Sunday Funday in Austin, Texas

This past week, my bestie just so happened to be traveling in Texas so I took her up on the offer to make the drive south and have a Sunday Funday! We spent our afternoon kayaking the Colorado River and then decided to stop by the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, a space for creatives to bring a can of spray paint and go to town on this abandoned building near Castle Hill. I wasn’t sure what to expect, considering that this space changes so often but it truly was awesome. Amongst the political angst splattered on each and every wall, you can find kids painting peace signs and vibrant artwork of their own. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to wander around this hidden treasure. Regardless of who you are and where you come from, Austin’s Hope Gallery provides an essential space for those who wish to voice their opinions, wishes and dreams through an alternative form of debate, art. I highly recommend stopping by, with a few art supplies and checking it out.

Address: 1008 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703-4940

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Kaison’s First Christmas

Hey guys, Happy Friday! I hope you all are getting into the holiday spirit as we approach the celebration season. Yes, I am that crazy person who has already watched Home Alone (1 &2), Christmas Vacation and my lights have been up outside since the middle of November. Christmas is such a magical and joyful time in the Norris household. To get into the holiday spirit this year, I started off my Mini Sessions in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. My first session didn’t disappoint either, this shoot was full of love, laughter and a happily ever after.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting my new favorite little dude, Kaison. His momma and daddy just so happen to be some of my very best friends in the whole wide world and I have been impatiently waiting to meet their handsome baby boy for months now. You may remember this guy’s parents from their last photo shoot. Kelly and Kendrick’s Maternity Shoot was featured on the Blog days before this guy made his debut! At eight months preggo, Kelly was a trooper and Kendrick proved to be quite the cheerleader as we made our way through the fields of Kelly’s grandfather’s farm.  Their beautiful baby boy finally made his way into the world not even a month later and these two have been wrapped around his finger ever since.

And as for me? Auntie Ang? She has been down in Texas just dying for the chance to come and snuggle this chubby cheeked butterball!! Finally, the time had come for me to kidnap their bundle of joy for a few hours and I was literally jumping for joy. Kelly’s Family joined us at the very location of our first shoot, their Grandfather’s farm. We headed out into the field to get the family shots first of everyone. As I split them up into smaller groups, they all took turns passing the baby around like a hot potato! And, I will never forget the look on Kelly’s Dads face when I asked him to take a photo with his wife “prom style”. And Kelly’s face when her Dad planted one on her Mama. These guys had me in stitches.

After the family photos were finished, we headed to the front of Kelly’s parents house. There, we set down a blanket and just let Kelly & Kendrick love on their baby boy. The leaves could not have been a better color and Kel’s scarf matching Kaison, so much awesome coordination. Long before he made his arrival, Kelly and I would sit around and talk about what his name would be and how we thought he might look. Every little detail that we dreamt up doesn’t even come close to how perfect this baby is. It’s so weird too! I’ve known Kendrick since we were 5 so looking at this kid and that butt chin, he is unmistakenly my buddy’s baby. But, he’s got Kelly’s big beautiful eyes and her smile. What a perfect combination of these two incredible people. It has been such a joy seeing your love story blossom. Good for you guys. You love each other, you are so smitten with your son and you continue to grow with one another. That’s so important. Crucial, really. So, cheers! Ya’ll are killing it! Now, come to Texas and be my friend and bring Kaison because I wanna eat him!! 🙂

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!

Happy 1st Birthday Nash!

It feels like it was just yesterday that our good friends, Tommy & Ginny, announced that they were expecting a baby boy and I cannot believe that this little dude is already ONE! To commemorate this awesome milestone, Mom, Dad and their little guy, Nash, met me on a ranch in Keller, Texas to have a few family photos taken. Truth be told, I have been dying to get this trio in front of the camera for quite some time now and could not be more humbled that they asked me to capture this very big moment!

Ginny was so clear on what kind of shoot she wanted. She even made sure to Pinterest a few poses that she liked, which was uber helpful during shoot time. She brought a bunch of bright blue balloons for their baby boy and an heirloom quilt that a family member had made special just for Nash shortly after he was born. Once I got a glance at the blanket patterned with ABCs, cowboys & vintage toys, I could not wait to let him crawl around on it. As luck would have it, Nash had no intentions on sitting still so we had to be fast. Every time we would put him down, he would take off in the opposite direction. He would try to crawl/run crawl away from where we were. It was hilarious watching him try to move around his Dad’s firmly planted foot. Tommy would say, “You shall not pass.” and Nash would just look at him and start laughing and try to do it again.

 

After taking a few posed pictures, we headed towards the long driveway adjacent to a horse farm. Nash’s momma, Ginny, loves to ride horses and show them so I knew that she would be into letting Nash meet the ponies. HE loved them but I feel like Nash is in that awesome stage where all animals are his thing. He even spent his fair share of time crawling around with my puppy dog, Raina, during the shoot.

Overall, what a great day. Sometimes I can’t believe this is my job. Whether I am meeting new clients or hanging out with old friends, I have this awe-inspiring opportunity to help others capture their joy and this holiday season, I am so grateful to be a part of it all. I am constantly surprised and humbled by the friends and family who have asked me to help capture these huge milestones and I hope to continue to love this work as much as I do. This shoot was so fun and I know when looking through these photos, I see Tommy and Ginny’s joy. It is written all over their baby boy’s face. Nash is a great little guy who loves to love on his momma and wrestle with his dad. And, any day now, Mr. Nash Potatoes is gonna go straight from crawling to running so good luck guys! Have fun chasing that blue eyed boy around!

To book your unique Family Portrait Session, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com. I would love to help you capture your joy this holiday season and in the year to come! To see any of my previous work, head to our Gallery or follow along on Instagram (@therustienail) to stay up to date with our Holiday Mini Sessions and Pricing Packages. Oh, and Happy Holidays guys!

Rainey’s Senior Session

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of photographing my ever-so-sweet sister in law, Rainey. After 4 years of busting her butt in College Station and Stephenville, this chica is about to graduate from Tarleton State with a degree in Nursing and we literally could not be more proud of her. To celebrate this awesome milestone in her life, we headed out to River Legacy Park in Arlington, Texas to snap a few photos of Rainey before she walks across the stage.

Going into the shoot, I was sure we would head to the park and see how many smiles I could get out of Rain Dawg. You see, my sister in law is kind of a tomboy. No thanks to my husband, most days, you can find her in jeans and a T-shirt (my kinda gal). Truth be told, you are more likely to see her out hunting in West Texas or kicking up dust at Larry Joe Taylor than shopping at Sephora or cruising the racks at Nordstroms (probably my favorite thing about her). This chic is always down for an adventure!

With that in mind, I was sure that Rainey might be a little apprehensive in front of the camera. She is characteristically hiding when it comes time for family photos. One and done is kind of her style so I figured that would be how this would go. I had a plan in mind, move quickly and keep it interesting. I figured if I kept her busy, she wouldn’t notice how many photos we were taking. To my surprise, when I walked through the door, I was greeted by the bohemian chic version of my sister in law. She was all dolled up; cute black booties, a great lavender scarf over a solid black swing dress. I loved it all. From the Opal Kendra Scott earrings to her eye shadow, Rainey looked smoking!

She didn’t have a whole lot of ideas in mind but luckily, her momma did. My mother in law had an interesting vision in mind for the shoot. We scoured their house to find the perfect chair to use in a set of images and man oh man, did we luck out. We found a dusty rose colored wingback and a bright red and violet oriental rug that would be perfect.

Rainey’s only request? She wanted to incorporate her graduation gift, a new Jeep Wrangler. So of course, we had to snag a few photos of her and her new baby. And what kind of shoot would it be if we didn’t get a shot of this cowgirl’s boots?

Once we finished up with her Jeep, we headed to the East side of the park, where the paddling trails are. I’ve shot here before and I love that the boat ramp gives you easy access to the water. Seeing that Rainey and I share a sense of adventure, I knew she wouldn’t mind getting in the water. We headed towards the loading ramp just as the sun was setting. After I busted my butt falling down a mud-laden hill, we headed to the bridge over looking the Trinity River and chose to close up shop.

Overall, what a great day with the Norris gals! From the brightly colored poncho blanket she brought to the cross she wears around her neck, this girl stayed authentic and true to herself and it really shined through in these images. Puds, you are going places…so go, do, dream, wish, believe and anything you want sweet girl, will be within your grasp. I am so humbled that you asked me to capture this special time in your life and I cannot wait to see where this awesome journey is about to take you! Congratulations!

 

To book your Senior Portrait Session, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com. This year, I have had the best group of Seniors with some really crazy fun ideas. I’ve tackled Twins + Smokebombs, Indian Lake + Bowling Alleys and even a Flower-filled Meadow. If you have a vision for your Portrait Session, let’s make your photo shoot the most fun and unique experience! Bring it on 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!

Proposal in Rocky Mountain National Park

Over the summer, my husband and I had the great pleasure of road tripping through Colorado. While on our adventure, we made our way into Rocky Mountain National Park. Little did we know, they had just opened access to Trail Ridge Road. This scenic byway is a 49 mile long road connecting Estes Park to Grand Lake. Though closed due to weather conditions throughout most of the year, we were lucky enough to have stumbled upon this snow laden path during it’s first week of availability.

This road soars high above the treeline to 12, 183 feet. As you climb to meet the Alpine Tundra, you can feel the climate change a dramatic 20-30 degree colder. I was happy to have my jacket, to say the least. As we started the epic climb, we were mesmerized by the abundant wildlife, streams and wildflowers. We made our way to the Tundra World Nature Trail and happened to notice that something special was going on near the entrance.

At the top of the mountain, Mike Wojtowics got down on one knee to ask Heather Lamberson if she would be his forever. I waited until after they had celebrated a bit and came down to introduce myself. I congratulated them and asked if they wouldn’t mind if I snapped a few pictures of them, ensuring that I would email them the images when I made it back to Texas.

I was thankful to have witnessed something so beautiful in such a magical place. After a few back and forth emails, Mike was nice enough to fill me in on the details of their love story. He told me that they had met where he works, building boats for the military, last March. Two months later, they were an official couple. Mike chose to propose at the Alpine Visitor’s Center for 1 of 2 reasons. He explained that this locale was actually where they had their first date and that those mountains were particularly special to him. Mike called it his “safe place”. He said, “On top of one of the other peaks is where I picture myself when I need to free my mind during stressful times, so I figured bringing her to my safe place would show her that I was letting her into my life 100%. No holds bar!!”

Mike will tell you that Heather had no clue that he was about to propose and from the look on her face, I’d have to say he was right. It was a genuinely beautiful moment. The couple has yet to set a wedding date but they are thinking of tying the knot in the fall of next year, in the mountains, of course! And, as if this love story couldn’t get any cuter, Mike & Heather announced to the world just this weekend that they will be adding Mom & Dad to their resumes in 2017. The couple are expecting their first child this April and we could not be happier for them! Congrats to these two lovebirds! We wish you all the happiness in the world!

To find out more about our epic 9 Day Road Trip around Colorado, head to this link. We whitewater rafted Clear Creek, kayaked Grand Lake, hiked St Mary’s Glacier and took an off roading Jeep tour in Rocky Mountain National Park amongst many other things. Our entire adventure is outlined for those of you who are thinking of traveling to Colorado!