Let them be little | Mason & Weston

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my precious boy’s with you all so I thought I would give you a session of cuteness. My how time seems to rush by before your eyes. I can remember like it was yesterday when I was laying in that hospital bed meeting each of them for the first time. I never thought I would be able to love them more than I did at those moments. I was so wrong. Both of these little boy’s will never even come close to knowing how much I love them and how grateful I am that I was chosen to be their Mommy. They both teach me so much on a daily basis and I can’t help but to think back on so many prayers where I asked for direction and answers in my life and so much uncertainty that I had, and here are my answered prayers that give me more direction and answers than I could have ever prayed for. I’m a very proud mom and all things that I do are done for them.
We were lucky enough to catch a break in the weather and get some outside time. This truck was the best investment that Santa could have ever made! They love it so much and they feel so independent on the explorations they go on.

Mason is my llittle leader. So sure of everything and willing to learn it all. He shows me how patient I really am lol! Each morning when we start our day he always makes sure that he tells me he loves me and that I am the best Mommy in the world. It’s something that I can’t live without anymore. He understands my heart and although I am the parent and the adult he provides so much for me. To his future wife (thank god this moment is so far away!), be kind and patient with my sweet boy. He will stay true to you and take care of you in more ways than you know you need. His heart will speak directly to yours and he will know what comfort and love you need before you even realize. This boy is strong in every way and when God made him I know that he made Mason to do great things, his purpose here is important. Far more important that any of us could ever understand.
Weston, the baby. He is just that. My sweet sweet kind soul that is sensitive to the core. His honesty and tenderheart are so pure. He teaches me to slow down and think things through. To enjoy each moment we have together, and each moment that I have in life. He’s a goofball and always makes me laugh. He is always putting others first and making sure that everyone is taken care of. He can be a bit of an ol’ goat sometimes but I know that it’s to remind me that he is his own person and he has his own purpose here, one that is not for me to decide or direct. It’s hard with the baby. You want to keep them little as long as you can but the baby… that’s the one that you hold on to with dear life because you know that this is or might be your last chance at a baby. Weston’s future wife will be spoiled to no end. I pray that she doesn’t take advantage of my tender hearted giving boy and appreciates every ounce of him. His heart is so kind and loving it will be hard for her to ever feel like she doesn’t have the world. This little boy saved me. From before he was brought into this world, he saved me.
What I thought was the most difficult time in my life and that I couldn’t and wouldn’t survive, I did. Both of my boy’s (and Jon Alan) kept me strong and pushing forward. When I thought I wasn’t needed or wanted they reminded me every second of every day that I was their Mommy and they not only needed me but they wanted me. Each day they filled my heart up until it ran over and then kept pouring. It’s funny how your taught that you have to teach your kids about life and when they are born it’s the opposite. They are teaching me about life. I am so glad they will have each other to grow old with. I am an only child and live my sibling life through my husband and his 6 brothers and sisters. I’m so glad my boy’s won’t grow up alone and will always have someone by their side, right or wrong! Enjoy my silly, sweet, amazing creations.

PS. We thank god everyday for Jon Alan. Without him our sparkle would be dim. The man that leads by example and teaches them more than I or anyone ever could. Thank you for showing these beautiful boy’s what love and happiness is by treating this momma like a Queen and making sure they see it. For loving them and being the best father they could ever imagine. I love you to the ends of earth, they do to. My prayers are that when they become father’s themselves, they are exactly like you!

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Family Photos | Fall 2015

It’s that time of year again for updating family photos, mini sessions, and the end of the 2015 wedding season. I do my best to try and fit in family photos when I can but sometimes it’s impossible! I love what I do and I love serving my clients but sometimes that means putting my own family on the backburner and this year I refused to do that. Thank’s to my husband and sister in law we were able to get a few photos and I have some tips for you guys for planning your family sessions that you may have coming up or that you need to schedule. Don’t be like me and skip the family photos, make time and set aside savings if you have to. Make sure you do this, you will thank me in the future for making you!
The first question I get when booking the minis for my families is “what do we wear?”. Well, whatever you want! Don’t all wear the same color or be to matchy. I say to have texture and life in your clothing. Also don’t put the fairest of skin in a lite color. Children ulness extremely blessed with a tan shouldn’t be in white or cream. I know it’s cute on pinterest but it washes kids out and colors are so much more flattering for them. When I chose our outfits I picked out my favorite shirt and an outfit that I felt comfortable in and then I dressed my boys and my husband around me. They don’t care what they wear all they care about is that I lay it out for them and that the photos are quick. No matter what your outfits are remember the reason for doing the family photos. Years from now you won’t remember your outfits or the shopping you did to find them but you will remember the session and fun you had making the memories. The next biggest piece of advice that I can give to you parents is… let life be. It’s great when you can get your 2 year old to sit still and pose for all of those pinterst board photos you picked, if you have this child please take my two and return them once trained lol! The reality is that smaller kids like to do their own thing. They are pushing their limits and what child likes to sit still? Make it fun and work with a photographer that your family is comfortable with. You wouldn’t believe the noises and silly things I do and say to get my kiddos to smile and participate for my clients sessions. IT WORKS! It has to be fun and there has to be breaks… and maybe some promises of candy or treats. Don’t judge me!
When I deliver my families photos my hope as that when they are going through them there is one that we got that mom just had to have from her pinterest board, one that makes their hearts melt, & many that make them stop and appreciate how silly, goofy, serious, and independent their kids are. This is who they are RIGHT NOW. Embrace that! My kids were comfortable since Sissy and Nalan did the photos but they are still goofy as ever. Weston blinks in 90% of the photos and Mason is always looking anywhere but at the camera. There are always funny faces or hands/fingers where they aren’t suposed to be. What matters is that they 1. are doing this for me 2. they are being THEM. I love them for who they are and although a perfect family photo to some may be sitting still and posing perfectly but for me it’s those goofy boys with silly faces and a husband who sticks his tongue out in every third shot. They love me and they showed up and that’s what matters.
Here are a few from our session. Yes we trespassed but we didn’t hurt anyone and the No Trespassing sign was on the building not in the field. We also didn’t go near the train. Again, don’t judge me! Thank you again to my sister in law for snapping these for us! The one of Jon Alan and I is my new favorite!

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Phillip & Audrey | Proposal

You guys! I am seriously melting over here right now. Tonight the most amazing moment happened. Phillip asked Audrey to share the rest of her life with him!? How romantic is that? I am so happy that she said YES. He was so cute and nervous, honestly so was I. It is always exciting when someone contacts you and asks you to capture a very special moment and milestone in their lives. My heart turns to mush when I hear the plans and stories of my couples. In this case it was even more melting because of WHO was being asked. This person is very special and dear to me. She is beautiful inside and out and no matter what I know that I can always count on her. The people that she meets and everyone in her life has always known or quickly learns how special and wonderful she is. This person has had a hard hand dealt to her and still has a smile on her face and a welcoming heart through any and everything. This person is so special to me and I trust her so much that I have even entrusted her with my business adventure. That’s right! This special and lucky lady that Phillip gets the pleasure of sharing the rest of his life with is Audrey! If you don’t know who Audrey is let me take a moment to let you know that she is the best assistant EVER! All of my couples love her and she brings so much joy and help to my clients as if they were her own!

Phillip contacted me and wanted to surprise Audrey and plan something out of this world for her when he asked her to spend her life with him. Instantly we started racking our brains and went straight to pinterest. We quickly learned and reminded ourselves how appreciative and simple Audrey is, she loves the small details and thought put into simplicity. So that is what we planned. A beautiful location that she loved and the handsome fella that she loved. Not to mention that sparkly beauty of a ring… THE RING! My goodness is it amazing! The plan took a little fibbing to her and sneakyness but it was worth every single one. The look on her face was priceless and I’ve never seen her that happy before. I actually got to take a glimpse of Phillip as well and let me tell you, love looks great on him as well. I didn’t get to hear what he said but I do know that she was surprised and taken back. I also knew she said YES… that part wasn’t so quiet LOL. I am so blessed to have been included in this moment with Phillip and Audrey. I am also so blessed to have been given this gift and eye of photography. There is no greater gift that I could give to the ones that I love other than the loving memories we create and share to look back on and fall in love over and over again.

This location is dear to me. The people who own the property are very dear to me. I was so honored that they allowed us to plan this and to share this beautiful life they have built. Thank you to the Vickstroms (and I love you all very much!). This is where Jon Alan and I were married and I am over the moon that Phillip and Audrey will also marry there. I was a little jealous that I didn’t get to take photos of my own wedding there so this makes my heart very happy! I couldn’t ask for a better life or a better family. I love you all with all of my heart. Phillip, welcome to the family. I am so excited for you to grow and create memories with us. I also apologize in advance for stealing your soon to be wife away almost every Saturday evening for our weddings. We are a package deal though LOL.

Thank you both again for including me and loving me. I hope you all enjoy their moment as much as we all did. How beautiful is this place and this couple?

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T & L | Engagement Session – Charleston, South Carolina

What is more perfect than the most beautiful location you could hope for, your best friends, & a vacation? Having all of this happen AND doing their engagment session during, SAY WHAT!?! I promise you it totally happened. Tara and I knew for a while that eventually Lar’s was going to have to give in to our demands for a pretty shiny piece of jewelry and we had a plan for when he did (Thank’s Lar’s!). Tara is a Southern Belle to the core so going to where she feels at home and there was spanish moss was a MUST. So, we planned a mini gettaway to Charleston South Carolina. Let me tell you by the second day I was ready to move! It’s totally breathtaking there and there are so many beautiful places and people. My goodness I could have had a photo shoot all day every day and kept going. It doesn’t hurt to have one of the most beautiful couples you know in front of your camera now does it? I am beyond excited for their June 2016 wedding and even more excited to be apart of it as their photographer and Matron of Honor. PS to the photographers reading this I will be interviewing a second shooter/assistant for this wedding and you are going to kill to be apart of this wedding! Email me 🙂

Our trip was way to short but I was so thankful to have gotten to spend some time with these two and my main squeeze. We did the tourist thing, we went to the beach, we shopped, we ate (O boy did we eat!), and best of all we got some great fellowship and amazing photos to go along with our memories. Do you know how hard it is to pick final images when culling? It’s hard! It’s even harder when the people in the photos are perfect and dear to your heart. I bombarded Tara and Lars with photos and I am so happy I don’t have to narrow it down to which makes it on the save the date… WHEW!

Until June 2016 enjoy these images and make sure to follow the blog because I promise you will NOT want to miss the wedding photos. I’ll have another post for Jon and I’s photos and update for our trip to Charleston soon, I know you are all just dying to see my handsome hunky hubby!

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Family Time

This weekend was full of rain and fun! The boys and I enjoyed ice cream from a super secret small town place called CJ’s Ice Cream. It’s beyond awesome stuff. We learned about this place from a facebook post and decided to try it out. I’m so glad we did. Hands down the best soft serve and service around. You pull up, you order at the window, and then you sit together at the picnic tables and enjoy. We all have different favorites and say we’re going to try something new the next time but why fix it if it is’nt broke right!? We love this place, if you live near Caroline County Virginia it is absolutly worth the trip to try. It rained all day Saturday so we didn’t do much but watch movies and order pizza. A lot of goofing off and laughing. It was amazing. Sunday we all woke up and went to bible study, ran some errands, & then we picked blackberries where we live. The boys all love being outside and if they get to play in the mud and go on an adventure that is even better. We gathered the blackberries (well they did, I was to busy capturing the memory lol) then made blackberry cobbler. It was a lot of fun seeing the boys enjoy something that they worked on. I think it’s important for them to be exposed to more than just the tv and internet. Jon Alan is great with stuff like this, me I’m more of a let’s go here and there and do something rather than a backyard adveturer. Non the less the boys always have a great time. As does Jon Alan and I.
If you wonder what I’m doing when I’m not off for a wedding weekend, this is a pretty good glimpse. I adore my family and love spending all the time that I can with them. These boys are the reason I breathe. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Today in bible study we looked at “healing”. We read scripture about those that were healed. At one point in my life I prayed for healing. He answered. He gave me my boys and Jon Alan. How lucky am I? I’ve been healed ever since. I’m so thankful. I’m so blessed. I’m so loved. I hope you all have had a great weekend. If you are like me you are beyond done with these horrible storms. I think we are good until Thursday for those, thank goodness. I hope you all have a great week and if you are in need of some healing… pray, believe, & give thanks. Until next time. Please enjoy some photos of my loves. If they don’t bring a smile to your face I don’t know what will. P.S. If you don’t know my husband already, here you will learn that he is hardly ever in a shirt or shoes. It makes him happy so it makes me happy!

Enjoy!

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The most beautiful bride | The Arli Quinn bride

Let me start this post by apologizing. If you are an AQP bride or previous AFP bride and you do not have an image listed below I am sorry. It is not because I don’t value or love you. It’s simply because your records are older and not in an online gallery but rather filed away in my super secret safe spot and not at my fingertips to access.

Something amazing happened me. Have you ever had one of those days or moments (I sure hope you have) where you were pulled in different directions and feeling kind of lost? Where your heart is saying something different than everything and everyone else? This was my day. As you all know I very recently have rebranded and relaunched. I am so exicted for this new chapter in my business and in myself. So many things come to play when you own a business but even more when you are in an industry growing every second and in a field where photographers seem to be around every corner. All I can say is educate yourself and make sure that you and your photographer are a great match for one(make sure there is a space here)another, but that is an entire different post that I am sure is bound to happen at some point. The thing that I have struggled with since day one in my business are in the categories of being too nice, wanting to please everyone, finding my comfort level, and standing firm in a business aspect while still staying true and being genuine to my beliefs. If that isn’t raw I don’t know what is. You now know my weakness, so please be kind.

I was faced with an opportunity and a decision. My mind, my business mentors, people that I look to for advice or a listening ear and all of those that I turn to when I just need an outside opinion or insight. All of those people and my mind were telling me different than my heart. INSTANTLY. MAN what a tough spot. Smart and successful business woman vs. Arli’s soft spot and need to please. I dislike when that happens. It doesn’t happen frequently, I am thankful for that. However, it does happen. I second guessed myself as I typed that email and hit send. I sat there and thought about how happy and complete my heart felt vs. how much I went against what I was “supposed” to do as a business woman and a wedding photographer. It felt good. It felt right. It was done and felt with love. It stood for everything I believe in. It may seem small to some people and others may not get it or will brush it off. It was a big deal to me. I am still tripping over my thoughts and emotional about it. I don’t need to tell you what exactly this is referring to because that part doesn’t matter. What matters is the action that I took when this opportunity and decision that I was faced with. I had no idea that in a few hours, my decision and following my heart by sending that email would present me with a gift of no physical value but more value to me then I could ever put into words and that I will be thankful for as long as I live. This is a moment in my business and in my experience that I needed and I will never forget.

For my clients and even photographers that have mentored with me generally the first thing out of my mouth is “know your worth”. I live by that, I stand by that, & I will help you see that in yourself. That is a strong and important statement that can go towards any aspect of someone’s life. It changed mine. The return email reply that I received instantly brought me to tears. Happy tears thankfully. A bride who was nothing but honest, real, and hopeful. I can only imagine how she was feeling all day as we corresponded. I sure like to think her heart was as happy as mine was. The words she shared with me touched my heart and made me feel appreciated. I am SO thankful for the brides that I have been so lucky to be able to stand beside through their journey and on their wedding day. I am even MORE thankful for the fact that many of my brides know my worth. As a person and as a business woman. This bride, who does not know me, has never met me, & has no idea my involvement with my brides in their planning process and wedding day says the words that EVERY photographer dreams to hear.

” Photography is something I definitely DO NOT want to skimp on. I have made the decision to go with your Elegance Collection. I am so excited to be able to make this decision!!! Yesterday I was so stressed thinking I just wasn’t going to be able to have anything I wanted, and man what a day can change! Today EVERYTHING is falling into place! Thank you so much for your help and patience already! You’ve been a blessing this far and I just can’t wait to work with you!”

What a dream she is. It is so refreshing to hear the appreciation for me and for my photography as well as know that she could have chosen anyone, but chose me. I felt like she fought for me. I felt like all of the hard work and love that I put into this business and my clients, WOW someone SEES that! Someone appreciates, respects, and KNOWS my worth. I can’t tell you what perfect timing this was. God surely does provide. It’s not always when we want it or THINK that we need it but when he KNOWS that we need it. That was just the love, appreciation, and boost that I needed. It was so much more, who am I kidding. To my bride in shining gown, thank you. You may have called me a blessing but it is you who I am grateful for. I am so excited to be a part of your journey and honored that you chose me.

To you future brides or to those of you who know a bride planning. Advice for you. When you find your one (Yes I mean your photographer). You will know. Not only should their work speak wonders to you but your photographer is such an important role for your wedding you should feel connected to them above all. Photographers will be with you from the beginning of your planning and even at your side on your wedding day. I proudly fluff a gown, fix a veil, carry lip gloss, repin hair, & anything else that you will need me to do. I am happy to do that for you. I cry at every wedding, I’m not bashful. I love new love. I love moments. I love that I have been given this gift, my photography talent that I can bless others with images of moments people years down the road will be admiring and loving. How incredible is that!? If you or someone you know is getting married I would LOVE to speak with you/them about your/their wedding to see if we are a great fit! Being given that opportunity means the world to me.

To my fellow photographers, starting out or seasoned. Know your worth and educate your clients or followers of that, show them. Don’t give up. I promise you ARE somebody and you are somebody GREAT. Remember to follow your heart and to not forget your values and beliefs. In our industry today it is so easy to get swept up and forget why we started our businesses and the dream that we had that started it all.

Below are images of my brides. Not all of them (as I mentioned above, sorry!). Each one of these women believed in me from start to finish. They have all touched my life and I hope in a small way I have also touched theirs.

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Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day to all of the dads! I hope that you get to enjoy your day spending time with those little ones (or big ones) that gave you that amazing title. I’d like to tell my father Happy Fathers Day also. I am a daddy’s girl to the core, always have been. My mom never understood it but that’s the way it is. In my book he’s the best dad and I’m thankful for him every day. By the way, he just celebrated a birthday! Another man I am over the moon about is my husband Jon Alan. Anyone that knows him knows that he is such a great dad to Mason and Weston and is a big softie when it comes to those littles. The boy’s adore him so much and I love seeing them following in Jon Alan’s footsteps and growing to be great just as he is. Their favorite thing to do right now is visit Kings Dominion and go “castin”. They love to do just about anything together and I love watching them. Every day Jon Alan picks them up first thing after work and I love hearing about them talking about their day’s. Asking a million questions as littles do. They take all information in that they can get and it amazes me how smart they are and how much they really do take in and use already in their young little lives. So, here is to all of the dads! Thank you for being great role models, best friends, and our biggest super heros. Let’s not forget my Grandfather Frank who from the time I was very small has had my heart and my father in law Jon Sr., each of these men mean so much to the boys & I.

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”

Hebrews 10:24

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Our wedding day images courtesy of Hartleigh Jane Photography & Audrey Lea Photography