Allie and Hank's Wedding

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Allie and Hank's Wedding

The day was blustery and cold, but as cheesy as it may sound, the hearts truly were warm on this wedding day for Allie and Hank. The overcast day added a sort of romance and reverence to the preparations and ceremony, held at Allie’s hometown church. I loved the personal touches that made what Allie and Hank value front and center. They had so many children involved in their wedding (Allie loves kids and is a teacher), Allie’s sister and brother-in-law sang during the ceremony, their parents and grandparents proudly watched them all throughout the day, and their wedding party was a great mix of funny and sentimental.

Their reception was at Terradyne Country Club in Andover and kicked off just as a cold mist started falling (check out the nighttime portraits of Allie and Hank!) and was a fun party full of laughs and funny moments (I’ll save some of those moments for their full gallery!).

Congratulations, Allie and Hank! :) Enjoy this preview of your day!

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Sisters

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Sisters

I didn’t grow up with a sister. I was actually lucky enough to be the only daughter with a brother before and after me, which is a pretty great place to be. But sometimes, when I see sisters, I think that relationship must be a pretty special one to have. And in this family’s case, there are three of them, which is even better (and CUTER). I loved documenting this family at home with their three little girls, especially after obsessing over every photo their mom has posted on Instagram (it’s not creepy, I promise — I’ve known her for years!). ;) Anyway, check out this cuteness overload:

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On authenticity

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On authenticity

My friend Laura is one of the most insightful, genuine, and kind people I know. She approaches life with a wisdom and perspective that most don’t. When it came time for family photos, she told me that this year she wasn’t sure she was too excited about taking htem — because, in a way, it felt inauthentic. She meant that to present one’s family in a “perfect” light is to betray the realness of who we are as families (especially with young children). We are imperfect. We are flawed. Opinionated (have you met a toddler?). Tired (have you met a parent of a toddler?). We’re just human.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what she said since then. On one hand, as a photographer, I think it’s beautiful and wonderful to celebrate the goodness and joy in whatever life stage you’re in — even if your daily life doesn’t look like that one image might suggest. On the other hand, I think it’s raw and honest and vulnerable to present the parts of life that aren’t polished — that’s where real relationships form, and one of the reasons I love Laura as a friend.

So as I edited through her family’s photos, which were taken at the most picturesque time of year at one of the most picturesque locations in Kansas City, I was struck by how the beautiful and the imperfect intermingle in this space we call “family photos.” We’re presented with the lovely and the chaotic all in one space, which is such a picture of what family life is like. I love the image of Laura and her husband, Blake, laughing together under the perfect yellow trees. What you don’t hear in that image are the shouts of children running in the background (their children AND mine because they let me bring my OWN children to this photo shoot… see the next image after it, or the photo at the very end that shows my Luke covered in mud thanks to his big brother). ;) But in that image of Laura and Blake, their laughs are real. The story is real. It may just be a different one than you perceive.

So, I hope this year when you look at your family photos, you can appreciate the images of imperfection just as much as the holiday-card-worthy images. This time is fleeting. It’s happening right now. Document it well, and appreciate it for what it is.

(This is my little Luke, covered in mud by the end of the shoot…what kind of photographer takes her own kids to a photo shoot? Lol. The kind whose husband is out of town and it’s busy October and who has great friends who say “of course!” when you ask if your kids can come so you can fit it all in) :D

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Maile and Patrick's Mildale Farm Wedding

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Maile and Patrick's Mildale Farm Wedding

The sun was shining. The smiles were big. The love was palpable. No detail was left undone. Maile and Patrick’s love is one that is so obvious when you’re with them. They just make sense together. They both are SO HAPPY to be with one another, and this joy was even more magnified on their wedding day, which was a gorgeous fall day at Mildale Farm (one of my favorite places!). You’ll be able to see it in the photos — from their sweet first look where they read each other letters, to their ceremony where they couldn’t stop smiling, to their party bus ride and fun portrait time (check out the series of photos of their champagne popping… ha ha!), to their reception that was a perfect mix of heartfelt, personal, and a great party.

I also loved how involved their parents and family members were all day (and in general in their lives!) and I got teary-eyed several times watching them with their parents throughout the day. It was also fun to see other couples whose weddings we’ve done in the past!

Okay, I’ll stop talking and let the photos tell the story (and the video later when it’s ready!). A big thank you to my second shooter, Kassie Wolfinger.

Maile and Pat — congratulations! Enjoy this preview of your day!

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Laura and Mike's Nelson-Atkins Museum Wedding

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Laura and Mike's Nelson-Atkins Museum Wedding

In all my years of photographing weddings and visiting the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (it’s one of my favorite KC landmarks — both for photography and just to visit!), I have never actually had a wedding inside the museum. So when I met with Laura and Mike and heard about everything they had planned for their day, I was excited to be able to capture it! It was such an elegant day (Laura’s dress could not have been more perfect for this setting and style!!) and everyone had a great time. Their ceremony was inside the gorgeous Kirkwood Hall and they moved into Rozzelle Court for dinner. Rozzelle Court’s string lights, archways, center fountain, plants, and balcony makes it such a dreamy setting for a dinner like this. Then, everyone went back out into Kirkwood Hall which had been transformed into a (giant) dance floor, which was full all night. The fun energy and the guests enjoying themselves so much had me smiling all night until the most beautiful send-off with sparklers.

Thanks to my second shooter, Jenny Shipley, for capturing this day with me!

Big congratulations to Laura and Mike! Enjoy this peek into their wedding day. :)

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Kara + Dan's San Francisco Maternity Session

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Kara + Dan's San Francisco Maternity Session

It was such a joy to get to visit San Francisco again and capture photos of Kara and Dan as they prepare to welcome their baby in just a matter of weeks! We revisited the same location we photographed their "first look" and portraits on their wedding day several years ago, which was so special! I love how Kara is literally glowing in these, and Dan's excitement to be a dad is so evident! Congratulations!

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Kari + Joe's Wedding at The Everly

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Kari + Joe's Wedding at The Everly

The one with all the happy tears. You know how Friends (the TV show) had every episode titled with "The one where..." or "The one with..." Well, Kari and Joe's wedding was one with a LOT of wonderful things, but I keep thinking about all the happy tears that were shed on this day. The tears that made it so evident how seriously they took the commitment of marriage. The tears that were an overflowing of joy that the day had finally arrived. Tears that represented their journey, their excitement, and their love. So this is the one with all the happy tears.

It's also the one with tons of laughs, silliness, a fun take on wedding details, and a heart of hospitality woven throughout the whole day. Kari and Joe LOVE people. And they love them well. And their people love Kari and Joe, and it's easy to see why.

Here's a small sneak peek into their wedding day story. Their reception was at the brand new venue, The Everly (they were the first wedding!). Kari also got ready there. Their ceremony was at Christ Community Church - Brookside, which is just so stunning.

Big thank you to my second shooter, Jenny Shipley, who always does a fantastic job.

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Where the heart is

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Where the heart is

As the saying goes, home is where the heart is. It's where your people are. Where LEGOs are spread out across the living room floor. Where beautiful art sits side-by-side with kid-created masterpieces. Where laughter and silliness and the craziness of family happens on a daily basis. Yes, I'd agree -- that's surely where the heart is.

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Ashley and Bryce's Winery Wedding

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Ashley and Bryce's Winery Wedding

This was a wedding I left and replayed so many moments over in my mind: the time her dad cried when he saw her for the first time in her wedding dress, and the proud look on her mom's face all day. The way the bridesmaids were so excited for Ashley, and made the day all about celebrating their relationship. Bryce's sweet and oh-so-happy reaction to seeing his bride. The priest's message on marriage. The K-State themes sprinkled throughout the day. Bryce's brother and best man's rap toast that had everyone laughing, but wiping away tears by the end (a true toast success -- and I've seen a lot of toasts). The couple's first dance, where they looked so happy and Ashley's elegance really shone through. And the gorgeous Kansas sunset over the hills at the winery. Such a good day.

They started and ended the day at Liquid Art Winery in Manhattan, Kansas. Their ceremony was at St. Isidore's Catholic Church. Special thanks to Meghan Tuttle for second shooting with me!

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Baby Leah is so loved

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Baby Leah is so loved

There is nothing quite like the first weeks of new parenthood. Everything changes, yet somehow quickly feels as thought this is what life has always been like. How you can't remember a time before this perfect little (yet sleep-depriving) human being lived in your home and heart. I love getting to document first-time parents in their home with their new little love. This shoot with baby Leah was so sweet, and she is one blessed little girl to be born into a family with such wonderful parents. I think they'd say the same about her.

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Jamie and Calvin's Missouri Farm Wedding

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Jamie and Calvin's Missouri Farm Wedding

Jamie and Calvin said their vows in the field right next to the farmhouse they've been working on, making it their first home. They were surrounded by a huge group of family and friends, and the whole day was obviously such a labor of love. Personal touches were everywhere, with so many hands working to make the day happen. From wooden structures that were handmade by Jamie's dad, to succulents carefully planted and ribbons tied by groups of women, to bouquets arranged, cupcakes made, and food prepared by family members and close family friends -- in every detail, the love everyone has for Jamie and Calvin was so evident. I loved capturing this day for such sweet people in such a beautiful and personal location. :) Added bonus: Jeff and the boys got to come and enjoy the party as well.

Congratulations, Jamie and Calvin! Here is a preview into your day:

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Let the kids be kids

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Let the kids be kids

While there's something so lovely about a great classic family portrait in a beautiful natural setting (and those have great value), I always think well into the future about what images are going to mean the most to my children when they're grown. I think it's the same kind of images that mean the most to be now that I'm an adult -- the images that transport me back to a place and time and a fleeting moment of family life. The images that tell a story of silliness, sweetness, fun, play, love, and home. When we photograph a family at home, it can sometimes feel a little crazy for the family -- and I know and love that about the process. I don't know about you, but my home is often a little crazy. Kids are running, playing, talking loudly.  The treasure that lies in documenting a family at home is the ability to capture those in-between moments that we just can't do well with our iPhone (or don't have time to do in the busy day-to-day). I loved how much personality came out in this family session, because their kids were so comfortable in the environment -- their home!

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The house they made a home

I love photographing families in their homes. I feel like I say that all the time, but it's so true. I love it because of course, with all family photos, the people are special. It's especially fun to photograph those special people in a place that also has meaning. Where the walls hold their daily stories and the shelves house memories in the form of keepsakes, old photographs, and books. The place where the mundane meets the magical. Day in, day out.

I recently got to capture some sweet friends of ours in their home. A home they so lovingly have made their own -- every detail, every space becoming one that feels like them. It was such a treat.

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Ana Sofía's Birth Story

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Ana Sofía's Birth Story

Note: this story is not an easy one, especially for parents who may have experienced infant loss of any kind. However, it is a powerful one of miracles and hope.

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On December 13, 2017, I got a phone call from Ashley. We had photographed and filmed her and Gustavo's wedding, and taken newborn photos of their daughter Belén. Most recently, we had run into them at Costco and heard they were expecting their second baby. On the day she called, though, it wasn't with news anyone expects. She was about 37 weeks pregnant and had lost their baby. Earlier that morning, she hadn't felt the baby move and she went in to the hospital to have things checked out. They told her there was no fetal movement and they couldn't find a heartbeat. Ashley asked if I would come to the hospital to take newborn photos after the stillbirth. I agreed.

Ashley then labored for about 36 hours. During that time, they grieved with their families, and planned a funeral. I arrived at the hospital the next evening and waited in the waiting room for them to call me back. A baby girl was born with no heartbeat and no pulse. A nurse placed her on Ashley's chest, skin-to-skin. About 10 minutes went by when the baby girl gasped for air. A natural reflex, they said. And then she did it again. And again. Ashley's doctor and nurse responded quickly, and felt a faint pulse. The respiratory team was dispatched and rushed into the room, resuscitating Ana Sofía -- a baby girl, fighter, miracle, gift from God.

The video below shares some of that story. It shows the moments in the delivery room right after Ana Sofía was rushed to the NICU. It shows her 3 days later, at Children's Mercy, undergoing therapeutic hypothermia to try and restore brain function after the lack of oxygen for so long. And it shows her a few weeks later, just after the new year, still in the NICU but obviously growing and exceeding expectations. And it shows her a few months later, at home with her family.

The road still holds a lot of unknowns. She has some hearing loss, but not the profound hearing loss they once believed. She will likely face cerebal palsy, but the effects are unknown. She is already moving, laughing, babbling, responding, and bringing light and love to everyone she meets. You can see it in her eyes. She is a light. A miracle. A gift.

Her dad, Gustavo, said something to me three days after her birth, while the prognosis was still very unknown, that I can't ever forget. About the future, he said: "I cannot be afraid, because I have seen God in my daughter."

Click the image below to play the video.

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Marisa and Robby's Kansas City Wedding

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Marisa and Robby's Kansas City Wedding

Marisa and Robby's wedding day in Kansas City was a chilly, cloudy early spring day -- but the mood was anything but dreary. All day, the excitement and anticipation was so evident. We loved how relationships were front and center throughout the day, and it was so obvious why: Marisa and Robby value people. From their nieces and nephews, to their friends, to their siblings and parents, to the family who traveled in to celebrate with them -- these are people who both love well and are loved well.

Marisa and the gals got ready at a lovely and historic Airbnb in midtown Kansas City. I loved the bay window and the soft light streaming through as she got ready. Then, she went to see Robby for the first time at the Nelson-Atkins Museum before heading to the church, Christ Community in Brookside. Their ceremony was officiated by their brothers-in-law -- one from each side of the family -- and it was so personal, special, and heartfelt. We loved watching them glance at each other all throughout the ceremony, and we loved hearing from people who know them so well (something we're so excited to bring to life in their video!). Their reception was a fun party -- full of kids and families! -- at The Beck Event Space

Marisa and Robby, thank you for trusting us with your wedding day story. We are so thrilled for you!

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Maile and Patrick's Country-Meets-City Engagement Photos

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Maile and Patrick's Country-Meets-City Engagement Photos

Happiness. Just overflowing with happiness. That's what Maile and Patrick's shoot was -- it was absolutely obvious how much these two love each other and how much fun they have together. It's so evident in the photos, too. Maile and Patrick love the outdoors and being in nature (including hunting together), but also wanted to showcase the city they call home with a classic Kansas City skyline backdrop. We did both, and it was the perfect late afternoon session that extended just after the sun set over the city. Here are just a few of my favorites of these two lovebirds. We can't wait for their wedding next fall!

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Summer and Peter's Rainy Kansas City Wedding Day

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Summer and Peter's Rainy Kansas City Wedding Day

There are certain kinds of couples that have so much joy when they're together that nothing can dampen it. Summer and Peter are that kind of couple. When I met them, I instantly connected with their joy for life, the way they loved one another, how they spoke about their sons, and what they valued for their wedding day. They care about people. They care about recognizing the people who are part of their story. And they care about capturing authentic, real moments that help tell that story. So no amount of rain or chilly weather could affect their day, and I was so thankful to get to experience this with them.

I started the day with the ladies at the Ambassador Hotel downtown, which just so happens to have the same address (1111) as their wedding date (11/11). From the hotel, we walked -- in the rain! -- to the nearest streetcar stop and rode the streetcar to the River Market stop, which was just blocks from their venue, River Market Event Place. That walk in the rain will probably go down as one of the most memorable wedding experiences. Loved it (my hair, however, did not... ha ha).

They thought out all of their details so well and had the help of Events by Elle to pull off the coordination of the wedding. I loved the dictionary guestbook where guests searched for a word that described Summer and Peter and marked it in the book. I especially loved the time and thought that went into the couple writing every single guest at the wedding a note to explain why they were there and what they mean to them. It was one of the most thoughtful ways to show appreciation I've seen. And of course, I loved the energy and fun their sons brought to the wedding -- and enjoyed the challenge of watching for their personalities to shine through in candid moments throughout the day.

Summer and Peter, thank you for trusting me with your story. It's a beautiful one.