Charlottesville Homecoming

When DeAnne contacted me about photographing her daughter, Delaney, for senior homecoming, I did not expect the story that was to follow! It’s ridiculously cute and added so much excitement to this session. Delaney’s family was vacationing at Virginia Beach this past summer and while swimming in the ocean she met a boy. *swoon* Delaney told me he taught her how to surf and they spent the next few “days in the waves and nights on the boardwalk” as DeAnne stated. Vacation came to and end and Kyle (afformentioned boy), returned to his home…in OHIO..and Delaney and her family returned to Virginia, both never really expecting to see each other again.

As we all know, there are a million ways to keep up with each other these days and that is precisely what Kyle and Delaney did. They have been in touch every day since they met and formed such a special relationship. Delaney wanted Kyle to be able to accompany her to her senior year homecoming at Charlottesville High, and she got her wish. Kyle FLEW FROM OHIO to attend the dance with Delaney and take these portraits with her (good move, Kyle. Am I right?!?).

This session was so sweet (and nostalgic..I loved high school – weird I know – and it was fun to be in the midst of that again.). Kyle and Delaney were PRECIOUS and so caring toward one another. It was so obvious that what they have built since the summer is very unique. Some of Delaney’s friends from school came to join the shoot with their families at Boars Head Inn (which is a BEAUTIFUL location as you’ll see below!). It was such a pleasure to meet the Tharp family and capture such a sweet story. Delaney is as sweet as she is beautiful, and is it just me or does Kyle look exactly like actor Grant Gustin who plays The Flash?! They sure did look like a movie!

 

 

Amanda: Senior

I met the Holmes family when I was around 11 or 12 years old through dance lessons, church and Mr. Holmes was my middle school vice principle. Amanda (now a senior!!) was only 3 years old at the time – now I feel old..(insert eye roll). Robin, Amanda’s mom, contacted me about her senior pictures, and I honestly did not realize Amanda was old enough to be a senior! She indeed is, and she is beautiful!

Amanda is having a bit of a different start to her senior year than most. Last week, one week after we did her senior pictures, she underwent brain surgery for a Chiari Malformation and is now on the mend. She will be in recovery for at least 6 weeks and hopefully the months of chronic headaches she has been living with and powering through will be gone! If you have a moment, say a prayer for Amanda as she recovers and that she can successfully dive into the rest of her senior year pain free!

Amanda and her family moved  a few hours away from our hometown a few years back, but they have returned and it was so nice to see them again and take these portraits on a beautiful farm owned by close family friends of both of our families – Jake and Kleo Garland! When the Holmes family moved, they were unable to take their dog, Belle, and Jake and Kleo actually took care of Belle for them. Amanda got to spend some time with Belle who followed us around during her shoot and made her way into a few frames with Amanda.

Congratulations on your final year of high school, Amanda! I am praying for your recovery and hoping you can get back in the swing of things soon and enjoy this exciting time in your life! Enjoy the pictures!!

Hi, Belle!

Her grandma’s ring

Amanda wanted to re-create a senior picture that her brother had taken during his senior pictures.

Willow: Dancer

My mom posted on Facebook the other day, as countless moms posted their child’s first day of school pictures, that this will be the first year in 25 years that she doesn’t have a child starting school, and the first year in almost 27 years that she doesn’t have a child in dance classes. Willow, the youngest of our bunch, has graduated high school and had her last dance recital! *cue tears and “how the time flies” cliches*. But foreal, time flies! Willow is 18 (!!!) and headed of to The College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine in just two weeks where she will take off her dancing shoes and put on her “Human Ecology”/Environmentalist shoes and start her college education!

Willow is many things. She is tall and she is beautiful, as everyone can see in these images and the countless images I post of her, but she is much more than that! She has overcome a lot in her 18 years, and though she is still young and has so much more life ahead of her, she seems to have turned out pretty okay. 😉 There isn’ t a perfect teenage out there, we all know that, but she’s definitely my favorite teenager. She is smart. She is funny. She thinks I’m funny (which is one of the best things about her, obviously.) She is passionate. She is quiet and reserved and loud and outgoing at the same time. She is loved.

Willow, this is the part of your life where you are on your own more than you have ever been in your 18 years. At the risk of sounding like a mom, here I go with some college bound advice. Make good choices. Call Mom. If you need help, ask. Don’t jump off the bridge because all of your friends did (peer pressure and all that jazz). If your friends can’t handle you being different than them, they aren’t your friends. It’s okay to be weird. Care about people. Be a quality friend, even if it’s not always reciprocated. Dad is probably right. Cultivate a relationship with God and talk to Him even when it’s hard or not the cool thing to do, because when everyone else bails – He won’t. Don’t learn that the hard way. You’ll likely make some friends that will be in your life for the rest of your life. Choose wisely. Remember that I love you and I will drive 16 hours to be there any day of the week if you needed me.

Love,

Your Big Sister – Emily

Dear Noah,

 

I still don’t think I’ve fully grasped the fact that you are here – a little human that has changed one of my oldest and closest friends’ name to “Dad”. Karen and Gabe love you so incredibly much, and I can’t begin to tell you how blessed you are to belong to them. I have zero doubt that when you are old enough to articulate it, you will agree with me. Your mom will always show you care and compassion. Your dad will always have silly dance moves and bad jokes, but you’ll laugh anyway.

I came to see you in the hospital after you were born and you slept in my arms for about a half hour before it was time for you to eat. How surreal to hold you when I still feel like we are all still kids ourselves. I watched Gabe and Karen hold you, stare at you, laugh at your perpetually angry face, and be parents for the first time. They’re killing it so far, by the way. I expect they will continue to.

You will have so many people, more than you know, who will be caring and praying for you as you grow – so many people who love you, and I want you to know I am one of them. I can’t wait to see who you become. I must say, you’re pulling from a pretty awesome gene pool. If you’re anything like your parents, I think you’ll be just fine.

 

Welcome to the world, Noah Michael.

Love, Em

The Duff Family 

The Duff family… 2 members stronger than they were just a couple years ago! It’s so amazing to me how time changes so much, but I am very grateful that it hasn’t changed my relationship with my forever friend. Taylor and I were kids running around cow fields and making up dance routines in the basement and all of a sudden she has this little family with Cody and they have created these two little people that they prayed SO fervently for –  that I prayed for – and I can’t believe they turn 2 this year!

We did an Easter shoot on Taylor’s birthday this year, and I’m so happy to share these photos. They really are a beautiful family. Like most families, they have kids that sometimes cry, they have times that test their patience, they have moments that aren’t picture perfect – they have moments where they need grace. The good news is, they have it. Easter, the resurrection of our savior, made sure of that.

Notice the “He is Risen” on the twins outfits? Pretty dang cute, right? P and H don’t quite know the importance of what their cute little outfits portray – but I do, and more importantly, their parents do. Taylor and Cody will mold them into the people they will become and the truth that is printed on the tiniest of t-shirts will guide them in doing so.

Tay and Cody,

I love you, both so much! I love your little monsters (even when Harrison is mean to me). I’m grateful to feel like I am a part of your precious family. I am thankful for every moment I spend with y’all, even when it is accompanied with the challenges of getting two 1 1/2 year olds to look my way at the same time.

I’m so proud of the parents that you are. I’m not a parent, so in all honesty I can only imagine the challenges that it brings, especially with the two for one deal you guys got – but from where I stand, I think you’re pretty great. (But if it gets too much and you want to give me Penelope, it’s fine. I’ll take her) 😉

I love you guys so much. There is so much love in and for and around your family. I know jobs and kids and to-do lists make this one busy life, but give me the kids for a night and take some time for yourselves! You deserve it.

All my love,

EmJ

Gabe & Karen: Baby Boy Fitzgerald

This is one of those moments that I have a hard time believing is real. Gabe, one of my best friends since the age of 5, is going to be a dad and the love of his life, Karen, is going to be a mom to a little baby boy! What?! I swear, 5 minutes ago we were in kindergarten learning how to write our phone numbers and fighting over who was taller. (I think it’s safe to say we know who finally won that battle.)  I love this family more than I can express and I am going to love their son so much. It really is amazing to see your friends lives develop so beautifully!

When Karen asked me to do their engagement photos about 3 years ago, I hadn’t even imagined the moment when I would capture images of their growing family! This little boy is so loved already by these two and by the abundance of people who are so excited for him to enter the world! Baby Fitzgerald doesn’t even know how amazing his parents are yet, but he will.

How beautiful does Karen look?! She was such a trooper during our shoot. at nearly 9 months pregnant I asked her to sit down and stand up and climb on this rock or down that hill (don’t worry – it was all safe), and she was the best about it! She’s typically much more cooperative than Gabe anyway. 😉

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Karen, I know it’s been your dream to be a mom, and I am so happy for you. You’re gonna be great at it and you, Gabe and your little one have constantly been in my prayers. You are compassionate, caring and fun which are some pretty great descriptors for a mom, but the greatest thing about you as a mom will be the love for Christ that you have and that you’ll pass on to your son – I have no doubt about it.

Garbriel – goodness, you’re going to be the best dad. You make me laugh literally every day, and your dad jokes are already on point. You’re going to be a fun dad, a strong dad, and a Godly dad that will point your son to his Father. I can’t wait to watch that unfold. (and to give you a hard time the entire way…but you can point back to this and remember that I truly think you’re the best!)

I love you guys so much! Thank you for letting me capture this first in your lives. Thanks for the Mexican food/Finding Dory hang out afterward. Love, love, love you. ❤

– Emily

Willow: Prom

I distinctly remember thinking about these moments when Willow was little. I thought about this little red headed six year old and how one day she would be a teenager – one day she would be a woman. I wondered what she would look like when she was no longer a little girl that I had to make sure got a bath at night and got up for 2nd grade in the morning. I wondered what type of sense of humor she would have. I wondered who she’d fall in love with. I wondered what she would be like when she was more than my little sister – when she was my friend. Well, friends, here she is. All 5 foot 10 inches of her, and she is beautiful and smart and funny and one of my favorite people. Photographing her and her friends for their senior prom was very cold and very windy but so worth it when looking at these images. I love you, Willow Mina! ❤️

 

 

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Kayla, 26

My beautiful best friend, Kayla, turned 26 last month, and for her birthday we broke out the confetti glitter and the giant gold balloons for a birthday inspired photoshoot in downtown Lynchburg. If you happened to be in Lynchburg during the week of this shoot and saw glitter floating around, it was absolutely my fault. Target’s $1.00 bins hooked us up y’all! They sell some pretty dope glitter.

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I contemplated what I wanted to write about in this post, and I decided to extend Kayla’s birthday gift and write about exactly what this shoot was about – Kayla. She has been a part of my life for so long that I don’t really remember any of my life without her. I am so blessed to be one of those people who has childhood friends that without a doubt will be my friends for the rest of time. So, to honor Kayla for her birthday, I am going to tell you 10 (obvious and not so obvious) reason’s why I love her…

1.) I love her loyalty. I could expand on this, but anyone who has seen her with her friends and family knows exactly what I mean

2.) I love that she love’s things that I hate, and is totally cool with that. I think as  little kid’s we tend to believe that we have to be the same as our best friends. We have to pretend we love everything that they love and hate everything that they hate. Let me tell you, it’s so much more fun when you’re different. People always connect first on how they are alike, but to truly know someone is to see all of the ways you are not.  Here’s a fraction of the things that she loves/I hate – star-shaped things, polka dots, ruffles, her cat (Cookie *rolls eyes*), Hart of Dixie, running, popcorn (okay I don’t totally hate popcorn, but I hate being near people who eat it)…just to name a few.

3.) I love that she is afraid of corn fields… Like not even being in one… just being near one or driving safely in a car beside one legitimately freaks her out and it’s ridiculous.

4.) I love that when I stay at her house, her things are my things. Girls, you’ll know what I mean. She offer’s me literally anything in her home when I’m there. I can mention that I’m hungry and she’ll try to give me everything in her kitchen that she has until she finds something i’ll want. If I need to take a shower she says “I just got this really great $30.00 bottle of special shampoo if you want to try it out!” (First of all… hide that shampoo and use all $30 of it on yourself, Kayla. Don’t just be offering up the good stuff to visitors…jk..but really). It’s a good example of how in her everyday life, she put’s those around her first.

5.) I love that if I text her the words “ice cream” she says when and where.

6.) I love her voice. Girl can sing and you better believe we harmonize like no other on every radio filled car ride we ever take.

7.) I love her faith. She knows Jesus and He knows her.

8.) I love that she trust’s me. This seems a little bit backwards, as maybe I should say that I love that I can trust her (and I can 100%), but the fact that she trusts me means something too. She doesn’t keep things from me – which is great best friend etiquette, but it’s not always easy. She tell’s me her happy moments, insecurities, something that annoyed her that shouldn’t have, hard truths that I need to hear, her favorite songs, her worst fears, her triumphs, her failures, the weird dreams she has – everything. She trust’s me to receive those things and love her in them. She doesn’t like to let other people drive her car, but she let’s me. She always says “It’s because I trust you.” She let’s me pick out her clothes. She let me do her hair and make up and dress her for this shoot (beauty post to come soon!). She give’s me a key to her home. She jump hug’s me because she knows I’ll catch her. These are small things, but they add up to a type of trust that let’s me know that if the world falls into complete chaos, I’ve got someone and so does she.

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9.) I love that she will watch bad TV with me. I love Oscar winning movies and award worthy TV shows just as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want to watch something bad – a ridiculously cheesy rom-com, a TV show that shouldn’t have made it past the pilot..anything really, she’s up for it.

10.) I love that I never have to worry about her. I don’t mean this is a way of general concern – of course I “worry” about her in terms of her well being and safety and happiness. I mean that I never have to for a minute think about losing her friendship or dealing with some unresolvable conflict. I don’t worry about betrayal, or lying, or abandonment or any of the issues the previously mentioned bad rom-coms deal with among friends. Her character is to be there and to do what’s best for those she loves, sometimes at the expense of herself.

I love you, Birdy. Happy 26th Birthday. ❤

-EmJ

 

 

 

Torey

I love photographing friends. It’s one of the easiest things I do as a photographer as well as one of the most stressful. I know that’s contradictory, but I’ll explain. It’s easy because when I know someone, I know how they see themselves, how to direct them, what makes them laugh, how to make them comfortable, and that always produces the best images. It’s stressful because as an artist, there is always a fear of not doing your subject justice! You want your art to portray the people you love beautifully! (And I doubt a friend would honestly say “I actually hate that photo you took of me”). Anyway, here is a recent shoot of someone I love dearly! Look at this beauty.

My sweet friend, Torey, has been dreaming up and planning a blog for quite a while and it’s here! Living Virginia is her lifestyle blog that’s she’s working really hard on, so go check it out and give it some love!


I’ve been happy to do a bit of photography for the site, like this shoot of Torey, but she’s honing her own photography skills as well on her blog. Check it out 🙂

Love you, Tor! ❤

-Em