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beldi country club, morocco 2016
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after a night in the desert, Beldi Country Club was a dreamy Moroccan oasis, with palm trees, reflective pools, and one of the best spas I've ever been to. 

the grounds of Beldi were beautifully curated with roses, olives, herbs, and all manner of beautiful cacti, I felt like the two days there weren't nearly enough to take it all in... especially since I ended up spending a large portion of my time just sitting and reading beside the stunning pool.

 

 

 

 

I think one of my favorite things about this space was that there was absolutely no reason to leave - the two days I spent there, I never had any desire to leave the hotel grounds, even though I hadn't been into the old city of  Marrakech yet. the food was delicious, and was constantly available, the grounds were big and beautiful enough to wander through all day and not see the same thing twice, and the spa was dreamy enough that I really could have spent the entire stay there without a single complaint...

 

 

 
 
 
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desert camp, morocco 2016
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finally, three months late to the game, I'm putting together a blog from my amazing time in morocco, which started at the dreamy Scarabeo Camp in the stone desert outside of Marrakech.

 

getting through the craziness of the Marrakech airport (after drone confiscations and the perils of currency exchange), the ride to and subsequent arrival at the desert camp felt like floating on a heavenly cloud. once I got there, I never wanted to leave. no internet, no plugs, just tents and desert and great food and delicious wine.

 

an afternoon and evening full of camel rides, fellowship with wonderful people, lots of moroccan tea (and some whiskey) quickly melted into a candlelit dinner with moroccan music echoing through the desert, hot and spicy tangines, and a stunning night full of stars. 

 

 

 

 

after getting probably the best night's sleep of my life under the beautiful desert stars, I woke up to a sunrise over the stone dunes, a strong cup of coffee, and a full and delicious breakfast. it was so hard to leave the stone desert, but easier knowing that I will definitely be back soon.

 

 

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uganda, 2015

for incredible trips like this one, sometimes words are entirely inadequate. so, here are some photographs instead.

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8.29.2015/mackenzie and thomas

for well over a year, every time I've posted wedding pictures I've dreamed about posting pictures  from the wedding that I finally got to shoot two weeks ago... my best friend got married, and the whole weekend was every bit the beautiful celebration that I knew it was going to be. Two beautiful hearts, a massive collection of people from literally all over the world who couldn't wait to celebrate them, and a gorgeous mountain scenery - it was even better than I could have imagined. So what to say about the person who has read all of the things that I've written about all of the weddings since I first started? Only that she's the kindest, gentlest, most beautiful soul I have ever known, and that she has found a man who loves in the same fierce, tender way that she does, and that they are going to have the most beautiful life together, and I feel blessed to know them through it.

 

 

"today's the new

that's ageless boon.

in answer to

the preacher dude's

'do you? do you?'

just sigh and swoon

'I do! I do!' 

then do. then do."

- conor o'callaghan

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8.2015/canada

in one week, we hiked the rockies, paddled the rivers and rapids, and ran 13 miles around Vancouver. it was the most refreshing and also exciting trip I've taken in a long while, and it was the perfect punctuation to an otherwise jam-packed work season. I couldn't be more grateful.

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8.1.2015/samantha and dustin

a few of my favorites from the most sweet and beautiful mountain wedding that I've ever had the pleasure of shooting. Samantha and Dustin are clearly so in love with each other, and it was amazing to watch their family and friends get together for the weekend at the beautiful Hawkesdene House in Andrews, NC to celebrate their marriage. 

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11.30.2014/Monica

A few weekends ago, I was lucky enough to get to snap some yoga photos of the beautiful Monica. It was such a pleasure hanging out with this lovely lady and getting to soak in some of her radiant joy and beautifully unique personality. 

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11.25.2014/tennessee waterfalls

certain elements of tennessee culture hold such a serious fascination for me - whiskey, woods, and of course, music. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to soak up a few days of this beautiful state with some super rad dudes - and here a few shots from our walk in the woods. 

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11.18.2014/the Kadlecek Family

It's the most beautiful time of the year... and it's so exciting to get to shoot family portraits with these Carolina leaves! I was so honored when Kris asked me to take photos of him and his beautiful girls, and the five of us had a ton of fun traipsing around the parking, jumping on slides and see-saws and tossing leaves. Here are a few of the photos from our shoot!

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11.1.2014/Ashley and Brandon

Every wedding that I get to shoot feels truly special to me, just because it's nearly impossible to spend that much time with a couple on one of the happiest days of their lives and not feel so engaged in and excited about their lives together... but Ashley and Brandon's wedding was extra incredibly special to me, because I went to freaking middle school sleepovers with this beautiful lady and now had the privilege of snapping the shutter as she said "I do." Even if I had not been lucky enough to grow up with this radiant bride, it still would have been one of the sweetest and most special weddings I've ever gotten to attend. The love that everyone present that evening had for each other was tremendous, from grandmother to granddaughter, from cousin to cousin, from friend to friend, it was truly an evening absolutely filled with love. And, although this was the first time in my life I'd ever gotten to meet Brandon, it was clear that he is the absolute perfect match for Ashley, and that their love for each other was just a touch above the rest... seeing them together was something incredibly special. So, cheers to the happy couple, and here are a few of my favorites from their big day.

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11.2.2014/Anna Fitzgerald

It's always such an incredible blessing to get to reconnect with old friends through photography, and last weekend was quite a weekend for that - getting to do Anna's senior portraits in Reynolda Gardens was absolutely wonderful. The weather was perfect, Anna is clearly gorgeous, and I was absolutely honored to be asked to shoot the senior portraits of a girl that I can't believe grew up so quickly! 

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10.11.2014/Kate and Rob

first of all, prepare yourselves for a lot of pictures... because apparently that's what you get when you drive to Pennsylvania to shoot the wedding of a good friend and co-worker (who also happens to be a ridiculously gorgeous bride). Kate and Rob's wedding nothing short of a fairytale, complete with a horse-drawn carriage, an old-timey train station, and a whole lotta love. The sleepy little town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania was the perfect spot for this elegant affair, and it was so wonderful to watch the family and friends of these two incredible people gather together to celebrate their lives together. Congrats, Kate and Rob - I love you both so very much! 

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10.14.2014/Thomas & Mackenzie

this is a post that I have been waiting eagerly to write ever since Mackenzie told me that Thomas had asked her to marry him - my hands-down all-time favorite part of my job is getting to be a part of the happiness of others, and when those others happen to be some of your best friends, it's just that much better. These two are a truly magnificent couple - each of them are such unbelievably wonderful individuals, and they're only made better by each other. They have a quiet and gentle way of loving that has always left me in awe, and it is a beautiful and genuine relationship that I have been lucky enough to watch grow over the years. I may be a little biased, because Mackenzie also happens to be one of my best friends, but I think they might also be one of the most attractive couples I've ever had the joy of photographing, and I absolutely cannot wait for their wedding next summer.

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10.12.2014/Kelsey

while up in Pennsylvania for a wedding, I had the great pleasure of meeting this beautiful lady at a pre-wedding yoga class... and then got to adventure out to her dreamy apple orchard the next day for a photoshoot! Kelsey is an incredible woman, inspiring and driven, and is also one of the most authentic and caring human beings I've gotten to spend time with. It's no wonder she's a killer personal trainer - and clearly an awesome yogi! Here are a few of the highlights from our shoot.

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9.18.2014/Valya and Anya

 

this post is something very different from what I usually write on here - it is half confession, half story, and entirely personal. It is also one of the most important things I have ever written, so please read it with an open heart. The confession comes first, and my confession is that, up until this point, I have approached my chosen field of photography with very little integrity - I have shared the moments that I loved, shared stories that brought me joy, shown things that are nice and pretty; however, I haven't given that attention to sharing the stories that are not comfortable. I haven't taken nearly enough time to invest in the stories that aren't soft and beautiful. And my reasons for that have been entirely selfish. I've filed images away as ones I "wasn't ready to deal with" or "didn't know what to do with," and never forgot about them, but never stepped up and charged myself with their telling.

The other night, though, I realized the true weight of what it means to choose to be a photojournalist - I realized the weight of what I had taken on so many years ago, and what the true cost is of not sharing the all that I have taken on to share. A dear friend told me, "people let you photograph their stories. With that comes the responsibility for you to share them." And that hit hard. So, I apologize, and recognize that the truth isn't always pretty, but it is truth, and at the end of the day, that's what's important. So it's time to share truth, and to share stories - starting with the story of Valya and Anya. When I met Valya and her daughter Anya several years ago, their story was already full of heartbreak - Valya was a graduate from an orphanage in Russia, and by "graduate" I mean that she had reached the age (usually 15-18) where the orphanage kicks her out so that she is no longer the financial responsibility of the government. Through the help of the organization Desana Giving, where there is a program specifically in place for these "graduates" (statistics moment - within the first year of leaving an orphanage, 50% of these children turn to crime/prostitution, 30% become addicted to drugs/alcohol, and 10% commit suicide) Valya was given a place to live. Even with the unusual benefit of a stable place to live, though, the lives of Valya and her daughter Anya were impossibly challenging - Valya had cancer in her leg that demanded amputation, and was living in a tiny apartment with no running water or indoor plumbing, while raising a baby completely on her own. When I met them both, I was impressed by Valya's strong and resilient spirit, but I was strongly drawn to her baby girl Anya - it was mind blowing to me, that such a sweet and beautiful little child should have to grow up into a life like this. After leaving Russia, looking back at pictures of little Anya always pulled something special in my heart, but I never heard anything more on how the two of them were doing. This week, though, I got an email from one of the incredible women that I had the blessing of working with while in Russia, and she shared with me that Valya had started drinking again, excessively, and hanging out with a rough crowd - so rough that one night, a friend's boyfriend attacked little Anya in a drunken rage, and hacked at this beautiful little girl with a machete. After a month of recovering in the hospital, Anya was given back to her mother, under the condition that Valya start giving her the care she deserved. That didn't happen, and Anya was later found completely neglected and hungry, and so was taken from Valya and put into the orphanage system. Soon after, Valya's cancer came back in full force, and she died.

It is a truly mind-blowing story. It's suffering like most of us can't even fathom, and yet, in places like this, in situations like their's, this is normal. It's pain on top of pain on top of pain, with no end in sight. And that's life. And it's not easy to think about, it's not easy to hear about, I can tell you personally that it's certainly not easy to write or talk about. So, too often, it doesn't get written about. It doesn't get talked about. The fact that, in Russia alone, over 750,000 children live in unimaginably filthy and miserable orphanages, and another 1.2 million live on the streets, that's not something that's easy to spend time really dwelling on. But that doesn't change the fact that it's still happening. It doesn't change the fact that there are millions of other little Anyas out there, even in our own countries, our own communities, living lives that we can't even begin to relate to - and that those poor, neglected little children still have it easier than some. It's a challenge, to face the realities of the world - but it's also our responsibility. It's our responsibility to know and understand what is happening beyond our bubble, to hold space and compassion for what exists in places like this, and to allow that to impact our lives - whether that looks like just making the choice to live a little more consciously, or whether it means actively taking a stand to end at least one of the innumerable heartbreaks happening at this very moment. 

This is heavy, and uncomfortable, and I get that. But don't let that mean that you don't feel it, grieve it, and allow it to impact your way of being, even in the smallest way. There are big ways to help, there are always big changes to make and some people are driven and passionate and incredible enough to step up and actively start making them. But it all stems from hearing, knowing, understanding, and truly caring... and even if that's all you have to offer, it is still absolutely enough.

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8.23.2014/Pure Barre Greensboro Party

photographing parties never actually feels like work - getting to hop around cool spaces, hang out with fun people, and usually use some really funky light - no complaints on my end!  The Pure Barre Greensboro one year celebration was no exception: super wonderful ladies, delicious drinks, great dancing, and the rooftop of Limelight in downtown Greensboro all came together to make a killer night.

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9.16.2014/Katie Pollock

I had never gotten the opportunity to shoot opera singer portraits before, but when a friend from high school asked me to do some for her, I was really stoked to give it a go... and it ended up being one of the most fun portrait shoots I've ever done! I loved getting to work with the dramatic poses and popping colors that Katie wanted to have in her portfolio, and it was of course absolutely wonderful to get a chance to catch up with this beautiful and talented lady as well.

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8.23.2014/The Youngs

a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to combine some of my favorite elements of shooting all into one session: awesome people, the outdoors, fitness, and (of course) lululemon! Steve, a fellow lemon who lives in Wilmington, was in town for a few days to visit his beautiful family, and I had the great pleasure of shooting their family portraits... which ended with some pretty epic dad-squatting. Um, serious #joblove.

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