Being a Voice for Church Communicators

This year, I was asked to become a Board Member for Center for Church Communications (CFCC).

CFCC are the innovators behind the fun Church Marketing Sucks blogpodcast, the instigators of the revolution in Church Communications that we have seen in the last decade, and the leaders of the #CertLab (one of THE best training classes I’ve been to for church communicators). Since I’m only in year two of my tenure as a Church Communications Director, to be asked to participate in the board has been an incredible honor.

My job is to serve CFCC as the voice of church communicators who are in their first five years of service.

What do I think about church communications at NCC? Take a look at the article posted today at CMS and see!



To First Look or Not to First Look | Weddings

Most of the brides and grooms that I capture are of the more traditional sort, so when I offer the possibility of a “First Look” they immediately decline.

First looks are beneficial in that they allow the bride and groom to get out their pre-wedding jitters and have some non-distracted “alone time” that typically does not happen if they are going from wedding, to pictures, to reception.

It also allows for the bride and groom to get the pictures out of the way so they can move straight from the wedding ceremony into celebration.

All of my brides and grooms have opted out of the first look with each other, so I have created an alternative “first look.”

My “first look” happens when daddy sees his daughter for the first time.

Because at this point of the brides life, her dad has typically lived with her much longer than she has lived with her husband-to-be, and I believe that because of this, dad deserves a special time with his daughter to see the woman that she has become. A woman that he will now entrust to his soon to be son-in-law.

Daughters also need this time to be adored by their fathers. They need that moment to remember who is handing them over to the man of their dreams because typically, their father was the first man of their dreams.

In each of the weddings I have performed, I set up the scene so that dad has to wait to see his daughter until she is fully dressed (veil and all).

Typically I will place a closed door between them, or if I can’t do this, I will have dad turn his back and face the other way until his daughter is in her place. Once she is situated, I then either open the door, or turn dad around to see his beautiful daughter.

Every time I have watched a first look between a dad and his daughter, it is as emotional as watching a groom with his bride.

Dad has that uninterrupted last moment with his daughter to share how proud of her that he is. He is able to see how she has matured so that he has confidence that he can place her lovingly into the arms of the man she will marry.

This time – to me – feels as sacred as when the groom first sees his bride and realizes that she will soon become his wife.

How do you build in sacred “first look” time with your brides and grooms and their family and friends?





A Marriage Made in Heaven | Mashley 2013

One of my favorite things to do is capture the wedding of someone I’ve known for a long time.

Ashley and I first met when I was working at MBC and I immediately loved her. She has a sweet spirit that is so authentic and an ability to embrace life to the full even when it lets her down. Matt and I met back in the days of “old school Frontline” (aka, prior to 2004) and I always admired him for his tenacious faith and joy.

In 2010, after a teary-eyed office drop-by from Ashley (one of her beau’s had not been as kind as he could have been to her), I decided to create a prayer-minder for my desk. It was a little pink post-it that I carried from job to job, praying for Ashley to meet her future husband.

 Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 12.07.19 PM

Fast forward two years as Matt enters the scene.

I met Matt in the early days of Frontline, a young adults ministry of MBC. He impressed me immediately as a fun-natured man who was hopelessly in love with Jesus. He serves with his heart and his hands and always with a smile on his face.

When he and some other friends were attending Dallas Theological, I stopped by to visit, and what I remember most was a young man, sitting behind a huge stack of theology books attempting to learn Greek.

Ashley always said she wanted a man who loves Jesus. A man who is chivalrous and puts others first.

Matt has always been known for how he runs hard after Jesus. And he opened every.single.door for Ashley on their first date.


As soon as they started dating I knew they would end up together.

When Ashley first told me about their relationship I was like “well of COURSE these two are together!” My only mental conniption was me not thinking of this matchmaking stroke of genius myself!

For me the charm and beauty of this wedding was being a part of watching the story evolve (hence, why I love shooting couples that I know). I’d be lying if I said my eyes were dry through the whole wedding. From the “first look” I did between Ashley and her dad, to the “I love you’s” whispered at the altar between Ashley and Matt, to their first kiss, to the dance with Matt and his mom… there were several moments that made me glad I had a tissue in my pocket.

Simply stated, I am in love with Ashley and Matt falling in love and getting to spend the rest of their life together because sometimes couples come along and you just know that the world is a better place because they have found each other.

Congratulations Mashley and may you be blessed and have joy for the rest of your days together! 

Getting Ready getting ready mashley


b and g mashley

The Ceremony


The AH-mazing friends and family

fandf mashley

Divine Details


Rockin Reception

reception mashley


Special thanks to Peter Rice – my photog mentor and friend – for capturing this wedding with me! You are a blessing!

Are we entitled to freedom?

Walking along the Pacific coast yesterday, I contemplated freedom.

Basic human freedoms like, well, walking along a beach, eating food that I want to, going where I want to go on vacation, even taking a vacation when I want to.

As the sand splayed through my toes, I was contemplating the blessing of freedom and thinking about how I have never lived without basic human freedoms. Watching the fishermen flock to the pier at Pismo Beach I wondered if they were fishing because they wanted to, or because they had to as a result of lack of household income.

It made me grateful for the fact that I never had to worry about an empty belly. 

My mind wandered to my beach time in Burundi, Africa in 2010 as well as my time at IJM learning about how many children and families were forced to work in the fishing industry (Lake Volta, Ghana). I grieved over the fact that some of them would never know freedom, unless someone like me intervened to provide rescue.

As I gazed through the planks on the pier, I was saddened that many people in our world would never know the peace of determining where they would next take a step – because their captors were determining their steps for them.

It made me wonder why freedom is seen as a basic human right for all people. 

I wondered why a lack of freedom for subgroups of humanity inflames other free humans to respond. I contemplated the fact that lack of physical freedom often causes the crushing of one’s soul. I wondered if we have a “right” to freedom or if freedom is granted as a “privilege” … I wondered how  some people could be physically enslaved but mentally “free,” whereas others were physically free but mentally enslaved.

This is how my mind wanders when my feet do… and I came to no resolution about this concept of freedom.

What about you? How do you view freedom and what has it meant to you?



Birthing of a Writer | The Slow Return to Blogging – Part II

This past several months offline has given me time to reflect on what is important to me

My second personal core value is “nurture creative expression” and I spent the majority of 2011-2012 doing that on my blog through photography. I loved every minute of it.

But limiting myself to solely photographic expression is not being true to the other areas of creativity that encompass who I am.

I am also a writer and find great fulfillment in spilling my heart-thoughts onto a blank canvas. It would be great to believe that these thoughts positively impact someone out there – but even if they don’t – these words that tumble out of my heart are still memorial stones on my journey that need a place to reside.

2013 has birthed a chapter and a half of my book and the words-not-yet-formed need a place to sit, to be tried out, to be explored before they are committed to the permanence of a publisher.

The Princess Behind The Mask book has been 10 years in the oven but to pull it fully out I’m realizing that I need to commit to the weekly discipline and rhythm of writing.

I’ve probably written these commitments down more for myself than for anyone out there since I write to think and process. I’m ok with that. So in the coming months I will be writing as well as photographing and I’m really looking forward to it!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Five Minute Friday | Wonder 2012

My word for 2011 was WONDER.

I learned so much through photography, through interacting in new ways with God, through self-reflectiveness. There is so much about WONDER that I am still learning… every day. So much God has to say about wonder.  Wonder led to a greater concentration on the concept of faithfulness… because when I was faithful, God showed me His wonders.

My word for 2012 was risk.

I’ve learned that when I step into risk… I see the amazing wonder of God show up in mighty ways. But risk also caused me to wonder for a lot of this year and I found myself asking…

God, I wonder if you are going to show up?
I wondered what has been happening with me and blogging… is it going away or staying?
Will my marriage ever fully improve, I wonder?
I wondered if John and I would ever find a church…
I wondered why I was losing my drive to be a primary wedding photographer and beginning to prefer being a second for Marirosa…
I wondered why God would send me to one company… only to then trot me off to another…

When I stepped into October and a second new job for the year… I began meditating on the word “Rise” and knew this would be my focus for the remainder of the year.

Somehow these are all connected… Wonder… Faithfulness… Risk… Rise…

…and as I reflect on this journey I know there are lessons and joys to be found in each season, of each word and God in his wondrous wisdom is leading me through each stage, and my wondering about where I am at any given point is not important – only knowing that He has me – that is what is key.

Handwriting by Gitz

Five Minute Friday

Divine Details | Ross & Laurie’s Pride and Prejudice Themed Wedding

“OOOOO the ribbons!!!”

I texted that to Laurie as soon as I walked into the ribbon-lavished reception site… it was so reminiscent of the scene in Pride and Prejudice where the future Mrs. Darcy and Mr. Darcy were endlessly flirting. Laurie had strews Starbucks-green and plum ribbons everywhere throughout the ceremony site and it was that divine touch of “extra” that gave the ceremony flair.

Each table had it’s own unique vintage-chic centerpiece with an assortment of monogrammed bags of coffee for guests. The place card holders were mini-Starbucks cups filled with yummylicious Starbucks chocolate beans and name-flags.

Ribbons adorned the twinkly lights and grape-vines that were strung from the tent roof.

The maids were beautified in empire-waist plum dresses that matched the bride’s ever-so-perfect plum colored shoes and even Ross got into the action by wearing perfectly darling purple socks!

No detail was spared for this picturesque wedding… everywhere your eye would look, there was a detail so engaging, so inviting… what a beautiful day!

Nurture Photography Autumn 2012 Photo Challenge

Live and Love...Out Loud Angry Julie Monday
The Paper Mama Photo Challenge

Beautiful Brides | Laurie

For me as a photographer, there is nothing better than a beautiful bride.

Unless it is an absolutely stunning bride… like Laurie.

The backdrop for the wedding of Ross & Laurie provided the perfect scenery to show off Laurie’s lovely delicate beauty and her fun choice of wedding dress. We wandered around the manor looking for a great place to do her bridal portraits and when she stood in front of the negative space of this delicious green tree, I knew we had found “the spot.”

There were several moments as the wind blew, or she interacted with her maids, or she stood awaiting to walk the aisle with her dad that are so memorable for me. Her natural beauty just radiated the entire day and it was so fun to capture special moments of this stunning bride and her friends and family…

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge
Photobucket Photography love...
Sweet Shot Tuesday with Kent Weakley Photobucket

My Starbucks Couple | Ross & Laurie’s Pride and Prejudice Themed Wedding…

It is impossible to tell you what was my favorite part of Ross & Laurie’s wedding.

It is even more impossible to choose just a few pictures… so I decided to share all of Ross & Laurie’s favorites with you….

The setting for their special day was like a scene out of Pride & Prejudice – Ross & Laurie’s favorite movie.

The trees had just popped into their peak fall coloring, so my photog partner-in-crime, the illustrious Peter Rice and I, had a hard time not overshooting!

Ross & Laurie and their team of creatives (Ross’ mom, Laurie, and Laurie’s friends) had not spared any details. The trees were trimmed, the ribbons were hung, the winery-vines were wrapped, and the twinkle lights were twinkling. Even the horses had come out to graze in the field, and they were the perfect backdrop to the paint-dotted trees.

Laurie’s dress was straight out of P&P and when she rounded the corner to walk down the aisle and the wind picked up, it carried her dress into a gentle a-symmetrical flow just like Elizabeth Bennet’s dancing dress at the ball!

The number of times I caught my breath at the magic of this day are too many to be counted.

And that is what it is about right? Those magical moments that make you pause… the ones that capture you and invite you into the scene… to not only witness, but be a part of the story that is writing itself.

As much as my heart was sad because – as a photographer – the story from dating, to engagement, to wedding had come to a close… I was rejoicing because I knew the beautiful story of Ross & Laurie’s marriage was just beginning… and they invited me to be a witness to this new beginning…

As a photographer, it is the highest form of compliment to be invited into a pinnacle moment like a wedding. 

When a couple invites you to paint a picture of their special day. it’s sacred. Not to be taken lightly. It makes you invested – not only as a photographer, but as historian, story-teller, and benchmarker.

When the couple celebrates their first anniversary, it will be your photos they look at as they share their year-old wedding cake.

When they have their first fight… she will pick up her wedding album and remind herself why she loves him. You took those pictures.

When they have children – God willing – she will show her little girl the dress she wore… and he will share with him how much he loves mommy.

When they celebrate their 50th anniversary, your pictures will be the backdrop.

You are a part of them. They are a part of you. That is a sacred trust… 

There are so many moments and details of Ross and Laurie’s wedding that I want to share… so enjoy the video this weekend, and I’ll be back next week to share more!

I would also be remiss not to give my girl Marirosa a shout out… so many of the shots I was able to get at Ross & Laurie’s wedding were a direct result of her investment in and mentoring of me as a photographer and I am SO grateful!





Scavenger Hunt Sunday | Light & Dark

Going Back in Time

Whenever I see old cameras, I always wonder how film photographers did what they do. I rely on chimping so much and my little viewscreen, to attempt to “do photography” without that advantage seems so daunting. All that to say, film photogs are seriously my heroes!

*Jenny Rain Photography for Photography by Marirosa*

Something Just for Me

Two weeks ago was the first wedding I assisted in with my new Canon 5d Mark III. This was the first picture I took at said wedding with my Canon. It is SOOC. No edits. It was also the picture that I took that has fully hooked me on my new Canon. The light is just ooey-gooey… oh my heart! *swoon* (More  pictures coming on Wednesday)

Best Part of My Day

My morning time with God… time to center myself and let go of all of the anxiety that the world tries to hand over. I’ve had a harder time  letting go lately and as anxiety has wrapped itself like a blanket around my soul. Yet I return to this place every day, in the morning, to celebrate the best part of my day. Because it’s not about the state of my soul, but about who God is. It’s not about what I can or can’t bring to the table, but about what God brings. And that is what makes it the best part of my day.

Night and Day

It is the LORD who created the stars, the Pleiades and Orion. He turns darkness into morning and day into night. He draws up water from the oceans and pours it down as rain on the land. The LORD is his name! (Amos 5.8)

Look Up

How often do you look up? I’m realizing that I don’t look up as much as I could… metaphorically and literally speaking.


The Paper Mama Photo Challenge
Photobucket Photography love...
Sweet Shot Tuesday with Kent Weakley Photobucket


I'm a natural connector both online and IRL and I become positively giddy when my diverse communities collide with one another!