why i'm obsessed with photography. and documenting life in general.

Over the weekend I visited my dad, along with my sister and niece. We all live between 2-3 hours from one another, and try at least once a year to get together with just dad and the girls. No other boys allowed. With my sister & her fiancé busy raising five amazing kiddos, with us always shooting and traveling, and my dad working part of the weekend as a hairdresser at his salon and planning exibits for the Blue Ridge Realists, we do a huge happy dance when we find a weekend where we can all get together. Here are some ridiculously cute photos of my niece, Morgan, shot behind my dad’s salon while her mama was getting her hair done inside. 

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After we said goodbye to my sister & niece on Sunday, my dad told me he had some old family photographs he’d like me to have. My heart smiled at this (I frequently imagine my heart as a cartoon with a drawn-on smiley face), and I quickly followed him inside to check out the goodies.  

Inside were photos from the 1800 - early 1900s, sprinkled with a few more from later on in the century. My dad pointed out my great great grandfather, with his first wife & children. His first wife passed away (I’m unsure how) and he remarried and had more children.  Out of that second batch of kiddos came my great grandfather, who I refer to with his wife as Nenaw & Granddaddy. I have vivid, but brief moments of memories with them. Sitting in their kitchen eating homemade angel biscuits from Nenaw, playing in Granddaddy’s office on the back porch, and playing croquet in their massively long front yard (and playing King of the Hill with my dad in the same yard). Above all, I remember that they were amazing people. They passed before we were old enough to get to know them as well as my dad did, but to hear him speak about them makes my heart smile even bigger. They were absolutely the sweetest, most kind people he’s ever met.  

In with all of those photographs was a handwritten (by my Nenaw) list of family members, and important occasions like births, weddings, & deaths.  Many of the photographs aren’t labeled. Many of those people have stories I’d love to hear. I’m related to them all in some way, and that’s all it takes for my imagination to wander and try to create their stories in my mind. Because the sentence above in italics is most of what I know about many of them. (In addition to the fact that g-g-grandfather owned a lumber company.  That’s a detail I’m happy to have.) Which brings me to my obsession - documenting life.

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Some of you are on Instagram - I’ve been using it for over a year to document little daily-life things with my iphone. Last Thursday evening, we saw Ben Folds perform with the North Carolina Symphony. It was an incredible show where we sang and laughed a lot. When we got home, I couldn’t help but think how wonderful our life really is, and how truly happy I am. And I thought to myself, I want my kiddo(s), and theirs, to know this me. The me before they came along and made me even more happy than I am now (probably 50 kajillion times happier, I’m guessing). To know what we did for fun, and how we looked without wrinkles and gray hairs. I Instagrammed myself being plain old silly me at the end of the day. I’m a goofy, laid-back, fun-loving wife of an incredibly goofy, laid-back, hilarious, hard-working man. We’re young and in love with life. And so very fortunate. 

So here’s what we do. We photograph people. We want to tell a story of who they are. Even if we only get a small piece of that story from an expression. We imagine their children, and their children’s children, and however many more generations of children come along while Earth is still twirling around the sun, looking back at the photos we take.

And, we photograph our own lives. We’re again doing a 365 project, where you take one photo each day for a year (with our actual fancy cameras, though Jordan sometimes breaks this rule and uses his iPhone). I’ve done this project twice, and love looking back and seeing something recorded from every day of my life during those years. I Instagram with my phone with the same goal. As of today, I have 1,950 photos there that represent about a year & 1/2 of my life. They’re slowly being printed and briefly journaled about in mini Blurb books. I also bought a five-year journal that allows me to briefly write about my day in one sentence (though usually I make it 4-5 because I like details). We’re traveling to Nashville and Maui this year, and having our photographs taken by Josh & Meg of Love is a Big Deal in Nashville, and by Nate & Jenna in Maui. Investing in seeing the world, and having our adventures documented while we do so, is something very important to us. And it means we get to meet some really amazing photographers along the way.

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And what’s most important is telling stories. Of us, of our clients, of our family and friends. Not just what they look like when they pose and smile at a camera, but things like this (these are all from my Instagram feed). 

I love living a happy life and enjoying tasty foods with my peeps.

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 I’m obsessed with cereal. Especially Froot Loops.

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And whole-milk lattes (I made this one!).

Upload from March 27, 2012Really, I’m obsessed with anything with milk or cream. Like this corn soup. Or the homemade vodka cream sauce pasta below. And my obsession with guacamole has only recently surfaced, but I love that too.

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I’m sweets-obsessed. I think everyone should take the advice in this photo of my birthday mousse cake. Unless you have diabetes (maybe just a teeny tiny bite, then?) or are one of those heartless people who don’t like dessert. Just kidding, I know some of those people and they’re lovely. But they confuse me greatly. Also, I like to bake things. A friend recently called me Suzy Homemaker and I didn’t even care or get offended.

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I love classic, solid neutrals mixed with bold exciting pops of color (our logo & branding reinforces this).

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 Coming to America is one of my favorite movies of all time.

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This is way down on the list, but I’m sure it still freaks you out. Sometimes Jordan and I make no-nose zombie diptychs of ourselves. 

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 Scary, right? But also hilarious? Yes.

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 I’ve had tummy issues for as long as I can remember. Here I am looking amazing in an ultrasound gown before getting my gallbladder checked.

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 I once gave one of my best friends plush poop for Christmas. She’s poop!

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The two most incredible feelings that I alone experience (not including those shared with the hubby & fam) are 1 - Feeling the bass rumble through my chest at a live show, especially if that show is a MuteMath one. 2 - Gliding through the water after pushing off the side of a pool with the sun streaming through the water and the strong smell of chlorine (which I love more than any perfume or cologne on the planet). The adrenaline rush from those two things are the only things I’ve ever wanted to be high on in my life. Sometimes I need to sit in the car and blast some bass-laden music just to get that feeling. I go through withdrawals often.

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Wrightsville Beach is one of my favorite places in the world, especially when visited with friends, and especially when the sky looks like this. That is a perfect photo-ready sky. 

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We’ve adopted two tigers and an ocelot at Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro. This is Bali. We love bringing them chicken & beef as treats, and are completely in awe of these amazing animals who have been rescued. 

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 I have an obsession with giraffes. I’ve always wanted one “in my back yard.” I got this guy (named Jeffrey Joffer) from J’s mom for Christmas. Also, we always name our Christmas trees. This is Stevie. The year before we had Lenny. 

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I have Refractive Amblyopia, which affects my left eye (don’t worry, I shoot with the right one, and that one rocks). Our 4th-generation eye-doctor bestest friend Aaron diagnosed me, and finally explained to my why I’ve never been able to watch a 3D movie and see what everyone else does and why I’ve had smashing headaches for most of my life. This is what I look like when Aaron only dilates my left eye. Scary cool.

So you see what I’ve done here? I’ve gone and made this post a lot about me. But that’s exactly my point. This is just a glimpse at the tiny things that are a part of who I am. If we’re photographing you, we’re telling part of your story. It would be the coolest thing ever if you leave behind little (now) seemingly uninteresting tidbits about yourself. I would give anything to read these things about the people in my family photos. They seem so serious, but that’s how people were photographed then. With the technology we have now, we don’t have to sit still for a bajillion minutes and pose in our best dresses and bowties. We can run around and be crazy goons (I’m not linking this because it can be seen all over our blog!), we can cuddle up to each other, we can jump into fountains while wearing our wedding dresses. We can do pretty much whatever we want and show our loved ones, present and future, who we really are. I hope you do, in case you have curious little crazy-imaginative offspring like me. And if you want some help creating some photo-journaling books, I can do that for you too.

~JAM

PS - I always underline the M because I’m the one who writes most of these posts. I’m putting Jordan to work soon with a post about his amazing grandparents, which I cannot wait to read. Then he can finally underline his J.

Good day to you all, I wish you lots of love and crazy happiness!

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