PA Mini Sessions: Abbie & Gabby

OK, y’all, it’s about to get sentimental up in here. These are my baby sisters. Yes, I said baby sisters. They don’t look it though, right? I know…because they are so grown up. It’s kind of breaking my heart. I want to go back to the days of Hannah Montana karaoke in the living room and Barbie dream houses. You know, when they were in diapers and they idolized me. Click here for a sneak peek of those days! But, those days are gone. Now, these buttheads are all about making fun of me for wearing skinny jeans and tennis shoes and I kind of hate it.

I blinked and now the both of them are about to make their way to the adult table and I’m just so “shook” by how fast the time has gone. I swear I could’ve cried when I saw them during this last trip home. I just cannot believe they are 11 and 13.

Abbie is all attitude but in the best way possible. No one is going to tell her what to do. She has a mind all her own and she isn’t afraid to let you know how she feels. She is kind and generous, constantly thinking of others. I find myself in awe of her more times than not. During this shoot in particular, I was so proud of how she took charge. She was constantly corralling the younger girls with a patience and grace that I wish I had at her age.

And, then there is Gabby. She is still my wild child of a baby sister. She is constantly climbing trees and barns and about anything she can find. I really hate that she is growing up. All these years, she’s been the baby and now I’ve got to find a way to stop treating her like one because the fact of the matter is, she isn’t one anymore. She’s this ridiculously smart and charismatic kid who is on the brink of the dreaded JUNIOR HIGH! Though life is moving so fast all around her, she still manages to stay grounded, holding on to that unyielding sense of humor and I just love this about her.

This shoot was a little different than most, in that Jaime Lonigro of Lonigro Photography , was along for the ride. She set us up at the most amazing backdrop, her aunt’s farm in Marguerite, PA and brought her camera along so we could take advantage of second shooting for each other. Boy, was I glad she was there. I am always snapping photos of the girls but I never get any of the 3 of us and Jaime made sure to snap a bunch of us three together.

We worked our way up to the field above the farm for some photos in that golden wheat. It wasn’t the prettiest of days but the fall foliage was lighting up the trees and those cloudy skies cut the afternoon light and really created a different mood for the shoot. We told them to dance together and they interpreted that as square dance together. lol That’s Southwestern Pennsylvania for ya!

Before we finished up, I had Gabby pose with the umbrella for a few shots. The result was magic. Though we ended up missing the rain, the umbrella against her blue dress and the overcast sky made for an incredible portrait.

I was so thankful for yet another wonderful shoot with these girls. It is always a blast when I get to let them skip school and have a few photography lessons with me and it really melts my heart that they have taken a liking to portraiture. This year for Christmas, I hooked them up with their very own camera. They have been such a huge help with my shoots every time that I come back home and I just love watching them enjoy the process of posing clients and knowing which lens to use in which situation. I cannot wait to see where their camera takes them!

For information on how to book your unique Portrait Session here in Texas or when I am traveling in Pennsylvania, inquire with Angelina at therustienailhead@gmail.com. I would love to hear what you have in mind!

Travel Guide: Lake Murray & Turner Falls, Oklahoma

Hey guys! It’s been awhile since I put out a Travel Guide so I figured I would let you in on our mini sort-of staycation in Ardmore, OK. Just a little under 2 hours north of Dallas-Fort Worth, this spot would serve as our anniversary getaway (3 Years Y’all). Mr. Norris and I recently made our way into Okie country to check out the scene at Lake Murray and boy am I glad we did. With its’ Caribbean-like waters and newly-renovated cabins, we felt like we had escaped to our own private oasis.

After settling into our cabin, we made our way down to the docks to sign up for the sunset cruise that evening. For $12, this seemed like an easy excuse to get out on the water. After feeding a few carp and one koi fish from the docks, we made a point to walk around the resort property. Cozied up to the shoreline is the 28 million dollar recently renovated resort. It has clean lines, an industrial feel and the landscaping makes the property stand out in all the right ways. This would be a fantastic setting for a wedding or even a family shindig!

After heading to a swim beach (Marina Beach) to toss the football around and listen to a little Bluegrass on the Beats, we set up our camp for the night and headed out to grab a quick bite before the boat trip. Every search kept leading us back to Cafe Alley and what a treat. The service was perfect and the setting was in this restored warehouse full of rustic charm. The staff had great recommendations and the manager even stopped by our table to make sure we enjoyed our meals.

I had the Cook Shack Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Iron Skillet Cornbread….ummm let’s just say that delicious is an understatement. Russ had the Mustard Crusted Pork Chop with Apple Onion Compote and the Mac n Cheese. We left with a piece of the famous Carrot Cake to have by the fire later that night. It was smothered in candied pecans and I am still thinking about it.  Here’s a look at their dinner menu.

We made it back just in time for our Sunset Cruise with Lake Murray Watersports. Larry, our driver and owner of the recreation facility near the resort, gave us an inside look at the lake that was created in the 1930s. His establishment, which is located a short walk from the resort, is open to any and everyone looking to get out on the water. You can rent kayaks, canoes, jet skis or sign up for a round of mini golf. For a small fee, the kiddos can go jump on trampolines or take a ride down the slide in the bay.

Larry took us out on the crystal clear water for about an hour and half . We had the opportunity to view Tucker Tower, a geological museum, and the Nature Center. We got a first hand look at Lake Murray’s famous “floating cabins” and Larry even took us for a short ride around the marina to check out some of the fun houseboats that are docked there. We ended our ride on the pontoon boat by watching the red sun set over the west end of the lake. After stoking the campfire and then shortly thereafter devouring the carrot cake, we decided to hit the hay!

Day Two, we woke up bright and early and started en route to nearby Davis, Oklahoma. Our plan was to spend the day at a natural attraction known as Turner Falls. Just a short 20 minute drive north of Ardmore, this leg of our journey was a piece of cake.

After winding through a plethora of roads into what can only be described as a canyon of sorts, we made it to our destination. After parking the car, we started our trek to Dr. Collings’ Rock Castle. Built in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains during the Great Depression, this castle is believed to have been part of a bigger plan for a dude ranch  but due to the sign of the times, the building has remained an abandoned tourist attraction.

After snapping a few photos of the castle, we made our way down to the 77 foot waterfall that stems from Honey Creek! It was a sight to see from far away but as we made our way closer, I was in awe. How could I have not known about this place? I could only imagine how beautiful it must be in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors. We swam for a long while before deciding to find a spot to settle down for lunch. We had packed sandwiches and lemonade for a small picnic by a creek though there were lots of options for food to purchase on the property.

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After lunch, we jumped in the car and decided to take a ride around the campgrounds. We wanted to see the aerial view of the falls and maybe even hike a few trails. We headed out on Butterfly Road and we managed to get a birds eye view of the stream system that feeds into the waterfall and the aerial view of the water going over the edge of the rock face. There were caves and rocked paths that would make for the perfect engagement shoot. Just saying!

Before we headed back in the direction of Dallas-Fort Worth, we snuck in some time at the Blue Hole.  There were slides, diving boards and a huge swimming hole for everyone who was hanging in the park to enjoy! I am happy to sat that our $12 admission fee was well worth it!

Our last stop was on our way out of the canyon. We made it to the overlook to grab a few pictures before I realized that people were zip lining over the falls. How neat, right? Has to be expensive, right? Nope, for $12, I braved the ridiculous heights for an amazing view of this part of south-central Oklahoma. My stomach felt like it was in my throat but it was totally worth it. Kind of like a rollercoaster.

After hanging hundreds of feet in the air, we jumped in the car and began our trek back to Dallas-Fort Worth. We stopped at a QuikTrip on the way and grabbed ourselves a few Red Box movies to enjoy on the couch later that night.

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It really was the perfect getaway. We got to get out of town for a few days and make it back in time to throw our laundry in the washer, order some pizza and relax on the couch! Watching the sun set over the plains of Oklahoma during our drive back wasn’t half bad either! We are really looking forward to heading back here in the fall! Stay tuned!

Guess what guys? In just a few short days, Russell and I are headed out on another adventure. This time we are heading to Yellowstone National Park! If you have got recommendations or suggestions, please feel free to comment below! Don’t forget to check back for more Travel Updates!

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.

 

Laurel Highlands Portrait Session

These 2 goofballs are back up on the Blog! Their first official photo shoot took place at a waterslide at Linn Run State Park in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Today, we are not going to talk about the shoot. You guys know the speal, We took pictures in a park and it was super awesome. Instead, we’re gonna chat a little about having these buttheads for baby sisters and the wild ride it was been.

The first thing you should know is, my sisters are 18 and 16 years younger than me.  I’ve been out doing the whole college-marriage-adult thing while they have been dancing on stage at the Palace and learning to play the saxophone. In the past, the girls would talk about my brother and I to their elementary school teachers and they’d laugh and think “How long have I been teaching?“, knowing very well it had been more than over a decade since a Greece had last sat in their class. It’s amazing how kids can do that to you. Abbie actually asked me one time what Saved by the Bell was and Gabbie has no idea how truly awesome NSYNC’s Christmas album is. They have no sense of 90s culture and it breaks my heart. But, they have taught me about Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, Ed Sheeran, Zac Efron, Ruth B and about a million other things.

My sisters have also taught me that life is this huge circle and and we just keep going round. It’s true what they say. Time flies. It feels like just yesterday that they were swimming in the baby pool with Reyna (my pup) at my old house on Tollgate. They loved that little pool. We pretended Reyna was the shark and she was gonna get them and we ate popsicles and pretended the Barbies were mermaids. And, then I blinked. Now it’s all Twenty One Pilots and Harry Potter, Selfies and Makeup. The world was much simpler back then.

 Truth be told, getting to be there for all their stages of life has been one of the greatest joys of mine. It’s all in the little things. Like, how they love to sing old Stevie Nicks jams in the car or how they are in constant search of their Troll dolls and how they always wanna go to the Skate Hop. I mean…deja vu much? Guys, this is stuff we all did, 20 years ago!

It is crazy to think that I used to worry about our age gap. Schmage Gap! I’m hip. I’m cool. Or, at least I’m gonna try to be because I always want these girls to know that they can come to me with anything that is weighing on their mind or peaking their interest. That’s what it’s all about, right? Being their role model is something that I was never prepared for but somewhere along the way, I found a rhythm that worked. Abriana and Gabriella have taught me to look at the world with a different set of eyes and I am thankful for them. In a way, they have always kept me grounded yet always looking towards the future.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DON’T KNOW ME: My name is Angelina Norris. I am natural light photographer based in Dallas-Fort Worth, with roots in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. I specialize in family and lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on real moments. I believe that the best portraits are a combination of  genuine intimacy and playful experience. I live for the opportunity to test out the waters of new shoot locations and discover new places all around the globe. If you would like to book your unique portrait session, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com.

Highlight on Whitney Bowman Photography

Today, we are going to take a minute to talk about Community over Competition. Every forum, book, blog touches on this particular business model. In the creative world, I have found that this idea plays an essential role that every business needs in order to define their voice. Having the support from your peers or colleagues creates a sounding board for positive change, for forward motion.

This idea provides opportunity for growth and change. I have found that the biggest struggle in being a small business owner is balance. Balancing work and ambition can be a tumultuous task so when you find a fellow creative that you can bounce ideas off of, the possibilities for innovation become endless and somehow, easier to bare.

Whitney Bowman is a force to be reckoned with. She is a mom to this amazing little guy, Jake, a wife to her highschool sweetheart, Billy, a consultant for Rodan + Fields and runs her own photography business in North Texas. This girl knows how to get things done and fortunately enough for me, she’s graciously made her self available to help me out and answer some questions about how to keep that balance.

When it came time for Christmas card pictures, I had only one person in mind for the job. Whitney took the time to meet us at Bear Creek Park in Keller, TX and managed to capture some beautiful portraits of our family. Today, we’re going to sit down and chat with this sweet Mama about what drives her and how to stay on track.

RN: How do you balance life as a mom, entrepreneur and Rodan + Fields consultant? Any tips for staying on course?

WB: Well, I have only been doing all three together since June. I have learned it’s tough but to never procrastinate. I have a white board in my office where I keep a to do list. I also make daily to do lists. Lists keep me focused and off of Facebook. I feel accomplished when I check things off. Plus, my husband, mom, mother-in-law and Mother’s Day Out help A LOT! 😉

RN: What type of camera do you use and what is your favorite feature the camera has to offer?

WB: I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II. I’m not a very “techie” person so I really can’t tell you why this camera body is better than another, or what feature I like the best. I just know it takes great photos and it’s easy to use.

RN:  When/Where did your passion for photography begin?

WB: My mom enrolled me in 4H when I was in 3rd grade. I got to take photography lessons at a photography studio and enter contests. My grandfather bought me a subscription to National Geographic and I would just look at the pictures and try to recreate them.

RN: What are some challenges ran into when starting your Photography business and any advice for budding photogs like myself?

WB: Pricing. I don’t want to be the cheapest and I don’t want to be the most expensive.  I want my prices to be fair for both parties involved and reflect my talent and time.
As far as advice… I would say to stick with your price. Don’t change because you think your customer isn’t going to like it. If you think it’s fair enough to advertise then don’t change it.

RN: Any particular lens you enjoy using more than others?

WB: I really really like shooting with a 70-200mm. It makes the images especially crisp and from a long distance.

RN:  Indoor or Outdoor? Which types of shoot do you prefer? Any desire for an indoor studio?

WB: I LOVE to shoot outdoors! One, because that’s what I am comfortable with, and two, because it has the best lighting. I would like to have an indoor studio but really just for bad weather days.

RN: Editing or Photographing? Which element of this career sparks more of an interest for you?

WB: I dislike sitting at a computer just editing which is why I am more concerned with getting the image right in the camera first. Doing this allows me to get the images back to my client quicker.

RN: Where do you see Whitney Bowman Photography in 5 years?

WB: I would LOVE to see Whitney Bowman Photography as the, or one of the, premier senior photographers in the area. I don’t much see myself in a studio or hiring other photographers, just because I want to keep this a small operation.

RN: Any locations or events you really hope to snag in the future? (more weddings, more seniors, etc?)

WB: I really enjoy photographing seniors. They are so shy at the beginning of the shoot but by the end they have stepped out of their shell and are working it!

RN: Lastly, recommendations to clients for best possible shoot? (attire, time of day, props, Pinterest, lighting suggestions).

WB: Be as natural as possible. Don’t go buy a new outfit that is uncomfortable because then your photos will be. I am a less is more kind of person as well as in my photographs which is why I don’t use a bunch of props. In my opinion, you have family photos taken to capture your “people”, your family. Why take away from that with props? When you look at a portrait, what is the first thing you look at? Faces!

Here is a sneakpeek of our shoot. For more information on how to book with Whitney Bowman Photography, check her out on Facebook page (Whitney Bowman Photography) or her IG account (whittyb82). You can scroll her Blog, http://www.whitneybowman.wordpress.com, give her a call at 817-223-7406 or shoot her an email at whitneybowmanphoto@gmail.com.

Big thank you to Whitney for taking the time to sit down and talk with me and for choosing to share her knowledge of achieving the dream. Hopefully one day soon, we get a chance to collaborate ideas and put one in the books!