Monthly Archives: June 2014

Bridal Portraits

Bridal session with Elisa, at UNC Charlotte botanical gardens.

Bridal Portraits - UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens


Just as I was leaving for this session it began to rain. Then it began to POUR, I mean like Monsoon! The rain was so loud on the windshield and we could hardly see the road.  We had to travel about 40 minutes. I sent Elisa a text, to see what the weather was like on her side of town.  Since she had gotten her hair and makeup done and a bouquet made for her bridal session, we just kept our fingers crossed that we were driving away from the storm. She reported that it was cloudy but no rain yet. As we continued to drive, I was pleased to see the sky clearing up ahead.

When Luke and I arrived at the session location the sky looked iffy. I knew I needed to work quickly & try to get as many photos as possible before it started to rain.  Elisa arrived with her entourage of sisters and managed to change into her dress in the back seat of her car (impressive). She looked absolutely FABULOUS!! Her dress was amazing and suited her PERFECTLY.

The lighting was crazy, constantly changing. It was dark one minute, then bright with lighter clouds, then the sun would come out from behind the clouds. all the while, the sky continued to thunder warning threats and it was insanely humid. Welcome to the south!!  I quickly shot while constantly adjusting my exposure, nervously wondering how many shots I would get before a downpour would  interrupt our session and drench Elisa’s gorgeous gown.  I was pleasantly surprised that I shot an entire hour before a few droplets began to fall.

I found a pretty spot to have Elisa stand and moved around her to get as many different backgrounds and looks as I could. Her dress was made from manly tulle, so I wanted to be careful not to damage the bottom of the dress.  I discovered that Elisa used to model, which helped her to easily follow my directions. She was naturally very comfortable in front of the camera with made things run smoothly.

With the horrible lighting that day, I was thankful to have my son Luke, assist me by holding the silver reflector to get some light into Elisa’s eyes and fill in some of the shadows. I am very pleased with the results.  Elisa, you looked beyond gorgeous! I enjoyed photographing you and I am super excited to photograph your wedding in August!! Yay, another road trip! (more…)

At the beach -Outer Banks

Beach photos, Outer Banks - Inspiration & Design Photography_0464Well it was Sunday. Time to drive back to Charlotte from the Outer Banks.  We had just arrived  Friday evening ready to shoot a wedding the next day at the Elizabethan Gardens.  We enjoyed our morning sitting on the patio looking over the water as we ate our breakfast. We planned on eating lunch, stopping by the beach for a few minutes then heading back.  After all, we can’t drive all the way here and not see the beach, right?

We were both worn out from the trip and had a long drive back. It was nice to sit on the beach in the warmth of the sun and listen to the waves crash. It was very therapeutic. As I was sitting there I thought to myself, I wish I had the energy to take some pictures.  But then again it was around noon, so the sun was too harsh for good pictures.  We continued to sit and remark on how beautiful it was and talked about how much we wanted to come back and rent a beach house for a week.

Not far from us was a building with a pier. I guess the energy of the waves invigorated us, because we soon decided that I would take pictures of Dee. We headed back to the car and she changed into something more appropriate for beach photos and off we went. In less than an hour, I had snapped 355 images of her in and near the water!  She had fun playing model, until I had her further in the water and a large wave came crashing into her! She was soaked!  It didn’t feel like work. It was so much fun! Finally, wet & covered in sand, we forced ourselves to leave the beach; vowing we would be back and rent a beach house and bring our families!

Our last stop was at a waterside restaurant. As we ate our Crab burgers & totally yummy onion rings out on the deck, I tried to soak up the last few minutes of sparkling water & warm sunshine.  I thought about how much travel, fun, work and great memories we had packed into three short days.  I felt happy and a little sad at the same time. It made me realize how much I need and miss the beach.

So here is the super fun Dee Her, looking all glowy and fabulous in her beach session. Sometimes spontaneity can turn out pretty well, except when the photographer forgets to notice the hair tie on the models wrist (only for a few shots)and when wet shirts  no longer cover the bra…HAHA!


Wedding – Elizabethan Gardens

Sandra & Garret’s Wedding at the Elizabethan Gardens in Outer Banks, NC

Elizabethan Gardens Wedding, Outer Banks, NC

When Sandra first contacted me to photograph her wedding at the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens, I was thrilled! Not only was she as sweet as could be, but a beautiful location…beach nearby… and a road trip to boot! COUNT ME IN!!! Since they booked so far in advance, it felt like it would take forever for their wedding day to come.  But before I knew it, I was packing for the beach!! The weather forecast was not looking good for this big event, but thankfully the weather people had it all wrong. It turned out the weather couldn’t have been more perfect! Wonderful temperature, slight breeze and low humidity…WOWZER! I get jazzed when it comes to good weather!

Dee Her (my BFF, totally awesome wedding assistant and fab photographer) and I talked the entire 6.5 hour drive!! Literally not stop…no silence what-so-ever! Man can we talk!! But the great thing is that the time flew by. Before we knew it we were pulling onto the dirt driveway leading to our UBER charming beach side cottage called the Burrus House Inn.  If you get a chance to stay there, I highly recommend it.  After unpacking we headed down to the charming town & found a waterside restaurant. We ate while viewing yachts on the water.  Yeah, I know, my job is tough.  But, traveling can be hard when you can’t control the noise in your home away from home.  Dee and I were abruptly awoken by what sounded like someone in the room above ours, doing what sounded like, LAPS across the entire length of the room…back & forth…back & forth…GEEZ are you kidding me? It’s early!?!?!? When it continued for about 30 minutes, I stood on the bed and politely pounded on the ceiling with my fist. Old wood floors are gorgeous, but not at all quiet.  Finally…back to sleep.


Engagement Session – Charlotte NC

Kara & Stephen’s engagement session at UNC Charlotte botanical gardens & Romare Bearden Park – Uptown Charlotte, NC

Wedding Palisades Country Club - Inspiration & Design Photography_0326 Kara & Stephen met in undergrad at UNC Charlotte. He is from Winston-Salem and Kara is from Woodstock, Georgia.  Kara now lives in Georgia finishing up graduate school studying physical therapy. She will Graduate next year, so the wedding date was set for after the medical boards examination.

Stephen proposal last July, at a metal table. So when I saw these metal tables in the park I thought it would be fun to reenact the proposal…okay maybe cheesy but kinda cute.

They will be getting married here in Charlotte, since it is such a special place for both of them.  Which will make for a two year engagement! Well on the bright side, that leaves plenty of time to plan the wedding!

At the end of the session, I suggested taking off their shoes and getting close to the water falls in the park.  After a few quick shots both mine & Stephen’s pants were wet from the knee down, which felt quite refreshing, for me a least.

The previous session the night before, my couple laid in the lake for the last few photos and left wet and sandy. I jokingly told Stephen & Kara,  my new standard is to make sure each client is wet by the end of the session!

The Proposal:
I was at my first clinical rotation in Stockbridge, GA and it had almost been a month since the last time we had seen each other. Stephen hadn’t mentioned anything about planning a visit to come see me and I began to get frustrated with him thinking he didn’t want to come visit me. Little did I know, he had a plan up his sleeve for a surprise weekend trip in Atlanta. Long story short, he spilled the beans and told me his surprise he had been planning to further prevent me from getting upset! Little did I know of the other surprise he had planned for the weekend!

I stayed down at clinic during the week and would travel back home on weekends. The only clothes I had during the week were work scrubs, so I needed to make
a trip back home to get some “normal” clothes to wear for this surprise weekend! Stephen created an itinerary (being the ops guy that he is, and me being the former college athlete) with TBD activities listed with what clothes I would need for the weekend.  I went home that Thursday night before to pack my clothes and drive back down to Stockbridge the following morning to finish out my 2nd week at clinic. (more…)

Engagement Session – Rankin Lake Gastonia

Jessica & Josh’s engagement session at Rankin Lake, GastoniaWedding Palisades Country Club - Inspiration & Design Photography_0303


I finally had the pleasure of meeting this sweet couple in person. They had entered my wedding giveaway earlier this year and were chosen as runners up in the contest.  It was a special pleasure to work with them.  They have been through an amazingly tough journey during their 3 short years together.  Including:  loss, death, birth, cancer, surgery, health issues…and through it all remained strong for and committed to each other. Those are very hard life struggles to endure for anyone and even harder for a couple so young.

Additionally, they have NEVER had professional photos done and it was very important to them, especially Jessica, because let’s be honest…most guys aren’t into the whole photo shoot thing.  We worked through Jessica’s nervousness with several emails and photo texts of clothing choices until it was perfect! Jessica liked the idea of canoe photos, which I thought was such a cute idea! Unfortunately when we got there we discovered we had only 30 minutes of rental time before the canoe had to be turned in. So that meant canoe photos in the bright sun, instead of closer to sunset like planned. That being said, we made it work with just a little sweat here and there, haha.

I consider the opportunity to create these loving, romantic images for this couple an incredible blessing.  I know it means a lot to them and I am blessed to be able to give them something so important to them.

Jessica & Josh, keep doing the amazing job of being there for each other through the peaks and valleys ahead. Keep making each other laugh. Hold each other tight on the bad days. And remember you’re totally awesome!!  I pray that the wedding of your dreams comes true for you both. Jessica I hope you find the perfect black wedding dress! You do look fabulous in black!

I hope these pictures bless you and much as you blessed me by sharing your love for each other that Saturday night…

HUGS, Tess


Wedding – Holiday Inn City Center

Denise & Brandon’s Wedding at the Holiday Inn City Center, Charlotte, NC

Wedding Palisades Country Club - Inspiration & Design Photography_0276

This love story began about three years ago, sometime after Brandon came in for a hair cut.  Denise said she knew very soon that this was the man she wanted to marry.

I always enjoyed my frequent hair appointments of girl talk with Denise.  We always had so much fun and laughed a lot about everything and just really hit it off. I would get to hear about Brandon’s latest boyish antics (like the fact that he likes to scare her) and we would laugh. I could always tell how much she loved & adored him.

Brandon would joke with her about wanting to wait for a few years to get married, but he was secretly paying off her ring.  So she was super surprised when he got down on one knee and proposed to her on his family’s boat one sunny week-end. The video tape showed her utter surprise and happy tears!  I was so excited for her when I got a text and photo of her hand with the engagement ring!!

When I took their engagement photos, I could see how smitten Brandon was with his dark haired beauty. Just the way he looked at her spoke volumes.

Their love of the city, inspired their roof top location and it was beautiful adorned in Denise’s favorite color! The weather was perfect, with it’s peek-a-boo sun and soft breeze.

The ambiance of love that surrounded their day was like the smell of sweet jasmine. The love and bond that their two families share is remarkable. The excitement and support of their friends felt like like a big wedding day hug.  I had to choke back tears several times as I experienced the overwhelming emotions that were shared.

Brandon’s mom has been praying for the girl that Brandon would marry since he was a little boy. God was definitely listening, because she couldn’t ask for a better wife or person for her son to marry.

Denise and Brandon you are so perfect together! I know you will have a lifetime of happiness and love along with support from your friends and family.  It was an amazing experience to share your day and capture all the love and beauty of your wedding.

Love & Hugs, Tess