I am a photographer and I love it.

I have a hit-counter on my blog.  Who doesn't?  It's the best though - I can see every single person who comes onto my blog, how they got there, how long they stayed and how often the return!  Pretty cool :D

Well.  The day before I left for Jamaica, I saw that someone had googled "I am a photographer and I love it."  Interesting google search, huh? 

Somehow those key-words fit my blog best!  Right over Zack Arias of OneLight fame.  I thought that was pretty fun! As I finished packing my flip-flops and stuffing another pink dress into my suit (just in!) case, I thought about that sentence.  I am a photographer and I really do love it.  Most people don't get to love their job like this.
(Haha I am also turning into a beast corsage-pinner.  I'm gonna start charging the big dollars... and make a blog about it ;D)

I'm sitting here right now listening to live music, while big palm fans spin over my head.  I can't see the ocean, but if I wanted to, I could get up and see it.  I'm in Jamaica for goodness sakes!  What a job!  I love my job locally too - see how happy I am getting onto the merry-go-round?

See my grinning like an idiot on the merry-go-round?
See me doing my job on the merry-go-round?

See me getting in trouble with the merry-go-round guy for not giving him a ticket when I got on the mery-go-round?  I was really, really excited - what can I say?

Thanks to my second shooter, Andree, for grabbing these shots of me doing my job, that I love, at Tara and Preston's wedding!  I need to go to bed so I have energy tomorrow at this fabulous destination wedding.  But I just had to blog, as a reminder to myself to be grateful.  I don't deserve to be able to do this.  It really is a gift and honor. 


Josh and Kelley {I'm Kristen - MD/DC/VA Wedding Photographer}

"Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you
Because you're mine
I walk the line"
johnny cash - walk the line

This isn't the first time Kelley has graced this blog (she's often a bridesmaid in weddings I shoot.)
And this isn't the first time I've done a shoot for Kelley (I shot their little family last year!)
But this is our first shoot of just Josh and Kelley: a 4-year-anniversary shoot!

You all know how I loooove stories.  So bear with me while I tell you my Josh&Kelley stories.
Kelley was my literature teacher all through highschool.  I believe it was during 10th grade that she started going out with Josh.

I was at church, and one of  my classmates and I were talking in the lobby.
"Oh my gosh, did you hear about Kelley?"
"Noooo! What happened?!"
"She has a boyfriend."

I scanned the room for her, and quickly found her in little black heels, cute jeans and black top (aka: so cool).  I gushed like the nerdy-but-hopeless-romantic-sophomore that I was and asked all about it.  She smiled and showed me a picture and told me his name.  Oh siiiigh. How sweet!

Skip forward a few months.  The blah of cold Maryland spring was upon us, and I was peeved about spending my Friday in class (I think I had senioritis really early...)  Kelley was teaching well, but the day was kind of slow and everyone was rather ho-hum.

Our class was in the basement of Kelley's house, and it wasn't strange for mailmen, neighbors and friends to drive-in and out or ring the doorbell.  This particular day, we heard a car pull-up, door open and close and footsteps walking up the driveway.  Kelley completely froze as she listened.  I honestly didn't even hear the car, because I was so used to it.  But Kelley listened, then peaked out the window, saw Josh and with a huge grin apologized to us girls as she went running out of the room.

"She's in love with him."  That's when I knew.  I still didn't even really know this guy, and Kelley isn't exactly excessively cheesy about love - so I never knew how things were going.   But I knew right there and then that she was sold. 

She glided back into the room - rosy and distracted - and the "oh-this-is-adorable" factor only increased each month.  Josh proposed in NYC a few months later, and I remember seeing them holding hands practically hopping into church.  After I saw her ring and watched them walk inside, I teared up.  She seemed so happy.  I was so happy for her.

In October 2005 they got married and their tilt-o-whirl life together began!  From surprise pregnancy news, to emerergency delivery news, to crazy job news and moving all over Maryland news, they have had quite a four years. 

I think this Alan Jackson song sums up their life so far:
"Remember when we vowed the vows
and walked the walk

Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt."

"Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart."

"Remember when the sound of little feet
Was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, and the found trust
Vowed we'd never give it up
Remember when"

Right now their "dance" is very much to little feet, tired mornings, runny-noses, regular life and an unclear future.   And they love it.   Josh just loves Kelley.  He works for her and his kids, he leads her and his kids, he sacrifices pleasure, ease and fun for the high-call of being a husband and father.

And Kelley has thrown herself into supporting her man, and raising her children.  It's not easy, it's not perfectly scripted and deliriously exciting, and that's why I love to watch them.  They are more committed then ever and it's because of something bigger then themselves.  God has been their rock from day one, and I love to see Him walk them through each and every day, step by step. 

And don't get me wrong - they aren't these gloomy, down, burdened people!  They are full of life!

I love seeing them rolling into church with their kids, smiling and talking and mingling with everyone.  I love Kelley's funny status's on Facebook, and Josh's big hearty laugh.  I love how close they are with both their families and how they go on all kinds of outings and adventures. 

I love how they really do seem more in love as the months go on. 

I remember last year at a wedding I was shooting, Josh came late as he was waiting to hear about a job.   It didn't end up working out, and I know it was hard.  Kelley ran and gave him a HUGE hug when she saw him, and told him how much she loved him and kept her arm around him the rest of the day.  It was so sweet.

Right off a movie set, I tell ya...

Josh and Kel, your marriage and love screams to the world "This is what it should be like!"  It's not perfect - it's very selfless and hard, but when you do the work, it can be completely amazing. 

I respect you both oh so much and I can't wait to see you turn old and gray together ;D

And we will close with my favorite of the day :D LOVE it!

Josh loves Johnny Cash, so this whole shoot was kind of "themed" off of that - so here is the slideshow to "Walk The Line." Enjoy!


Colin and Amanda - Annapolis Engagement Shoot

"Cupid draw back your bow
And let your arrow go
Straight to my lover's heart for me"

sam cooke - cupid

I shouldn't be allowed to get butterflies and goosebumps every time I go to work.  Or maybe I mean it should be required?  I don't know.  Basically, my job is amazing.  And it gives me butterflies and goosebumps. 

Let's take Amanda and Collin, for example.  I met them right on the water for their engagement shoot in Annapolis.  They had me from hello - gosh, they were so fun.  First of all, they live in North Carolina - that state contains some of the sweetest people I've ever met.  Goodness.  Second, they've known each other since they were seven - adorable.

Third, the sun was just radiantly glorious.  I loved all the marshmallow-dessert-pink clouds smoothly covering the navy and Tiffany-blue sky.  I loved how the sun splashed onto every surface, which coated everything in the harbor - from the brave, wooden boats to Amanda's adorable eyes.

Being in Annapolis at 4:30 pm on a weekday, meant that we had the whole place to ourselves.  We could hear the gentle moans of the boats lining the dock, the clinks of the chains that kept them from exploring the wild blue yonder.  But mostly all we heard were the echoes of all of our laughter.  Like a toddler running wild through an elegant antique shop, so were we as we laughed, danced and paraded about the city.

Me: "Soo, do you think you are allowed on that boat?"
Collin: "Um, probably not."
Me: "Hmm..."
Collin: "Should we just do it anyway?"
Me: Of course.
(Amanda: Laughs in the background the whole time)
Don't worry - we nailed it.

Within minutes of our rule-break, the sky turned dark and there was almost a yellow-green light draping the city. With the sunlight rapidly disappearing, Amanda and Collin played on...

If you don't have a taste of these two yet, let me expound further.  They are delightful and wonderful.  Collin is a gentle man and a gentleman.  There's a difference? Yes.  He is gentle, careful and kind in his tone, but he is still very manly.  A gentle man.  He is also gentlemanly - holding doors, checking for cars, making sure the girls are taken care of.  Amanda, you found a good one :D

And Collin?  You have a completely amazing woman engaged to you.  She is fantastic.  Amanda is lovely, happy and so in love with you :D  I love how she just smiles and smiles and smiles - with her whole face!

You guys have a hysterical sense of humor.
Me: "Ok, give her a quick kiss!
Collin: "How about a lick?"
Amanda: "Eeeeew!"

You both really make being together seem so easy and pure fun.  I know relationships are hard-work, and very serious, but I hope that I can just have as much fun with my fiancee as you two do together!

Big squeezes are the best kind. Can I get an 'amen'?!

See what I mean? Ugh they are so cute and fuuuun!  Also, notice that these pictures get darker and darker... yeah, the sky was not cool with a photoshoot.  It tried to ruin our plans and turn-off our light.

I knew it was going to rain.  Actually, I knew it was going to pour.  We had to work fast - and we did! 

But not fast enough.  During these shots, the rain started coming down hard!  I ran onto the porch, while they booked it across the street (leaves were spinning in the air, clouds were rolling in the sky, there wasn't another person in sight.  So romantic)

I wanted to get inside, but I loved the atmosphere too much to bail on it.  Amanda and Collin were AMAZing and let me get some windy rain shots.  I loved how they turned out

Then we ran fast back to the pier, where we grabbed a few more shots inside an Italian cafe, and called it a day :D

Rain made Amanda look so pretty (and not like a "drowned rat," thank you very much.)

Yeah, I guess we can close on that note.  Good? Good.

Collin and Amanda, I had a BLAST with you!  I'm thrilled that I get to be your photographer and that I get to spend a rainy afternoon with you :D 


Brewer Family Shoot {I'm Kristen - MD/DC/VA Photographer}

"these are some good times
so take a good look around,

you're gonna miss this."
trace adkins

I think I was in middle school when Dave become a youth pastor at my church.  I remember the night really well - I felt very out of place.  I wasn't exactly a cool kid and the highschoolers scared me BIG time.  And I had no idea who "Dave and Jen Brewer" were, but they seemed fun. We all clapped and welcomed Dave to the group.

Dave was a highschool teacher, Jen was a fabulous highschool athlete and they met in highschool, so I guess it works well for Dave to be a highschool youth pastor!  I always thought they were a great couple and I even remember the first time they "knew" who I was and said "Hey Kristen!" I was like "Yes. Score. They know me." haha I told you I wasn't very cool ;D

And soon this great couple turned into a great family :D  I remember each time Jen was pregnant, and all of us highschoolers loved to guess what she was having, and talk about names, etc.  Needless to say, this family has a special place in my heart.

Even though I'm a few  years out of highschool, I think I see them more then I did while I was!  I love going to youth events and seeing little Brewer children running down the halls, while calm, steady Jen looks on and Dave, like, I don't know, throws balls at them. Basically they are a loud, happy, fun family and I love it!

For two years I helped on a team that ran and organized the youth events and I was constantly teased by Dave and other guys about being "Kristen LAY PHOTOgraphy dot BLOG spot DOT com" and they'd mock me about treasuring moments. Someone was always bound to yell "Kristen! Did you see that? Did you capture the moment?" All in good humor of course...

It was fun times but I have to say, I was pretty honored they wanted me to really do a shoot with them ;D  They are honestly such a down-to-earth, enjoyable family.  And I love them!

This actually is the second time they have been on the blog.  Once when I baby-sat I grabbed some shots of the kids.  You may remember the story of Sarah, and how she had cancer in 2008.  I remember that horrible-sick-to-your-stomach feeling I had when I found out, and I also remember how amazed I was with the peace and hope the Brewer's had. 

And happily, Sarah is doing great!  There are still some side-effects she is fighting, but she's alive and well!

As much as I love Sarah, I really love the other kids too.  Caleb (the only boy) is such a funny little guy.  He has some of the best one-liners you will ever hear.  He's one of those kids that makes you say "How did you come up with that?!" haha He's pretty awesome :D

Alethea and Mikaela  are great too.  They are such good big sisters.  Alethea is more on the quiet side and loves to read, and Mik is very bold and loves to run around!  It's so sweet how their different personalities work so well in their dear little friendship.

Hello big girl!  She really grew-up this year.  I don't know when it happened, but goodness gracious, she turned into such a big girl!

Oh I love her.

Dave and Jen, thanks for coming out for the shoot!  And more than that, thanks for teasing me, laughing with me, listening to me and being such good friends.  And so sorry the whole couch-in-the-woods thing didn't work out this year ;D

Enjoy the slideshow!