Stephen and Lauren are getting married!

I am thrilled to say that this dear friend of mine has found the man of her dreams. AND he happens to be in Houston, which is convenient for Houstonian friends such as myself. For their engagement shoot, these two chose the little park next to the Menil Gallery which, on that warm day, was chock full of bikes and picnickers and frisbees and dogs. All the activity actually made for nice, relaxed backgrounds – a perfect atmosphere for this relaxed pair. For good measure, we capped off the night at the Black Lab Pub, where we made good use of the phone booth, giant chess set, and colorful doors. I cannot wait to see this happy couple get hitched – the big day is quickly approaching!

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Play Group Valentine’s Day Photo Booth

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Valentine’s Day Photo Booth this weekend in the Heights. Take a look and enjoy your photos!

Happy Birthday Christopher!

It seems like just yesterday that Baby Christopher looked like this! And now he is a year old!! This is one busy little guy ya’ll – crawling at top speed, perusing his toys, and waving at the cutest moments (including at his birthday candle – one of my favorite pics below :-) ). I was honored and so happy to be included in this special birthday celebration. Some of my very favorite people, right here…

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Welcome Baby Matthew!

I love seeing my friends as mommies. And this particular mama has plenty of practice already with these two cuties. So it was really special to get to spend a quiet morning with just my sweet friend and her new little bundle, Matthew. Golly this guy knows how to behave for a photo shoot. He just snuggled up and snoozed away, throwing in the occasional smile. There’s a laid-back third child for you right? Welcome to the world, Baby Matthew!

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Josh and Dorothy are engaged!

Remember my beautiful friend Dorothy from this post? Well she has met the love of her life and is getting married! And, lucky for me, I happened to have a trip to St Louis on the calendar just in time for an engagement shoot in Forest Park. It was so fun to see these two having such fun together (and looking fantastic if I do say so myself). Can’t wait to celebrate with the two of you – it’ll be here before we know it!

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Self Portrait (and a new flash!)

I’ve always been a natural light portrait photographer. But for Christmas, I received the awesome gift of a new flash – the Canon 600 EX-RT. So of course, what else could I do but spend an afternoon playing around with it in the living room?

As it turns out, there is a huge difference in process between natural light and flash photography (as you would expect). In natural light photography, the photographer’s job is to “run towards daylight” as my dad would say, using the existing conditions to her best advantage. The photographer is an observer and a participant in the scene and is left, to some degree, at the mercy of the sun and the subject. In flash photography, the photographer becomes the director of the scene, conceiving of an idea and then adjusting the lighting and the subject as needed to make it a reality. As a total novice, this time around involved a LOT of trial and error. I am a slow and clumsy director, which is exactly why I chose to use myself as the first subject.

In the end, there were three light sources involved in this picture. I already owned a 430 EX speedlight, which I set up as a slave flash to the left of my face, fired through a handheld diffuser. To the right is a window, which I covered with a sheet. The backlighting behind me is another window. My goal was to use the side lights to outline the contours of my face, highlighted by the backlighting. I’m pretty happy with the result, although the left side is a little too bright. If I had more time, I probably would have played with it a bit more, making the highlights as symmetrical as possible.

I also found that it was difficult to capture a relaxed expression when I was dealing with so many moving parts. Newsflash: I will never be a model. I’d be constantly making my “let’s do this” face.


The S Family’s sweet Santa Baby!

What better Christmas gift is there than a new baby? The S Family welcomed their son just a few short days before Christmas (you can take a look at their maternity session here) and he was clearly ready to meet the world. Normally, newborn sessions revolve around the baby’s nap time, which is when you are able to capture those sleepy snuggly poses. Baby S, however, was not interested in sleeping and instead chose to show off his personality and his handsome alert eyes. And I have to say, I could not be happier with the result. This is one precious little Christmas gift. Thanks for giving me some time with him, S Family!

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Of Jobs and Jesus: Merry Christmas from Sarah Sue

I have two jobs. By weekday I am a counselor, sitting and talking with people who are trying to cope with life’s confusions and difficulties and surprises. By weekend I am a photographer, driving to pretty parks and chasing babies and doing crazy dances to get a smile. (By night I am a masked avenger, but that’s another story). Counseling and photography are, to me, wonderfully complimentary professions. Both deal with people and require quite a bit of creativity. And in both, I do my best to see and interact with beauty, albeit in very different ways.

As a counselor, my interactions with beauty often take place from a distance. Beauty functions as a beacon – a shining source of hope – but rarely a close companion. Generally people choose to come to counseling when they find themselves in a dark place. They’re down in the hole, sitting in grime and wondering if beauty ever actually existed at all. As a counselor, it is generally unhelpful to say “Hey but don’t worry because… beauty! That grime’s not as bad as you think. Let’s just pretend we’re in a tropical paradise – mind over matter right?” Attempting to manufacture beauty for someone who is mired in the depths usually does more harm than good. Instead, my role is to climb into the hole and sit down in the grime saying something like “Well here we are – it’s pretty grimy down here but at least we’re together.” With time, I can begin to remind them of the beauty that exists outside the hole. And with even more time, we can begin to climb out. The process is slow and, at times, frustrating for all involved. As a counselor, if I am going to be helpful over the long haul, I must be careful to not let myself become mired in the same hole that my clients are in. It’s easy, as a helper, to spend too long in the grime, to get a bit stuck, and to forget about the beauty that I know exists.

For me, this is where photography comes in. I’m sure there are very sophisticated artists out there who would disagree with me, but in my mind the purpose of photography is to find beauty and to capture it in a way that allows others to experience it too. This, to me, is an incredibly freeing goal. As soon as my camera is slung around my neck, my eyes are trained for beauty. Now over time, I have developed an ability to see beauty where others might miss it (I’d like to think that this makes me a good photographer). And in these moments, with the help of my camera, I am able to capture that snippet, that bright corner of reality, and share a beautiful moment with those around me. This mission is, in some ways, the exact opposite of counseling. As a photographer, I get to say “Look, I get that the world is a dark and broken place… but look at this. There is beauty and I can prove it.” Now I am writing this as if my mission as a photographer were very altruistic – the sharing of beauty with those who might otherwise miss it. But let me be honest here. Often, the goal is much more selfish than that. Often my time with my camera is spent rebuilding my own faith in beauty, enjoying the minutia of this world, and shaking off the grime of that deep dark hole.

There is something of heaven in both of my jobs. As Christmas approaches, we remember the divine leap that the Almighty God made in coming to earth and living a human life. I have heard sermons about his Counselor role that have made my heart ache. This holy, blameless, and loving God stepped down from his throne and into a world full of brokenness. He lived in the midst of the selfishness and the ignorance and the sadness and the confusion that is humanity. In an act of grace that I will never fully comprehend, he crawled down into our human hole with us and sat down in our human grime and provided us with an eternal advocate – One who gets it because he’s been there. One who can ultimately wipe away our tears because he, too, has wept.

I have heard fewer Christmas sermons about his Artist role. Because our Creator God is truly an artist. And when he made this world and the people in it, he stepped back admiringly and called it “good”. Though marred, this world is his masterpiece. Our God appreciates beauty. It came from and points to him. And on Christmas, he himself entered into his great work of art. Ultimately, he did not come to sit in grime and darkness. He came to remind us of beauty – the beauty that is here already and the beauty that is coming through his work of restoration. And what’s more, he enjoyed the beauty of his creation while he was here. He made friends, he went to parties, he ate food and admired nature. And he himself became a part of the artwork – an example of a man living an upright life and loving others well.

There is much more to the story. Jesus’s work was multifaceted, impossible to summarize. But this Christmas, these pieces bring me comfort and joy: God can handle my grime and he can see my beauty. I am, to him, one of those bright corners of reality worth capturing and treasuring. You are too.

Merry Christmas.

The G Man is 1!

My very favorite redhead just turned 1 year old! I can hardly believe it. This kid is sweet, funny, active… in short, a delight. His cookie monster birthday party was a smashing success and I loved every minute of it. Plus, as a little party favor for his admirers, he began walking the week of his birthday!! Love you, G Man!

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