Colleyville, Texas Portrait Session: Meet the Montgomerys

Meet the Newlyweds, Larry and Mary Beth Montgomery! These two crazy kids tied the knot just a little over a week ago and we had the chance to document the last few days of their engagement. These guys had been in my books for quite some time but the weather in Texas just wasn’t agreeing with our schedules. No worries though! Just as they were approaching the finishing line, the sky cleared up and we ended up shooting their engagement photos on the first really nice spring day in North Texas!

Larry had purchased this session for his then-girlfriend over Christmas. He knew that she would love to have a few photos taken of her with her little boy, Liam. Little did she know that Larry would propose shortly after and this session would become their first shoot as a Family of 3!

MONTGOMERY-10After checking the weather for several weeks and praying for a day without rain, we decided to meet just 7 days before their “I-Dos” at the Colleyville Nature Center. Mary Beth had stressed that she wanted nature to be a the forefront of importance in their portraits because both Larry and Mary Beth lead active lifestyles. Located smack dab in the middle of the metroplex, the Nature Center would be an awe-inspiring backdrop. Spring had just begun and the flowers were blooming all over the park.

They arrived in style. Seeing that they were so close to the big day, Mary Beth had arranged to have her Hair & Make Up Trial that morning and she showed up looking fabulous! I fell in love with her skirt and the simple black off the shoulder top was a beautiful complement to her jeweled necklace and long dark locks!

To boot, the boys were  dressed simple, casual and so very perfect. Larry brought a classic neutral gray suit jacket to wear over his button down and Liam looked picture-perfect with his black and white gingham backwards hat and red corduroys. It was the perfect combination of style and laidback glam.

DID I MENTION THE ROCK ON HER FINGER? Holy moly, it is gorgeous. It is shiny and beautiful and looks oh-so perfect on her freshly manicured fingers! I even gave Larry a High Five! Good Job Buddy!

We strolled around the park stopping underneath fresh blooms and by the various waterways that surround the Nature Center for  photos of this sweet new family. If truth be told, it seemed to me like they had been a family for quite some time.

Liam really loves his Mama. It’s hard not to notice the way he looks at her. But, he really admires Larry too. You can tell. He looks up to him and has this ease about playing and joking with his StepDad that comes with an air of trust and respect. It made my heart so happy to see them all lovingly holding hands and embracing this new journey they were about to take off on.

Our last stop was by the ponds. I had promised Liam that he could take a few photos. I try do this with all my sessions because you would be amazed at the authenticity of the smiles you get when the little ones become the one behind the lens. Liam had Larry dipping his Mom and was posing her all kinds of funny ways.  He really enjoyed himself and I was glad to see his perspective documented so naturally.

I had asked them to bring a blanket to sit on. This is usually an easy photo. Not with these guys though. I was crying laughing at Larry on that blanket. He could not get comfortable to save his life. We tried so hard to make it work and in the long run, the photos were really cute but only they and I will know what a struggle that blanket was. Larry kept tipping over and wrestling to get comfy. Liam and Mary Beth couldn’t keep it together while watching him struggle. I hope that in 20 years from now, these guys still laugh at that memory that way I do.

Congratulations to the Montgomerys! I could not be happier for you guys! I wish you a wonderful and prosperous life together and I appreciate you allowing me the opportunity to document this very special time in your lives!

Dallas Fort-Worth Holiday Portrait Session: The Auten Family

Hey guys! We are back with another Dallas Fort Worth Holiday Portrait Session! This time around, I met the kindest family at River Legacy Park in Arlington, Texas for an early morning Holiday Photo Shoot!

Mom, Victoria, reached out in the fall after having won a Rustie Nail Gift Certificate in an auction at a Save-the-Boobies event to raise money for Breast Cancer Research. My good friend, Cassie (who is about to be up on the blog with her adorable family and maybe even a few chickens), helps coordinate this event each year and I am always happy to donate a Portrait Session to help raise money for this cause.  I was over the moon that this family had bid and won so I wanted to make sure they had a great experience!

It was an early Saturday morning when we met and I was….wait for it…..late. I HATE BEING LATE!! Seriously though, it is the worst especially after Mom had warned that the boys would be cranky having to have gotten up so early on a Saturday. I even left my house super early so I could scope out the scene and check my lighting but go figure, Dallas-Fort Worth traffic got in my way. Thankfully, these guys were so great about it. They were calm and cool and ready to go from the beginning.

I met their youngest, Vaughn, first. He is a quiet little guy. Like most guys, he’s not too keen on smiling. He’s content being himself and confident in the way he presents himself which is something I really admire about him. Big brother, Josh, has the craziest head of curly hair and a really great smile when he busts it out. This guy is on the precipice of adulthood and you can totally tell that he’s ready for the next adventure.

On to Mom and Dad…these two are seriously so ga-ga for one another. When I ask most couples to impromptu dance in a field, they hesitate and fumble with how to hold one another or spin around but not these two. From the minute I asked them to pair up, they began twirling and laughing together. The way Norman looks at Victoria reminds me of the way Noah looks at Allie and I kinda love it. (#theNotebookisstilltheBESTmovieEVA)

After running around near the paddling trails of the Trinity River, we started making our way towards an open field with a few Christmas trees because I freaking love Christmas and these guys came prepared to hike around with me!

Again, these two with the dancing. Could they be more adorable?

Once we’d manage to snag individual shots of everyone, I wanted to make sure  we got good ones of Mom with her boys! This was the moment that Vaughn gave me the biggest smile. His Mom just gave him a big bear hug from behind and low and behold, the boy was grinning from ear to ear!

After snagging a few shots of Dad with his boys, I set out the blanket that Mom and Dad had brought along so we could grab a few more of this sweet family all together. You would never have guessed it but we are right next to a major highway and that’s another thing I love about this job. Sometimes it is about creating an illusion and other times its’ about overcoming that obstacle but regardless, I love the challenge and this sweet family had the notion to trust my vision.

As we came to the end of our session and we were making it back to the car, we stopped one last time to take a few photos in front of the changing leaves. Fall in Dallas-Fort Worth doesn’t last very long and Victoria kept that in mind while planning her session so I made sure to get her some really bold photos with those golden leaves in the background.

I could not have dreamt up better clients to take a hike with on a chilly fall morning in Texas. Thank you to the Auten family for allowing me to document this special time in your lives and thank you for your generous donation for Breast Cancer Research. Every little bit helps and we are so thankful for people like you who donate your time, energy and love towards a cause that affects us all.

If you would like to donate to Breast Cancer Research or to inquire how you can help at next years Save the Boobies event….head here.

The Kramer Family Portrait Session

Hey guys! I’m back at it again with another adorable Family Portrait Session. This time around, I met up with the Kramer Family in Grapevine, Texas to snag a few family photos. Meet Joey, KD, Joss and Emily!

You may notice this little girl, Josslyn. She has been featured on our blog before during the Waters Family Portrait Session. That shoot was all about cousins, brothers and sisters but this shoot was all about the immediate Kramer Family, just Mom, Dad and their sweet baby girls.

KRAMER -28We initially met in downtown Grapevine near Tolbert’s to take a few pictures of Dad, Joey. He was in need of a few headshots for his up and coming chiropractic office and we both thought Main Street would provide the perfect backdrop. But more about those Headshots later…

After Daddy’s photoshoot, we headed to a section of shoreline called “Katie’s Woods”. Located near the boat ramp at Grapevine Lake, the cypress trees lining the small beach front would be perfect for blocking out that harsh morning light. Both babies were all smiles.

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KRAMER -38After a few test shots, I was ready to start posing these guys. But, they were all about play. Joey and KD lovingly tossed their little ladies in the air while each of them giggled endlessly. These 2 photos pictured above are my absolute favorites from their session. You can see how stoked the girls are by just looking at the huge smiles on their faces. Pure Joy Y’all!

Once we all had calmed down a bit, Joss was all about loving on her baby sister, Emily. She kept reaching over to tickle her and give her kisses on the cheek. KD and Joey have some heartbreakers on their hands so they better watch out!

After we managed to get a few of all 4 of them looking at the camera, Dad headed back into work for a little bit while mom, KD, stayed behind to grab a few photos of just the girls! While KD changed their outfits, I got a small blanket out so we could set Miss Emily down without getting her all dirty.

Does this girl have the prettiest blue eyes or what? And man oh man was she a happy little girl. She kept smiling at her Mommy and not once did she try to take her headband out of her hair. She even let me love on her for a little bit. While KD was changing Joss into her 3rd Birthday tutu, Emily and I bounced around in the shade.

We managed to get a few of the girls together but it was getting pretty hot out by then so I didn’t want to test their patience. We had started at 7 AM and it was nearing 8:30 when we realized how high the temperature outside had raised. Luckily, the breeze blowing off the water kept everyone in a good mood.

KRAMER -63Or maybe my iPhone playing Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” on repeat kept them in a good mood! Seeing that Joss is a Trolls fan, like so many of us have been or are, I figured this song might help Princess Poppy with her twirling!

We ended their shoot by letting Joss don her 3rd Birthday tutu and wand! With that big pink bow in her hair and the colored pom-poms on the inside of her rainbow colored tutu, Joss proved to be just about the cutest 3 year old in the whole wide world! I had a blast shooting this family’s session and I look forward to seeing lots more of these guys in the future!

For information on how to book your unique Portrait Session, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com or head to our Instagram page (@therustienail) to follow along with upcoming events, mini session and travel dates!

Piccolo Mondo Celebrates 35 Years with Another Best Of Fort Worth Nomination

For those of you who don’t know, I lead a double life. When I am not shooting newborn sessions and engagement photos, I spend my time working as a Manager and Bar Maiden at Piccolo Mondo Italian Restaurant in Arlington, Texas! Over the past 35 years, this restaurant has become a special place to so many. To Owner and Operations Manager, Antonio Capaccioli, Piccolo Mondo is more than just a family-run business, it has become a second home. Just ask the patrons who are still coming back after all these years!

 

  Piccolo Mondo can only be described as a fine dining establishment focusing on genuine Italian cuisine, prime steaks and fresh seafood. As one of the last white tablecloth dining options in Arlington, Piccolo continues to provide a quality customer service experience all the while upholding the tradition of consistently tasty authentic Italian dishes. 2018 will be no exception. We have been nominated for the Star Telegram’s 2018 Fort Worthy Best Italian Restaurant and voting will end on June 11th!

 

Located just miles from AT&T Stadium off of Lamar Blvd., the menu is classic Italian fare. Appetizers such as Calamari Fritti, Prosciutto e Melone and Crostini di Burrata are a few of the patron favorite appetizers. I suggest the Antipasto Misto or the Stuffed Mushrooms. Paired with a Ferrari Carano Siena red wine, either are to die for! Whether you are coming back to see your favorite waiter, most of them have been here since the beginning, or it’s your first time visiting, the staff around here aims to please.

 

 Over the last 30+ years, we have hosted our fair share of rehearsal dinners, business meetings and even surprise birthday parties! Dinner prices range from $15-$66/entrée and we aren’t just serving Spaghetti Bolognese. You will find scrumptious options like Lobster Isabella, Medaglioni alla Cavour, Capelli D’Angelo alla Pescatora, think Fruitti di Mare or even a Rack of Lamb alla Griglia.  Whether it is a Birthday or Anniversary dinner, Piccolo is the place to celebrate big moments. Stop by for your birthday or anniversary and dessert is on us. We’ll serve up Profitterols Cioccolate (cream puffs) topped with our homemade whipping cream!

 

Did I mention that we have live music? The entertainment starts at 7 pm Tuesday through Saturday. We have a pianist Tues-Saturday and a saxophonist jumps in Wed-Friday. Everything from Billy Joel’s Piano Man to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, a few Adele ballads and a whole lot of jazz fill the dining room 5 days a week. You’ll hear tunes you haven’t heard in awhile like Celine Dion’s Titanic theme or Moon River. The talent isn’t afraid to shy away from a request either. They’ve tackled Les Miserables, Somewhere over the Rainbow and on the rare occasion, Don Mclean’s American Pie.

 

Around here, we give a whole new meaning to After Dinner Drinks and Before Dinner drinks for that matter. On the hunt for a premium single malt scotch, Louis XIII or champagne splits? We’ve got you covered. In fact, our bar is fully stocked with premium liquors and our ever-changing Cocktail Infusions are just a highlight to the art of Martini making! And if ice cream is your forte, make sure to snag a Brandy Alexander. This boozy milkshake is a patron favorite! With the bars’ proximity to the piano, this space is perfect for a relaxing night cap or an oasis to have dinner and catch the end of the ball game.

 

So, what are you waiting for? We have spent over three decades providing the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with an upscale dining experience and we would love to have your vote. Click through to the Star-Telegram link to vote Piccolo Mondo for Best Italian Restaurant and then stop by because we’d  love to help you celebrate your next big night! Lastly, we are so very thankful for our loyal patrons and hard working staff for making Piccolo Mondo a staple in our local community!

 

 

 

Mommy & Me Mini Session

My favorite little ladies are back up on the Blog this week! Last week, my good friend, Pida, stopped by with her little ones, Zoee & Paizlee, to set up their Mother’s Day shoot! Every couple months, these girls participate in our Mini Sessions and I swear each session gets better and better.

We started the shoot at one of my favorite locations, Bear Creek Park. In all season, this space provides ample light and gorgeous backdrops. This time would be no different. We headed to the park and immediately made our way into the Spring Wildflower patch. Full of Indian paintbrushes, blue bonnets and sweet pea, this spot would be perfect for the girls to run around!

I was a little nervous about heading deep into the flowers. Last time I headed out with these girls, we ended up in a sunflower field. Though the photos turned out adorable, it was definitely a nightmare shoot. Though now we laugh about it,  all of us were badly bitten by chiggers as we made our way through the flowers. For the whole story on how my husband came to the rescue, head to their Summer Session.

After taking a few quick photos in the wildflower patch, we decided to head into West Lake. A short drive up the street led us to a series of water features located on a walking trail near Vaquero. The girls were loving it. They immediately jumped right into the overflowing pond.

We ended the shoot at a series of columns near 121. As the sun set in the west, Mama Bear, Pida, jumped in for a few pictures with her monkeys! They were sweet as ever. It’s always so cute to see them battle for their Mama’s attention. Zoee just snuggles in, always wanting to be closest while Paizlee waits for their Mama to give her direction.

It is always a joy working with these sweet girls. They are always flexible and Pida is the best stylist I’ve got. Her girls always come dressed to the nines. I learn more and more about each child’s personality after their shoots. I’m also learning more about their relationship together.

Watching these sisters love on each other is something I look forward to doing year after year. Each time they surprise me and each time, I find myself loving them a little more. They are so comfortable with me taking their photo and they seem to thoroughly enjoy being a part of the process. In fact, at the end of every shoot, we have a small photography lesson and I let the girls take a few photos with my camera! I hope we keep this ritual up and one day, these girls can become my assistants/stylists!!

If you would like to book your Mommy and Me Session before Mother’s Day, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com. I am offering a 20-30 minute portrait session within Dallas Fort Worth for just $100! I’ll include 15 hi resolution images and special surprise for Mom!

***Special note for all the dads out there, I will honor this price and package in the form of a gift card if you want to surprise your special lady this Mother’s Day!

Coming this October: Baby Capaccioli

You read it right! Now that the cat is officially out of the bag, I can share this adorable pregnancy announcement. My good friends, Gian Marc and Emily, are expecting their first child this October! For those of you who don’t know them, get ready to meet the sweetest couple in the world. Or should I say Trio?

The Capacciolis are an easy gang to please. When it came time to pick a location for their big announcement shoot, they left it up to me so I choose the Fort Worth Water Gardens.  The clean lines make for an exquisite downtown backdrop. Surrounded by brick buildings and glass towers, this place is a peaceful corner for Texans to enjoy an afternoon listening to the water rushing over the expertly engineered falls.

They arrived shortly before sunset and we immediately headed down into the largest water feature. Though an architectural feat, the massive steps down into the falls were a little daunting. They had joked upon arrival that surely I wouldn’t make them go down into the thick of it. Hahaha

Once we were on the biggest platform, I realized how loud the water was! I could barely hear them nor could they hear me. This was going to be a challenge because I usually shout out poses and direction while I shoot. Since that wouldn’t be happening, I told them to just go love on each other. After a few sweet kisses and snuggles in front of the waterfalls, Emily busted out Baby Capaccioli’s first picture, their latest sonogram!

DEZmondCAPACCIOLI-23

This urban sanctuary is divided into 3 refreshing pools; the quiet, the active and the aerating. We visited all 3 that day but while walking around, I asked Em to write a little something on a chalkboard. The picture above is Emily doing just that. We laughed as they fought over who had better handwriting. It was cute to see them so excited about just writing their news down, let alone sharing it with the world. That’s what I love about these two. They live and love in the little moments.

I met Gian Marc 2 days after I moved to Texas, FIVE YEARS AGO!!! His family owns Piccolo Mondo Italian Restaurant, a staple here in Dallas-Fort Worth, and they hired me just days after arriving here. Over the years, this place has become a home. A home filled with amazing friends, like Gian Marc and Emily. Little known fact, Russ and I got engaged on the same day as these guys. I was so caught up in the fact that Gian Marc was about to propose to Emily that I had no idea Russ was about to bend the knee. To boot, Gian Marc had been in on it the whole time.

It’s so fun knowing that our lives are coming into fruition in a weird sort of unison. We’ve got to celebrate our engagements, our marriages and now, I am photographing their announcement that they are bringing a Bambino/a into the Capaccioli gang! Thank you guys. It was an honor to say the least. Life is good y’all!

 

Christmas Minis: The Lollipop Gang

Happy Christmas Eves’ Eve! A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of meeting up with this adorable Trio of ladies to shoot their Christmas photos! You’ve seen these ladies before during their Christmas shoot last year and during their Back to School Session in the Sunflower Fields this summer.

As usual, Pida’s little girls and their friend, Mia, showed up in the most adorable dresses. They were pink, purple and white tulle with gold glittery tops. The girls even made sure to coordinate their bows to match! Seeing that it was one of the coldest days in Texas, we made sure to bring blankets and hot cocoa for these munchkins. As we walked our way around the trails near the Sports Complex in Keller, we found a bridge that would make for the perfect spot for our shoot. We let the girls run wild for awhile and then eventually, I handed over the marshmallows and the huge lollipops. The girls sipped on their cocoa, threw marshmallows at each other and snuggled with their blankets! Though it was chilly, we made the most of our time and the pictures came out just as cute as these little ladies!

I love getting to spend some girl time with these crazy gals and I am thankful for the time I get to share with them. Merry Christmas Ladies! I hope Santa brings you everything that you asked for.

For Information on how to book your unique Portrait Session, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com. Throughout the month of December 2016, I am offering $150 Mini Sessions in the Dallas Fort Worth area. These sessions include a 45 minute session within DFW, 15-20 Digital Images delivered in an Online Downloadable Gallery and Print Release. Perfect for Christmas Card Photos, Surprise Holiday Proposals and even Gifts. You can buy this deal for a limited time as a Gift Certificate in 2017!

Senior Portrait Session: The Tucker Twins

Hey guys! Happy Friday! This week on the Blog, we are highlighting the Tucker Twins Portrait Session at Beaver’s Bend State Park in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. I had the great pleasure of meeting and photographing one half of this duo, Raina, back in the spring. You can view that session with her puppy dog, Pumpkin, here. Since then, I have been itching to get this sweet girl in front of the camera. Luckily for me, Raina and Brooklyn found themselves in need of Senior Portraits and knew just who to call! I was over the moon when Raina reached out to ask about having their photos done in the fall. As the summer months went by, Raina and I kept in contact discussing their vision for the shoot while impatiently waiting for the leaves to change in Hochatown.

Overall, the girls were pretty laissez-faire about what they had envisioned though they did throw a few curveballs at me. Their requests were simple, they were both hoping for rain and they wanted to incorporate smoke bombs and smores! All of which was going to be a challenge but I was up to it and so were they. When we started shooting, I was sure that the girl’s dreams of a rainy shoot were out the window. It was a beautiful fall day. It had been all week. Russ and I even managed to get a kayak trip down the Lower Mountain Fork the day before. After scoping out a few different areas with good light, the girls threw me one last request. “Any chance we could take a few pictures in a canoe?”, they asked. Insert me jumping for joy! I was stoked. I love water shots. I love the way the water plays with the light and how the prisms bounce color and flare  highlighting the golden arch of fall in the Ouachita Mountains.

Once the girls finished up with hair and makeup, we headed to Beavers Bend Paddle Floats to jump in the canoe. I was totally blown away when they got out of the car. Both of them looked so great. Brooklyn was wearing a sheer maxi dress, black booties and her ombre made the oranges and reds in her dress pop every so beautifully. Raina showed up in an olive green mini, black knee high boots and a black and white striped top. I was so surprised by how different they both were but how comfortably they complimented one another. As the girls paddled around the cove and swim beach, I got in chest deep to capture the magic that was unfolding before me. As the sunset over the Ouachita Mountains, we made our way to the second shoot location.

We stopped by a dirt road for a few good lines and eventually made our way down to a pavilion area so my hubby could get to work on building us a fire for our smores shot. We decided to try our luck with the smoke bombs before we lost the light. This was soooo fun! Raina and Brooklyn brought white, blue and orange bombs and stated that they preferred the shot to be in a wooded area. These girls were specific about their vision and it was much appreciated. We scoped out an empty creek bed and decided it would be the perfect place to set off the bombs. We tried the white first and after we put out a small fire, we had gotten the hang of how to set up the second one. The colors were so vibrant and the girls had posed in juxtaposition which made the shots that much more dramatic. Though we scared half the park with the smell of sulphur, the images turned out beautifully. Word to the wise when it comes to using smoke bombs, read the instructions, have water available and be ready to think fast. Before you know it, the smoke dissipates so make sure to have your models ready and willing to move on a clear path.

We blew up the last bomb and made our way to the pavilion to change outfits. As we began our way back to the campfire, the first crackle of thunder made its debut. Turns out, the girls’ dreams were coming true. We were going to get rain! I quickly turned my reflector into an impromptu umbrella and we made our way to the firepit. Both of them showed up in carefully worded t-shirts, flannel and jeans. Even with the rain dampening their perfectly coifed hair, these girls braved the lightning to get a few cuddly campfire photos. We burnt a few marshmallows and then closed up shop.

At one point, Raina kept asking me about her makeup and I couldn’t quite understand why. She looked great. It wasn’t until after the shoot that I realized that my makeup was ruined, mascara running down my cheeks and my hair was a mess. What can I say? To get these shots, I had to be willing to swim in a river, run from the flames of a smoke bomb and get soaked to the bone in a full blown Oklahoma thunderstorm. All in all, this was seriously the most fun I have had on a shoot. I love that these girls provided such a heavy-duty challenge and I am grateful that they trusted me to capture these images. They say you should put your dreams out into the universe and that they will come back to you in greater folds. This shoot is proof that no matter the obstacle, one can always rise to the occasion and sometimes, even surpass it!

Harper’s 2nd Birthday Shoot

This sweet boy is 2 and I cannot believe it. It feels like just yesterday that his Momma was breaking the baby news and now, he is a walking, talking Energizer Bunny! What an amazing adventure it has been watching this crazy little guy grow up. His momma and I are quite the comrades so I have had the pleasure of witnessing Harper in all his stages. As a baby, Tiff & I would have our girl’s nights while Harp Dog would crawl around on my kitchen floor with his cow printed blanket and my sweet puppy dog, Reyna. And when he started walking, we would head to the park and practice his milk drunken stumble. Now, he just runs circles around me all the while yelling, “Nina, come on.”

Harper is no stranger to having me shove the camera in his face. I have shot his First Birthday, Halloween, Easter & Christmas photos and now his 2nd Birthday. He’s getting quite good at being the ham, a quality I am sure that he gets from his Momma. This go around would be no different. We headed to downtown Keller to check out a Dr Pepper mural and decided it was the perfect backdrop for this little dude’s shoot. Tiff, bring the  supergenius that she is, made sure to bring a bribe. We had a plan. For every giggle, Harp Dog gets an M&M. Once we got him all hopped up on sugar, the smiles came pouring out. He was singing and dancing in front of the wall. Twirling and laughing at the “big trucks” that kept flying by. He was having a ball, to say the least.

We wrapped up at the wall and headed towards a huge open field so we could play a little tag and watch the sunset. When we let him run wild, boy did he. This guy was posing behind trees playing peek a boo and waving a stick around like he was Harry Potter. It was hilarious listening to him try and yell “expelliarmus”. This boy has a way of keeping me in stitches. As the sun went down, Tiff softly sang a few lullabies in his ear to calm him down for the ride home. It worked like a charm. Shortly after dark, we made our way back to the car and called it a night. Sometimes, this job doesn’t even feel like work. Shoots like this are a grateful reminder of how joyful work can be.

For information on how to book your Holiday Mini Session in Dallas Fort Worth or the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com or get all the details from our DFW Holiday Mini Session Blog or the Laurel Highlands Holiday Mini Session Blog! I would love to meet you and help make your vision come to life this Holiday Season!

One on One with Katie Norris, Founder of FOTOlanthropy

As you all know, our team has been asked to help in the coordination of FOTOlanthropy’s red carpet premiere of The Luckiest Man. In just two short days, this uplifting film will premiere at the Angelika Theatre in Dallas, Texas. This landmark second film for the FOTO crew will showcase John Paine, successful entrepreneur and family man, and his 15 year long battle with ALS. In preparation for the film’s debut, Katie Norris, Founder of FOTOlanthropy, agreed to sit down and discuss some questions about the film, her business and the lessons she’s learned along the way.

katie norris

Tell us a little bit about how and why you got started doing these films, specifically tackling stories about individuals who have overcome adversity or circumstance?

I run my own professional photography business and I love the stories I get to tell for families through my camera. I wanted a way to be able to use my talents to give back to other families who were going through difficult life circumstances and to build a community of other like-minded, servant-hearted photographers and filmmakers. It wasn’t long after I started brainstorming and talking with friends about my desire that I received a phone call from a mother who’s child was in the hospital with an inoperable brain tumor and asked if I would be willing to come take a few family portraits. We brought a filmmaker with us and Fotolanthropy was born.

Fotolanthropy’s mission has covered a multitude of social issues that the community faces. Can you go into detail about a few of the issues your team has covered and what each story represents to the families?

Our very first story was a family whose first child was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He tragically passed away a few weeks after we shared his story but his life impacted so many, including mine. We followed that up with the story of a father who had just welcomed his first child and found out he had cancer, and is now in remission.

We’ve also covered stories of dwarfism and SMA. These diagnosis are much more rare and thus, can feel like rather lonely journeys for the families that are walking through them.

Not all our stories focus around illnesses. We’ve also done stories detailing the struggles of infertility and international adoption, a wounded warrior and a family who lost their home in the Bastrop wildfires.

When someone is going through a trial, it is easy to assume that their biggest need is financial. And while that is sometimes true, people don’t realize how valuable a photograph can also be during these seasons. That visual timestamp and storytelling tool not only serves as a reminder of what a family has gone through together but also serves as a tool to help them share their story with others. What I love about each of these stories, is that although many of us may not be able to relate to the exact issue addressed, there is always a powerful message we can take away to challenge us in our own lives.

We understand this is your second film to premiere at the Angelika, can you tell us about the differences in preparing for Travis (A Soldier’s Story) and John Paine’s (The Luckiest Man) story.

Each of our Fotolanthropy recipients is facing dirrerent circumstances and our top priority is always to be sensitive to each of their individuation situations. While Travis and John are at such different places in their stories, Travis’s film is really the reason we were able to do John’s film. I’m so thankful for all the incredible opportunities we were given with Travis: A Soldier’s Story. It taught us so much, and it is what has allowed us to produce another full documentary and put on another premiere event just two years later.

You’ve met a lot of people through your work with FOTOlanthropy, is there one individual or a group of people that you would say have influenced your outlook on how your work affects the public and how you present these issues to your followers?

It would be hard to pick just one. While Reece and I remain close with Travis and Kelsey Mills, all of the families we’ve worked with have left a unique impression on us. Just last week we had the opportunity to get together with some of our previous Fotolanthropy families for a special film shoot. It was just such an amazing reminder of how much each of these families have impacted our team and how grateful I am for the individuals we’ve had the honor of working with and who have trusted us with their stories.

Onto John Paine’s story, do you feel that the promotion of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had anything to do with your choice to showcase the Paine’s story?

We actually met John several years ago, before the Ice Bucket Challenge started, and knew right away we wanted to do his story, if possible. It just wasn’t until this year though that the timing worked out between the Paine family and Fotolanthropy for us to film.

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How did you meet John or hear about his story?

The Paine family attends my church and my pastor shared their story with me. Many of our Fotolanthropy stories are nominated to us by others and we welcome nominations on our website.

John’s story is a remarkable one, do you have any thoughts on how John’s story has impacted your crew? Any lessons that you are hoping the audience will take away from highlighting this mans life?

I remember several years ago when one of our Fotocrew filmmakers, Jon Link, and I first sat down to meet with John Paine and hear his story. We were both in tears as we sat there and just listened, and I think we immediately knew what a powerful message John had to share.

I hope that the audience will see through John’s story that “overcoming” isn’t necessarily about getting to the other side of our mountains in life and that sometimes our tallest mountains can be our biggest blessings. John truly looks at his ALS diagnosis with this perspective: that it has changed his life for the better.

Your husband, Reece, has played a huge role in helping you put FOTOlanthropy on the map. Has tackling these serious issues brought you two closer together and any tips on how to find the time to enjoy family and life together with the stress of building such an influential company?

Reece has been the biggest supporter of Fotolanthropy from Day One. He and I are both dreamers and goal-setters, but we definitely bring different skill sets to the table. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without his loving support, his business knowledge and his incredible servant heart. It has definitely had its challenges, but there’s no better feeling than working towards a goal with your spouse and seeing it achieved. I am grateful every day that we get to do this together.

What would you say has been the highlight of putting this film together and how pumped are you that you have opened a third theater?

What people also don’t really get to see are the people behind the scenes who pour themselves into these stories and events to make them the absolute best for our Fotolanthropy recipients. Our team is so passionate about these stories and works so hard, but you never can predict how others are going to respond. We had such an amazing response with Travis: A Soldier’s Story when we premiered it in 2013, but we weren’t sure if we should expect to be able to repeat that. It has been so humbling to see how many people will be joining us to honor the Paine family on October 22nd and those who have already reached out to us from different places across the country with interest in screening the film.

Lastly, what are you most looking forward to when it comes to this premiere?

My absolute favorite moment is right when the movie ends and the audience has a chance to respond to the story. I will never forget the moment Travis: A Soldier’s Story ended and immediately everyone jumped to their feet with applause for Travis and his family. That simple, yet powerful moment really sums up why we do what we do at Fotolanthropy.

We are so thankful for our the opportunity to play a small part in the preparation of this film and to Katie, for taking the time out of her crazy busy schedule to sit down and talk with us about her business model and this life-changing film. For more information about this event and ticket purchases, check out the links below!

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Helpful Links:
Website: http://www.fotolanthropy.com/LuckiestManFilm
Ticket Link: https://luckiestmanfilm.eventbrite.com
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/136612357
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Fotolanthropy
#LuckiestManFilm
Emcee: Richard Ray, Fox 4 News
Music Performance By: Jason Castro