A Collaboration, In the Spirit of Friendship.

Help Portrait 2015 last Christmas was by far the highlight of our year. We had planned to do this all year with our students, and at just the right time found the lovely community of Calle Naranjo super close to our International School here in Costa Rica.  Xiomarra with her husband, and Nadir and his wife, Ruby,  are amazing families working to bless families in their own neighborhood.  Working with them as a liaison between our International School, I fell in love with their mission and their hearts.  They have hearts that long to see hope and restoration and opportunity come to their neighbors. This was such a great way to begin a relationship together, give out of our passion and creativity, and get to know them over Christmas music, food, games, and generous donations from the community of MBS and local Young Life. As we started out, we visited a neighborhood church to meet them in person for the first time.  They were so welcoming to me, and invited me in where I listened to a talk, and sang songs with them for over an hour in a modest concrete floor room that they rent behind someone’s home in the barrio.  After calling me to the front of the congregation to explain what we were suggesting, I quickly switched my brain to Spanish, and did the best I could.  At the end, each person in the church gave me a hug and kiss and then we proceeded to scout locations together. Photo releases were translated to Spanish; clothes and gifts were collected for weeks prior by MBS National...

Thirteen

I had to share this. The best part of my time teaching has been hearing, seeing and learning from students and their perspectives. Meet my friend, Bella, which if you picked any number of definitions, they would never come close to defining her.  You can’t put her in box.  No limits with this one. She takes on life, in this unique, “I’ll outwit you World,” kind of way… And I’m inspired.  Over and over.  She decided at a young age to put herself out there, her thoughts on display, because she has something to say.  And she actually really does.  Something we need to hear, to really be quiet and listen. And watch.  Because she’s for all those things we know we should be.  She speaks her truth unapologetically, with boldness and wit… But it comes from this deep place inside that makes you wonder where her hope lies. A girl that makes you think, look closer, and walk away wanting more of whatever it is that she’s got. Bella (bottom right) with my daughter, Ella.  Here’s something she wrote about turning 14 and reflecting back on all 13 taught her.  It’s perfectly honest and beautiful, just like her. 13 13 taught me that I love you can actually mean I like you a lot It taught me I am in love with my best friends And my favorite places It taught me You can always buy more film And that smiling never hurts 13 taught me that movies are What I want to make But art is still a passion of mine It taught me fuzzy boots are...

The Gift of Life Change

Visiting Matagalpa, Nicaragua was up high on the list of things we’ve experienced that renew our strength, build our faith in how the darkest of circumstances will never eliminate anyone from experiencing renewal if there’s an intersection with Jesus.   In fact, story after story of Him meeting them in the brokenness spurs us as North Americans, with all our entitlement and ease of life, to consider joining those who have no such understanding of such carelessness, ease, or even our striving for such things.    The stories we heard of gangs, abandonment, and truly a past of hopeless poverty has actually refined so many of these leaders here in Nicaragua to be strong in faith, and desperate to introduce Jesus to others.  Here’s a few shots of La Finca Vida Joven Camp in the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  A place God uses well to bring kids to Himself, in a safe place to make a decision about eternity....

San Juan del sur

Beautiful San Juan del sur.  A great small and slow-paced surf town.  Enjoyed our time there.  Here’s a shot from our hike up to the highest point one day....

Vidas Jovenes Costa Rica

“There are still valleys to walk through during our remaining days.  The disappointments, the frustrations, the discouragements, the dilemmas, the dark, difficult days , though they be shadowed valleys, need not be disasters.  They can be the road to higher ground in our walk with God.” Phillip Keller Here’s a snapshot of the face of Vidas Jovenes in Costa Rica. A beautiful truth is being told to many teen moms while they are being loved well by Michelle Suwyn & her team of mentors, volunteers & committee.  We spent the day with these girls, their children, and their mentors, and heard some of their stories.  Being around them and watching them interact with each other and with the leaders, you can see that they have a new hope.  If they come in weary, they leave renewed.  They feel supported and trust in the love that their mentors pour out. Through the time that the leaders lift up and present the Gospel, the girls are drawing closer to their Creator that loves them perfectly.  I am reminded to be thankful that even in difficult circumstances, there are new mercies every day. Without that truth, all of our futures would be hopeless regardless of our weaknesses, mistakes or situations.  My time in Costa Rica has been rich and beautiful in the way of a growing awareness of being human and needing a savior, and how we’re all the same in any way that matters.          ...

Senior Season..

It’s the time of year when photographers around Austin are busy taking Sr. Photos for UT Graduates, and High School Graduates.  Almost every weekend, I have been shooting for some of the nicest people.  I enjoy taking photos around town with these young people, and hearing where they’re headed next. Here’s a small sampling of photos for 4 families we’ve done just recently. School is out in less than a month for some while finals are beginning at the University.   Most of these kids will be here only for a short time and then will be off on their next adventure.  I love spending time with them in that transition and wishing them the...

Gulu & Sister Rosemary

I recently wrote Sister Rosemary a letter, sending photos, dreaming about another visit, thanking her for spending time with us, for how she lives her life and looks so much like Jesus.  She’s a woman that you can’t help but feel changed by when you meet her.  It’s her joy, perseverance, and love of the people she serves that stands out.   St. Monica’s was among the places we visited while in Gulu, and we had met her a day before one night on the deck of our hotel eating pizza.  She had a great impact on me personally and our group as we listened to her and learned all she’s done for the people of Gulu.  She’s been in Uganda during many of the stories you hear from Kony 2012 and played a role in restoration there.  See video below: Here’s a shot of one of the most beautiful women I’ve had the privilege to meet and become friends with: Sister Rosemary.  She lives a life poured out for others. Gulu is a more peaceful place now.  Many of the people there remember when it wasn’t, but will tell you that they feel much safer there now.  Thanks to much of the work Sister Rosemary has done there, women and children have a new start and a new hope. This video does a better job telling the story than I will, but this great work still goes on today and expands much wider now. CNN Heroes, Sister Rosemary (click link to watch video of Sister Rosemary) http://youtu.be/c_Ue6REkeTA (click link to watch video of Koney 2012 Part II) While in...

Beautiful People.

While we visited the location where the new school was being built, we kept greeting people who lived nearby.  This woman walked up and talked with us and I got a shot of her with one of the men in our group of travelers, Ted.  The way he greeted this woman is how he greets everyone and he was a blessing to all of us on this trip as we watched his interaction with the Ugandan people. Having been to Uganda before, he helped give context to what we were experiencing, but also let us experience Uganda in our own way too. The woman was incredibly warm, like most people that approached us.  She has so little, but seems to have everything she needs to be thankful, to be smiling, and to be so gracious to strangers. Ted lives a life of faith. He steps into their culture more than most of us, eating what they eat while some of us ate the safer rice & curry or pizza, and always open to any experience,  smiling with overflowing compassion and love for the sweet people there. On our second night in Uganda, knowing there were several days and nights left and being overwhelmed with what I saw, I felt a sadness that I was feeling a sense of void, being closed off or even an unwillingness to truly do “anything” God asked of me.  Praying, I just asked for courage, and God gave me sleep.  But in the morning, God gave me Ted. Without knowing, Ted invited me to sit across from him, and began sharing his life, his...

New School for 250+ Students – Restore International

While in Uganda last month, we visited the new location for Restore Leadership Academy in Gulu.  We approached this land and stumbled upon some beautiful children and women walking up and down the roadside and being there close to sunset caught some great images while there.  We walked through what will be the school, the dorms, and talked about the plans and dreams for the place.  Since 2004, Restore International has been part of rescuing, rehabilitating, and leading efforts there to bring justice to Uganda.  When we visited the existing school, I spent only one afternoon there, but while there,  made friends and was overwhelmed at how they greeted us, welcomed us, and wanted to be with us.  The teachers, kids, and leaders of the school were all equally welcoming and loving.  I am so excited for the kids to move into their new school and dorm as soon as next month, and that the next time I visit, they’ll be in the new location. While there, and as you drive away, you can’t help but wonder how you might respond if it was your life or your children that were displaced and changed by poverty & war. The goal is to bring opportunities to those that might never have any, and raise up a generation of leaders who might in turn lead their country into a restored Uganda. While at the existing school where the kids currently attend school and live,  we sat under a tree with Sr. 6 Graduates.   Watching Bob and John Niemeyer (Country Director) talking to those Seniors and inviting us into it with...

The many smiles of Adeline…

Adorable Adeline.  Headed for The University of Texas next fall, and into ministry with College Young Life.   I was struck by how genuinely sweet, joyful and thoughtful she is, and we had a great time on our outing this day, capturing her in a variety of settings.   This is a girl that does life differently than most around her.  She dares to stand alone and chooses Jesus each day, living a life full of anticipation of the many ways she’ll change the world.  Spending a day with her was one of the brightest days of my week.  Her smile lasts for days… and she’s got many of them to share.  Courageous. Joyful. Surrendered.      ...

The Andrea/Ryan Wedding…

Andrea with her family. There’s so much in a picture.  Watching family interact is often one of my favorite things when shooting a wedding.  The loyalty, love, gratitude and laughter that happens is always fun to watch.   Andrea’s family was special.  Many late nights with Andrea (center), and many daytimes with Antonio (right), usually making him snow cones,  have made me love this family so much.  Adding Ryan to the mix at our home alone has been a blessing, and we’re so happy for them both.  I loved how before the wedding, they were much more interested in preparing for the marriage than the wedding.  These two are wise so far beyond their years.  Hearing Ryan’s heart about leading Andrea in marriage is beautiful to hear, and they brighten our home every time they walk in.  Here’s to them both and to a beautiful marriage…   and a shot of the couple during their first...

Young Artists…

Last Sunday, I spent the day with Alex, a girl from McCallum High walking (and climbing!) through all  the Graffiti at Castle Hill.  We were trying different types of shots and experimenting with light, and met a lot of interesting people.  In trying to describe this place, I struggle b/c there’s so much there.  So much beauty, and ugliness at the same time.  The beauty of Creatives, surrounded by trash & vandalism. We came upon this guy, below, who comes regularly to paint, and we got to hear a bit from him on his work, and his thoughts about each piece.  We met, talked to and photographed two girls that came there to see the skyline of the city from the top of the walls, and hula hoop. When I noticed the girl with the bright red sunglasses, red tights, cowboy boots, and a brown Tshirt with a coffee mug on it, I thought…. “Austin.”   They were so much fun, and we both enjoyed shooting them.  There was a film being shot while we were there, boys ‘likely’ smoking pot at the back wall, girls hula hooping, youth artists painting, and photographers shooting… The time there felt real and colorful, and gave great opportunity to seek commonality with all types of people that seemingly have nothing in common, but are all curiously at the same place. Here’s a few shots I liked.  I love our city.  Austin Indeed. Just as we were about to leave, Alex told me how this was her favorite wall.  I set some settings and placed light just on this wall, and gave her...

Young Life Leader Retreat

A little over a week ago, we were blessed to go alongside the leaders to retreat this year to kickoff the season.  Billy Suess, Andy Baxter and Michael Boone did a great job leading prayer, worship and guidance. The next morning, many of the leaders entered the main dining hall with blankets over them, and there was a giant huddle around the coffee.  They were so cold from sleeping in screened in bunkhouses the night before, but happy to be together as a family.  Billy gave a strong talk of renewal, challenge, and encouragement and sent teams into groups. While Friday was a beautiful night of play, worship, barefoot soccer & late night snacks, Saturday was spent in discussion and breakout sessions.  Jimmy and I loved hearing from these leaders about their semester and preparing for the Spring Semester.  Our kids enjoyed the time there playing alongside the College Leaders, too. Worship time was convicting listening to these college leaders pour out their hearts to God and seek renewal before heading back into the lives of kids.  Thankful for our time there, and the impact it has on our community and families when they return.  Allowing God to lead all things, surrendering each morning again and experiencing true joy in serving....

MLK Speech Day

On MLK Day, at our son’s request, we hosted a MLK Speech Reading in our cul-de-sac.  We made fliers and sent them with the kids to school and walked around our neighborhood inviting everyone for burgers and dogs while they lasted and to come join the reading and/or just come and listen and meet neighbors.  As we listened to our kids practice the speech in the days prior to the event, we noticed they hardly knew the word “discrimination” and reading of the speech brought up many questions and great conversation. We met some nice people as we handed out fliers and realized many were working on MLK Day, but we still had a great time and a great day with our new neighbors, friends, Young Life Leaders and ACF NW Pastor family that came out for the fun. A Great Memory....

Happy New Year!

This year we went to Hondo to a place Jim’s family has and ‘camped’ in RVs, spending time with his parents and my brother and niece.  We sat around campfires each morning and each night, went on numerous rides in the Kawasaki Mule, wrapped the treehouse with lights that Jim built, rode the zip line and had a great time.  The picture above was taken after Libby created ‘art’ with fire and an old styrofoam cup.  As I walked up to her, my intent was to tell her not to do what she was about to do… sticking her sparkler into the cup.  But as I walked  over, I loved how the only light on her, her face and the cup was from the sparkler, and stopped to grab a shot first. Not my finest parenting moment, but I did kindly ask her to stop once I snapped a shot.   She and her sister continued making ‘sculptures’ all weekend with sticks in the campfire, melting plastic forks, cups, and styrofoam into shapes. On actual NY Eve, my brother showed up with his daughter, and I was so excited they joined.  My brother below with Jim in the Mule, gearing up for zip lines. As we sent each kid down the zip line, we laughed for over an hour.  Kelli fell out of the chair at least twice at the end of the ride, while Beck kept getting caught up in the chair trying to get out and Libby kept trying to go with her feet up and upside down.  I’m amazed at how different and unique each child...

Earnest Wedding

A few shots from the wedding of Kelsey & Daniel.  They had a few shots taken before the wedding with just a door in between them, and these were so fun to shoot.  They kept holding hands and looking at the door, laughing, a little nervous, and excited to walk down the aisle. It was a beautiful wedding full of the anticipation of these two ready to be married and start a life together.  Here’s a few shots of them at the altar. Congratulations to the Happy Couple!  ...

Kaeske Law Firm. A personable group worth knowing.

A few weeks ago, I shot in a law firm here in Austin.  We had a great time getting to know one another a bit, using laughter for those not fond of the camera, and at the end of the day, we came away with shots they loved.  Shots that showed who they were.  A warm, personable group of folks worth knowing.  Here’s a few shots of Lynn.  ...

Kelsey Matschek Earnest

Pictures are currently downloading from our latest wedding, the Matschek-Earnest Wedding. All during the editing process, I kept finding shots I thought the bride would love, which is a good thing.  But since this was the case, I kept texting the bride with pictures, literally taking shots of my LR Screen, and sharing with her.  I hated that she had to wait to see them, but tomorrow is the day.  Kelsey does amazing work in Houston with Young Life, and is one of those kinds of people where graciousness & joy are abundant.  It’s obvious she is loved and loves those around her well as you watch her interact with her friends during one of the biggest days of her life.  She’s beautiful inside and out; you can see it in her smile. Wedding shots to come! Here’s a few Bridal Shots we did in October. For more of our wedding work, go to http://www.studioaustinweddings.com    ...

Kids. Pandora. Art & Christmas…

a few days ago, we decided to make posters of Christmas words and decorate them.  The kids did this while Christmas music played, and enjoyed the time.  Today, I had to test a few things for a shoot I have in the morning, so I just asked the kids to step in… actually, I had to make them do it… but anyway, they did, and as chaotic as it was with these crazy kids, and with a little help from our friend, Jordan, there were a few fun shots.  Merry Christmas to everyone, and I hope each of you are blessed with Joy, and Love, and Jesus this season.   Can’t you see the hope in their...

This is Being Thankful…

“This is what thankfulness looks like.”  I saw it several times on twitter as I checked in on our car ride to in-laws for Thanksgiving.  Organizations like Noonday and Compassion International thanking those that make it possible for women to go to sewing school and for parents who can now care for their kids.  It got me thinking as I saw their versions of what they were thankful for.   I thought about all the stories of redemption in our own city and it overwhelmed me as I thought to remember all God’s done in those around us, in us, and through others close to us. The immediate thoughts that come to mind when I close my eyes in prayer for thanksgiving are the people that I get to live life with each day. I’m thankful for the shift in our lives and the simplicity of it and the new friends it’s brought. I’m thankful for the college leaders that show up with laundry, asking if we have food, or if they can watch the game.  I’m thankful for the way they love my kids, and the spontaneous late night talks about Kingdom things.  I’m thankful for how they share their dreams and plans of how they’ll change the world and that I get to watch them do it.  A few shots of Lea and Jordan with our children.  People like this are blessing our lives. I’m thankful for new parents like our friends who just adopted three foster kids and families like this one below who went to Rwanda to get their son.  Consider how different Thanksgiving must be...

Sarah Schwab

The beautiful Sarah Schwab.  She’s off with her new husband now, living the life of a newlywed, and loving it.  Here’s a few shots from her portrait session before the...

Sisters…

If you have a sister, you can remember how you felt at one point about them when you were younger, and how you may have looked up to them, wished they would leave you alone, or how your life seemed to be measured somehow by who they were or were not.  I watch my girls and see a lot of the same things, and how they seek some definition of who they are measured by the other one.  It’s a constant thing I remind them of, their uniqueness and the intentionality of God for it.  Some days they need their own space, and some days they don’t click at all, but most days, there’s an obvious bond that will never be broken.  I watched this in multitudes after our move and as we all bonded together more and more just to feel normal.  As with life, everyone had days that were hard.  What I saw is each time, everyone dropped their differences immediately, and offered hope to the other.   Watching Libby be there to comfort her little sister as she grieved her friends, old neighborhood and home will be a life memory I’ll never forget.   The big sister who usually isn’t interested in hugs from Ella, her little sister, is suddenly wrapped around her speaking words of comfort and encouragement.  As days come that make them sad or miss what they once knew, I get to see visions of Libby holding her little sister while she cries, our family holding hands and praying, and the bond gets stronger.  Laughter and joy dominate us now, and it seems...

Andrea & Ryan

Each time I take a picture of people I’m close to everything in me wants to share the beautiful part of who they are and how I’m impacted by knowing them.  Andrea & Ryan are very special to me, and in ways I’ll never be able to fully express here.  Andrea possesses a faith of someone you’d expect to be much older, and she walks in that truth more than most folks I know twice her age.   With all that, beauty and incredible joy, it doesn’t surprise me at all that she’s marrying Ryan, who we love very much too.  When they walk in the door of our home, every time, they bless us beyond our expectations just b/c they truly offer up who they really are, each time.  No hiding, no pretending, nothing but an overflowing love for our children, always a current understanding of what God’s teaching them,  beautiful conversations about Kingdom here and now even into wee hours at times, and a graciousness that that I long for more of.  My wish is that every family would have people like this join their...

Sarah & Matthew

As I type, the pictures are still exporting in various forms for web and print, and galleries are uploading.  Shooting a wedding for people you love is an interesting mix of wanting perfection and trying not to cry during the ceremony thru my lens as the Officiant and Groom (good friends) both battle emotions.  Watching Sarah walk down the aisle was overwhelming. These two people are very special to the Hamptons.  Both have lived a life of service in ministry, and loving those around them well, and have been open to God using them to change lives…  and they have.  Wonderful to see them together and so happy.  A powerful union...

It’s that time again.

Time for school, for schedules and a great need for priority in our lives.  It’s Young Life season again, kicking off Monday, September 12th.  With collectively 28 College leaders mentoring our middle and high schoolers, NW Austin Murchison (and area private schools)  and Anderson High Schools continue to be blessed with one of the greatest communities I’ve been a part of.   Thankful for the intentional ministry, prayer, support of leaders, partnerships with local churches and a lot of devoted hearts for seeing Kingdom work here on earth.  In NW Austin, we gear up for another powerful year of being part of the story God’s writing in NW Austin. Last summer, Jimmy and I were blessed to accompany NW Austin to Crooked Creek Ranch to watch some YL High Schoolers closest to our heart visit camp. As I watched them play, learn, and pursue Jesus, I kept remembering and seeing them as they were when I met them.  Middle school.  The were bold, amazing girls that have journeyed to where they are now. Beautiful young women.  Watching the same class of boys grow into young men has been equally humbling to see how God’s using these kids to change and transform many of us.   Some courageous, some still searching, but many are counting the cost, and beginning to agree with the Creator of their worth, and value and understanding their role in changing the world.   Club starts on the 12th, but the relationships between leaders and kids has been ongoing.  Here’s a shot I took while sitting in back of club at Crooked Creek Ranch in Frasier,...

It’s never too late to come home.

I just learned today, that a friend in Mexico was baptized.  Daniel at Casa Bugambillia, a clinic in Mexico, has been cared for and loved well by these people. When we met, he was paralyzed from a gunshot to the neck. His road has been long and anything but easy.  I remember us all holding hands around his bed, praying for him, crying with him and most importantly bringing Z to meet him. Z and Daniel have common backgrounds.  Z’s father was a man that had brought Cocaine to Mexico and Z’s journey is an amazing story in itself.  After losing his father on the front steps of his house by gunfire, a lifestyle of drugs and prison, Z is now a follower of Jesus and missionary.  Danial, after time at Casa Bugambillia in Mexico,  is now in a wheelchair getting around pretty good.  First time we met him he was tough at first, then wept as we prayed with him.  I’m sharing part of a blog entry from a friend below. You never know how something will impact others or how you will be used, but God really used our friend, Eleazar Garza (better known as Z) that day we met Daniel, and he’s been using him & Casa Bugambillia ever since.  My heart is full that mercy is a part of the journey, that none of us would get there without it, and that Daniel has come home. Audra’s Post: I think the greatest way to describe where Z is now is to tell you of a moment we had the first day at Casa Bugambilia.  While visiting patients...

Laguna Gloria meets Katie Maennle

I remember this shot.  We took hundreds of shots this day of the brightest designs by Katie Maennle, and we hit Laguna Gloria as our second location.  Movers brought furniture to move furniture around for us, and two girls in from New York did an amazing job styling each shot. This was the one shot not styled but it caught my eye.  Just placed there by movers to be grabbed for the variety of shots we were going to get that day, so before they took the pieces,  I placed my lights and took a quick shot.   Great day of shooting with some very talented/fun women of Austin. A few more shots of Katie’s bowls, trays, pictures, pillows and...

Revisiting Guatemala

Looking back at our time in Guatemala with team of photographers, I came upon this photo.   One mentor with us there talked about taking your place in the mix of things and waiting.  Waiting and watching.  That’s how this photo came about.  I was alone in the streets and looked down to see a little girl walking toward me.   She was alone but likely her parents were working nearby.  Her eyes caught mine as she walked toward me.   I miss these beautiful children of Guatemala. More often, for me to grab a photo in a foreign environment, the best way to get a great shot is to approach them, talk with them, establish trust and your intentions, and then with their blessing, begin to shoot.   I’m eager to return and capture more shots there, and learn more about these people, their needs, and establish relationships there. Here’s a few more shots I loved from my time...

The Power of a Picture…

As we walked the streets one day with our friends in Mexico, we came upon this scene.  I love the story of a single photo…  In a state of severe poverty is how we found her, living next door to another family we were visiting.  Dirt floors, no plumbing, but some hope of assistance when they need it thanks to Casa Bugambillia down the road.   We learned of the challenges of her home life where even those that are supposed to love her most are too lost to give even their hearts to this sweet girl.  I found it beautiful to see her at this home that isn’t hers and how I wondered if she knew the One that ultimately loves her completely.  All pictures taken in Mexico have been donated and used for storytelling efforts to help bring hope to these people. “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”     – Saint Teresa of...

Missing Z and the People of Mexico

Today and within the last several days, I’ve been reading through drafts and looking through photos for the book project for a very talented writer, Audra Outlaw, and remember our many adventures as she interviewed many that have impacted our own stories. As she heads out tomorrow to the writer’s conference in search of a publisher, the thought that these stories may make their way into the hands of so many amaze me again by the God we serve.  As we sat through each interview, Audra and I left changed after each one. One that has brought back up a series of emotions is Z’s story.   As excitement that the project is moving forward grows, a deep sadness for the people of Matamoros, Mexico sits heavy on me. The memories are thick today as I miss the people there and am unsure when we can return.   I want to be back in Z’s living room talking about the faithfulness of Jesus, visiting our friends who are enjoying their first house after living in a farmer’s shed, visiting with Daniel at Casa Bugambillia Clinic and remembering the first time we met him and how we prayed right there with him at his bedside as he wept desperately wanted to walk again.  I want to go to the lady at the corner store that told me in tears she had to send her kids away b/c she couldn’t afford to keep them.  I have pictures of those exact kids that I got from an earlier visit and know it would bless her to get them.  I’d love to just...

Meet Claire Fields…

Walking into Beehive, you immediately see how unique this place is.  Claire greets me and already has a plan in mind.  She wants to be photographed in her grandmother’s chair.   Beautiful and creative, she’s got amazing style.  I loved this place and loved getting to know Claire and her staff.  We had a great time creating vignettes for a two page layout where she’ll be featured between the constant stream of customers she was assisting. For fun, before I took off, I got a great shot of her dog that runs the place alongside her, and grabbed a coffee around the corner.   Another great lady in Austin…  There are so...

Pure Joy…

As we anticipate the CRAVE book this fall, time to put a few shots out there for Austinites to meet some of Austin’s greatest women.  Possibly Austin’s most colorful and unique toy store, Toy Joy, is not only an escape into playtime, but the owner’s pretty wonderful too. Lizzy knows more about toys than most, and her knowledge & passion are apparent as she talks about the many Japanese items, how Rody should be everyone’s favorite thing, the science section, and  the toy towers. As I arrive, she offers me a latte while I shoot early a.m. before hours, and immediately asks me if I have children.  She’s a beautiful woman very young at heart and one of the most gracious ladies I encountered during my time working with various businesses. With her bright pink hair and her great blue dress, she was a joy to work with.  As I head out with my gear, she hands me a goodie bag, full of great toys for my children.  To this day, my children have an art piece gift for her that resides on my fridge labeled “To Lizzy” until we can get back to the store again and they can thank her in person.  Go visit Lizzy soon, grab something from the cafe, and shop from the one of a kind Toy...

Who Won?

So last week, we enjoyed the LAST game of the season for our son’s baseball team.  Ever notice how they never end the season as they began it?  They always end much more courageous and bold than they started out, even though many of us parents had to drag our exhausted kids to the field saying words like “commitment” and “teamwork”, but after the game, knowing they are finally done, they seem to remember the experience fondly and are feeling a sense of accomplishment that they stuck it out when what they really wanted to do was keep playing Star Wars…. or maybe that’s just my kid.  🙂 The spirit this particular night was great… racing out onto the field, and a pre-game dog pile that every kid should get to do at some point in their sporting career… At the end of the day, who really cares who won when your kid is just six…  but in case you were curious, they...

Are we home yet?

So I know there are no perfect days, but today was fantastically close.  Oddly for a perfect day as today, I started it out way early … and arrived at Butler Park at 7:15 for a shoot for a book releasing at the end of summer…   Great people, great shots, and the sky opens up and drenches us all… I’m shooting with a bag over my camera, completely soaked, and loving it.  Home, greeted by my neighbor inviting me to sit and listen to the rain on her back patio…  She already knows me so well.  Explosions in the Sky on Pandora, spending needed time with a great book, inspired by the One that sustains me…  Isaiah & Hebrews today..  Crazy perspective.  Today, curled up on my couch, coffee, music and I’m reminded of how little I need.  Today, for the first time in a long time, my new home feels like home.  Then a text from our “other” son stating he’s bringing his girlfriend to dinner tonight.  The day ended with two guests that don’t feel like guests, but family, and a lot of smiles, my children feeling loved, loud laughter, dinner, chocolate chip cookies, and races in the cul de sac all before hugs goodbye.  After a long season of huge decision-making & loads of change, I am certain that change is good and today, for now, we are home.  Here’s a shot of Leah and Jordan with our kids after so many foot races I lost...

Snow in Austin…

Snow came in the wee hours Thursday night declaring a snow day on Friday…  Work and School both canceled, and off we went with our sled to the neighborhood hill where the community meets one time a year, if we are lucky.  The entire day was pretty glorious enjoying sledding with friends, hot chocolate after back at my house, scripture in the book of John, quiet time, and then a HUGE pot of chili made by a few college Young Life leaders that we love like our own.  Snow day lived up to it’s hype for sure as we hoped and hoped for snow, and beyond. Here’s a shot of Beck at the snow hill & a seriously priceless shot in the car on the way…  If you have kids, you’ll appreciate...

Brooks & other Outlaws

Sweet Baby Brooks…  His two big brothers and Mom and Dad Outlaw are in complete and blissful love…  I was able to photograph the family last week.  We started the day with family photos in PJs in Mom and Dad’s bed, and worked our way to a series of family shots.  I’m in love with this family in every...

Day with a Cowboy…

I spent a day with my father and my 95 year old Grandfather at our ranch in New Mexico. An amazing day of riding in a truck with my grandfather and him telling me stories of his life way back as a teenager on to now, and how he misses my grandmother, Ruby Faye, more than anything. As I buckle up in this old truck with my 95 year old grandfather driving me around old ranch roads, I am at total peace in the moment at how simple our existence is and how I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I happen to be reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller right now at the advice of a good friend and pastor, Kirk Gentzel. It makes me think that my Grandfather has lived a great story. Not a perfect story or one without pain, but a great story of continuing on, really living life, even when you’re just ready to go to Heaven and be with Jesus, and Grandmother. I can relate to wanting to go home, but I have a lot to learn here and I believe I’m in a story God’s writing, just like we all are. I adore my father and my grandfather and this is for our family. A tribute to two of the best men I know outside of my husband,...

Thankful for her…

I think a lot.  Sometimes too much, but nonetheless my DNA is to reflect, consider and think and then think some more.  It’s not in a bad way, and usually not in a worrisome way, but sometimes, I know my epiphanies, convictions and passions may be a bit overwhelming.  This is the importance of a friend that “gets” you.  On occasion, I sit at my desk, Pandora playing, and I get to chat with my good friend, Audra…   Oh, Thank God for her.   For a girl to possess such beauty outside and inside I often wonder if God specifically picked her and said, “I just knew you needed this one.”   Listening, on any scale, Audra wins.  She’s this crazy mix of compassion, humor, joy, love, and all the while will always join you in your pain and little by little pull you out with her encouragement and a little thing called grace.  Audra, now pregnant with her third boy, let me photograph her incredible family last weekend.  I left feeling filled up again at how beautiful the everyday of life with children is and how we make each other feel completely loved no matter what completely inappropriate thing our children said or did.  I pray for her to feel as loved as she has made me feel. For her to know how amazingly unique she is and how God has worked incredibly through her in some of my biggest moments in life.  Here’s a shot I liked of her from the shoot....

Vogue Bride…

Mrs. Emily Heger, Vogue Bride.  That’s really all I need to say.  Just look at her!  She’s amazingly beautiful but has a heart to...

Weddings! Weddings!

I had an amazing privilege of photographing a wedding at the Mansion at Judges Hill with the MOST beautiful flowers I’ve maybe ever seen at a wedding, along with the gorgeous bride.  I thought part of the sweetest things at this wedding was how obvious it was that Mel has been an extraordinary aunt to her nieces.  They gushed over her, cried at how beautiful she was, and as I watched her share her cake cutting experience with these sweet little girls, you could tell there was a bond there not ever to be broken.  She made me think a lot of my nieces and nephews I can’t see b/c they live far away and the ones so close that we still never see.  New Years Resolution number 1 next year.  Be a better Aunt.   Here are a few...

Scott Lambie

As we entered the Experience Africa night with Wilson Bugembe and heard his story, we made our way over to Scott Lambie afterwards.  Scott moved to Africa not too long ago from Austin, and was visiting Austin for various reasons.  We had previously sent his wife, whom I met in Mexico at Pan de Vida Children’s Home in Sandoval, Mexico, a note inquiring about any interest in our book project and being one of the stories.  She had responded positively, but having met each other about a year or more ago briefly just before they moved to Uganda, it slipped off  both of our radars. As we met up with Scott that night, we confirmed his interest and planned our time together.   What started as an interview, photographs and getting to know each other conversation, quickly changed into deep conversations about our faith and a place of deep understanding.  At one point, Scott mentioned the moment you know that nothing will ever be the same.  How one kid saying to him in Africa, “Don’t forget us,” changed everything for him.  All of us have our own moments like that, or at least I hope we all do.   The amazingly beautiful and real moments that change our reality and change our heart forever is definitely something I hope for everyone.   Living life without fear, or a fear that keeps you still, without distraction, trusting what you cannot see, but a God you know, and allowing your world to get wrecked as you know it is a life worth living in my opinion.   After pictures, interview and more pictures, we felt...

Wilson Bugembe

Yesterday, after cleaning out my car full of crayons, drawings, Star Wars figures and water bottles, I drove over to pick up Audra, then on to pick up our new friend, Wilson. Having met Wilson the night before to hear his story, this was a very quickly planned outing, but a joyful one.  Wilson is from Uganda, Africa. He’s a pastor, musician, and has led a life of incredible loss, but spends his days now filled with joy. Upon Wilson sitting in my passenger seat, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were items in the car I’d missed in the cleaning sweep that he might think were strange.  The giant pixie stick from the ball park, stuck between the seats because my son hadn’t finished it, or my bright green neon Young Life glasses in the console.  I refrained from explaining myself, and only thought briefly about it, but mainly I was taken with how different our lives must be. I love people.  I love making new friends, learning about their lives, and Wilson was no different.  I enjoyed sitting on the floor in the Warehouse where we held the interview and photo shoot and asking him questions and going deep into our journey of faith.  I loved his insight, and wasn’t surprised he had new insights that I am so thankful for as I roll them around in my thoughts.  What a complete gift he is to our world.  I love that through him many will look at their lives differently, and consider there’s a God that loves them desperately.   But until then, I look forward to...

Austin Icon, Broken Spoke…

  During the workshop last weekend, we spent a long time shooting at the Broken Spoke with models.  Lighting is insane.  It’s terribly dark and we did everything manually, which in turn is the only way to go.  I had a great time, made some friends, and here’s a few shots.  None of the photos have been edited or touched in any way.  Very fun...

Beauty in Everything…

I had the pleasure of spending a portion of my Spring Break last week at Casa Bugambilia, located in Matamoros, Mexico. I spent time there capturing the great work Casa B does for the people of Mexico.  They provide needed health care, they house residents with serious illnesses and conditions, they educate the children in the Colonias, reunite and assist families with rehabilitated residents of Casa B, build homes for the poor, maintain relationships with those in need, as well as doctors, specialists, and hospitals all over to provide assistance for those that desperately need it, but could never afford it.  As I filter through the hundreds of photos taken, and all the lives of the people there I was invited into relationship with, I feel really overwhelmed at how rich the friendships are, and will be for me with the people there. One area called Santa Maria is one of the more desolate areas, I’ve seen.  If you can close your eyes and imagine thin scraps of wood, hammered together to provide shelter, pieces of wood and tin providing a roof, that’s indicative of the area we visited to go see Margarita and her sons, two of which have severe autism.  As we were driving off, I saw the light and how it fell on the hot sauce on a table across the street and the string of popcorn bags lined up just there in the midst of houses where we traveled.  You saw such creativity, effort, and life in the people I met there.  I was curious if selling these popcorn bags was someone’s livelihood, what they...

Engaged. Happy. Beautiful.

I had the best time last weekend photographing the sweetest couple.  2nd street, 4th street, the footbridge and the 360 cliff were all locations we hit.  This couple holds a special place in my heart.  Mark and Emily are immersed in ministry with high school kids, Mark runs a wakeboarding camp in the summer, and he clearly loves Emily with a heart full of truth and grace.   They both beam with the anticipation of starting a new life together, as one.  Here’s a few...

Z. One story, big impact..

If you’re lucky enough to meet someone in your life that can change your perspective, count that as a blessing.  From the outside looking in at our relationship with Z, it would appear we’ve nothing in common, but he has become a dear friend.  We were there last weekend to introduce him to our friend, Audra and have Audra interview him for a book project that is underway.  After meeting us at the border, Z accompanied us to the clinic, Casa Bugambilia; an orphanage in Sandoval, and to visit a family there, as well.   We were hosted and stayed in downtown Matamoros at Z’s house and stayed up as long as our eyes would stay open, to talk, share and learn so much about being light in a dark world. Writer, Audra Outlaw, will blog about our journey together for the book project, and with her being such a beautiful writer, you will want to hear from her about this. Z’s story will be featured in the upcoming book & our hope is that it’s life changing to those that hear it.  To follow, visit...

Children of Matamoros

While wondering the streets with our new friend, Larry, at Casa Bugambilia, in Matamoros, we traveled across some children.  I spent some time talking with them, and taking pictures of them, trying to make them laugh and smile.  We were told the area where they live used to be a dump.  The streets are covered with trash, and due to raw sewage running through the city, there are many issues of autism, as well as other health problems in the sweet people that live there.  Although, their surroundings are disheartening, their hearts seem full.  I plan to return to Casa Bugambilia and capture the clinic and surrounding work they do for the people there.  It’s possibly the warmest place I’ve seen, combined with the most selfless people I’ve ever met.  Here’s a few of the children we met, and a shot in the street that captures the...

Family in Need…

We visited a family on the last day of travels in Matamoros while there working on a book project, and bringing needed items to a wonderful clinic there, Casa Bugambilia just a day earlier.  When our friend, Ryan, found this family, they were living in a shack, sleeping on the muddy earth.  I learned yesterday they used to carry in and sleep on cement sacks when it rained, so they wouldn’t drown.   There are seven children and a single mom and while we have sent items, this was the first time I’d ever met the family.  We stopped and saw their new house, pictured below, and gave them hugs, celebrated their new concrete floors and 8 miniature bunk beds in this one room house that to them, is the best thing they’ve ever owned.  They greeted us with bare feet, the most incredible smiles and a welcoming spirit.  They were excited about the possibility of working the next day picking carrots, and let us hold their baby goats.  Yes, you read that right.   AIM, Adventures in Mission in Mexico in partnership with LHC, Lake Hills Church made this a reality.  While there’s still a lot to do, I love being part of it in any small way I can.  We’ll be back soon to visit them, and bring them more items they need.  I can hardly wait to see Trinidad again, and see if he’ll ever take off his stocking cap.  He is very shy, timid, but over time, he began to warm up and I believe he loved having us...

Tidbit Girls….

Some of the nicest girls I’ve ever met, really.  The girls of Austin Tidbits were a joy to work with, and aside from the fact that they are beautiful and the camera loves them, they are incredibly gifted at what they do.  Here’s a shot I liked of Amy....

Mayan Ceremony – Last day in Chichi

Our last day in Guatemala certainly was one of the most culturally rich events.  We took our shuttle with our new friend, Julio, to Chichicastenango.  As we headed into Chichi, we saw Chicken bus drivers drinking Tecates in the drivers seat conversing with other bus drivers. We saw three people on motorcycles with no helmets; mom, dad and babies 2-3 years old.  As we entered Chichi, we passed a huge billboard with a picture of feet and toe tags covered with a sheet that read… something to the effect of  “Don’t kill, and don’t die.”   Again, my nervous laugh came as there was no turning back now. We arrived and met up then tried our best to stay together, but if you stop to grab a shot, by the time you look up, your team of photographers are GONE…  So needless to say, I was soon all alone in the town of Chichi and it might be one of my favorite market experiences of all.  I luckily hooked up with Dan and Julio just in time to head over to a Mayan ceremony.  Julio had a Mayan child leading us all the way up a mountain that as we caught a glimpse of the hike almost backed out 2-3 times.  It was hot, and we kept questioning whether this was a good idea.  On the way there, we were all hoping it was going to be worth it, and it really was.  It was nothing like what I imagined at all.  There were very few people there, which made it actually more intimidating.  There was no way to...

Panajachel

I’m in Panajachel alone today while the others are in Santiago where they caught a boat this morning. I’ve been editing all day and listening to music I understand, and having just a little bit of time alone. At this very moment, I’m looking out a window where I see lemon trees, kids playing in the street and mud from the crazy rain storm we had last night, a huge volcano, clothes lines full of clothing and traditional Guatemalan textiles of all sorts, cinderblock houses, tin roofs, and of course Lake Atitlan. Yesterday was fun.  My roommate, Sarah and I got up and walked into Antigua park area and grabbed our Cafe con leche where we always do, and sat and chatted about the trip. It was the slowest pace thing we’ve done up to this point, so we enjoyed it very much.  We met back up with everyone, loaded up and headed out to Panajachel, where I am now.  We met a friend of Todds and met a nice man, Jose, that would later be my market buddy and help me a lot as I tried to go deep into the market.  He spoke no English, but I speak just enough Spanish to get by.  The Mayan people here are mostly very little and the men here wear interesting clothes, that seem like the norm here.  After lunch, we checked in our little hotel, which is very simple, nothing special, but a huge deck out back where I can sit and see all the things described earlier. The shuttle ride up to Pana was actually really nice for...

Day 3 of shooting. Up early tomorrow for Panajachel

Today was a good day.  We got to sleep in until 7, and we walked to breakfast at Cafe Escolonia Nursery, which happens to have a Cafe inside.  We shared some stories and goals we all had, and it was nice to see how many of us here actually compliment one another’s skills.  We then headed to the Antigua Market and Artisan Market where we did some shooting and felt like we were in totally another world.  The fruit and vegetables here are as vibrant as many of the textiles you see here.  We had a friend call us over and give us fresh papaya, and when I saw him later in the day, he was sure to jump and wave, Hola! Buenos Dias! These people here will be hard to leave behind.  They wear all their kindness, gentleness and passion on their face.  After leaving the market I came across an old man sitting alone, and asked him in Spanish if I could take his photo.  He was flattered and happy to let me take his picture.  When I was done, he gave me a huge hug…in a very sweet way.  We held hands and showed great amounts of gratitude for one another. In less than a two minutes, it seems we had shared a special moment and had a special admiration for one another, much like a grandfather and grandchild.  I feel blessed each time I encounter moments like these with these special people who take the time to look you in the eye, smile, and want to show you love just because they have so much...

Long days, but wonderful. Guatemala day two

It’s been so nonstop, I am just now getting to write.  Our days are so full of experiences, it feels like we’ve been here so much longer than we have in a good way.  Here’s a bit of yesterday so you can experience a taste of it all.   We started out with editing sessions and critiques of the prior day’s work over Croissants, cheese, fruit and coffee, then headed out to Pastores in cabs, which is a smaller community about 10 minutes away.  Things started out slow on the main street, but once we got up the courage to head into the alleyways, and streets where the people live, that’s when the fun started.  The kids there are so full of life, and even the adults there are very kind.  It’s much slower pace and easygoing there in Pastores compared to Antigua.  Some folks got handmade boots for about $40 American dollars.  We got back into Antigua and hit the La Cuevita buffet, which looked very intimidating for all you picky eaters out there, but it was really good.  The people there take your food, and carry it to your table for you.  People here are so eager to help you, so engaging.  After the buffet, we hit the Mercado del Carmen market, where I met a friend of Todd’s and her children.  It’s very nice to have friends around town that we’ve met and now greet us with a warm smile every time we come around.  Next we were off to the Cerro de la Cruz at Sunset and photographed the Cross.  This particular Icon was very beautiful...

Guatemala – Day one

I have found wireless!  Thank Goodness!!  Still can’t call home so purchasing an international phone today for 15$ American dollars or 150Q. After landing in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Sarah and I walked out into a large crowd of Guatemalans waiting on loved ones, and found that our shuttle driver was late.  We completely took on the role of tourists as we waiting in the middle of a mass of people looking for our driver.  As I began to approach another shuttle guy, silently praying he was legit, our guy walked up in the back with our names, so we were happy to see him. He didn’t speak English, and his van seemed like a personal van, but luckily we had the address written down, and off we went.  Through what seemed like alley after alley in the dark, I nervously laughed over and over again thinking how monumentally idiotic this was.  But as we pulled up, we got out and went with another guy through a below parking area, and as we entered the beautiful courtyard, I knew we were in the right place.  Our house/condo is really beautiful with part of it opening up to the outside and large windows that open up. Day One of shooting began at 6 am. When we left to shoot the Arch and Merced.  The arch framed the church at the end of the street, and when we got  there, I believe it may be the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen, with a giant rosary hanging in the front of it.  Inside there were pews and glass cases with the saints...

Sofia

  She’s the greatest sport about modeling for our class, and she has so much more to offer the world than her striking eyes and beautiful smile.  She’s actually a great student photographer.  You can learn a lot by seeing through someone else’s eyes in photography. You get to see what they see, getting a chance to view the world from their point of view. I love watching the world through Sofia’s eyes.  Here’s a few photos of how the other students see...
Mariel

Mariel

Every once in a while, you meet someone really brave.  I keep meeting people like that here in Costa Rica.  Consider being a High School Senior, having your life changed, and being willing to share your story to not only your community, but also saying yes to sharing it on video.  She did.  She knows truth this much.  She has a great story, a greater heart and hope for her life.  We’re excited to be part of her life here, and learn from people like her.   She’s headed to University to study Microbiology.  And every time I’m with her, her joy inspires me to live more fully in all circumstances.  God is doing great things through...
Gabriella

Gabriella

She’s as lovely as she appears.  And she’s off to UNT this Fall.  I met her when she was born.  Close with her parents, she came into our lives and I came around often to see her, hear her sing songs, attended birthday parties, and I felt like family…  Then I moved away.  Visits became longer between, but my heart loved her the same.  And now, she’s off to a new life in a new place, ready to share her amazing heart with a new lucky group of people.  Blessed to have some time with her again as a beautiful young lady, dreaming big, as all of us should.  And excited for her and even more for all the great life she has ahead and the heart she takes with her to love others, speak up for others, and be a voice in a community for something bigger than herself.  She’s these things.  She’s brave.  I love you Gabbie.  You are beautiful.  Stay in touch and keep dreaming big, because it can absolutely come true....
Capernaum, Alajuela, Costa Rica

Capernaum, Alajuela, Costa Rica

Here’s a few pictures from our time here with Capernaum (Special Needs) Young Life.  The kids and their leaders put on a talent show in Alajuela, Costa Rica. Jimmy, the kids and I had a beautiful time with these sweet kids, their leaders, and the community.  These  kids had rehearsed and worked toward this day for a month, and many of their parents were in the audience.  It was such a great day.  While we were around these kids we were struck by how free, courageous and joyful they were.  We learned a lot this day.  ...
Beautiful Anissa

Beautiful Anissa

Beauty & Boldness follow this girl wherever she goes.  She’s a crazy mix of mischief, love, spirited humor, all smiles, laughter, boldness, honesty even when it’s hard & so many other things that will indeed lead her to great places. Five years ago, God blessed me when I met her.  Through all things it has been my deep joy to know her.  I love you sweet girl.    Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus...
Katie Kime

Katie Kime

  Can’t think of anyone I’d rather trek around Austin with.  The Beautiful Katie Kime.  Her designs are lovely as she is.  Look her up!...
ACF Northwest Baptism

ACF Northwest Baptism

Recently, many gathered at an ACF family’s home and watched as 4 kids demonstrated something big in their lives.  A friend of mine said it’s like demonstrating to the world something that’s already taken place in you. I so enjoyed being a part of it, and am super excited about the new lives these kids began in Jesus.  DNow is this weekend, and many kids around Austin will be spending the weekend learning to be the feet and hands of Christ in their schools and communities.  They’ll learn more about what following can really look like:  Freedom from the things that entangle us, Beautiful Joy, and  Real Love.  For more DNow information click here: http://acfellowship.org/northwest/students/nw-students/dnow-2013/  ...
Fellow Photographer & Friend.

Fellow Photographer & Friend.

Recently at EAST, East Austin Studio Tour, many of my friends had their work displayed at Soma Vida on Rosewood.  I believe some of it will continue to hang until the end of the year.  If you get a chance, go by and check some of it out. One of the photographers, Sarah, had some amazing pieces from Alaska, Guatemala, and other various travels.  She and I headed out one day and I was blessed to enjoy dinner, and a quick shoot for some shots of her.  Here’s a few.  To check out her work,...