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Connecting | by +Krista

A few years ago, I came across this really awesome (and very poignant) quote- I found it (or it found me) at a time when my life was essentially flipped upside down. I was questioning things a lot: where I was, where I was going, and who I’d chosen to surround myself with. And then, I found it. I’d like to say it was scrawled someplace significant but it was probably doodled on the inside of a college textbook or something… but it basically slapped me in the face: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.” And wow. It was exactly the lightbulb moment I needed. And while I’ve stumbled and backslid a few times since, that saying is now always in the back of my mind, like the good advice I don’t always follow but do always remember- eventually. Because life is about connections. Like photography.

It’s easy to snap a picture of something pretty. There’s pretty stuff all around us- a sunset, a bunch of flowers, whatever. But the challenge of creating lies in making something a little bit (okay, a LOT) better than something that’d hang on the wall in a hotel room- and the best challenge of all is connecting. With a face: eyes locked, betraying the mind. With a moment: head thrown back in mid-laugh, shoes kicking up in the air. Or with a place: connecting so well that you’d swear you could pull a Mary Poppins and be inside that place in an instant. The connection is what I love most about photography- connecting with the camera, with another person, anything.

I find myself, especially at weddings, dropping my camera down from my face for just a moment during the first dance- because I love watching that connection between people in love. I sometimes hide around the corner of my living room hallway, watching my daughters and their own little connection: sisterly, fiery, loyal and loving- I stifle my laughter when my Little One fights back against her big sister’s bossiness with a bite. The connections in life- no matter how meaningful or superficial- are what make us.

And I’ve had lots of connections. I still wonder about some- as in, what the HELL was I thinking?- and I miss some. Regret some. Hold onto some. Let go of others. (Sometimes multiple times.) Every single connection really can be divided neatly into a category: season, reason, lifetime. I literally have a photographic memory- a blessing and a curse- and forever have those connections, no matter who they were or why they were, ingrained into my mind. And into my photography too. And that. is. awesome.

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.

HP + Glynn Preview

From the very beginning, Leah and I set out to attract clients that we like working with. We share a lot of ourselves online – and one of the main reasons is so that clients get a feeling of who we are as people – and not simply photographers. We tell our Interns that you shouldn’t try to compete on photos alone, or by simply charging the lowest rates.

Once you feel like your photos are up to par, you should compete by attracting clients who get what you’re all about.

Heather found us through our write up on Offbeat Bride – and never looked back. Nevermind the fact that at the time we had only photographed two weddings, had been in business for about 6 months, AND the part where she lives in the small town of Valparaiso, Indiana (Valpo!) and we live in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the past year we’ve been able to build this business with lots of help from many people who simply took a leap of faith to hire us.

Heather was not only our first out-of-town booking, but our first out-of-state booking. Every wedding photographer says they’re ‘available for travel’ – but making that leap from local weddings to being flown out of state can be elusive. We weren’t expecting to book so many weddings up and down the east coast, but once Heather hired us – it’s like the dam broke and all of a sudden we were booked for Massachusetts, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina, and more…

Our time with Heather & Glynn was also a little different because we actually stayed with Heather & Glynn at their house. I know. Who does that?

I blame it on my being a bit naive at first – and offering to save them some money by giving them the option of boarding us instead of paying for our hotel room. Hey – if you’ve ever been backpacking in a foreign country and made friends with people who invited you into their home, this doesn’t seem so strange. Except we’re in America and Americans have a very difficult time accepting such behavior from relatively complete strangers.

So after realizing what I had done, we decided to just trust that Heather & Glynn were the type of clients that we wanted, and everything would be great.

And they were, and it was.

After Heather booked us, I decided that from then on it was probably better to just always stay in a hotel instead of with the family. So I knew this trip would definitely be unique – and we would be spending much more time than usual with the bride and groom and their family. So of course, we photographed everything.

And hey – did you know that Leah’s pretty great at wrapping ribbon around the bouquet stems? See?!

And babysitting!

Yeah. We’re kind of all purpose photographers. Need help planning out your ceremony? Check. Need help with the ceremony seating layout? Check. (Of course, we’re partly responsible for the ‘theater-in-the-round’ setup for their ceremony as you will see later when the official photos get posted. Hey, Leah and I both did theater alright?!)

This window areas is in their home! And hey – you know about us + light.

Thank you. | Atlanta Photographers | Travel. Indiana. Weddings.