weddings

Ken + Allie | Dulaneys Overlook Wedding Frederick MD

"It felt very good to have him walking beside her."
Marilynne Robinson

"I feel like we are rather un-quirky. Like, so much so that when we first met, I literally thought 'I feel like he’s the one, but he’s so much like me. Can that work?'  We are both pretty independent people, and we would both say we are introverts." I loved reading these lines when Allison sent over the questionnaire part of the contract. Finding a real "match" not just a complement is special.

Allison's mom, Tracy, was my mom's best friend. They met while they were pregnant with their first children, born about a month apart. Sam in July, me in August. A large hunk of my childhood memories include riddles with Mr. Branchaw, losing at Battleship, playing Sardines and man-hunt in the neighborhood of Waring Station, hearing stories about secret Polish family recipes, getting another pretzel out of the giant pretzel bins, and being blissfully happy (and occasionally sneaky) with the Branchaw family. Once I asked my mom if she had any life advice for me and she said to find a friend like Tracy. "She's put up with a lot from me, and I've had to bite my tongue with her, but more than anything she has been loyal and with me. I know Tracy has my back. I can laugh with her, cry with her, tell her the truth, be told the truth by her, and we usually laugh again. You need friends like this to get through life." Tracy wasn't just this way to my mom... she's been "this friend" to dozens if not hundreds.

Tracy brought us dinner a few nights after Summer was born. It meant very much seeing as mom wasn't there to share this part of my life with me. Tracy showed up; was with me. I remember bringing her dinner with my mom when her babies were born. I also remember how she was on-call to have the Snyder kids when my mom was in labor. 

The wedding of these two similar, introverted, Maine-loving lovers was of gold; the finest quality of sweet joy. Tracy, and John, have spent their lives being faithfully, consistently, and eagerly "there" for their kids, friends, family (and "new friends," too!). Almost all the vendors at the wedding were family friends. The ones who weren't felt like it. Resplendent joy. Decades of friendships coming together to lavish on a pair who would never ask for all this attention. A teary-eyed daddy (who home-brewed all the beer for the wedding) and couldn't have been more proud of his daughter and new husband. Chatter creating an energy throughout the venue. Sniffles and dabs during toasts, uproarious laughter during the jokes, and a packed dance floor all night.

It doesn't get much better than nights like these.

It doesn't get much better than love like this. 

Ken wrote of Allie "She is a dream come true." Thank you for welcoming me into your dream for a few hours. I was filled with "the good stuff" by being able to simply observe the kindness and loyalty stretching back in history and launching into the future that your wedding day was.

You two have "a special something," bigger than yourselves and given to you for your joy. I hope that as the seasons of life bring what they may you'll never forget and always hold close the "not of this earth" happiness you've shared together! Thank you for having me there, it was a gift to me!

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(All these people. They probably don't know it to the extent that it's true... but if you're a part of the Branchaws, I'd go down for you. You all mean quite a lot to me.)

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Congratulations! What a perfect day, in every sense of the word!

Ps. Speaking of loyal... a HUGE shout-out to my friend, Ally, who came from California to shoot this wedding with me. Ally has made herself available for not just major moments of my life (like coming across the country alone for our wedding even though she didn't know anyone except me and helping host/decorate my little baby shower for Summer) but also taking on the major-parts of my friends' and my family's lives. She's photographed the other two Morris weddings with me, as well as a number of Morris engagement/baby shoots. She traveled to my best friend's wedding in Minnesota with me, helped pull off my friends' proposals (plural!), and sends sweet packages to us and even my friends' little kids in the mail. Heck, this year she HANDMADE FOUR MICKEY MOUSE STOCKINGS FOR US! Thank you for going out of your way to love on me, and anyone I love. So many of the best pictures of this wedding you took. One more "enormous life gift" you've given someone. Grateful for you, friend!

Year In Review 2015 | I'm Kristen Photography

2015 was a wonderful year behind my camera! I enjoyed shooting 15 weddings, plus second shot five weddings, and then three proposals and a couple dozen portrait sessions. This post is just a review of all the weddings I haven't blogged yet this year (Neill and Kate's wedding is here!). While some of my favorite pictures are certainly included, many of these represent favorite memories and moments of each wedding day. As I went through each day start to finish it warmed my heart to re-see the faces.

Pulling a segment from my website: "I don't take and present photographs because it's cute, but because I am a Note Taker, a Story Teller. You are the sonnet, you are a part of the play, and the times of your life matter. It is sincere delight for me to be allowed to walk into the doors of your world, tap into my heart, and let your joy become mine -- whether it be a wedding, a birth, a high school graduation, or a Christmas card portrait.  I know our sessions together aren't the whole story -- the nights without sleep, the gulp in your throat, the lost ones you miss, the insecurities, the numbness -- but I know our sessions are a real, that we are here logging history with a black box and light. It's magic.  I believe in family, marriage, parenthood, new starts, figuring it out, I believe in wholehearted relationship, I believe in lasting love and I know awfully sad things happen in those places. But I believe in fighting for the good, fighting to believe that the best is yet to come, that the struggle is worth it, that being known and loved -- and knowing and loving -- are what give us life and bring us the greatest joy. So, here's to the grand adventure and all the stories, and hope beyond tomorrow! *clink*" Happy Days Gone By, everyone, and thank you for letting me live parts of my life alongside yours.


| The Preparations |

| The Ceremony |

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| The Newlyweds |

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| The Celebrating |

A special thank you to all my second-shooters this year! Ellie Be, Elizabeth Baxter, Caroline Ruth, Elise Benjamin, Dom, Ally Michelle and the Mr. Morris himself. Thank you for working hard for my clients and me, for keeping track of the family shot lists, for keeping me hydrated, and for doing such beautiful work! 

DANIEL + ERIN TEASERS

"And we tore our dresses and stained our shirts,
But it's nice today,
Oh the wait was so worth it"
Jason Mraz

It's probably cheating to post an almost 20-image "teaser" but the rules bend for family, and now both of these wonderful people are indeed my family.  If you've followed along online you might know the gist of the story: Big family on the farm in Oklahoma with eldest twin boys. First twin meets and marries... me! and leaves the middle of the country for the east coast. Second twin, through a half-humorous half-serious matchmaking instagram post, meets a girl on the west coast. And they, as of last week, have married!  

This was a large family event, and we all looked forward to this time with Dan for many years. After the wedding we all chit-chatted about and soaked up the day by remembering our favorite parts. The three memories that came up the most often were their First Look, the ceremony - particularly the way the stories were told and just watching Dan and Erin together, and the toasts at the reception.  Since Ally Michelle (the light of my photography world and all-around Best Person nominee) and I took over 8000 frames, I get a little stuck when I want to post a "quick sneak peek!" It all means so much to me and it's hard to not lay it our in order and tell it all right.

But I'm settling for showing a few frames of some of our collective "family favorite" moments, and so much more is coming soon (including, hopefully, cousins for my son ;) Right guys?)

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We love you we love you we love you! And absurd amounts to follow shortly! Cousins!

Years In Review | I'm Kristen Photography 2014

β€œtime was passing like a hand waving from a train i wanted to be on."
  jonathan safran foer
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In the way "When are you due!" is the question when you're pregnant, "Are you still doing photography!" is the question when, well, you disappear from the internet and stop posting any current photography. (Yes, I am still doing and have been doing photography. Just, differently.)

The last 18 months have, with no exaggeration, been the "most" times of my life.  It has been much -- from that day in June when our firstborn was delivered, to that day in January when my mom was delivered (from earth), to that day in April when blood on toilet paper met our second-born was no longer with us on earth, to all those days traveling (usually with at least one or two children) and living with other people constantly, to the long slow days spent in the heat and the ice building our home with our own two hands.

Despite what any marketing class or business principle might say, I've somehow shot dozens of weddings, and dozens of other sessions (and hosted a workshop!), while doing relatively no "promotional work."  Getting clients their images in a (mostly) timely manner is the most important, and after that, I simply haven't had more to give my business.  I blogged 27 times this year, and 28 times last year as opposed to 130 times in a year before.  My facebook page hasn't seen many more followers, my online hits have dropped (as is the case when sites are neglected), my e-mail isn't filled with inquiries, I have a blog but not a website.  Everything should be pointing to financial 'failure' and damaged business.

Yet, as always, things just kind of... fell into place. (Huge special thanks for the support and relationship with the folks at Strong Mansion.  More than half of the weddings were set there, with Twins + Violins playing music.  You'll recognize a certain set of steps very quickly ;) It's been great working together so often.) And such deeply beautiful clients have come my way, welcoming me into their holy days, and showing me the power of connection weekend after weekend.

Photographing a wedding has become a thing of healing for me.  Some days it was very, very hard to show up with my "game face" and be a sparkling professional woman.  Preparing my tools the night before, putting on make-up, doing my hair, sometimes pulling my bloody big-girl panties on (as I shot weddings one week after giving birth to Rowdy, and one week after miscarrying Ryan), sometimes crying or staring blankly in the car on my way too and from, sneaking off to empty my body of milk-filled pain, wearing a pretty outfit, feeling so strong and confident each time I finish, proud of my mind and body, grateful for my current ability and health, depositing checks in the bank and taking the money out to hang drywall or see the sea, letting myself get lost in the bliss of others, the weird and hard and thrilling work of creating, reviewing photographs, giving newlyweds the story of that day.  It is healing.  It is healing to be sensory -- to see, taste, touch, smell, hear -- when often I've had emptiness or "nothingness" this year.  It quickens me.  Being able to live, and move, and have my being, while working for, through and with God on these days of heaven-and-earth, keeps my eyes wide open when I can want to squish them shut.

I was often drawn to the middle-aged and turning-elderly women.  Sometimes it was the mother of the bride or groom, but other times it was just a group of guests or unruly aunts.  I watched them.  I watched them just be moms -- they worried, fussed, finagaled, cried, glowed, stared adoringly, got a little tipsy, kissed cheeks, choked on joy.  One dear mama carried down the aisle a photograph of she and her now-groom-then-toddler-son cut into a heart.  They fed me and, without a doubt, I would release that uncomfortable, nostalgic feeling with some tears.    One lovely friend told me my photographs were "a spiritual act."  Her sentiments blessed me.  Similar to the way that praying both honors God and brings me peace, photographing honors the stories of these people and brings me happy hope.

It is hard mental, emotional and physical work to be present and involved in the details.  I'm so honored that, again, someone, some people, trusted me to do that work.  And as all good hard work is, it is an actual joy to create for them.  Here is a (tough, tough, tough to narrow down) vault of the places I've been, flavors I've tasted, faces I've met, and souls I've linked hearts with this last year and a bit.  From Montreal to the eastern shore, from Texas to twenty-minutes down the road from home; the six-figure events and the four-figure events; the humid hot days and cold rainy days; the baby flower girls and the century-old grandparents; the mothers and the fathers; and everything in between.  Thank you, from the fragile places of this woman's heart.  The amount of intense (though sometimes teeny) human history I witnessed is nothing less than medicine.
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ps. Thank you to my second-shooters this year: the spunky Ellie Be, winsome Hannah Nicole, and baby-daddy Caleb.

Hannah + Mike | Charlottesville, VA Wedding Photography

β€œAny time not spent on love is wasted.”
Torquato Tasso
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I'll never forget the effect Hannah and Mike had on me when I first met them for their engagement shoot.  Maybe it was part timing in my life, but it certainly was also part them.  Their "mushiness" wasn't annoying because something about they way they moved, talked and were together that was veritable.  I noticed their friendship more than anything.  It made me want to hang out with my husband, get back to him as soon as possible.  It's easy (and I would argue even good, when thoughtfully done) to compare and contrast yourself to the people and couples around you.  To feel like you have to prove something, to be affirmed outside about something inside, to tell others and yourself what you want life to be, not what it really is.  The effect of Hannah and Mike, however, was one where you left not really thinking about them but about the person you love. 
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On August 9, our two year wedding anniversary, I brought Caleb with me to shoot Hannah and Mike's wedding.  And we got to meet the reasons Hannah and Mike are who they are, and have what they have.  I was so moved from start to finish.  Hannah's sisters and best friends were draped on each other all day, and I caught a few of them on the back porch in tears, talking about all they loved about Hannah.  The ceremony worship was loud and booming, the affection in their faces, the rejoicing and random outbursts of dancing, cheering and clapping was simply overwhelming (in the best way).
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This wedding reminded me of videos of seen of old European celebrations.  The bride and groom are paraded through the streets with live music and hollering!  Townspeople close up shop and follow the parade in warm camaraderie!  It's about the couple and sharing in their joy, but it's about where they came from and where they're going and everything they together are being built into.  I felt the bonds of care and closeness between all these people, like I myself was a part of their heart.
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Thank you both for your high-energy kindness, bold tenderness and happy love.  I'm so glad you secretly crushed on each other for years and finally went to that diner to have a dinner that would change your lives.  You will probably bring more hope and good to this world than you know -- because you probably impacted me far more than you know.  And if it happened once, it'll likely happen again! 
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People feel like they lose something when they get married, but it doesn't have to be that way.
There is nothing more exciting than having a witness to your life
You know, everybody is not good at everything, it's okay to depend on someone -
it's actually what we are supposed to do, we are supposed to depend on each other.
And when you find the person that you trust and you love
and you feel is going to respect you, it feeds you.
It is the most powerful thing you can ever feel in your life."
Beyonce

The Salamander Resort | Virginia Wedding Photography

"I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad."
Sound of Music
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A few months ago I had the delightful chance to second-shoot for Mona Botwick at the prestigious new five-star luxury resort in the DC area, the Salamander.   Since the resort opened barely a year ago, this is its first "wedding season" and wow -- they knocked it out of the park!  The entire day was dripping with beauty yet had such an intimate, family-style sincerity.  Mona is an absolute gem and she not only worked her tail off, but was notably kind and charming throughout the full day.  (I hope to get to work with you again sometime soon!  I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Ps. Kate Triano -- it was lovely to finally meet you.  You're a sweetheart too.)  I don't second shoot very often, but I found myself loving the nitty-gritty work.  When the "pressure" is off to capture the main moments, it's creatively freeing and eye-opening to sneak around being a detail-hunter.

Amanda and Bill were a class act, with hearts full of laughter and welcoming.  In my recent memory, I can't recall a group of friends laughing all day long as much as I noticed at this wedding.  Thank you for having me, Mona!  This wedding day was good for the soul.
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(I'm not sure what was more jaw-dropping at The Salamander Resort: the venue or the food!)
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The Salamander's Ballroom is the perfect mix of romantic and modern.  Well done!
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Happy first day of marriage!  Here's to many more!





--- + --- + --- + --- + --- + ---

to contact i'm kristen
(especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, or oklahoma to dallas areas
... but anywhere in the world will do! i travel!)
E-MAIL ME HERE



Erica + Eric | Linganore Winery Carnival Wedding

out of the tree of life i just picked me a plum 
still, it's a real good bet, 
the best is yet to come
frank sinatra 
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(Linganore Winery was the dangerously gorgeous setting for this wedding day.  Oh I love this place.)

She's proven herself responsible, competent, independent.  Erica is an organized dental hygienist, and it makes complete sense.  She's not a hot mess.  She's not frazzled.  She's not "all over the place!" She's not quirky-goofy-silly-boppy.  She's kind.  She's kind.  She's focused.  She's a go-getter.  I could nearly imagine her as one of the first women graduating (at the top of her class) from a university in the 1930's.  (She'd be wearing pearl stud earrings.)
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I've been photographing the Smart Family for years, and Erica is Jessica (before marriage: Sherwood) Smart's little sister.  Last winter  their mom asked me to take a few pictures of the whole Sherwood clan and it was during said shoot that I met Eric, Erica's boyfriend.  He had accidentally slept in (and felt horribly about it), came screeching into the parking lot, and was finishing off his breakfast: a bag of Doritos.  Trimmed, neat, prompt (actually, early!) Erica was taking it in stride, and laughing.  Throughout the session the two of them seemed to wander behind or whisper during frames.  I hoped, right then in that moment, that this wouldn't be the last time the two of them were in front of my camera.  Eric had kind eyes, he seemed to walk hand-in-hand with Erica out of her comfort zone in healthy ways (minus the chemical chips), and seemed to respect her well-developed strengths.  Oh. And he made her laugh.  Thank goodness they decided on forever.
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When I took this picture the gentleman in the wheelchair, Erica's grandfather, was quite sick.  He sweetly enjoyed the wedding, but not soon after he moved worlds.  I care deeply, passionately, about my work and the high-honor it is to record families together on days like these.
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The gasps and responses to Erica making her way to Eric are some of my favorite in the history of my career.  Truly the definition of sweet.
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Along with the sounds of water, the smell of completely new babies, and the taste of fabulous cheese (especially melting) I think some of the best things in life is confidently, securely happy people who love to laugh.
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And... kiss.  Drew Barrymore shares a similar idea boldly: "Kissing - and I mean like, yummy, smacking kissing - is the most delicious, most beautiful and passionate thing that two people can do, bar none."
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My soul is fed when there is fun energy.  It's crystal clear when groups of people have an air of stuffiness, vanity, or superiority instead of carefree, happy fun.  Photographing these people was so easy because they were sincerely happy.  Every of of them.  Ah! That's another thing! Sincerity.  That's the word.  I've been writing this post trying to clock this nail on the head: they are sincere.  Good, sincere people.  You can see it in their eyes; their body language.
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Erica, with help from her guy and family, pulled off the perfect mix of "young fun" and "classy" with their carnival at the vineyard reception.
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