Blair & Brad

BLAIR & BRAD, ENGAGED

Blair & Brad have such a sweet story. I say this regarding most couples, but their vulnerabilities and the deepest parts of their story is not for me to flaunt on my blog, but the theme of redemption and awe is certainly worth mentioning. I have been so blessed to know Blair through a few other dear friends of mine. I was sad for Blair when I began to know her more during a deeply painful time in her life.  Although my history with Blair is still fresh, I can confidently say how strong and how brave this woman is. Blair exudes selflessness. All interactions with her and the stories of her friendship with others is marked by generosity and loyalty. Two of our mutual dear friends often describe her as one who is committed. In more playful descriptions, Blair is also one who is beautifully and creatively fashionable. : ) She knows what’s up when it comes to art, fashion, and design.
Although I do not know Brad as well, he must be someone quite special to have snagged Blair. The first night I met Brad was the night Blair brought him over to meet one of her best friends parents–in other words, Brad was under some pressure being introduced to Blair’s second set of parents.  I remember thinking, “Oh man, this is a big night for them.”  It was obvious Brad was smitten by Blair.  The way he looked at her was the way every woman desires to be gazed upon.  I remember he commented on how cute Blairs laugh is–did I mention how smitten he was with her?? It was very clear. . . which was adorable.

So, here we are amongst a journey of healing and redemption Brad and Blair are getting married. : ) I know their wedding will be simply powerful and their marriage will astounding.

Thank for for including me in this process. I feel SO honored to have been able to photograph a snipit of who you are together.Thank you Westside Storey for allowing me to photograph in your AMAZING shop!

Posted in Engagement, Portraiture

Power of Precipitation

Power of Precipitation

Although one could be distraught by the limitations of nature, I found the snow to be quite liberating. I was overwhelmed by the magic and wonder of what the snow brought this year. White, everywhere. And so much of it. The earth just didn’t look real, I swear my neighborhood transported elsewhere for those few days.

Restricted by nature I sat alone and was in awe of the power of precipitation.

Posted in Personal

The Spears Family

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Good grief, how is one supposed to feel when the person they work for asks them to photograph their family? i.e. How was I to feel when Becca, who I work for, asked me to photograph her family? A little anxious, a little intimidated, but also really excited. Becca is so dear to me. For many reasons I believe her and her family are a delight to the world. Many people know her as an incredibly gifted photographer, & although she IS, I want the first thing I say about her is how amazing her soul is. I can truly say, I have continued to second shoot with Becca over the years solely because of how much I love being around her. I have been on the receiving end of vast encouragement and generosity as I know others have too. She writes the greatest, most encouraging letters (You really do, B). Even in challenging or life-stretching moments during work Becca handles my tender little heart so well. My oh my has she been gracious with me. At the root of it all her heart is for people, and most importantly her family. She lives life with gusto and wants her memories to be filled with adventure and passion. These things are what make her such an incredible artist. She goes after life, moments, and people’s hearts with such enthusiasm. She doesn’t take herself too seriously–in fact, she’s kind of a dork. And she’s just down right good to me. I admire Becca a whole lot, not just because of her mad crazy artful documentary photography talent, but because of her heart.

Becca asked if I’d photograph her family during the early weeks with their dear and wonderfully new addition, Fiona Day. Fiona is simply precious. She has the sweetest little face and most beautiful eyes. When I look through these images I am pleased with the subtleties. The Spears did nothing “fancy” while I was there–simply just went about there day as usual. One thing I tried to focus on was the tenderness between parent and child. I would hope when Charlotte & Fiona are older they have images that depict the love their parents have for them. Mark is such a great dad. He is so playful and silly with his girls–it warms my heart to see. Becca breads adventure into the lives of her daughters. Every time I’ve been over their Becca is making a fairytale land in the back yard, having a dance party, or creating some other adventure with Charlotte. Mark & Becca, together, entertain the imagination of their children, which is such a gift. Their girls will have a plethora of lovely memories in their childhood history.

The following images are, what I think, small moments of joy squeezed between the ordinary and hectic parts of life. I would encourage anyone viewing to find the subtle joy in every image, to not just swiftly scroll through as a mass consumer. Thanks & Enjoy.

Charlotte insisted we go see the “golden light!”Making a yummy soup, of course.The freedom and gift of being a child tied with the foundation of a father who will catch you.

Posted in Portraiture

Lace Wrapped Shame

Lace Wrapped Shame

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Posted in Personal

Mollie & John

wp-content-uploads-2012-11-291hirleman_lothman_wdJohn & Mollie are two of the most down to earth people I have photographed. They are both so kind and laid back. When Mollie and I talked through the timeline of their wedding at our final meeting I realized there was little-no room for portraits, we were looking at maybe 10 or 15 minutes. After talking through options of how to wiggle in a little more time she ended up saying how she’d rather spend her time with her guests and family vs. taking pictures. I LOVED her heart in that–she was far more focused on relationships than on getting pretty portraits. John and Mollie both have a great love for people and more specifically their families. I’m finding it rare these days that people rely and lean on their extended family, so it’s refreshing to see how supportive and strong both of their families are. This is a little silly, but I don’t think John and Mollie realize how attractive they are. Seriously. Mollie is such a natural beauty. And John is a classically handsome man. I was quite aware of this because of how laid back they are. They are far from being fussy people and care more about enjoying life than being absorbed by the superficial aspects our culture leans on. . . Thank you  for allowing me to document your day. I loved getting to know you a bit more and wish only the best for your marriage. The next two are Greg’s. I love this scene setter depicting the ambiance.John and Mollie arrived to the church at the same time. Here Mollie runs into the church so John does not see her.Mollie was pretty funny when getting her dress on. She said she was feeling claustrophobic with everyone helping her. Here her mom is backing away to relieve her anxiety.A few last laughs with her mom and sister before seeing John.Deep breath.I love these next two photos Greg took showing the isolation and anticipation before John saw Mollie.Photo by GregA “welcome to the family” high five from Katie, who married into the Hirleman family last summer. Those Miller girls are the best.Greg’s awesome photo of the exit.Sometimes my job requires being smashed in a dancing mosh–pit.

Posted in Story Telling

Here & Now

If we could just be, for a few minutes each day, fully where we are, we would indeed discover that we are not alone and that the One who is with us wants only one thing: to give us love.
Henri Nouwen

Have you ever been given something that did not impact you till years later? I have.

Recently, I have been pursuing more of the here-and-now, trying not to focus on on the guilt of my past or the worries of the future; rather to be present with what’s right in front of me. I can choose to be distracted by so many things, flooding my mind with anxiety; rather I want to feel the fulness of being alive in the moment.

Greg & I have so many books, unread books that sit quite nicely on our bookshelves. Recently, I scanned our shelves and came across Henri Nouwen’s book Here and Now. “Perfect!” I thought–excited about my find to compliment my recent exploration of being present. After having read a few chapters I noticed a small hand-written note on the front page. The note was addressed to me, kind and thoughtful, and dated 7/21/07. I was given this book 5 years ago at the end of an internship I did through my church. The end of the note said,

P.S. Spend your life like your days are numbered.

Isn’t God’s timing perfect? He loves to surprise us with His perfect timing–His perfect authorship of our lives! I could feel really guilty for the unread books on my bookshelf, rather I will now look at them as gifts waiting to be opened to speak directly to what God has for me in that moment.

No matter where we are or who we are with presence is the greatest gift we can offer another. Being fully present creates a window to experience rich intimacy with others and with God. Our deepest longing cries to be in communion with others. We were created for connection, therefore I am confident presence is the key to rich intimacy with others & God.

God wants to speak to us, to tell us He loves us. If we are not present bodied people we will suffocate in the anxieties of life. Even in isolation we have access to intimacy through being present with God. He wants our attention, to tell us one thing: He loves us.

Greg & I recently went to Colorado for a dear friends wedding. The timing was perfect (of course). We planned to fast from all media during the weekend, which created silence and space to be & to celebrate with friends we love. We were fortunate to have the time to hike and explore creation. Here is where I feel most alive and present–in nature. When you take the time to walk slowly, and admire the intricacies of what’s around you, and relish in the colors of the rocks & sky, you would be amazed at how much intimacy you can experience–just from being present.

So, here are a few images from Colorado (specifically The Garden of the Gods), where Gregory and I experienced rich connection with one another and with God . . . Take time to just be.

Posted in Personal

Laura & Kyle!

Laura is one of my dearest. You may have seen her on my blog a time or two; but this time is different, this time she has her soon to be husband, Kyle, with her. Kyle is the best. Laura is the best. The best meets the best. I genuinely could not imagine Laura with anyone else. Their radical enthusiasm for the Lord and for life is equal, which for those of you who know them I’m sure you would agree it’s pretty crazy they found someone just as passionate, right?

One of my favorite things ever is to photograph people I love. . . with their soon to be husbands. : ) We first started at Kyle’s home (their future home together), in the Lykin’s neighborhood, which is in the inner city. Then, we moved on to other spots important to their relationship. One of which was in front of their church, where Kyle proposed during the worship service (evidence they are radically awesome people), then we went to the Kansas City Star. Now, the Kansas City Star building is photographed a lot–I get that. But, it truly is special to them because it was in the newspaper Laura first read about the Lykin’s neighborhood and saw a quote by Kyle. She became interested in moving to the inner city, so she contacted Kyle to learn more about the neighborhood. Well, a few months later they were engaged. : )

Laura, I love you so much. I admire your heart & zeal for life a whole lot. Kyle, you are so good to my friend. I know you will take the best care of her–I’m glad it’s you.
Kyle owns 7 opening day Chick-fil-a shirts. One of his goals in life is to have a wardrobe’s worth and wear them on repeat during retirement.I love this so much. They wouldn’t stop squeezing each other all day!!wp-content-uploads-2012-08-013_laura_kyle_esUmm, Hello, Laura. You are stunning.wp-content-uploads-2012-08-070_laura_kyle_es1

Posted in Engagement, Uncategorized

Abby & Micah

Abby & Micah are the best! The two of them came over today to watch their slideshow, which I enjoyed so much-their presence is a joy to be around. I loved photographing their wedding. Abby wanted very badly to get married at her great-grandparents farm house outside of Wichita, KS. Abby, her sisters, and even her mom grew up going to the farm making life-long memories. The only problem with Abby’s vision of getting married there was: no one had lived there for years, meaning everything was over-groan and there was LOTS of work to do. But, they did it. Both families pulled it off by spending many weekends on the farm cleaning up. The day was truly perfect for them. Abby & Micah are both easy going and down-to-earch, so spending the day with them was great fun for Greg & I. Abby & Micah compliment one another very well. Abby is deeply sweet & soft spoken, while Micah is deeply kind & highly entertaining. I’ll just say his performance on the dance floor is noted as one of the best in my wedding time. And his mother/son dance is THE best I have ever seen. They also both love to dream and travel together. In fact, Greg and I share a special bond with them because they honeymooned to the same place in British Columbia as us! I’m talking the same lodge and everything. So, we think they are pretty darn cool for going to BC. In a short week and a half they will be loading up and moving to West Virginia where they will make a home and start their life together. . . Abby & Micah, good luck with everything and I hope for many dreams to come to fruition for you both. : ) Choosing images for the blog was really hard. I love so many of their photos, so if you would like to watch their slideshow you can see it here: SLIDESHOWAbby got a little nervous/teary eyed reading over her vows. Here her mom shares in the tenderness.The next two are Greg’s.We had a close call getting off the elevator. Everyone was yelling and shooing Micah away so he wouldn’t see Abby. Here he’s hiding his face with his iPad. Isn’t she beautiful?Greg’s photo of Micah waiting for AbbyI love how quaint and delicate this portrait of Abby is.Abby & Micah worked really hard on all the details. I’m always impressed when people do everything themselves; therefore I think it’s important to show the aesthetics of their hard work. It truly was a country wedding.I really love this sweet hug around Molly, Abby’s sister, after she gave an honest & sweet toast.Although laughable at first, I see this pictures as a sign of redemption. This is Micah dancing with his biological mom, whom he has not known his whole life. If I am not mistaken he met her only a few years ago. Therefore, seeing their relationship redeemed from the years of disconnect is encouraging and filled with hope. He chose to dance with both his mother & biological mom, which says a lot about who Micah is. Also, you all must know Micah’s song of choice was Mama by Boyz II Men. And yes, it was fantastic.The light was too gorgeous not to take advantage of. . . .Greg’s beautiful portrait.I photographed these two love-birds’ wedding last July.

Posted in Story Telling

Sara B & The Berry Patch

Sara B. is one of the most lovely, kind, caring, genuine, adventurous, & deeply thoughtful people I know. She truly encompasses these qualities to a high degree. Sara is one of my friends who I know is always up for a playful adventure. We both feel, for a lack of better words, alive when we are interacting with the earth and being amongst the landscape of creation. And more specifically we love quaint farms in the country where we can pick our own food and hang out with their animals, kind of like the cows at Shatto farm. : ) Our most recent farm adventure was to The Berry Patch. Although it was blazing hot, being on a berry farm at dusk picking blueberries was so very wonderful. I love love love participating in primitive acts that make me appreciate and understand the labor involved with my consumption–this is why taking the time to cook from scratch is so beautiful and important to me (and no no no, I do not always cook from scratch. I wish though.). The time it takes to grow, harvest, then prepare food for your table is such an important process to understand and appreciate. I love a slow & simple way of living. Lately I’ve been daydreaming (now, keep in mind that I am currently in grad school & have lots of deadlines and oodles of reading) about retiring in British Columbia. Ahhh, wouldn’t that be nice?! For now, I’ll take breaks from the hectic pace of life & go to berry patches with my dear friends. I love it. . . Now, go take a break why don’t you. Go and enjoy the landscape and all the intricate details waiting for you.

OK. Now, I have a sense in me that Sara may be a little bit embarrassed that I’m posting some of these pictures of her. But, I can’t help it!! People, the lighting was perfect, and Sara is so lovely! I couldn’t help myself.

Look how intricate and detailed that one leaf is. There is so much that surrounds us we we pass by and ignore.
Sara prepping herself to stare into the lens of my camera.Umm, hello. Stunningly confident.It never fails. When I spontaneously take photos of my friends they always say “Ok, now it’s your turn! Let me take pictures of you.” I humor them for a moment, then get back to photographing them.The fruit of our labor.

Posted in Personal, Portraiture

Oregon

I used to be able to see flying insects in the air. I’d look ahead and see, not the row of hemlocks across the road, but the air in front of it. My eyes would focus along that column of air, picking out flying insects. But I lost interest, I guess, for I dropped the habit. Now I can see birds.

–Annie Dillard–

I often quote Annie Dillard, one of my favorite creative non-fiction writers, because she undoubtedly reveals how beautiful the most small and mundane things are. I particularly love this quote  because Annie eludes to: the older we get the less interested we become in the small things. We need bigger, more stimulating, things to entertain us. My heart grieves knowing this. We are a generation over-stimulated and it is not getting better. Therefore we must be intentional about “looking for the flying insects.” I want to be enthralled by blades of grass and the bark on trees and be happy exploring a quiet wood. I want silence to be my preference.

I love that we, the USofA, has such a diverse geography. We get to step outside our Kansas homes and look upon a vast wheat field  amongst a backdrop of a beautiful MidWestern sunset, yet tomorrow we could jump in the car and drive 10 hours to the Colorado Rockies. The next day we could hop on a plane & explore a rainforest in Washington. Greg & I love exploration & the thrill of walking in new landscapes; so we make vacations a priority, not just to visit new places but to also reengage with silence, beauty, & each other. I would argue we should do this daily, but there is something about marking off a week or two throughout the year to disengage from technology and the the “need to be available” to others.

I recently started by graduate program for Counseling, which I love very much. Although I do love this program, the next 2 years of my life will be intensely wrapped with deadlines, anxiety, and an upbeat pace. Therefore, I must be intentional about continuing a rhythm of rest and meaningful pockets throughout my week & year, otherwise I will probably go crazy. All this to say, Greg and I took a trip to Portland, Oregon before the start of my program. We LOVE the Pacific Northwest, so we thought spending a few days in that region would be good for our souls, and it was.

We explored the city, mountains, ocean, and ate some realllllly amazing food. The culture of Portland is laid back and down-to-earth. Everyone we met was kindly helpful and not in a rush–the pace was nice. I cannot stress how amazing the food in Portland is, truly the BEST I have ever had. We ate octopus, not something I would ever order, and it was maybe one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. We had french food, home-made sodas, local beer, and the best wood-fired pizza ever. Yes, I am using a lot of superlatives, but they are genuine.

Being amongst the landscape was my favorite part about our trip. The people who live their value the land and make it a priority to preserve & partake in the nature around them. Within the city there is a park–Forest Park, which is acres and acres of dense forest with trails for hiking and running. You can’t even tell you are in the city. We thoroughly enjoyed the nature within the city by spending time at the Japanese Garden, their International Rose Garden, and hiking Forest Park. We also drove to the coast one day. We felt like kids again when we played on the beach. We literally beamed with joy running through the sand and dipping our toes in the ocean. Mmmm, I would like to do that all the time. On our way back from the coast we meandered throughout the land happening upon beautiful mountains and a field of red wild flowers. I was shocked by the beauty.

So, without further adieu here is a preview into Greg & I’s Oregon trip. Cheers to noticing the small things, the beautiful things, and engaging in beauty . . I’m sure you can guess, but the photos of me were taken by my wonderful Gregory.

The view from the plane flying into Portland. Mmmm.
The Japanese Garden was peaceful and serene blanketed with beauty–exactly the environment Buddhist culture, Japan’s primary religion, longs for.

IMG_8259.resizedWatching my 6’2 husband drive a Fiat was pretty hilarious.Oh, the colors.The rocks were COVERED with clams and barnacles. I accidently stepped on a barnacle and it sprayed water at me. Ha.Radiant starfish grasped the lower parts of these clam & barnacle covered rocks. I was in awe.On our way home the roads were surrounded by these trees I love so much. Breath-taking surprise off the side of the road. These, my friends, are Redwoods. When Greg and I were hiking in Forest Park I mentioned how much I wanted to see Redwoods, and no joke, we came upon Redwoods moments after I said that.Getting a little fancy for our French experience at Clyde Common.Goodbye Oregon! We will be sure to come back!

Posted in Personal