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Big Ears Festival Knoxville TN 2017

This past weekend was a dream. I can't think of how I'd rather spend my time, shooting music is two of my favorite things married together and I could seriously do it everyday! I was so honored to be asked to be there and will never forget it. There were so many great musicians and bands in Knoxville for this event! Enjoy the images!

The Revelators Tour

Josh Garrels and John Mark McMillan played a sick show in Asheville at the Orange Peel and I was there to shoot it! Thanks to all the guys for being so gracious to me throughout the night.


An Update from Cora!

The nasty bugger I found attached to the back of my leg. A female Lone Star Tick

The nasty bugger I found attached to the back of my leg. A female Lone Star Tick

Ok, I think I'm ready to tell my story publicly. Some of you may already know but I wanted to give an update.
On Saturday, April 18th, I was bitten by a Lone Star Tick on a photo shoot at Panther Creek State Park in Morristown, TN. I found the tick attached to the back of my leg in the shower. It couldn't have been attached for more than a couple hours max. We taped the tick to a jar lid to save for testing. That night I went to ER to ask for Doxycycline, but no one would even see me because I wasn't exhibiting any symptoms. Monday I went to a local urgent care and they wouldn't treat me either due to lack of symptoms. No one would test the tick either. Not even the local health department, who had never even heard of this type of tick. On Wednesday evening, I started feeling flushed and was running low grade fever. We immediately went to the ER in a neighboring city, where we demanded a prescription for Doxycycline. The PA said "Well, I know for sure it ain't Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, 'cause you only get that out West". No, I'm not lying, that's exactly what he said. What are they teaching these people?! He did prescribe a two week course of Doxycycline and sent me on my way and it was at that point I decided I would try to locate an LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor). I found one in Franklin, TN and once he heard I had just recently been bitten and that I had the tick, they got me in right away. He promised me I would never suffer from chronic Lyme disease from this tick bite and prescribed two months total of Doxycycline. He also encouraged me to detox and put me on an anti-inflammatory diet: No soy, gluten, red meat, or dairy. I stuck to the diet religiously and am still following it, although I do cheat once in a while. About a week after seeing the LLMD, I received an email that the tick I had sent off for testing had gotten damaged in the mail and the envelope was empty when the lab received it. Great. I figured maybe this was God's way of telling me to rely on Him more and not test results. He does have a way of testing our faith so, doesn't He?
About the last week or two of Doxy, I started getting constant, dull headaches. I figured it was from the Doxy. I went off the antibiotic for one month and then we did lab work.
I received another email about a week afterwards saying the vials for the Lyme test had been damaged and I would have to redo. Another great!! I had to wait for them to mail me a kit and redo blood work. Long story short, everything came back negative EXCEPT for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever! He told me it was indicative of a recent infection but that it was gone. I asked him "If it's gone, then why do I still feel like crap?" and he told me it could be the residual effects of the RMSF and that it can take months to get over. He feels these symptoms I'm experiencing will fade over time and I pray with all my heart that they do. We will re-evaluate in 3 months. I am so blessed to be seen by a specialist and that we treated early!! My hopes remain high!

I haven't done a photo shoot in months. I want my life back!
If you're still reading this, please remember to keep me in your prayers and thank you for all your kind messages and words to me. I know things could be a lot worse, but for me personally, this has tested my faith more than anything I've experienced. To be in constant pain... I have to give this situation to God daily and let Him reign over my life and my health or else I don't think I could handle it, emotionally. A big thank you goes out to my family for putting up with my mood swings and pity parties, for their impromptu prayer meetings, and for being a source of light in my darkness. Love you all!

Side note: if you find a tick on you, KEEP IT. Put it in a ziplock baggie and write the date on it or tape it to something. According to the CDC, it takes 24-36 hours for an attached tick to transmit a disease... I am living proof this could not be further from the truth!! And why risk it??? I would rather take one bottle of pills than have a picc-line put in and take thousands of dollars worth of pills later on down the road, wouldn't you? If you find an embedded tick, demand at least a one month prescription of Doxycycline and get the tick tested! Here is a site which will send you a testing kit:


Jacob & Courtney

I had the pleasure of doing a post-wedding shoot with this fabulous couple in December. Their love for each other was evident the moment I saw them! I took the opportunity to ask Courtney a few questions for the blog and I'm so glad I did because they have such a romantic love story.

1.) How did you meet Jacob?

"We went to high school together, and even had classes together, but didn't know each other. Had never even talked! So we officially met at church. I started going to Hope Community Church and he approached me and invited me to a small group for people our age, but I didn't go. I was too shy. So when I didn't, he asked if I could cut his hair. He came to the beauty shop (even though his mother was a hairdresser) and that was our first official one on one time. I was hooked!"

2.) How did Jacob propose to you?

"We went to the beach with his family in July. A few days before we left he was wearing a band-aid on his left hand ring finger, saying he had cut it at work. The day we left, he was still wearing it. That whole day he was really quiet and to himself. I was afraid something was wrong. So when we got there I asked if I had done something. He just smiled and asked me to go for a walk with him. When we got down to the water he said he needed to talk to me. He said "I wanted to tell you that I love you." We had been together 6 months and had never exchanged "I love yous". But then he said that that was just part 1. That's when he took the band-aid off and showed me that there was no cut on his finger. There was a brand new tattoo of my intitials, with the last initial being the same as his! He pulled out his great grandmother's ring and asked me if he could share his life and last name with me forever. I still don't know how I got so lucky."

3.) How would you say you have grown as a couple?

"We have grown individually as well as a couple. Jacob wasn't really sold on the idea of full blown commitment until I came along. And I had always struggled with insecurity until his love revealed in me a confidence I had looked for my whole life. We want our relationship to always bring out the best in each other so that we can always be a reflection of God's love. It's important to be friends with your spouse and he makes me laugh everyday. He is the best friend I've ever had. My life is abundantly rich to be on this life long journey with him."

4.) What are some of your favorite things to do together?

"We love the small things. We live in an old house that has been in my family for years, and we love being at home just hanging out. Watching old movies, drinking coffee and just being in each other's company. We also share a love for music. He is a great guitar player and I love to sing. We love being involved at church and serving God together."


I'm sure just by looking at these images you can see the love they have for each other. Thank you, Jacob and Courtney for letting me capture this special time you shared!



When I was 15 years old, I went on my first mission trip to Kostrama, Russia in 1995. I stayed with a couple who would only a year later visit the United States and become very close with my family. Our friendship has lasted many years! We were blessed enough to have them visit once again last month as they traveled the U.S. What a special moment it was for me to be able to photograph their daughter, Polina, whom I had never met before! She is a beautiful young lady inside and out. I hope you enjoy this session as much as I did!

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Corey & Ashley - American Gothic Engagement

If you'd ask Ashley how she met Corey, you'd see a sheepish grin creep over her face. She knew him even when they went to high school together. "He was really quiet and somewhat withdrawn, so I never really talked to him much", she said.

Little did she know that it would be this man who would steal her heart forever.

It was a whirlwind romance, yet they both knew right away that it was meant to be. The night she fell in love with him was the night piglets were making their way into the world in the barn on the family farm. As she tended to the sow and helped each piglet arrive safely, he lovingly cleaned each one and made sure they were healthy. There in the muck and remnants of piglets being birthed, she fell in love. She knew he was the one. The one she felt at home with. The one she wanted to be with forever. The one who made her heart sing.

Their love is evident the moment you meet them. And it's not a frilly, fluffy, Disney movie kind of love. It's the kind of love that stands the test of time. It's the kind of love that's not afraid of a little hard work. It's the kind of love that sacrifices and bears all things. It's the kind of love that makes you feel like you're home.

And I'm so grateful I got to capture this love in their engagement shoot.

Congratulations Corey and Ashley! Thank you for letting me be a part of your life story.

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This girl is such a natural beauty and for her first "professional" modeling session ever, I think she did a fantastic job! We had fun on this hot, summer evening taking a dip in the cool waters of the creek. What a beautiful backdrop we had here in Eastern TN. I hope you enjoy it!

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Maegan & the Dress That Almost Killed Me

I had this shoot planned for months. Months because we just moved from PA to TN. Months because we live in a tiny town now and models are not the easiest to come by. Months because the dress the model wore took forever to make. But all good things come to those who wait, right?

I found this amazing vintage wedding dress at a local thrift store. It said $5 on the tag. $5! And as if that wasn't cheap enough, when I was going through the checkout, the lady said "Oh, all red tags are half off", so I ended up paying $2.50. I was floating on a cloud the rest of the day. You'd never find a deal like that back in PA, that's for sure! You couldn't even make a dress for that much nowadays.

So my idea was to attach flowers all along the bottom of the gown, a kind of cascading effect. I know you're not into hearing every single detail about a dress so I'll just skip to the near-death part. Since the gown I bought had a long train, I needed to hang it up high, so I did a really intelligent thing and hooked it onto a spear I had brought back from Africa which hangs above a doorway in my parent's house. It was perfect because I could turn the dress as I worked and not kill my aching back. Everything was going smoothly. I spent a week tacking on flowers one by one along the bottom. What I didn't realize was that the dress was getting heavier as I was adding more flowers. One evening I stepped away for a moment to let my dogs in the house and one of them brushed against the dress - the spear came crashing to the ground... along with the dress. I might have screamed a little, I don't remember. I picked up the dress to see the damage and sure enough, the spear had gone through the dress. Not just in one place, but in several. In fact, one of the holes was staring back at me as if to mock me... right in the front of the dress. I swear it sneered at me. And I'm not gonna lie, I teared up. OK, I cried. I'd put so much time into this stupid thing. I hated it now. Yeah, I knew I should have been grateful I wasn't killed instantly by a huge African spear severing my skull or throat or something, but I was devastated none the less. Had I been sitting there when the spear fell, I may not be alive to tell you this story today. God works in mysterious ways. I didn't even look at the dress again for one week. I was so over it. I began questioning why I was even doing this photography thing anyway. It really shouldn't be this complicated to do ONE photo shoot... right? I finally found a model I loved and she was gracious enough to drive to my teensy town all the way from Knoxville (thanks Maegan!) so the shoot was finally back on. I finished the dress with no other near death experience to tell of. And although, as an artist I am never 100% satisfied with ANY of my shoots and am my own worst critic... I think the shoot turned out beautifully... and so did the dress that almost killed me. ~ Cora

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Where do I begin? This shoot has to be one of my favorites so far. I knew from the beginning I wanted to do something involving a white wedding dress, but let's face it, that idea is being way overdone right now in the photography world. I wanted to kick it up a notch. My aunt and uncle were generous enough to give me some deer antlers (thank you!) and I thought it would be fun to create a headpiece out of them using moss. I also wanted to incorporate moss into her dress somehow so I made a belt out of moss as well. I am very pleased with how it turned out! Now onto the fun part of the story... The first time we tried the shoot, I couldn't get the antlers to stay on her head. After an hour trying to get it to work, of fighting with bobby pins and saying a few choice words, I finally gave up and asked my model if we could reschedule. She (thankfully) said yes. I had never had a "failed" photo shoot before so I was feeling pretty bummed out the rest of the evening. The next day, I reworked the antler headpiece, then I wore it on my head for a while to test it out. This one worked! So we rescheduled and I captured these amazing photos you see here! I would like to thank Taylor for being so patient with me - you were such a trooper, Taylor! Thank you for going with the flow and being the perfect model for the shoot! You ROCKED it! 

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George & Hannah

George and Hannah met through mutual friends. Their first date  was spending the day together hanging out and getting to know each other. They went to a scenic overlook, dinner, and then watched a kid's movie with Hannah's roommate's daughter. One of their favorite things to do together is talking about their future... where they might live, trips they are going to take, and what their dream house would look like. "Dreaming and planning together is great because the possibilities are endless!" says Hannah.
George proposed on April 28, 2011. It was after Hannah came home from work and they were making dinner together. He asked her to get something from the cabinet, (pepper she thinks), and when she opened the cabinet there was a ring box that had a note on it. When she turned around he got down on one knee and told her why he wanted to spend his life with her and then asked if she would marry him. "I, of course said 'yes!' and can't be more excited for our wedding day!"

This couple was a joy to shoot, and I can't wait to shoot their upcoming wedding! 


Denyel is a sweet soul. She's a tiny little whisp of a thing, but when she smiles you can't help but see how big her heart is. They were calling for rain, but we braved it anyway and got some fabulous shots!


It was like stepping back in time - the days when apple pies cooled on windowsills, families gathered around their radios to listen to shows, and women drew lines on the backs of their panty hose. I really wanted to evoke that sense of Yesteryear in this shoot, while also keeping it modern and trendy. I think Lauren had the perfect look for this shoot! We had such a good time. :)



Little known fact about me: I have beautiful cousins.

Angela drove several hours to do this shoot with me and we had an absolute blast. There are quite a few years between us (I won't say how many, *ahem*), but it's amazing how alike we are. We both prefer being by ourselves, we love the same kind of music, and we are eccentric, creative, and we both feel out of place in any given situation. So you can imagine my relief to find there is someone else in the world who is just like me, and it's only a bonus that we're related! We hit it off splendidly. And can I just say she acted like she's modeled her whole life? Because she did. She modeled like she was born for it. I hardly had to give her any direction at all! This was that kind of shoot where it was difficult to narrow the photos down because (and I'm not joking), they are ALL so good. Thank you Angela, for making the trip to Central PA to hang with your second cousin. Let's do it again soon, OK? Like tomorrow? Sounds good. ;)


We had been enjoying beautiful weather here in central PA... until the day of this shoot that is. (why does it seem like that always happens?) But Danielle was a trooper and totally rocked it! I'm telling you, this girl has no modeling experience, but she is magic in front of my camera! Thanks again Danielle for such a fun day, I hope that frostbite goes away soon. ;)

Jordan & Ashley Wedding

I had the wonderful opportunity to team up with another photog friend of mine to shoot a wedding in Tyrone, PA. The bride works at my hair salon and she is one the sweetest people you could ever meet. It was a beautiful, perfect day for a wedding! You could instantly see the love this couple has for each other as they gazed at each other while standing on the altar. Thanks again you two for letting me be part of your special day!

Special thanks goes out to Nikita Caswell for asking me to shoot the wedding with her. Thanks girl!

Ode to Springtime

There are few things I love more than Springtime (beside Autumn, of course). I awake to that first robin who sings as she prepares her nest, tender yellow-green shoots of grass emerging from earth, cool to the touch, blanketing the earth in life and buzzing creatures. I hear the humming of lawn mowers coughing to life after being long forgotten in storage sheds over Winter, the smell of freshly cut grass fills my house through the open window letting Spring in. I hear squeals from elated children whizzing by on scooters and bicycles, smiles permeating their faces as they embrace freedom for the first time, their nervous mothers following close behind, yelling be carefuls. My weeping cherry tree explodes with pink and white as bumblebees clumsily inspect her delicate blooms. I forage in the woods for mushrooms and sassafras, sustenance found among scattered leaves and dug from muddy stream beds. I walk and feel that slightly cool breeze and I'm reminded how beautiful this earth is. My thoughts drift to all the horrible things happening in the world - such terrible things which make God cry and yet even through His tears He sees fit to bless us. Even through His crying we are being made whole and given new mercies every morning. This God who makes beauty of ashes, bitter to sweet... Winter to Spring. Spring is Christ's renewal of vows with us, a love letter sent to give hope and express His heart. Each April shower baptizes the earth, cleansing it and bringing forth new life. ~

A young morning dove keeps an eye on me.

My neighbor's dogwood tree in full bloom.

A speckled-egg nest.

Shaun & Casey ~ April, 2013

This shoot reminds me of Springtime. Fishing in the lake, picnics in the grass, bees humming by the cherry blossoms, and that smell of April rain in the air... a perfect day to share with a cute couple in love. :)

A Girl and Her Camera Bag ~ A Review

I was over the moon when I learned I had won the March "Go Green" contest on Jessica Drossin Textures site last month. Jessica is an astoundingly talented photographer and artist and she creates stunning textures to use on your images. (In fact, she just released a cloud overlay pack that is to die for and can be found here.) She is also just a really nice human being. She goes out of her way to comment on every single photo users post on her Facebook page, and is very life-giving in her feedback. If you're a photographer and you've never used her textures/overlays, then please do yourself a favor and go get them, I promise you will use them constantly and they will become your best friends. Here is the photo I entered in the contest. It was edited on my Iphone using the Artstudio app, as well as other apps including Snapseed, Image Blender, and Photoforge2.

My entry, titled Keeper of New Life

The prize for her contest was a $100 credit towards her textures/overlays as well as the Epiphanie camera bag of my choice! You don't know how stoked this made me! I have been drooling and pining for one of these bags for a while now and to know I would finally have one... well it was like Christmas in March. But better than that even because my birthday is in March, so it was like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into - well, you get the idea. If you've never heard of Epiphanie camera bags, you could be living under a rock. They are high quality, leather camera bags with trendy designs and they are known for their durability and wonderful customer service. Visit their page Epiphanie Bags and check them out!

The reason I am writing this blog almost a month after winning the contest and actually receiving the bag was because I wanted to give a fair review on the bag itself. In a word? It's amazeballs. I chose the Turquoise "Brooklyn" bag. I was immediately sold on the fact I could wear it as a backpack as well as a cross-body bag. The color was a definite yes for me too, as I love all things teal or turquoise.
Seriously, I can't say enough good things about this bag. It has millions of pockets and compartments. It can hold my Macbook Pro, as well as several lenses, one or two flashes, my wallet, a few small props, my Fuji Intax camera + extra film, a package of beef jerky (never be caught without beef jerky), a pack of gum (for after the beef jerky), batteries, lens cleaner, lip gloss, antibacterial gel, cotton candy scented spray (man, that beef jerky really lingers), oh yeah and it holds my camera too. What's amazing is even with all that inside, it feels light and sturdy, which is great for my aching back. The leather seems to be of higher quality and has that nice leather smell to it, although it does feel a little on the thin side. One other thing I wanted to mention was the straps for me are almost too long. I have them adjusted almost as far as they'll go and it still hangs low on my back, especially if I have it packed. I do, however, notice that it doesn't have a lot of "bounce" when I'm wearing it as a cross-body which is great. No one likes bouncy camera bags. Overall, I have not had an issues with it so far, and I do believe I will be enjoying it for years to come!

I would like to thank Jessica Drossin and Epiphanie Bags again for such a great birthday gift. It truly was an honor!

Behind the Curtain

I decided it was time to create an office in our spare room, as the kitchen table was being slowly buried in all my photo gear/paperwork. I figured since I spend hours and hours sitting at the computer making your photos look beautiful, I deserved a special little nook where I could be inspired and truly make it my own. (The salt and pepper shakers just weren't cutting it anymore.) So in three days, I gutted a room, organized closets, painted walls, and refurbished a desk I found at Goodwill for $40. Whew! The wall features lovely artwork by my stepdaughter, and I made little pockets out of paint swatches on my bulletin board (loving that splash of color!). A couple finishing touches with some flowers and chalkboard art and I'm done!

I thought I would share this little project with you so you can see where I will be editing your lovely photo shoots. I hope you enjoy seeing where the "girl behind the curtain" creates and imagines. :)


It was well into the lower 20's on this blustery day, but Julia proved to be one tough cookie and rocked this shoot! I found I got so caught up in getting "that shot", I would realize my fingers had gone numb, so we would run to the car and press our hands and faces up to the heating vents, that tingling sensation of veins warming, the sand-papery sound of our hands rubbing together, chasing out the cold. Out to the shoot, into the car, out to the shoot, into the car. It took a little longer than usual, but our patience paid off because I think we got some lovely shots. Thank you for the memory, Julia!