Monthly Archives: April 2010

To Live an Extraordinary Life

Some nights I go to bed with this fear…. this fear that I settle for mediocrity way too easily. Then other nights I go to bed with a different fear…. this fear that I might have to actually rise above mediocrity!

This is a blog that I (Breanna) wrote on my personal blog about a year ago and I decided it was time to bring it back because it’s such a great challenge to me! I also want to give a glimpse into what drives me… it’s for all the people out there (you) who have gone out of your way to follow Radiant and support us. You’ve given us your time and energy, so I figure you deserve to see some vulnerability and genuineness on our part.  So here goes, here’s the real Breanna… chipped nails, frizzy hair and all.

For the past year or so I’ve had this persistent nagging feeling that I need to live an extraordinary life. My religious convictions definitely tell me this, but it’s all too easy to lie to myself and say that I am following my beliefs. I keep being faced with this challenge of being extreme. This idea that I can’t settle for comfort, for safety, and for a life wasted on my own pleasures.

I have long had a taste of disgust in my mouth for the “American Dream”. But no matter how bad the flavor, I keep eating it. I swallow more and more every single day, and now it is the nourishment that sustains me and drives me. Unfortunately my “nourishment” is really a poison that kills me slowly each minute.

OK, so enough of the drama here…. I got going and I couldn’t stop with the strong analogies of death and doom (it’s fun sometimes). Really though, I keep feeling that I need to live an extraordinary life, but everything inside of me longs for ordinary at the same time. I happen to be a very fearful person who uses high levels of control to attempt to block anything I fear that might threaten my own personal happiness in the little world I’ve created around me. This is a terrible, horrible thing to do by the way…. so if any one else out there is guilty of this you should definitely stop before you push away everyone and everything of value by trying to hold on to them too tightly.

(Man, I keep trying to make this light-hearted and it keeps coming back down a notch. I’ll keep trying, bear with me!)

Anyways, so here you have this fearful, controlling, high-maintenance (yes, I can finally admit that), lazy girl who is so scared of the unknown and of pushing herself when she doesn’t have to, who’s content to stay right where she’s at….. being totally dragged into an extraordinary life. I’m sure if I ever get to the place deemed “extraordinary” (I have no idea where that actually is or what it entails by the way) I’ll be able to look back on the things I gave up (comfort, security, an easier life) and say it was all worth it. But…. I’m just…. not quite….. there yet (those dots are meant to represent the tug of war going on inside of me).

I do want it though. I do want to be free. I want to be free of worrying about all the things that are not mine to worry about. I want to be able to stand for something bigger than myself and really make all the sacrifices that are necessary to accomplish the goals associated with that. I want to be free of seeking things that will only leave me empty in the end. I want to instead, pursue things that fill me with the breath I was meant to breathe…. with the life I was meant know.

It’s so big, you know? Life is so huge! Sometimes when I’m worried about all the little things and stuck in the cycle of useless, unimportant obsession in my head…. I stop and think about how many facts a person could learn about puppies, or about wallpaper, or about bone marrow. There is so so so much. So much to talk about, learn about, do, and experience. And I get stuck in my own safe routine, in my own oh-so tiny world. It confines me and it traps me. My own measures of protection, my own safety defenses, are what attack me. I’m working so hard to let them go. To let them go and to just trust.

For so long I have trusted only in myself…. only in my knowledge and my abilities. I need to start to trust in my LACK of knowledge and abilities. In the world that is bigger than I, in the people that have lived more than me, in the God that actually created all of it. I know nothing and I am nothing. But there is a ton out there to become and to be. And I want to go after it.

I may never get a house. I may never have a 401K (still don’t know what that means really but I think it’s something people want). I may never please everyone and I may never feel completely comfortable ever again…..

But I need and want to be OK with that. I want to be excited about trading in the mundane for a life of extraordinaire. I need to realize that as long as I pursue my stability, comfort, and personal happiness above all else…. I will never get any farther than that. I will never know what life was meant to be and how it was meant to be used.

Oh holy crap…. I’m terrified.

Jess & Katie’s BFF senior session!

I know I’ve told you all how jealous I am of people with sisters… now let me tell you how jealous I am of people who’ve grown up together like sisters!

That’s the story behind Jess and Katie’s friendship!  They have known each other from birth (or at least as much as you can know someone before the age of 1) because their mom’s are best friends!

(These are their moms in case you were confused for a second there!)

Katie and Jess have been playing Barbie’s, dress up, and dreaming of their future as beautiful teenagers for as long as they can remember.

I’m totally making assumptions on their growing up activities… for all I know they climbed trees and threw dirt clods at each other… although I imagine they did the latter either way, like when they were mad at the other one for stealing the best Barbie.

(Now that my friends, was a run-on sentence (I secretly believe you can put an entire sentence inside another complete sentence as long as they have parenthesis around them… three dots also enable you to add on another sentence; ah the beauty of blogging grammar rules!).)

I do know for a fact (because their moms were spilling their secrets to us whenever the girls went to change outfits) that they have been looking forward to their senior pictures for quite awhile.

So when the time finally arrived, what better way to capture their lives than to do it with them living life together?!  Awesome idea! I can’t even begin to describe the hilarity that was this session.

Over in one corner you have the moms oohing and awing and tearing up, while calling out poses and directions to their daughters. And over in front of the camera, you have the girls rolling their eyes at their moms’ sappiness, while trying to hide the fact that they secretly love hearing the constant comments on how beautiful they look.

Oh man, the dynamics of this session were just fantastic!  The mocking, the “way back when” stories being told, the tongues getting stuck out, and the big giant hugs… it couldn’t have been better!

(I think this photo was a response to a story that one of their moms told about when they were little!)

Again, I stress, this was SUCH a great idea on their part!

Our goal with senior girls is always to enable them to indulge in their America’s Next Top Model Fantasies, while helping them feel like they are actually cooler than that because they’re so mature and down to earth (by the way, I’m not mocking this secret fantasy because I still have it and I’m way past high school!).

All this tension of wanting to be a model, but all the while wanting to act like they don’t give a care… makes it very hard for a girl to relax and be herself!

But having her best friend there who is fighting those same inner battles, makes all the difference in the world!

Having each other and both their moms there definitely helped the girls feel way more in their own element and we got to see their real personalities come out… which in the end is always our ultimate goal!

We did our best to get photos of the girls together…

…and separately.

(A guy walked by selling roses and we were so caught up in the moment that we bought some!)

Of course we had to make sure to get some with their moms and them together!

To add to their mom’s oohs and awws were my own (Breanna) because I kept being blown away by how crazy amazing these girls were at posing.

They were just popping from one perfect pose to the next all on their own.

We’d tell them to do a serious face and they’d hop right into it and straight into the smile after the first camera click, just ready for the next photo.  Amazing!

Both of them were absolutely fantastic models and I kept gushing over how easy they were to shoot.

I mean, girls this beautiful are a breeze anyways, but when they are super comfortable with posing in front of the camera, you just can’t go wrong!

Along the way in this session, we ran into one of their friends who was getting his senior portraits done.  They ran over to say hi to their friend and we ran over to say hi to his photographer… who happened to be the photographer we hired to shoot our wedding!  If you haven’t seen Jefferson Todd’s photography… check him out!  He’s a great guy who is one of our good friends and an equally amazing photographer!  So anyways because we knew him (and his girlfriend Ashley, who was actually leading the shoot) we were bold enough to ask to borrow their model so we could get a shot of him with the girls.  That was a lot of explaining for just one picture… so here’s the photo that all this hubbub was about! 😉

That’s the story behind this fantastic senior session (even though there’s really so many more stories within this story… just like there’s so many more sentences inside of this one sentence!).  I’m sorry, but I have to say that I’m really proud of myself for tying in that grammar lesson so well as if I planned it that way all along… admit it, you’re impressed! Ha ha! But to bring me back down from pride cloud, I’ll admit that I don’t know how to spell “sentence” as I’ve learned after seeing how many times spell check flagged me.  My wittiness is thwarted by bad grammar once again… bummer!  Alright before I continue on that uncomfortably long tangent, what I meant to say was, it was so cool to be around people who have such history together.

(Take a moment to pause and say “Awwww” in unison because they are so sweet together in this picture.  Sorry Tracy and Sandy, but our entire goal with these photos is to make you guys cry!)

It seems like Phoenix Metro is a pretty transient city and it’s so spread out that it can be hard to have long lasting relationships of value.  Scottie and I find ourselves constantly hoping that we’ll one day end up in a strong community that sticks together for many years, helps strengthen our marriage, gives us loads of encouragement, and helps us laugh our way through both good and bad situations in life.

We pray constantly that throughout our lives, we can make friendships like the ones we saw here that will last through us raising our children one day (by the way, these children I speak of do not exist yet).  It’s such a beautiful thing and we feel lucky that we were able to witness it with you guys.

You helped remind us that it IS possible and it IS worth the work that long term relationships require.  So thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Tracy, Sandy, Jess, and Katie for being such amazing examples of time tested friendships.  We hope you all know how blessed you are to have one another (this is another place for the united “awww”).

Click to see the rest of the hilarious, cute, and moving photos from Jess & Katie’s BFF senior session!

The wind vs. Christy’s hair (at her senior portrait session)

Ever heard of the “wind-blown look”?  Well Christy knows what that means now!

While we were rejoicing that we were still quite a bit shy of  100 degree weather when we went out to do her senior photo session, we definitely felt like we’d been transported to the windy city for the day!

Luckily Christy has the type of hair that looks fantastic blowing in the wind and she was chill enough to make the decision to stop fighting the fly away hairs and just go with it.

(I love this one… you look so beautiful, Christy!)

Once she got into her posing groove, there was no stopping her… not even a few stray hairs could hold her back!

We noticed right from the beginning of the session that there was a major quality that stood out about Christy (besides the fact that she was genuinely nice to us and didn’t treat us like the old fogeys that we are)…  she was CONFIDENT!

Such a rare quality to find in a teenage girl… and Christy has it!

She held herself with grace and poise the whole time and even though there may have been moments where she doubted herself (or us, as was probably the case with this experimental pose below that Scottie was trying out)…

…she played it off and did a great job owning herself and the moment and being comfortable with herself (and with us).

The comfort thing was helped by the fact that we spent quite a bit of time with Christy at her sister’s wedding when we were the photographers and she was the bridesmaid.  It helps people relax with us when we’re not total strangers.

It probably also helped her to relax that her mom was there and her mom happens to be one of those people who makes everyone feel comfortable when you start talking to her.

So there we were… a comfortable group, standing in the wind, looking for just the right lighting, while holding our cameras waiting for just the right moment. And voila!  That moment came and Christy was ready and waiting for it!

(You know I’m right when you see pics like this, huh!  She did a great job and was a fantastic model!)

I’m serious when I say that both Christy and her mom, Lisa, put us at ease (and hopefully we did the same for them) and allowed us to relax and immensely while enjoying the time we spent doing our “job” that didn’t feel like a job at all!

So Christy and Lisa, I can’t stress enough how awesome you guys are to work with (I already gushed over them once in the blog about Christy’s sister’s wedding).  You are wonderful people and we feel privileged every time we get a chance to be recipients of your kindness.  Thanks for choosing Radiant again!  And Christy… good luck with college, we hope you love it! 🙂

Click to see the rest of Christy’s Phoenix, AZ senior portraits!

Kristine & Aaron’s chill engagement session

Kristine and Aaron are one of those couples that after meeting with them the first time, we were like “we SO hope they book with us”!  They just seemed like really cool people that would be really fun and easy to work with.

Then the engagement session came… and we realized how totally wrong we were!

Oh my gosh, I’m SOOOO kidding!  Ha!  I freaked you all out for a second there, didn’t I!?  No, really they were even more wonderful than we expected!

They were so very kind, and really relaxed in front of the camera.

Overall, I’d say I really appreciate their chill attitude.  Being chill is a personal goal of mine since I get wound up way too easily.  I’m now going for the, “get passionate over important things and stay chill about everything else” feel in my life!  So I’ve loved watching Kristine handle all her wedding dealings with such smoothness.

She seems to be the perfect balance of getting things done and being relaxed about it.  Way to go, Kristine… I’m learning from you!

Meanwhile you have Aaron over there being a wonderful groom!  You can tell he’s working hard to appreciate all the work his awesome fiance is putting into this wedding, but he is also chill and just enjoying the process as much as he can.

Not to mention, he treated us wonderfully even while he was doing something he probably wasn’t that excited to do (most guys aren’t super excited about picture day… until they realize how much we “force them” to make out during it!!).

So thank you to you both for being so easy going, kind, and yes… cool looking.  Taking pics of such good looking people definitely makes our job easy! 😉

We can’t wait to see your “ridiculously good looking” selves blow us away at your wedding! (that’s a Zoolander description for all you readers out there who are older than 35 or younger than 20).

We truly are looking forward to working with both of you more! 🙂

Click to see the rest of this beautiful couple’s Tempe, AZ engagement photo session!

Rachelle and Paul Gettin’ Hitched!

While I’m so very happy for Paul and Rachelle and excited for them to be married… I have to admit that I’m kind of sad their wedding is over!

Scottie and I had so much fun preparing for their wedding with them!  From the first time we met them, to their engagement session, to their final meeting… whenever we’d get together, it seemed like we just sat around talking forever!

Both Rachelle and Paul are great people and we’ll miss having a reason to get together with them now!

You can tell just from looking at these pictures that these are some friendly, happy, and very sweet people!

Just look at those smiles, how could you not like these people?! 🙂

But even though Paul has a great smile, I don’t think it’s his best expression… check out the way he looks at her.

(This was the first time he saw her as she was walking down the aisle).

I think the look that came over his face whenever he looked at her was my favorite part of the entire day.

Of course, her face says “I love you” too!

Yep… I think it’s safe to say they are very in love.  Awww! (Come on, just give me this one… you have no idea how often I refrain from girly, wedding day, lovey type of sappiness when I wrote these blogs!)

Just to make sure these 2 lovebirds didn’t get too caught up in their own little world… they invited some really fun friends to share in the day with them!

For every photo of the bridal party laughing, there’s a photographer struggling to hold her camera still while laughing just as hard (Click to see the rest of the photos from the wedding).  Rachelle and Paul had some great friends and we loved hanging out with them!Of course, whenever there’s a fun bridal party, there’s a bride and groom with a great sense of humor lurking nearby!  (This was seriously one of the best garter removals I’ve ever seen.  He removed more accessories off himself than he did off of her!)

(Although you can tell by the picture on the left, that he eventually got what he was looking for off her!)

(Living it up at the party thrown just for them.  Aka their reception!).

Here are the celebratory cigars that made their guests even more excited to be a part of this party!

I’ve gotten ahead of myself.  I skipped the ceremony and went straight into the reception!

(Ironically, this picture combo skips the ceremony as well.  Straight from the beginning to the end.  I love both of these moments though… I love the initial nerves and the ending joy!).

Paul and Rachelle got married at Eagle Mountain Golf  Club in Fountain Hills, AZ.  If you read our blog much, you know that Eagle Mountain is one of our very favorite places to shoot.

(It’s so beautiful at Eagle Mountain that sometimes the photos look fake! But we promise, it’s just that beautiful!)

We LOVE the ceremony site, the fantastic view, the staff there, and of course their food!

It’s just an all round spectacular place to have a wedding and we tell everyone about it!

I guess since I’m already on a roll going backwards in this story, I might as well go with what’s working.  So now that we’ve reached the end of the blog, I’ll show you the pictures of them getting ready to do all the things I already showed them doing!  Ha!

Thanks Rachelle and Paul…

… for being good looking enough to give us such great photos!  Ha ha!  We are so happy that you have each found someone who makes you look at each other the way you do! Congratulations, we hope you are very happy together… and we think you will be! 🙂

Click here to see the rest of Paul and Rachelle’s AZ wedding photos.