Austin Family Portraits

Why Fall is the Best Season for Family Photos in Texas

About three years ago, after gaining a new writing client, I thought it was time to finally get some
professional headshots taken. The timing was perfect. I was updating my website and had created some
marketing materials so things were falling into place.  Everything was great, except for the fact that it was
the end of June, in Texas. Of course, the photoshoot needed to be outside to catch some of the amazing
natural light, which meant that I spent about three hours in the sun on a 103° day. Keeping the river of
sweat on my forehead from photobombing my professional shots proved to be more work than the mile-
long hike it took to get to the location of the shoot. I survived that shoot, but later on I thought about how
it could have easily been avoided had I planned for a shoot in the cooler months. Hopefully this post will
convince you to do the same.

So, Texas is finally getting some fall weather, which in the South typically means anytime the
temperature drops below 70 degrees.  Southerners have waited an excruciatingly hot six months (yes, six
months) of summer for these cool days. Now is the perfect time to get out there and take those family
photos. Why wait until the winter season to have your holiday card photos taken? Here are a few reasons
why the fall season is best time to line up little Timmy and Tanya or Rufus the labradoodle outside and
create photos that will last a lifetime

 

Tahoe family portraits

1. You Won’t Melt into a Puddle of Sweat.

Please see my story above.  Let’s face it, it’s hot as Hades in Texas between the months of June-October.
 Around the end of October we finally start to see glimpses of what I like to call, “Cold Front Season.”
 It’s not quite a normal fall in terms of getting cold and staying that way, it’s more like a cold front that
drops temperatures below 70 degrees for a few days, and then it jumps back up to 85°-90°. Either way,
you have to take advantage of the ability to actually sit (or stand) outside for longer than 30 minutes,
which means the photo shoot won’t leave you burned and applying aloe vera to your skin several days
later.  You can actually pick a shoot location outdoors and get some great natural lighting without melting
your face off!

family photos

2.  The Colors Duke, the Colors!

Summer is nice, but in Texas it tends to get so hot, that things just turn brown and die without some
diligence in watering. However, fall seasonal colors are the best.  The foliage is no longer getting beat up
by the unbearable summer sun and the leaves finally begin to realize that winter is coming.  What that
means for you is that there are lovely colors everywhere, and lovely colors mean lovely pictures.  Because
fall colors tend to be neutrals, you can color coordinate to your heart’s content.  In addition to the color
coordinating, the weather is cool enough to add in some additional matching accessories.  Try hats,
mittens, gloves or scarves for additions to your holiday card.

3. Holiday Props

In addition to cooler weather, the fall season welcomes in what the internet lovingly refers to as
“HallowThanksmas,” or the season in which we celebrate or prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and
Christmas/other holidays. What this means for you is that you have the ability to use lots and lots of props
of your choice in your photo shoots. Feel free to pull out that Menorah and Dreidel, plant yourself in a
pumpkin patch or pull out the famous ugly Christmas sweaters and lawn snowman. Try variations of all
of those things if you are feeling adventurous this year.  Just know that fall is the perfect season to take
advantage.

Hopefully this article encouraged you to go ahead and book your family photoshoot now. Take advantage
of the cool breezes, the awesome fall colors and the opportunity to pull out the Christmas tree early.  The
cool weather might not last for very long and come Christmas, we may very well be looking at a sunny 90
degree day.

Tahoe Family Photos

Plymouth CA Same Sex Wedding

Interviews: The Texas LGBTQ Wedding Experience

June 26th, 2015 was a day that changed the lives of many people in the United States. It was one of those days, that ingrained into many people, the memory of exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. For a few of my friends in Texas, waiting on the state to make same-sex marriage legal was beginning to feel like a hopeless dream but that Friday changed it all. On June 26, 2015, The Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage in all States and tears of joy, excitement, and hope were shed all around. Once they heard the news, couples could finally begin making those long-awaited ceremony plans. From where to find wedding photographers who shared a vision for their wedding (like…ahem, Lauren Lindley), to which traditional wedding aspects they should include. One of my oldest family friends was one of those couples who began planning. So, in honor of the recently celebrated Pride Parade in Austin, TX, I asked her and her close friend to share their Texas LGBTQ wedding experience. I believe these stories will help all couples find some joy, hope, advice and encouragement from reading.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Liz and Traci
Wedding Date: Dec 10th, 2015
Venue: Private Estate Backyard

How long have you been married? 1 year and 9 months

Tell me how you met. We met in Jr. HS. Liz asked Tracy to the Valentine’s Dance. Tracy said yes!

Was there an official proposal? If so, who Proposed? Yes! Liz proposed in California on Sunset Beach, at sunset. (I’ve been chasing Tracy for years. It was only appropriate to finally propose). We were also pregnant and thought we should act fast just in case something was overturned.

Did you decide to get married pre-supreme court decision or post?   We wanted to before but we were also expecting a baby. To protect my (Liz’s) rights, it seemed logical to rush it more than we originally had discussed.

Did that ruling affect your decision? Yes, to get married sooner rather than later. We were really worried it wouldn’t stick and hoping we could get grandfathered in.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Did you both want to have a wedding?  If not, why not?  Yes, but we dreamed of more of wedding ceremony with more family and friends present and not so much
of an elopement.

Were your families accepting of a wedding? If not, what were some of their concerns? Yes, our families were totally good with it. They were only sad they couldn’t all be there.

Did you decide on a big or small wedding?  Why? We did small for sake of time. We plan on throwing a bigger one at our 5-year anniversary.

Did you bring the standard traditions into your wedding (Ex: Father/Daughter Dance, throwing of the bouquet, etc.)? No, but we did write our own vows, and Tracy’s daughter held the rings.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Were there any new traditions you started? I’m not sure. We wrote our vows (not sure if that’s traditional or not), we had everyone we knew involved in some way at least. Sister-in-law signed our marriage certificate with the county, best friend was the officiant, our other sister-in- law was our photographer, we used our friend’s backyard, and our other friends made some yummy foods for after.

Did you have any vendors or did you completely do it on your own? Why? Completely on our own. Mostly because it was small and not necessary to use vendors.

Did you come across any discrimination during your planning? No, even getting our marriage license in small town Lampasas, just so Tracy’s sister could sign it, was still very welcoming.

Did you feel like you were treated like a heterosexual engaged couple? We just felt like a couple getting married. That’s all we ever wanted.

Tell me about your wedding day.  How did you feel after it was over? It was short and sweet. Even as I (Liz) was running a 103 temp, I still couldn’t be happier to look Tracy in the eyes to say I’d love to spend my life with her.

What tips would you give other same-sex couples preparing to plan their wedding in Texas?  Don’t give in to hate.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Prior to this interview, I had never heard Liz and Traci’s complete story but I will say that any couple can walk away from reading this with a few beautiful takeaways.

1. Elope!

(Just kidding, well maybe but definitely hire a photographer if you do)! But I think the takeaway from elopement is if you find love and you know, go for it. Life is unpredictable and if you wait for the perfect moment, you may never have it. See the opening and take it.

2. Even though Texas is a conservative state, most people are still good.

Texas gets a bad rap for being politically conservative and when it comes to politics and politicians that may be true, but the great thing about actual Texans is that they believe in decency and respect and most residents will still make sure you feel that.

3. Involve people who love and accept you in your wedding.

This day should be about you and your love, don’t allow people to come in and bring dark clouds to your special day. Don’t give in to another person’s hate. Surround yourself with love.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Mercury Hall Wedding

Perfect Wedding Venues for Your Outdoor Austin Wedding

“The stars at night are big and bright…. Deep in the heart of Texas.”  Indeed, they are.  If you have never heard of that song, two things:  You either did not attend elementary school in Texas where you were required to sing it for nearly every school performance, or you have not visited the Lone Star State during Texas Independence Day.  Either way, if you want the ultimate romantic backdrop for your wedding, look no further than the great outdoors, in the great state of Texas, specifically, in the city of Austin, which is in the actual heart of Texas.  Or, as my mother refers to it: The Holy Land. Austin offers an array of outdoor venues that set the perfect scene for your special day. Here are two outdoor Austin wedding venues that are worth checking out:

outdoor Austin wedding venues

 

 

Mercury Hall

The Scene:

You can find Mercury Hall on a secluded hilltop in the middle of the city.  This unique venue is just a few minutes from downtown Austin, but when you enter the property, you feel like you are in a small country town.  The venue features both an indoor and outdoor space, so there’s no need to fear the sometimes-problematic Texas weather.

The Important Stuff:

Wedding packages feature the venue rental in 5 or 10-hour intervals.  The rental includes both Mercury Hall (1400 square feet) and the outdoor courtyard (1800 square feet). Combined they seat up to 250 people.  If the weather is feeling extra angsty that day however, the hall itself will comfortably seat about 150 guests.  There are 75 parking spaces available, so you may need to consider renting a shuttle for guests or creating a carpooling system.

outdoor Austin wedding venues

Summary:

Mercury Hall may be the perfect venue for you if you are planning a smaller more intimate event and you want guests to be in the city near downtown and hotels. This location also provides you with a backup plan for your outdoor ceremony, in case the weather does not cooperate that day.

outdoor Austin wedding venues

The Inn at Wild Rose Hall

The Scene: If you ever dreamed of becoming a fairy and frolicking through the enchanted forest, then this is the venue for you. The Inn at Wild Rose Hall is a 4500-sq. ft. ranch about 20 minutes outside of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. The venue is both eclectic and charming and is surrounded by a forested area of Texas oak trees. Every inch of space seems to be set up for the perfect photograph.  To add to its appeal, it’s the former home of Tommy Shannon, the bass player for Stevie Ray Vaughn!  Oh, and did I mention there are farm animals?

The Important Stuff:

There are two main wedding packages available at the Inn. One is the full day option, which includes access to the property for your full wedding day. The other is the weekend package, which gives you lodging for up to 12 people (5 bedrooms plus a sleeper sofa) for two nights and access to the property from 2pm on Friday until 11am Sunday morning.  The venue is mostly outdoors, with a small indoor area so, fingers crossed here for great weather (choose your dates wisely). The owners truly value the care of the property so from March to November, the maximum guest count is 150 and from December to February, the maximum number of guests is set at 100. There is parking for up to 100 cars on the property and shuttle service is allowed.

outdoor Austin wedding venues

Summary:

The Inn at Wild Rose Hall is one of Austin’s best kept venue secrets and is ideal for you if you are planning a wedding during months of anticipated perfect weather or if you’ve ever had fantasies of being a character in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  It’s a magical place where you can be certain to catch the twinkling lights of the Texas stars.

Outdoor Austin Wedding Venues

Final tips for having an outdoor wedding in Austin, TX

These are just two of the unique outdoor venues that Austin offers. Keep in mind that these would be most ideal in perfect weather.  Texas’ weather however, can be a bit unforgiving certain times of the year, and late June-September in Austin tends to be extra sweltering. So, unless the idea of seeing sweat in the armpits of all of your groomsmen in your wedding photos sounds creative to you, when planning a wedding in those months, do your guests a favor and consider a venue that also includes an indoor space (with a fully functioning air conditioning unit).

outdoor Austin wedding venues

Trinity Overlook Park Portrait

Bishop Arts District Engagement | Dallas, TX | Ashley + Tim

I was thrilled when Ashley and Tim told me they were interested in having their engagement session done in my hometown of Dallas, TX and even more ecstatic when they picked the shooting itinerary that I secretly was the most excited about: a romp around the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff.  I’d been wanting to photograph a Bishop Arts District engagement session for years because of it’s quaint shops and bright colors and textures.  I had a feeling that it was going to be fun, urban and colorful and it totally paid off.  I always like to start sessions off with an adult beverage and this one was no different.  Unfortunately, our original plan was to meet at the uber colorful and outdoor space of the Foundry but I arrived to discover it was closed for a special event.  Womp, womp.

Instead, we ended up at the beginning of the district at Parker Barrows, which had fantastic open windows, local beers on draft, and cool subway tile.  We wandered our way through the district, stopping when inspiration struck and sampling chocolate (a must do!) at Dude, Sweet Chocolate, where the employee went above and beyond to let us sample almost everything in the shop.

We finished up at the Old Kemp House where local artist Eric Mancini has given it his colorful make-over and created a work of art.  There was a swing!   Finally, we drove over to the nearby Trinity Overlook Park to capture some golden hour goodness and the Dallas skyline.

No trip of mine to Dallas ever goes without a stop at Fireside Pies for dinner, usually in the company of my mom and her sisters.  My aunts weren’t available but Ashley and Tim accepted my invitation and we had an awesome evening over amazing pizza and great wine!

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Family Portraits at Lake Tahoe

Fallen Leaf Lake Portraits | Shreves Family

Matt and MC are two of my oldest friends.  They met me before I was even legally allowed to drink or dance until the wee hours of the night in clubs with them (but still managed to do so, of course).  We were young and irresponsible and now we’re old and probably still irresponsible.  Matt and MC spend a number of years away from Austin, right about the time that I moved to Tahoe, and started a family.  They are now back in the central Texas and have three hilarious girls who are as goofy, rambunctious and uninhibited as their parents are.  They brought the girls to Tahoe this summer for a family vacation and I was not only excited to meet the spawn of my friends who I had heard so much about, but to also show off my town.  I took them to see my friend Alex Ramon’s magic show (he’s the best!), we had breakfast together and, of course, took family portraits while they were here.

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Austin Family Portraits

Austin Family Portaits | The Hilder Family

Sometimes the stars align and shit just works out.

The day before I was set to fly to Austin to photograph Lisa and Michael’s Mercury Hall wedding an old friend and former co-worker reached out to me on facebook, asking when the next time I was coming to town was going to be.  They wanted family portraits while their youngest, Ranger, was still a roly-poly mess of adorable babyness.  Conveniently, I was basically en route and we scrambled together to find a time to meet while I was there.  When the world feels totally random and chaotic, there’s a sort of beautiful poetry in everything coming together just like that.  I guess that’s fate.  I am so thrilled I was able to see Stephen after so many years (10?!?) and meet his amazing rockstar wife and accommodate their request some awesome Austin family portraits for their family.  I had a blast!  Their eldest son, Maverick, is a spitfire of spunk, sass and hilarity.  He was pure entertainment the entire morning: hooting like an owl, spraying like a skunk, and generally just strutting his stuff.  When the internet has me feeling dismayed and sorrowful, all it takes is a few glances at the photos of this family to make me smile.

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Mercury Hall Wedding

Mercury Hall Wedding | Austin, TX | Lisa + Michael

You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful Texas summer day than the one Lisa and Michael were graced with for their Mercury Hall wedding in Austin, TX.  Perfect bluebird skies brightened up their day and although it was warm, by Texas standards it was downright pleasant, especially in the shade.  Their wedding featured an outdoor afternoon lunch catered by Hoover’s with some of the best brisket I’ve had in quite some time, beers from Real Ale brewing company (Fireman’s 4 is my Texas summer jam), and a traditional Reiki ceremony from her maid of honor Katie.

Lisa was incredibly stunning.  Two wedding dresses were double the fun and I was head over heels for her Watters ceremony dress.  It was flowy and delicate – a great compliment to the Austin afternoon.

I hadn’t been back to Mercury Hall in quite some time.  It’s such an incredible venue right in the heart of Austin, TX!  Despite the fact that a very important basketball game was on simultaneously, the dance floor eventually got going and even grandma couldn’t keep her feet still.   I’m so happy I was connected with this rad couple via Thumbtack – I had such a blast dancing with their friends and family.  We all know that I love Austin and I can’t wait to return for more weddings at Mercury Hall!

Also, super huge thanks to my good friend and fellow wedding photographer Lisa for stepping in and being my second for the day.  This was an adventurous weekend and I actually photographed a wedding the day before in the Bay Area, took a red eye to Texas and slept on the plane and then went straight to Lisa and Michael’s wedding for more wedding fun.  It was an absolute blast of a whirlwind weekend!  I knew when I made arrangements that it was either going to be amazing or terrible and it was amazing.  Working is always more fun with a good friend alongside you!

Venue: Mercury Hall | Officiant: Reverend Jacqueline (Jackie) Hammett | Florist: Petals, Inc | Bakery: Coco Paloma Desserts | Catering: Hoover’s Cooking |  Guitarist: Josè Manuel Tejeda | DJ: Toast Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: Watters and Pronovias  from Serendipity Bridal | Bridal Party Attire: BHLDN | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: JC Penney and Bows-N-Ties | Makeup: Rachel George at W3ll People | Hair: Bethany Lessick | Hairpieces: Aya Jewellery | Second Photographer: Lisa Hause

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Montesino Ranch Wedding

Montesino Ranch wedding | Wimberley, TX | Kelley + Neal

This Wimberley TX wedding venue has everything an outdoor Texas gal could want: beautiful hill country views, a sweeping ranch, greenhouses, a huge rustic barn, and most importantly, goats!  I loved it so much I can’t wait to return!  In short, I feel incredibly grateful to be Kelley and Neal’s photographer of choice to capture their incredible wedding day.  They pulled out all the stops, and I would, of course, expect nothing less from this stylish couple.  Contigo (and their new restaurant Chicon) have long been some of my favorite Austin haunts so I was overjoyed to learn that they’d be roasting a pig for dinner!  Kelley and my best mate Haley (and I, it should be mentioned) grew up with a love of deep dark house music so as expected, there were plenty of bright flashing party favors passed out to bring the dance party to the next level.  The only thing I regret about this wedding is that it’s over and done with – I wish we could hold it all over again!  Congratulations Kelley and Neal!

Venue: Montesino Ranch | Planner: Couture Details | Caterer: Contigo Catering | Bakery: Sugar Shack Bakery | Florist: Rosehip Flora | Invitations: Crane & Co | DJ: Greenbelt DJ | Music: Davey Schrank | Bride’s Attire: Winnie Couture | Veil: John’s Alterations | Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn | Makeup: Stacey Matthews | Hair: Danaan Patrick | Rentals: Loot Vintage Rentals and Marquee | Second Shooter: Alejandro “Tico” Mendoza

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Montesino Ranch Wedding

Montesino Ranch Wedding | Kelley + Neal | Sneak Peek

I think that we all were incredibly excited about Kelley and Neal’s Montesino Ranch wedding.  And then the forecast came out: Texas was going to get so much rain over the course of the wedding weekend that flooding was not only possible, but highly probable.  Montesino Ranch is an incredible venue, but offers a few unique challenges: wedding ceremonies are generally held on a gorgeous hilltop overlooking the Wimberly countryside.  Receptions are held down below, outside on the lawn and in the barn on the ranch property (goats included).  As such, folks have to be shuttled by bus up to the ceremony site but if it rains at all, the buses can’t get up the road.

Kelley was nervous.  I was nervous for Kelley.  One of her bridesmaid’s emphatically assured us that she had been praying for a long time and that she knew without a doubt that even though it started pouring as the girls were getting ready, that everything was going to be fine and that it was going to stop and that the ceremony would go as planned.  I, frankly, thought she was blowing smoke up our asses.  She was not.  Ashley, your prayers do not go unheeded: way to make it un-rain.

In the end, Kelley and Neal had a beautiful ceremony and the rain held off for most of the day.  I can’t wait to share more from their Wimberly, TX ranch wedding!

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White Sparrow Barn Wedding

White Sparrow Barn Wedding | Quinlin, TX | Teddy + Janet

Teddy and Janet are awesome.  I’m 110% certain that you can’t mention Teddy in my family without someone exclaiming, “I LOVE JANET!”  Teddy, this is your future: being overshadowed by love for your wife.  To be honest, I’m also 110% certain that Teddy is absolutely overjoyed for this to happen.  He will be the first to tell you that Janet is not only the most important person in his life, but the best thing that’s ever happened to him.  I know he’s secure in himself enough to be okay with the situation because frankly, there’s no lack of love for Teddy in my family, or any of the families that surround him.  And now, this love extends and envelopes Janet as well.

Teddy grew up with my “little” brother and they have a very tight knit group of friends to this day.  Despite Teddy’s distance and independence from the rest of the group, most of whom still live in Dallas, everyone adores him.  Woe be upon the friend who moves away from the group!  They now all also adore Janet.  I can’t imagine what it was like for Janet to meet Teddy’s boisterous friends for the first time, but I can say with confidence that I’m glad I grew up with them, instead of having to be introduced to them.  As my brother would say, “Dukes for life.”

It was hard to pick just a few frames to share from Teddy and Janet’s wedding.  Teddy’s family hails from Liberia, Africa and with almost 200 people in attendance, half of which were in traditional African wedding attire, it made for an incredibly colorful wedding.  My mother makes an appearance below, learning how to twerk.  The infamous plastic vuvuzela made an appearance not only to introduce the ceremony, but through out it.  Teddy’s mother and her church members catered the entire dinner, offering some traditional African dishes that were amazing!  She made the best cabbage I’ve ever had!

I’m so happy for Teddy and Janet.  Much like the rest of my family, I absolutely adore both of them.  They are an incredible powerhouse dynamic duo: bright, smart, adventurous go-getters that remind me of myself.  I know that they will achieve each and every one of their lofty dreams in life, together.

Venue: White Sparrow Barn | Invitations: Papersource | Florist: Whole Foods | Bakery: Sugar and Ice Custom Cakes | Bride’s Attire: Bridal Warehouse | Veil: Alain Patterson Couture | Bolero Designer: Alter My Heart | Groom’s Attire: Jos A. Bank

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