Catherine. Senior 2017.

I’m biased with this one. The last baby sister to fly from the nest and graduate high school. She’s beautiful, isn’t she? This lady was born for great things and creating beauty in the world, and that’s exactly what she’ll [continue to] do. Love you, Catherine.

Linsey. Senior 2017.

I love when a senior session just becomes a fun mashup of family, which is definitely what happened here. Linsey and her twin brother, Brooks, are seniors this year, and so is her best friend and cousin, Olivia. So why not take some of just everybody? Thanks for letting me do your photos, guys! It was such a pleasure!

the McAllister family 2015.

Once upon a time, Micah and I went on an adventure. Ha. The intro to every day of our lives. But seriously though. Almost two years ago, we moved to Huntsville. Not too far away from home, but a bigger place with less familiar faces, places, and feelings. It was hard at first, but it was the best thing we could have ever done at the time – for multiple reasons. Mainly, moving away after just getting married strengthened our relationship in ways we couldn’t ever dream of doing back at “home.” However, we got homesick. We moved knowing maybe a less than 5 people closely, and not knowing much about anyone else. That took a toll on me for a long time. My introvert-self made me just want to recluse back into the only place that felt like home anymore, our amazing but tiny apartment, and that was my comfort zone. Over time, a few people made that change. In that group – the McAllisters.

I’ve never met a family that welcomed me as one of their own like the McAllisters. They’re the perfect definition of “what you see is what you get.” They’re as real as possible, so when they are welcoming, they mean it with every fiber of their being. These guys loved on me more than we could handle, real-talk and all, and it helped bring my home feeling to where we were now (not just where we were a year ago). Four people made this girl who felt like a fish out of water feel like she had people. She had family. And I know I say this for Micah, too – thank you guys. We love you more than words could every explain. We love your realness. We love your humor and sarcastic loving. We love your faithfulness, how you choose to walk your lives in honor and love to everyone around. Thanks for welcoming us and making us feel at home.

These four – Lee, Rebecca, Alexis, and Christian (even Mrs. Myrtle) – will always be family. They have a huge piece of my heart.

Enjoy.

Jake and Kaitlyn. Engaged.

There are people in your life that are just special. It doesn’t matter if they come or go, if it’s been days, months, or even years…they hold a special place in your heart. These people have seen your good side a lot (but also a huge chunk of your bad) and still love you the same. Those people are rare to come by in life, and Kaitlyn is definitely one of those people. When somebody you love is getting married, you automatically start “mama-bear-ing” if you don’t know their soon-to-be other half. My thoughts were, “She’s a jewel with a beautiful soul. Please be a good guy. Please be a good guy. Please be a good guy. She deserves everything.” (Come on, ladies. You know you’ve all done it to your girlfriends at least once.)

But then I met Jake, officially, at our first sit-down as their wedding photographer…and I have zero worries. If someone could ever find the perfect fit for each other, it would be these two. They even brought their new sweet puppy to be a part of the day! Loved this session; love these two. Enjoy (and I’m pumped out of my mind to be doing their wedding, if you can’t tell already).

Stephen. Senior 2015.

Stephen. This guy is one of the most genuine, pure-hearted teens I’ve ever come across in life. We were his youth pastors a bit ago, and I loved getting to know him. He’s a gem with a big heart and an even bigger capability of being a goofball. I’m ultra-proud of him for the impact he’s had on people’s lives all around him, and I’m so proud for where he’s going to go as life goes on. Micah and I love you, broseph. Thanks for asking me to document this special part of life for you; it’s always a joy.

the Smith family 2015.

“Our family is like the branches of a tree. We may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.”
– Unknown

There’s nothing like when your cousin calls you up to do a family session on the infamous family property. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it, so I want to share the specialness of it with all of you. My heritage is super special to me.

In the early 1900s, my grandfather, great-uncle, and great-aunt were born on a beautiful piece of property in a place known as McGee Town (the nonofficial title for those who have been around long enough). They were born in a small, wooded 2-bedroom house, all heated by a pot-belly stove in the living room. My grandfather grew and married one of the most beautiful women I personally think could ever exist, my nanny Blanche. They had three wonderful children (no, Dad, don’t get a big head), two of which are still alive and well with wonderful families. My great-aunt, Lilla’s grandmother, had children of her own, and my great-uncle lived as a bachelor. He (for the most part, up until his very last days) lived in the house he was born in. That’s special in itself. And yet so many stories came from this place and about this place.

In the 1990s, my dad and my aunt decided they both wanted to build on the “family land.” Trees separated our houses from the old homestead, but it was just a tractor/car/bike/go-cart drive away past the pond and little grove of trees to remember where our elders grew up; this was where the generation ahead of me had spent all their Sunday afternoons and some weekends (and mostly anything in between they could get their hands on). Even myself growing up before George A’s memory started declining, I remember many times we would go and just sit in his fire-lit and fire-heated leaving room, eating the canned popcorn and great-value cookies while the old wooden-house smell not only lingered but was comforting as the pot-belly stove crackled. Many generations sat and listened to the grandest bachelor in McGee Town as he told of his hands-on experience of war, life, family, and all in-between.

I’m not personally sure of the timeline, but at some point in George A’s (grandest bachelor in McGee Town) and Duncan’s (my grandfather) early-adulthood, they built two barns. By hand. No big deal, right? They still stand to this day. The red one, the one beside the old homestead, has aged more, of course; I’m sure it serves to be a home to many critters and evil looking insects I’d rather not meet. The green one that my parent’s house overlooks, however, has aged beautifully and gracefully. It holds multiple physical treasures, plus special memories for so many people other than just my family. Those barns, even though they might not last forever (but we won’t talk about that), hold stories that I’m sure will live forever.

My grandfather, Duncan, had a special tie to this green barn. He, at one point, held the title for the Strongest Man in Alabama. The first Olympic weight set in the state of Alabama was owned by him, and he kept it up in the loft of that barn he was so proud of. He trained many people in the area who went to hold great titles in the weight-lifting arena, state and even nationally. When we come across a person whom my grandfather trained, the first question they always ask – “Is that barn still there? Are those weights still there?” Yep. Ron Russell was one of these people, whose son is actually one of Micah and my closest friends. Small world.

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My grandfather was a strong person, not only in the physical but in the spiritual. He also led Sunday School classes for many many years at Pleasant Hill UMC, and he did so with great grace and an ever-growing mind of wisdom. He would even intertwine this wisdom into incredible stories that he would pen. He and my grandmother both were staples in that religious community, and I know that the harvest from their labors of faith and belief is still growing.

If you’ve ever lived in the South, you know about tornado alley. Somehow the cities of the Shoals tends to always be exempt of tremendous amounts of damage when the dastardly spring weather hits, but if you live on the outskirts, sometimes the weather isn’t so kind. McGee Town is definitely one of those exceptions to the weather giving grace, and Duncan knew this. Being a man of strong faith that he was, he made a covenant with the Lord that he all the things on the family land were His, and that the Johnson family would serve Him all the days of their life. In exchange, would He extend mercy upon the land that was Duncan’s heart and staple to the ever-growing family by not allowing damage to come to the structures that he had built. To represent this deal, Duncan hung a red rope, symbolizing the covenant that Rahab had made with the Lord and Joshua in the Old Testament. That rope still exists (though it’s red has faded to a white-pink), and trees might have fallen all around (literally in domino style), we might have seen tornados rip through our backyard uprooting everything in their path, but the barn has literally remained untouched. That story is a foundation for me, since it’s not just a story; it’s faith of my strong-hearted grandfather who believed for a legacy amidst destruction.

My grandfather also hand-planted multitudes of trees, walking a mile or two from the woods (where he would dig up the smaller ones) to the driveway to create a line of cedars that would grow into this beautiful piece of scenery. Cedars represent strength, and that is the epitome of who he was – strong. Strong in faith, strong in the physical (understatement), and strong in heart. So when Micah and I were planning our wedding, we decided to get married in Cedar Lane (which is now my parents’ drive). We would be covered by my grandfather’s heritage, going before us in strength. We also brought that red rope as a part of the ceremony to symbolize the picture of covenant between God and man, then man and woman.

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If you can’t tell, I love my heritage.

All to say…when Lilla messaged, asking me to do photos of her family on “the land,” that was special. First off, she’s a graphic designer herself with incredible taste…so when she calls you, it is an honor. Her son’s name is even Duncan, just like Paw-Paw. Heritage is everywhere, and there’s something special as you stand in the covering of those trees or in the shadow of that barn. Thank you for asking me to document your family this year and giving me the opportunity to share our story. Xoxo.

(Weddings photos taken by Armosa Studios in Florence, Alabama)

November 4, 2015 - 2:37 am

Lilla Hood - Sarah, these pictures are beautiful. I love them all, but especially love the one of Reed standing by the Oak tree in front of GA’s house. You have such talent and I’m glad that I got to have my family’s pictures taken in a place that is so near and dear to my heart. Thanks. We love you!!!

November 4, 2015 - 2:44 am

Tommie DeVaney - Beautiful family Lilla! Wonderful blog Sarah!❤️

meet Wiley | the Parker family 2015

Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart.
– Piglet, Winnie the Pooh

I just have to mention that this family is literally one of the cutest I have ever laid eyes on. I’ve worked with Joey and Emily for multiple times before (and even did their holiday session last year when she was pregnant!) but this is the first time I got to meet Mr. Wiley. And this kid stole.my.heart.away. He couldn’t but smile and laugh the whole entire session, and I am officially obsessed with how cute he is. So enjoy this whole family’s beauty while Mr. Wiley tries to steal away the whole entire show…and your heart, too, while he’s at it.

October 31, 2015 - 4:22 pm

Mary Looney Woodis - Oh Sarah! These are beautiful! This Grammy needs prints, please!

October 31, 2015 - 4:28 pm

Amy Buckbee Kimbrough - Beautiful!! Love these pictures and this beautiful family!!

October 31, 2015 - 5:15 pm

Laura Parker - Love them! How do I order some prints.

October 31, 2015 - 8:43 pm

Louise Robbins - I hope we can get copies of all the photos. They are great.