the Smith family / August 2014 / Anderson, SC family photographer

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16This is my cousin, Melinda, and her sweet family.  We don’t get to see them nearly as often as we would like, but they were able to stop in Anderson for about 24 hours last weekend on their way to their vacation.  They didn’t come planning to have family photos done, but we thought “why not?”, so Melinda picked some outfits out of their suitcases and we headed into my sister’s yard.  We were out there for about 5 minutes, and I think that’s all we needed.  They were naturals in front of the camera, so getting these photos was a breeze.  I know how special family photos are, so it was absolutely my pleasure to be able to take these for them.  Melinda is a talented photographer in St. Louis, MO…you should check her out!!!!

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August 2014 10 on 10 / Myrtle Beach, SC photographer

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This 10 on 10 will most likely be the one I remember above all the others.  This past week, my 88-year-old grandmother, Ruby, fell in her assisted living facility and obtained an injury that she will not recover from.  She was put in hospice on Friday and right now we are praying for comfort and peace for her as she waits to meet her Savior.  In the midst of the deep sadness we are experiencing over facing the loss of our grandmother, God, in His kindness, made our last memory with her extra special.  I just happen to have a memory card full of pictures that I took the last time we saw Ruby, which is where this post is coming from.  I don’t normally carry my camera around with me, so the fact that I had it that day, is a miracle in itself.  On this particular day, my sisters, their husbands, and all of the kiddos headed to the assisted living facility to pick Ruby up for a fun afternoon.  We planned to go eat, but the wait at the first restaurant was way too long, so we headed to a Seafood restaurant, where we were seated immediately and given a huge table in a room that we had all to ourselves.  We all sat around Ruby and watched her eat shrimp and smile at her great-grands.  She was truly in her happy place and we all knew it.  We spent the day enjoying one another, and when we left, we couldn’t help but think that our time together had been absolutely perfect.  As we were telling Ruby good-bye and walking out the door, she grabbed my sisters and I, squeezed us together and told us that we were the sweetest, prettiest, best girls in all of Horry County.   We didn’t realize it then, but that was her good-bye.

Please pray for Ruby.

“Happy are they who are found watching. Our sand-glass is not so long as we need to weary: time will eat away and root out our woes and sorrow: our heaven is in the bud, and growing up to an harvest; why then should we not follow on, seeing our span-length of time will come to an inch? Therefore I commend Christ to you as the staff of your old age: let him have now the rest of your days; and think not much of a storm upon the ship that Christ saileth in; there shall no passenger fall overboard; but the crazed ship and the sea-sick passenger shall come to land safe.”  -Samuel Rutherford

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21*After you’re done here, head over to Third Avenue Photography to check out her 10 on 10.

Jimmy and Micaela | July 12, 2014 | Florence, SC wedding photographer

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I love these 2.  LOVE THEM.  I am so honored that they picked me to be their wedding photographer.  Seriously honored.  When you meet Jimmy and Micaela, you fall in love with them.  Instantly.  There is just something about them that is so genuine, you just want to be their BFF.  As much as I was looking forward to their wedding these past few months, I was also dreading it.  I didn’t want it to come because then it would be over and then they wouldn’t need me anymore.  I want to be their BPHF (see what I did there?)! :)

Loving them so much makes me SUPER EXCITED for them, because I know what’s in store.  I know what they’re facing because I’ve been living it for the past 11 years (Matt and I now share an anniversary with this sweet couple).  What’s coming is joy mixed with sorrow, good times with some bad thrown in, and ups with some downs.  When I got married 11 years ago, for some UNKNOWN reason I was clueless about life and the fact that it’s hard.  At that point, trials for me meant missing a trip with friends because I had to work or not being able to buy the jeans I wanted until my next paycheck.  Obviously, I had some things to learn and it took me several years to learn them (it’s an ongoing process).  So, what have I learned?    I’ve learned that God is GOOD.  He is VERY GOOD.  His ways are PERFECT.  Mine, not so much.  My hope is in HIM and not my husband, my children, or my marriage.  God’s definition of “good” is not the same as mine, but I’m going to go with His, because, well, HE CREATED THE UNIVERSE.  God orchestrated marriage as a beautiful picture of His love for His church.  We get to be participants in that for everyone around us to see.  We get to forgive as He forgives, love as He loves, serve as He serves, and hope in Him as we seek to live with another sinner and do life together.  We get to run to Him when we fail and experience the grace that can only come from a loving Heavenly Father.   God has used my marriage to deepen my relationship with Him, which in turn, has deepened my relationship with my husband…He sure does know what He’s doing.  And, that is why I’m excited for Jimmy and Micaela.  Because what’s coming may not always be easy, but it will always be good! :)

“So, in your marriage, God will find ways to drive you to the end of yourself so that you will put your hope and strength in him.  Your moments of weakness are not the bad moments of accident or bad luck.  No, moments of weakness are there because of divine intention.  They are the delivery system of glorious forgiving, empowering, and motivating grace.  God is using them to rescue you from you and to make you a person who, in marriage, really is committed to love as you have been loved.” -Paul Tripp

Jimmy and Micaela, I hope you enjoy your sneak peek!!!!!!!!! :)

*I would like to thank Jennifer Grimsley (a.k.a. my OLDER sister :) ) for second shooting for me!!!!!!!!!!  Love ya’, sis! :)

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10 on 10 | July 2014 | Isle of Palms, SC photographer

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Every July, my mom treats my sisters and I to a week long vacation in Isle of Palms, SC and we are so thankful.  It is SO MUCH fun, even with our brood of rambunctious kiddos.  We only wear bathing suits and pajamas all week and we pretty much stay on the same rotation the entire time…breakfast, pool, lunch, beach, dinner, bed, repeat.  Narrowing vacation pictures down to 10 (and by 10, I mean 14 :) ) is not easy to do, but here’s a brief look at one of our days in Isle of Palms.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12***Now, you can head over to Fantasma Imagery and see what they’ve been up to! :)

cousins | Isle of Palms, SC photographer

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If you have seen my photography, you have probably gathered that my style is not white shirts and khaki bottoms.  I’m not saying that traditional photos are bad, they’re just not my thang!  Don’t hate, I’m just keepin’ it real! :)  With that in mind, you might start scrolling down this blog post and wonder if you are at the right web address…have no fear, just scroll a little further, and I think you’ll find what you came here for.

Last week while we were on vacation with my mom (thanks Granna!), one evening in between showers, dinner, and bedtime, we took a few minutes to head out to the beach and have a little fun!  It actually ended up being A LOT of fun and something I don’t think the kids will forget!

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Joel and Ivie | June 16, 2014 | Greenville, SC photographer

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I’m so thankful for the opportunity to work with yet another amazing couple!  Ivie and Joel feel like old friends and their engagement session was nothing but fun for me.  It began with thunder and ended with a small peek of sunshine, a few raindrops, some wind, and on the way home, we spotted a deer and a rainbow.  What a night!  I know it is cliche for photographers to say they “can’t wait” for so-and-so’s wedding, but I really CAN’T WAIT for their New Year’s Eve wedding…really…I am so excited! :)  Thanks for picking me to photograph this time in your lives, you two…the pleasure is all mine! :)

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She’s 6 | Anderson, SC photographer

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“A Good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life.” -Donal Miller

This coming September will make 2 years since my dad died.  I have no words to describe how much I miss him.  “Miss” just doesn’t do it justice.  Life is different now.  The loss of my dad touches everything I do on a daily basis.  Things kind of revolve around the fact that he is not here anymore.   Inevitably, right as I get caught up in the despair of his absence, I am shaken back to reality as my mind is flooded with memories of my dad…the best dad.  One of the things that makes me the saddest is the realization that Marlee, Gretta, and Phen will not grow up having “Bubby” around.  That one thought brings immediate tears to my eyes…the uncontrollable kind.  As sad as that is, I find some consolation in knowing that he worked very hard to make memories with them.  At the time, he had no idea how important those memories would be because he wasn’t doing it for that reason, he was doing it because that’s who he was.  He loved them and lived every moment with them and their cousins to the absolute fullest.  Whenever we were together, he was making life exciting…a visit with Bubby meant donuts, homemade icecream, going to the rides, bouncy houses, the beach, and staying up past bedtime.  He knew how to make life memorable, and because of that, he will always be the lead in some of our most important scenes.

Now, I want to continue making memorable scenes for our kids.  At this point in their lives, Matt and I are their directors and it is our job to orchestrate the scenes that one by one, will eventually become their story.  Birthdays are not my forte.  My sisters are much better at planning extravagant birthday parties than I am, but I am realizing what a neat opportunity they are to show our kids how important they are to us…a day we can celebrate them.  I am realizing how important it is to make memories with them.  Sometimes, all it takes is some cake and popcorn, a pop-up camper, and Christian music night at the skating rink.  Losing Daddy has taught me, among a lot of other things, that life is way shorter than we ever thought it would be, so we really should work as hard as we can “to make a day stand out.”  Especially a birthday.

Gretta turned 6 on May 19 and this is how we celebrated her.

“When we look back on our lives, what we will remember are the crazy things we did, the times we worked harder to make a day stand out.”  

-Donal Miller

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!  I wish you knew how much we miss you!

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10 on 10 | June 2014 | Anderson, SC photographer

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The following photos were taken between 4 pm and 9 pm, Sunday, June 8 (can you tell 24 is back on…holla!!!  Nobody says “holla” anymore, but I still do…holla…see :) )

I decided I would do some explaining for y’all this month…

1.  Marlee has more money than I do…if you decide to rob our house, I would go for that gray pocket book.

2.  I think it’s hilarious that Matt has a backpack blower.  I don’t know why that cracks me up.  When I was in high school, my main chore was to blow our driveway.  I got demoted from cutting the grass when I drove the riding lawnmower into my dad’s boat.

3.  Those two guys are awesome…really, really awesome.

4.  He really does love her, I promise.

5.  Please do not text me, Granna…he’s fine!

6.  Macey is Meredith and Chris’ youngest and spunkiest.  Her personality is as fiery as her red hair.

7.  I hope that in 10 years, Marlee and Hadley love each other as much as they do now.

8.  “Greta” is actually spelled “Gretta”

9.  These girls had a blast at their VBS kick-off dinner.  Marlee wore her I <3 VBS shirt to bed last night.

10.  I got to have ice cream with some dear friends to celebrate a birthday.  That’s not my hand.

Now head over to Third Avenue Photography to see some more 10 on 10 excitement! :)

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collecting memories | greenwood, sc photographer

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Back in the fall, when Phen was 6 months old, we had the opportunity to go camping with some friends from church.  Matt was very excited…me, not so much.  Camping with a nursing 6-month-old was not at the top of my list of fun things to do.  As a matter of fact, it wasn’t at the bottom of my list either.  I ended up telling Matt that I didn’t think I was up for it, so he graciously said I could stay home and he would take the girls.  Now that was a plan I was excited about!  The only hurdle was telling the family we were going with that I wasn’t going to be able to make it.  I texted my friend, Robin, and told her the news.  That’s when my plans got changed back.  They basically created a scenario where everyone would help take care of Phen and they would make camping as easy as possible for me.  How could I say no, so I ended up going.  I still think back to that weekend and thank God for using the Moseleys to get my rear end camping!  I had the best time and quickly decided that I wanted the Dragos to be a camping family!  By the end of our weekend, I was already on Craig’s List looking for pop-up campers!  We ended up finding one in Georgia a few months later and now we are the proud owners of our very own pop-up!  If you have talked to me in the last 2 months, then you know how obsessed I am with my pop-up and with camping!  I think every family should invest in some gear and head outdoors.  There is just nothing like it!  My goal for our family is to visit every state park in South Carolina before Marlee graduates from high school!

A couple of weeks after buying our pop-up, we ventured to Lake Greenwood State Park with the Moseleys and the Mansuetos!  That was our very first trip with our very own pop-up, so I had to take my camera along.  I promise I won’t do a blog post every time we go, but since this was our “first” trip I just had to take a few pictures! :)

I really want to use this blog post to publicly acknowledge the Moseley family for being so awesome and for getting us involved in something that is going to make collecting memories very easy.  Y’all have given us an invaluable gift! :)

I also want to thank Roxi Mansueto for all of her super-awesome camping tips! :)

“Giving your children the opportunity to experience many things, from camping and fishing to astronomy and physics, is giving them a big view of God. Look at all the cool stuff God lets us do…He is not a fusser, watching the clock and checking things off His to-do list. We need to imitate Him, His extravagance and liberality toward His children. Did you catch that glorious sunset He set out in the sky tonight? Or were you too busy fussing over something “righteous” and forgot to look up? Come on! Don’t tell me He wasted all that color and light and you didn’t even notice? He seems to delight in distracting us away from our many mundane duties to look and wonder. So we ought to distract our own children away from their studies and chores.” -Nancy Wilson

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10 on 10 | May 2014 | Anderson, SC photographer

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It’s the 10th again…wow! :)  I took these pictures on May 3 while we were still in Florida on vacation (thanks SO MUCH, Granna)!  I knew I needed to get my 10 photos done, but Matt was not there, I have an 11-month-old, my kids are not great swimmers (yet!), I’m a nervous mom around water, and I forgot to pack a battery, so I only had 2 bars…these things do not make taking pictures easy!  I like a challenge, so one afternoon I took my camera out for a grand total of 20 minutes and captured a snapshot (or 10) of what our week looked like.

*when you’re done, head over to Anna Roberts’ blog for some more 10 on 10 goodness! :)

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