29.10.12

Matt | Senior Portraits | Letter To High School Students

it was rare, 
it was there i remember it 
all too well   
taylor swift - all too well
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A Quick Note To High School Students,

Your life is so much stupid, delicious, brilliant fun.   Have so much fun.  With whatever you have fun doing.  You are old enough, and real enough, to understand pain and to have worthy questions (then again, three-year-olds have splendid questions, too) and to be very, very confused.  But mostly, kids, your life is so much fun.  Some of you are lollipops - sweet and colorful and fairly simple and very hard to break.  Some of you are like bubble gum - constantly changing and easily popped and a little broken and very good.  Some of you are like dark chocolate - feeling a little too old for "this" and not sure where you fit with all these tart sweets and, well, mature beyond your years and ready to be done with high-school.  Some of you are Nerds, AirHeads and a very sour bear.  But, you're all candy... which is fantastic.  ("Um, dark chocolate is not candy."  I know, I know.)

Here's a quick thought for you: even if you're very mature, you're still only in high school.  So savor being a high-schooler.   I know, I know, I know... everyone tells you to enjoy it now! It goes by so fast!   Be content!  But be responsible!  The reality is that you're doing these fun little grown-up things like driving around town, figuring out your passions and personality, making a little bit of money and you're also doing so many little kid things like wearing braces, taking tests and not doing all your own paperwork for life (no really, go kiss your mother RIGHT NOW for all the insurance and social security and financial and tax forms she takes care of for you.)

Have fun.  And chill out.  And do what's fun to you.  Chill-ly.  If you just like to curl up alone and read - go for it.  Someday you're going to have to support yourself and pay bills and you won't be able to read this much.  Or if you're really social, go to all the concerts and all the games and all the outings.  And spend an hour or two getting ready, because you can.  Oh, I know.  You'll tell me you're so busy with homework. SO BUSY.  Figure out how to chill out, now.   But, if you really love school and learning and doing homework, and that's fun to you - go for it, kid.  Just make sure you're best friends are the zany ones.  This will help you be a balanced person.

Life gets significantly better after high school, but there is also nothing like high school.  Nothing.  And I was home-schooled ;)  Be stupid and silly and safe and fearless and annoying and sharp and wild and free.  You're finishing up kid-hood.  The ante gets higher real soon, and real fast.  The stakes rise.  No matter how mature you are now, you will see a new, deeper, hurt-ier world when you're an adult.  It's just part of growing up.  You have to fight a little harder to be wide-eyed and glowy.   Your schedule isn't predictable.  You don't have "summers-off."  You never get the freedom that you have right now ever again.  Stay up late, and flirt with your crush, and sleep-in, and, well, I don't know how to say it: do what is fun to you.  You're literally free to.  I miss it.  I never want to go to high school ever again, but my heart expands and grows teddy-bear fur when I remember it.  I loved those stupid, delicious, brilliant years.

Happy High School,
A Sentimental Newlywed Adult, Business Woman and High School Graduate
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Congratulations on your senior year, Matt.  Have fun.  

5.10.12

Where We Live | Personal

"with these hands i'm gonna build our home
if we ain't got it,
i'll make it."
dave barnes - since you said i do
When Caleb first came to Maryland in May 2011, he was planning on staying for six weeks.  The whole story is coming up soon in the Oh My My My series, so I won't tell too much right now.  BUT!  My dad hired Caleb to finish his basement (remember my parents were in Florida?  And they had someone renting their Maryland house?  Did I ever say that?  Well.  That's the story.)  While the renters lived upstairs, Caleb and my brother completed the doooownstairs.

I'd swing by with hot lunch, or coke slurpees, or just a hug.  Those first few weeks of dating were simple and special (and emotional.  I'll tell more later.)  One particular day, Caleb had a deadline (the walls needed to be painted because the carpet guys were coming Monday morning.)  It's a big hunkin' basement, and he couldn't finish it.  I came over to help him.  We painted for hours and hours.  From sun-up to sun-down.  Lots of talking, and also lots of silence.  It was hard work, but fun to do it with him.
 And then... a year after he finished the project, we moved into the most perfect, big, beautiful, best-painted "apartment" we could have dreamed of (minus the blue-leaf carpet.  But we had no say in that.  And.  If that is the only thing we can complain about? Psh.  We have it durn'good.).  Before the wedding (aka: two weeks before the wedding) Caleb and his brother installed a kitchen (thank you, Dad!).  What was going to be a small wall of cabinets turned into a 15-piece, full-fledge, ENORMOUS first kitchen for us.   
I moved into our house before Caleb did.  But I wasn't there when "the move" happened.  You see, I was in Florida with my mom and some of the kids.  We drove all the cars back up from Florida.  My dad and the boys drove the moving trucks a few days ahead of us.  Before the girl-crew made it to Maryland, Caleb and Daniel moved my stuff out of Dre + Becca's house into the new house.  This all happened the 100-degree summer week where the power went out for days... and this trip was also the trip mom, Pam and I finished and mailed out the wedding invitations from a hotel.   The week after mom had chemo.  It was a full summer.  BUT!  Within hours of arriving home, the power was back on and Caleb started hanging frames in our living room.  
All in all, this apartment has become a crucial part of our story.  Caleb literally built it with his own two hands.  It was the way he not only supported himself (and his new little girlfriend) but also the way he was able to start a business in Maryland.   It's the home I've done seven or so years of living in.  It's the home that I had to prepare to rent all by myself, and wasn't sure if I'd ever live in again.  It's the home of so many firsts for Caleb and I.   First married birthdays, first shared bedroom, first dinner party, first (and second) round of stomach bugs/poison ivy/disease, first place for Kristen Morris to ever live.  First place Caleb Morris ever came home to his wife. 
I haven't posted much about this treasure chest of a home, but I was prompted by Kristin Partin on my instagram to show "mooooore pictures!"  Our home is filled with reminders of people:  from pictures, to custom art, to gifts from literally hundreds of friends who blessed us at our wedding and receptions, to real faces who hang out with us.  Consider this an open invitation to invite yourself over and be a part of our home.  We want more memories, more stories and more love... so come come.   Welcome to the Morris Home.

ps.  Caleb has some more "Before + Afters" on his construction page!  They're fun!

1.10.12

Enjoy Weddings | Hotel Monaco + River Farm Alexandria | Amy + Nate

"i'll be bold,
as well as strong.
paint my spirit gold,
keep my heart slow."
babel - mumford & sons
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It's like my my nearly 10 years of wedding photography experience vanished.   Circling, and diligently trying to find a place to park near, Circe Hair Salon, I might as well have been 14 years old, riding in the back of a 15-passenger hunk of a van to Strong Mansion.  I might as well have been shooting my very first wedding.  My stomach and heart and blinky eyes sure didn't know the difference.  The reality is that I've shot, now, well over 100 weddings.  And I've been in four: three as a bridesmaid, and another as a bride.  Somehow going from a "Snyder" to a "Morris" left me quivery, fidgety, nervous, antsy, OCD-y, happy and wide-eyed about shooting a wedding.  I can't recall being so jittery and "anxious" before a wedding.  It was odd.  All I can say is that I "got it" now.

With a stomach full of moths and hot air balloons, Amy's wedding day began.  Amy is one of those people that you usually wish you could be like yourself, but are *slightly* jealous of because, well, you aren't.  She's easy-pretty.  She doesn't try hard and she doesn't care.  She's a stupid-smart - and from what I hear she's not only naturally brilliant, but she has an incredible work-and-study ethic, too.  She's athletic and runs with a running club in DC.  She has a stunning group of friends who are a snazzy combination of hilarious, very honest, cheerful, supportive and lovely.
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The salon was bustling and roaring, but also calm and sweet.  The girls all milled about and watched Amy get her hair done.  "You have super-model hair.  Like, it should be in commercials." "So pretty, Ame.  You're curling the ends, right?"  After her silky, commercial hair had been blown-dried out, the girls were ready to see what was next.  "No, this is it.  I'm just wearing it down."  Some thought she might trying doing something a little bit more special... perhaps one side pinned back?  Or a few waves to the ends? "What?! You don't like it?! I don't care.  I like it.  This is how I always wear my hair, but... better.  I just leave it down.  And I like it that way.  I feel clean.  I love it.  I feel healthy and clean."  Some girls wondered if it was maybe too modern for her "country" inspired wedding.  "I'm leaving it!  I like it this way!"  All the girls concluded that they did love her hair and thought it was sososo beautiful, they just wanted to make sure she loved it too.  I was so proud of Amy and couldn't help but think that that small interaction probably reflected her on a bigger-scale.  Confident.  Sure.  Determined.   Gracious.  Firm.  How else do you make it through Perdue, Lafayette and George Washington University?!
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Oh, and a scoop of sense of humor, to boot.  Amy is quick, and laughs easily and genuinely.  She's not a super-touchy, ditsy, girlie-girl who giggles incessantly.  Rather, she's bright and happy, and not so serious that she can't enjoy the fun-ness of life around her.
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After her hair was finished, Amy strolled down the street with her sister and I.  We were headed around the corner to Hotel Monaco (Kimpton hotels, I can't seem to escape them! ;)  And you won't find me complaining.)  While we waited for the late to change, we heard someone calling from the other side of the crispy street.  "Amy!  AMY!"
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Weeelll, look who we have here!  It's Nate!  The running-behind, proffessional-runner, really just cool and genuine groom!  "This is okay because I'm not in my dress yes!  Right?" "Yeah, she's not in her dress yet!"  The trio had a quick banter on the street-corner and then Nate kiss-kissed each lady on the cheek and nearly dove into the limo that was waiting for him (he really was late.  Rhymes with Nate. Please don't hate... me.  I'm done now.)
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I loved this part of the day.  Slowly the girls made their way back to the hotel.  Each one entered the room with more excitement and joy than the last.  They spent the next couple hours telling stories about remarkable pick-up lines from last night, about things dad's say, comparing shoes and jewelry, figuring out how to get music to play in the room, giving Amy a special book filled with letters and pictures from each of her bridesmaids.  They had a real good time together.  Being with people who love and enjoy each other is never a bad time.  And this room was filled with love.
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Amy told me a number of times that she didn't think she was photogenic.  I love proving "those" people wrong ;)
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While the traveling party of handsome, smiling women made their way to River Farm, Ellie Be worked her magic with Late Nate and the rest of the men.  Kim of Kim Newton Weddings worked her tail off to make sure everything was ready and stunning, and the boys chilled like polar bears in an igloo.  But it wasn't that cold.  Just very relaxing.  
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We're hhhheeeeere!  Time to stealthily and promptly sneak into the house.
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Literally within minutes of arriving at River Farm, the ceremony was underway.  It was a fun collection of "hurry!" and "Ah! It's happening!" and "Do I look okay? Fix my hair!" and "I love you, Amy.  AMY! I love you."
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(Doesn't this venue look not... very Virginia?  I kept forgetting that I wasn't in California or Italy.  Well done, east coast.  Well done.)
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(Her dad announced that he was going to go to the restroom really quick. Bahaha!)
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The water down there is the Potomac River, and this venue is very close to Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.  You could hear water rushing every now and then, but not much else.  So deeply chilling and gorgeous.
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This was the best part:  see the minister with her hand raised?  She was saying a blessing of prayer over the new couple.  See the bridesmaids looking at each other?  See the bride and groom... LEAVING?  They did not begin the recessional at the proper time.  They left.  The lady kept praying.  The bridal party waited for her to finish.  Then when announced, they left.
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At about this point Amy realized what had just happened.  Nate whispered "Just keep walking. Smile.  Just keep walking."  Amy was losing it.
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"We LEFT while she was PRAYING!!!"
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"I canNOT believe we just walked out of our wedding!  Before it was done!"
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Sisteries.
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"Oh hey, remember when we tried to do that shot in our engagement pictures..." "Yeah, any my nose was too big?"
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After being together for 6 years, these two are happily connected and just get each other.  They are kind, laugh often and don't try too hard.  They're in a comfortable, eager, faithful place.
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"Nate."

"What?"

"We LEFT our wedding.  BEFORE it was done!"
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"Hahahahaha!"
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"What kind of people are we?!"
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"Hahaha Amy, I love you."
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Cocktail hour was something out of... Neverland.
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The grounds have a Secret Garden feel, with lots of passages and aisles and hideaways.
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Mrs. Unphotogenic, herself.
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And the faces - all the faces - during the first dance made my little heart weep.  Beautiful people.
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Happy wedding day, best friends.  Thank you for your warmness, your love and your good jokes.
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It was a very happily ever after day.

(Ps. Thank you, again, Ellie Be, for your hard work and above-average shots.  You are amaze.)