Best of 2019 in Photos

January 3, 2020

2019, A Year for the Books

This year, I had half the number of photo sessions as I did in 2018. I keep a running tally of sessions on an Excel spreadsheet to make sure I keep track of what's to come, what's already happened, what's due, and what's unpaid. I kind of thought I failed for a bit, that somehow my business was shrinking instead of growing. Somehow, my income tripled. My heart grew about fifteen sizes, too. 2019 was the year I came into my own as a photographer. I stopped calling myself new. I stopped referring people elsewhere for sessions I was afraid of. I took on a larger variety of projects to learn and practice. I was invited into more homes than ever, more private spaces of others than most people see in a lifetime.

In 2019, I committed to telling stories honestly. Not every image I shoot looks the same. I don't always edit consistently. I do, however, make sure it feels right every time. That the composition, the lighting, the textures, and the tone speak to the emotion I aimed to capture. From babies to marriages, I photographed it all this year. In this post, I intended to include 19 images in honor of seeing out 2019, but somehow the list stacked to 30. These images were chosen for many reasons. Be it style or sentiment, they all feel really special. If I know one thing, it's that I love documenting real life. Thank you to everyone who let me in enough to do so.

Sonia, maternity | January

Sonia is one of those people whose warmth fills a room before you even know she's there. I ventured to her family's cabin home in Flemingsburg, KY to photograph her maternity session on this snowy January day. A follower on Instagram described this photo as ethereal and I couldn't think of anything more fitting for this glowing momma to be. In the time since, I've gotten to snuggle her baby boy, Calvin, several times and photograph his growth over the course of the year.

Miriam + Scot, Wedding | January

Honestly, she'd probably kill me for choosing this photo of their whole gallery, but something about it speaks to me so strongly because of its simplicity. Miriam has become one of my closest colleagues through our work at UK. Over a year ago, I told her I would never shoot weddings and had no interest. After she got engaged, she gently warmed me up to the idea of shooting hers as my first. This day opened so many opportunities for me, and I can't think Miriam and Scot enough for trusting me to celebrate their love.

Bailey Grace, 1st Birthday | February

Not much makes me happier than confetti or balloons in photos. Bailey agreed. In this quick in-home session, Bailey's brother had a bit of a meltdown (it happens), but this gal was camera ready to celebrate her first birthday. I've been blessed to capture so many milestones of children in the comfort of their own home this year.

Gabby, Lifestyle | February

What can I say about Gabby - she's a powerhouse. When we met up to shoot content for her Instagram, I knew it was going to be a fun day. It was sunny, but FREEZING and she was a total champ running around downtown Lexington to look for unique textures and lighting. I've always loved the look of photos taken through windows, and Gabby's gaze is spot on. Sadly, this local coffee shop favorite closed down shortly after this session. I'm so glad I have photos to remember how special it was.

Lincoln, Newborn | February

Emily came into my life a couple years ago through a workshop I taught. In 2018, she and her husband Ryan served as photo ambassadors for my budding business. In 2019, they welcomed their sweet baby boy, Lincoln, into the world. In this cuddly in-home session, I ran around with Emily and Ryan as they beamed as proud new parents, changed diapers, drank bourbon, laughed, and snuggled up for the camera. In the time since, Emily has been a contributing editor of my second book and become an all-around great friend who is also an ennegram Type 3, just like me.

smithtown seafood, business | april

This photo makes my countdown less for the composition, but more for the sentiment behind the meal and the day. I was fortunate enough to partner with a number of local businesses in 2019 to show off their spaces, services, and products through photography. This photo was taken as part of a brunch series at The Summit at Fritz Farm. Before Saturday races in the Keeneland Spring meet, The Barn (food hall) served up local favorites like this salmon roll made by none other than Lexington celeb chef, Ouita Michel. I did less food photography in 2019 than previous years, but I love the stories that accompany each dish all the same.

Stephanie, Maternity | April

I've had the chance to photograph Stephanie's family a number of times. As one of my earliest blogging friends, Stephanie and her sweet family used me to document her entire second pregnancy from announcement to birth. This photo captivated me from her maternity session. We had actually wrapped up for the evening and were walking back to our cars when we came across this lush tree line. With the sun just prepared to set, I asked Stephanie to pose for just one more shot with her baby bump. Her tattoo speaks volumes about Stephanie's love of color and how whimsical her style is.

Emily, Graduation | April

Emily is one of my early college friends who has big city ambition. After graduating with her Master's degree from the University of Kentucky College of Design, she hopped up to Chicago to start her dream job at a major firm. I captured Emily and two of her graduating classmates in this fun session. I did SO many cap and gown sessions in the Spring. I love getting to find the unique spots on campus that mean something to graduates that might not be the traditional photo ops.

Berea College, Business | May

Affectionately called our 'farm safari', this image was shot for Justin Skeens in a series of shoots for Berea College and Berea Tourism. On this specific day, one of several shoots I worked alongside Justin, we ran around the college farm with students to show off the products and animals they get to work with daily. It was 80 degrees and I definitely wore the wrong shoes to hang with the pigs, but it was hands-down one of the best days of the year. Justin is an extremely talented filmmaker and photographer. I was honored that he asked me to be part of his shoots for set design and let me shoot a little as well. This image ended up making the final cut for the portfolio given to the college.

Brianna, prom | may

2019 was my first ever year shooting prom sessions, and they did not disappoint. I guess prom has changed a bit since I went? Gals and their dates looked top notch. We held this shoot for West Jessamine students at the Waveland Museum, and I was blown away with how naturally photogenic everyone was. Maybe it's a Gen Z thing. Brianna served as my high school photo ambassador in 2018, and I was honored to photograph her whole prom group before this memorable night.

Chris + Ashlie, Proposal | May

More surprise proposals, okay? I literally hid in this bushes at Ashland (Henry Clay Estate) as Chris asked the love of his life, Ashlie, to marry him in a tearful speech. I couldn't fight the tears behind my camera either as I learned about the scavenger hunt he planned for her that day that all led up to this moment. If you look closely, you can see one sweet tear on Chris' cheek as he got down on one knee. It was truly one of the most moving moments I was able to document in 2019.

Mya, business | May

Photo work took me to DC this year! One of my best friends and long time clients, Mya relocated to DC at the end of 2018, and I got the chance to document her style in her new digs. Her infectious personality always shines through in photos we take, and her bold + colorful style makes for a fun editing process. I challenged Mya a little bit in this shoot to think more naturally about locations. This image was shot in the lobby of her apartment building!

Alex + Noell, Engagement | June

One of my college besties is getting married in 2020! Thanks to Goodfella's Pizzeria, I captured Noell and Alex totally in their element. Any session including pizza and beer is one for the books. After the first half of their session in the distillery, we hopped over to The Burl Arcade for some more playful shots. I encourage every couple to think seriously about locations meaningful to them for their engagement. Alex and Noell nailed theirs. Can't wait to celebrate at their wedding this year!

Cohen, Fresh 48 | July

As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time with the Hargis family this year. Baby Cohen was welcomed into the world in July, and I visited their family in the hospital for the sweetest session. A Fresh 48 session is the perfect compromise between birth photography and traditional newborn photos. The newness of parenthood still in the hospital makes these sessions feel so raw and honest.

Micaha, Maternity | July

Another three-peat, I spent significant time with the Hughes family in 2019. From maternity, to birth, to newborn, it has been exciting to watch Micaha and Austin's family grow. Seen here, Charlie is fully of energy and is not camera shy. She was so playful in this session before her little sister arrived later in the year.

Hannah + Trevor, Engagement | July

One of my first 2020 weddings booked, I loved getting to know Hannah and Trevor in their farm engagement session. Although they both live in Michigan now, Trevor and Hannah came back to his parents' farm in Kentucky for their engagement session. Complete with barns, tractors, cattle, and fields, this engagement session fit this couple so seamlessly. We'll celebrate their wedding together in April 2020.

Kit + Andy, Love Stories | July

This session happened because of an Instagram message. When Alan and I were preparing to visit Hilton Head Island last summer, I took a chance and reached out to Kit after scrolling through Instagram to find photographers in the area. Kit is a very talented wedding photographer based in HHI who agreed to swap sessions on the beach with my love and I. Kit and Andy have been married for about a year and their love was infectious in this sunset session.

Old School Coffee, Business | August

When some of your high school friends ask you to help them open their business, you jump at the chance. Rhett, who I've known for over a decade, opened Old School Coffee in Dudley Square in August. In the months leading up, I consulted them on strategic digital marketing and got to snap images for their website of their adorably Instagrammable space. Check them out if you're in the area!

Winchester Young Professionals, Business | August

One of many pro bono sessions from 2019, I worked with the newly established Winchester Young Professionals group who seeks to bring together individuals from all industries looking to network in my new, little town. I loved getting to photograph their happy hour at the new Abettor Brewing in Winchester. This photo is one of my favorites from the evening because I love string lighting and a moody, yet modern interior.

Holly, Business | August

Meeting Holly in 2019 was a breath of fresh air. She launched a podcast called Why Should I? that I was lucky enough to be featured on. I took photos for her in the comfort of her home for use on social media and her website in promotion of her podcast. Holly is adorable, funny, and so intelligent. Her home was impeccable, just like her. We had fun playing around in cozy spaces and with light and shadows in her home. Not to mention, her pup George totally stole the show.

Auden, Birth | August

This family makes it look easy. Austin and Micaha welcomed Auden Parker into the world in August, and I was in the room to document the whole thing. Micaha had what seemed like the smoothest delivery I've ever heard of. What was barely dialated turned into me sprinting down the hall at the labor and delivery floor because mama was ready to push. 20 minutes later, we had a baby girl. As you can see here, Charlie was pretty esctatic to become a big sis.

Auden, Newborn | August

I'm not lying when I say in-home sessions are my favorite. It's where clients truly relax, kick off their shoes, and revel in real love. Home is unpolished, it's unrehearsed, it's honest. I might do a little shuffling around of pillows or knick-knacks, but I'm always going to capture your life for exactly what it is: real. Auden's newborn session at home in the house Austin and Micaha have remodeled together was oh, so sweet.

Common Good, Nonprofit | August

Good opportunities show up when you least expect them. That's exactly what I was trying to remind myself in an end-of-summer lull when Karissa graced my inbox. She asked if I would be willing to photograph 15 families who took part in their after school program who couldn't afford family photos. I said yes without hesitation. Despite language barriers and those who didn't love to smile for the camera, we captured some amazing moments I hope serve these families for life.

Lou What Wear, Business | September

Although this isn't a photo of my girl Danielle, it is part of a larger shoot I did with Lou What Wear for Horse Country. We traveled around the Bluegrass to stops like Keeneland and the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center to learn about tours available in the area. This little guy was pretty playful with me. His ears perked right up and I didn't miss a chance to capture one of my favorite images of the year.

Abby + Greg, Engagement | October

Actually part two of two, Abby and Greg's engagement photos on Kroger Field stole the show. The two met at a UK Football game in college, and Abby even saved the very ticket from the game to include in their engagement photos. In the earlier session capturing their love, we strolled through the University of Kentucky campus with their pups, and later, a park they frequent. Each time, we had unbeliveable weather and lighting. Can't wait for their wedding in Midway this Spring!

Browning's, Business | October

My day job at UK actually led me to meet Lauren. A veteran turned farmer, Lauren graduated from Agricultural Education and now works as a farmer and florist. Here, she prepped for her first solo wedding on a gorgeous wooden arbor the groom made himself. She is 100% in her element and her attention to detail is stunning. Love seeing businesses take flight!

Alex + Megan, Engagement | November

Very rarely does a groom to be reach out to me. After he proposed to the love of his life, Alex emailed me to schedule engagement photos. The pair will marry in Ireland in 2020, but wanted to take photos in Lexington - where they met at school. Because they are both busy in law and med school, we scheduled months in advance for a pleasantly warm November day. I love the images we created in this particular part of the session because they include iconic elements of Lexington like the 5/3 Building, and I also labored over photo-shopping out cars, power lines, phone poles, and more. They are self-proclaimed an awkward couple, but look flawless together in front of the camera!

Hannah + Max, Engagement | November

Keeneland really might be the most versatile backdrop in Lexington. Whether we're cuddling on the paddock or kissing over fencing, it makes for a perfect engagement session. Hannah and Max had a short timeline between their engagement and wedding, but we made it work! Despite the dying trees, the falling yellow leaves made this session one to remember.

Miles, Newborn | December

Stuck this photo in here and completely forgot this journey started earlier in the year when I photographed Emily's maternity session. Emily and Sam welcomed Miles into the world just before Christmas and I returned to their home (I was there for a couples session in 2018) to capture this new family of three. Miles was a champ through many outfit changes and mom and dad were absolutely beaming. Parenthood is so beautiful in its most raw form.

Hannah + Max, Wedding | December

What a way to end my year! My very last session of 2019 was a wedding - exactly how the year started. Hannah and Max are a lovely couple and it was special to photograph their rainy, Sunday wedding at The Livery before it closed for good on NYE. Hannah and Max are low-key and down to earth, and their wedding reflected just that. Between tearing up at the first dance and toasts, it was a special night to remember. I'll get to see them again in 2020 when I photograph her MOH's wedding in April!