Category Archives: Our Life

This is for you to read when you get tired of all the business stuff… this is where it gets fun!

The Cottrells are our dream team.

We’ve recently been dreaming up a certain type of family session… and then someone called us up and asked us to shoot it!  I spent some time talking to Nicole about her vision for the session and the more we talked the more I realized that working with people like this is why I LOVE my job!  I gave her ideas about the kind of session I’ve been wanting to do and she totally ran with it and filled in all the little details to complete my dream!

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I can’t even describe how amazing it is when our clients’ family and friends can look at the photos we took and say “wow, that is SO them” and then at the same time, having OUR family and friends be able to say that as well because our artistic style is enhanced so much by our client’s personal style!  It’s fusion… total fusion.  I could tell from before the date was even set for the shoot that this was one for the record books for us.

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When the big day finally came and we showed up at their house, I turned into a rambling fool every time they pulled out a new tiny sized accessory or trendy prop because I absolutely could not shut up about how perfect every single little detail was!  Everything from the decor of their home (where we started the shoot), to their outfits (thank you H&M), to their photo ideas… it all fit together in a way that made whatever part it is of my heart that beats for beauty, want to explode. (while I hate the term “drama queen”, I can’t help but wonder how many people are silently applying that title to me right about now). So um… I was excited.

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Every Saturday morning, the kids come and climb into bed with Jon and Nicole and they all snuggle up under the covers and hang out together for awhile.

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So while my “dream family session” involved the family playing together in bed like this, the idea to put it into this session actually came from Nicole!  (See!  It’s fusion, I tell ya!).

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Their daughter, Riley, was… gregarious? hilarious? no, neither of those words quite describe her, it has to be some mix of the two words that ends in “arious”, like “grilarious”.

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cottrell_bc0647(You have to check out the rest of the photos to see more of this “grilariousness”… that’s right, I added the “ness” to my new word).

Anyway, she was absolutely amazing.  Bottom line, I hope everyone of you gets a chance to spend sometime playing with a little girl like this at least once in your life.  Any photo we have of her standing still must have been a fluke because I’m pretty sure she spent at least half the day in the air (literally).  Jumping, jumping, bouncing, hopping… she never stopped.

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As she defied gravity, she somehow managed to make up pretend scenarios, tell stories, and ask us important questions about our life.  She’s especially interested in babies right now (and the fact that they actually grow in a belly) so she was quite disappointed that I not only didn’t have my own baby, but that my stomach was void of one as well.  You’d be surprised how often little kids lecture me about getting myself a baby.  A 4 year old boy I used to babysit for thought it was absolutely hilarious that he caught me in my blunder… as much as I argued with him, he insisted that I forgot to buy a baby and I’d better go do that soon. Just today my friend’s 3 year old was getting on my case as well!

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Little Tolan, was not about to be over shadowed by his big sister though!  It was so awesome to watch how he followed her around and copied her.  If she flung herself onto the couch, he followed suit.  When she left the room, he was right on her tail.  It made me miss when my little brother was following me around like that about 20 years ago.

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Tolan loves playing with accessories whether it’s a hat, sunglasses, whatever, he loves them (perfect fit for his parents!), but he’s not about to let all that junk get in the way of him having fun either!  He’s a rough and tumble boy through and through.  I won’t even tell you how many hours I spent in photoshop just doing the bare minimum work to minimize all the toddler battle wounds on his face!

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I have to mention that little Tolan is already a musical genius!  He plays actual songs on the piano already!  Just when you get ready to brace yourself and cover your ears for the obvious obnoxious sounds that come from a toddler sitting at a piano, you realize he’s actually playing something and it sounds good!

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One of my favorite stages that little kids go through is when they get their own sense of humor.  Tolan was totally there and I could probably laugh for hours on end watching him decide what he deems as funny in this life.  At one point he took off his cute little converse shoe and threw it on the ground and he got this look on his face that said, “oh wow, I am a comedic genius” and then he laughed hysterically.  And judging by the way he made me laugh at that point, he may very well be a comedic genius!

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(Here’s an “I’m-so-hilarious moment”… take a good look at his face, you might see him live at the Improv one day… if he’s not spending all his time at Carnegie Hall by then).

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The entire time we were at their house, Tolan was absolutely enthralled with the 2 chapsticks he was double fisting.  He spent about 20 minutes studying the mechanical structure and working on getting the caps off.  I emailed Nicole after the session to tell her that if she ever needs extra pictures of her son playing with chapstick, I have about 200 of them!  She said she’d keep that in mind for when he brings his first girlfriend over one day!

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Now that you’ve been a first hand witness to how cool these people are, I have to brag and tell you that they’ve decided we’re cool enough to be their friends!

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Scottie and Jon were actually roommates at one time in the house that Jon and Nicole still live in (so all these photos are taken in Scottie’s old house)!  And Jon was the one who sort of welcomed me into his group of friends, which is how I met Scottie!  Jon also had a ton to do with us ending up together since he was often a key player in all the romantic things Scottie planned to woo me with and he was also very good at picking up the slack to make me think only the best of Scottie (by that I mean the wedding gift you gave us when we got back from our honeymoon…you know what I’m talking about!). ;-)  The Jon touch can’t be mistaken, so as much as Scottie may have wanted to claim all those romantic ideas as his, I knew he would NEVER garnish a plate with vegetable shavings!

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I also got to be a witness the first time Jon and Nicole ever met (in the very same house) when the new “hot girl” walked in and turned all the guys’ heads (I don’t know if you knew that, Nicole)!  All that to say, we were friends with Jon and Nicole during some of the most pivotal moments of our lives and they helped us make it through them all.  Jon and Nicole, doing these pictures meant so much more to me than just getting a chance to do my dream shoot.  It was so fun for us to be involved with you and your family again, and it made us remember how much you mean to us and realize what we’ve been missing out on these past couple of years (or however long it’s been since we’ve hung out regularly).  We absolutely LOVE LOVE both of your personalities and your hearts… and now that we’ve gotten to know your children better we realize we love them as well.

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I kind of want to just publicly recognize how much we value you as individuals, as a couple/family, and as our friends.  You are two of the most generous, intelligent, interesting, creative, loving, and well let’s face it… ultra cool people we’ve ever met and you’ve both done so much for us and been such a big part of our lives (I know those sound like generic adverbs, but you represent all of those things better than most people I’d describe with them!). We want to say thank you for the many, many times you’ve been there for us, whether it was having major talks with us about dating drama (we’re SO glad that stage is over!), inspiring us with your knowledge of the arts, or making us laugh REALLY hard right when we needed it.  We love both of you guys and we hope that you love your pictures!

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It was so hard to pick out photos to post here because I love them all!  Make sure you click to see the rest of the Cottrells’ Family Photo Session!

Radiant Photography is now a debt free company!!

We have reached a huge milestone that we’ve been working towards for the past 9 months (no, we didn’t grow a baby)…. we paid off our debt!  Now the only debt that we have (both as the Chansons and as Radiant) is school debt!  No more credit card payments, no car payments, no mortgage payments (only because we don’t have a house though- ha ha), and no -absolutely no- business debt to make payments towards!!  Hooray!

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So if you are planning your wedding during this recession and you are worried about your vendors going bankrupt and shutting down while holding onto your down payments… never fear, Radiant will still be here!  No one’s going to come take our business because of the money we owe them and no one is going to tell us we can’t come shoot the wedding that you have paid us to shoot!

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img_7660img_7694(These photos were taken with our Radiant photobooth set up, minus our usual white backdrop)

We are not saying this to brag about how good we are with money (in fact we wouldn’t have been in debt in the first place if we were money geniuses) we say it because we have been waiting for the day we can whoop it up and get excited about this feeling of freedom and we want all of you to celebrate with us!  We’re also saying it because we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if we didn’t publicly give credit where credit is due.  We didn’t do this on our own, we actually took a class on how to become debt free and we had an AMAZING group of people taking this class with us who rallied around us to make sure we actually made it to this day!

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Not only that, but the person who led the class was a wonderful woman named Karyn LaRocca who is also a personal budget counselor.  Karyn met with us personally and was always available to help us figure out all the specifics of our finances (which is a big deal because our finances get pretty complicated since we own a business).  Karyn is super passionate about helping people dig themselves out of the hopelessness that debt can bring.  She really truly just wants to see people live their lives to the fullest without the unnecessary stress, relational tension, fear, etc., etc. that debt brings into life and she is very skilled at helping people do that.  Her compassion for people in difficult financial situations is what motivates her daily, so you never have to feel judged or intimidated as you open up about this major area of life that most people are not used to talking about.  If you need help “reclaiming financial control” as Karyn says, then please make sure you call this lady!  Thank you, Karyn, for your passion and dedication to helping people find freedom in life and for working your fingers to the bone every day just so you can help people like us.  We know you pour your heart and soul into your business and we pray that it really pays off for you in the end.  Bottom line… Karyn’s amazing and you should call her!

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Karyn can also help you get hooked up with a Financial Peace University class, which is the one we took that brought us to this wonderful day!  If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with people in your class who are as wonderful as the ones we met in our class (even though I don’t think that’s possible since the people in our class were the most amazing people EVER)!  Once you start discussing finances, it’s amazing how many other extremely important issues come to the table as well, like marriage, family, life crises, depression, etc….which is probably exactly why we SHOULD find people we can talk to about money so that we don’t have to go through all these things in life alone! We really do believe we made life long friends as we spent time bonding over these deep issues in life that are usually considered too taboo to talk about in our culture.   We can’t even begin to describe how grateful we are for the Brannans and the Ellisons for walking through all of this with us and for constantly encouraging us, while being very open and genuine about their lives at the same time. You guys seriously, actually, really did change our lives and we will never be the same… for the better of course.  We love you, and your friendships mean the world to us.  Thanks for getting involved in all the messy parts of our life and for working so hard to help us clean them up.

One last hoorah for us…. yay, yay, yay, YAY!  Radiant Photography is DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!

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P.S. CALL KARYN!

Dear Mr. Technology… please forgive me

Dear Mr. Technology,

I know we’ve never been the best of friends.  That computer curse you put on me (the one where every time I come within 10 feet of a computer, it breaks) surely didn’t help our relationship.  But I can’t say I’m not partially to blame as well.  I know I probably hurt your feelings when I hurled my phone across the room in anger and  said that I wished you were never born.  I hope you know that I didn’t mean it, you mean a lot to me.

I am ready to put the past behind us.  I would like for you to accept my apology so we can move forward on a good note.  I know that most of the problems I’ve had with you have just been misunderstandings on my part and I am fully aware of all that you’ve done for me.
For one you allowed me to have a husband who is capable enough with computers to remedy my curse (that’s how I know you felt bad about giving it to me).  Even beyond that I know I wouldn’t have my beloved ipod if it weren’t for you (in fact I would still be sitting around listening to someone not-so-talented playing piano in the parlor to get my music fix if it weren’t for you).
Without you I would probably be out lifting boulders or some kind of other manual labor rather than sitting in my nice air conditioned (thanks for that one too) home office working on my super cute Macbook Pro.

I know my life is as comfy cozy as it is because of you and I’m sorry I haven’t been more appreciative.

I realized we were due for this conversation when I was standing on the stadium floor, waiting for one of my favorite bands to take stage, and my husband leaned over and handed me his iphone.  As I stared at the screen I was filled with awe and wonder as I discovered that while we were there doing one of our favorite things in the world…. we booked a wedding!  While we were out having fun, you were hard at work for us!  Now that is a true friend.

So can we call our battle a wash and start again as friends?  I sincerely hope so.

Thanks for all the good times.

Love,
your friend (hopefully)
Breanna

img_7543Soundtrack for this moment provided by: Mr. Technology (oh and also Apple)!

P.S.  And a special thanks to Shoot Q…. the specific means by which Mr. Technology worked his magic while we were at the concert!

Radiant Community Fusion

Ever since we started Radiant we’ve said we want to build a strong, loving, vibrant community around it.  But I think that’s what tons of people say whenever they start something like this.  I knew I wanted it, but I don’t know if I believed it was possible… so imagine my surprise when it started happening!

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(By the way, since we didn’t have pictures of us with all of the people we talk about in this blog… we just went with general pics that show some of the relationships that have either been formed or strengthened through Radiant).

We recently went to dinner with our friends, Erik and Chelsea.  We’ve been friends with these people for years (before we were even married) and they have both recently entered the wedding business.  Erik is a DJ and Chelsea makes beautiful, custom wedding invitations (so let us know if you need to get in touch with either of them of course!).  The vibes that came from this meeting were just amazing!  It was like back and forth… idea, idea, idea… they were being thrown around like we were juggling right there in the middle of the restaurant.  Combine the idea fusion with their heartfelt support and encouragement they were doling out like it was free candy and we left that restaurant walking on clouds rather than concrete.  It is so cool to be working in the same industry with our close friends and finding ways to partner up and create a collaborative thought that extends much further than simple photography.  It’s a vision for a way of living and loving others together.  Beautiful.

Two nights before that dinner, we met with some of our other old friends, Mark and Meg, about doing their wedding photography (I’ve been friends with Mark since I was 15).  Meg always speaks truly from her heart, and this night was one of her more eloquent nights of expression.  She moved me to tears as she spoke of her love of our work and the emotions our photos stir inside of her… so much so that they moved their wedding date just so we could be their photographers (we were booked on their original day)!  I thought her speech that night could never be topped… at least that’s what I thought before I read her email she sent me as a follow up to our conversation that said,

“More people should have pictured memories as stunning as you make them. I really believe that you & Scottie capture everything it is to be… to be… something I’m not sure there’s a word for. It goes FAR beyond a pictoral landmarker on the proverbial road of life. I never look at your work and feel like I’m just looking at someone else’ point in time. It’s always like I’m there, celebrating all that it is to be alive and well and happy and living life to the fullest. Mark and I are extremely grateful for you two.”

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Wow.  To have friends who are such fantastic people to be around (you know the kind that make you feel better about humanity when you’re with them) who actually value our art as much as we do is nothing short of a priceless gift.  And even better, we get to be a significant part of their wedding!  And this may sound weird, but spending the entire day closely with someone on a day as intensely emotional as their wedding, really forms a special bond that either forms new friendships or enhances current ones… so we couldn’t be happier that Meg and Mark worked so hard to have us be there for that!

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We also have recently made NEW friends through our work with Radiant!  We shot Tracy and Paul’s wedding about a year ago and they called us up last month to come celebrate their anniversary with them in Sedona, AZ and take some pictures of Tracy in her Folklorico outfits (see our previous blog with the photos).  We had the best time with them that weekend (serious, AMAZING fun)!  And every since then, Tracy and I have been chatting on facebook or sending email sometimes 3-5 times a day!  Tracy is involved in the music scene in LA so she’s always updating me on my favorite bands and events I’d be interested in and I enjoy spending hours looking at pictures of thier new dog, Libby, wishing she was mine!  Now we have another photo session scheduled with the 2 of them at the Bel Air Beach club in Santa Monica and we’re planning a little trip to Disneyland together to celebrate her birthday while we’re there!  I can’t even tell you how much it means to us that Tracy and Paul like us and our photos enough to invite us out for a second and third session after their wedding!  It is so cool to get to meet amazing people like them and then to work with them repeatedly just makes life better than I ever thought it would be!  I love relationships that are formed over art!

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Other new relationships we’ve formed through Radiant just in the past month have been with other photographers!  One thing I’ve always loved about the industry is that there’s this movement for photographers to be open with each other and to share their secrets and tricks with each other, rather than being all shady and competitive.  Everyone is super friendly and so good at helping each other out… Chelsea Hudson is no exception to this!  She sent us an email just saying that she’s been seeing our name around and would love to get together with us (how cool is that?! She’s way bolder than me)!  Apparently we’ve supported some of the same non-profit organizations in the past, we live in the same state, we have similar styles, and come to find out later that our common thoughts and interests extend way beyond photography!  She called us later the same day to tell us about a local movie theater that was showing Kite Runner to donate all the proceeds to a humanitarian organization she likes!  Ever since then we’ve been addicted to each others’ internet lives! Commenting on absolutely everything we post on our Facebook pages and blogs (business and personal for both of those outlets), emailing, checking out each others’ work, etc.!  It’s SO fun!  For one she is UNBELIEVABLY creative in her writing!  I can’t get enough of her genuine style and wit!  She’s like the kind of fabulous that demands the word “fabulous” to be covered in bling!  She’s also been so good for me as an artist… someone to relate to me and challenge me (and someone who’s not also my husband).  It’s just what I needed!  My new friendship with her has made me feel different about everything I do with photography!

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And then there’s all of our facebook fans… some are old friends, some family, some newbies to us…. no matter who they are, it is them who make us feel like we have a real community around us.  The support, the comments, the sharing our page with friends… all of it brings tears to my eyes.  People are interacting with EACH OTHER even.  Our page is actually creating relationships!  We recently had two of our brides befriend each other through our page to share wedding tips!  Now THAT is what we want to create through our photography.  We want to help people build, grow, and transform relationships.  To me, that is the whole point of so much of what we do.  We are freezing moments in time for people to treasure… but what value does any of that have without deep relationships? A wedding photo of a couple standing side by side with smiles frozen on their faces, doesn’t hold a candle to a picture of a couple looking deep into each other’s eyes with each holding the other’s face in their hands.  Relationships are TRULY what it’s all about to us.  And by “it” I mean EVERYTHING WE DO.   We do it for love… for community… for deep friendships.  That’s why we have a heart in our logo. Not because we’re cheesy and we work with weddings, but because no matter how hard we tried to create a logo with something more original than a heart, we couldn’t escape it.  It’s what we are.  We do it all for love and it moves us to speechlessness to think that our ideal community is actually, truly being formed around our art.  That’s all we can ask for.

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Life behind the cameras

Lately we feel like we’ve been disconnected from our blog as people.  What I mean is it’s been really businessy lately… and that’s so not us!  So here’s the part of our blog that is really US in our truest form!

So here’s a little bit about us personally (probably more than you ever wanted to know):

When people think Breanna here are a few things that probably come to mind… lots of hair, mentos, singing, extremely passionate, artistic, writing, tons of talking, hanging out with little kids in our apt. complex, over-exaggerations, glitter/sparkly stuff, over-dressing, philosophizing,  over-opinionated (but working on it), honest to a fault, music, music, music, emotional about strange things, coffee, Anthropologie wannabe (too cheap for the real thing), always seeking aesthetic beauty, super organized, thinker, debating, learning…. and hopefully lots of other good stuff!

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This is Breanna on her “Princess Porch” as everyone calls it due to the massive amounts of white lights covering the ceiling, the sheer drapes (covering more white lights of course), and the tons of shiny looking things randomly placed all over the rest of it.

When people think Scottie here are a few things that probably come to mind… super crazy tall, red meat, intelligence, the mullet on his soul, reading, handy man abilities, the funny youtube videos he passes around, The Dallas Cowboys, his ablity to learn about and be interested in EVERYTHING around him, camping, Bill Nye the Science Guy (only in brains, not in looks), love for animals, ultimate trivia champion (he’s even pondered being a contestant on Jeopardy!), car mechanic, helpfulness, NASCAR,  movie and music buff, Landcruisers, documentaries… and so many other things because that’s the thing about Scottie, he’s a man of many many talents and an extreme variety of interests.

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Scottie in our office… where we spend most of our time these days!

And here are a few of our favorite things…

Breanna:

Music: The Smashing Pumpkins, The Cranberries, Muse, Regina Spektor, The Cardigans, Jay-Z & Linkin Park (together), Pearl Jam, Travis, Tori Amos, The Postal Service, Incubus, Lauryn Hill, Frou Frou, etc., etc.

Movies: Little Miss Sunshine, Moulin Rouge, Into the Wild, Gone Baby Gone, Legally Blond, Fight Club, Luther, The Story of Us, In Bruges, Zoolander, The Life of Brian, Mean Girls, The Sixth Sense, Twilight, Napolean Dynamite, Away We Go, etc., etc.

Books: The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde, The Road Less Traveled- Scott Peck, Grace Based Parenting- Tim Kimmel, 1984- George Orwell, Desiring God- John Piper, Memoirs of a Geisha- Arthur Golden, Blue Like Jazz- Donald Miller, Stargirl- Jerry Spinelli, She’s Come Undone- Wally Lamb, The Twilight Series- Stephenie Meyer, A Voice in the Wind- Francine Rivers, Atlas Shrugged- Ayn Rand, Princess- Jean Sasson, The Joy Luck Club- Amy Tan

Artists: Caia Koopman, Gustav Klimt, Jasmine Star, Vincent LaForet, Sarah Q

TV: The Office, Lost, Chelsea Lately, South Park, The Simpsons, Scrubs, E True Hollywood Story, Friends

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And now Breanna in the office.

Scottie:

Music: Incubus, Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, Shane and Shane, Muse, Gary Jules, Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, Pink Floyd,

Movies: Little Miss Sunshine, 28 Days Later, Into the Wild, Fight Club, In Bruges, Austin Powers: Goldmember, The Ringer, Cars, Zoolander, Primer

Books: The Stand- Stephen King, Desiring God- John Piper, Love is the Killer App- Tim Sanders, The Grapes of Wrath- John Steinbeck, Getting Things Done- Gary Allen, anything by Michael Crichton, The Tipping Point- Malcolm Gladwell (and many more he reads a book a week or so).

Artists: Van Gogh, MC Escher, Vincent LaForet

TV: The Office, Lost, South Park, Modern Marvels, Scrubs, After People, Myth Busters

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The rest of our office (minus the other wall that is a closet with mirror doors covered in a beautiful aqua & brown tree decal (with birds) from Dali Decals.  We wanted it to be a creative environment to help inspire us artistically.  It works!

And just a little summary of us…

We met through our mutual friends and we connected as a result of Breanna’s unreliable car and Scottie’s mad mechanical skills (it was worth the trouble to have a nice ’66 Mustang though)! When we met, Breanna was working at Starbucks and Scottie was a pool table mechanic… photography was just a sparkle in our eye at that time. So things happened… life transitioned… rings were exchanged somewhere in there… and pictures were taken… now here we are!

Right now Radiant does consume a good portion of our lives but when it’s not, we spend time working for an organization called Apartment Life that allows us to plan community activities in our complex in exchange for free rent. So we plan a party here, fix a kid’s bike there, and spend a lot of time turning up the grills and hanging out with our neighbors. It’s awesome (but it’s way better when it’s not 120 degrees outside like it is right now)! We don’t have any kids of our own yet, but sometimes it feels like we have 30 because of all the time we spend with the ones who live around us (except since they’re not actually ours, we can just tell them to leave when we get tired of cleaning up the mud chunks they leave on our couch).

So hopefully now you all see that we are in fact real people with normal lives… not just some ambiguous company that exists somewhere out there in the space time continuum that is the internet.  We’re also more than just business, more than just pictures, more than just attempts at clever comments, we are…. well this whole blog is about who we are!

Thanks for reading and if you haven’t already, fan and friend us facebook,  send us an email or something… now that you know a little more about us, we’d love to get to know you too!