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celebrating Ana..

Tomorrow morning is going to be the best morning ever.

Analeigh, my (almost) four year old little girl, is obsessed with birthdays. Mainly her own and she begins planning then next one before the last one has even passed. We have had blue and pink and zebra first birthday party, monsters inc second party and last year a care bears third party! As she neared four, I wanted something smaller, something that involved less busy work of creating decor and favors.. (let’s be honest, I am only four years in and I am already giving up party planning… poor Ana.. lol)

We went to a skating party and she wanted that. We went to a swimming party and she wanted that. We went to a party at a cheer gym and she wanted that. I came to the conclusion that homegirl likes everything. She even very enthusiastically agreed to have another church party. So long as there is a cake she is happy. So she mentions to me randomly that she would like to have her party at Chuck E. Cheese. (How does my three year old know about Chuck E. Cheese? I thought, but apparently there is a commercial on Nick) so when we decided that Tim and I would be taking an opportunity to go on a cruise in April (setting sail on her birthday) that we would move the party up a few weeks and let it be a complete surprise.

As in, she has no clue what tomorrow holds. NO CLUE. and we are not telling her where we are going until we get in the car.:D

We have invited a small group of her little friends and I cannot wait to see her face when they are all there! A tried and true surprise party of the most exciting kind! CHUCK E. STINKING CHEESE!

And the best news, it was cheaper than any of the parties I have ever thrown! AND I didn’t have to do ANYTHING but order the reservation online!! WINNNNNNING.

I hope I can sleep tonight! Photos to come…

but in the meanwhile, here is a shot my girl let me take today during a photoshoot in the studio. The little girl that was here asked to have curls like Ana today, and her mama replied “Baby, those curls came from Jesus!” haha! so true.

Enjoy your weekend, I know that we will!

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If you want to follow us on this adventure – follow me on instagram @alliebphoto

xoxo,

allie

Kasey Brookover - March 15, 2014 - 3:44 am

Have a fantastic time! Mom & dad of the year!

Babs - March 15, 2014 - 2:11 pm

Now I’m excited for you !! Thanks for sharing. Love your sweet little family : )

admin - March 16, 2014 - 2:11 am

HARDLY! but we do try and make it fun!

admin - March 16, 2014 - 2:11 am

it was so good!!

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Viva Las Vegas

I am blogging today from 30,000 feet aboard a plane to Las Vegas. Now before you go thinking I am reliving a scene from The Hangover (although with my friend Stephanie along.. no promises… I kid) the reason for my flight is that I am going to the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International convention. This is my second trip to Vegas for photography education- the first being two years ago when I tearfully left my then almost two year old daughter for four nights to attend a conference known as United (Tim came too.) The scene is somewhat different this year with Analeigh being almost four and Tim staying at home with her while I travel. Yes, I will miss my family but the painfully tearful goodbye has been replaced with hugs and kisses and I’ll text when I land.. This is very different indeed.

The trip is going to be a total of 7 nights (counting last night when I stayed at my sisters in Columbus before my 8 am flight. This will match the number of nights I was away for the Pittsburgh/Jamaica weddings last June. (Only minimal tears were shed then, but it was due to a flight cancellation, not my three year old)

When I think about why this time is so different and the guilt tries to sneak in over leaving my family for a week at a time, I stop myself. This is my job. This Is part of what I do to put food on the table. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, I love it. But it is the path that I have been blessed to be on and within that there is no room for the tears or guilt.

When Analeigh was small, I put in years of solid, non-stop mothering. I didn’t leave her for any reason other than to work, and rushed back to her the instant the last shutter clicked. I was on the fast track to burn-out town.. And crash and burn I have. I’ve felt the effects of never giving yourself a break, and the detriment of giving and never wanting to take.

Gratefully, we powered through and I am still standing ( and finally sleeping too.) I almost said no to the Jamaica wedding because I was worried about leaving my family. Worried she would miss me, worried my husband would wear out, worried that other people might see me as a poor example.. I don’t know why but my typically secure nature was about to deny a huge opportunity to have bucket list caliber experiences because of fear.

—There is no worry in trust, there is no trust in worry. —-

One sentence that changed everything. I believe it was one of the sermons at church or maybe a bible study, but this sentence made me question everything I know about my faith and what it means to trust God in the things we worry about. This sentence screamed to me

“I am giving you an opportunity. Take it. Don’t you believe I am big enough to handle the details?!”

The answer was so crystal clear to me. God provides these opportunities to me at just the right time. He loves me enough to say “this is for you, go” and I now trust Him enough to say “I know you’ll take care of us, even if I get worried” and it just diminishes all guilt and allows me to fully live and be in the moment when I do get the chance to travel alone.

I know leaving your babies is hard and I honestly don’t suggest rushing it, but there is a faith lesson in letting go of your fears and seizing opportunities like these.

I will be spending the next week with eight ladies from all other the globe. Denver, California, Florida and even Canada. Women that I spend more time having deep involved mommy conversations with (via Facebook)than my own local friends. Women that I have had in my life for three years as I walked out this life of being a mother and photographer. Women who are also these things and truly, truly understand that being a photographer is more than pretty pictures all day. Mothers who I admire and dearly love.

So yes, for the next week I will be immersed in photo-nerdery. I will speak in a language none of you non-photographers would understand. I will learn, I will grow, I will probably have a breakthrough (praying for that.)

But maybe more importantly, I will take time to be Allie, the woman who loves photography. The woman who likes to talk uninterrupted for hours with other women. The woman who needs a break from real life to reboot and refresh and come back better than I left. The woman who has no guilt or shame about taking time to herself, in Las Vegas… And yes.. there will be (guilt-free cocktails.

Xoxo,

Allie

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February giveaway winner!

And the winner is….

KANDACE DUGGAN!

Seriously?! I am so excited for these two lovebirds! I did their wedding in September and she revealed to me (when she commented on my blog, to enter!) that she was expecting a baby girl! We have had a unique and amazing relationship and I am honored to be her photographer! (Brian’s pretty great too;))

Here is a photo from her Snowshoe Resort wedding!

YAY!

Congrats!

 

xoxo,
allie

Kandace - February 27, 2014 - 3:11 am

I think we are meant to be in each other’s lives!

admin - February 27, 2014 - 3:21 am

We have had so many “did we just become best friends?!?” moments! (ala Step Brothers) ;)

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2014 & A GIVEAWAY!

For about four years I have been photographing newborns and two years ago, we added a studio onto our home.. but there has always been a special place in my heart for lifestyle photography and I feel like it is most definitely time to get back to that. I prefer the look and feel of it and although I enjoy snuggling newborns in the studio, I strongly prefer the method and the product of a home session.. the emotion, the connection, the moody light, the sweet feeling of home..

To gain some updated in-home imagery for my portfolio and gain some new followers for the blog/facebook page – I am GIVING AWAY a home session! (and files) (a $475 value)

Enter via the giveaway tab at our FACEBOOK page at this link -http://tinyurl.com/nxd3opk

One of the entries is to make a comment RIGHT HERE.. so go ahead and tell me why you want to win this session! =)

xoxo,

Allie

Kate - February 19, 2014 - 11:01 am

As a mommy of 2 four legged children and the soon to be mommy of a two legged child, winning a home photo session would mean that we could have family photos with the whole Shanks crew sans leashes (for the dogs)!

Rachel Gray - February 19, 2014 - 1:41 pm

I’d LOVE to win this in-home newborn session!

Danielle Brookover - February 19, 2014 - 1:44 pm

Allie, your work is amazing! It would be awesome to have you photograph our second son!

Kelley Klemick - February 19, 2014 - 1:53 pm

The chance to have you, your camera and your incredible talent in my home would be wonderful. You capture my family so beautifully!

Alisha Davis - February 19, 2014 - 2:09 pm

As a new Mommy of two now I don’t have any pictures of the four of us. I’ve never done an in home photography session. The pictures look beautiful and I would love the opportunity to win a session and have pictures of the four of us in the place we all love the most…home.♡

Courtney Davis - February 19, 2014 - 2:12 pm

It would be such a sweet blessing to win an in home newborn session with you! Your ability to capture the “realness” of people/little babes in pictures is fascinating.

Victoria Stull - February 19, 2014 - 2:24 pm

As a new mother of 3 newly adopted little boys (ages 2,3, and 8) and a soon to be mommy of my first natural son I would love to win the giveaway. We are moving to the Parkersburg area at the start of summer to bring our boys closer to family. To have that moment in time captured by your work, the beginning of two journeys, would be a wonderful blessing!

Mary Thompson - February 19, 2014 - 2:55 pm

As a mom of two, when I had my first son I was on my own in DC and could never afford to have professional photos done. Now that I am expecting my second son, I would love to have pictures of the new baby and my oldest son together. There is no better way to capture the love and bond than in photographs. I have been on bedrest with this pregnancy and haven’t been able to get a maternity session done, so to be able to have these photos of my children together at such a new time would mean the world to me.

Katy Bowles - February 19, 2014 - 4:20 pm

Your work is so beautiful and unique! I would love to see you capture some moments with our two boys.

Tara marshall - February 19, 2014 - 4:36 pm

Your pictures are awesome! I would love to have newborn pics at home instead of the ones on the hospital.

Holly Jordan - February 19, 2014 - 4:41 pm

I’d love to win this session because I’ve admired your work for years now and feel like I know you even though we’ve never met. I have a 6 month old baby who is in desperate need of having some amazing photos taken of him. Our home is special to us and has the best natural lighting ever. We’re gonna have photos taken one way or another by you!!

Christa - February 19, 2014 - 7:27 pm

I’ve admired your photography for the last three years, fawning over my friends’ photos you’ve captured for them. As worth it as I know it would be, at this season of our life putting a lot of money into a photography session is just not high on the priority list. One day, though, we’ll book a day with you!!

Kandace Duggan - February 20, 2014 - 1:59 am

SURPRISE! Allie we are pregnant! :) Our due date is July 29! We find out FRIDAY if we are having a little lad or a little lady. :) We would truly be honored if you were able to capture special moments with our brand new bundle of joy. You have been able to bring such joy to mine and Brian’s life through your beautiful art. We would LOVE for you to produce loving memories of our special addition!

Dianne Hess - February 20, 2014 - 5:00 am

I would love to win the at home session because 6 months ago we bought my childhood home and Amelia’s nursery is in my old room as a little girl. It was the first space I ever designed (my parents let me pick everything out) and now I have designed a nursery for my little girl. I would love to have pictures in this space that means so much to me.

Jackie - February 20, 2014 - 1:24 pm

I would love to win because I never took newborn pictures of my first son and I wish I had so I definitely want them of my second this time!

Kristen - February 21, 2014 - 3:32 am

Realizing that we haven’t had family pictures done in well over a year is driving me insane.. and since we’re about to add baby #3 to the mix, I’d say it’s about time!

Lindsay - February 25, 2014 - 11:46 am

You are the best…hands. down. And I would love for you to capture the moments of my family together in our home especially since it seems rare to have photos of us all together. We all know mamas take the photos…but are less likely to be *in* the photos with their sweet babes…and unfortunately we have fallen into the category of not-enough-mama-and-babe photos!! Please help us add to our memories! :)

Haley - February 26, 2014 - 3:44 pm

I’d love to win this giveaway because I have a beautiful 10mo baby boy who is growing up way too fast and i want to capture him as often as possible. He’s at such a cute fun age (and i know it only gets better) and your photographs are amazing !

Jes - February 26, 2014 - 4:24 pm

Your birth photos were what closed the deal when we selected you with Jaslyn. Such wonderful memories for these families.

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on grace for yourself..

I don’t know if it is my sixth wedding anniversary this week (and thus the one year anniverary of the day we found out we were miscarrying baby Bennett #2);
or the fact that the day before that is the three year anniversary of my adoptive mom being taken from us too early after a hard battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving everything I thought my life as a mother would be like completely changed;
or the fact that my baby girl is going to be 4 very soon;
or just the fact that I am female;
Or my status as a recovering work-a-holic with a chronic sleep deprivation..

but man, life is overwhelming!

I have had about a million things I have wanted to blog about, but very little time and even less brainspace for the ideas to form themselves into words and find a way out my fingers into the keyboard. It actually makes me quite stir crazy. So, if this rambles… i apologize. Try living in this brain!

First things first. SIX years of marriage. There is something about six that feels very right. We are not newlyweds by any stretch of the imagination. We have lived enough life together to be past anything superficial (eleven years of life we have shared now, with many ups and downs). We have a CHILD now, not a baby. We have a dog we actually like and a house that we aren’t trying to move out of and our cars are getting close to paid off. There is a sense of accomplishment in where we have come from and where we are now. We have tried very hard to do everything in a way that makes sense and is responsible and brings glory to God. We have sacrificed and pushed and given and felt tired, worn out and detached from one another.. but with our decision to not try and get pregnant again after last year’s miscarriage, and now a year removed from that still feeling like our family is probably done growing; there is a sense of sadness for the end of the baby era in our home, but also excitement that we survived it and now can slowly but surely begin to reclaim marriage as we knew it before Ana.

portraits by Feuza Reis Studios

I gave up my home office so Ana could have a playroom and can I just tell you how great it feels to not have 78 toys in my living room? I feel like a real adult with a real living room. (some days. LOL.) We are taking a couple trips for work this year together without Analeigh as well as a week each solo (Tim went to the Dominican on a mission trip, and I am going the WPPI the photographer convention in Las Vegas soon!) and I don’t have one ounce of worry or guilt about leaving her! We have arrived! I no longer feel the umbilical-like obligation to always be the one meeting Ana’s needs, and I am trying to wean myself off the urgency toward jumping up and coddling her every whim. (It’s hard being mom, right?) So to you moms still wading through the trenches of babyhood – there’s some hope for you! When you decide to be finished with it, and your baby becomes a child.. sure there is the sadness and the “I’m gonna miss this” but the perks ain’t bad either!;)

With all these realizations flying around in my mind, even more things that need to be let go have come to my attention. For four years now, I have worked from home running businesses and have always been Ana’s primary caregiver. This was a conscious choice we made before Ana was even around; but it has definitely always been way more than we thought it would be and the anxiety, stress and pressure has been way more prominent in my life that I would have ever imagined, or until more recently, admitted. I have been upside down, over-run and sleep deprived for four solid years and to be completely honest, my health had paid for it, my sanity has paid for it.. but mostly my family has paid for it, specifically my marriage.. two echoing realizations came to me..

1 – My clients don’t want this for me.
In fact, the overwhelming majority of my clients would be upset if they knew how much sleep I have sacrificed for their photographs.
I only want to work for those people.

2- I would never, ever, in a million years expect as much as I expect from myself from someone else.
My standards are completely unattainable and I give grace to everyone but me.

So 2014 is a year of changes.

My mission is this -
Make it meaningful even if it takes MORE time.
Be GRATEFUL, be graceful and be gentle.. with others and with MYSELF.
LOVE, Love, love.
Watch it grow.

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print available at emilyley.com

 

Can’t wait to see how these realizations come into play and to see how I work through the obvious anxiety I have about trying to take things slower and with more purpose. Do you ever feel like I do? Do you need a little bit of grace for yourself? Let’s do better at that.. shall we?

xoxo,

allie

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