Browsing Category


Kristen + Martin | Las Vegas Destination Wedding

Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer;

I’ve literally known Kristen for something like 47 years – so it was a real honor to be there to photograph her destination wedding with Martin – IN LAS VEGAS, NEVADA! We (me and Kristen) grew up in Phoenix – so Las Vegas was never very far – but I actually haven’t ever photographed a wedding there – until now!

Kristen is actually one of my oldest friends (because you know – I don’t have many friends and that’s a whole other story) so… I honestly would’ve attended the wedding anyway – even if she hadn’t hired me to be her photographer 😉

Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer;

BUT – if you’ve ever heard me talk about it – I would always rather be photographing a friend’s wedding than simply attend it. Because come on! If I’m photographing the wedding then I get to hangout with the couple ALL DAY LONG. Not only that – but I get to pull them away from people, I get their attention, ME ME ME ME. Right? ha.

Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer;   Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer;  Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer;  Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer; Las Vegas; Destination Wedding; Hartland Mansion; Golden Nugget Hotel; Fremont Street Experience; Atlanta; Wedding; Photographer;

Compared to if I just attend the wedding – sure I get to eat the food and party and stuff – but I maybe get 3-8 minutes talking to the couple. And that’s cool…. BUT NOT AS COOL AS BEING THEIR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER!

Las Vegas, Nevada Destination Wedding Photographer

Insert Photos

It was only a few months earlier that I photographed Kristen’s sister’s wedding (Melissa + Dan) down in Phoenix, Az. – so it was also an added bonus of getting to hangout with her family twice in a short span of a few months. And any wedding photographer will tell you that it’s always great to hangout with clients that you already know. Because… you really do end up feeling like a part of the family. We stayed at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino – and their wedding took place at The Hartland Mansion and Wedding Chapel. Now that venue – it’s… all kinds of amazing. A total ‘Classic Vegas’ vibe circa Elvis circa Liberace feel – complete with lots and lots of candelabras…

Of course – being an Atlanta Wedding Photographer – it was a real treat to be able to fly out and photograph something a little different than what I’m used to – specifically photos on Las Vegas at night time! After their wedding we headed over a few blocks to Fremont street for the Fremont Street Experience (which is like… day time at night) – so lots of lights, lots of loud music, lots of drunk and not drunk people – you know – downtown Las Vegas. And that’s where we did another portrait session with the two of them because come on – when you have a destination wedding in Las Vegas – you NEED those night time portrait session photos right? Or else it’s just… desert photos, or casino photos or… IDK – but it seems like any wedding set wouldn’t be complete without some night time photos with all the lights and the lights and the lights. Did I mention the lights?

Kristen and Martin – You. Are. Awesome.


Wedding Photography: LeahAndMark & Co.

Videography: Indie March Film

Venue: The Hartland Mansion


Atlanta Wedding Photographer. Las Vegas, NV. Hartland Mansion. Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino. Destination Wedding.


This Post is about Destination Weddings in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Destination Weddings are awesome! Well – they can be awesome.

But where do you begin?

I don’t know either – but here’s what I know – if you’re looking to cut down on the number of people attending your wedding… HAVE A DESTINATION WEDDING.

Basically – make sure that the people you REALLY want at your wedding, can attended/fly/make it there – and then everyone else… they’re on their own man. And most of them won’t be able to make it. Seriously. Work peoples? Ha. Someone has to stay behind while you’re away on a beach. Lame relatives? They’re lame so they were probably only coming for the free food and drinks AND they weren’t going to give you a good gift anyway.

Best friends? Of course they’ll be there. THEY WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. (unless they’re preggers or something – that’s an alright excuse.)

Oh – and here’s a PRO TIP – don’t invite anyone that will make the trip all about them – and not all about you guys getting married.

Because F*ck that.

Oh yeah. I should probably include some actual tips on how to have a destination wedding in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (like the title of this post suggests.)

Well – first check out this video from Cassi & Nick’s wedding!

SO. Tips.

1. Work with a travel agency/operator. 

Sure you can piece everything together – but NO. Don’t do that. Get help. A travel agency is especially helpful for your guests – because the agency will do all of the organizing and then all you have to do is check up on things. Who’s booked their trip, who hasn’t – stuff like that. But you don’t have to do any of the flights/hotels/airport transfer organizing.

2. Be available to your guests.

You are basically inviting them on vacation with you. SO HAVE A VACATION WITH THEM. Especially if it’s a few days/week of time. Don’t hide in your room. Spend time with everyone you invited. Whether that’s a planned dinner/lunch every day or taking over a corner of the pool (or a whole pool). Don’t leave anyone out – even the introverts. (but you’re not their butler/doormat/ concierge either.)

3. Arrive a few days before your wedding day and leave a few days after your wedding day. 

You get a few days to start relaxing before your wedding – and then a few days after to party!

4. Decide on how much you actually care about your wedding photos. 

Your options are basically – hire the resort photographer, or bring your own. Obviously bringing your own is going to cost you way more money – but the photos will be WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY MORE. More better. More awesome. More everything. It’s not a bad choice to take a chance with the resort photographer – if you don’t give any fucks about your wedding photos.


Look. If you’re having a destination wedding and you’re not having any fun – then that’s actually a REALLY BAD THING. Because dammit – not having fun at your big fancy wedding ‘back home’ was exactly what you were trying to avoid by having a destination wedding with fewer people. So SOMETHING IS WRONG IF YOU’RE NOT HAVING FUN. Fix whatever that is ASAP. Kill it. Squash it. Send that person home. Whatever it takes. Don’t put up with it.

6. If you’re having your wedding down in Playa del Carmen – hire this lady and rent all of your decor from her instead of having the hotel do it, and instead of flying down 10 suitcases full of decorations.

DSC_4228-2Playa Del Carmen | Mexico | Destination Wedding | Cancun | LeahAndMark & Co.DSC_5093Wedding-Grooms-Suits-001DSC_5118Playa Del Carmen | Mexico | Destination Wedding | Cancun | LeahAndMark & Co.DSC_5438Playa Del Carmen | Mexico | Destination Wedding | Cancun | LeahAndMark & Co.

Playa Del Carmen. Wedding. Destination. Mexico. Riviera. Cancun. Tips. How to. Planning. Video.

Wish you were here! | by +Krisandra

Get ready! A post about how awesome my vacation was! Yep, I am going to post photos from my vacation. No models, no wedding, no babies… none of that! Just pure tourist type photos (ok, there are a couple people here and there). You know the photos that have “wish you were here” written across the top. Yea, those.


I am the girl who at 30 something years old took her first vacation, a real vacation. The type of vacation where my only worry was if my flip flop was going to get washed away by a wave that surprised attacked me.

My boyfriend and I traveled 10 hours to the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX) where we met up with a group of friends. And yes, I vacationed right as wedding season started. Why? Well, because at the beach it’s still considered “off season” and we got a great deal on a beach house! Although, this was not my first time in OBX. Last year I traveled to the same beach house to celebrate and photograph the wedding of one of my very best friends. You may have seen this image before.


But this time it was about collecting 10 lbs of seashells, flying a kite, reading a book, falling asleep poolside, watching sunrises, searching for sea glass, seeing a rainbow over the ocean, baking… actually relaxing! *see my instagram

I toured the Nags Head Fishing Pier.


I toured Jennette’s Pier.


And my big bucket list day trip to Rodanthe! Yep, from the Nicholas Sparks book turned into movie, Nights in Rodanthe. My girlfriends and I drove the hour to Rodanthe, North Carolina on the same path Richard Gere took in the movie to see the house, “Serendipity”! Although the house is not in its original location (it was moved a few blocks after the hurricane last year, yes they moved the whole house) it is still just as breathtaking as ever. Yea, yea, I like romance movies.


We stopped by the Rodanthe Pier on Hatteras Island. The pier was also in the movie. Even though it was still being re-built from the hurricane and quite wobbly we as far out on it as possible.

On the way back from Rodanthe we passed the Bodie Lighthouse. It’s pronounced like Body. Next year we plan to climb the 10 flights to the top. Told you these images are the stuff postcards are made from.

If you follow my *instagram or facebook then you have seen my week long journey, but if you don’t I highly suggest you should. Otherwise you might miss some pretty amazing stuff!

But, I am back refreshed inspired and ready to go! OBX, you haven’t seen the last of us! Countdown to OBX ’14 has begun.


Until then….

MacKenzie & Ryan | by +Krista

Through my journey with everything I’ve done and everywhere I’ve been this year, I’ve met a lot of people. A LOT OF PEOPLE. A LOT OF REALLY AWESOME PEOPLE. Amazingly talented, artistic, funny, kind people- honestly, the gaggle of people that have come into my life this year are unlike any others I’ve ever known. Clients. Brides. Grooms. Families. Friends. Children. Performers. Artists. And most of all, fellow photographers from every far-flung corner imaginable… and some that went to high school right down the street from me.

Paralee is kind of a legend. She was the very first Intern- ever- and everyone who knows her thinks she’s the sweetest thing in existence. And so, when I got an email out of the blue from this Very Famous Paralee, asking if I’d like to partner up with her on a wedding in Savannah, I felt like I was entering this new level of being a photographer. My internship may be a thing of the past, but the challenge of what I’m doing never ends- and it’s never going to– and the idea of doing something OTHER than either second-shooting or lead-shooting, but instead, truly building a partnership for a wedding, almost literally split right down the middle, well, I was intrigued- I’d never photographed a wedding that way before. That, and I was thrilled and honored to work with Paralee.

The wedding was lovely. The weekend was lovely. The bride and her family, whom we stayed with in an incredible house right on the beach on Tybee Island, were lovely. The groom and the families and the friends and the beach and the entire three days… just lovely. Really. There was a lot of loveliness going on. The bride’s sister walked her down the aisle. There were fabulous yellow cardigans involved. From a First Look on the beach… ON THE BEACH… to a dock-side ceremony right on the bayou… to the envitable shrimp and grits as synonymous to Savannah as the Spanish moss that I miss again already… it was all just perfect. And fun. And romantic. And… lovely. It’s weddings like these that make me want to get married all over again- to my husband again of course- he humors the shrimp and grits thing so I think I’ll keep him.

Thank you to MacKenzie and Ryan and your families for everything- for opening your home to us and welcoming us so warmly into your family for the weekend. And I made a new friend out of the weekend- Paralee, thank you for everything and I’ll see you at the next one!

Atlanta. Wedding. Photographer. Savannah. Tybee. Beach.

My Kind of Town | by +Krista

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been sort of busy: and the best kind of busy at that: busy traveling! When I started the LeahAndMark internship a million years ago- and even more so when I officially joined the LeahAndMark family a few months later- I knew I’d probably stay busy. (Which is awesome and kind of my thing- I just prefer to stay busy. Also. I prefer having an excuse as to why I’m always behind on laundry.) Busy, yes. Traveling, I only hoped. (Because guess what? Traveling is kind of my other thing.) And this summer, I checked off two cities I’d always hoped I’d get to see: Boston and Chicago. And I’ve even been able to see places I hadn’t necessarily thought to include on my list- places like Iowa. Because guess what again? Iowa is surprisingly beautiful. Says the city girl who prefers crowds to clouds.

I’d always pictured Iowa as huge farmland, stretching as far as you could see in all directions. Yellow fields. Blue skies. Barns and farmhouses and horses. And corn. Lots and lots of corn.

So after Mark and I landed in Chicago, zipped into downtown, and Instagrammed atop the Sears/ Willis Tower (because we’re photographers and we Instagram- true artists of our craft), we drove across Illinois and into Iowa.

Driving, I realized that what I’d imagined Iowa to look like was, in fact, completely true. Really. Farmland for miles and miles, in every direction around you. Blue skies. Yellow fields. (Soybeans!) And yes- there’s a lot of corn. But it’s beautiful and actually took my breath away. Easily in the top five of the most beautiful places my eyes have ever seen.




It’s funny. As a photographer, you know you’re going to learn something new every single day. Sometimes it’s a new lighting technique. A shortcut in your editing maybe. Sometimes you learn about the perks of flying first class. (Twice! Thanks, Mark!) Or sometimes, you learn that, as much as you may love one thing (a place, a city, a favorite bench in the park), beauty is unexpectedly hiding in places and things you’d never really thought about before. And adventure is hiding too. You just have to be open to discovering/ seeing/ experiencing new things. New places. New moments. New adventures.

If I kept myself closed off, I’d miss so much. SO MUCH. Life. Family. Marriage and babies an houses and vacations. Traveling. Adventure. Lessons and mistakes. Places. Cities. Fields of yellow soybeans pressed against perfect blue skies. Mimosas in first class. And shooting these amazing, beautiful weddings that continue to take my breath away.

Atlanta. Wedding. Photographer. Chicago. Iowa. Travel.

Shipping Up to Boston | by +Krista

Weddings are awesome. I know, I know. As a photographer, I’m sort of supposed to say that. But it’s true- and not [only] for the obvious reasons. Sure, weddings are fun: full of dancing and champagne and family. Big, happy celebrations of finding love and throwing a party. But as a photographer, they’re also a continuous challenge to shoot better, create better, be better. And I do love me a challenge. It’s why weddings feel like such a good fit for me.

I’ve actually been lucky enough to second-shoot weddings with Mark pretty often since my LeahAndMark adventure began eight months ago- awesome locations all over Atlanta and even my first out-of-state wedding in Indiana earlier this summer. But a few weeks ago, my adventures got stepped up a notch when Mark and I flew to Boston to shoot a wedding at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Um. AWESOME.

See, I have this thing for traveling, no matter how far- (or close-) flung those travels may be. I love packing. I even love airports. Seriously, even in hours-long lines at TSA checkpoints, I’ve got a ridiculous smile on my face. Take my shoes off? YES! LOVE TO! Search my bag full of underwear in front of a hundred people? GO RIGHT AHEAD, I’M FLYING SOMEWHERE! And traveling with Mark can be quite glamorous: Delta Gold status and pre-boarding perks. (Though no champagne and hot towels this trip- next time, I say.) When we landed in Boston, Mark humored my giddiness from being someplace new and we drove into the heart of the city and had lunch, real Bahstan style, at Quincy Market. Like a true tourist, I bought souvenirs and bombarded my husband back home with a constant stream of cell phone pictures. Then we drove down into Connecticut. I saw exit signs for New York City (which made me ridiculously happy), and I discovered that Mark is a serial radio channel surfer. Oh. And we drove right through a tornado warning, in Northern Connecticut. Because apparently, we bring so much Awesome with us to these weddings, even the skies spontanteously combust into Awesomeness. Or scariness. Something.

Whenever I shoot a wedding, whether I’m second-shooting with Mark or running the show myself, the whole day becomes a constant quest to do better than I’ve ever done before. I owe that to my clients, to my boss, to myself. I sprawl across the floor. I sprint from one end of the venue to the other. (Repeatedly. And again. And again.) I climb on things. I can’t just sit back timidly and wait for the shots to happen in front of me. I have to anticipate them. Be two steps ahead, to catch them before they’re gone again. And, as I’ve learned from the moment I set foot in our old Goat Farm studio back in January, I have to make them. Being a photographer isn’t just about catching moments as they unfold before your eyes. It’s about MAKING photos that tell you- immerse you- in those moments. And while most weddings follow the same loose formula: flowers, vows, the kiss, and cake (cake!), everything else is different. Different moments, different dynamics. And it’s my job to make something different every single time I shoot a wedding. Or anything. It’s the best part about my job, which is saying a lot- I mean, I seriously have a job that lets me travel AND lets me get to know people on such an amazingly personal level. And I get wine. If that’s not winning, I don’t know what is.

Thank you to Mark, for thinking enough of me to take me along. It’s a big deal each and every time I’m asked to work alongside someone at a wedding- you have to have faith that that person, as Mark puts it, doesn’t suck. So thank you. You’re awesome.

 Atlanta. Boston. Wedding. Photographer. LeahAndMark. You. Are. Awesome.

Summertime | by +Krista

There is probably no more obnoxious class of citizen, taken end for end, than the returning vacationist. You know the type- struggling to readjust to reality, where no one brings you frosty pink drinks, your shoes are no longer filled with sand, and the fabulous beachy hair is a thing of the past. This week, that type is me. Don’t judge. You’ve been there too: bitten by the vacation bug and on a quest to dig your toes in the sand, curl up with a good book, and just be away

So last week, in our efforts to pass our own vacation bugs onto our children (and because it’s just really hot here lately), we packed our car to the brim- overflowing with floaties and swimmies and the fixings for piña coladas- and drove to the beach. The Gulf Coast, to be specific. The very same beach I grew up going to every summer: sugar white sand and the best seafood (period), standing on your toes and straining to see Mexico across the water. I could write love stories about the Gulf. Poetry. Novels. Instead, I blast Sublime with my windows rolled down and revel in the cliché. Because I’m at the beach. On vacation. Bring it on.

Since having kids, our trip down the beach is completely different every summer. It’s the evolution of my children’s personalities, their ages, the let’s-eat-sand quotient that tapers off around two. Last summer, our Little One was eight weeks old. (That’s how serious we take vacations around here. Eight weeks old, no sleep in sight? To the beach!) This summer was the best yet: my older daughter is at last old enough to want to concentrate on the intricate seashell details of her sand castle for hours on end and my youngest is content to literally just sit in the sand and hold a shovel. It was awesome. Here. Hold this shovel for five hours.

And so for our week at the beach, a week that passed much too quickly, we just relaxed. (Well. As much as you can with two kids, which surprisingly, was a lot more than we’d anticipated.) I kept a constant supply of Sangria at our fingertips. We played miniature golf. We ate like kings. We had dinner rolls, literally as big as my kid’s head, thrown at us from across a restaurant. We drank more Sangria. We slept in. We collected seashells and flew kites and indulged in world-class people watching from behind our shades. (It’s no Venice Beach, but it’s certainly interesting.) We took our four-year-old on her very first rollercoaster (and didn’t scar her for life too much).

Oh, and hey. We even spent a day in Pensacola at the Naval Aviation museum- and saw a Blue Angels “practice” show. (But really, it sort of blows “practice” out of the water. They break the sound barrier. Sonic booms. Crazy maneuvers and flying in formation. Amazing.)

Just like with our mountain trip last month, I didn’t worry too much about my camera. I used my DSLR. I fought with my point-and-shoot. I snapped pictures with my camera phone. Whatever. It wasn’t a wedding- it was vacation… and it was lovely. Sure, I still intuitively frame things in my mind every single moment of the day. And yes, I bribe my children into cooperating for just one more picture… Aaaaand sometimes bribery works out better than other times.

But the beach. It was a perfect week. No sharks. Lots of oysters. (On my dinner plate. Not in the ocean.) Endless “Summer Rental” movie quote wars between the Husband and me. (Click it. You know you want to.) My parents came down for the last part of the week, and it was the best déjà vu to watch my dad with my daughter, running straight into the ocean like two peas in a pod- just like he did with my brother and me when we were kids. Awesome, perfect week. Also. The French are onto something, guys. Thirty days of guaranteed vacation time every year? Sign me up. I’d totally wear a beret for that.

 There is probably no more obnoxious class of citizen, taken end for end, than the returning vacationist. ~Robert Benchley

Paddle Faster

About a million years ago, when I was applying for the LeahAndMark internship, I kept seeing the same foreshadowing sentence everywhere I turned: “You’re going to shoot more in the next three months than you’ve probably ever shot in your life.” And, because Mark is [almost] always right, I did. In the three months during my internship, I blogged 27 different shoots. (Stickler that I am, that didn’t include two more shoots + one wedding that I never blogged, simply because the end of the internship happened SO. FREAKING. FAST.) But then Leah and Mark bestowed Plusdom upon me, not to mention some of the best advice ever (“shoot a lot. then shoot more.”), and I’ve stayed crazily/ dizzily/ awesomely busy ever since. I like staying busy. It’s sort of my thing.

But last week, I took a week off. (Well. Aside from shooting a Yelp event and being spoiled with amazing Mexican food.) And to celebrate, my husband and I did the Babysitter Shuffle, packed our water shoes and blackjack chips, and spent a kid-free weekend away with our friends in the mountains.

We ate too much (shrimp and grits and snails and tails), drank too much (dear pinot noir, i love you), and gambled our tiny young parents’ casino budget away (dear blackjack, i love you anyway). I directed the Road Trip Crawl: “Hey! Antique shop. Need to stop!” … “Fruit stand! PEACHES! Buy local!” … “STOOOOP! Apple butter!”. And most of all, I nervously anticipated the main purpose of our trip: rafting down the Nantahala River.

You should know that I’m probably not a very outdoorsy gal. Or at the very least, not a mountain-y gal. I grew up spending summers at the beach and the rest of the year dreaming of a big city life in New York or Paris. The idea of careening down a river in an inflatable raft, my face at the mercy of the river currents and bone-crushing rocks all around, has not been my idea of a good time since… ever. But. If nothing else, the last few years of my life have taught me to jump in and experience life like never before. So I did- literally. Though with a lifejacket of course. Safety first, kids. We rafted with an outfitter called Rolling Thunder River Company and they were amazing. (And also, possibly nicknamed the Thunder Gods.)

We went rafting down the Nantahala on the most perfect Saturday morning we could’ve asked for. Seriously, blue skies and rainbows perfect. I’d been silently (and not so silently) freaking out every time I thought about what was ahead of me, and I sort of almost peed myself when it was finally time to climb in that raft and, ya know, RAFT DOWN THE RIVER. So we get in the raft. And I’m okay. I’m just sitting there, really. Bobbing around a little bit with the river. Paddling like I actually know what I’m doing. Telling myself that if the eight-year-old kid in front of me can do this, surely I can too. And looking up and realizing, “hey. this is kind of beautiful.” And it was. My biggest regret of the weekend was that I didn’t bring a disposable water camera with me while rafting. (Photographer’s shame, I know.) It was SO beautiful. Perfect blue sky, mountain laurel on either side of us, fog hovering above the water, hummingbirds flying right above our heads. Amazing.

   Then, just like that, we’d gone seven miles down the Nantahala and our guide started with the instructions and reminders about, oh, not drowning: “Lock in your feet now. And you’re going to stay locked in for the rest of the way down. Got it?” Um. Yikes? (Our guide’s name was Skittles. And when a dude named Skittles tells you to lock in, you damn well lock in.) The best part of my Saturday night was drinking a bottle (or three) of Pinot Noir with my girlfriend and dissecting the photos of us coming down through the falls. “Look at my face- that’s Stressed Out Krista”… “Look at Skittles paddling us- CRAZY!” … “Where is Erik going??” … “Aaaaand, that’s when Matt disappeared”. Our friend took one for the team that day but was totally fine. I survived. (Yay for not drowning!) And it was the most fun I’ve had in for.ever.

(P.S.: I promise I’m more help in a crisis that I look. My paddle was totally his lifeline.) Also. Isn’t The Husband cute? He’s making his blog debut this week. Bonus points for him for keeping me alive this weekend.

Almost as soon as we were back on the bus, heading back down to the outpost, I wanted to do it all over again. And I will. Did I mention we’d been back at the mountain house for about ten minutes when the next weekend’s planning already commenced? AWESOME. This is why I love our friends. And it’s also why, every time I look back at our pictures from the weekend, some from my DSLR, some off a point-and-shoot, and some just quick camera-phone shots I clicked off in a hurry, I’m so, so glad I did this.

Now. Where did I put that mountain wine?

Home Is Wherever I’m With You

Before joining the LeahAndMark family, there were lots of things I’d never done before. Ran a photo booth. Climbed into a rusty old school bus. Waded up to my neck in a river, camera in hand. Been to Kentucky. Well. Driven through Kentucky. I’ll call it good enough.

A few weekends ago, I piled into a [swanky] minivan with Mark, Leah, and Baby RoX and spent the weekend in Indiana, shooting my very first out-of-state wedding. This was a big deal for me. Weddings! I love weddings. Traveling! If even to Evansville, Indiana, there’s something about loading up my luggage and seeing someplace new that I get ridiculously excited about. And the big one: Leah and Mark thought enough of me to ask me along. Weeks back, when Mark asked if I’d be interested in shooting an out-of-state wedding, I danced around my kitchen in excitement before rattling off a gigantic “YES!” in our G-chat window.

So I packed my luggage, marveling at how lightly [for me] I managed to pack, mulled over how much I’d miss my girls and my husband and whether or not I was ready to leave them, left pages of phone numbers and nap schedules on our kitchen counter (just in case), and in the end, jumped in with both feet and made the trip.

Want to know what I learned over the course of the weekend? Mark never sleeps. Really, the man can successfully run on about five minutes of sleep and believes coffee to be the cure for anything, like those crazy Greeks and their Windex. Also? Leah is adorable. We all know this information, because the moment anyone meets her for the first time ever, you instantly want to give her a hug. She’s also a Gardetto’s monster and would pull out this bag of trail mix throughout the weekend like Mary Poppins, a seemingly endless supply of weird little breadsticks and pretzels and snack bits. “Ooo, Gardetto’s!” Another fact? Baby RoX is the most laidback baby in the history of EVER. I seriously heard him cry for probably a total of three minutes out of the three days we spent together. He also let me snuggle him as often as I needed to, since I was away from my own babies’ snuggles for a few days.

Oh. One more thing. Mark is a genius. Now of course he made me say that, but really, he actually sort of is. I continue to learn so much from him every single time we work together. He pushes you to keep shooting- and a lesson I’d learned from him long ago (and sometimes need to remind myself of) is to shoot, shoot, shoot… and when you feel like you’re good with what you got, GO BACK AND SHOOT MORE. Ask questions too- because internship or plusdom or the busiest wedding photographer in Atlanta, you’re always going to have questions if you’re truly intent on getting even better- but ask only the RIGHT questions. Also: there is such a thing as a perfect photographer/ client match. Mark has this incredible knack for finding the most awesome clients, achieving that match of perfection.

The importance of that match is apparent when you’re at a reception and one minute, they’re cutting the [delicious] cake and the next, the bride and groom are up on the stage, belting out “Livin’ on a Prayer” and creating these amazing moments for you to capture. I’ll never hear Bon Jovi again without smiling at the memory of that moment.

Then, after our whirlwind weekend and a quick stop at the Casino on the Ohio River [a necessity. trust me.], we were back in the car and our way home. My weekend in Indiana was actually the first time I’d been away from both my daughters and my husband at the same time. Ever. And I missed them. Oh, how I missed them. I took camera-phone pictures all weekend (because I’m a photographer and that’s how I do) of farmland and our hotel and Cracker Barrel. I talked to my daughters on the phone every chance I got. And I missed them. They’re my whole world. How could I not?

But. I’m also so glad that I went and don’t regret it for one second. I’m the type of person that thrives on being busy. On doing and going. Plus I happen to have a job that I’m completely in love with, and having something just for me is really awesome and incredibly important. Leah and I talked about this a lot over the course of the weekend: how she’s not quite ready to be away from her son just yet, and how I’ve promised her that one day soon, that readiness will come. I love my children more than I could ever describe. But kid-free vacations are AWESOME. My husband is my very best friend. But I think maintaining who we are alone has been the key to 12+ years of happy togetherness. In the end, it’s wonderful (and necessary) to see the world.

But it’s also really, really wonderful to come home.

Gabi & Marc’s Wedding by +Raven

Gabi & Marc are kind of amazing. And I seriously mean that.

They’re two of the healthiest, most positive, and genuinely fun people I’ve ever met. Hands down. They run marathons together. They cook together. They’re raising 5 amazing and uber-talented kids. They have crazy-impressive jobs {rocket scientist and a government agent!}.

And their families are unbelievable, too.

Almost every single aspect of Gabi & Marc’s wedding was lovingly handcrafted by either themselves or a family member. Marc’s daughter made their cake & cupcakes. All of the flower arrangements, including the bouquets, centerpieces, and corsages, were made by Gabi’s sisters. Her mother rolled and styled her hair. Her sister-in-law did her make-up. Her younger brothers & friends set up the reception space. Her sister helped her dress, and Marc’s youngest son helped him get ready.

Because both Gabi & Marc have children from previous marriages, they were married by the water in Annapolis, Maryland in a ceremony that not only combined the two of them, but their children, as well. Each of them spoke to the others’ children; telling them how they weren’t coming in to replace anyone, how they promised to be good, and fair step-parents, and how they love them and were so happy they were a part of their lives.

Shoot, I’m tearing up again.

Anyway, it was a gorgeous ceremony. Then there was the unique unity ceremony: the building of a rock cairn. Gabi, Marc, and their kids took turn building a pile of smooth stones, followed by everyone in attendance adding on their rocks to the pile, as well. All symbolizing the building of a strong foundation that blends the two families.

What made the biggest impression on me is how much of the entire day reflected who they are as people. From start to finish, it all spoke of their love: for nature, for their families, for each other.

They’re such fantastic people, and I’m so thankful I got to spend the day with them.

Thanks again, Gabi & Marc. You. Are. Awesome.

Mike + Beki | Engagement by + Debra

Posted by + Debra.

Hello, Hello!

It’s seems some time has passed since I last posted.  Things have been busy, we’ve all been busy.  Wedding season is in full swing, Atlanta was bursting with color (and pollen), and I have been a happy little photographer shooting weddings, head shots, babies, weddings, people in love, old friends, and new places.  Whew.  It’s been a roller coaster and I LOVE it!

Meet Beki and Mike.  Isn’t she beautiful.  Good Job Mike!


I can say that, since I have been lucky enough to know Mike since, oh man, 7th grade or so.  We went to a tiny little school together, so we’re considered old skool, and I am thrilled to know his charming and beautiful future wife Beki.  She’s a real lady, and real pretty too.

I will be shooting their wedding next month, and I cannot wait!  It’s will be like a big work slash party slash high school reunion.  Mike and Beki are really fabulous people and so obviously in love.  I am honored to be a part of their special day.  The rest is just icing on the already awesome metaphorical cake.  Wedding cake that is.

Well, as for me, things have been in a state of flux, and change, and that may be the case for some time to come.  Me and my little family moved out to the big wide open and quite lovely state of Montana for the summer.  Yip, we’re hanging out in Big Sky country and it’s a HUGE change, but it’s quiet and peaceful, and I think it’s an awesome opportunity for the summer.  I have been in cities for so long, I forgot how many stars are in the sky.  No really, there’s SO MANY.

It’s mind blowing.  I look out each night, and am in awe of the natural beauty out here.

It was interesting to fly into Atlanta to shoot a wedding with Mark, then meet up with Mike and Beki for their engagement shoot, and then shoot another super awesome wedding.  In some ways I am living my dream of being a traveling wedding photographer.  Eep!  The wierd part was going from still kinda chilly not so green Montana to uber lush and green Atlanta.  When I left Atlanta prior the Wisteria was in full bloom and my heart wept at leaving, returning just a few weeks later to the early summer green made me feel…like a visitor in my home town.  I love Atlanta and am very excited to return for the upcoming weddings this season, and I am learning to love Montana for the things yet to be discovered.

See you next week! And hai, have an AWESOME weekend!

Sunny South Africa | The Cape | + Debra

Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (15)

Posted by + Debra

Whew! So I just got home from attending the “A Practical Wedding Book Tour” in Atlanta, hosted by Young Blood Gallery and “A Wedding Day Hooray“.  I am feeling energized! It’s always a pleasure to meet funny, open minded, outspoken, and honest people.  Meg of APW is all that and a bag of chips, probably a coke too.  She had everybody in stitches with funny stories, and sage advice for the female entrepenuers. I loved how she wore a dress that could have been for an ice skater, or dancer…I half expected her to pirouette across the floor, or just as easily strap on some skates and field questions from the audience.  In attendance where were loads of awesome couples, and a fistful of Alumni Interns, and current interns, and the awesome +Raven, and Baby Rox with his wonderful mom and cool pop.  It made me all the more grateful for the wonderful people here at the family.

I really appreciated Meg’s candor, as I have also been appreciating her blog and the many people who contribute to it.  I gotta be honest, I just love anybody who can call bull$___ out in public, and say what they mean, and mean what they say, and all that jazz.  How awesome to have people telling you that your wedding doesn’t have to equal a downpayment on a house? I feel if you got and want to spend it, then good for you.  But, if your like me and “don’t got it” and don’t want to spend it, then you should be able to have your wedding day be just as special, and just as amazing.  this is of course coming from the same girl who was planning on getting married in jeans, at least up until a few hours ago (Thanks Lucy for the inspirational quip).   A very cool group of people this evening, and I can’t wait to read the book, I have a feeling it will be just as funny, honest, and candid as Meg was in person.

Ok, onward to my blog post.  This is the last installment of my trip to South Africa.  This time focused on the Cape.  Now the region of the Cape is very large, there are hundreds of small towns, and one very large city.  It is a diverse and beautiful part of the country with mountains stretching on for days, oceans going on for miles and miles, and epic sunsets every night with great people, awesome food, and amazing wine.  There is no way I could sum up the Cape in just a few blog posts, the end message is really that a country and place as amazing as South Africa can take an entire lifetime to experience.  I could spend a month in the Southern Cape and still feel like I barely scratched the surface.


Hout Bay: Home of Seal Island.  We rode a small boat out to Seal Island, and got to eat some seriously awesome amazing fish and chips.  OMG YUMMY! Really tasty fresh fish.  It was quite difficult to photograph the seals as the water was very choppy.  My trusty little Lumix did well to get at least this 1 clear shot.  Be advised, if you get seasick, you may want to skip this one.  The waves combined with the intense stench of the seals will turn even the steel lined stomach of the hardiest person.  I was a bit green, and I notoriously can handle just about anything! I absolutely loved getting to see the baby seal with the mom, and the man who cared for them.  We all cheered and such.

Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (26)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (25)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (16)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (24)Boulders Beach: Ok, ok, I have a mild obsession with arctic animals, and the only thing better than seeing flipping penguins could have been seeing polar bears.  But there were no polar bears, so the penguins definitely took the cake for my Cape Town experience.  And the only thing better than seeing penguins, was getting to swim with them.  Sit with them.  Sunbathe with them.  YES! I know right, how cool is that!! Boulders beach is a small private beach with limited entry and gives you a chance to sit, sunbathe, and SWIM with penguins.  Best morning on the beach ever.  There is a small fee, and the beach fills up quickly.  If you happen to go, go to the outskirts, it involves some climbing but gives you a very secluded morning with the penguins (eeeep! so cool!).  Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (22)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (20)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (13)Cape Point: The national park that is home of the continental tip of Africa, and surrounding bays and Capes.  It is a full afternoon, and I recommend a snack, a sweater, and some sneakers.  You will do ALOT of walking.  It is a national wildlife refuge.  The salty air is voluptuous, and hinders the growth of most plants.  Only very hardy and native plants thrive in the park.  These trees are quintessential African trees, strong, tall, and proud.  There are a few of them scattered through the park.  For the most part the horizon is flat, and both sides are flanked by the ocean, making it all the more obvious that you are approaching the tip of the continent.  It was very exciting!Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (1)It felt like the sky and ocean were one and the same here.  Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (7)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (8)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (19)In case you were wondering, the very tip of continental Africa is VERY VERY windy. We had a good laugh trying to get this self portrait of us 3.  My brother would have lost his eyes to my hair if not for his glasses.  We all scribbled on the rocks the initials of the multiple people we love, temporary markings of the time we were in that special place.  Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (21)This is the very tippy tip of Africa! The lighthouse is newish from 1918. Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (17)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (18)These ostriches were on the side of the road, and looked a mite mean.  I didn’t dare roll down the window, I swear I thought he would peck my eyes out. Ostriches are magnificent creatures, and their eggs are made into costly curios quite regularly.

Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (15)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (14)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (9)Sentinel Hill:  offers wonderful sunset views of the Cape and surrounding bays, including Table Mountain.  This evening was special in and of itself because as soon as the sun was down, you were greeted by the rising moon.  Another example of the wild, untamable beauty to be found in the Cape. Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (6)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (5)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (4)Robben Island: Island Prison 11km from Cape Town for Political Prisoners, including Nelson Mandela. Living conditions were unbearable, and many prisoners lost their eye sight working in the direct sunlight in the lime quarry.  It was bright, hot, and an incredible sparse place.  The amazing thing to remember and walk away with after visiting Robben Island is the heroic stories of how the men held captive were able to boost eachothers spirits and work on becoming educated.  They shared letters, and books, songs, and love. It is a testament to the intrinsic wealth of mankind when we turn ourselves inward and love one another despite the misfortune or fortune they might be in the midst of.  Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (10)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (11)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (12)Table Mountain: The wind and weather of Table Mountain is world renowned, almost as well known as the spectacular views.  We tried 2 times to go up the mountain only to be turned away because of the fierce winds howling down.  Wind BTW looks just like clouds.  Who knew? We did finally make it up the mountain the day I flew out of South Africa, it was the perfect last morning in Sunny South Africa.  The views were amazing, all around.  Cape Town and all surrounding areas are beyond breath taking.  Truly one of the most amazing places in the world.  Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (3)Debra Edgar | South Africa | Cape Town | (2)

– All photos taken with the Panasonic DMC ZS8 and the iPhone 3.