this couple is that they aren’t afraid to be themselves.
They were married on land in rural Pennsylvania that has been in Melissa’s family for generations. I enjoyed listening to Melissa reminisce of childhood memories at the farm. It wasn’t a large wedding, but everyone that mattered to them was present, especially their dogs, Axel + Skynyrd.
We spent at least an hour exploring the property for photos with the last glimpse of the sun on the horizon. The evidence of our adventure clung to Melissa’s beautiful BHLDN gown. We returned to the pole barn, which had been transformed with M’s vision. Guests sat around the tables enjoying themselves as the night drew to an end.
With the campfire hot and drinks in hand, everyone studied the sky to watch fireworks dance with the stars.
After a long, fun wedding day, Brianna and Josh wanted to spend the next day relaxing. I stopped by their hotel room at the Grand Bohemian for a little while to just hang and capture a few moments of the newlyweds while they were on cloud nine.
As much as I love climbing mountaintops with my couples, I also love the challenge of making a variety of images in one room with one window. It helps that these two have such natural chemistry.
Brianna and Josh have been dear friends over the past three years of working together. I can’t even remember how we originally connected, but I’m so glad our paths crossed.
They originally wanted to get married in Michigan, but they ultimately decided to caravan their friends + family down to Asheville for a small wedding in the mountains. Brianna and I have at least 100 emails between the two of us, trying to plan the perfect experience for everyone. They settled on Black Balsam Knob after having their first look at Looking Glass Falls. A few of my favorite moments:
// Emery (their daughter) dancing like a princess in her little white dress while everyone did hair and makeup. I loved how she hammed it up for the camera!
// Josh gifted Brianna something old (grandmother’s diamond pendant), borrowed (her mom’s earrings), and blue (inscription on the bottom of her shoes). They were such sweet, sentimental gifts.
// We met at the waterfall for their first look, and Brianna was so excited that she practically ran down the stairs. They both shined with pure joy the entire day.
// Brianna and Josh decided to share vows privately before everyone arrived for the ceremony. Their promises were incredibly thoughtful, which had them both in tears.
// Before we hiked to the summit, Josh buried sorry pieces in the forest in memory of his grandparents (they played the game every day). Their absence was truly felt by everyone.
I remember how strong the wind was this day. How it slapped our faces. How it molded her hair and whipped her dress around him. I remember the goosebumps we all had when we left the rocks and found sanctuary in the woods.
I remember how Adam held Crystal. How she grasped his face. How tender they were with each other.
I remember how their touch brought warmth to the chill that early fall delivers.
Kittredge Emert, you turned one year old this week. The past 365 days have been some of the happiest in my life. I knew motherhood would change me, but I didn’t know it would make me a better person. You’ve helped me become more patient, joyful, and thankful. I never knew how deep the love of a parent was before you.
Of course, this year has been challenging I didn’t know I could function on so little sleep for this many days (and counting). But, you are worth every diaper change, every sleepless night, every mess, every scar from pregnancy and birth. It’s an incredible privilege to be your momma.
My friend, Cheyenne, puts together a video each year for her kids and shares them on her blog. I thought it was an incredible idea, as most of our videos are scattered on various hard drives. Or, they’re buried in our phones. Encapsulating each year in one video is an easy way to revisit and celebrate the journey every trip around the sun. When we were pregnant, our birth class instructor (and our doula) asked us to choose a song to sing to our babies every day. We sang Two Of Us On The Run by Lucius every night to Kitt, slow dancing with a huge bump between us, tears running down my cheeks most days. It’s extra special to have this included at the end of our video.
Forever indebted to Elizabeth for being there for the birth and capturing the most beautiful images (Almond Leaf Studios). The birth clip in the video is also by Elizabeth + Dave.
I leave every year with excitement and anticipation for the new year and memories from the previous 365 days. By far, the most significant life event for me was becoming a mom. Kittredge made this one of the most wonderful years of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed and cried so much, nor felt so alive. Oh, and tired ;)
I had a truly fabulous wedding season, and I celebrated with many incredible people. I enjoyed every hike, every beautiful conversation, every photograph, every sunrise + sunset, every adventure, and every ounce of honest emotion that I was honored to witness.
With the addition of our sweet baby boy + maternity leave, I was fortunate to book most of my work closer to Asheville this season. However, I thoroughly enjoyed our travels to Colorado, Michigan, South Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and all over North Carolina for various sessions and weddings.
I have to give major props to my interns this year. Mor + Lucy helped carry me through the season with sleep deprivation and hours behind the breast pump. They were an invaluable part of my 2017 team, and I couldn’t have made it through 25 weddings without them. I also want to give endless thanks to all of my couples this year. Everyone was incredibly understanding and supportive of my maternity leave and pumping breaks.
And, of course, the biggest thanks to my husband for holding down the fort at home. For helping me through labor, long editing days, late nights, weekends away, diaper changes, chores….I could go on and on. I just adore sharing this life and being parents with you.
Sitting 40+ weeks pregnant at the beginning of 2017, I was concerned that becoming a mother would overtake my desire for this work, this art. However, it has only solidified the significance of what I do. Time is precious. Fleeting. It restructured my priorities and helped me say no to so many unfulfilling things that wasted time (read more about my 2018 goals here). I want to fill my days with my family and friends that bring an incredible amount of joy to my world. I want to spend my days pursuing this career that I love so much. Making photographs of moments that matter. Of laughter, love, honesty, creativity. Chasing sunsets, mountains, and purpose. These are thing things that set my heart ablaze.
2018, I’m ready for you.
Without further adieu, here are my favorite memories from 2017.
I’ve been sharing my goals on this blog for the past five or six years, and I continue to publicly post because it helps keep me accountable. I truly enjoy reading through other’s goal setting projects. If you have shared your 2018 resolutions, I’d love to read them!
2017 was a year unlike any other. Becoming a mother both invigorated me and exhausted me. I left the year feeling a little burnt out with a lot of plates spinning in the air. After a few weeks off, I’ve had some time to contemplate the next 365 days. Overall, I want less. Less stuff, less things to do, less draining projects, less dishes to clean (is that possible?). I want more time with my family, more space for creativity, more of the things that make me want to get out of bed each morning.
A lot of my 2018 goals revolve around wanting to feel more alive and less numb. By that, I mean not feeling like I’m running around checking off things on my to-do list without ever really being truly present. I asked Justin Lyon a few years back at Photo Field Trip how his family does it all. They have several kids, run multiple successful businesses, and make it all look easy. I’m sure it’s far from easy, but he told me that the secret is to be completely focused and present in whatever space you’re in. If you’re at work, think about work. If you’re with your family, don’t think about work. Great advice.
Before I jump into my 2018 goals, here are the goals I set for 2017:
1. Enjoy maternity leave
It’s my goal to be caught up so that answering emails is the only work that will need to be done over maternity leave.
Yes, yes, and yes. I feel like I did a great job of carving out space to really enjoy those first 12 weeks.
2. Creativity/Personal projects
I know spare time will be drastically minimized with a baby, but I would love to finish a couple of personal projects that I started in 2015-2016. I also want to make sure I’m documenting this new life that is entering our world.
I didn’t do so great on the personal projects, but I do feel like I was intentional about making time to document the first year of Kitt’s life.
Get back to pre-pregnancy weight. Tone the places that have been stretched by carrying a baby for nine months. Make time for yoga, hiking, and other activities. Keep up with clean eating and drinking enough water, even with limited time.
I did make it back to pre-pregnancy weight with the help of breastfeeding. However, I didn’t know that I would struggle the entire year with some ankle injuries that were a result from pregnancy. It limited me from running and hiking quite a bit in 2017. We did a great job of making “clean” meals, but we ate out a lot more because of poor planning/exhaustion.
There are so many unknowns with figuring out how to be a parent, nursing, cloth diapering, working from home, and traveling for work. I know it will take time to find this balance, but I want it to be an intentional practice in this new season. I want Brendan and I to have date nights at least once a month and to feel like I can fully give my attention to our child and my business.
Still working on this balancing act. I’m proud to say that we make date night happen almost every month. We kept up with cloth diapering, and I made it a year with breastfeeding.
I’m keeping it simple this year. Go on a trip! We still have some states and National Parks to check off our bucket list (Wyoming? Yellowstone? Montana?), and I think that will be more achievable than an international trip in our baby’s first year.
We went on two trips as a family, and they were both so much fun. We enjoyed our time in Boulder in June and revisited Portland this winter to celebrate our 30th birthdays.
Overall, I would like tone and strengthen my body and mind. I read The Compound Effect, and my biggest takeaway is that little things add up to BIG things over time. I’m hoping some of these smaller goals will add up to a more healthy being in 2018.
// Rehab ankle so that I can get back to running in 2018.
// Less time on social media. Limit to two times a day. Lord help me. This will be a difficult one.
// Get into a daily exercise routine that can be practiced during busy season, even if it’s only 15 minutes/day.
// Learn more about meditation practice.
// Less sugar, more salads.
// Less trashy TV, more educational podcasts while editing.
// Wake up a little bit earlier to prioritize quiet time, prayer, and meditation.
// Catch up on 2016 + 2017 family books from Artifact Uprising.
// Make Kitt’s one year video.
// Continue to take monthly portraits of Kitt on my SLR.
// Continue weekly planning meetings with B to communicate better about our schedules.
// Plan anniversary trip! We’re thinking Iceland might be our country of choice for 2018.
// Continue bi-monthly date nights.
// Find a sitter for Kitt and Poa. (Anyone know of the best way to go about this?)
// Carve out time for a weekly family day and a monthly adventure/outing.
After feeling burnt out at the end of 2017, I realized that I really, really need to make some space for self-care. I always feel guilty because I feel like my time should always be spent working, finishing chores, serving my family, etc. But, I know that loving yourself is incredibly important so that I can serve my family + couples to the best of my ability.
// Monthly creative space. Once a month, do something that is creative, fun, and away from the office.
// Finish #emertlangeproject
// Complete two workshops (Teethkiss + Awakening the Spark)
// Work through my “oneness.” Learning about the enneagram changed my life! It revealed my strengths and weakness. As a “one,” I need to learn to be less of a perfectionist, less critical of myself, delegate more.
// Learn one new skill or craft.
// Less, less, less. Purge our house, buy less things, enjoy what we have, experiences vs. things.
// Find a way to serve the community on a regular basis. Maybe return to volunteering for Arts for Life? Connect with nonprofit and help with media?
// Make time for more real life family sessions, elopements, and boudoir work. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE weddings. I just want to make a pointed effort to leave space for these in my schedule too :)
// Integrate new albums and books for late 2018 and 2019 pricing. I’m excited to collaborate with these new companies!
// Blog more frequently. Blog more personal work and educational posts.
// Hire a spring intern and fall intern.
// Explore new packaging options for 2018 couples.
// Update website.
// Update guides and welcome book.
// Catch up on submissions before the season begins.
// Integrate blog and website into a new blogsite? Still contemplating this one.
Marinda + Joe had one of the wildest weather mornings on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We met at sunrise for their elopement, although at 5000 feet it looked like the sun didn’t exist. Thick fog enveloped the mountain along with a cold breeze that didn’t match the August day. After they exchanged vows, we decided to venture south, hoping for a bit of that golden light.
As soon as we saw the sun, we pulled off the side of the road and drank in the warmth of the light. The fog circled us for the next two hours, playing hide-and-seek with the sun. I prayed that we would get another glimpse of the morning color by the time we made it back to Craggy. After waiting for 15 minutes in the cold wind, my prayers were answered, and we were welcomed with a quick five minutes of beauty.
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