Tyler + Kelly: Montagu Meadows Wedding

Tyler and Kelly's Montagu Meadows wedding was so incredibly magical. Thunderstorms were expected the entire day and not a single drop fell until the torrential down pour at 10:00 p.m. the minute the reception ended. Talk about having guardian angels & the power of prayer!

Surrounded by their family and friends everyone celebrated their love with tons of dancing, corn hole, a vintage truck with ice cream and a few tears of joy. Thank you, Kelly & Tyler for choosing me to capture your day. It truly was a celebration like no other! 

Thank you to the incredible vendors who works so hard to make their day special!

Planning & Styling: Katie Price Events

Florals: Studio in Bloom

Hair: Elements of Style Salon & Spa

Tent: Elite Tents & Events

Videography: Clay Estes Productions

DJ: DJ Delights

Sabrina + Joey

I met Sabrina and Joey at Brunswick Family Campground this past weekend for their engagement session! For a while, we thought this session might not happen here due to extreme flooding of the campground. Luckily, everything cleared up just in time! They both love kayaking, the outdoors and camping, so their favorite campground was the perfect choice!

As I drove through Brunswick, the GPS told me I had arrived and would need to walk the rest of the way to the campground. I knew this couldn't be right. But, my GPS gave me no other options, so poor Sabrina and Joey had to come literally scoop me up by the side of the road. On their way to find me, they got a flat tire! So, after having to turn back for their second car and pick up my locationally-challenged self, we finally were able to begin photos! 

These two were so sweet with one another and Joey was such a good sport about all the photos I made him take. (Sorry, Joey!!) I cannot wait to photograph their Fall wedding! 

 

James Madison University: Drew's Senior Sesh

Cue the purple and gold confetti because my baby bro has graduated from James Madison University!! 

I remember driving down in August of 2014 to move Drew (and Kimmy, who will be graduating in the Fall) into their Freshman dorms. Like any true Freshman, Drew was eager for his family to hurry up and leave because ya know, we embarrass him or something. He was also nervous, which I knew because he turned down food at Panera that morning, which is unlike him. Fast forward four years, and he's graduating with a degree in Geographic Science!

There are a million things I could say in this post on how much I adore who he's grown to be, but I might not know where to end. When I dropped him off 4 years ago, I prayed he would fall in love with the campus, make new friends, and find happiness in whatever he did. It's safe to say he's found all of those things at JMU. And let's not forget, JMU is where Drew met his love, Heather, three years ago!  

Drew, I wish you the best of luck as you take on the real world. And remember, I am always down for Chipotle dates with extra chips. I love you, even though you rarely will say it back!

Sean + Emily

I've been lucky enough to grow up along side Sean since elementary school. He's the most genuine, kind person I've ever met. In high school he literally won a scholarship for being the "Nicest Kid at Liberty High School", which speaks volumes about his character. We've been in each others lives through all of life's big milestones, and also some of life's hardest moments. 

I remember meeting Emily for the first time during a summer bon fire at Sean's house. She was a firecracker, spitting out jokes left, right and center. A perfect fit to our group of friends. I remember telling Zach that I couldn't think of anyone better for Sean. 

Sean and Emily met during their time at York College in Pennsylvania, so it only seemed appropriate to photograph their rainy day engagement session on campus. The two of them incorporated so much of what makes them "them" into this session, making it unique. With Emily being a nurse, they tied in her stethoscope, heartbeat ring, and Sean's blue shirt (see below). Since Sean is a life long ice-cream enthusiast, the two of them have found themselves frequenting Dairy Queen over the years for date night. So, this weekend we also hit up Dairy Queen for some ice cream love. And oh my gosh, it was the best! 

When Sean proposed to Emily, on the island, Kauai (my personal favorite place on earth), I think I screamed so loud they could hear me 5,000 miles away. Needless to say, I am so excited for them to be tying the knot this Fall. Wishing you both a lifetime of happiness and ample ice cream dates.

How Self Doubt & Great Friends Brought Me Back To Weddings

 -Jenna Kutcher 

-Jenna Kutcher 

Self doubt can play such a huge roll on our successes, both big and small. I had stopped photographing weddings because I doubted my ability to work a 9-5, host portrait sessions AND take on weddings. Something had to give, so I removed the biggest part of my self doubt, weddings. We are our own worst critics. I told myself "There are so many others who do the same line of work. Why would someone choose me over them?" Another excuse to run away from something that challenged me. It turns out giving up weddings also gave up a portion of my creativity, excitement and overall love for photography. 

This Fall I received an email from a dear friend titled "GIRL". I legitimately had no idea what the content would include, but I wasn't expecting this when I opened it.

"I have thought about this all weekend and I really think that you should keep doing weddings if it's what you want to do. I know you think that you need to be devoted to it, but you are just really good, and you've had so much growth in your photos since we met until now, and I think you are only going to get better and better and people love what you do."

(Insert tears here). A friend went out of their way on a random work day morning to send me this message because they felt I needed to hear it. Sometimes the answers we've known all along just need to be driven out of us through the encouragement of others, and a little less self doubt. I've learned so much during this season of life about myself and my business. Always encourage others to live their best life, you never know when they just need a small push in the right direction. 

I will continue with wedding photography for 2018 within reason of what works for my life, as well as my clients lives. I have friends who believe in me and I don't have the heart to let them down. Ya'll are the best.

 Holly

Nicole + Dave

Last month, Nicole and Dave celebrated their wedding day surrounded by friends and family. But, two major aspect of their lives were missing...their two pups! Unfortunately their wedding venue had a "no pets" rule, eliminating the idea of Cora and Mack being a part of their big day.

Anyone who owns an animal understands that they are more than just a "pet," they are family. So, this past weekend, the five of us met up to re-create some wedding photos! Cora and Mack were cooperative and all smiles! Like most kiddos, they were easily bribed by treats. Plus, Cora worse a ridiculously perfect floral wreath around her neck!

I've known Nicole since high school where we both frequently skipped track practice in exchange for Wendy's frostys and fries. (Oooops) It seems like just yesterday, so it's crazy that we are now both married with fur babies! I've only met Dave a handful of times, but he's incredibly kind and has a fun, goofy side! Also, have you seen his epic beard? 

Thanks for letting me capture your re-created wedding day with your perfect pups! And thank you, Nicole for braving the cold weather in your beautiful gown! Looking forward to seeing your wedding photos from the wedding day itself!

Nolan's Senior Sesh

 It's been a while since I've done a senior session, and even longer since I've worked with guys, so it was refreshingly new. It was fun to be back where I spent four years of my life, a seeming life time ago. If you had told me in high school that I would be a photographer, I would have laughed and said "Yeah, right, I wish!". 

Nolan and I spent our time walking around various parts of the field and school grounds while I picked his brain about his senior year so far, including the recent homecoming, football, lacrosse and his plans for after high school. I was impressed to learn that he's doing an internship for accounting. Impressive because I find math incredibly challenging, and because he's getting a head start dive into his dream career. Awesome, right?

Towards the end of the session, Nolan's mom and dad popped in for a few snaps. Their love for him and watching him play football over all these years was obvious. It was a reminder of how much my mom has done for my siblings and I over years of swim team, soccer, track, and more.

So, to the sports parents who've dedicated their week days and week nights to hustling around  kids to their practices and games... thank you. To the parents who've ever hosted pasta parties, or brought the "team snack"... thank you. To the parents who've muddied their freshly vacuumed cars for the sake of our muddy cleats.. thank you. And most of all, thank you for being our number one fans, braving weather hot and cold just to see us play.

                                          (I think I am done being nostalgic now) 

In November you'll be seeing more of Nolan and his 10 football buddies as they storm the field for a group senior sesh! Looking forward to bossing around 10 high school dudes while they willingly (yeah right) pose for pictures. 

The St. Leger Family

You've probably seen these two on my Instagram and blog posts multiple times over the years. They were my first models as I began photography and they are still willing to stand in front of my camera years later.

But, this time is different. Now, there is the teeniest, tiniest little babe stealing everyone's hearts. I still can't believe this little human is theirs and I get the opportunity to watch her grow before my very eye. She doesn't know how lucky she is (yet). My friend Amy, who I met while in Hawaii reached out saying she saw the picture and described her as "totally divine."  I don't think there's a better word to describe her!

From the start, Kaitlin and Dylan have been crushing it. Sleep deprived? Or course. But with the fuel of Rita's Mango Italian Ice, a little (or lot) of coffee, and Kailee's sweet little coos, anything is possible for them.

Before we began this sesh, I walked in and saw Kaitlin and Dylan wearing their "Mama Bear" and "Papa Bear" shirts that they wore for their birth announcement sesh. At that session, I gave them a baby bear swaddler because I was just so stinkin' excited for them. I squealed when I saw Kailee wrapped in it! WE'VE COME FULL CIRCLE PEOPLE.

Kailee, you're in the best hands. A household that will be filled with traditions old and new. Baked brown bread on Sunday mornings and long Saturday morning hikes. You're so loved.

Thank you to my besties for allowing me the opportunity to photograph their growing family. (Insert happy tears here).

Bryan + Jenn's Overhills Mansion Wedding

Full disclosure, Bryan and Jenn's wedding has been on my mind since I booked it with them well over a year ago. So much in fact that a few weeks ago while second shooting for a friend, I showed up to Overhills Mansion, and not the one I was suppose to be at. I subconsciously went to Bryan and Jenn's venue! (No worries, I was still on time to the other wedding) Needless to say, I've been excited for their big day for quite some time!

Bryan and Jenn met during their time at Stevenson College and since then have been through so much together already. Encountering hard losses, going to school, working, and being parents to their sweet baby girl, Annabelle. (They are doing an award-worthy job raising her) I am proud to know these two and can't wait to watch their love continue to grow as HUSBAND AND WIFE. 

Their wedding fell on the first day of Fall, so this was a doubly happy day for me because Fall is my all time favorite!

Some favorite & fun moments from this day:

  • Jenn sending her Maid of Honor to "Ice" Bryan and his Groomsmen
  • Their reactions to the love letters written by one another.
  • Jenn & Bryan walking back down the aisle to "I'm the One". All while her garter fell down her leg and I had to take it off!
  • The awesome cupcake tier (because cupcakes rule)
  • How sweetly they looked at one another all night

Thank you, Jenn & Bryan for allowing me to capture your big day! 

Superhero 1st Birthday Cake Smash

You may remember this little guy from my wedding blog post back in May when he was the "Ring Security" in Katie & Travis's wedding. When his mama reached out to me for a 1st birthday cake smash session, I was thrilled! I had never done a cake smash session, but it's secretly been on my photographer bucket list for a while now. And oh my goodness, the results did NOT disappoint.

The sesh was held at Jerusalem Mill Park, where Lauren and Bobby did their maternity pictures. And now, a quick year later, they returned to celebrate Trent's first birthday! 

Trent is one of the happiest little babes I've seen with the prettiest baby blues. He was all about the bubbles, balloons, giggles & most importantly, the cake (a boy after my own heart).  

Happy first birthday, Trent! (Yay for August birthdays)

Lindsey's Downtown Sykesville Senior Sesh

When I was graduating high-school, having senior portraits aside from the school's in-studio ones were just becoming a thing and I totally missed the boat. If I could go back and do a session outside of the classic drape photos, I would!

While I don't blog about every senior session I do (because there would be millions), I thought I would share Lindsey's since it was located in my cute little hometown, Sykesville!

Downtown Sykesville's brightly painted buildings, small town feels & locally owned shops may easily make it one of my favorite places to be. And, it's home to so many great places, including Norwood Ice Cream,  French Twist Cafe , Market Tavern ,  Gypsy Systers , Unwinded Candles , E.W. Becks & so many more!

Without fail, every time I photograph couples or seniors downtown, someone will drive or walk by and shout my name if they see me, and that shows a lot about the fab vibes of my small town. 

Between Lindsey's wardrobe that I want to steal, the black-eyed susan backdrop & her contagious smile, I don't think these photos could be filled with anymore sunshine! Wishing you the best of luck as you enter your final year of high-school!

Sean and Lindsay's Waverly Mansion Wedding

Lindsay & Sean have known each other for 29 years. Back in high school they both won 'Athlete of the Year' their senior year. They didn't know each other so well at the time, but in more recent years reconnected and now, they are married! (I love stories like theirs!)

I can honestly say that I've never seen a bride dance their heart out more than Lindsay did. Some highlights that I adore from their wedding include:

  • Andrew walking his mama down the aisle (sob)
  • Lindsay's daughter reading the poem "How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog" (Love this for obvious reasons)
  • The speeches given by the maid of honor and best man. Both were equally filled with laughter and heartfelt sentiments
  • Allll the dancing the bride and groom did throughout the night. They were so fun to watch!

Thank you Sean & Lindsay for having me celebrate your big day along with your kids, and closest family and friends! 

 

Thank you to all the vendors that made their day possible:

Second Shooter: Raelynn Phillips Photography

Flowers: Bay Blooms Floral Design

Catering: Catering by Uptown

 

Travis & Katie's Piney Branch Wedding

When I first met Katie and Travis during their engagement session last spring, I knew their wedding was going to be a fun time. During their engagement session we did fun photos on the golf course where Travis laid on the ground and Katie pretended to hit a golf ball off the tee that was in his mouth. So great! A clear sign that they were easy going and fun-loving.

They are both generous, kind spirited individuals who were made for one another. They are also a 'blue blood' family because Travis is a police officer! Katie is constantly talking about how proud she is of Travis and fully supports his line of work. It's not easy being related, let alone married to a police officer, but she wears the title proudly and for that I love them even more! (If you know me, you know how much I love the policing/ emergency responder community). 

Their wedding day was filled with so much love and a lot of rain! God bless Katie and Travis because despite the rain, we still managed to drive around in golf carts on the property for bride & groom portraits! 

Some highlights from their day that I love include:

  • Their wedding bands that look so stinkin' good together
  • That their last name is Queen. How awesome is that?! 
  • Katie's DIY sparkling blue shoes (Okay, I officially have a thing for sparkly shoes) 
  • The Ring Bearer wearing a  'Ring Security' shirt and dancing to Drake's 'Jumpman'
  • The total down pour that did not stop Katie & Travis from allowing outdoor photos on the golf course. 
  • A full dessert buffet with most of the deliciousness made by Katie's G-Mom. (And the fact that they cut an ice-cream cake!) 
  • Their sweetheart table that featured the cute little tree slice I gave them (crying)
  • The appearance of Michael Jackson (see below)
  • How happy they looked all day long!

A big thanks to all the vendors who helped put together this spectacular day! And, a special thanks to Raelynn  who helped me during the down pour and captured some really special moment throughout the day!

Hair & Makeup- Christy Sawa 

DJ- Carlos Silva

Day of Coordinator- Kari Patchek

Flowers- Jennifer McLaughlin

 

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Seniors Make Me Sentimental

How has it already been two years since I graduated college? As I approached Stephens Hall at Towson University this weekend, I was instantly greeted by two sorority sisters, which made me feel like I never even left. (Insert tears here). 

During one of my senior sessions at the University of Maryland this week I was asked what my favorite type of session is. Without hesitation I answered "Senior Sessions." If you're not one of my senior clients, please don't be offended! There's just something about the champagne popping, glitter throwing and overall giddiness of seniors that makes me feel excited and nostalgic. 

Every senior session I ask about their major, their involvement on campus and what their plans are for the future. This week's seniors truly seemed to have had the college experience I wish upon every student.

As I talked to each of them, they made me so proud, even when I hardly knew some of them! Between challenging majors, a Student Body President, an internship at Google (how cool!), studying abroad and holding positions within their sororities, these ladies truly have crushed the college game and I can't wait to see the positive impacts they will continue to make in the future. 

A common denominator shared by each of these four ladies? They all are a part of Greek Life! And yes, this is an unsolicited ad as to why you should join Greek Life. The volunteer experience, leadership opportunties, ability to connect with others on and off campus & forever friends are just a few reasons why it can help your college & working career! ANYWAYS.....

Congratulations to Angie, Katherine, Amanda & Sam and all those graduating this Spring from Universities across the world! 

 

Tim & Olivia's Springfield Manor Wedding

Seven years ago Tim asked Olivia to be his girlfriend in a Taco Bell parking lot. I honestly can't think of a better way to begin a love story. Now, over 7 years later, they are happily married and on Cinco de Mayo, of all days!

Their wedding kicked off my first of the year and it definitely was a fiesta like no other. Between the mountain views, 1700’s historic home, gorgeous fountain, Olivia's stunning gown, and incredibly fun wedding party & guests, what was not to love?! 

All week there was a 100% chance of rain for Friday which left everyone feeling a bit uneasy. When I woke up Friday morning, it was monsooning in my back yard. So, I packed up all the rainy day wedding essentials and hoped for the best. On my way there, the clouds broke in the sky and not a drop of rain fell again all day, leaving us with perfect overcast sky for photos!

Some of my favorite highlights from this day include, but aren't limited to:

  • Olivia's bedazzled Kate Spade Keds (High key recommend) 
  • Her first look with her bridesmaids
  • Tim's face as she came down the aisle
  • All of the break out dance battles throughout the night.
  • The fact that it did not rain!
  • Oh, and let's not forget the fun sparkler exist to end the night!

Thank you, Tim & Olivia for letting me be a part of your big day! 

A huge thank you to all the vendors who made this the best day ever!

Second Photographer: ASticePhotography- Angelina Stice 

Videographer: Positive Vibe Media - Zach Strouse 

Venue: Springfield Manor Winery & Distillery

Music: Crow Entertainment- CJ 

Hair & Makeup: Dorsey Beauty 

The Coolest Thing About Photography

In the last four years since beginning photography I've noticed growth. Growth in my work, my style, my network and best of all, those who I work with. I've watched (and photographed) high school seniors become college graduates, couples become married and marriages grow into families. Seriously, isn't that the coolest? 

Lately I've been reflecting on how much my work has changed and how far I've come since buying my first camera. Many people always think that anyone with a "nice" camera can take photos. I was one of those people. Much to my surprise, it's not so much the "nice" camera, as it is the person working it. Lighting, RAW files, white balance, ISO, Aperture, using an external flash etc. Who knew there was so much more than just clicking a button?

Today I've sharing images of my work from the beginning verse my work now. And while I have so much more progress to make, I am proud of how far I've come through educating myself through online workshops, collaborating with other photographers and simply from practice.

Enjoy looking at photos I once thought were the BOMB.com. The people in them of course are the bomb, however, my lighting, cropping and editing would definitely read on a report card "Room for improvement." 

 

If not now, when? Making time for family photos.

Making time in our schedules to update family photos is hard. It's not just hard, it's a task. Planning outfits, coordinating schedules, getting cooperation from every family member, finding a location. It's a challenge. So many of us say "Maybe next year," "It's too hard to make it happen," or "We don't have time" and put it to the back burner.

Coming from a family of five kids, all with different schedules, commitments & geographical locations, it has made it so hard to make time for family photos. We also struggle with the cooperation from some siblings (those who shall remain nameless). This year I'm saying enough is enough and making a session happen for the five of us.  

So, today, I am giving 4 reasons as to why you should stop putting off updating family photos and create time.

1.) Your iPhone Camera Roll Doesn't Cut it. Kids grow like weeds. Their appearances change all the time. I am sure your camera rolls are filled daily with images of your kiddos, but how high of quality are they? (No offense). And, if you're anything like me and don't back up your phone to iCloud, then your photos have the potential to be lost FOREVER. 

2.) It's the Perfect Excuse to Dress Up. Putting ourselves together some days is hard. Trust me, I know. To be honest, I wear the same 8-10 outfits each month to work, and even less variety when I am at home (leggings and a hoodie). We don't want to shop for new things and frankly, we sometimes hate trying to find something we feel comfortable in.

Once a year I encourage you to feel your best, pull your family together and take 30 minutes out of your weekend to make it happen. Side note: I want to encourage you to feel your best every day! 

3.) Photos Mark Moments In Time. Photos mark a moment in time. I've seen mom's cry over new photos of all their loved ones all in one image. And it's the best feeling in the world when I see that kind of happiness. I've heard people express how important new photos were to help mark a new chapter in their life after going through a rough time. 

4.) These Moments Are Fleeting. During a session last weekend, I watched three little brothers sit around a fire eating s'mores with their cousins. They ran around chasing one another, laughing, throwing plastic Easter eggs at one another, having no care in the world.

Although I am not a parent, I know how badly parents want to preserve the memories of their children's younger days. To imagine them as the sweet little kiddos they once knew. One way to preserve moments like that it through photography. I hope those three little boy's parents look back on the photos I took that day and don't necessarily remember who took their photos, but what their kid's lives looked like at that exact time. Simple, sweet & innocent.

 

My Besties & Their Baby Bear

I'm not entirely sure where to begin with this post, so I'll just begin with saying I am over the moon excited that my besties, Kaitlin & Dylan ARE EXPECTING A BABY (not an owl or dinosaur despite what the sonogram looks like) this September!!

I've heard people say that most women become parents when they find out they're expecting and most men become parents once they hold their baby for the first time. Not with Kaitlin and Dylan.

Dylan has been so hands on already helping Kaitlin plan and prep for this little babe's arrival. He's looked into backpack carriers for their hiking adventures and they both already talk about the values they want to instill in their little one. Needless to say, they are both already in parenting-mode! 

Between Kaitlin's organized, loving, patient teacher mind & Dylan's engineering brain and adventuresome self, I cannot find two people more fit for the role of parenting. I am thrilled to watch you both enter these roles and can't wait to spoil baby bear once he or she arrives this Fall! 

Can we also take a moment to appreciate how adorable their shirts for this shoot were? The cookies, created by Sugar Studio  were a gift to Kaitlin's mom for her birthday to share the big news. Birthday celebrations, beautiful cookies & a baby on the way? Does it get better than that?! Okay, I'm done gushing out how perfect these two are. At least until I meet sweet baby bear and can gush some more. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That "Hallmark Holiday", Valentine's Day

I'm not going to lie, it's been a hard past month. Zach and I both lost our Grandfathers within weeks of one another, leaving us stunned and hurt. We've slowly gotten ourselves back to normalcy after making our way to Florida for his Grandpa's service, and now helping plan my Grandfather's service for March. My Grandfather wrote to me once saying "Families teach us to love, and sometimes they teach us how hard it is to love. In either case, loving is a life skill that turns us into effective human beings. Loving makes you strong. It carries life giving power." So, this post is in honor of the most witty, well-spoken and well loved individual I've ever had the honor of knowing, my Grandfather. 

"Hallmark holiday" is a term used to describe a holiday that exists primarily for commercial purposes, rather than to commemorate a tradition or historical event. Valentine's Day is considered one of those holidays where it's given more hype than it should because due to a high volume of commercials featuring jewelry and chocolates. Plus, we all see the 'Love' section at Target and get suckered into buying all the things they have to offer. (Or is that just me...?) 

Today I am sharing some of my favorite photos from sessions that melt my heart every time I look at them. The last image is one of the last photos I personally took of my Grandfather. It's the epitome of what family teaches us, to love and support each other during our best moments. 

I challenge you this Valentine's Day to see it not as a "Hallmark holiday", but a chance to let the ones you love know you're thinking of them through a phone call, brunch, over a box of heart shaped donuts or through genuine quality time. 

 

XO,

Holly

 

Family Over Everything

Recently I made the difficult decision to no longer offer wedding services. It took me several months to come to terms that I truly don't have time for such a large commitment and expense. Couples getting married deserve for their photographer to be able to focus only on their clients, which I will be unable to do with a full time job AND photography after next year.

While my wedding photography door is closing after 2017, I am fortunate enough to continue with families, couples and seniors. I never envisioned these types of sessions to be the ones I loved the most, but I adore them each for different reasons.

One of my biggest joys this year has been seeing how you all have used the photos to mark a significant change in your life, addition to your family, or giving the gift of photos to a family member. My family is what drives me to work hard, inspire others and 'throw kindness around like confetti' (my favorite quote). Being able to chat with all of you in person and see the way you interact with family shows me how similar our minds are, which is so great! I have enjoyed every session this year and hope to be able to serve all of you in the future as you continue into 2017 for your next great adventure. To close out the year, here are some snaps from sessions throughout 2016!

Thank you to everyone who worked with me this year to make 2016 the best year yet for Holly Croft Photography!

XO,

Holly