Abbey + Brenton

I’m gonna tell you a secret.

Nicholas and I never drink at weddings, and we certainly don’t stay after our contracted time. There are usually babies to rush home to, and sitters to relieve of duty. And we would never want to seem unprofessional, even if it’s “just one” at a wedding. Here’s the thing though— we’ve been making some serious connections with our couples over the last year or so. The kind that we’re like “You know, I would absolutely hang out with these guys all the time.” When we shot Abbey + Brenton’s engagement session up in Cleveland last December? We found ourselves sitting in a pizza shop pigging out and getting to know each other afterwards. And I suspected right away that these might be our people. Then when I shot Abbey’s boudoir session at her + Brenton’s home in June, I’m pretty sure we sat at her kitchen table together chatting for longer than we had spent shooting, and I was sure she was in fact my person. Suddenly I understood why my childhood best friend, Lacee, sent her our way.

People change you in this business. People change the business.

I’ve updated contracts because of a few eye-opening (and unfortunate) experiences with people.
And then I’ve sent extra photos because of how much I connected with people from behind the lens.

At Abbey + Brenton’s wedding, there were a lot of our people; my previously mentioned best friend, our April 14th newlywed couple, Tara + Andrew, and even one of our June 2019 couples, Sarah and Joe. A few others. So we booked a hotel near the venue, and when we were off the clock for the night, we carried our gear out to the car, locked it up in the trunk, and then we tore up the dance floor with all of these people (and may or may not have had several rounds of shots; thanks Tara, I can still feel my throat burning!) Also, the Youngstown traditional cookie table? We helped demolish that thing!

The point is, it’s really great when you don’t feel on the outside; when you become part of the celebration, and not just another vendor. Nic and I feel so blessed to know so many of the folks who were a part of this day, and plan to make more memories with them for years to come. We really mean it when we say that so many of our client’s become friends. I can’t possibly imagine it any other way.

Check out these photos.
...And never stop looking for your people.

From There to Here

I want to tell you a story about how this business has grown, okay?

In November of 2015, I was fired from my position at a local graphic design shop. I used to be really embarrassed to say that, but there's a story there and the short version can be said in two words: shitty boss. So there’s that.

At the time, this passion had been a side hustle for a few years, some would even say a hobby, but when I got sacked and we had to look at our financial situation, we realized I was making enough cash taking photos that I could just work a few nights at my bestie's family-owned winery, and we'd be okay. I was in college, too, and if we’re being honest here; juggling the demands of the day job, school, two kids, and this endeavor? It was all kind of kicking my butt. So I really suspected early on that maybe this was a blessing in disguise.

Due to a whirlwind of winter bookings, by the Spring of 2016 I had so many weddings lined up for that summer that I knew couldn't work weekends at the winery without having to request time off all the time. I didn't want to do that to my friend/her parents, so Nic and I had another big talk. And that’s when I jumped into this with two feet. The real sacrifice we knew may be ahead was that we had been trying for a baby of our own (Sophia and Ethan came into this relationship with me, from my previous marriage). We knew this career move could affect our financial situation, and the idea of another little one would have to be tabled until we saw how this played out. We both agreed that things would happen the way they were meant to, and that I should pursue this.

I quit school soon after that. I had been studying photography and I realized right around booking my 20th wedding that not one couple had asked or seemed to care if I had an education. I only had four— yes, four— classes left to complete my coursework. But I was practically paying out of pocket for them and I decided I wanted to put that money back into my family, and the faith in myself that I didn’t need the piece of paper I’d been chasing. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the education I did happen to walk away with. Particularly the entrepreneur / business classes. Weirdly those have proved more useful than anything else in my repertoire. I love the photographer end of things, but the girl boss hustle is no joke.

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So let’s talk about this photo. This shot was taken in September, 2016, by my friend Sam (IG: @helloitsmesami.) By that point I was booked well into 2017, and confidence was beginning to creep in where anxiety and worry had lived. I was really doing this! I was a full-time photographer. So I had my first headshots taken, and I used them this business for about 5-6 months. You see, at the time this thing was my solo project, only bringing in Nicholas or my friend Amanda when a second shooter was added by request. But on January 30th in 2017, with more than 40 weddings booked for that year, two little pink lines found their way into our world. I was pregnant, and due right smack dab in the middle of the busiest wedding season, ever.

Having been pregnant twice before and knowing full well how my body responds, I chopped my hair off. For one? I shed like a sheepdog when I’m pregnant. For two? Post-partum hair loss and thinning is a real thing, and it looks healthier when kept short. And three? Babies like to pull hair. I haven’t looked remotely like I did in that headshot session since that pregnancy took off, to be honest. But damn, that was an exciting time in my journey and I felt good (and looked good; hey there blue hair!). So I kind of love that photograph.

Given my ‘delicate’ state, for most of 2017, whether a couple had chosen to add one or not, I brought a second shooter along with me. Being due at the end of September, I was super pregnant for the bulk of summer/fall season. It was crazy. Nicholas and Amanda pretty much split weddings down the middle at my side. As we continued to book into 2018 I realized that I really freaking liked tackling a wedding day with a partner, pregnant or not. I had found a great rhythm with both of them, but unfortunately (for me) Amanda was going back to school to finish up her teaching education. She would become decreasingly available, so I started pulling Nicholas on wedding days more often.

Over the last two weddings season, we’ve found ourselves recollecting at the end of the day, maybe on the drive home, talking about how great the couple was, mentioning the moments and shots that we both knew we absolutely killed behind the camera, and confessing that there’s a certain charm and ideal to spending these days capturing love stories, while working alongside our husband/wife. It makes the days more emotional and meaningful, for sure. For example, now that we have a daughter between us, every time that we’re capturing the father/daughter dance at a reception, my favorite thing is to keep an eye on Nic while we shoot. He’ll start tearing up 9 times out of 10, and I kind of adore that about him.

Oh, and last weekend we arrived to the venue before the wedding party did, and we went inside to capture details and kill some time until they would be there. Nicholas took me by the hand and we slow danced together on the empty dance floor. It was kind of magical, and very a unsurprising, but always surprising, Nic thing to do. Who wouldn’t want to spend every weekend with that kind of man on their team? My passion has become his, too, and I’m totally okay with that.

Here’s the real deal though: Every time we’ve discussed this idea of Nicholas becoming more involved in the business, we hit a wall with family members who don’t support the idea, (they basically compare it to being a stay-at-home-parent, which has me like “What exactly do you think I do all day then?”) or we circle back to the healthcare dilemma. You see, Nic’s day-job income combined with that of the business keeps us comfortable. But whe business could see us through our monthly bills, with no problems. The big losses for us would be the splurges we enjoy (like way too much eating out) and the obvious and brutal necessity that is: health insurance. The quotes we’ve received have been astronomical, so for now he keeps his 9 to 5.

Day job aside, at this point it’s more than fair to say that he is the other half of Life Since You. I basically handle all the editing during the day like it’s my personal 9 to 5 (when I’m not chasing around an almost-toddler), and then he comes in with his camera for the weekend warrior gig. We just bought him a desk, and he’s learning how I edit so that he can help out when he can. He’s continuing to grow his video skills, too, and we’re still throwing around the idea of bringing videography into the fold. Amanda and another gal we’ve decided to hire on are even lined up to assist on larger projects we have planned down the road. We really hope that one day we’ll be sitting across from each other in this office space— both of us working from home every day, both of us scheduling sessions. Buying our first home this summer with a down payment that came entirely from this business was definitely a highlight, and a reassurance that we could make this dream a very real thing if we can budget and plan for the slow season (and insurance) well.

But for now we’ll put the needs of our family first— and Nicholas will settle for being a part-time full-time partner. But hey, that’s enough of a stake in this business to warrant some headshots, don’t ya think? Fortunately we were able to schedule those for this weekend, and we can’t wait to share them with you!

Ashley + Family

You ever hear the phrase "Everything happens for a reason"? Of course!
Well I firmly believe that's why Ashley and I ended up in front of each other's cameras.

A few weeks ago, totally out of the blue, a photographer that I had lined up to do our family photos completely flaked out. No explanation, just a "sorry I can't shoot your photos" and that was that. Let's politely overlook the fact that apparently she had us down for the wrong date, but more heavily consider that she cancelled on us with less than two weeks notice. Holy crap, I'm definitely not referring out that person ever again. Yikes.

Anyways, in my distress I posted to Facebook that I was looking for someone to capture our photos on that day. (I'm pretty booked up right now and I left that day open specifically for our family photos.) Bonus points if the right photographer was willing to trade sessions since this was all so last minute. Enter Ashley, my camera-happy savior.

I've followed Ashley's work for a few years now, but never had the pleasure of actually meeting her though, and I was excited about the prospect of having her shoot our photos. So we met up for coffee to talk details... and ended up hanging out for nearly three hours. Haha! It's safe to say we clicked. So on April 28th she shot our photos, and this Mother's Day weekend I got the amazing privilege of returning that favor.

Man, I was so peeved at that photographer! But that whole situation can kick rocks, because these photos (and the photos I received from Ashley) absolutely kicked ass. This definitely worked out for the best!

HECK YES FOR FRIENDTOGRAPHERS THAT SUPPORT EACH OTHER!!

Heaven + Josh

I feel like I've been waiting for this engagement session forever. Mostly because pretty much no one knew about it! These two had only told their closest friends and family that they were engaged at the time they booked with me back in December '17, and they've been sitting on this secret waiting for their time (and these photos!) to come. I just don't think I could keep my mouth, or my excitement, contained that long. Wow!

We met up for these beautiful golden hour captures at Tappan Lake, which is where Josh proposed. In fact, we set those lanterns a drift in the exact spot where that he popped the question! And then afterwards we stood around by our cars for probably half an hour chatting and telling stories! I seriously love when I finish off a session with a couple like that. There's nothing like feeling like you've just spent time with friends, rather than some simple and polite parting like we just wrapped up a business meeting. If it hadn't been my own wedding anniversary, and we would've had some fishing poles with us, I might've just pulled up a chair and said "Heck it guys, let's see if we can catch something while we're catching up."

Sooo excited for these two, and even more so for their June 2019 wedding!