Deborah Grace Photography: Blog en-us (C) Deborah Grace Photography [email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:23:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:23:00 GMT Deborah Grace Photography: Blog 120 80 Family Session Outfits | The 3 Key Elements to Designing a Creative Look You'll Love Hey ya’ll! So it's officially that time of year...the time when you're panicking because the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, and your window to capture this stage of your family's life is officially getting smaller and smaller.  

So maybe you've already booked your session and maybe you haven't.  BTW, if you' haven't we still have a few spots in the Styled Sessions with Everyday Beauty Co. on October 21st and it is going to SO. MUCH. FUN.  You can find more details about those sessions here. Anyway, so you have your session booked, and now you realize you have the perhaps overwhelming task of figuring out what in the world everyone's going to wear.  I usually get questions about what to wear so I *finally* sat down and thought about what makes a great look for family photos.  And because I'm not a big fan of micro-managing and telling people exactly what to wear because I think fashion is such a fun extension of personal style (and I don't want to tread on yours and make it just like mine because it's part of what makes you YOU), I broke it down into concepts and tips and elements to think about as you create your look rather than "wear this and this and this." So here is what you need know about putting together outfits for your family, whether your kids are two and four or you have five kids in their teens and twenties, or you're doing a session with your grandbabies (how fun is it that one of our Styled Session was booked by grandparents for photos with their grandbabies!) .  ANYWAY...There are three major components to creating a collective look that you’ll love:  






Let me break it down for you and explain each of the different elements in detail.



Let’s start with color palette.  I recommend choosing at least two or three base colors to use as your foundation.  Start with one person’s outfit and begin building your color palette there.  It’s a good idea to just pay attention to what colors you love when you start.  Don’t overcomplicate it and think too much about the big picture when you’re choosing your color palette.  Nail down what you love about the colors of that one outfit, and build from there.  After you’ve picked your two to three base colors, I recommend branching off into complimentary tones for the rest of your outfits.  Think about paint swatches and how you often have a lot of colors in the same family.  Don’t try to match your base tones exactly.  Instead go for complimentary tones that are in the same family as your base colors, but perhaps a lot lighter or darker than your actual base color.  The goal is to have a lot of tonal diversity within a fairly tight color palette of two to four base colors.  One tiny diversion I highly recommend: It can be fun to add one well-coordinated "wild color" into the mix to add interest.  This can work without being overwhelming when you use great textures to balance it out, which brings me to my next component of creating your look...



Well chosen textures, patterns, and fabrics are truly what will take your outfit choices and color palette from good to great.  Fabric texture and pattern are a big deal.  

Let’s start with texture.  Here are a couple of examples to explain what I mean about fabric texture: soft flowy dresses; highly structured suits; a lace tunic; thick, comfy oversized sweaters; semi-structured button down shirts; fluffy faux-fur vests; soft and thick plaid button-down shirts; dark and fitted classic jeans; worn-in style jeans with knee rips; a tweed jacket with arm patches …the list could go on and on.  The point is, these fabrics all evoke a different feeling.  A suit instantly brings the class to a portrait, while a flowy floral dress makes a portrait feel inviting and accessible.  You want a combination of fabric textures to make your collective family look interesting and engaging.  Mixing soft or flowing fabrics with structured and stronger fabrics photographs fantastically, and I highly recommend it.  I do not recommend putting everyone in a similar texture (for instance, everyone wears a button down shirt).  Even if the colors are perfect, it’s a bit boring because there’s no textural interest.


Now let’s talk about pattern!  I LOVE to see a great splash of bold pattern within a family’s outfit choice.  Here’s an idea for how to incorporate pattern without feeling too overwhelmed: When you’re choosing your first outfit from which to build the rest of the family’s look, make it a strong pattern and pull the colors from the pattern as your base colors.  If you’re the only female in your family, or you’re even one of two of the only females in your family, it’s a great idea for this pattern to be your outfit (but not a must of course).  I’m loving the current floral craze (or is it just me who’s obsessed?! ;p) so picking out a floral dress or skirt for yourself can be a fun way to start building outfits for the rest of your tribe.  Don’t be afraid to incorporate more than just one pattern into your family’s look.  Bring in a second and third more understated pattern to compliment the look.  If you feel like the secondary patterns might be a touch bold, throw a solid colored jacket or vest over it so you just have a bit of pattern peeking out to add interest.  Which brings me to my third category for creating a collective look for your family that you’ll love...



Accessories.  Ya’ll, accessories are the bomb dot com.  Statement heels, suspenders, hats, bold necklaces, vests, bowties, headbands, scarves, big earrings, you-name-it.  Accessories add interest and are a great way to bring more texture into your look.  I have yet to see an over-accesorized family so please feel free to go crazy.  Maybe don’t all wear hats or the exact same accessories, but incorporating one or two fun things into every person’s outfit isn’t overkill.   Add that jacket, cardigan, or belt to layer, and you’ll be good to go.




One simple thing to stay away from when dressing the fam is tennis shoes (think shoes that look like they belong on a runner or athlete or someone about to do a workout).  I know they’re comfy and everyone’s favorite, but it’s usually best if they aren’t invited to your photo shoot.  It won’t hurt their feelings if it’s just this once. ;)  The one exception I’d make for this is if you’re going for a sort of urban grunge feel and a leather jacket is involved.  Or if, you know, you own your own tennis shoe line.  Then you get a pass. 


Another tip, especially if you have older kids that are similarly sized, is to make sure not every single person wears jeans, or if you do at least try to break it up with colors/washes/wears/styles that coordinate well.  Or just be sure to add lots of layers and accessories to keep the collective look engaging.


And because visuals are the best help of all, I threw together a quick Pinterest board of family session outfits done well to get your creative juices flowing and to help inspire you to create a look that you love for your family!  




One other note that’s specifically for those who’ve signed up for the styled session that Everyday Beauty Co and I are holding on October 21st is this:  Be thoughtful of the space when you’re planning your outfits.  It is GORGEOUS and so many looks will photograph splendidly here, but there’s a couple of things that might not look quite right in the space because of it’s aesthetic:  Bold and rich colors are fantastic, but stay away from fluorescents and overly bright fresh colors and styles…things like lime green, bright aqua blues, hot fluorescent pinks, etc won’t look great in the space.  Instead go for deep forest greens, soft and muted light blues, deep wine colors or soft vintage colored pinks.   Pastels will look great.  Jewel tones will be stunning.  Fall colors will look fantastic.  Darks tones and light neutrals will be gorgeous.  Mainly just nothing that looks like it belongs in a fluorescent and balmy 'welcome spring' catalog.

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) lifestyle portraits little ones portraits Tue, 10 Oct 2017 12:36:25 GMT
Caroline | Senior | Worthington Christian Awhile ago I got to have this stunning 2018 senior in front of my lens, and what a fun evening it was!  After we met for her consultation, I was struck by the way Caroline carries herself with a unique poise and self-assuredness.  Taking her portraits was nothing short of delightful, and I'm so excited to share this little peek into her session! Crushing pretty hard on this darling bike/dress/floral crown ensemble! 
^ One of my favs! ^ Caroline, it was such an honor to capture this sweet season of life for you!  




HAIR & MAKEUP | Tonya Kauffman

FLORAL CROWN | Roxanne Yoder

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) portraits seniors Fri, 01 Sep 2017 16:12:20 GMT
Jordan & Elizabeth | New York City Wedding Portraits | Brooklyn Bridge Park & Jane's Carousel Oh guys.  To say I have been excited to share this set of portraits with you would be a understatement of epic proportions!  Shooting in NYC was a dream come true, and to do be able to photograph not just any couple, but two people who are so very special to my heart made this gift feel completely over the top.  Have I mentioned lately that God is just appallingly generous?  I get all teary and humbled and in-a-puddle thinking about it.  Without further ado, check out two of my favorite humans in all of their stunningness below.  (...and yes, I just made up the word "stunningness") These photographs were made the day after Jordan & Elizabeth’s wedding.  Because of the location of their venue in Long Island and their wedding day schedule, there was no way to get portraits at the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the actual day of their nuptials, so we met the following evening about an hour before sunset.  The Brooklyn Bridge Park area holds so many of their significant memories, from sitting on the rocks by the water and chatting when they were first getting to know each other to Jordan’s epic sunset proposal.  It would have been so wrong not to come back to their little spot in the city, and I'm SO glad they made the effort for these portraits!  
"Just Married" looks awfully good on these two. 
Obsessed with the back of Elizabeth's dress!
You just can't beat a classic, black-tie vibe for groom portraits.  New fav! ...and Elizabeth killed it (as per usual)!  The camera loves this girl.
Love this one! *little photographer sidenote* While I had initially been hoping for traditional pretty sunset photos, I think God just understood what we really needed and gave us something better – overcast skies and a bit of fog.  I LOVE the hazy look of fog in portraits.  I’d been to this spot two years before on a weekend evening at sunset and this area looked nothing like it did the night we did Jordan & Elizabeth’s photos.  It was packed with people hanging out and wandering the boardwalk (which is a photographer’s nightmare when you’re trying to shoot for location).  I remember trying to get one photo that evening without random strangers in the backround and it was a challenge.  The overcast skies and mostly empty boardwalk were a gift straight from Jesus.  The perfect fog hovering just above the city skyline without obscuring it was Him just showing off. ;)
...the real them! ;p  Adore these two!
Night photos, I like you.  We should hang out more often.
Lady Liberty in the distance... Love the sentimentality of the shot above.  Jordan and Elizabeth had the coolest first dance and this was one of the moves from it.  It was Jordan's idea to do the pose and I love how it turned out. ...sooooo, I knew there was NO way I was going to be able to fit all of their wedding day photos AND these portraits into one blog post because blog size restrictions (boo!), so their WEDDING DAY blog post is still coming!  Until then, if you dig wedding day slideshows I highly recommend you check theirs out here!  


P.S. BIG thank you to Rachel of C&R Creative Studios for second shooting their wedding day with me!  


FLORAL DESIGN | Dream Flower Shop

GOWN | Lotus Bridal

GROOM'S ATTIRE | Foresto Tuxedo

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories weddings Wed, 19 Jul 2017 10:38:05 GMT
TJ & Maggie | Wedding | Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center TJ & Maggie said their "I do's" just a little over three weeks ago, and I've been so excited to share this little peek into their wedding day! As usual, the day started with photographing the little details, and Maggie's sparkly and sophisticated blush and gold details had me at hello. Maggie's namesake is her grandmother Margaret.  This gold, engraved "M" ring was hers before it was passed down to Maggie.
Such a sweet moment when her father saw her in her dress! Maggie was quite possibly the most thoughtful bride ever.  She'd had gifts and notes for her parents, her maid-of-honor, and her mother-in-law.   
Reading TJ's note to her...
 ...and opening the gift he gave her (a photo of the two of them)! First Look! This was such an incredibly sweet moment.  He was losing it, so she was losing it...and this is why I loved wedding days so much.
Love this color palette!
 Maggie was an absolute vision!
 Looking dapper!
 How adorable is little Jack?!
Taking the trolley?  It's more fun.  The bridal party was chauffeured to the church and back in this fabulous mode of transportation. Overcome again when she walked down the aisle... The new Mr. & Mrs. Miller! TJ's brother Shaun was his best man.  If you know Shaun, you won't be surprised that during his speech he had everyone cracking up, but he also honored TJ for the quiet and sacrificial ways that he has been there for the people in his life and impressed how deeply impactful TJ's sacrifices have been.  Shaun's sincere gratitude for who TJ is as a person was evident, specifically as he spoke of the the ways TJ had been there for him as he battled cancer over the past year.  The little practical ways we show up for people end up being the really big things that make the difference in someone else's life.  Shaun honored TJ so well for the ways he has been a quiet hero.   We sneaked outside for a few photos with that perfect bit of last evening light.  First dance as Mr. and Mrs. (and dying just a little over the shot below)! Father/daughter dance!
Congrats you two!  Such an honor to photograph your day!


SECOND PHOTOPHAPHER | Jessica Photography

FLORALS | The Flowerman 

VENUE | Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center



[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories weddings Mon, 03 Jul 2017 12:51:20 GMT
Keith & Roxanne | In Sun & Rain If these two aren't the cutest, I dunno what is...

It's almost the end of June now and over coffee the other day, Roxanne and I were reminiscing and I asked her when she and Keith actually met.  Get was barely a year ago.  June-ish of last year.  They MET.  Ya'll, God can work miracles practically overnight, and you can find yourself blissfully catapulted into a whole new season JUST LIKE THAT.  In HIS time.  Seeing these two walking this fun and joy-filled season is so encouraging.  It's easy to feel like there's a lot of "not yets" in life, and I'm just reminded all over again that God doesn't take a vacation from being God.  He's always who He is, and whether we see it, believe it or are expectantly hoping for it or not, He is up to stuff, cleverly weaving our little life thread into His grand story.  That's great news on days when hope levels are low, and our perseverance feels like it's stretched a bit thin.

So back to Keith and Roxanne... They first met at church, and wound up in the same small group.  They connected immediately and talked often.  Four-five months in, their ability to NOT think about the other person was becoming increasingly challenging.  There's nothing quite like when you first start to figure out that you are falling in love to make you feel like you might be losing your formerly very rational mind. In the interest of full disclosure, they did have some hurdles to overcome to even start dating.  Not that you'd ever know it or even guess it, but there's a bit of an age gap between these two.  Before they started dating, they both needed to process a bit before realizing that their age difference simply didn't matter at all.  The most important things, like where they were at in their individual walks with the Lord, was scary awesome similar.  That's a bit rare, and they were wise enough to know that, so they jumped.  Because that's what you do when God puts someone utterly wonderful and completely surprising in your path.  You say 'yes' and things you thought mattered - they fade away so quickly that you wonder how you ever considered them a hurdle at all.
If you know Roxanne at all (she's a floral designer), then you know it's no surprise that she showed up at their engagement session with a gorgeous basket full of peonies, which of course delighted my little photographer heart to no end.
Have I mentioned that it makes me just so happy to see these two so happy?  
^ THIS ^

...this is the magic that happens when you have sunshine and rain at the same time.  In the words of William Paul Young, I think God is especially fond of these two.

Can we take a quick sec to talk about Roxanne's engagement ring?!  I love that it's a pearl!

So wanna know what was going on behind the scenes for these shots?  We were just sure (based on weather apps), that the sprinkling rain was going to be stopping anytime...but it just kept raining...and turned from sprinkling into POURING.  These two were SUCH champs about it too.  We'd wanted to get some shots inside the gazebo, so we decided to go get those while we waited for the rain to subside. ...and of course they rocked these too.
Every once in awhile, a photo will happen and it will evoke this feeling that reminds me of something true.  The photo above is one of those.  As soon as I saw it in post-processing, I was reminded of something Ann Voskamp says in The Broken Way.  She says that "love is a roof."  Truth is, Roxanne was fighting a cough that night, Keith was drenched, and sometimes life isn't anything like you expect it to be.  And when it isn't, sometimes, often times, most times, you just need someone to be a shelter for you.  "Love is a roof" and these two are that for one other in a hundred practical little ways already.   Coffee to the rescue, the evening came to a close on a warmer (and drier) note.     ^ another favorite ^    Love this custom engraved journal that Roxanne had given Keith when they were dating. Congrats guys!  So fun to have you in front of my lens and so very excited for August!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides engagements love stories Sat, 24 Jun 2017 11:15:25 GMT
Jonathan & Tammie's Midwest Lakeside Wedding Jon & Tammie tied the knot just a little over two weeks ago and I'm beyond thrilled to be sharing this little peek into their special day!  Jon and Tammie are both from the midwest with only an hour and a half drive separating them.  However, as fate would have it, they first met one another in faraway Thailand.  Go figure, eh?  Though they met in Thailand, it was several years before their casual acquaintance morphed into a serious relationship.  They started dating and though I'm sure they'd be the first to tell you things weren't perfect, Tammie expressed how completely different Jon was from anyone she'd ever met.  This relationship was simply RIGHT, and it led them to this wonderful Friday evening in June when they promised to love each other for a lifetime.  Enjoy this little stroll through the memories of their day! Tammie chose a romantic color palette of light blue with soft pastel pink accents. Getting ready...
 First Look! Crushing on this lovely bouquet by Root Design Company!
Tammie, you are just so very lovely! How cute are they?! Floral Confession:  As a general rule, I'm a lover of color in bouquets, but these bridesmaids' arrangements made a strong case for all white florals with greenery.  Stunning!  I LOVED them! Love the shot above.  I usually photograph this floral/shoe/dress detail shot a tiny bit wide and then crop it in post-processing to just showcase the details, but I couldn't resist leaving this one a little wider to keep Tammie and her two sisters' expressions (on either side of her).  Felt like a classic sister humor moment and who doesn't love those?! ;)
One of the things that came up repeatedly during speech time at the reception was how gifted Tammie is at relating to children, which deepened my appreciation for this moment that had happened earlier in the day.
Jon keeps Tammie you can see...
 CLASSIC...and too funny not to share. ;p Sunset...
At dusk, Jon and Tammie headed out on...*wait for it*
...a BOAT!!!
Jon and Tammie, congratulations!  I was so honored to photograph your day!


2ND PHOTOGRAPHER | Tiffany Reiff Photo + Design

FLORAL DESIGN | Root Design Company

VIDEOGRAPHY | 714 Media Productions


[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories weddings Tue, 20 Jun 2017 18:24:57 GMT
Richy & Alyson's Wedding Celebration | The Pinnacle | Grove City, Ohio Oh, guys...I'm just beyond excited to share this stunner of a wedding with you today.  Richy and Alyson's day was lovely in every sense of the word, from every thoughtful detail that Alyson had meticulously seen to in advance, to the moment when they were standing in front of one another doing their best to hold their emotions in check in front of their friends and families as they promised each other a lifetime of unconditional love.  Lovely - all of it!
Alyson and Richy chose The Pinnacle in Grove City, Ohio as the backdrop for their wedding celebration...and what a lovely canvas this venue is for a wedding day! Alyson's long time friend Chen was her *man* of honor! Alyson gifted her bridesmaids with these cute robes! Alyson's mother helped her into her dress... Alyson was an absolute vision in her stunning gown from White of Dublin.
HOW FUN is this bridesmaid (+ man of honor) reveal?!   Love this shot of Alyson!

Toasting to the groom! (...yes, in case you were wondering, I'm shamelessly digging classic black and white vibes for groomsmen photos.)

Alyson surprised Richy with this beautiful watch.

Oh, you know, just Richy casually killing it during his groom portraits...NBD. Can we just take a moment to note that Alyson created this beautiful calligraphy welcome sign herself?!  Told ya this bride saw to every single detail. ;) The big moment... During vows...easily my favorite moment of the day.  I love it so much, and it reminds me of how Richy proposed.  He'd had the ring for a few weeks, but one day they were in the middle of an argument and I love that instead of planning this big Pinterest-perfect proposal, he did something much more courageous, meaningful and significant:  

He moved towards Alyson while they were in the middle of a disagreement...and proposed right in the middle of what felt like a relational mess.  Isn't that exceptional, and doesn't that say something incredible about the love they share?  It's easy to extend love when we agree with others.  It is much harder to commit to keeping your heart open to connection with someone when you disagree with them.  ...and he did, and they are, and instead of proposing when everything was perfect, he proposed when it wasn't.  I love that so much because it means that they know love isn't always easy, and they are ready to love each other through the hard moments, and it makes THIS moment, the one where they vowed each other forever, deeply powerful.

The new Mr. & Mrs. Zhelezny!
First dance as Mr. & Mrs. Congrats Richy and Alyson!  It was such an honor to witness your day!


VENUE | The Pinnacle Golf Club

FLORAL DESIGN | Madison House Designs

CAKE | Cakes by Cecile

HAIR & MAKEUP | Madison Mikl

VIDEOGRAPHY | Andrew E. Weber


BRIDAL BOUTIQUE | White of Dublin

DJ | Josh Staley Productions


[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories weddings Wed, 07 Jun 2017 17:03:14 GMT
Adam & Samantha | Engagement Adam and Samantha both love kids, so fate would choose the registration table at a kids' club at which they were both volunteering to introduce them.  I suppose the good Lord knew that Sami's bubbly personality would win over Adam's strong, not-silent-but-not-quite-as-chatty personality in no time flat.  These two are a match made in heaven, and the fun they have when they are together is nothing short of, well, the real deal - LOVE. On any given date night, you'll find Adam and Sami exploring the city, likely with coffees in hand (black for him and an iced caramel macchiato for her).  Sami wasn't sure if they'd ever been on a date that didn't involve a stop for coffee at some point, so it would have been downright criminal to NOT stop and get coffee the night of their engagement session. Someone...please, anyone, note the sign in the window because it was practically made for them. Sami is a vivacious soul.  This girl's smile and personality has the capacity to amp up the energy and atmosphere in a room the second she steps in.  She brings a hope-infused positivity to her world.  Quite simply, in an anxious world, she is delightful and refreshing.
Well if they aren't just so darn adorable, I don't know what is.
 My absolute favorite moment from the other evening’s session was when these two answered my question about how the other had changed them.  Sami said that Adam has changed the way she sees herself.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever believed a load of crap about who you are, how you look, or attached your value to your appearance, gifting or lack thereof, personality, you-name-it.  Cause I have too.  I could see it, you know?  When she said it…that Adam has changed the way she sees herself.  She said she didn’t use to have much confidence.  Love will do that.  It will straight up change how you see yourself.  Isn’t that so the heart of God?  And isn’t it so cool how He uses people to change our perspectives of ourselves?  To show us the truth about who we really are?  God is just so unendingly clever and generous in the ways that He extends His love to us.  Sami has changed Adam too.  She is vibrant and free-spirited and Adam said that she’s helped him learn to relax, loosen up, chill, have a good time…and to be a little more chatty.  Love will change you, and it should and it’s a good thing.  Moral of the story:  Let your people love you.  Just let them love you.  And be humble enough to receive their love.  It’s pride and fear that makes us hold on to the lies.  We think we need the lies to keep us motivated to change, but it’s really the Truth that sets us free.  Adam and Sami can testify. You two - it was beyond fun to spend the evening photographing your charming selves.  Can't wait to see you guys tie the knot come September!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides engagements love stories Fri, 19 May 2017 19:40:15 GMT
Marvin & Judith | Engagement Sometimes sparks fly instantly, and other times relationships need to be given a few years to find their way into being.  Marvin & Judith had been acquainted through mutual friends for quite some time before being bitten by the proverbial love bug. I actually quite love the way Judith tells their story, so I'm going to share tidbits from her reply when I asked her about how they'd met and fallen in love... "My fiance and I met years ago through mutual friends, though incidentally we were both dating other people at the time. We lived an hour from each other but would bump into one another from time to time and always got along well, though our periods of singleness did not overlap very well. Unbeknownst to me, he started becoming interested in me and started praying about it. During this period I was busy with work and doing international disaster response nursing."


Yes, I paused the story because YOU GUYS, I just need to elaborate a little about what Judith does for a living.  She's an international disaster response nurse, which means that she functions as part of a team that heads to the center of unfolding humanitarian crises and sets up emergency medical clinics.   Wherever the world is falling apart and the very places most people are fleeing, she boards a plane and heads for the epicenter.  Hurricanes, cholera outbreaks, war zones, you-name-it, she goes.  What she does is seriously, no joke.  On any given day, she can be heading to her regular nursing job in Canton, receive a call and be on a plane within twenty four hours.  Talk about holding your life loosely and living it for the good of others...pretty sure Judith has this down. So back to Marvin, and the love story unfolding...

"Finally after months of praying about it, while I was in Haiti treating cholera patients and helping provide hurricane medical relief, he received the go ahead from God to pursue a relationship with me. Within several days of returning from Haiti, we met up for coffee, ended up talking for hours, and the rest is history. :) A couple months after we started dating, I was deployed to the Middle East to help set up an emergency field hospital in a war zone for nearly a month."

Okay, sorry, but *PAUSE* wasn't just the Middle East.  It was Mosul, Iraq, and if you've been following the news at all you'll understand why this was a much bigger deal than Judith even makes it sound in their story.  *unpause*

"Saying goodbye for that long, going into a dangerous situation, and being surrounded by the horrors of war definitely worked to affirm and intensify our feelings for each other. That's when we started realizing that we really didn't want to do life separately any longer." *PAUSE*...again.  Sorry (not sorry)'s too sweet of a detail to pass up.  At their engagement session, Marvin shared that the moment he was most proud of Judith was when she stepped off the plane coming home from Iraq. "After dating for a whopping almost five months, Marvin proposed after getting me out of bed by throwing snowballs at my window. As he stood there on a ladder outside my room and I hung out the window with snow falling down on us, he asked me to be his bride. I had to ask him if he was serious, because I was so surprised, and because who proposes while standing on a ladder? He assured me that he definitely was serious so with that bit of information, I quite willingly agreed to be his wife." "I'm certain God has been creating us for each other all of our lives, it just took us a long winding road till we were finally ready for each other. I'm also certain that life with the man who proposed to me that night on a ladder, through a window, in the snow, will definitely being anything but normal and boring!"

*and we know this chic doesn't do normal or boring* ;)

Kind of adore the series of shots below.  Marvin has a roguish sense of humor and keeps this girl laughing on the regular. One of my favorite moments at their session was when Judith spoke about the moment she was most proud of Marvin.  She said there were many moments she was proud of him, but the one that popped to the forefront of her mind was a time when he'd quietly picked up the tab for a veteran, no questions asked.  Sometimes we think we have to be as awesome as Judith is and jump on a plane to be able to make a difference in this heart-breaking world, but I just love what SHE highlighted when she said what she did to Marvin: sometimes being a hero just means opening up your eyes to the world right in front of you and being courageous enough to give in beautiful, everyday, practical ways like Marvin does.  I love the way these two were both living generously before their stories collided.  Isn't God so clever at pairing people up?

Congrats, you two!  It was truly an honor and a delight to spend the evening photographing a peek into your story.  I can't wait for July! ;)

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides engagements love stories Wed, 10 May 2017 19:34:18 GMT
Kevin & Miriam | Wedding Kevin & Miriam met in January of 2013.  They were both attending Mount Vernon Nazarene University, but in a fun twist of fate, they first laid eyes on each other at a kids' basketball game in Miriam's hometown an hour from the college.  They made the cutest video of their story, and you can hear all about it from their own lips HERE They said their "I do's" on a warm, sunny day in July, back in Miriam's hometown where they'd first met.
Miriam gave Kevin an album full of photos of memories they'd made together since they'd met.  I thought it was a perfect gesture and a lovely way to remember and look back on all the little things they had experienced together along the way. Miriam and her mom having a moment not long before she walked up the aisle.  The emotion and magnitude of the day can hit at any given time, and this was sweet to witness.
Just married! (...and one of my favs from their day because look at those faces)!

The reception! 
Father/daughter and mother/son dances... ...followed by quite possibly the coolest first dance I've ever seen!  They killed it!   Congrats again, you too!  So fun to look back at these memories from your day!


Special thanks to Jessica Photography for second shooting with me!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories weddings Fri, 31 Mar 2017 11:46:07 GMT
Nick & Jenna | Engagement | Whetstone Park of Roses I'm so excited to be sharing Nick & Jenna's engagement session with you today!   Nick & Jenna first met in 2012 while they were attending Butler University.  Choir was just another class that both of them needed to check off of their lists. Little did they know that choir, of all places, was where they were about to encounter such a delightful plot twist to their stories.  Don't you love how the best story turns come in the most everyday, unexpected moments?  I think God loves to keep us guessing and does it this way on purpose.  Call me crazy, but I think God has a sense of mischief and humor when it comes to writing out His kids' love stories.  He loves to surprise us with good gifts when we are least expecting it.  Nick and Jenna are that - good gifts from God to one another.  They started dating several months later, and the rest is history.   Nick proposed in 2016 at one of their favorite parks in Indianapolis.  He saw to every detail and even arranged for Jenna's Columbus-based family to travel out and celebrate with them right after he had proposed.   Jenna is a radiant soul.  You can feel it when you meet her.  She is soft-hearted and kind and full of life.  She is a teacher, and after meeting her it makes so much sense that God would call her to shepherd little hearts.  At risk of gushing, I so love photographing people who've found one another because fun and laughter are their normal.  I think it's so healthy for fun and laughter to be a regular thing in our lives.  It can help keep us rooted in the goodness of God.  Having fun can be deeply spiritual because God invented laugher in the first place.  It can be a unique way of connecting to His heart.  Photographing people like Nick & Jenna feels like a sort of calibrating reminder of who God is - joyful, full of laughter, entirely GOOD. Jenna, you are stunning.

Congrats again, Nick and Jenna!  So excited for July!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides engagements love stories whetstone Park of Roses Fri, 10 Mar 2017 17:49:04 GMT
Richy & Alyson | North High Brewing & Jeffrey Mansion Engagement It was around eight months ago that I sat down with Richy and Alyson over coffee on a chilly evening and first heard snippets of their love story.
Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0002Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0002 All love stories are special, but theirs warmed my heart because Richy and Alyson don't hide the imperfect parts of their journey, which has me thinking they'll be starting their marriage off on the right foot.

Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0001Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0001 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0003Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0003 These two initially met online, and first hung out on - wait for it- Valentine's Day weekend.  Isn't that fun?  They hit it off right away, and were officially dating about a month and a half later.

Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0007Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0007 They spent the summer together, falling in love, and working at helping each other make good life choices.  Alyson talked about a time when they hadn't been to church in a number of weeks, but motivated each other to go one Sunday.  That weekend their church just happened to be holding baptisms, and though they'd had no intention of being baptized that day when they woke up, God clearly had other ideas.  They both chose to be baptized, and though it was a significant moment for them each individually, it was such a sweet gift that they were able to experience that moment together. Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0021Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0021 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0043Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0043 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0044Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0044 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0045Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0045 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0025Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0025

Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0035Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0035 Alyson is a huge fan of craft beer, so many a date night was spent trying out local breweries.  Richy and Alyson were on a brewery tour when they first came across North High Brewing.  It quickly became a favorite spot of theirs, so when Alyson mentioned that she knew Gavin, one of the co-owners of the brewery, and that she was hoping to photograph some of their engagement session there, I was delighted!  I do love new and unique locations, and this was not only that, it was also a part of their story. Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0010Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0010

Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0004Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0004 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0008Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0008

Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0011Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0011 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0012Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0012 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0013Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0013 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0014Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0014 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0015Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0015 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0016Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0016 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0039Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0039 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0017Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0017 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0019Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0019 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0020Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0020 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0022Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0022 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0023Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0023 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0024Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0024 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0026Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0026 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0027Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0027 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0028Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0028 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0029Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0029 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0030Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0030 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0050Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0050 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0031Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0031 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0032Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0032 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0033Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0033 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0034Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0034 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0036Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0036 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0037Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0037 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0038Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0038 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0041Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0041 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0042Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0042 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0046Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0046 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0057Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0057 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0047Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0047 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0048Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0048 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0049Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0049 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0061Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0061 Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0058Columbus Ohio Wedding Photographer - North High Brewing - Richy & Alyson Engagement_0058 We photographed the first part of their session midday before the brewery was open, then met up later that evening to finish their session and catch the pretty evening light at Jeffrey Mansion.

Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Gotta love those shoes...
Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement

Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement
Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Jeffrey Mansion EngagementJeffrey Mansion Engagement Richy and Alyson, you guys were just too much fun to photograph.  Thanks for trusting me to capture this season of your story! Can't wait for the big day! ;) 


[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides engagements love stories Fri, 16 Dec 2016 19:08:12 GMT
Jordan & Elizabeth | 1950's Vintage Diner Engagement Can we talk about Jordan & Elizabeth for a quick second?  Because Jordan and Elizabeth are some of my favorite people, and talking about them is all kinds of fun.  I honestly don't remember when I first met Jordan...only that I got to know him a bit better because him and my husband Pete hit it off while they were both living in New York City back in 2009.  Pete moved back to Ohio, married yours truly, and his friendship with Jordan was something he would mention with sentimentality every now and then when something would remind him of some crazy adventure or stunt he and Jordan had pulled.  Last year, Pete and I trotted up to NYC for a weekend.  Pete had contacted Jordan to see if he'd be in town, and that's when we got to meet Elizabeth for the first time.  In two days flat, we fell almost as in love with her and her daughter Vanessa as Jordan clearly was.  Elizabeth is the kind of person who is good, kind, humble, and genuine...and she has this way of being all of those things while still calling things as she sees them.  I kind of love that about her.  Her and Jordan are a brilliant balance to each other.

A few months ago, Pete got a text from Jordan one evening: "She said yes!"  Jordan had *finally* proposed in one of their favorite spots in New York City, and even arranged to have one of their friends photograph it for them (nice move, Jordan ;).  Since they'd already been planning to visit us in Columbus, it was the perfect opportunity to photograph their engagement session. As always, we had a grand time with them, and taking their engagement photos was no exception.  Enjoy this little peek into their love story!

I often recommend that couples do two outfits for their engagement session.  For their second outfit, Jordan and Elizabeth opted for a vintage look and it was so. much. fun. to photograph!

  I'm not sure how dancing on the bridge started, but it did, and I love how these photos depict their, spontaneous, and a little goofy.
Next stop: diner.  Because finishing out the evening with a milkshake was a must. ;)
I love this last series of photos.  Technically, I had told them we were "done" shooting, so they were goofing off and these are some of my favorites...because it's real and ridiculous and wonderful and you can feel how much fun these two have together.    Guys...I can. not. wait. for your big day next year!  It's been such a privilege to witness your story! 

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides engagements love stories Wed, 23 Nov 2016 20:49:34 GMT
Kassandra's Story Good Morning, World.  So this little blogging hiatus I've been on is winding to a close.  I've spent the last several months cuddling my baby Redd, and it's been all kinds of wonderful.  Most of my creative endeavors have been sitting patiently on the shelf, waiting for me to pull them into the light to be seen.  This past spring and summer was rich with stories.  I like to think that while they sit on the shelf waiting to be enjoyed and shared, they're gaining depth and flavor - like wine maybe?  Overused analogy, but there it is anyway.

It's no secret that what I love most about photography is the stories of those I'm invited to photograph.  One such story was my cousin Kassandra's.   Months ago she called me, long before we talked about a photoshoot, and unfolded a part of her story of which I'd been completely unaware.  I've known Kassandra my entire life.  And not just casually either.  She is family and friend, but before that first conversation I had no idea that she struggled with an eating disorder.  As we chatted and she told me about her journey into recovery, I discovered, not surprisingly, that eating disorders lurk unseen in the shadows of many lives.  Having an eating disorder has nothing to do with your physical size and everything to do with your mental state and perspective.  You can be extra thin or extra thick and not have an eating disorder.  You can look perfectly healthy and get two thumbs up from your doctor and have an eating disorder, because it's about the way you see the world. In the conversations that followed, Kassandra told me about how she'd struggled with the monster "ED" since junior high.  Lies love to weasel their way into our perspectives at vulnerable times in our lives.  They tell us untruths about ourselves, others, the world around us, and unless we know to meet them head on with Truth, we become slaves to them.  She was unequipped to fight the lies, so a cycle of binge eating, dieting, and clean eating became a way of life for her.  She would feel better about herself when things were "going well" but the root of the issue remained because the lies will ALWAYS demand more.  Always.  True freedom isn't found in being "thin enough" or "the perfect size."    Kassandra's journey into recovery didn't happen magically or overnight. It happened slowly, painfully, one step at a time.  It began with calling the lies what they are: LIES.  You would think that recognition of the lies would be all it takes, but it's not enough to just know something is a lie.  You must learn to fight those lies every time they come into your mind.  This is a complicated and messy war.  I say 'war' because recovery is not a one time battle.  Picture it like territory that belongs to you.  You own land on paper.  Freedom is YOURS, and though you never meant to allow lies to come in, they did, and they've overrun your life.  The war begins by taking back the land that belongs to you one battle at a time, one area of your life at a time.  Even after you've taken the "big cities" of your life, you'll have to fight them out of the "villages" and "border towns" of your territory.  Fighting lies in your life is as messy as war always is.  It's never neat, clean, or easy.  It is hard and painful, and you'll win some battles and you'll lose some battles.  

I think there are two keys to fighting well:

1) Learn to be kind to yourself.  I've got news for you: Jesus isn't mean.  He never uses the language of lies.  He is for you, and learning to value His Voice above the voices of the lies is step one and step two and step forty five and step four hundred thirty nine.  If you grew up religious, this is gonna be a tough one for you because we think condemnation is conviction.  It's not.  I know because I've felt both.  Conviction is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced.  I felt the KINDNESS OF GOD so strongly in those moments.  Who but God can make you feel so truly loved and valued while pointing out deficiency?  Conviction is amazing and awesome and something I actually want to experience more not less.  True conviction from God leaves you empowered to change.  A tip about condemnation: it comes coupled with fear, anxiety, and powerlessness.  It always takes a stab at your identity, and never brings hope for change.  You need to learn to recognize the spirit of condemnation, and turn away from it completely when it tries to speak to you because it's not the voice of God.  We think we need to give ear to condemnation because some of the things it tells us are "technically right."  What we fail to understand is that even if condemnation is telling us things that are correct technically, by listening to the the voice of condemnation, we are allowing it into our lives.  Even if it brings "correct facts" with it, it will never bring the power to change.  What it will bring is discouragement in droves.  I've found that the temptation to listen to condemnation in my own life comes from a place of fear that I won't ever "win the battle" if I don't "take control of my life."  Newsflash: You do not need more control.  You need need more trust that God will come through for you.  He is more committed to you winning your war for freedom than you are.  And that's great news, especially on discouraging days when our own strength is failing us.


2) Stay in the fight.  That doesn't mean you are constantly swinging your proverbial sword willy-nilly and racing hither and yon trying to do, do, do.  That's just stupidity that's probably driven by fear.  Winning a war is STRATEGIC.  Sure, there are going to be times when you have to fight a battle longer and harder than you have strength for.  That's a given. But a big part of staying in the fight is learning to rest really well.  Rest in the fact that God has your war.  ASK HIM where you are supposed to be devoting energy to win your fight.  Then devote your energy to that thing.  Check back in with Him for your battle plans regularly.  This is a long war, not a skirmish, so manage your energy and rest when He tells you to.  Don't waste your energy fighting battles He never called you to fight.  


   Eventually, you can and will drive the lies out completely. I'd be lying if I told you the threat won't always exist.  The lies will always be looking for a way back into your life and territory.  The beauty is that in the process of learning to fight the lies out of your land you will become someone you never anticipated you could be:


Kassandra is a living testimony of this truth.  She shares about her on-going recovery journey over at Authenticity & Grace. She'd be the first to tell you that she still has her days.  The lies still come calling, but they aren't camped out in her territory anymore.  That's the beauty of fighting all of the hard battles for freedom:  You develop the ability to fight off a lie and send it packing even when it ambushes you unexpectedly.  Freedom isn't the absence of struggle.  Freedom is quite simply embracing the Presence and Truth of Jesus as enough in the midst of struggle.


Kassandra, thank you SO much for inviting me into your story.  You are deeply beautiful, and it was such an honor to photograph you.

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) inspirational portraits Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:57:14 GMT
Alli | Senior | 2017 So excited to share a little peek at Alli's senior session on the blog today!

Alli is an artist, and a very good one at that, so it only felt appropriate to start off shooting her session in Short North Arts District. Alli has spent her past few summers working as a caricature artist at the zoo.  Recreating Disney characters is another way she shares her talents with the world.  

I love the way artists see the world and paint it back to us with their medium of choice.  Alli is young, but she already shows such an infinity for painting and creating, and I can't wait to see where life takes her.

We shot the second part of Alli's session at Whetstone Park of Roses.  The roses are absolutely stunning this time of year!
Favs!  Love her smile in these!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) Whetstone Park of Roses portraits seniors Thu, 21 Jul 2016 17:39:03 GMT
Tony & Nicole | Train Station Lifestyle Family Session | Jerusalem, Israel Time?  It flies.  Or maybe it just flies when you don't want it to...or maybe the older you get?  Beats me.  Kids sometimes complain about things taking forever, and maybe that's just because they know how to really be in a moment wholeheartedly.  Anyway, my musings about how time flies is coming from a place of I-can't-believe-it-was-over-a-month-ago-that-I-got-to-spend-time-with-this-sweet-family.  I first met Tony and Nicole around ten years ago when I spent six weeks living in Israel with my sister Lori.  Lori hit it off with Tony and Nicole, and it's been the sort of friendship that even after Lori left Israel in 2009, they still pick up right where they left off when they see one another.  It was only natural to look them up and hang out with them as much as possible for the few days we were in Jerusalem. One evening we met them for dinner at an old train station that's been converted into a delightful little hotspot for families to hang out, complete with restaurants, vendor booths, shops, and a small stage for events.  We snapped a few photos outside before we headed inside the station to let the kids play. Below: The sibling version of hugging at ages six, four, and two.  It was a bit more like tackling, but their hearts were in it, and I'd say that's what matters.
Altogether, it was a splendid evening chasing these little munchkins around the train station.  I was thrilled to finally meet the famous Daniel.  He's been blogging for years now and tales of his shenanigans have provided me with hours of entertainment.  I was quite looking forward to meeting him.  He gave me a giant hug when we met, and I had a genuine fan girl moment. I briefly felt quite special, but he also showered the rest of our crew with hugs (pictured below making Lori's day with his sweetness).  This one does know how to work his crowd.  Daniel happened to be the lucky one getting swing rides from his dad.  Lucas and Raia crashed that party post haste, determined to get in on the action.
Fun fact about parenting three kids under six (not that I really know, but I hear and believe because the evidence speaks for itself):  Time to yourself is, well, limited at very best.  What makes this not just bearable but a good adventure is having someone to ride the roller coaster alongside you, with all the crazy twists and turns life throws your way.  Tony and Nicole have been married for twelve years, and it shows in the best kind of way.  Pinterest and social media will sell you a crap story about marriage.  Don't buy it for a second.  Real love isn't some sort of perfect life.  Real love is someone who stays on the roller coaster with you when life sends you over a crazy hill that makes you wonder if you're going to make it through the turns you couldn't have seen coming.  Tony and Nicole know a lot about riding the roller coaster well.  Is that a thing?  Because they've totally made it a thing - riding life's roller coaster well.  There isn't much about their life that's easy.  In the few days I spent with them, I walked away so inspired by how they LIVE.  They get up every morning with perseverance and courage to a story that is full of challenges.  I know I'm being all dramatic, but thinking about stories makes me think about heroes.  What makes people heroic is the way they show up, stay, and don't give up living a life that isn't about them.  That's how you live a beautiful story.  Tony & Nicole are living a story that is genuinely beautiful, and it's inspiring.  Generally though being an inspiring person isn't glamorous in actuality.  It is inspiring because it is difficult and it's being done in spite of seemingly insurmountable challenges.  This is the kind of courage that matters long term, that still shows up when you zoom out and look back in twenty years.
Who doesn't love a carousel ride? Love these shots of Raia and Nicole! Nicole and her family are originally from New York City.  Her parents are retired and spend several months each year living in Israel so they can be closer to their grandbabies.  The kids adore them, and their presence provides a bit of respite and margin for the kids sometimes battle-wearied parents. Raia's eyes are my new favorite.  Just saying. The whole gang! These shots make me smile.  They were singing to Daniel, running through a ritual he knew well, and the delight was palpable.  Having grandparents like these means you are automatically winning at life.
The kids' evening ended with one of life's greatest luxuries: ICE CREAM.
Heaven comes in a tiny cup.  Or so it would seem.
Based on Lucas' expression, Raia should most certainly be worried for the cone in her hands.
Partaking of the sacred cream is a responsibility Lucas obviously takes quite seriously.
Photographing this family reminded me how life can be simultaneously simple and complicated, beautiful and messy, hard and GOOD all at the same time.  I left wanting to embrace life as fully as they are.  You CAN face heart-boggling challenges and call life good at the same time.  It's not one or the other, and they are in the thick of rocking what it means to do a simple/complicated, messy/beautiful, hard and GOOD existence.  

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) lifestyle portraits little ones Mon, 11 Jul 2016 19:11:38 GMT
Roxanne, Dreams, Flowers, and Keeping It Simple Did you know that carrying a dream might be the most difficult, healthy, and beautiful thing you'll ever do?  Because it might.

Carrying a dream is a whole lot like being pregnant, only dreams don't generally come with due dates that can be neatly marked on calendars.

Dreams come with tension.

"Follow your dreams."

"Go for it!"

"Make the jump."

...and all of the other pretty motivational quotes you can Pin to your heart's content.

(I've heard it all before and so have you.)


I don't mean to be cynical because there is truth in these lines.  There IS a time to do all of the things that the Pinterest quotes recommend.  Life does require action, but I actually wanted to talk about a very specific kind of dream today:


There are dreams that we have.  Then there are the dreams that are actually a part of who we are.  They are hardwired into our DNA.  I tend to think of them as the dreams that God instilled in us.  


The tension that makes dream-carrying painful is when you are hardwired with a dream, but life isn't giving you a landing space for the dream inside of you.  So you carry your dream and your world gets heavy with it and you can no more make it reality than a pregnant woman can make her baby come into the world.

This girl has been carrying a dream for flowers, but it goes so much deeper than just creating pretty floral arrangements.  

It's about touching people's souls with beauty that surpasses words.  It is not just flowers.  It's really a kind of way that she worships God.  It's a way that God reaches through her and puts His fingers on the hearts of others and extends His love.  That's what I just love about Jesus.  He is endlessly creative in the ways that He loves people. He deposits His creative ideas into people, and when they do their thing, His love is released into people's hearts.  

Worship is not something you do at church.  We should really get that out of our religious heads.  That is a teeny, tiny fraction of worship. Worship is the way you live your life and do your thing and extend the gift God put in you to the world around you.

I've noticed this belief within myself and within other creatives.  We feel our art deeply.  We know when something isn't quite right, and it drives us crazy.  We know we are called to more, so we chase it.  We hunt for fulfillment within our own creativity.  I don't know about you, but whenever I do that, I come up exhausted and empty.  


There's this chic I know who's like forty something and awesome.  Her hame is Rhoda and one time I sat in her kitchen after she'd just baked bread that smelled like heaven, and something she says a lot came to mind just now:  "It's simple.  We overcomplicate things all the time."  She was talking about Jesus and faith and following God.  We make it so much more complicated than it actually is.

You are called to offer the gift that God put in you to the world around you as an act of worship.  


It is that simple.  


Even when you don't have the perfect landing spot for your dream.  


I forget this all the time.  Things don't have to be perfect for me to worship God with what I do.  That doesn't mean your dream for more is not His heart.  You know better than to believe that lie.  We just short-change our right-now life when we forget that it is enough to steward our gift by offering in the small ways we can today.  

Roxanne does such a good job of offering in ways that she can in her present moment.  She works at a floral shop part time, but she is constantly giving flowers to friends and people that God puts on her heart and taking and making opportunities to do what she's called to do.  Even though she feels the tension of carrying a dream for something greater, she hasn't forgotten that it is simple.


 Worship is our uncomplicated expression of God's goodness.  


Roxanne expresses with flowers.  How you express might be organization or administration or loving your kids or leading well.  It doesn't define you.  It is just how you release who God is to the world around you.

As a creative I have a constant bevy of projects and ideas in my mind.  When I have incorrect perspective, they become heavy.  They burden me because they become things I must do as a definition of self, rather than what they were originally meant to be: an expression of love, worship, and who God is.  


Do yourself a favor and don't turn your worship into work.


Let your work be worship, and you might just find yourself holding something the hamster wheel of doing-it-all can never give you: fulfillment, joy, peace, and all of the other stuff that apparently comes as an epic package deal with the Spirit of God.  

P.S. The truth is that I wanted to share so much more of Roxanne's story.  People's stories have so much depth.  This woman has deep faith, and I might share a snippet of that part of her story one of these days too, but today's post needed to be about how to really LIVE, practically, in the middle of an unfinished story when the tension of how it will all work out remains to be seen. 


Hugs, Roxanne.  Glad I've gotten to see this latest chapter of your life unfolding up close.  You are walking it all with so much courage.

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) for creatives inspirational lifestyle portraits Tue, 05 Jul 2016 16:37:35 GMT
Daniel & Dimare Wedding | Columbus, Ohio Daniel & Dimare tied the knot nearly two weeks ago today, and it was a celebration to remember.  They first met at a friend's house warming party, and though the spark was instant, it was a few weeks before Daniel messaged Dimare to see if the connection he'd felt could be something more.  It didn't take them long to realize that they'd found the real thing, and on Saturday, the 18th of June, they promised each other a lifetime of learning how to love each other well.  It was a beautiful day, and I'm excited to share this little peek into their wedding story!

The day started off with Dimare and her sisters and mother getting their hair and makeup done at the always fabulous Virtue Vegan Salon By the way, I have to give a little shout out to Virtue, specifically Jessica.  She was the stylist behind Dimare's gorgeous wedding hair and makeup, and she happens to be the one I trust to cut my hair as well.  It felt like such a small world when Dimare and I discovered this as we were chatting about wedding plans a few months ago.  I adored the style and look Jessica gave Dimare, but that's not shocking, because Jessica always does an incredible job.  And she is the sweetest, so sitting in her chair is winning all around.

From the salon, they headed to the church to finish getting ready for the big day.

First look - I always love these moments! 
Daniel surprised Dimare with a gift.  Judging by her reaction, I'd say he did well!
As they were getting ready to say their vows, the pastor turned to Daniel to say his vows first.  Dimare jumped in and asked if she could go first, knowing that if Daniel went first, she'd likely be too emotional to get through hers.  Everyone laughed, Daniel obliged, and Dimare made her promises first. ...and sure enough, after Daniel said his vows, Dimare was emotional.
Their first dance was followed by past stories and kind words from their maids of honor and best men. Daniel's sister Kara was overcome during her speech, so Daniel joined her for moral support.  Kara's words were a beautiful affirmation of the journey her brother has been on.  She spoke of how when Dimare entered Daniel's life, she knew it was something special because of the way Daniel changed in wonderful ways.  Love really does bring out the best in people, and Kara's words were a reminder to always see people the way God does - with eyes of love.  It has the power to change everything. Triumphant!  He beat her to the punch smashing cake in her face, but she flung cake at him from a few feet away and hit him squarely in the face.  Like a boss. Dimare's grandmother surprised her with a necklace during the reception.
Congratulations, Daniel & Dimare!  It was an honor to capture your day!

See Daniel & Dimare's wedding highlights slideshow HERE!

Special thanks to Jessica Photography for second shooting!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories weddings Sat, 02 Jul 2016 02:04:59 GMT
Cody & Mindy | Five Year Anniversary Cody and Mindy are celebrating five years of marriage this weekend (June 18th to be precise), and I was so honored to photograph this milestone for them.

I first got to know Mindy a little over a year ago through this wonderful thing called The Rising Tide Society.  She is a fellow photographer, so we've shot weddings together on occasion over the past year, and she's become someone I feel blessed to call a friend. Macaroons are one of Mindy's very favorite things, so naturally they made an appearance at their photoshoot.  Because what celebration would be complete without macaroons from the always delightful Pistacia Vera? You should know, wine of any kind is not Cody's favorite thing, so when they toast, Mindy cracks open the bubbly and Cody pops open a Mountain Dew.  Mindy did make him try a little sip of hers again, just to be SURE he didn't like it.  He was less than impressed, and opted to stick with his Dew.

We finished out the session with a few photos in a wheat field as the sun was setting.
Checking out their polaroids! Cody and Mindy, it was an honor to document this milestone for you! Happy 5th Anniversary!  

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories Wed, 15 Jun 2016 01:20:52 GMT
Colin & Andrea | Engagement | Highbanks Metro Park When I met Colin and Andrea for their engagement session, I was reminded of why I'm so excited to be photographing their wedding in a few weeks.  What is immediately obvious when you spend any amount of time with them, is how much they simply enjoy each other.  They are so very happy just being together, and the laughter they share is contagious.  Here's a little peek into some of my favorites from their engagement!

Colin graduated last month.  Throughout his last year of college, he'd been diligently hunting for a job, but somehow every opportunity he came across ended up falling through - until last month.  He was offered a job in...(wait for it)...Wisconsin.
Now that may seem like no big deal, but Colin and Andrea's lives are rooted deeply in central Ohio.  Both of their families are here, so the idea of moving, while exciting, also pulls on their heart strings. Sometimes God's timing is astonishingly short notice.  They felt confident that this opportunity was from Him, so their last month has been a crazy whirlwind of graduation, packing up their lives, moving Colin to Wisconsin, AND planning the remaining details of their wedding day while Andrea is in Ohio and Colin is in Wisconsin.  As I was listening to their story throughout their engagement session, I was struck by how at peace they seemed through all of the change they've been experiencing.  That's the beauty of walking with God.  You get to have peace in the middle of crazy circumstances.  They do, and it's a beautiful thing to witness.
Colin and Andrea are major fans of sunsets.  It's been their thing for ages now.  Colin even proposed on a lake at sunset.  Although the clouds were greedy that evening and hid the sunset, they got engaged anyway, because circumstances don't have to be perfect for a moment to be everything you dreamed of.  The clouds were more cooperative the night of their engagement session, and these are some of my absolute favorites from their shoot.

Congratulations, Colin & Andrea!  So excited for your big day!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides engagements love stories Fri, 10 Jun 2016 14:43:27 GMT
Matt & Ashley | Anniversary I met Ashley only a year ago, which is a little crazy, because it feels like I've known her longer than that.  Over the last year she's become a dear friend.  She's also a photographer, and her and Matt are expecting as well, so these days, we have a lot in common!  She was actually one of the first people I told that I was expecting.  We were headed to a photography conference in D.C., and when you have eight hours of road time, secrets tend to find their way out. ;) When Ashley texted me with the news that they were expecting a few months ago, I was so very ecstatic for them.  We promptly decided to start going for weekly walks together in an effort to keep the pregnancy weight gain at appropriate levels.  I've loved this little tradition we've started, and she's been such a gift from God.   She and Matt had been planning to do anniversary photos to celebrate their second year of marriage, and since Pete and I rather desperately needed to update our photos, it was a perfect opportunity to swap sessions.
One of the things I've noticed as I've gotten to know Ashley better over the last few months is how she talks about Matt.  They've been married for two years now, which is plenty of time for the "magic" to wear off and the difficult realities of marriage to set it in.  We've spend a lot of time together, and I don't think I've ever heard her say a negative word about him.  It's not that she's gushy or inauthentic or putting on a front.  She's real about the fact that they don't always agree on things, but whenever she speaks about him or their relationship there is always this tone of deep, genuine gratitude that comes through.
What they share is all of the best elements of love combined.  It's the fun, crazy-about-you kind, but it's also stable and grounded.  And the best part is, they actually KNOW how special what they have is, and they fight to protect it.  That's rare and beautiful.

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories Wed, 18 May 2016 11:56:50 GMT
Tim & Kelly | Wedding | Columbus, Ohio This past Saturday I got to witness as this love story made its mark on these two hearts.  Tim and Kelly met less than a year ago, which is proof that when it's right, it's just right.

Their day started off bright and cool, a perfect May morning for a wedding.  They had opted to start their day a bit earlier than usual with their ceremony at noon, so portraits began early.

Kelly chose to get ready at her parents' home.  The house was full of her good friends who'd come to celebrate the day with her.

Love the shot below!  Kelly's eyes are a dream to photograph.
Some of my favorites right here because they are so HER.  She is fun and more than a little goofy, and I love her uninhibited way of doing life.

Her skirt was the kind that was practically begging to be twirled she obliged.

Such a sweet moment during their first look!

How cute are they?!

With their friends... Loved this shot of Kelly with one of her matrons of honor!

Kelly shares a special connection with these two little people.  She's been a nanny to both of them, so having them there with her on her wedding day meant so much to her. Caught her twirling in between portraits! The ceremony... The new Mr. & Mrs. Martin! Tim and Kelly - HUGE congratulations to you both!  You guys are so good for one another and it was such an honor to witness and photograph your day!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) brides love stories weddings Thu, 12 May 2016 12:42:00 GMT
Expectations & Hope Expectation is actually a beautiful thing.  It stems from a place of hope within us, and I believe that to be a good quality to have growing inside your heart. 


I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times – lower your expectations.  I do believe those can be wise words of advice, specifically when it comes to relationships with others.  Frequently we hope for people to come through for us in some way or another, and for whatever reason, they don’t.  What follows can be anything from mild disappointment to absolute heartbreak to anger to resentment.  Such fun emotions.  I could ramble on about relationships and expectation, but the deeper issue here is HOPE.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

...according to Solomon and everyone who’s ever encountered disappointment. 


I bumped up against a wee bit of disappointment this week.  Nothing earth shattering, and chances are if you ask me about it next week, I’ll have an airhead moment and not remember the particulars of what was bumming me out.  Still though, disappointment feels very real when you’re smack dab in the middle of it.  So I’m part way through this little bout of hope deferred, and it has me thinking about digging deeper.  When our hearts are dashed, our instinct is to pull back, give in to resentment towards God or life or people, despise that we hoped for more in the first place, call ourselves naïve for thinking we would have more relationally, spiritually, financially, emotionally, you-name-it.  Those are obviously poor responses, but what is the right response when our hearts feel a little broken by life and circumstances?  How do you walk out practical, everyday hope that makes room for breakthrough?  Because we are about breakthrough.  We are about God changing things.


I think belief is an avenue for change – for breakthrough.  Change is needed and good and God’s heart.  I believe eternal hope is the well from which powerful hope flows, but too often we claim we have hope, and perhaps we do, but it doesn’t translate into a life of active belief in what God is actually saying for the here and now.  I know we don’t live in a perfect world, but sometimes we postpone victories that God intended for now because we succumb to mindsets that relegate God’s Kingdom to only some distant future reality.  We fail to partner with God by believing what He is saying about our present by assuming everything He says applies only to “someday in eternity.”  I know it feels hard when your experience isn’t matching what God is saying is His heart.  I KNOW.  Trust me.  But we aren’t supposed to give up hope.  We’re meant to stay so close to His heart, tuned in, listening to what He is saying so that our hearts can navigate the deep waters of sadness and disappointment.  How we navigate hope determines our trajectory in life.

Connecting to God’s heart in the middle of the mild and severe disappointments of life is imperative to walking hope deferred in a way that keeps your heart healthy instead of sick.  It is only His redemptive perspective on this world that can keep our hearts beating hopeful for a world that is chaotic.  Having a hopeful heart that believes what He says is the catalyst for great change.  

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) inspirational personal Fri, 22 Apr 2016 13:33:41 GMT
Steve & Karen | Arkansas Family Mini Session Happy Wednesday all!  Finally getting a little peek posted from the quick few photos I did of my sister and her family when I visited them in Arkansas back in February. I had an absolute blast with my nephews while I was there.  It had been YEARS since I'd been down to see them on their own turf.  They come to Ohio on a fairly regular basis, but I noticed that I connected with them more this time.  Naturally, I had to analyze why it was this way, and I came up with two reasons:  1) I was the one on "vacation" so I wasn't trying to juggle regular life responsibilities in addition to hanging out.  2) When they come to Ohio, they are quite old enough to create their own party.  They have cousins their age, so they all disappear and have wonderful adventures while the older crowd sits around and eats copious amounts of food while delving into deep/meaningful/ridiculous conversations about who-knows-what (life, spirituality, politics, personalities, football, business). So while I was in Arkansas, we played Take One and went running on their dirt road and every morning they'd come out and sit by the fireplace to warm up and wake up before breakfast.  Tyler showed off his mad chef skills at the ripe old age of ten (move over Gordon Ramsay).  Cameron proved that you can be more responsible at twelve than you are at twenty-nine (I'm the one needing to move over in this case).   Chase reminded me that life is party if we just hang out with the right people (Chase is the right people).
 Lincoln provided epic levels of hilarity and cuteness all week.  

Baby Jackson was of course everyone's favorite to cuddle, so he got his very own photoshoot.

Quick little word about my sister Karen.  She is many things - smart, fun, kind, focused on what matters.  She brings a practicality to life that keeps those around her grounded.  I think we live in a world that loves to shine the lime light on the "free-spirited creatives" and exalt their spontaneous way of life as being some sort of ultimate.  While I'm obviously all for celebrating creativity, I think "the other half" gets overlooked all too regularly because they aren't sharing blog posts of their latest DIY project.  Karen and I's personalities are wildly different, but the week that I spent with them, I witnessed first hand how incredibly valuable her gifting is to her world.  She has created and fought for good structure and positive routine, and because she's done this, the world that she is responsible for is calm, peace-filled, and free of chaos.  It is not a slavish commitment to routine, or a refusal to be flexible. It's a well-built foundation from which she and her people can live with healthy levels of spontaneity and freedom.  She would be the first to tell you her world is far from perfect, but the atmosphere she has set is one where peace is an unwavering presence.  Peace and stability is of the loveliest and most important gifts you can give to those you are called to serve.  Karen gives these so well that it's easy to assume that those qualities just magically appeared.  They didn't and they don't.  She brings them every day with faithfulness, and the impact she is making is palpable when you spend a week in her world.

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) personal portraits Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:02:08 GMT
So This Is Happening! So this is happening!  I'm twenty weeks as of yesterday, and we are so very excited about this little munchkin whose best photos are, well, black and white blurry dots on a 3x4 bit of paper.  Technically, we have some much more distinguishable photos after our twenty week ultrasound appointment this past week...which, by the way, was the COOLEST THING.  God bless technology.  I might have teared up at the ultrasound, and for those of you who know a bit of my backstory, you understand what a gift that was. I'm hesitant to write this one out for the world to read because I think I might be part of a minority here, and we all know that whatever the case, being in the minority usually feels vulnerable.  I'm going to try to keep this short, because Lord knows the minute details of story call my name and I follow their alluring little voices down rabbit trails on an entirely too-routine basis.  I wonder if there's therapy for the overly-detailed?  I could probably use it.  Anyway, here's the general gist of my story without all of those fun little details you really don't need: BEING A MOM HAS NEVER BEEN MY DREAM. 


It's never held its own spot on one of my many lists of goals, dreams, and curiosities.  Pete and I have had this conversation many a time, and it's honestly less that we haven't wanted kids, and more that we've been reluctant to relinquish our independence.  We've been married for going on six years, and the fact is the last half of a decade has been fantastic.  We love our life.  


The truth is that I am simultaneously naive and hyper-aware of the challenges of motherhood.  For most of my life, really all of it, my internal response to the idea of motherhood for my own life has been, "Thanks, but I think I'm good." 


I actually think it's perfectly fine for people to opt not to have children.  I certainly understand the choice, because bottom line, like it or not, is that the not-sure-I-really-want-kids camp is the one from which I come.  I could go into the whys, but that's a conversation better suited to a summer night of honesty around a campfire with friends who are safe for the heart. So what changed, right?  If we think it's fine not to have kids, and it doesn't sound like we really want kids, why are we having one?


*Massive bunny trail ahead.  This might actually be like Main Street in Rabbitville.  I promise I have a point.*

 I hate churchy and religious-sounding stuff (blech), but there's this story about this guy name Jacob in the Bible.  It's in Genesis.  This guy Jacob is in a tough spot.  He tricked his brother out of something super important when they were young.  His brother got mad and was planning to kill him (overreact much?!), so Jacob ran away, and literally started a whole new life with relatives in another land.  This is years later.  Jacob is now married, well off (camels and donkeys were apparently a big thing), and has a passel of kids.  Then God tells Jacob he's supposed to go home.  There's a lot of drama in the leaving, but Jacob and his village (for real, if you read it, it sounds like he was moving a village so we're going to call it that) are approaching his presumably still-angry brother's territory.  Jacob is stressed.  He's sent gifts ahead to let his brother know he's coming, hoping presents will help smooth the waters (smart move, Jake).  It doesn't look favorable when his brother's response is to gather four hundred men to come meet them.  Sounds a wee bit like an army.  Jacob prays, and reminds God that this was His bad idea to return to the motherland.  Actually, Jacob was substantially more mature with his wording, and I really loved his prayer.  He thanks God for what He's done, he is humble, he asks God to please save them, and he reminds God of what He promised.  That's my favorite part.  He reminds God of what He promised.  It does so much for our souls when we repeat the promises God has spoken over our lives back to Him.  It's like going to the chiropractor for our souls.  Worry and fear will throw you out of whack every time.  Reminding God of things He said is free soul therapy.  It's not a quick fix.  Therapy never is.  It's what we do for our long-term health.  (That was a bunny trail from the original we took, and it was free. You're welcome. Back to Jacob.)  So Jacob prayed, and later that night he sends everyone across the river and he stays on the other side.  This "guy" shows up, and they wrestle.  I really wonder how that went down.  Did the "guy" just show up and be like "Hey man, you wanna wrestle?"  Or was it like a crouching-tiger, hidden-dragon sort of thing where he just hits Jacob out of nowhere? (Never actually saw the movie so no idea if this reference is appropriate or not.)  I will ask Jacob about this over coffee in heaven someday, assuming he’s not too busy herding his camels.  Anyway, they wrestle all freaking night.  No joke.  Who has the energy for that?  Turns out the "guy" was God.  Zero idea how Jacob managed to stick with God in an all-night wrestling match, but he did.  So dawn comes, and it says that "when the man saw he could not defeat Jacob, he struck Jacob's hip and put it out of joint" (a.k.a. when God cheats at wrestling).  Jacob hangs onto Him even after the hip incident, and God tells him to let go.  Jacob bargains and says "I will let you go if you will bless me."  This story just keeps getting weirder.  Who asks someone they just fought with to bless them?  God does bless him though.  All of that was for this itty-bitty takeaway:



God doesn't want our fake submission.  I think He'd rather have us hang onto Him, refuse to let go, and demand, like Jacob, that He bless us.  We'll likely come out the other side with two things that give purpose to the wrestling: HUMILITY - Jacob limped away from that fight with a bum hip, even though God says in the text that he "won."  He really did win though because the other thing Jacob walked away with was a NEW NAME. 




It will be ugly and you will get your butt kicked, and if you're any good, He'll throw your hip out so He wins.  The humility is the gift that comes in the process of wrestling it out.  God owes us nothing.  He didn't have to show up to fight with Jacob.  He didn't have to bless Jacob.  He doesn't have to bless us, but He wants to.


If you are wrestling with God on something, don't stop.  The process will humble you, and you will find yourself changed and called by a new name when you are through it.  You will be different on the other side, and that is a good thing.  I think Jacob's late night wrestling match was the catalyst for him to become who God meant for him to be all along.


I think our personal wrestle with God is the catalyst for us to become who God means for us to be too. Back to our story.


So my wrestle for about four+ years now has been kids.  I know a lot of you won't get this, because having kids IS a dream of yours, and I genuinely believe that it is a beautiful dream, but for me having kids has felt like a death sentence to MY dreams.  I think more than anything, that has been the rub.  It is less about not actually wanting kids, and more about fearing what they will do to my admittedly wonderful world.  There is the ugly, selfish truth.  Yikes.  


The wrestle was that I sensed Him telling me that this was something He DID have for me.  It would be one thing if I hadn't heard Him speaking to me about having kids, but that wasn't the case.  Over the past few years He's made it abundantly clear that I need to release my death grip on control.  It's been such a fun process.  I'm kidding.  Letting go is dreadfully painful, and I could write a whole blog post on just that.  He was actually super nice about it though - like He knew my heart needed to be warmed up (or de-iced) to the idea.  And it really has, which is pure craziness and straight-up miracle.  The thing about wrestling with God, is that even when you lose you win.  The point is engaging with Him so that He can change the way you think about things that you really don't want to think differently about.  Getting your mind changed is as dreadfully unpleasant as it sounds - like wrestling through the night, but it really is worth it.   I eventually and finally got to a more soft-hearted place.  Pete and I softened to the idea of having kids simultaneously, which has been such a gift.  It's never been the kind of thing where one of us was ready and the other one wasn't, and I'm beyond grateful for that. 


This space of having let go of needing control is so much happier.  It's not magic though.  When you choose a path because you're being obedient to what you feel like God is telling you to do, it doesn't mean you aren't still you.  When Pete and I found out we were having a baby, we were excited, but honestly, I'm not really sure if it hit either of us until our twenty week ultrasound a few days ago.  Pete is much more grounded, but I am used to having big feelings about everything, and when twenty weeks of pregnancy go by and your internal emotional response is showing virtually no activity, you honestly feel a little weird, especially when the standard response to pregnancy from most of the universe is, understandably and rightly, high levels of excitement.  My best friend told me that the fact that we never really freaked out was a definite sign of grace, so that was something.

Then we had our twenty week ultrasound, and it was so dang cool you guys.  For the first time since I've been pregnant, I actually felt connected to this little human, and you have NO idea what a gift that is.  




And heck yes we found out.  We promptly went shopping after the appointment with the intention of buying one outfit.  We bought six.  And the cutest newborn shoes that no child of that age actually needs or will likely even agree to wear.  Oops.  Hashtag #classicnewparentmove  But it was fun, and I feel really grateful, because it feels like we've turned another corner in this mind-changing process. Shout out to my sweet friend Janelle who gifted us with the cutest pair of little Hunter rain boots in the smallest size she could find. Our kid is mud-puddle ready! ;) I doubt I will ever be the hardcore awesome mom type who has her act together.


I don't think it's me, and I'm starting to realize that maybe that's okay.  God was never trying to push me into some sort of mold that doesn't fit me.  Trust is probably the name of the game, here.  Perhaps motherhood need not be what I've made it out to be either - as my friend Bethany reminded me when she shared this post on her blog.  Maybe God actually does know what He's doing.  Who knew?!  


To wrap up this way-too-long blog post, if you're trying to trust God with something - if you disagree with Him about something, just know that I feel your pain.  Wrestle it out with Him.  It's worth the fight, even when you lose, probably especially then.  He has this way of bringing us joy in the most unexpected places.  Fight it out and don’t let Him go until He blesses you with that new name and the grace to see things in a new way. Huge thank you to my sweet friend Ashley of Ashley D Photography for the photos in this post!  It had been far too long since Pete and I had stepped in front of a camera, so having a little one was motivation to finally make it happen, and Ashley gave us such a fun experience!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) inspirational personal Sat, 09 Apr 2016 18:33:33 GMT
Jaxson | One Year Session
 Two weeks ago I got to spend the morning with this little charmer.  Jaxson recently turned one, so it was time for him to step in front of the camera to document just how dashing a fellow can look at the ripe old age of twelve months. Such a little gentleman in that bow tie!
 How adorable is this sign that Jaxson's mom Krista made for his first birthday party?! Jaxson had surgery when he was six months old, which is a pretty tall order for such a little guy.  You wouldn't know it with all of his happy smiles, but his road hasn't been without obstacles.  It's interesting though - have you ever noticed how the best characters in great stories always have the most to overcome?  It's often completely unfair and beyond their control, but the way these characters rise to the challenges before them makes them the best of the best - even though it's no fun to walk a road that's more difficult and complicated than the world around you.  It's why we love the great characters in our favorites stories - because of how they rise to challenges and how it changes and molds them into the incredible people they are.  I think maybe Jaxson and his parents are these kinds of great characters, and it leaves me feeling privileged to have crossed paths with them. This kid.  He really is the cutest thing!
Krista, it was so fun to spend time with you and Jaxson.  He's adorable, and you're an incredible mother.  Thanks for trusting me to capture this little snippet of his story!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) little ones portraits Wed, 30 Mar 2016 18:03:39 GMT
Bristol | Seven Year Birthday Session A few weeks ago I got to spend some time with this sweet little newly-turned seven year old!  Bristol's mom called me to book a session because she just couldn't bear the thought of not freezing this season in her little girl's life.  She said that Bristol is changing so much these days and she wants to have tangible memories of it.   We wandered around Bristol's hometown, and photographed her in back alleys and side streets.  We had a beautiful sunny spring afternoon.  It was a bit blustery that day as well, which can be challenging sometimes, but I LOVE the way wind can add movement and life to photos.
One of Bristol's current favorite books...  I heard once that sunglasses make everyone look 80% more awesome.  It was a joke, but I thought it was hilarious and a little true.  Bristol's mom spontaneously took off her shades, and put them on Bristol, just for fun, and I nearly died at the level of cuteness that ensued. She suddenly looked like some sort of street fashionista - only mini.  And we all know everything is way cuter when it's mini.  All the heart eyes, kid.  You make my job too much fun.
 That smile!  Becca totally wasn't planning to be in photos when she came to the session, but when I asked her to hop in for a quick shot with Bristol, she didn't hesitate or give me a line about how her hair and makeup isn't done, or that she's in yoga pants and a t-shirt.  She just bear-hugged her little girl, which brought on giggles and I adore the realness of these shots.   Bristol brought the journal she got for her birthday along, so naturally we captured some fun shots of her doing her thing.  And how cute is that little messy bun?!
Being goofy! She's in dance lessons right now, so we stopped outside of her studio and she showed me some of her moves.
My favorite part of the day was when we were heading to the car after we had finished up - Bristol announced that this had been fun, and that she wished we could do this every day.  It completely made my day, because that's my heart every time I do a session.  Photos don't have to be a stiff and formal affair where we try to pull off some sort of inauthentic version of perfectionism and "look just right."  They should be a celebration of who people are.  It should be fun.  You should feel seen, valued, loved, and like the amazing human being you are when you step in front of a camera.  That's the heart of why I take photos - people need to know that they're amazing.  I think sometimes we as adults are too "grown up" to receive being celebrated.  I know that can be my tendency.  I think maybe we believe it's silly or arrogant to receive love or be celebrated, but in reality, those who've learned to receive love are often best at giving it away.  The fact that Bristol could say in her sweet and childlike way that this was fun for her, had me thinking that she's likely great at loving others.  We should probably all be more like the open-hearted kids around us.  I bet they'd teach us a lot about love if we'd listen.

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) little ones portraits Tue, 29 Mar 2016 14:09:47 GMT
Emily & Hans | Maternity Session Few things inspire me more than seeing people walking in their gifting.  For the past few years, Em's day job has been to manage her own in-home daycare.  She's been watching over little ones and guiding their hearts with intention, kindness, and loads of love.  Sometimes when we do something well - so well that it becomes like breathing for us - we forget how impactful our work is.  Em has been so faithful with her life, and I wonder sometimes if she knows how impactful it is.  Her gifting runs deep and it runs wide, but the most beautiful thing of all isn't that she's gifted - it's that her heart is soft, and teachable, and so very committed to following after God.  It's her heart - that's why I know she will be an incredible mother.
Pregnancy looks so good on you, Em. Love the photo on the left below.  Hans is in a constant state of witty, so this is a pretty typical scene for these two.   Crushing on this pic just a little.  My friends are cooler than your friends.  Just saying! ;)))
I adore these handmade earrings Em created for the session.  Yes - CREATED.  She designs jewelry, and her collection never fails to inspire me to step up my accessorizing game.
 Just stunning.
Hans and Em, you are going to be incredible parents, and I can't wait to meet this little lady of yours!

[email protected] (Deborah Grace Photography) little ones portraits Tue, 22 Mar 2016 21:28:56 GMT
Jackson Luke | Newborn Back in February, a new little man joined the Miller clan.  Jackson has four (yes, four!) proud older brothers (more pics of them coming in another post!), but for now we're devoting a whole post to celebrating the newest member of the family.
I got to spend a full week cuddling this little man.  It had been years since I'd been to Arkansas to visit my sister Karen, so the entire week felt like a giant gift.  We waited until Jackson was six days old to get him in front of the camera, and he was unbelievably angelic. Can we just take a moment to appreciate crazy baby expressions?!  How cute is his little pout! And this is the HUGEST smile I have quite possibly ever seen a newborn wearing...mouth open, eye-crinkling...crazy kid! Chase, always full of affection, popped into the photoshoot to give his new little brother a quick peck. I fell in love with the afternoon light coming into their hallway.