Life captured beautifully.


Relay for Life : Freeborn County

Giving back to the community is such an important part of being a business owner, but even more importantly, it’s a crucial part of the human experience. Doing things for others, while expecting nothing in return can help boost your mood, and reward you with a sense of fulfillment that money just can’t buy.
The American Cancer Society helps coordinate volunteers across the country to help raise money for cancer research, supporting the families of those dealing with it, and helping educate the public on ways to prevent and detect cancer.
I was honored to be asked to volunteer my time to photograph some of the teams that raised money for the Relay for Life in Freeborn County.
It was a hot and humid day that turned into a beautiful evening. I encourage anyone who has never experienced attending the Relay for Life to try to make it to the next one in their community. You don’t have to be on a team or even donate money to just go and walk the path lined with paper bag luminaries. The luminaries are decorated with the names and sometimes pictures of people who are fighting, survived cancer or in memory of someone.
It’s pretty rare to find anyone these days who hasn’t had cancer touch their lives and it’s a moving experience to see all the names and faces on the luminaries… especially after dark when they light the candles inside.
I want to comment on something in particular that I found very inspiring. It was all the purple shirts I saw at the kickoff event. Purple shirts represented survivors. Seeing so many people who had battled cancer and are doing well. You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at them either and I believe Relay for Life and the work of the ACS has something to do with that.  Let’s keep kicking cancer’s butt!!!

Taylor-Davis Wedding Photography – Superior Shores Resort, Two Harbors, MN

When a past senior portrait customer asks you to photograph her wedding in the Duluth area of Northern Minnesota on Lake Superior, what’s a girl to do but say “YES!”?

Saying Yes to photographing Rachel & Tim’s wedding seems to set off a domino effect and I’ve been booking weddings left and right.  The good Lord must be telling me it’s time to start serving more brides again.  I used to do quite a few weddings each year until we built the house and I had our second son, when I backed off from doing wedding shows and all that.  At that time it felt like there were so many weekend warriors out there photographing weddings and at that time I saw more value in focusing on high school seniors and families.

Times seem to be a changin’ and I for one am grateful for it.  I keep getting the feeling that families have seen too many of those weekend warriors fall flat or make mistakes… or just plain deliver less than dazzling results.  There’s a reason wedding photography should be a big portion of your wedding budget… it’s hard, takes a lot of time and equipment to do it right, and it’s a huge responsibility (and honor).

Rachel and Tim’s idea of the perfect wedding was a beachside ceremony at noon with just immediate family & grandparents and a casual BBQ lunch to follow.  Even with their desire to keep things casual, they realized they wanted a professional there to capture the milestone event and provide them with heirloom quality memories.

It had rained quite a bit the day before so the water in a few of the photos looks a bit muddy but I have some photoshop magic up my sleeve for whichever ones they decide to order reprints of.   And since it was a 89-degree, full-sun kind-of-day, we didn’t do too many on the beach and then headed for the shade for the rest of the family groups.

I hope you enjoy a few highlights from the day.  Feel free to share this with family and friends.  I love you guys!


Baby Victor – Newborn Photography

I’m excited to post the gallery online today for Baby Victor’s parents!  They’re close friends of mine.  His mom and I go way back to story hour at the public library!  So it’s no exaggeration to say I care deeply about her and I was so thrilled when I found out they were expecting and then I prayed with all my heart for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

When she texted me to say their little one had entered the world a healthy, (almost) 8 lb baby boy and they named him Victor, my eyes filled with tears of joy.  I was THAT happy!

So without further hesitation, here are some of my favorite portraits from his newborn session.  I captured all these images at their home in the Twin Cities.  Needless to say, I had LOADED my van down with blankets, backgrounds and wooden crates… anything that might be needed for this monumental photo session!  I am sure they thought I was moving in when I arrived.  I suppose they would have been grateful for an extra set of hands to help, although Victor’s daddy is not averse to changing a dirty diaper!  He jumped at the opportunity to handle any of his needs, which I admire.

Congrats M & J!


Extended Family Portraits

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One of the best investments you can make is doing an “Extended” family portrait session.  And no, I’m not talking about having a photographer come to your family reunion where people are just trying to have fun and are wearing their comfy clothes and flip flops.  I’m talking about a fully coordinated effort to get all your adult children and grandchildren together in a well-coordinated photo shoot.  To be totally honest, it is a bit of work sometimes.  Making sure everyone is on the same page.  But if you pick out three colors for people to pick from when pulling together outfits.  Think Navy, white, khaki and denim or jewel tone fall colors… red, white, black and denim… you get the idea.

Another tip would be to get the sizes of everyone who will be in the picture and having one person purchase all the shirts so you KNOW they’ll all go together.  (This works great if you’re a bit of a control freak or can’t trust your in-law to know what you mean when you say cherry red and you’re certain she’ll show up in a maroon sweatshirt)

Having an on-location session is a wise investment for this type of photography session as well.  Many adult children will agree they love visiting mom & dad’s home and to capture it in the background of your images, part of the yard, or a nearby park you associate with “home” is always a great choice to add that extra level of meaning to your images.

I feel like after doing so many weddings early in my career, it gave me lots of practice posing large groups and now I have a talent for working quickly and keeping them entertained.

Here’s a selection of my favorite extended family photo sessions from the last year.  (and here’s a previous post where I shared an extended family session)

The great part about these sessions is that I’m able to capture a beautiful image of the big group and then do individual family groups and portraits of each group of grandkids… and the ultimate shot… all the grandkids together (+ grandma & grandpa!)  And they all LOOK AMAZING TOGETHER on grandma’s wall in a artful grouping because they’re not a hodgepodge of sessions in different colored outfits/seasons/photographers… they all coordinate beautifully for that high-end designer look in home decor.

If you’d like to schedule your extended family portrait session, just call the studio at 507-383-2344.  Things like this are best booked well in advance to coordinate so many schedules and get the time most ideal for your whole family.

Enjoy these images to get the ideas rolling…

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Brennyn : Newborn Girl

This angelic newborn is the daughter of one of my wedding clients from way back.  I was so honored to have them back in my studio with the birth of their first child.  She is a doll!

It’s not easy getting ready for a photo session while trying to tend to a newborn, so I always do my best to reassure the moms (and dads) once they get here not to worry about a thing.  If they forgot an item or just had a rough morning, not to worry, I will take it from here.

I have LOTS of great newborn hats, headbands and hairclips to style a little boy or girl’s newborn photoshoot.  I also have blankets and baskets galore.  Another wedding client that recently returned with her baby said I needed to post a picture of all my stuff so people realize I have it for them to use.

So here it is!  Last year I worked on updating the look of my dressing room and created this cute display of a lot of my baby girl accessories.  (The boy ones are in a tote!  I ran out of room!)

And here are some beautiful images of Brennyn and her adoring parents.



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Kenison-Smally : A Rustic, Country Wedding

It’s amazing how complicated life gets sometimes.  It seems so wonderfully simple when people see you in the grocery store, they say hello, smile at your kids, you both agree the summer is going to quickly and the kids are growing so fast, and you move on… but when you own a business, things are never quite a simple as they seem.  LOL!

Case in point:  I had been talking back and forth with a bride, answering questions about wedding pricing and she had told me I would be the photographer for their wedding.  She was excited and so was I.  A few weeks later, I get a call from a wonderful family friend, Jordan…

Jordan is a girl I took senior portraits for back when I was just getting started doing photography full-time.  She loved her photos, we ended up doing a “cousins” family photoshoot, then I photographed one of those cousins the next year for her senior portraits as well.  After all that, I asked this same gal to babysit my oldest son for me when he was born (I was pregnant when she was graduating and she seemed so genuinely excited and interested I knew I could trust her with my new precious baby boy.)  She was beyond amazing.  She brought him back to her mom & dad’s house and was never impatient to get him back to me even though I worried he must be getting in the way of her social life.  She didn’t feel that way at all, in fact, her and her mom took him all over the place to eat out for lunch with the rest of their extended family, go on little shopping trips and all sorts of other interesting adventures.  He (and I) inadvertently became “adopted” members of their extended family and we often celebrated birthdays, holidays and just regular old Sunday afternoons with them.  I also ended up photographing her older sister’s son’s newborn portraits a few years back.  Needless to say, we are all very close.

… back to the phone call…

she’s asking me about wedding photography and the date has not been set, but she’s thinking about the same date as the other bride I’ve been talking to and who “unofficially” has booked me (AKA: no deposit has been given or contract signed).  I beg her to pick one of the other dates but she warns me it’s pretty likely this will be the date because it also happens to be her parent’s anniversary!  How can I argue with that?!

{It also just so happens to have another element of ginormous significance… it’s my BIRTHDAY!!! 😉 Hahaa!}

… When it all was said and done, that was the date, June 25th, so I had to debate whether or not I risk upsetting the other bride, possibly ruining my reputation and delicately retract my commitment to photograph her wedding, or risk missing one of the most exciting moments in one of my friend Jordan’s life…  Oh, decisions!

Obviously, I knew I couldn’t miss out on Jordan’s wedding, even if I wasn’t photographing it.  So, I picked up the phone and gave the unlucky bride a call.  She was so amazingly gracious and I was so full of gratitude and relief that she still had plenty of time to find another photographer and not to worry.  Happy dance time!

Fast forward to Engagement Pictures… which you can find HERE.

And now it’s time to share some from the BIG DAY!!!  It was the most beautiful, rustic country wedding.  Set at her parent’s home with all her closest family and friends in attendance.  It was a nail-biter though!  There was predictions of lots of rain but we only ended up with LOTS of wind, and no rain until later that night around 10pm when everyone was safely under the tent and a little too tipsy to care that their feet were getting all wet.

The wind did make portraits quite challenging.  Think wispy hair and ties flying sideways… yeah… not cool.  I just had to let go of some of the ideas I had to take pictures in other parts of the yard and stick to an area behind a couple of sheds to keep my subjects from looking like they were about to be swept away.  But even with all that, we have a TON of amazing images to choose from for Jordan’s wedding album which I’m excited to start designing soon.

Don’t miss noticing the amazing bridal party flowers that were created by Flowers By Bree.  She is a local, Kensett, IA florist that works out of her home and she has a God-given gift for coordinating colors and textures with flowers in the most amazing ways.  She can take any bride’s vision/request and bring it into a spectacularly beautiful reality.  (Was that enough adjectives for you???  Seriously, she is THAT good!)



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Camellia + John Paul : Children’s Portrait Session

These littles are very dear to my heart. They just so happen to be my niece and nephew who live just far enough away to make taking photos a little hard to coordinate with school and work schedules. Needless to say, I was thrilled to finally have them back in my studio for some fun portraits documenting their ages (4 & 7).
The outfits their mama dressed them in were adorable and classic and so fitting for their ages. Camellia loves the camera and strutted her stuff like a girl who has seen a few episodes of America’s Next Top Model. Such a honey.
And JP, he’s golden. He really is. My parents get to spend lots of time with them since they live right next door and they never have a bad word to say about either of them. Gotta love grandparents.
I hope you love these images as much as I do… well, maybe that’s asking a lot if you’re not also related to them, but leave me a comment below and let me know which picture is your favorite!
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