Just for fun

I'm engaged!

This post is now a long time coming, but as you probably all know, I'm engaged!  In the summer of 2009, I would drive to Georgetown each Sunday where I would have a Bible study with some friends and go to church. One Sunday after I had returned from a trip to Tanzania, a new cute young man attended my church for the first time. He began joining us for Bible study and impressed me by volunteering hours and hours of his time to help out a disabled couple I had started assisting. Though there were immediate sparks, Brad impressed me further with his humility and desire to grow with the Lord before he began a relationship. The other problem came from the fact that he went to Vanderbilt several states away. Over the next few years we grew to be good friends when Brad was back in town (although some of my friends will never accept that we were just friends). God did so much in each of us over those years, as well as growing an affection for each other. If you want to hear the longer story of some of the amazing thing the Lord used to draw us together, you'll have to ask me in person sometime! But needless to say, we did feel God leading us into a relationship! Ironically enough, that began right when Brad left for Costa Rica for six months for an engineering mission trip in January 2012. I convinced my mom (not that it was difficult) to take a vacation to Costa Rica to visit Brad over the summer and we had an amazing time exploring. The thing I enjoyed most though was seeing my mom get to know Brad and see the way he treats me with love and respect. Brad & I-5

Since Brad has been back in the states, we have learned so much about how to love and serve one another in a relationship.  But we've also had so much fun!  We both share a love for discovering the beauty for God's creation and take any chance to be outside.  I'm so grateful for the way that God reminds me daily who I am through Brad and how he lifts me up to be the radiant person I was made to be.

Brad & I-4

We've always know that we were dating with marriage in mind, so I knew that a proposal would come before too long.  The day after Valentine's Day, we went out to my parent's ranch where I grew up my whole life to celebrate my mom's birthday.  Little did I know though, that we weren't celebrating my mom's birthday!  Brad suggested walking up to the beautiful pasture with a big (in my eyes) oak tree where we had talked about getting married.  Being a happy clueless person, I really didn't know what was coming, but after walking around the oak tree, Brad got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.  I was speechless for a few moments before I could squeak out a yes and then start jumping up and down for joy!  He then put a gorgeous golden ring on my finger and it was official...we are engaged!

My ring!-1

The story of my ring is just a little picture of the care and thoughtfulness Brad puts into the things he cares about.  Knowing my love of all things trees, especially oak trees, he fashioned a ring out of an oak twig from the tree in front of his house and took it to a jeweler where they cast the twig and a flower in gold for the most perfect engagement ring ever.  Brad gave me the choice of what stone to add and, of course, I chose a light aqua stone.  I can't imagine a more wonderful symbol of our commitment.  Since I'm in the wedding industry, I'm so excited to have my own wedding, but more than ANYTHING, I'm just so happy to be marrying this Godly man who serves the people around him, delights in adventure, and is so intentional in loving me.

Fun and exciting updates!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAOGU8JidME I'm so proud to finally share my new website and promo video! It's been a long process, but so worth it. The website has been a thorn in my side for a while, and though it's not perfect yet, I'd rather have an imperfect website than agonize over something that I never publish. It's the same address, so make sure to take a look around :)

Even more exciting is the fact that I have the most wonderful promo video! My two creative partners-in-crime, Carlos Barron and Antonio Banda meet up monthly to brainstorm and embark on creative projects just to keep our artistic brains working. Our second big project involved producing a video to share who I am and express my love for photography and I couldn't be happier with it! Though collaborating can seem intimidating because of artistic differences, it reaps so much fruit when unique talents and perspectives add to the final product. I'm so grateful for the time and talent Carlos and Antonio put into making my promo video!

P.S. The super fun song is Circus of Love by Benjamin Dunn, licensed by the Music Bed.

Pippin!

Since The Hobbit just came out, I'm sure many people, such as myself, re-watched the other Lord of the Rings trilogy.  And maybe, like me, people were reminded of how mischievous, and yet incredibly dumb Peregrin Took can be.  All the same, the hobbit more commonly known as Pippin always has a good heart and you can't help but love him.  Our new kitty, Pippin, has many of the same qualities as his namesake, including the red hair.  Our little adopted family member makes life much more interesting!  And now I have a friend to cuddle with while I edit all of my photos!  He almost makes it tempting for me to grow up to be a crazy cat lady.  Almost.  But I like people too much :) Look at his sweet little face.

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But sometimes he's just a crazy kitty!

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His sleepy face melts my heart every time.

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Look at that, he enjoys the sun as much as I do!

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We have seen His glory

Jesus Tree This Christmas I've been so aware of how incredibly blessed I am to be surrounded by wonderful family and friends who care for me in beautiful ways.  Yet I know how easy it is to still feel alone, even in the midst of family gatherings and holiday parties.  As this Christmas day is almost over (yikes, it's later than I thought!) I just rest in the presence of a God who came to dwell among the people he loved.  The son of God became a man, a humble servant, and conquered death upon a lonely tree so that we might not know the dull ache of loneliness any longer.  This is the glory we have seen and celebrate!

Frames

Over the past summer, a few friends and I road-tripped west to New Mexico, Arizona, and finally California (you can see a few photos of New Mexico that I blogged but I haven't posted the others yet) .  We traveled over sweeping plains, through deeps canyons, into the giant Sequoias and the Redwoods, and along the coast of California.  I'm still amazed at what a variety of gorgeous places exist in our country and now have an awesome portfolio of landscapes photographs. Fast forward to the fall- I decided to enter the Georgetown Art Works Art Hop Competition and had to choose a photograph.  Of course, one of the lovely new landscapes I had taken on our road trip was the obvious choice, but I decided instead to submit a photo of Alex standing in the mouth of a cave on the shoreline of California.  In my submission, I wrote that we put frames around pieces of art or photographs to signify that image's importance, but in the moment that I took the picture of Alex, nature made that distinction for me.  Even after seeing some of the most beautiful places in the United States, the way that Becca, Alex, and I grew in friendship really did impact me more than any breathtaking landscape.  It's so easy to get caught up in taking stunning, award-winning photos that sometimes I need my focus to be re-framed around the things (aka people) I find most precious.

Ironically, I actually placed third in the Art Works competition with 'Frames!'  I guess paying attention to my philosophic musings paid off this time.  Yay!  Check it out, along with 'Rest,' the photo of swallows I took from my balcony.

Swallows

Swallows

New goal in blogging: stop feeling like I have to always share long, giant posts. So, just because I love taking photos, let me introduce you to the beautiful swallows who flutter around our porch! We feel a little like proud aunts after watching them hatch and get their feathers and then take flight. Let me tell you though, those things are FAST. Nothing like speeding swallows to hone your reflexes for weddings, right? P.S. You have my full permission to bug me about posting more!

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Life is awesome.

It's just crazy that this little person didn't exist, and now he does.  I'm so thankful to know that he will be loved.  I'm praying for all the little people (and big people) who don't have someone to love them and hold them and treasure them.  If you're looking for a good book to stir your heart and a good cause to help make sure that a few more little ones are loved, check out Kisses from Katie. And know that you are loved.

Crystal Colorado

You send me angels You send me air

Like a crystal Colorado

You take me there

                -Crystal Colorado, Alpha Rev

The air in the mountains of Colorado refreshes me somehow.  It's crisp and clean and pure.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very loyal to Texas.  But Colorado has this invigorating quality to it that I just love and can't really explain.  Since my trip was infused with music and organic beauty, I thought that quoting one of my favorite bands, Alpha Rev, would be appropriate.  Their third album, City Farm: Roots was completely funded by fans and was recorded simply for the love of music and creating.

I am in awe of mountains.  Nothing else to be said there.

So how did I end up in Colorado?  One of my dearest lifelong friends, Jenny, currently calls Colorado home, so I couldn't resist a visit while I had some free time over the summer.

Jenny teaches music at Orsch, undoubtedly one of the coolest schools I've ever seen, and I got to enjoy playing and running and skipping and cartwheeling with the sweet kids there.  It's not often you get to play with a cowgirl, a princess, and the cutest raccoon ever, all in the same day.

I also had the privilege of photographing two sisters and another girl who took on the "Passion Project" of writing and recording their own songs.  These young ladies have beautiful voices and hearts.

Not only does Jenny inspire youngsters to pursue music, but she lives to make beautiful music herself!  I convinced her to let me take photos for her upcoming album with amazing original songs (like this one).  Or at least maybe if we all gang up on her, she'll actually record more of her songs!  Maria, Jenny, and I drove up and up and up to catch a gorgeous sunset over the Blue Mesa Lake.  While Jenny usually moves too quickly and freely to be caught on camera, I couldn't get over how much of a connection she had with the camera.  Dancing through the golden sunlight pouring over the mesa, we created some of my favorite images yet.

I'm showing serious restraint in posting a few as I did, just FYI.

We're now going to take a commercial break to recognize Subaru, the official sponsor of outdoorsy Coloradans.  Doesn't this photo just make you want to load up your camping and climbing gear and go on an adventure?

Ok, and now for possibly my favorite photo I've ever taken.

Maria and I had to get in on the pretty light before the sun set, too!

This past year, I've fallen in love with rock climbing, so I got to go bouldering under the bright blue Colorado sky!

The final thing to check off my Colorado to do list was seeing the stars in their untainted-by-city-pollution glory.  I still have a lot to learn when it comes to long exposure star photos, but it's a start!

California Road Trip!

I am currently in the middle of a camping, road-tripping adventure through Arizona, New Mexico and California!  I don't have much time tor write, but here's a few photos from the first few days of our crazy escape across the country.  I have been blown away by the beauty of our country and our Creator more times than I can count, from the tiny colorful caterpillars to the stunning mountain landscapes.

I am not alone

I am not alone

In case you haven't heard, I entered the Prosper community's photo contest and would love love love if you'd support me at http://theprospercommunity.com/contest.html. I'm number 20, so keep scrolling down to vote for me! More importantly, the story behind the photo:

The assignment was to create a self portrait with some encouraging "I believe" statement and its scripture reference. Since it rained the whole time that the contest was open for entry, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. Saturday night the rain finally slowed down and on my drive back from a church event, I noticed that the mist made all the lights glow beautifully! Luckily I had my camera with me, so I stopped in the Georgetown square and set up my tripod. I loved the way the photos came out, but they felt so lonely!

As I was thinking about it, however, I realized that many times in my life I have felt very lonely, even when surrounded by people. Now however, even when I am physically alone, I know that my God will always be with me. My mind quickly went to Isaiah 49:15-16, which has been one of my favorite scriptures since I learned of Jesus' breathtaking love four years ago. It says that even if my mother and father forsake me, my name is written on the palm of God's hand. I love the intimacy of hands, so the thought of my name inscribed on the palm of God's hand strikes a deep chord in me. A year ago, I just about fell over when I realized that my name was physically carved into Jesus's hands with the nails he took for me! Woah. So much tenderness, paid in blood.

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Clusterfest photos!

So my school (Southwestern University, in case you didn't know) decided that instead of having one big musical act a year, they would start an annual music festival.  After much hard work by some very ambitious students, Clusterfest was born.  With seven different artists and hundreds of attendees, the first festival could definitely be called a success.  And I had the privilege of photographing it!  Pretty lights, balloons, and super animated musicians (aka Matt & Kim)  meant that I had a good time taking pictures.  Here are a few of my favorite photos!  Make sure to check out the line-up for this year's festival on April 20th, headlined by the Sleigh Bells and even featuring a few really talented Southwestern students!

Vulnerability

Today marks the beginning of my 40-day journey through Prosper, a devotional for photographers by Scarlett Lillian, of Scarlett & Stephen Photography.  You can read more about it on the website (and even see me quoted on the promo video!  Eek!), but it’s basically a vulnerable collection of Scarlett’s prayers, struggles, and triumphs throughout her years as a photographer.  I can already tell that God’s going to use it mightily to push some buttons in me concerning my business, but more importantly, my relationship with Him. You are currently reading my first assignment: to write a blog about my heart for Jesus Christ.  I’ve written about God before, especially when it comes to seeing His beauty in nature,  His love on mission trips, or His glorious humility at Christmas time (my personal favorite), but my blog is not really a place where I’ve been very vulnerable.  Consider this my first attempt!

This devotional could not have come at a better time, because recently each day brings some new opportunity or accolade concerning my photography and with the increasing attention, seeds of doubt and fear try to take root in me.  It seems like pride would be the more obvious stumbling block, but the real thing that threatens me is fear of failure.  An ugly voice whispers to me, “What if they expect great things from you and you can’t deliver?” or “What makes you think you know what you’re doing? Now you’re going to disappoint everyone.”  In the photography world (particularly wedding photography), confidence in yourself is a must, so my confession may not be the wisest business move, but I guess that’s what vulnerability is all about.

Fear of failure certainly isn’t a new struggle for me, but you wouldn’t guess it looking at my life.  I’ve mostly excelled at what I’ve done.  Whether in school, sports, or organizations, the more I've achieved, the greater the dread in my heart that I’m just fooling everyone and I’m not actually competent or talented at all.  That fear used to cripple me inside.  But something’s changed.  I met Jesus Christ, and he’s patiently teaching me that he does not despise my weakness or my fears, but loves me unconditionally and wholly.  He loves me in my successes and my failures.  Nor do my successes or failures define me, but only his love, which never changes.  I still struggle with doubt and it’s coming up currently with my business, but I know I’m not alone.  His power is perfected in my weakness, because then His light shines through.  I trust God to take care of me, to show me His eye for beauty, and to give me His love for people.

"And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered." 2 Chronicles 31:21

Beauty in black and white

“When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” -Ted Grant

This morning I completed (for now, at least) a display of photos at the Cianfrani coffee shop on the square in Georgetown.  You should go see them!  Since most of my time photography-wise is spent taking and editing work for clients, I loved the opportunity to revisit some of my work that simply came from my love of travel and people and beauty.   In particular, I fell in love again with a few black and white photos from over the years that I wanted to share.  The first, I took at a 70th wedding anniversary party in Austin.  Last year I won Southwestern University's Brown Symposium photo contest on conversation with the photo and still love the connection you can see between these old friends.

The photo of the soldier is from Munich, where I traveled with my family and brother's soccer team in 2008.  Since I had only had my Canon Rebel Xti for a month or two, I can definitively point to that trip as the first time I really fell in love with light.  I was so blessed to have Michael O'Brien offer his wisdom about photography and life during the long bus rides through Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic and take so much inspiration from the way that he relates deeply with everyone he photographs.

The slightly creepy old house sits just off of Highway 29, east of Georgetown.  Every time I need to remove myself from the concrete and city life (it's a city compared to where I grew up, ok?), I drive out east and can lose myself for at least an hour exploring the country back roads.  This house is one of my favorite finds and I've photographed it several times.  One of the color prints is in Cianfrani, as well!

The last two are from my mission trip to Tanzania in 2010, an eye-opening trip in so many ways.  The poverty broke my heart and reshaped my view of the America Dream, as I expected.  What caught me off guard was how easily I could related to the joys and struggles of the people I met, despite our vastly different life experiences.  The children started off being super shy, but after we talked to them through our translator  and started to play games, they wanted to know everything about us and my fancy camera.  In a different village, I talked to this woman for a long time, hearing about her very hard and lonely life.  However, it was sad to see how she had turned in her loneliness to alcohol, the smell of which emanated from her strongly.  What was even more wrenching was the fact that I knew we were going to have to drive away and not have the chance to show her the love available to her, despite any tragedies in the past.  I'm so thankful I had a chance to connect with her even for that brief time, though, and capture a glimpse of her life in a photograph, which is essentially why I love each of these photos: they're a brief glimpse into another life, another time, another soul.

Pursuit

It's Christmas!  So, like a good blogger, I wrote a Christmas post.  If if doesn't seem very holiday-ish at first, stick with me and you'll see the connection eventually.  Sometimes in the midst of doing photography as my business I lose sight of the brilliant reason I love taking photos in the first place: to reflect the beauty of God in His creations.  However, God was gracious enough to knock me off my feet last night when I saw this photo from my family's hike at Enchanted Rock and remind me of exactly why I do what I do.  (I'll show you the photo now if you promise to keep reading)

I had simply snapped this photo in between goofy photos of my parents, but the simple beauty and symbolism strikes a deep chord in me.  The man's purposeful stride towards his wife reflects the whole message of Christmas: Jesus came to us.  He pursued us because he loves us.  He didn't wait for us to come to him, but made himself nothing, a humble servant and was obedient to the point of death.  But death couldn't keep him down, so now we are free to live in the love of God, all because Jesus came to us.  I'm overwhelmed with that relentless love, the passionate pursuit of God as he defeats sin and reigns as Lord in our hearts.  And this is why I celebrate Christmas, but it's also why I long to take beautiful photos and be a loving daughter and a faithful friend every day.  Because every day I get the chance to worship the God who came to me and gave me life, not just on Christmas!

I told you it was a Christmas post :)  Have a beautiful day!

P.S.  Who wants to take engagement/wedding/senior photos at Enchanted Rock?!!?!!

Why I love being a photographer...

I frequently joke about how being a photographer is getting paid to be creepy.  While I'm only kidding about the creepy part, it is true that one of my favorite things about taking photos is watching people.  Now before you start inching away from me, listen to my reasoning.   And look at this photo, because it is what prompted me to share.

Here's what I'm thinking: they had no idea I was taking a photo and so I got the privilege to record the genuine joy of friends and family.  All the pretty details of a wedding are fun, but how much more precious is the celebration of two people's love among all the people who care about them?  This photo isn't technically perfect, but I love how real it is.  You probably still think I'm a little creepy, but it's worth it to get photos like this!

You are the beauty

I love the way God has given us so many ways to express our amazement at His beauty.  Right now I'm reveling Gungor's new album, Ghosts Upon the Earth, especially the song "You are the Beauty."  While listening to the song, I opened up this photo in Lightroom and decided that I really just couldn't keep either reflection of God's beauty to myself.  But as with any good creation on this earth, a photo or a song is only a reflection, because He IS the beauty!

Gold Mountain

My last name, Dormont, is French.  Funny thing is, I'm not French, I'm Polish.  To make a long story short (especially since half the people who look at this blog have already heard it), my great-grandfather translated our Polish name to French.  Goldberg became Dormont, but the meaning remains: Gold Mountain, which is why my parents named our goat raisin' business, Gold Mountain Goats.  While we don't actually have a mountain, we do have a lovely hill that turns golden in the glorious sunsets for which Texas is so famous.  This week I walked up the hill to see my dad's latest project.  I can't explain it is as well as he can, but he is in the process of building his own solar observatory to mark the solstices and equinoxes using cinderblocks, some copper piping, and a compass.  My dad is quite brilliant.  You'll also see our polar bears (Great Pyrenees guard dogs), our overly curious goats, and the remnants of our golf games in the pasture.  I love coming home.

An irresistible light

Light changes everything.  Last night, I took a little detour on the way back to school to marvel at the incredible sky.  Dark clouds mottled the horizon, but the sun shone through with a radiance I couldn't ignore.  As I photographed an old house I had found, I kept thinking back to a speech I had given in public speaking a couple of years ago.  Having just fallen in love with photography, I spoke on the importance of light within photography.  If you know nothing else about photography, know that paying attention to light will make a huge difference.  As it turns out, light carries some pretty deep symbolism too.  The more I thought about it in a photography context, the more sense it made on a spiritual level.  Often it is the contrast of shadows that gives photographs such depth,  but ultimately there is no darkness too deep that light can't pierce.  Anyways, I could go on and on, but I think these photos pretty well demonstrate the crazy difference light can make in a photograph. "For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."   -2 Corinthians 4:6

The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.    -Isaiah 60:19