The lovely parents-to-be in this maternity portrait are moving from Austin to be closer to family.  It’s a bittersweet good-bye but the time is right to pursue their next adventure and await the arrival of their bundle of joy.  We chose some of their favorite spots around town as the back-drop of the portraits.  Summer is in full swing making the weather a bit warm for our shoot, a nice shady spot along the Lady Bird Lake trail was a great idea and made for great photos.  This couple is head-over-heels in love and their bright smiles convey the sense of excitement and anticipation of the occasion.  This photo shoot was a great deal of fun in the energetic and beautiful city of Austin.

Big Bend!  After a whirlwind weekend to photograph a bridal portrait in this region of Texas, I returned to the quaint town of Marfa and stunning landscape of west Texas for a few days of vacation and my dear friends’ wedding.  This time, pup Boston came along for the road trip and lovely stay at the historic (and pet-friendly) Hotel Paisano.

Marfa is a charming town.  Every morning, I woke up early and the staff at the hotel greeted pup as we headed outside for a walk down Main Street.  Throughout the town, there are buildings preserved from another era and art-deco architecture, art galleries, shops and places to dine with Marfa business hours and official establishments such as the public radio station, public library, US post office, police and fire stations and City Hall.  My favorite landmark in Marfa is the Presidio County courthouse which is stately and pretty from the outside.  Inside, I ventured up the wooden staircases to the tower which offers panoramic views of Marfa and surrounding mountains.  An artist’s town, another highlight of my time there was a tour of the Chianti Foundation.

In Fort Davis, I spent hours hiking in the Davis Mountains State Park and Fort Davis Historic Site.  In town, I walked along the Davis County Courthouse grounds then toured the art gallery featuring local artists at the Fort Davis Drugstore.  The highlight of Fort Davis was the Star Party I attended at the McDonald Observatory.  Located deep in the mountains and away from city lights under the grand Texas sky, the observatory offers some of the best star-gazing in the world.  Although the temperature in the desert at night was 20 degrees and a nearly a full moon wasn’t ideal for star-gazing, the experience was amazing.  The staff of astronomers provided a fantastic tour of the night sky and through the telescopes I saw Saturn and Jupiter.

In Alpine, I had dinner with my parents (also in town for the wedding) at the historic Holland Hotel, toured the impressive map exhibit and Big Bend Museum on the Sul Ross University campus and drove to the observation site on highway 90 to catch the Mysterious Marfa Lights.  Driving between Fort Davis, Alpine and Marfa, the open road seems to be endless.  Big Bend such a beautiful, majestic and friendly place which is quintessential Texas.

Last month, I was in Marfa, Texas to photograph a bridal portrait.  Traveling over 400 miles west of Austin was well worth it because the photo shoot  was one of the most memorable and fun experiences I’ve had as a photographer.  The bride, Megan, is a sweetheart, a beautiful human being inside and out and incredibly creative so I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with her.  The Big Bend region of Texas offers one of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world and the groom’s family is deeply rooted in the area with a ranch located just outside of Marfa.  Needless to say, this was the perfect setting for their engagement, bridal portraits and wedding.

The day of the portraits, a huge Texas thunderstorm swept through the area.  As we drove between the towns of Alpine, Fort Davis and Marfa, all located 25 miles apart, we missed hail, rainfall and even a couple of funnel clouds and more importantly, were not in any danger despite the inclement weather swirling through the area.  I love the drama the storm clouds added to the landscape.

The bride, her future sister-in-law and I spent the day at these scenic locations in Big Bend:

Alpine: Greeting from Alpine mural on main street and the historic Hotel Ritchey

Fort Davis: Davis mountains, First Presbyterian Church and the location of the couple’s engagement

Marfa: Open road and entrance to the family ranch, Old Ranch road, mainstreet Marfa,  Presidio County courthouse, tee pee at El Cosmico

Austin landmarks served as the backdrop for Darrin and Danielle’s wedding in September 2012.  The couple’s simplistic vision of the event became reality in the sense that the event unfolded naturally and the bride, groom and their family and friends came together and had a wonderful time.  Full of personal touches and memorable details, this wedding was equally timeless and quirky from start to finish.

The ceremony and reception took place at the Zilker Clubhouse which offers a stunning view of the Texas State Capitol and Austin skyline.  Clear blue skies, ample sunshine and a cold front resulted in perfect weather for an outdoor wedding.  The groom and groomsmen took their places on the terrace, looking relaxed and smiling, and the ceremony began.  The groom’s five nephews served as ring bearers and were a sight to see in matching attire and boots with spurs for young cowboys.  Next, the adorable flower girl began her procession cautiously, stopped suddenly and placed her basket of rose petals on the ground which encouraged her Mom, the Matron of Honor, to accompany her down the aisle.  Danielle was strikingly beautiful in a floor-length lace bridal gown and chic and soft chignon.  The bride and groom recited personal vows and released a white dove at the conclusion of the ceremony which was lovely and symbolic of the couple’s bright future.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds hopped into Darrin’s classic Chevrolet and cruised down South Congress.  I had the unique and fun opportunity to take portraits of the couple on their wedding day at some fun and scenic spots.    In addition to close friends and family attending the wedding, Austinites did their part by smiling, waving and congratulating Darrin and Danielle as they walked through the Capitol and around town.

Upon return from the Capitol, a delicious Texas Bar-B-Que dinner was served in the cozy, white limestone Zilker Clubhouse.  The celebration continued with witty and heartfelt toasts by the Father of the Bride, Matron of Honor, Best Man and a close friend of the groom.  Younger guests were happy to know they could decorate and enjoy cupcakes and run circles and play under twinkle lights on the terrace.  As the sunset, the lights of the city began to glow and everyone hit the dance floor as a honky-tonk band began performing live music in the fresh evening air.

It was a pleasure to photograph this incredibly special family occasion and I wish Darrin and Danielle a lifetime of happiness.

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What’s your favorite thing about summer?  This time of year, there’s ample sunshine and green grass and it’s a wonderful time to go to the beach or lounge by the pool, watch fireworks, attend a baseball game, relax on vacation with friends and family and cool off with a snow cone or tall glass of lemonade.

I had the pleasure of taking some family portraits this week of a Mother and Daughter, Husband and Wife and Sisters.  The Mom and daughter duo live in Wisconsin and were in town visiting family.  These photos were taken along the Barton Creek greenbelt nestled within Austin’s Zilker Park and in the golden hour just before sunset.  It’s relatively easy to find time for outdoor portrait sessions in the summer since the sun sets late in the day.

The session was a lot of fun, as you can see this is a very energetic, beautiful and close-knit family who loves to laugh.  The Mother/Daughter photos were a creative and personal Father’s Day gift and the other family members joined in.  Family portraits are such a joy to capture and one of my favorite moments was when the 4-year old little girl and her Mom made funny faces at the camera.

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Last Spring, I spent a few days in one of America’s oldest cities, Boston, and at the coast in Cape Cod, MA.  Boston and Cape Cod are rich with history, culture and natural beauty.  May is a lovely time to visit the area since Spring is in full bloom and the weather is cool but not too cool.  The city is compact so it’s easy to explore on-foot or by hopping on the train, known as the T (Bostonians walk everywhere and I did, too).

During my time in Boston, I managed to find the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation and it was fun to capture the city of Boston and stunning coastlines of Cape Cod in photographs.

-Walk the historic Freedom Trail…the shiny gold dome of the State House, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, USS Constitution and Old North Church were my favorites.

-Go to a Red Sox game at Fenway

-Stroll through the Public Garden.  I went to the garden every day, the tulips were so bright and beautiful.

-Tour the galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts

-Spend the day in Cambridge walking through the Harvard and MIT campuses, MIT museum and across the Longfellow footbridge which connects Boston and Cambridge

-Browse Faneuil Hall and the bustling Quincy Marketplace and have lunch at Durgin-Park

-Go on a whale watching tour in Provincetown Cape Cod MA

-Explore the beaches of Cape Cod.  Nauset beach is stunning and the lighthouses in Chathom and Race Point beach were charming

- Cuisine….Legal Seafood, Italian cuisine in the North End and dessert at Mike’s Pastry and Boston Cream Pie and Parker House rolls at the Omni Parker House hotel

-Symphony concert at the state of the art Boston Symphony Hall

-Window shopping along Newbury Street and breakfast at Trident Booksellers and Café (lemon ricotta French toast)

-Take-in the lovely architecture of the Public library at Copley Square

-Go on a harbor cruise to the USS Constitution which offers great views of the skyline and harbor

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A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a 70th wedding anniversary celebration.  That’s right, 70 years of marital bliss.  It was one of those events I knew in would be special – the couple of honor were so lovely and it was wonderful to see them surrounded by their children, grand-children and great-grandchildren.

My primary objective was to capture a family portrait of the entire family of 40 and a photo of each family.  One of the family members asked me in advance if I would also take some portraits of her son and daughter, ages 3 and 5, and I gladly accepted.  Here are the photos from the candid portrait session (in the garden outside the church and reception hall) with two of the most adorable kiddos imaginable.

Let me tell you….this little girl is sweet as pie and her older brother was so patient and protective of his little sis, not to mention the cutest little cowboy I’ve ever seen.  I have a big family and lots of nieces and nephews so I really enjoy taking portraits of children.  It’s a challenge to get them to stand still or smile at the same time but their little smiles are so bright and their personalities shine.  The greatest reward of being a photographer is a bride, groom, Mom or Dad who is happy with my work and I really enjoy photographing the people and events that are important to people.  It’s a job I take very seriously but enjoy from start to finish.

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Washington DC is a fantastic and international city filled with museums, historic landmarks, great restaurants and beautiful parks.  It’s one of my favorite cities to photograph so I could hardly wait to spend a long weekend there visiting friends.

One of the iconic images of DC can only be captured in the Spring, when 3,000 cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin bloom.  2012 marked 100 years since the trees were given to DC from Japan and I was in luck, because the cherry blossoms bloomed 2 weeks early this year while I was in town.

This slideshow illustrates my adventures in DC and a lot of my time was spent walking along the Tidal Basin, mesmerized by the cherry blossoms and the stunning views of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, MLK Jr Memorial and FDR Memorial.  My friends also took me to Arlington National Cemetery which is an incredibly humbling experience.  All together, it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken.

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I’m a photographer not a musician and my knowledge of music is limited despite 10+ years in the Live Music Capital of the World.  I love music of all kinds though, my absolute favorite  genre is Texas Country closely followed by  80’s music and soundtracks.

I spent St. Patrick’s day weekend in one of my favorite cities, Washington DC, visiting friends.  Since my friends were kind enough to be my hosts for the weekend, I wanted to bring them a gift to show my gratitude.  I wanted to give them something unique to Texas and Austin.  I landed on the the idea of a mixed tape, or the modern day equivalent: an iTunes play list.

Hours of research and listening to songs followed and I was able to create a collection of songs featuring the sound of music unique to Texas.  The anthology spans 6 decades, beginning with the early rock-n-roll music of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, continuing through the Outlaw country days and ending with Austin icons Stevie Ray Vaughan, Townes Van Zandt, James McMurtry and Bob Schneider who each played a role in the city becoming the “Live Music Capitol of the World”.    All of the artists included in the playlist built their careers in Texas and all but two are natives.  You won’t find songs here from famous Texans like Beyoncé Knowles, Jessica Simpson, Vanilla Ice (you’re welcome), Janis Joplin, Gene Autry or George Jones because these artists are not closely linked with the Lone Star state or didn’t sync with the Texas country and rock vibe of the album.  Some of the songs in this list are known by audiences throughout the world, others are masterpieces within a genre and a few are local treasures.

The playlist was so much fun to create, I learned a great deal about Texas musicians, the history of the live music scene and great music venues here in Austin.  But the playlist wasn’t enough, it needed something to tie it all together.  So, I created a CD booklet, in the form of a photo album of course.  Each page listed a song title, artist, artist’s birth city (all were from Texas or closely linked to Texas), album and year of release and a short bio of the artist and basis for the artist and song selection.  The last piece of the puzzle was a photo to accompany the text about the artist and song, so I went through my portfolio and pulled out photos of Texas landscapes, city skylines, wildflowers and live music venues.

My friends loved the music and the booklet.  Here are the photos from the album and the list of songs in the collection.

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Texas Musicians Playlist

“I Just Want to Dance With You” by George Strait (Poteet TX), One Step At A Time album released in 1998
“You Got It” by Roy Orbison (Vernon TX), Mystery Girl album released in 1989
“If I Had a Boat” by Lyle Lovett (Klein TX), Pontiac album released in 1987
“If I Needed You” by Townes Van Zandt (Ft Worth TX), Rear View Mirror album recorded live in 1979 (single released in 1972)
“The Weary Kind” written by T-Bone Burnett (Ft Worth TX) and performed by Ryan Bingham (New Mexico), Crazy Heart soundtrack released in 2009
“Carry On” by Pat Green (San Antonio TX), Three Days album released in 2001
“The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers (Houston TX), The Gambler album released in 1978
“Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” by Waylon Jennings (Littlefield TX), Ol’ Waylon album
“Take Me Away” by Hayes Carll (The Woodlands TX), Country Strong soundtrack released in 2010 (originally released in 2005, Little Rock album)
“Always On My Mind” by Willie Nelson (Abbott TX), Always On My Mind album released in 1982
“Feeling Good Again” by Robert Earl Keen (Houston TX), Walking Distance album released in 1998
“Summer’s Comin’” by Clint Black (raised in Houston TX), One Emotion album released 1995
“Pickup Truck Song” by Jerry Jeff Walker (New York), Live at Gruene Hall album released in 1989
“You’ll Lose a Good Thing” by Barbara Lynn (Beaumont TX), You’ll Lose a Good Thing album released in 1962
“40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)” by Bob Schneider (Michigan/Germany), Lovely Creatures album released in 2009
“Everyday” by Buddy Holly (Lubbock TX), B-Side to Peggy Sue record released in 1957
“Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan (Dallas TX), Texas Flood album released in 1983
“Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top (Houston TX), Eliminator album released in 1983
“Castanets” by Alejandro Escavado (San Antonio TX), A Man Under the Influence album released in 2001
“Choctaw Bingo” by James McMurtry (Ft Worth TX), Saint Mary of the Woods album released 2002

Years ago as a photography student, my darkroom / black and white photography professor took my classmates and I on a field trip to the missions in San Antonio.  In a word, the missions are stunning.  All of our National Parks are beautiful and special in their own way and this treasure in Texas is definitely worth seeing.

The Alamo, in the center of downtown San Antonio and along the mesmerizing and lively river walk, is the most well-known mission and a significant event and location in Texas history.  The mission trail has 5 beautiful missions including the Alamo and each have amazing architecture and history.  They are relatively close together so it only takes 3-4 hours to visit all the missions.  So, call some friends, pack a picnic, put the pup and kiddos in the car and head to San Antonio, it will be a day you won’t forget!

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