Austin + Alexes - Fort Wayne, IN Wedding Photographer

Where do I start....I have fallen over heals in LOVE with engagement sessions.  I think they are so important!  Not only do my couples get gorgeous portraits of themselves to remember this time in their lives, but they can also use them for save the date cards and wedding websites....But what's best, is that they get to see what it's like to work with me and get comfortable in front of the camera.  Austin and Alexes were like a dream!  I can totally tell that Austin is totally smitten with Alexes...just crazy true love.  I am so excited to see what life has in store for them as they move to Michigan to further their education which even includes the police academy!  Go Austin!

I am so excited about their wedding at the beautiful Embassy next year, I already know we are going to get some beautiful portraits.  They're a gorgeous couple and Alexes has great style! :)

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Matthew + Hanna - Indianapolis, IN Wedding Photographer

I LOVE getting the opportunity to bust out of Fort Wayne and shoot weddings somewhere new!  I am eager and welcoming to the challenges of shooting in unfamiliar places, I find that it really encourages me to explore my surroundings a bit more and fuels the fire of my creativity.  So when Hanna contacted me about her downtown Indianapolis wedding at the Omni Severin Hotel, I was awfully giddy!  Hanna's wedding was gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous from her bridal details and attire all the way to her venues and decor...not a single detail was over looked.  But that wasn't all that stuck out to me...what I couldn't stop admiring was the amount of family love and support that was pouring in from everyone there.  It was very clear that family is incredibly important to Matt and Hanna.  I am so excited about this wedding gallery but super bummed that it's over...I wish I could shoot this wedding over and over and over again!  Thank you for choosing me to document your day, I am so honored that I was able to capture all the love you share in your lives!  

Wedding Planner: Aisle Ready Events, LLC - Beauty: DeWeese Design Salon Inc. and Taryn Kellams - Cake: Simply Perfection Cakes - Ceremony: St. Paul's Episcopal Church - Videographer: Blushing Films - DJ: DJ Sound Solutions - Florals: George Thomas Flowers - Getting Ready and Reception: Omni Severin Hotel - Trolley: Indy Trolley

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wedding-wedding day-bride-groom-wedding portraits-downtown-indianapolis-the omni

Doug + Christina - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photography

Talk about rolling with the punches...can you imagine breaking your leg just a couple weeks before your wedding?? Well, it happened but let me tell you, Christina didn't let it interfere with her big day in the slightest! In fact, she just made it part of the wedding day and decorated her cast with lace, silk, ribbons, and pearls...making the best of a very inconvenient situation.

This was one of my biggest wedding parties in a while and just as Doug had mentioned in our initial consult, they did not disappoint! They were so much fun and crazy supportive and helpful when Christina needed it most...like when they carried her all the way through Headwaters Park to the car!

While I do not push or force couples to do a first look...I will always tell you how awesome they are and Doug's reaction when he turned and saw his bride for the first time was PRICELESS! I know not everyone is the same, and I think Doug would have reacted the same if he first saw her at the ceremony or not, but some guys just have an easier time letting emotions take over when they are alone and having a private moment with their bride...which is one of my biggest reasons for recommending first looks on a wedding day! Well, that and you get so many more photos since you get a lot more picture time!

So Christina has 3, GORGEOUS, daughters who all played important rolls in her wedding day. I noticed while everyone was getting ready in the morning that her youngest daughter was hidden in the corner writing on tiny pieces of paper...I peeked over her shoulder and saw what I assumed was a little note to her mom on her wedding day. However, what she was actually doing was writing a speech that she wanted to give at the reception in front of all the guests. I was so impressed with brave she was to stand in front of everyone and tell her mom how much she loved her, how much she meant to her, how happy for her she was, and how much Doug meant to her. There probably was not a dry eye in the room.

I'm so happy for Doug and Christina, it was so clear how in love they were and how happy they make each other. Congratulations!!!

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Lukas + Courtney - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

Laughed my booty off on Sunday night with these two and CAN NOT wait for their wedding this October...I have a feeling with Lukas there will never be a dull moment!  Coming from someone with a goofball husband, soak it up Courtney, I hope his humor helps make all your days together light hearted and easy.  Sunday was literally the most perfect photo weather...70's sun and a light breeze, it could not have been any better, if this is the new midwest summer, I'm all in!

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engagement - engagement session - pokagon - love - bride to be - woods - fort wayne - indiana - beach - lake
engagement - engagement session - pokagon - love - bride to be - woods - fort wayne - indiana - beach - lake
engagement - engagement session - pokagon - love - bride to be - woods - fort wayne - indiana - beach - lake

Daniel + Lauren - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

There just are not enough words to describe Daniel and Lauren...but I can say this with certainty, God shines his light right through them.  As I observed them both throughout their wedding day I couldn't help but notice not only how strong their love is for one another but how much love they have for every single person that is in their life.  The raw emotion that was felt by everyone on Saturday was infectious...all happy tears of course!  Dan and Lauren are truly 'real' people and I felt so honored to be in their presence.  

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fort wayne - indiana - wedding - bridal details - midwest wedding - bride - wedding day
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fort wayne - indiana - wedding - bridal details - midwest wedding - bride - groom -wedding day
fort wayne - indiana - wedding - bridal details - midwest wedding - bride - groom -wedding day
fort wayne - indiana - wedding - bridal details - midwest wedding - bride - groom -wedding day
fort wayne - indiana - wedding - bridal details - midwest wedding - bride - groom -wedding day
fort wayne - indiana - wedding - bridal details - midwest wedding - bride - groom -wedding day
fort wayne - indiana - wedding - bridal details - midwest wedding - bride - groom -wedding day

John + Sara - Roanoke, Indiana Wedding Photographer

Naturally....when your best friend of almost 9 years gets engaged....you go to Two EE's and drink lots of tasty wine, celebrate their engagement, laugh A LOT, and take their engagement pictures!  I am so so so darn happy for Sara and John and I can't wait to be on the other side of the camera in January as I am finally the bridesmaid and not the photographer! Woohoo! 

It's safe to say this engagement was a long time coming and we have been waiting for the call that John finally popped the question.  When Sara texted me saying that it happened (ON A ROMANTIC GET AWAY IN A CASTLE FOR HER BIRTHDAY!) I cried so many tears of happiness.  I am so happy to see how happy my best friend is and how much joy that John brings into her life.  They both love all the same things and have the same dreams in life and I can not wait to watch their story unfold as they begin their journey together...which better include some sweet little babies for me to love on :)

I loved getting to photograph their session and seeing now nutty they are about each other and...especially after a few glasses of wine...how they would just soak one another in, like they were the only ones there.  That's love.

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engagement - engaged - engagement session - e session - love - winery - wine - two ee's - sunset - woods
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Travis + Holly - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

What a wonderful pleasure it was taking part in Travis and Holly's big day this past weekend.  These two are some of the kindest and most welcoming people I've met and everywhere I turned and everyone I spoke to at their wedding welcomed me with open arms like we've known each other for years.  It is such an incredible feeling walking away from a wedding each weekend on a high...I adore my job so much.  Knowing that I get to document all of these special moments so that they can remember them for a lifetime makes my heart quite literally leap out of my chest with joy. 

Tell me that you want me,
And I’ll be yours completely
For better or for worse.

I know,
We’ll have our disagreements,
Be fighting for no reason.
I wouldn’t change it for the world.

‘Cause I knew
The first day that I met you
I was never gonna let you, let you slip away.

And I still remember feeling nervous
Trying to find the words to
Get you here today.

You make my heart feel like it’s summer,
When the rain is pouring down.
You make my whole world feel so right when it’s wrong.
That’s how I know you are the one.

Reception: The Embassy - Florist: Rose's Bouquets

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Don + Christy - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

Wedding days are always so fast paced...every now and again it is great to just slow it down and really just soak in the moment.  To observe and be present.  Don and Christy were married at Don's grandparents property in Northern Indiana on the banks of the pond he spent so many summer days as a child.  I love that they chose such a sentimental location for their intimate ceremony.

Christy looked absolutely incredible in her ivory  Modcloth dress, handmade birdcage veil, and antique wedding ring.  She has the most beautiful smile, every time she would laugh and smile, it would instantly make me smile!  That HAS to be one of Don's favorite traits about her.

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A few years ago Don mentioned to a friend that he wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail.  That friend mentioned to Don that they also knew someone who had experience with the Trail and recommended that they meet up sometime and chat.  So, Don and Christy met at Henry's downtown Fort Wayne and basically....thats where they're love story begins.

Naturally, we had to go back to Henry's on their wedding day and revisit the exact chairs they sat in on that day.  It melted my heart to see them comparing that first time they met to where they are today.

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wedding-midwest-indiana-bride-groom-hike-pond-midwest wedding-tattoo-vintage

Obviously we had to sneak in a few pictures with their backpacks and sweet little pups!  I love when couples include important parts of their personality and relationship in their portraits.

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Andrew + Maddie - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

When I first spoke to Andrew and Maddie over the phone about their wedding I felt like I was chatting with old friends...like I'd met them a years before.  We talked about yummy food and drinks and joked like friends do...so when last weekend rolled around I was so excited to finally REALLY meet them for their engagement session.  As expected, we hit it right off!  I cannot remember the last time I laughed as much as I did during their session.  I am so eager for their big day at the Joseph Decuis Farm...I've been dreaming to get the opportunity to photograph a wedding there and I have a feeling that Andrew and Maddie's wedding will be fairy tale perfect!

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Eddie + Jessica - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding photographer

It has been the ugliest spring and I've been dying for some golden evening light...thankfully, the sky didn't disappoint for Eddie and Jessica's engagement session!  It was such a beautiful evening to spend capturing their love for each other and to revisit the location where Eddie asked Jessica to spend the rest of her life with him.  I am so fired up after photographing their engagement session and CAN'T wait until I get to photograph them all over again at their wedding in November.  I've known Jessica for about 12 years or so now and my heart is so full seeing all the love that she has found in Eddie.  They have known each other since they were much younger...life came full circle and brought them back to each other...and that's the beginning of this beautiful love story.

"I choose you...And I'll choose you over and over and over.  Without pause, without doubt, in a heartbeat.  I will keep choosing you for the rest of my life."  - Unknown

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engagement - engaged - love - pokagon state park
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engaged - pokagon state park - love - engagement

Brandon + Brittany - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

It's finally here!! All winter long I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 2017 wedding season!  Over the past few weeks I've been meeting with countless brides about their weddings and hearing their plans has me SO EXCITED!

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding celebration of Brandon and Brittany.  I've known Brittany since I was 5 years old...so basically my entire life.  When she reached out to me about photographing her big day my heart exploded.  My job is awesome and I would never trade it for the world.  I am so passionate about it and feel so blessed that I am lucky enough to be so in love with my career...but nothing is better than combining my love of photography with documenting a childhood friend's wedding day.

Brittany has always had impeccable style so I was really excited to see her dress and the details she had chosen to wear on her wedding day...I knew they would be chosen with such intention.  Her dress was just absolutely GORGEOUS!  The detailing and the lace were just the most perfect touch.  From the detailing on her dress, to the beading on her shoes, to the styling of her rings...Brittany's wedding day style had the most swoon worthy vintage flare.

Rings: Rogers & Hollands - Bridal Dress: Wendy's Bridal - Cake: Cakes by Laurie - Shoes by Betsey Johnson - Portraits: Botanical ConservatoryBouquets: Eco FlowersVenue: Baker Street Station - Bridesmaid Dresses: Wendy's Bridal

bridal details
bridal details

We are so lucky here in Fort Wayne to have the beautiful Botanical Conservatory to photograph in.  We have had just the ugliest Spring here in Fort Wayne this year and unfortunately the weather was just not cooperating on Saturday but we were able to make the best of it!  Brandon and Brittany chose to write each other letters and read them just moments before their first look.  I know the anticipation was making them emotional!  

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The Baker Street Train Station is one of my most favorite venues in town.  Its not very often that I get to photograph a ceremony AND reception there which is unfortunate because it is so pretty!

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One thing that I found really sweet at the reception was how Brittany danced with each of her brothers...each would hand her off to the next before she made her way to her father and then was handed into the arms of her new hubby...I've never seen this and it made me tear up.  I was such a statement of how all the men in her life supported her love for Brandon.

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wedding - reception - train station - bride - groom - dance

I LOVE when my couples ask me to stay until the end of their reception...I just have one requirement...we have to go big!  At the past few weddings we have had an awesome confetti toss and several sparkler exits.  I love getting the opportunity to shoot these!

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Congratulations Brandon and Brittany.  I am so honored that you chose me to capture your day.  It was so beautiful in every way and your love for each other was radiating.  I'm so happy to see the incredible woman the little girl down the street has become and the love story she has been blessed with.  Best wishes to you both!!!

Much love,

Morgan

Karl + Joanna - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

What an incredible day!  Karl and Joanna had the most beautiful winter wedding here in Fort Wayne, IN.  We have not received much snow in the past few years and I was so excited when not only did we have snow for their wedding but we had lots of ice....which made things a bit complicated but also gave us a gorgeous reflection on the streets for some night time shots!  When it was time for their first look and portraits me, my assistant, and the videographer were literally scooting our feet across the pavement to get around, it was a hilarious sight for sure!

Karl really upped the bar for grooms, he is a perfect gentleman and it made my heart so darn happy seeing him and Joanna together.  Their faces were plastered with the biggest smiles literally the entire day.  But what got me was the way that he looks at her.  You hear about it all the time but I did not realize that I hadn't REALLY seen it until their wedding.  So much love, so much tenderness, so much .... there really just isn't a word grand enough to describe it!  All I know is, Karl truly truly truly loves Joanna.  And Joanna truly truly truly loves Karl.

Reception: Empyrean - Florals: Roses Bouquet's - Cake: Sassie Cakes

Robert + Holly - Van Wert, Ohio Wedding Photographer

Robert and Holly's beautiful and intimate wedding day made me fall madly in love with small weddings! Robert and Holly have hearts of gold.  They are so sweet and so genuine...you can't help but smile when you're with them!  Holly has amazing style.  Her wedding dress has received so many compliments since I started posting previews of their wedding day and check out her adorable shoes!!!  I love when a bride has a stunning pair of shoes for their wedding day, especially when they have personality like these! 

Holly got ready for her wedding in her parents beautiful home and I thought it was so sweet that her wedding pictures depicted exactly what this journey is...leaving her family's home to begin a home of her own with her love. 

While first looks have been around for quite some time, they are just now starting to get popular here in the Midwest, so I was thrilled when Holly told me that they planned to do a first look and I didn't even need to try and convince her, YAY!  In case you wonder why you should consider doing one....scroll on down and see how many pictures they had time to take both before AND after their ceremony!

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Cody + Sarah - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

While my job comes with lots awesome aspects, there are hard parts.  Really hard parts.  Like the fact that you can't call in.  Ever.  I've shot weddings 34 weeks pregnant with twins (I had them just 2 weeks later), I've shot them with horrible colds, with stomach bugs that left me running to the bathroom every hour....and of course this year, Pneumonia.  Looking back it's kind of funny because some of my favorite weddings that I've shot have been on days when I feel like total crap!  It is so important to me to show up, be present, and serve my couples with the very best, if that means I need to suck it up and get it done then so be it!  So I want to say thank you to those couples, while you're a small handful, who had sick Morgan at their wedding and didn't blink twice when I needed a second for a drink of water, a quick break to rest my feet, or in Sarah and Cody's case....when I lost my voice or couldn't stop coughing!  I appreciate you so much!

When I met Sarah I knew we would get along great.  She is so friendly, outgoing, and simply easy to be around.  And while I never did get to meet Cody prior to the wedding, I had a feeling he was going to be the exact same way.  Wedding days are long and I get to spend the entire day with my couples, their closest friends, and family.  Sarah's family was so warm and welcoming.  It was obvious throughout the day that Sarah is their princess and the light of their lives.  Her bridesmaids where there for every second and happy to lend a tissue at all times because it was an awfully emotional day, many tears were shed, and all I kept thinking was "Wow, there is just so much love in this room!"  That's what its all about.  That's what everything is about.  Love!

Congratulations Cody and Sarah!  I just know you are going to have the happiest life together and I can not wait to watch it all unfold!

Venue: The Landmark - Florals: Rose's Bouquets - DJ: Quattro Systems

Much Love,

Morgan

A Party of Five - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding Photographer

A couple months ago we met up with one my my best friends Stephanie with Every Day Photography by Stephanie Schweller to take a couple family pictures for each other.  While she finished up a session for one of her clients my husband and I took our kids into a field and let them play.  I feel like letting them "be little" and just do as they normally would is my only way to take pictures of them anymore.  No posing over here because they just won't have it!  It's a constant wrestling match at our house with a few big hugs and lots of screaming.

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While Camille will generally giggle and smile when she looks at the camera, Amalee is the queen of the silly face...But she is so beautiful so I'll allow it!

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fort wayne-indiana-wedding photographer

I absolutely LOVE when the girls crash and just lay with each other.  They're totally best friends and the way they look at each other melts my heart.

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Little (huge) Elston has just been such a blessing in our lives.  We are all so enthralled with him.  He has completed our family like we could have never imagined possible and he brings us so much happiness.  I am so happy that my husband now has a son to teach his ways to...Hopefully that doesn't include his sarcasm, haha!

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My hubby was nice enough to take a picture of me and my babies, I am so thankful for him...he does whatever I ask :)

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Real life.  My kids were not perfect for our pictures.  It used to make me upset and I wont lie, I was pretty frustrated while trying to take these because while I am fine with capturing less posed pictures of the girls, it's not a walk in the park taking their photos.  But seeing as the best time to take pictures is golden hour, it is also Elston's bed time and he was just not having it.  He just wanted to lay down...nurse...and cuddle with his momma...not be picked on by his big sisters!  But honestly, this is life right now and I already look back on this night and laugh.

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fort wayne-indiana-wedding photographer

ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE!  My daughters are incredible.  I wish I could see the world through their eyes.  Where everything is magical and new.  The curiosity.  The wonder.  The innocence. The pictures below are quite possibly some of my favorite I've ever taken of them.  And look at that butterfly they found....what are the chances that that butterfly would appear during our pictures and just so happens to coordinate so perfectly with their outfits!

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Here it is.  My entire life in one single photo.  The smiles.  The tears.  The tickles.  Thumb sucking.  The laughing....This is the season of our life right now and it is so so so incredible!

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Thank you Stephanie for these silly group shots!

Bradley + BreAnn - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Oh man, shooting this wedding was rough...I cried way too many times!  Bradley and BreAnn are just so crazy in love with each other (insert all the heart eyes) and my heart was melting!  It was literally the most perfect day.  Not a cloud in the sky...no humidity...and love and happiness oozing from everyone's hearts.  So you're probably wondering "Morgan, what made you cry so much?" Well, for starters Bradley gave BreAnn a wedding day gift....of coconuts.  No, I didn't read the not that was enclosed so I don't even know what the joke was about, but the fact that she was laughing so hard made me so happy...so happy I cried.  THEN, just as BreAnn was finishing getting ready her dad walked in the room and just stood there smiling at her.  The look on his face followed by the tightest hug...ahhhh.  It's always the parents that get me...I cried.  And I cried again as she walked down the aisle...and again when Bradley's mother couldn't let him go and spent their Mother/Son dance with her face buried in his chest...my heart just sank.  So much love.

That's what this whole thing is about too.  I love everything about being surrounded by so much love and happiness!  I get asked ALL THE TIME why I choose to photograph weddings. "They're so much work" "Such a long day" "Brides can be crazy"  I hear it all the time...but really, I just love it.  I love the pace...the emotions...everything!  Sometimes I cry at weddings just because I'm so happy!  And when I realize how lucky I am that this is actually my real job!

Ceremony Venue: Grace Presbyterian Church  Reception Venue & Catering: Ceruti's  Videographer: Espy Video Production, LLC  Florist: Rose's Bouquets  Hair & Makeup: Maggie at Tangles Salon  Dress: David's Bridal  Cake: Hall's Takes the Cake  DJ: RnB Sound

fort wayne-indiana-wedding-bride-groom-ceremony-wedding day-love-ceruti's-morgan ruth photography
fort wayne-indiana-wedding-bride-groom-ceremony-wedding day-love-ceruti's-morgan ruth photography
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fort wayne-indiana-wedding-bride-groom-ceremony-wedding day-love-ceruti's-morgan ruth photography-university of st francis-brookside mansion
fort wayne-indiana-wedding-bride-groom-ceremony-wedding day-love-ceruti's-morgan ruth photography
fort wayne-indiana-wedding-bride-groom-ceremony-wedding day-love-ceruti's-morgan ruth photography
fort wayne-indiana-wedding-bride-groom-ceremony-wedding day-love-ceruti's-morgan ruth photography

The Weekend That Changed Me - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding and Portrait Photographer Morgan Ruth Photography

I spent a few days last week in Charleston, South Carolina at an Ashton Kelley Photography retreat called the AKP Charming Retreat (which was totally charming by the way!) for photographers from all across the country.  I went to the retreat on a whim, being up late into the night nursing an infant will lead to some rather impulsive things!  

I attended the retreat for a number of reasons...First, getting the opportunity to meet and network with some incredible women and photographers such as Bethanne Arthur, Sarah Houston,  Amanda Hedgepeth and Ashton Kelley sounded great!  Learning some new tricks and tips would be great, I am always seeking knowledge so that I can better serve my client.  The price of the overall trip was right and the whole package seemed to offer a lot of great perks so I couldn't pass that up!  On top of everything a weekend away was very much needed...who wouldn't want to go shoot in Charleston anyway?  It was hands down one of the most beautiful and charming city I'd ever been to.  So with that, in one quick click of a button, I bought my ticket.  Then I crawled in bed and thought...oh my gosh, what did I just do!?

I like to consider myself a pretty outgoing person.  Don't get me wrong, I can be reserved, but for the most part, I can typically walk into a room and make friends with about anyone.  But, a week or two before the trip I almost backed out.  First, I felt guilty as all get out for leaving my husband and family behind to juggle my children without me.  Second, when I got the final Invoice to pay, I thought "How selfish, you know this money could be put to better use...college funds...pay towards debt...retirement!"  Third, "What are you thinking?  Are you really going to fly across the country to hang out with a bunch of women you've never met?  Even share a house and bed with someone!?"  My husband stood firm and continued to tell me to go, to take this time for me.  So, he dropped me off at the airport and I kissed my kids goodbye, this was my first time leaving them more than over night, and got on the plane that was taking me to one of the most eye opening weekends of my life.

charleston-south carolina-airplane-wedding photographer- empower- fort wayne- indiana

I expected laughs.  I expected pretty styled shoots...palm trees...brick roads...yummy food...spanish moss...some education...what I didn't expect were the tears.  All.  The.  Tears. 

charleston-south carolina-rainbow row- wedding photographer- fort wayne-indiana

Let me back up.  You're probably like...tears?  Let me explain.  I went on this trip struggling.  I didn't talk about the struggle all that often or really share with too many people outside my family about the stresses and fears I was dealing with.  

 In 2011 I was swamped.  I was recently married and worked long hours for a boss who didn't appreciate me.  After I got off from my day job I would shoot weddings and sessions.  I was a new wife and had no life.  I was consumed.  I woke up one day and said to myself "No more.  I'm done."  I walked out of my job and went full time with photography.  It was terrifying and exhilarating and it left me feeling so inspired about what my future held.  It was the most incredible feeling I had ever felt.  I couldn't justify living a life I hated, working for someone I couldn't stand, at a job I couldn't stand.  It wasn't me.  Having my own photography business was never really my plan but , with no question, it was my destiny.  After not really knowing what to do after high school, I followed my high school photography teachers advice and headed for art school pursuing a degree in photography.  My business may have developed on a whim but it grew and grew and grew to what it is today by intentionally putting my clients first and serving them with my best abilities.  

When people ask me what I do for a living I typically hear something along the lines of "Wow!  How cool!  You're so lucky!  You get to work one day a week and party at weddings and make a ton of money!"  or "I wish I got to spend my days doing what I want and then snap some pictures as a job!"  I'll admit, my job is awesome.  There is never a day that I think "Ugh, I don't want to do this."  I may think that about the monotonous office work but never ever the shooting.  Having that creative outlet is vital for my well being.  But what most people outside the creative world don't see is that in there lies a beast.  A big ugly beast.  Thing is, its glorified daily.  You've seen it around on Facebook in the adorable little memes or on boutique T-shirts...

"Good things come to those who hustle..."

The beast is the hustle and the hustle is what has been suffocating me for quite some time now. 

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Being successful as someone who is self employed running a small business is not something that just happens on its own.  It takes sacrifice, dedication, time...lots of time...consistency and gosh..just so much more.  Every action you make has to be intentional.  Every part of the business is done by you, if something doesn't get done, it's your fault.  The book keeping, the emails, the shooting, the editing, the packaging, the shipping, the meetings, the bill paying, the shopping, the  social media, the SEO, the marketing...its all done by one person.  You.  Paying your bills and having an income is all on you.  Its a lot of early mornings.  Late nights.  Pots of strong coffee.  And prayers for sanity.  It is most definitely not for everyone.  

charleston-south carolina-rainbow row-wedding photographer- fort wayne- indiana

When I first went full-time with photography, it was everything one might imagine.  It was beautiful in every way, shape and form.  I had nothing else to focus on but my business and husband....you could say that my business was my baby.  Now enter real babies.  Yes, babies.  Having children really shook things up.  Enter later nights.  Even more coffee.  And lots, I mean lots, of stress. 

charleston-south carolina- wedding photographer- fort wayne-indiana

I need to step back and revisit the "Hustle".  Work hard and then work harder.  That's the only way to be successful.  The pressure is on you ALL THE TIME.  It's was draining me.  On top of motherhood, which has a million pressures of its own, I felt myself slipping into a pessimistic attitude which was all because of the pressures of the Hustle.  I followed all the big name photographers who seemed to have more than enough weddings (all worthy of being published) to go around, gorgeous Instagram accounts, the best of the best equipment, perfect hair, perfect faces....perfect lives.  I'm not an idiot.  I know how easy it is to make your life look flawless on the internet.  But all of this was casting self doubt into my mind.  Am I good enough?  Is my work good enough?  What are they doing that I am not?  How can I get better and be like them?  I have to work harder!  I need better gear!  I need..I need...I need... Enter comparison, the thief of joy.

charleston-south carolina- wedding photographer- fort wayne-indiana

It's the age we live in.  Every one and every thing is on social media now and they're all putting their best foot forward.  As a woman, it in our nature to compare ourselves to others.  So, when I joined some online groups for photographers, I couldn't help but to see their work and everything they had going for them and wonder "what am I doing wrong that I'm so unhappy? Look at them, they know the secret!  They have it all so put together!"

charleston-south carolina- wedding photographer- fort wayne-indiana
Photo courtesy of Ashton Kelley Photography and adorable photo booth bus from Lil Photo Bus

So one day I posted in one of those groups.  I asked..."I'm looking to learn a few new things..about lighting...workflow...and SEO.  Does anyone know of a good webinar or something I could watch?"  I figured it couldn't hurt to just ask.  If someone responds then great, if not...then I guess it really is every man for themselves in this business.  Kara responded and told me about the retreat.  I am so happy she did...

charleston-south carolina- wedding photographer- fort wayne-indiana

I went to the retreat feeling alone.  I felt tired.  I felt stressed.  I felt...unhappy.  I knew what I was doing wasn't exactly working for me...I loved it, but something needed to change.  The first step was to hop on a plane and go way outside my comfort zone to meet a handful of women I didn't know and hope that it was worth it.

 Photo courtesy of  Ashton Kelley Photography  and adorable photo booth bus from  Lil Photo Bus  

Photo courtesy of Ashton Kelley Photography and adorable photo booth bus from Lil Photo Bus 

I worried about meeting these women for no reason.  I walked into the house to people welcoming me with open arms.  And here's what happened......  

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I was paired up with Emma and I swear to you, they could not have made a better room assignment.  We both had children.  Were of the same age.  Both married...and confused on where the next step in our business was going to be.  We spent pretty much every moment of the trip together exploring Charleston and sharing thoughts, fears and stories.  We stayed up late at night in bed with the lights off giggling like little middle school girls...I haven't laughed so hard or genuinely in a long time...I actually can't remember when.  I know that Emma and I will be friends forever.  She encouraged me in more ways than I can list and for that I am so grateful!    

charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana

I also met Kelsi...who I connected with immediately.  Our sense of humor was spot on which really put me at ease.  I felt really close to her for many reasons, but the biggest one was hat all of the fears she had about her business...I had once felt too.

charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana

Back to the tears.  The retreat included a few lectures from other photographers...the first was about balance.  Something I've been struggling with for several years now but even more intensely as of late.  Amanda is a fellow mother, also with 3 children.  When she opened her lecture by saying 'she could not remember when she last looked her daughter in the eye when she spoke to her' I lost it.  This is a daily issue for me.  Working from home is so far from glamorous.  And having children makes it even crazier.  My office is the couch for now since I need to be with my kids which means that while I'm here at home with them...I'm not entirely present.  One of the girls favorite things to play is 'work'...they pull out an old laptop we have and sit on the couch telling each other to 'Shhhhh...I'm working' or 'Back up....I'm working' and worst of all 'In a little while babe, I'm working' Is this what they hear from me all day?  If I ceased to exist, is this what they would remember me saying to them?  Constant guilt and the nagging feeling of being a bad mom litters my mind.  Thanks to the every day 'mommy wars' I'm left wondering some days if I'm selfish for wanting to work and feeling fulfilled as a working mom.  I am so appreciative that Amanda was able to sit down and look at me..and the other mothers on the retreat...and tell us that we are not alone.  That this feeling is real..and ugly..and normal.  She also said it doesn't have to be that way.  She helped us to streamline our workflow so that we could do more of the fun stuff...like actually going and photographing people...while working smarter not harder in the office.  Thus, freeing up time to be with our children.  She emphasized office hours and their importance so that our children would remember us for all the fun memories we have with them, not seeing us behind a computer all the time.  For me, this was the beginning of my weekend of tears.  

charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana

The next speaker slapped me in the face.  No, not literally, but it sure felt like it.  My husband.  The greatest guy on earth.  Who never complains and gives unconditionally.  What about him?  After all, he is the one who gave me the go ahead to quit that job I hated...you know, the one that gave me a reliable income through a pay check every 2 weeks...What about him?  See, we are at that weird point in our lives where were are not only spouses and parents all while we are working to build our careers.  We currently work opposite shifts and majority of the time we only see each other in passing.  Time alone together is virtually non existent.  I typically start my work day after the kids go to bed, its just too hard to get things done while they're awake.  Problem is, my husbands work hours make it so that he goes to bed about the same time the kids do.  How many times has he asked me to close the computer...hold off on emails...wait another 30 minutes until I start working, so that I can spend time with him?  Sarah's lecture started out with her saying...'My business ruined my life.  I chose my business over my husband day and day again, and he left me" ...Enter sob fest across the room from all the married women.  It was at this point I started seeing something.  I wasn't alone.  I wasn't alone.  I'm not alone.  These feelings I've been feeling are real.  And then It hit me...I ignore my husband a lot.  I mean, a lot.  By the time he gets home from work...we do something with the kids...cook and eat dinner...bathe the kids...and get them to bed.  I'm exhausted and tired of being spoken to (my kids literally NEVER STOP TALKING)...and he gets to pay for it.  At this point, I felt horrible....in a good way I guess, but horrible.  I wanted to grab my husband and thank him for always being my supporter.  For always being there...and waiting while I chase my dream while simultaneously pushing him away.  Sarah's honesty inspired to be more intentional and share about myself with honesty transparency, hence my new found love for personal blog posts!

charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana

I think it was around now that we all realized that this retreat had become less about 'photography' and more about waking up...and giving up that Hustle that has been shoved in our faces for so long.  To give up on comparing ourselves to all the industry leaders and the pressure WE PUT ON OURSELVES to be just like them.  Because really, lets face it, its ruining our lives.  And giving us premature wrinkles. 

charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana

I walked away from this retreat feeling inspired.  Happy.  Rejuvenated.  Like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.  I went there wondering how I could be better and walked away knowing more about myself, how to be a better wife, mother and business owner... and because of that, I know I can serve my clients better!  I learned I can have my business and love it guilt free...while loving my family and giving them the time the want and deserve.

The weekend wasn't all tears.  We had fun too!  I promise!  Being in Charleston, naturally, we had to do some fun styled shoots! Ruth, from Raise the Ruth Events, worked her booty off styling some adorable setups for us to photograph along with Mad Hatter Vintage!

charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana
charleston-south carolina-wedding photographer-fort wayne-indiana

This weekend put so much into perspective for me and I can't wait to go again.  I think trips like this are so beneficial for my mental health as a  creative, small business owner, woman, wife and mother.  Stepping back and looking things over with a clear mind can do wonders!  These women are forever friends!  It's like the trip never ended, we've had a group chat going non stop since the first day of the trip!  Together we will lift each other up and bridge the gap that we all feel is there...community over competition.  

 Photo courtesy of  Ashton Kelley Photography  and adorable photo booth bus from  Lil Photo Bus

Photo courtesy of Ashton Kelley Photography and adorable photo booth bus from Lil Photo Bus

"Other women who are killing it should motivate you, thrill you, challenge you and inspire you..." - Taylor Swift

As I flew home Sunday night I replayed the weekend over and over...I knew I was coming home different than I was before.

Photo courtesy of Ashton Kelley Photography and adorable photo booth bus from Lil Photo Bus

The Sweetest Little Pea - Fort Wayne, Indiana Wedding and Portrait Photographer

I always said I wanted to have 3 children and we were blessed with twins right off the bat.  When we found out we were pregnant we knew we really wanted a boy and were shocked to find out we were actually having identical twin girls!  So when I found out I was pregnant for a second time a little over a year ago we were crossing our fingers for a little baby boy...and sure enough thats exactly what we were having!  

I instantly started hearing "Oh a baby boy will melt your heart"..."Boys are the best"..."Boys are the sweetest" and so on....I had no idea.  The twins mean the world to me and have been an experience that I truly feel we are lucky to have.  We always say we had to have been hand picked to be twin parents.  But when they handed Elston to me and I first laid eyes on him everything inside me sank.  Within seconds he had me in the palm of his hand.  He has been such a joy and fits into our very loud and chaotic family perfectly.  I never knew I could love like this.   

This was one of my favorite days as a parent, it was one of the first times Elston had baby food followed by his very first sink bath.  See, when the twins were infants we felt like we were strictly in survival mode...and some days we still think we are...but we didn't get to really enjoy these moments like we do with Elston.  A lot of things that parents of singletons take as bonding times like baths, feedings and cuddles...just didn't happen for us.  Baths and feeding were more like a conveyer line.  Wash one baby then hand them to dad to get dried and dressed and start washing the next.  Feeding....lets just not go there, I don't miss that at all.  But life with Elston, one baby, has been incredible.  I get to hold him all the time and wear him in a carrier and not have to worry about "the other infant who is screaming for me". Its just so different and I'm loving every minute of it! 

One of my goals for 2016 was to be a bit more transparent.  We live in a world now where people feel the need to put on a front and pretend that everything in their life is all glitter and rainbows.  Look, our house isn't always clean.  The dishes aren't always done.  The laundry may be washed but not hung in the closets.  The lawn might not be mowed.  The kids may not be all done up everyday...that stuff doesn't really always matter but its these special little moments that I'll remember the rest of my life!  I hope that some of these more personal posts give a little glimpse into our everyday, not so perfect but perfect for us, life!  

Elston Bath.jpg
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babyboy-sinkbath-fortwayne-indiana-photographer
babyboy-sinkbath-fortwayne-indiana-photographer