dustin + kasey • wedding • the legacy event center

Shawn and I had a great time photographing Dustin + Kasey's wedding at the Legacy last month. As I was working on these images, Shawn came by and commented on how much Dustin and Kasey laugh together. And it's true- it's clear that they are truly friends, which makes for a great marriage. 

One of the most special things about this wedding was that Kasey wore her mother's wedding dress! Such a cool detail and she looked beautiful. Congrats you guys! 

wedding photography sticker shock?

I have a confession to make. I LOVE my job, but I have an irrational fear of talking about it in public. More specifically, I have a fear of telling someone I just met that I am a "wedding photographer". Because, inevitably, they know someone who is getting married- and in my new friend's good nature, they want to help out their engaged and wedding-planning friend. So, the conversation usually goes something like this:

New Friend: Oh, you're a wedding photographer? My cousin is getting married...

Me: Yeah, I have a great job. Congrats to your cousin!

New Friend: How much do you charge?

Me, deep breath: Well, I have several different packages, and it really depends on what they are needing for their wedding....(by this time the new friend has tuned me out completely, and mostly deciding I said "I'm super expensive")

This is an assumption. But typically by the time I have finished my sentence, they're done. With the whole idea in general. Now, before you tell me I need a new approach- this is a situation I've been in a bazillion times- and I'm going into my 10th year as a full-time wedding photographer now, so I've learned the ropes on discussing these things. 

BradyHaleyWedding-8570-2.jpg

I got an email from a distraught bride last night and I identified completely with her. It wasn't that long ago that I was a bride myself, experiencing the same situation. Here's how her email read:

Hi Lissa, I'm currently trying to conduct a little research on wedding photography and I can't help but feel completely defeated about the pricing! Every talented photographer in the area has a minimum of $2700 and the photographers within my budget frankly, aren't very good. Do you know of any photographers that are closer to 2,000 or so? Would you be will to work with me on the price at all? I'm not typically a haggler. But I just cannot afford 3,000 for a photographer. I know it's hard work and the equipment and labor add up. So I understand completely if you can't come down at all in pricing. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated! I'm at a total loss! Thank you so much. 

Ugh. I feel for you, bride. I really do- because I remember what it was like when I was wedding planning. I felt like anything related to weddings was automatically marked up 1000%. I could go into WHY pricing for wedding-related things are the the way they are, but this isn't the blog post for that. What I want to say today is this:

1. I love this email. It is completely transparent and unassuming, and I so appreciate that. I try to also be transparent and unassuming with my clients, because I know and value my work, and so I do not feel threatened by this bride's words- rather, I really appreciate her honesty! 

2. I love that she knows her budget and wants to stick with it. 

3. I love that she is asking for a custom package (in her words, "haggling"). And I have a bit to say about it:

One of the beautiful things about my job is that I get to make the rules. I make custom packages ALL THE TIME. There are many times when I don't hear back from a bride and I'm sure it's because I was over their budget. Who knows what would happen if they emailed me back to say so? We might just end up creating a package that is perfect for them, or maybe not (I'm not afraid to tell someone I don't feel like I can serve them well and stay within their budget)- BUT I would love to give them a quote and get a shot at it. For goodness sakes, THIS IS HOW I MAKE MY LIVING. Before every wedding, Shawn and I will literally stop and pray and thank the Lord for giving us more work. We are both self-employed, and because of that, we are ultra-aware of how lucky we are when we GET to WORK. 

Here was my response to the bride:

I am so sorry to hear that you’ve had a hard time finding someone within your budget, and I hate that you are so discouraged- that’s the last thing you want to experience when planning your wedding! I was once a bride and remember feeling the sticker shock when it came to several things. My packages do start at 2800.00 for 2 photographers, 6 hours of coverage (and the digital files of your images). I do make custom packages all the time- but it’s likely that I would have to do a smaller amount of coverage (like 4 hours) to get within the 2000.00 range. 
I do have some advice- as a past bride and a professional photographer who has seen and shot hundreds of weddings:
1) With photography, you will get what you pay for. Hire the best photographer you can for your budget. (You probably know this, haha!) The first few years of my business I had 1500.00 packages (I’m now in year 10)- so you just need to find me 8 years ago, haha! Don’t worry I will help with that :)
2) Prioritize your top 3 things and spend money on those. The rest just isn’t as important. I have seen expensive wedding shoes get muddy, favors unseen by guests and left in a huge pile after the wedding, fake flowers that looked (and photographed) like real ones, borrowed wedding veils that saved brides several hundred dollars, and the list goes on. Obviously, I think photography is very important (and I think you do too). A great photographer can make an ugly room look better than any extra decor could. :)
3) Don’t be afraid to ask a photographer to give you a quote based on your budget- I love it when this happens, because I love my job and want to work! This time, though, I don’t think I would be able to give you the amount of coverage that you’d need AND do it within your budget. (Unless you are having a shorter/smaller wedding).
I checked with some talented friends I know and they have your date available and should have something within your budget. :)
(Names of awesome friends)
I hope that helps and that your discouragement turns into excitement over the great photographer you booked! Best wishes and congrats!

So there you go. My short advice to brides with a budget (which is EVERY bride). Hire the best photographer you can and don't spend your money on favors no one will see or take home. :)

carter + katelin • wedding

Carter + Katelin's wedding was at First Christian Church in Lubbock- one of my favorite churches to photograph because of all the Spanish architecture. To add to that, this bride and groom were absolutely wonderful to work with. They are both incredibly thoughtful people- and their wedding had a timeless, classic feel that I loved soaking up.

We had enough time before the ceremony to get some dramatic portraits of both Carter and Katelin- and shooting those images was not only fun but inspiring- they were the perfect subjects for that type of light and I'm thankful for their willingness to experiment with me. 

Congratulations, you two! Wishing you a lifetime of great adventures.

will + aries • autumn oaks event center

I have been so excited to shoot at Autumn Oaks Event Center for the first time, and was honored that Aries & Will gave me that opportunity. Aries planned most of her wedding from San Antonio- which is quite a feat, but thankfully she had the help of great family and friends. I know that it must have felt so relieving to finally see it all come together. I loved the pinks and navy with the crisp, clean white. Most of all, I loved seeing these two together after the ceremony- they just looked so at home with each other. Thank you so much for the honor of shooting your wedding!

milestones

Our baby is growing up right before our eyes. I have to be thankful though- this new season- we were ready for it. Knox can be very shy, and he's a rule-follower like his mama, but over the past couple of years he has really loved going to pre-k and socializing with friends. So, when we dropped him off for his very first day at the "big school", I only had one little I-might-break-down moment. 

He sat at his desk after taking pictures in from of the school, hanging up his backpack and greeting his teacher. I squatted down to say, "You are a man of God and Truett Knox Anglin. You are brave. You do not need to worry. God is close, you can talk to Him, and He will be with you all day". I barely got through the last sentence. 

Knox, on the other hand just said, "I know", and waved goodbye with a smile. And we parents went out to breakfast- because holy free time batman. Liv and I came home to a quiet house and she walked around saying, "Bubba? Bubba?" for a while. I think we will get used to this. :)

Just a week or so ago Knox decided he was ready to ride his bike without those training wheels. It didn't take long and he was wiggling down the sidewalk, but staying up nonetheless. By the time I got my camera out, he had even perfected the smile as he whizzed by. 

It's crazy to watch your kid grow. I really thought I would hate him getting older, but each new milestone has been amazing. I am consistently taught by my children and my selfless husband. I couldn't be more thankful for my friends at Knox's school who have made the transition so easy for us. I know that was ordained and no accident. I am starting to accept change more willingly in life because I know I'll need to depend on the Lord to do it. 

ross + kandace • wedding

I honestly think I could owe half the happiness I've experienced this year to one family- seriously! Kandace and her sister, Haley, were married within 4 months of each other, and it has been so wonderful working with them- I am sure I will miss seeing their faces and getting to celebrate their joys!

Ross + Kandace's wedding was at The Legacy in downtown Lubbock. It was full of gorgeous florals from The Fig & Flower Co., and I loved the light pinks and greens mixed with the classic neutrals and lace in Kandace's dress.

I always love the time I have to photograph the couple alone- during that short period, all of the stress and anxiety seems to melt away and I am truly able to see the relationship. I will not forget seeing the look on Ross's face when it was finally time to be photographed with his new wife- it was obvious he treasures her. There was a peace and excitement about both of them- all the planning and the waiting was over, and now it was time to celebrate and just be married!

I have so many favorites from this wedding- this is just a small portion of them! Congratulations, Ross and Kandace!

the paperwork shuffle...an adoption update

Papers ready to be sent to the consulate for authentication. at this point, they have been notarized and already certified by the state. we must make copies of everything. and of course, mailing off the original papers (that you've worked 4 months to get) is a little nerve-wracking too. (Excuse my ugly iphone photo)

Papers ready to be sent to the consulate for authentication. at this point, they have been notarized and already certified by the state. we must make copies of everything. and of course, mailing off the original papers (that you've worked 4 months to get) is a little nerve-wracking too. (Excuse my ugly iphone photo)

Here we go again!

For the last 4 months, when I've not been doing the photographer/wife/mom thing, I've been doing the paperwork thing. I knew when miss Liv turned 1 that we would be ready to focus again on our adoption- that's right, the one we started 3 1/2 years ago.

This step is often referred to as paper-pregnancy, and it is a pretty accurate assessment. The battles of the paperwork process are a thing all their own. It is the first step in the adoption process, but since we have already been waiting for 3 1/2 years, much of our paperwork has expired- so it was necessary to start over. And of course, since this is our second time doing paperwork, when the adoption agency said it would take 4-7 months to complete paperwork, I automatically thought, "yeah, but we will probably go faster". Ha! As if we were the exception. As if, Lissa. 

At times, I have tried explaining where I'm at with paperwork, and in conversation peoples' eyes seem to gloss over and then they ask something like, "but you're almost done, right? And then will you get a picture of her?" Ugh. No, paperwork is not interesting. But it's all I've got to tell you about. YES, OF COURSE we want a photo of our child, but that won't come until much later. Please, please don't make me repeat AGAIN that we do not have a picture yet. I'm not mad about it- it's just how it works. 

If there is one lesson I've learned so far in this adoption process, it's that THINGS WILL NOT GO LIKE YOU THINK THEY WILL GO. 

The second lesson is: THAT'S TOTALLY OK, BECAUSE GOD'S PLAN IS FAR BETTER.


As I said earlier, we are now at the 4 month mark of working manically on gathering random pieces of paperwork. Most of this includes visiting state and government offices, ordering new birth certificates/marriage license (yes, NEW ones- the old ones will not do!), and some documents needed are a much bigger ordeal, such as our home study, financial records and getting physicals (finding a doc who was accepting new patients that only needed a physical took over a month). 

Then there are notaries, state certification of documents ($), authentication of documents ($$)- and shipping those back and forth. Thankfully, we have piled up cash in a savings account as we've waited, so it's all been covered! (Thank you to ALL who have helped support us in this way. In stressful moments like these, it is a true blessing to just write a check for it!).

Very soon, our documents will be in China. 

Did you hear that? I said CHINA.

That's because our daughter will be Chinese. :)

If you are surprised about that, you better believe we are too. 


shawn and I, circa 2001 on our second trip to china. we had been dating for a year. such babies!

shawn and I, circa 2001 on our second trip to china. we had been dating for a year. such babies!

Guys, God is so good- and His plan is so good. I wrote a blog post when we first started our adoption process. Little did I know that when God set China in our hearts, and He knew that's where our daughter would come from. We just got there by way of Africa. :)

Here's the most basic explanation I can give of how we got here.

Almost immediately after our documents arrived in Ethiopia, referrals (when families are matched with children) almost slowed to a staggering halt. It was rare to see any referrals within our age and gender request, if any at all. There were rumors of Ethiopia shutting down to international adoption- their government even held meetings to assess the situation. Our government put new legislation in place in an effort to ensure more ethical adoptions- which is full of good intention, but for us and our agency, just meant more paperwork, more overall cost, and a longer wait for the orphan.  

We trusted that the timing would be perfect and if we had a long wait ahead, that was ok. That's when Liv came along- whose story is its own miracle! We are so, so thankful for her and what she has meant to our family. I was 7 months pregnant when we got the call from our agency asking if we'd be interested in transferring to the China program. They were waiving some major fees (in fact, it was all the fees we'd already paid, and none we hadn't- so we would be at the perfect place to transfer without losing any money), and the wait times were much, much shorter. The only caveat was that it would mean adopting a child with special needs. Knowing we would be welcoming Liv very soon, it was just too much. We decided to wait.

So, after Liv turned a year, we were ready to revisit the idea of transferring. We called our agency again, and sure enough, the offer to waive fees was still available. But what about the special needs? Well, we did our best to gather all the information we could. In China, "special needs" is very different from what we perceive it to be here in the US. We went through a huge list of possible conditions- some of which were eczema and hemangioma (which is funny, because Liv has a hemangioma on the top of her head- so, been there!). We decided on the needs we were comfortable with, and began the paperwork process.

After making the decision to switch, I really thought I would feel relieved, but the truth is, I was just sad. Sad to say goodbye to Africa and the culture we'd spent so much time learning about and anticipating and the dream of having a beautiful brown face and dark curly hair. The process of sorting through those feelings deserves its own blog post later. My soul needs to write about that.  

So, here we are! There are still a lot of question marks- we will not know which special need our daughter will have until we receive a referral from our agency. At that point, we will have a certain amount of time to research and consider that child and our abilities and resources to properly care for her. We are very thankful that we have some excellent medical resources here in Lubbock, Texas! Does this mean we are fully prepared? Nope. Will there be surprises? Absolutely. But we are trusting that God will provide for all our needs, as well as the needs of each of our children, just as He has throughout this entire process. 

We do not have a quoted or set wait time, but because of our age/gender request, I'm estimating a 6-9 month wait from the time our dossier gets to China. It could be less. It could be more. There is no way we (or our agency) could know for sure. But we do know that the timing will be just right. 

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
— Romans 8:25
i loved playing with these girls at the guest house where we stayed. i have dozens of photos of them and even drew their portraits in college. i can still remember sitting on that porch when my friend courtney shot this photo.

i loved playing with these girls at the guest house where we stayed. i have dozens of photos of them and even drew their portraits in college. i can still remember sitting on that porch when my friend courtney shot this photo.

Vincent + Hannah • Canyon Springs Golf Club

Hannah and Vincent's wedding was perfect in so many ways. The venue, Canyon Springs Golf Club, was just gorgeous. These two were married in front of a huge waterfall on the 18th hole. It has got to be one of the most beautiful backdrops I've ever seen! We soaked up the golden light during their portraits afterward, and the reception was perfectly staged- with a great band, a super-cool photobooth, and a surprise visit from the San Antonio Spurs' Coyote!

Really, though- the best part was the people themselves. Hannah and Vincent were so much fun, and their friends and families are the best! These are just a few of my faves from their wedding. Enjoy!

Brent + Lea • Wedding • Bella Vie

This wedding was special in the sense that it wasn't just about the awesome couple- Brent and Lea- it was about the new family they were establishing that day- if you saw their engagement session you were introduced to sweet Emily, who never takes a bad photo. :) I couldn't get over Brent's reaction to seeing Lea for the first time in her dress, or his reaction to seeing Emily in hers- or Emily's reaction to seeing Brent + Lea together- it was all pretty fabulous. These three fit together so perfectly- and the celebration they had was perfect!

This was my first time to shoot at the new venue Bella Vie here in Lubbock- and oh my goodness, the natural light inside the building was so wonderful! It also helped that Brent + Lea had a pretty incredible team of decorators (Imagine If out of Midland) making sure everything looked perfect.

Brent and Lea could not have been nicer or more gracious- and all the while there was so much going on, you could see that they were truly excited to be married. The three went on a pretty epic trip to Hawaii that I oohed over via Facebook- which they totally deserved. 

Thanks for trusting us with your wedding photos- congratulations!