Dallas-Fort Worth Holiday Portrait Sessions: Reece, Katie & Rose

Up next on the blog are some of my favorite people in the whole wide world! Meet my brother-in-law Reece, his wife Katie and my absolutely adorable baby niece, Rose! Katie and Reece reached out about having their Christmas Card photo taken and I was so stoked to have a chance to snap a few photos of them with their little angel!

We met at their house in Dallas and proceeded to head to Flagpole Hill. Katie is a Portrait Photographer as well and had been doing a few of her sessions there this season. She was loving on all that afternoon light and considering this is just around the corner from their house, it was the perfect spot to set up shop!

Right out the gate, we managed to snag a bunch of photos of them just loving on their baby girl. Katie was loving the dark greens that were scattered around the park and against her purple dress and Rose’s pink cheeks, the fall foliage would serve as the perfect backdrop. They even managed to recruit a friend, Kristen, to come along and sing songs for my niece and keep Rosie in stitches during our shoot.

Last year’s photo featured this adorable rocking chair and Katie wanted to make sure we got another one of Rose sitting in it. I love the progression images. It is so neat to see just how big Rose has gotten over the last year. It is crazy to think she is going to be TWO soon. Time really needs to slow down. As much as we love watching her grow,  I just want to freeze her at this perfect age. She’s starting to talk and running all over the place but she still wants to be held and she never leaves home without her “WUBY”.  She is seriously the sweetest baby girl.

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Their Golden Retriever, Dutch, aka Rose’s best pal, managed to make his way into a few photos and I am so glad he did. We weren’t sure about bringing him along just because he’s a bit of an adventurer but I am so glad he came. This pup has been with Reece and Katie since I first met them and I couldn’t imagine their family without him.

We ended the shoot by taking a small stroll up the hill and stopping for a few images of this trio in a huge clearing amongst the tree line. I am so thankful for this opportunity because I have always admired Katie’s work and I consider them asking me to be their photographer a great honor. I have never met more driven and passionate people than Katie and Reece. Whatever obstacle they choose to tackle, they put their whole hearts into it and I am inspired daily by their commitment to God, family and hard work.

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To check out what this Mama has been up to, head to www.fotolanthropy.com. Katie heads a nonprofit organization, FOTOlanthropy, in Dallas, Texas that devotes time and energy into capturing stories about those who have overcome adversity.  Browse their site for more information on how you can nominate someone for their next story or purchase anything from the shop (genuine leather camera straps, tote bags, luggage tags, journals) and 10% will be donated toward their cause!

Reece and Katie recently made headline news when their documentary, Travis: A Soldier’s Story was released on Netflix! If you haven’t seen it, make time and get tissues. It’s uplifting and light-hearted and totally inspiring; definitely worth watching with the whole family! For more information on this film, Travis Mills and his story, check out our  previous blog. It’s jam packed with exciting news about the Mills Family and what they’ve been up to recently. Besides being on Ellen!!! and meeting the President, the Mills Family recently welcomed their 2nd child, a baby boy, appropriately named Dax, after the two medics that saved Travis’ life overseas.

 

TRAVIS: A Soldier’s Story on NETFLIX

WHAT WHAT!?? This is crazy guys. If you haven’t seen this remarkably uplifting documentary, it’s past time you add it to your Netflix Queue. At the heart of this courageous tale lies a love story about a family who rose to the occasion and proved that life is a matter of overcoming immense obstacles, together.

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Travis: A Soldier’s Story is an award-winning documentary showcasing the life of Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne Division. In April of 2012, while on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, an IED exploded costing Travis an immense loss, his limbs. He is 1 of 5 quadruple amputees to survive the injuries he sustained during the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Upon arriving home, this soldier went to work. He spent months in rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center. While gaining his strength and learning how to take care of his infant daughter, Chloe, Travis used his struggles to help motivate other wounded soldiers. It wasn’t long after that he met Katie Norris of Fotolanthropy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to capturing true stories of those who have overcome adversity through photography and film. From there, the award-winning documentary, Travis: A Soldier’s Story, would take flight. The film has premiered in over 30 cities nationwide, including our great nation’s capital and gained huge press coverage all over the United States.

While traveling the country premiering his debut film, Travis continued to push the limits. With the unfailing help from his devoted wife, Kelsey, there would be no ceiling that he couldn’t attempt to crash. From shooting clays in his backyard in Maine, learning to drive a pick-up truck and even skydiving with the United States Army Golden Knights, Travis couldn’t be stopped.

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After his debut on the big screen, Travis, along with author, Marcus Brotherton, decided to put his tale to paper and wrote a novel chronicling the before and resilient after of his Alive Day, Tough as They Come. This inspirational New York Times Best Seller is available through the Travis Mills Foundation and on Amazon!

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His story wasn’t quite done yet though. He spent time traveling and speaking for motivational platforms and universities. After months of book signings and television and radio spots, Travis, his wife, and his daughter returned back to Maine for a well-deserved gift, their new smart home. Through the generous donations from the Gary Sinise Foundation (Lieutenant Dan Ya’ll), the Carrington Foundation and Tunnel to Towers, the Mills Family would finally have a place to call home. Controlled by an iPAD, this home is equipped with an elevator and a broad range of handicap accessible utilities  throughout the house and on the property.

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His story and the choices he made after that fateful day in April of 2012 would inspire millions. In true Travis form, he chose to Never Give Up. Never Quit. And now, he’s hoping to help reintegrate wounded soldiers back into society. In September of 2013, Travis created the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to benefit and assist combat injured veterans. Over the last 2 years, the Mills Foundation has devoted their time to creating a retreat for soldiers that are wounded or suffering from TBI or PTSD. They have purchased cosmetic mogul, Elizabeth Arden’s estate in Rome, Maine and plan to open their doors in the summer of 2017. It’s been years of renovations in preparation for the incoming wounded veterans and their families but Travis says it’s been worth it. He is living a life for those who didn’t make it back and now able to provide a safe haven for our nation’s bravest.

He’s not slowing down anytime soon either. This guy and his buddy, David Vobora of Adaptive Training, were recently featured on the Ellen Degeneres Show promoting their missions and sharing some pretty big news…

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The Mills family is expecting their 2nd child, a baby boy, this August! Congrats to you guys!! It has been an amazing pleasure watching this young couple’s journey and I can’t wait to see what’s in future!

Travis is redefining what it means to be a wounded warrior. -CNN

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So, what are you waiting for? Go watch the movie and when you love it, share the inspiration with #travisthemovie. For more details on where to purchase this documentary and how to donate to the Travis Mills Foundation, head to the Travis Mills Foundation’s website.

 

Blog Spotlight: Tiffany of Jackson Signature Photography

During my last visit home to Pennsylvania, I had the great pleasure of meeting Tiffany Jackson, half of the Jackson Signature Photography duo. This husband-wife photography team specializes in Wedding, Engagement, Anniversary and Senior Photography. Based out of Latrobe, PA, their client list is growing daily. I first noticed their work while scrolling through a former classmate’s wedding photos. The images were sharp, clean and so light and airy. After a few months of slightly stalking their social media accounts, I reached out to see if Tiff would be interested in meeting for a Spotlight on the Blog. After a few back and forth emails, I knew that I had chosen the right person to interview.

We met for coffee at The White Rabbit in Greensburg, PA to chat about all things business and what it means to dive headfirst into being a small business owner. Coincidentally, Tiffany just so happens to be the Rising Tide Society Leader in Westmoreland County. She has even hosted her Tuesday Together meetings at the very place we sat down to chat. For those of you who don’t know, The Rising Tide Society is an organization that embraces the differences amongst creatives all across the country. Their business model “community over competition” has inspired and encouraged support and guidance for local businesses nationwide. In fact, our entire Blog Spotlight Series featuring creatives like Carolyn Anderson Photography, Whitney Bowman Photography and Katie Norris of FOTOlanthropy is rooted with the Rising Tide Society’s ideals in mind.

When starting this business, I had so many questions and not many small business owners as friends to ask. So, I started to reach out. I found the Rising Tide, learned their motto and chose to start incorporating their ideals into the foundation of my own business model. I knew that I was never going to see my business evolve if I didn’t get some help and who better to ask than the photogs and the accounts that I had been drooling over since my launch date. Which in turn, brought me to Tiffany. I loved her style, the way she mixed the classic and the contemporary with the traditional and the bohemian. I also loved the way she portrayed her business on social media. In a world filled with so many eyes, Tiff found a method to organize her galleries in a way that would draw your eye to her Blog, her website, her IG, her garden, her gorgeous house, her everything. If you take a look at any of her social media posts, you immediately feel like you know her. You can get a sense for what fills her days and what brings her joy. You shouldn’t be surprised to know that her attitude is contagious. I literally felt like I could tell her my deepest darkest secrets and I had only known her for an hour.

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During our meeting, Tiff kept stressing how important the client relationship is. Their business model is founded on the premise of building a lasting relationship with their clients. A huge part of that is just getting to know them. After 8 years in the business, this duo has a good grasp for anticipating the mood of each shoot. More than anything, these two want you to see your “vision” come to life. You can be sure that whatever style or atmosphere you are hoping to convey will most definitely be portrayed if you leave these 2 in charge.

So much of making it in this business is the effort that you put in, the light that you reflect and mark you leave. Tiffany has truly curated a style and personality for their business that keeps their clients coming back. I asked her during our interview if there were any particular IG accounts or Facebook friends that I should check into for inspiration. Her recommendation was @borrowedandblue, a publication full of wedding ideas! She incorporates her love for interior design, her delight in fabulous florals and her passion for joy filled weddings into her everyday life. Which is why I can’t wait to see what she is up to next. Without giving away too many details, I can say that Tiff and Aaron have some BIG news coming up in the next year! So, make sure to keep an eye out for all the details!

If you interested in following along with all of Tiffany and Aaron’s adventures or to book your Wedding or Senior Shoot, head to their website, follow them on IG @jacksonsignaturephotography, Twitter or give them a like on their Facebook page.

If you or you know someone who might be interested in being a part of the next Greensburg Tuesday Together Meeting, head to the White Rabbit Café on September 13th at 7pm. For more information on the Rising Tide Society, head to www.risingtidesociety.com or Join the Facebook Group to see the next upcoming meeting dates, member spotlights and more.

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.

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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