Thank you for stopping by! I believe photography captures the essence of love: an emotion, a memory, a moment in time that might easily be forgotten-- but isn't. The way I capture a photo isn't necessarily conventional... but that's what makes me- me! I'd love to meet, chat, have some chai and sit in an old coffee shop. If that sounds like you, check out some of the images and lets get together!
You’ve emailed me with your own personal stories of connection… You’ve shared you heartfelt prayers for Bryan’s father, Tony , and you have been waiting with hopeful hearts to see this wedding commence.
On August 31, 2012 Bryan + Emily tied the knot.
Though we all hoped Tony would be able to stand as Bryan’s best man, he was able to watch it via skype. Bryan and Emily were able to talk with him and share intimate times of their wedding day because of a wonderful community that came together to support them.
You always wonder how people will respond in difficult times, and I must say, I was so proud to call Griffin my home on this day.
Planning a wedding with 2 months notice, and in the middle of nursing finals is a hard task that most couldn’t master, but one that Emily faced. However, because of the wonderful people who love and support her, she didn’t have to walk it alone.
That was a blessing.
The day was filled with friends, family and tears as Bryan and Emily made a life-long covenant in front of those 200 people who were closest.
I was so thankful to be part of it… and part of their livesI love you two!
Here’s the media crew^ hahaha We love eachother.. can ya tell?
So thankful for all the vendors who donated their craft/art/service to make this wedding happen!
Special Thanks To:
Chelsea Lauren Hair & Makeup (Chelsea, you are not only a beautiful girl, but a beautiful artist with a beautiful heart. So thankful for you, friend.)
Viktoriya Evich Krudu Photography (Viktoriya and her husband Dima second shot for us! I could write pages on Viktoriya and how amazing she is! She used to second shoot for me on a regular basis, but now she has her own company! I am so proud of her and the wonderful photographer she is.)
Pro Photo Gear & Blind Photo (Vasily Lantukh for shooting & allowing his rental company to lend us some AWESOME gear! I always rent everything from this guy. He’s incredible!)
Bill Hopton Productions (Justin Gaston is a sweet heart that does video at some of my weddings! He was so kind to give his time and talent and bring along his assistant Cassie! You two rock!)
Jacob is the little brother I never had… and Ana is the girl I could’ve only dreamed of him finding.
So it was no surprise to me when Jacob called me to get in “cahoots” with his plan of proposing to Ana! I was so excited!!
For weeks he researched Ana’s favorite movie, “The Little Rascals” , and was meticulous in planning every little detail to re-enact the “Alfalfa and Darla” scene.
I asked Ana and her friend Crystal to help me practice some lighting techniques today and in exchange for modeling, they would get pictures. We had hair, makeup and styling ready to go and they looked great!
For the first 30 minutes we shot them near an antique store and then went to Dr. Ken’s house for some pictures by his lake…
After she turned around the corner of the house, and saw Jacob I think she may have said “Oh my goodness” about 100 times… hahaha! Followed by “you’re so cute!!!” (I’m sure referring to the piece of hair sticking straight up to imitate Alfalfa!) lol
Ana was so shocked about it all I think she forgot to look at her ring after he put it on her finger! haha! Jacob reminded her though…
Afterwards we all went to my parents house where mom had made Jacob’s favorite peanut butter cake! Jacobs mom had driven 3 hours just to hear about it!
“Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Anyone who knew Tony Cooksey, couldn’t help but be impacted and touched by his faith, his courage and his undying love for those he loved most. Everyone who met him has a story of their encounters with him… and those who even knew him briefly remember him as a great man…
A man of honor…
A man of courage…
I’m sure over the days and weeks to come, stories will emerge that have yet to be told of his impact… So as I write and collect my thoughts, I will share mine.
My favorite times spent at the Cooksey home have been at their kitchen table with a cup of chai in hand… Who would’ve thought Sherry would surpass my chai-making skills when I spent time in India learning how to make it! (haha) Whatever she does, it warms the heart and the taste buds!
It’s been around that very table that Tony and Sherry sat with me sharing chai, sharing dinner, ….but mostly sharing their lives… and stories of their love and the hand of God at work in their family…
It’s at that table where Sherry and I sat rolling in laughter and Tony would come in to calm us down…
And today, as I sit at the same table with Sherry and a chai, I feel as if I’m waiting for him to come in again. To tell us to be quiet… but today there’s few words.
There’s worship music, there’s pictures we’re collecting and then there’s tears.
It’s hard to believe 3 months ago we were at Atlanta Botanical Gardens taking pictures and celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and being cancer-free… And last night it was that very cancer that took him to Heaven.
As I sit here and think of a million questions I could be asking God, I can’t … I can’t focus on the things I can’t understand on this earth.
I have to focus on what I do know… and what I do know that in all of this, is that God is faithful.
He is sovereign and He still has a plan.
We will grieve at the loss of Tony, but not as those who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
We know that today, Tony is in the presence of Jesus.
We know that today, Tony is healed.
He is pain-free.
And what we have left today of Tony is an amazing legacy that he left behind : His family, his name, and his heart in those who knew and loved him best.
I was honored to spend a lot of time with the Cooksey family the past three months… and they allowed me to take some photographs that tell the story of this family’s faith and love for one another in what I’m sure was the most difficult time of their lives.
They laughed, they cried and in it all trusted God.
Here is a compilation of some of the memorable times they shared.. from Bryan and Emily’s engagement day, to when he was able to watch their wedding via iPad, to his last days with his family and their prayer times they shared.
Today we remember an honor a man of faith, a man of courage.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
I met Rebekah and Dustin in high school. Even then, everyone who saw them knew they were madly in love… Not the “high school” puppy love that last a few weeks.. but the love that could turn into a lifetime of happiness.
And yesterday.. I got to be part of that story again.
It was simply beautiful.
Nine years later, their love has blossomed and they still have the same look in their eyes for each other.
We started their shoot at Starbucks (where he proposed) and they reminisced on the past years and how their relationship has developed. It’s absolutely amazing.
Psalm 119:48: Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things…
When I was a little girl and in this “club” at church called Missionettes, we did some pretty cool projects. We made crafts, visited nursing homes and were a little like the girl scouts troups but minus the cookies. I enjoyed my little club of girlfriends but never could have imagined one day that I would have the joy of delivering a craft project from little girls (and boys) in the same program!
To say I was proud would be an understatement.
The Assembly of God Tennessee district boys and girls sent me with LOADS of flip flops for the Calcutta Blind School thanks to the direction of Pator Terry and Sam Allen.
But they weren’t just any flop-flips… they were texturized with balloons, ribbons, charms… all things the kids would enjoy feeling since they could not see.
I was so excited to deliver them and finally the day came..August 9th.
I wasn’t sure how we would give them out and I processed through a pretty efficient system of lines, and checking names of a page and handing each flip-flop set out individually…. But then I changed it up once we arrived
There was a huge open space and plenty of room to spread them out… so why not let them choose the ones they want?
And that’s what we did. We lined them up and kept some nearby in a suitcase while we invited the kids to come down.
As Director Jabesh Dutt explained that they were given these beautiful flip-flops, the children shyly began coming forward holding each other’s hands…
When the girls first touched them they giggled with delight… Then the boys– they were like kids at Christmas! I’ve never seen such a frenzy when they realized what was happening…. and then the discovery of the suitcaseIt was so sweet– they were all crowding around trying to see which ones I hadn’t pulled out. (Which they immediately assisted in distributing)
As I was photographing them all at once (and enjoying every minute) I noticed the boys had a pair of flip flops pulled out to the side and were crowded around… I have to admit I was a little worried when I saw the pair of light-up flip flops and wondered why these were packed… was I ever wrong.
I was stunned to see the kids hitting the bottom of the shoe and placing it close to their eyes..Jabesh explained that some of them have very little vision but can see flashes of light. These flip-flops were PERFECT for those who could!
I am ever amazed at the way God orchestrates His plans and places ideas on the hearts and minds of so many around the world… and I love when those hearts get connected in India.
Thank you Assemblies of God Tennessee for helping bring joy into the lives of these children!
I shot Vasily’s brother’s wedding a couple years ago after working with Vasily as a photographer for the Atlanta Braves. At that point, only hearing about Katie was pretty special– but getting to meet her in person??? She was everything (and more) that Vasily described her to be.
In fact, day 1 of meeting Katie, my first question to Vasily was– “Why have you not married this girl???” ha ha … to which he sighed and said, “I know, I know…. it’s coming!”
And it did!
July 28, 2012 Vasily and Katie tied the knot in Knoxville, Tennessee.
As the girls were getting ready I saw Katie’s shoes and gasped! She started laughing, “I know you’re crazy bout the shoe shot so had to make to sure I got a good pair!”
The day was filled with laughs and TONS of amazing photography equipment thanks to Vasily! (He owns an equipment rental shop!)
Russian desserts, old friends and a relaxed atmosphere. …just how they envisioned it!
The end of the night was just as sweet as the beginning of the day.. They were sent off with heart-shaped paper lanterns!
That was the command Christ gave us after explaining the story of the good Samaritan to the disciples..
Here’s a reference point just in case:
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
In the New American Standard version it says the Samaritan “felt compassion” when he saw him. The original Greek word here is “splagchnizomai”, which is one of the strongest forms of compassion mentioned in the Bible. The definition of the original word describes it as “to have the bowels yearn” to be “moved with compassion.”
I thought it interesting that this compassion was described as a yearning from deep within that cause the man to “move” into action.
Of course, this type of compassion must be the compassion that I have in my heart (I thought). . .but God uses situations to teach me that there’s still a lot He wants to do in my life… and heart issues that need to be addressed and submitted to him.
I just finished reading The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne. Something he said really connected me back to my second home…. Calcutta.. This may look like a rabbit trail but I promise.. I’m getting to the point soon.
“It’s a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer a missions project but become friends and family with whom we laugh, cry, dream, and struggle.”
And though I call street children my family and beggars my friends, I wasn’t prepared for Friday. India, to me, is a beautiful country. A growing country– and yes though I was a part of history when I was here for the “largest blackout in history” , India still is becoming technologically advanced…. and has always held a dear place in my heart.
I’ve seen dying people, poverty at its worst, and in a place where many people do not know Christ and have nothing to give, humanity rises to the challenge and shares in the little they do have.
“So many suffer relentless poverty, each day wondering at living another; so many are refugees from disaster or violence, escaping under unfamiliar skies to avoid a closer death, grasping whatever it is they have left – a child, ragged clothes, a pot; so many are victims of injustice, of the vagaries of despotism or ill luck, with no legal system to which they can carry their hope.Yet despite the increasing vulnerability of life on Earth, we may well be coming to terms with the ‘marble and mud’ of our existence. For in the spring stirrings of the last few years, there seems a new grace born upon this world, perhaps nothing less than a resurrection of humanity. Not least, we are understanding more clearly that our living – this one-shot, too-quick breath of existence – must embrace an inherent responsibility towards the living of others. In concert with this realization, we are paying finer attention to two crucial questions: “How deeply do I care about our common future? How do I actually make a positive difference?(Tony Bails)
And for Christians, the “living of others” means the dying of self.
… has been on my mind for days.
The heart is an interesting place. It holds the deepest of feelings, connects many with spirituality and is a muscle that no human being could live without. And in it’s complexity lies the truth of who we are.. the dreams of who we are to become… and the grace that God gives to address issues of the heart that need to be worked on…
Such was the case Friday, as I’ll unfortunately admit…
Though I’m here in Calcutta on business, a few friends visited and wanted to see the city. We all went different places: Some went to the HUGE palace called Victoria Memorial, some went shopping at new market (which should be a story in itself) and others joined me in the recycling area of the city– Canal Street.
Now don’t think of American recycling because thats definitely not Canal Street.
Canal Street consists of mountains and mountains of plastics.. of metal.. or anything that could possible be collected from the city and brought back here to be sorted. The area is known to be inundated with thieves, drugs, orphans, widows and the homeless. A place I’m sure Christ would’ve visited had he been with us on earth today.
In the midst of the trash and open sewage and stench that purveyed the area, I looked lovingly at dirty kids who rushed me and thanked God I was able to return. My heart beats for this.
And as we played with children and they all jumped in front of my camera, I almost tripped over a man who was lying in the street. One of the children grabbed my hand and pulled me back saying, “No, Aunty– bad.”
And I stopped in shock and stared at this man… who was dying..
Never had I seen a person in this state….
He was lying on his back as if he’d suddenly collapsed, had lost control of all bodily functions and was lying in a pool of fluids
He looked dead.
Flies were surrounding his emaciated body and he couldn’t have been more than 28 years old.
The smell was ferocious… and could never be described here except to say I was getting nauseous…
I needed to check for his pulse and see if he’s alive…
…And as I reached for his hand, a local reached down before and said “no I’ll check.” ( and I sighed a silent relief — just before braving the motion for his hand a million thoughts went through my head… Is he diseased? Why is he like this? If I touch him will I get sick?)
Locals began surrounding the area to tell me that he had a drug overdose and had no family. As I made a call for an ambulance and his life hung in the balance of eternity, I prayed that he would have one more chance.
And just as startling at it was to find him..He was gone.
Before anything could be done.
Days have gone by that I’ve replayed the scene in the mind.
I’ve always thought in a desperate situation like this there would be some romantic heroic fairytale ending…
and there wasn’t…. Life doesn’t always happen like that.
Instead it was a situation God used to show the condition of my own heart. How much love is too much and how much is not enough?
Dirty, lice infested, children are easy to love.We share everything..
Yes, even the lice.
But here, a man in desperate need, and I was more concerned with the what the effects of touching him would mean to me… to my well being….
I’ve read the good Samaritan story a dozen times and often wondered how those religious leaders could pass him by?
A man almost beaten to death and they walk by ….
I know now.
Lord give me the compassion you described in Luke 10… let it be something that comes from deep within, a yearning to be moved to action.