Tag Archives: take this job and love it

Real Life Happens

Words are not really something I struggle with.

Okay, occasionally, my vocabulary falls a little short, but I definitely can chat it up with the best of them.  A few friends would probably claim that I can talk to a brick wall (which is so not true – I can talk *at* a brick wall).  However, when events happen like the one outlined here, I have a hard time formulating the proper words on multiple levels.  I’ll try to just stick to a factual Reader’s Digest, so hang in here with me.  It’s worth it! 🙂

Being a photographer of people, especially weddings, is a part of your soul.  It is ingrained in you.  While I’m on a personal mission to attend a wedding as a guest with a good lookin’ man by the end of the year (no, seriously), I’ll probably chat it up with the photographers at the reception, anyways.  Though I don’t get asked to attend or capture all of them, I am acutely aware of what friends are engaged and when their weddings will be happening.  I seriously can’t help it.

And so, when I received a Facebook message at 10:58am on a Sunday from the about-to-be Katie Douros, asking me to call her ASAP, I already knew it was her wedding day.  By grace, I was sitting at my computer, with plans to process images for pretty much the rest of the day.  I called her immediately and a shaky voice answered.  Before she completed the entire sentence of “My photographer got the date wrong”, I was changing out of my yoga clothes and into wedding clothes and scouring the apartment for bobby pins to pull my hair back.  I am so thankful I keep my workhorse camera bag ready to go at all times.
Yes, their hired photographer got the date wrong.  As this person lived five hours away in South Carolina – and the ceremony was in five hours – all of the pre-wedding photos would have no photographer.  Katie was en route to get ready as we chatted on the phone.  I asked her for the address of where she would be and the contact information for the hired photographer, so that we could determine a game plan.

Not thirty minutes after I talked with Katie on the phone, I walked in to the room where her hair was being done.  And seeing me gave her permission to release the stress.  Cue all the tears.  We have a running joke amongst us wedding photographers that we are part photographer, part hair stylist, boutonniere pinners, stylists and therapists.  It takes a special person.  As I bear hugged that beautiful girl, letting her know we had it all under control, I had one of those fleeting moments of “This is why I do this”.

Jon + Katie’s bridal party was absolutely amazing.  Their radiant ladies and hilarious gentlemen helped the day move so smoothly, despite the speed bumps.  I cannot even begin to thank them enough for being such bright lights of support that day!  As I showed up to the groomsmen’s house, Jon looked at one of his groomsmen and asked what I was doing there.  “She’s not our photographer,” he said.  Knowing what had happened, his groomsman smiled and replied “Now she is.”

Through the power of social media, two other beautiful women came running to save the day.  The lovely and talented Lauren Jolly Thomas captured church details and onward while the beautiful Cindy Parkhurst Schepers came barreling up the interstate from the coast and met me for the first look and stayed until the very end.  Jon and Katie now had not just one photographer, but three!  As I had an evening session I simply could not reschedule, I gave everyone a rough play-by-play 20 minutes before ceremony and hugged them.  The original photographer had arrived (after much pleading on my behalf – and by pleading, I mean I’m pretty sure I could have been nicer) and those three ladies stayed for the remainder of the day.

As I strive to say only true and necessary things, let me just say the following.  First, Jon and Katie are incredible.  She really might be the sweetest person I’ve ever met.  Ever.  Despite the crazy and the overcast skies, this girl was BEAMING.  She was silly and dancing and loved every single second.  Going through their images has already been a joy. 🙂

Secondly, events like this are exactly why I operate our weddings like we do.  We are on board from day one working alongside our brides to answer their schedule questions, share our wedding vendor knowledge and work on their photography lists.  When things happen (and they always do) we already know the schedule and the plan and can step alongside to make the day the best it can possibly be.  We have served as wedding coordinators (when one didn’t show), flower delivery folks, bourbon suppliers, dress steamers, chauffeurs when taxis never came and the list goes on.  While we certainly understand budgetary concerns, if photos are important to you, look for someone who operates in a similar fashion.  No matter what your overall budget, your photographer should be communicative, knowledgable and a strong partner.

Wedding days are important.  They carry weight.  Images are so special.
I was so glad I was in town to be a part of the team to capture this one.

Jon and Katie Douros, congratufreakinglations!!!
We are so thrilled to have spent the day with you.

Tons o’ Love,
Your Dream Team

Queen Bee Note:
As the schedule speed bump threw the day off quite a bit, time was short (and it was pretty frigid) for bride and groom portraits.   So, on a really sunny Sunday a month later, they got back in their clothes and spent the day with five of us photographers – including me, Cindy and Lauren!  Some of the images below are from that day.  We just couldn’t narrow their blog post down to the one day.  🙂




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It’s day 4!

Happy Saturday, y’all!

Being able to stay at my Momma’s through my birthday has been super great (and I don’t just say that because there are cinnamon rolls baking in the next room) (ok, maybe a little bit).  Add it to these five days of giveaways and so far, 2014 is off to a pretty great start. 🙂

Yesterday, for day 3, we gave away 3 one hour teaching sessions for folks who wanted to learn more about photography or take their camera on a date or just ask me a thousand questions.  Included in this is a one year subscription to one of my favorite photography magazines – winner’s choice!  Though I failed to mention (womp wompppp), winners can redeem these hours anytime in 2014.  And three one hour sessions mean three winners – eep!  So, drum roll on the table – Amy Crouch, Lora Schuldt and Lauren McKay – congrats!! Simply email us to get on the schedule: talktous@amarishames.com


If you haven’t figured out yet, the number of presents matches the date of the giveaway.  Since today is the 4th, yep, we’ve got four things to giveaway today.  Have you thought about purchasing a session with us this year?  Are you having a baby and want a newborn lifestyle session?  Does your family want photos in the early fall for Christmas cards?  Does your kindergartner want a spring photo?  Well, we are letting four full sessions go at half off our 2013 prices!  Read: Four full sessions at $165 each to be redeemed anytime during 2014, provided the date is available.  As always, our full sessions will include at least 36 edited images with rights to print for personal use and will be hosted in your own online gallery.  *Sessions are limited to within 300 miles of Raleigh, NC unless you are willing to pay for travel.  We will always travel!* For gallery examples, simply click here to see how ours work!


The fine print, as promised:
*To be entered for the day, simply share the post!  On Instagram and Twitter, be sure to link back to our accounts.  If on Facebook, use the “Share” button.  We’d love to save you a *lot* of notifications.
*Then, comment below!  *You gotta comment or we don’t know who you are*
*You’ll have until 11:59pm EST  today to enter.  On tomorrow’s blog, we’ll announce today’s winner!  We’ll be using a random number generator to pick a winner (because I would want to pick all of you).
*If you win, get in touch with us here: talktous@amarishames.com


Tomorrow’s giveaway is a doozie and will be all wrapped up in love.  Because it’s my birthday.  And at the end of every day, I hope that Love remains my top priority. 🙂

Get to sharing!  And then, tell us about it!

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Best of 2013

Holy mother, what a year.

There were definitely times that I thought I wouldn’t make it.  You would never know, looking through these images, of all the moments I wanted to throw in all the towels and drive to the ocean with a case of wine in the back seat.  An artist I deeply respect says that when launching new endeavors, you learn who really has your back and who doesn’t.  Jeremy Cowart, you speak so much truth.

Almost one year ago, I decided to make photography the only job.
What a year.

Cameron Robinson knew he wanted to propose and have a photographer on hand to capture it, as he’s a photographer himself!  Insert me and the most nervous ten minutes of my. entire. life.  My friend Brian joined me at the table in Charlotte, just feet from Cameron and (his now wife!) Joy.  We had some time with them after the proposal and they are two of the most radiant souls walking the earth.  I can think of no other way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Advance 2013
Music has this magical way of resonating through the chambers of my everything.  Even more so, when I am immersed in it.  Some of my most favorite memory clips involve loud voices and drums.  Advance13 was an Acts29 conference hosted in Raleigh for many of their leaders and pastors.  As many of those within the Acts29 network are men, I found myself holding my little metal box in Memorial Auditorium amongst a sea of men singing praise to our Jesus.  There are not many moments that cause me to put the camera down and just soak it in, but this was one of them.  I simply stood and listened in complete awe.  In a society that speaks so much negativity over men, it was moving to be in the midst of this.  I hope to carry this one with me forever.

My work got published for the first time ever this year and not just once, but twice!  A piece from Prague was put in the NC State Design School’s magazine at the end of the 2012-2013 year.  Simply titled “Egg & Bread” many folks have asked if they might print it for their kitchens or something similar and it is now available as a print!  Then, my *amazing* friend Jen Bonchak & her Slingshot Coffee got featured in Southern Living.  “If anyone can pull something like this out of their ass, it’s you!” <—Might be one of my biggest compliments ever.  My portrait of Jen graced their July issue!

Meet Renee’.  Look familiar?  If you guessed this is my sister, you would be correct!  She’s in this year-end recap because this might be the first time she has ever, in the history of ever, voluntarily graced my camera.  My sister is a takes-no-prisoners type of girl and I love her for it.  With many a bride, I’ve joked that whenever I get married, Renee’ will be the point of contact for the details because she’ll handle it all before I even know there’s a problem.  She’s amazing and also a creative.  We help keep each other sane.  If you haven’t met her, you should make that happen!

Ohhhhh, Rosa.  This pretty girl came home after two years in Uganda only to stay for a year and go right back!  Rosalie has this radiant spirit that infects you and I am so so thankful to call her my friend.  Her emails are like small novels and I save them in my inbox for times when I can grab a snack and settle in for what I know will be a great read.  If your heart has ever been pulled to Africa or missions, in general, click her name and get in touch.  I can’t wait to visit her at her second home.

Chelsea & Dana Hartweg have to be two of the most generous and understanding people walking the planet.  I captured their wedding in fall 2011 and, like most wedding days, things were hectic and crazy.  My skills also weren’t anywhere near where they are now.  So, when all three of us learned we would be in Charleston, SC on the same weekend, I emailed them.  “This will sound crazy, but you want to bring your wedding clothes and get dressed up again?  I’ll bring my camera?”  I could almost audibly hear the “YES!!!” that was the reply.  We grabbed some flowers, they got dressed, and we walked around the beauty that is downtown Charleston ’til our hearts content.  I’ll be offering these sessions going forward in 2014, as couples that do them all think they’re amazing.  The Hartweg’s have been believers in me since the beginning of this ride and I’m so thankful for them, their hearts, and their constant encouragement.

To be honest, we first met online through a series of Skype calls.  Our mutual friend, Ben, was all “Hey you’re both in Europe! You should hang out!”  Beau was in Barcelona and I was in Prague, so the connection was crap and we could only use audio.  The internet in Europe laughs at video connections!  We met in real life when I went to Barcelona for a few days and then intentionally went to New York City for a holiday weekend this spring.  He walked my ass all OVER the place and I am the better for it.  There are people that come along who make your friendship easy and support you, no matter what crazy happens.  This is one of mine.
And I’m so glad he’s here.

If you’ve ever met Tabitha in real life, you would have a hard time realizing that image on the left is her.  But, it is.  We partnered together to tell her story of redemption through a series of portraits and I. love. this. woman.  Her support this year has been incredibly kind and I’m grateful that she’s coming more and more into understanding just how beautiful she is.
“I had never held photographs that made me feel pretty before”, she said.
“But, now I have.”
Blown away.  Absolutely blown away.  I am.

I had never been before July and, because I’m not entirely mentally stable, I decided to drive.  Yes, from Carolina.  It was great on multiple levels.  I started taking random pit stops with my car when I thought it was pretty out.  What kind of rush am I in anyways?
The world’s happiest baby, Hope, graced my lens for just a few moments as I got to know her parents and her favorite uncle.  That uncle is a man that brought me back to health.  He loves me and supports me and returned me to stable ground in ways I doubt he even knows about.  Minnesota was one of the most refreshing times of my whole year.
You should go.

Yep, that’s me in the middle.  That crazy fool on my left is Luke.  And the crazy fool in the glasses?  Justin Brodie.
These two guys bring joy to my life on a level I cannot even explain.  We get together for food and we wind up singing Lady Gaga at the top of our lungs.  People will stare at The Pit because we are laughing so hard there are tears.  More than once, I’ve had to walk away to catch my breath.  And the three of us are all wired the same in that we will do whatever it takes to get things done.  Luke has shown up with a milkshake on a crappy day as many times as he’s helped me move something.  When my train didn’t show once, he told me to get my ass in the car and drove me to Charlotte.
Brodie left us to go serve in Romania, where he still is, and with all things going well, I’ll be leading a team from the states to his non-profit in Romania next July.
Come with!  Must be ok with singing at the top of your lungs and laughing ’til you cry.

The McClure’s!
God, I love these people.  They are living in Prague with their ah.DOR.able daughter Heidi Marie and kicking so much tail at it!  When I had the chance to capture a wedding in the wine country of Italy, I asked Brian if I could come visit on my way.  Without hesitation, I was invited into their home and picked up at the airport.  They love Love and it shows.  I can’t wait to capture a wedding in Prague next summer with Brian as a second shooter.  It is going to be amazing.

Welcome to my crazy family.
Right after Europe (no, literally, ONE DAY after I got back from Europe), I was on a plane to Vegas to see my baby brother and his long-time girlfriend tie the knot in Vegas, complete with Elvis!  Two weeks later, they held a reception in downtown Charleston.
We don’t do anything boring in this group.
And I love them.

“I’m sitting in this class for the state department on some medical training and for, gosh, at least half an hour, Rob taught with a piece of tubing hanging out of his ear – with the other end coming out of his nose!”
Yep, that sounds about right.  Somehow, even with mess like that, he won over the student in that class for the state department and Mandy is here to stay.
And all of us rejoiced!
She’s beautiful and the perfect compliment to him.  I was overjoyed to be asked to capture their January DC wedding.
Yep, they’re getting married next month.  Currently, they’re wandering Central America somewhere.
Haha, I love it!

Doing an end of the year recap forces me to look back at all the incredible opportunities I’ve had.  It certainly hasn’t been an easy road, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Over 150 of you graced the other side of my lens this year.  In October alone, I clicked the shutter button 28 days out of 31.
For a girl that doesn’t advertise, I’m so *so* grateful.  Thank you doesn’t come close to covering it, but is a start.
Thank you.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Have a beautiful holiday!
In so much Love,

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