2018 CFP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: A STORY OF ASPIRATIONS

About 18 years ago, I set myself some career goals while I was in college. I never told anyone what they were. Slowly over time, I have been able to cross off some of these goals.

Something that a lot of people do not know about me is that I did not go to college to pursue portrait photography.  I wanted to be a sports photographer, shooting at the college and professional level.  I can remember vividly after failing another photojournalism assignment, my professor (who was a professional sports photographer) asked me "What is your number one goal?"  I said “To do what you do.”  A brief silence followed by a smirk that I will never forget.

Over the course of my career of seventeen years, I have covered thousands (yes, thousands) of sporting events involving a wide range of skill levels. I was lucky enough to sprinkle some college and professional sporting events, but mostly you can find me photographing high school sports five to six nights a week. Everything changed on January 2nd. I received word that I would be able to photograph the National Championship Game on behalf of Forsyth County News. If I was alone, I could have cried.

Fast forward to January 8th, my close friend of around fifteen years Morgan Lee (Sports Editor for Access North Georgia)  and I left my house in the morning for the trek through rain and traffic to downtown Atlanta to cover the game. We arrived at the stadium nine hours before game time and were met with Secret Service, security, and more security. It's kind of surreal to see Secret Service members in body armor and huge German Shepherds everywhere. For some reason, it freaked me out. Nonetheless, we got in and spend the next hours walking all levels of the new Mercedes Benz Stadium, soaking in the scene and eventually making our way into the crowds.

As game time closed in, the photographers (more that I have ever seen) had a meeting with a few big wigs explaining what we could and could not do, as well as say up against the walls once the “Special VIP” walked out on to the field unless we wanted to meet the Secret Service up close. Then it really hit me, I am going to photograph the President of the United States too. Regardless of your political views, that's pretty awesome.

Time flew and before I knew it, it was game time.  I was in the "work-mode".  No more thinking "Oh my goodness, what I am doing here?” My thoughts turned into “Get in the right spot, idiot.” and “You better not miss the next play."  The game flowed so smoothly. My thoughts were running wild with each play:  "Alabama is driving late to win the game."  "Even though I am a Georgia fan,  I know this guy is going to miss this kick."  "Georgia is going to find a way to win.  I just know it."

Well, as we all know that didn’t happen. I didn’t allow myself to be in “fan-mode” until the end of the game as Devonta Smith crossed the goal line.  I was disappointed - but not sad. I had just done the same thing I do everyday.  The only difference was there were a few more people in the stands and the players were a bit older than who I was normally photographing.  As I jumped in my truck, I thought to myself: “This was amazing. This was fun and I got some amazing photo, but why was this my original goal as a professional photographer?”.

My conclusion is that I have everything I need to be fulfilled as a professional. I love the communities we service and I am thankful to make a difference with my trade.  Over the years, I have been able to watch children grow into awesome adults, achieve their dreams, build families.  Capturing the milestones in the lives of people in a personal way is a powerful thing.  And I am thankful.

- David

QUINN + HAYDEN - A DAHLONEGA ENGAGMENT PREVIEW

Holiday engagements are some of the most beautiful and memorable sessions to photograph, especially when you factor in the golden light and a small town decorated in lots of twinkling lights!  We loved using Historic Downtown Dahlonega as a backdrop for photographing this new chapter in Quinn and Hayden's life together.  Looking forward to photographing this sweet couple's wedding in November!

LAURA + TODD

Happy New Year, friends!  We closed out 2017 with the sweetest wedding and we are excited to share it with you!  Winter weddings provide a completely different aesthetic and feel from any other season, one that is full of holiday cheer, classic color palettes, light-filled decoration, and enhanced familial bond.  Trust me, you will see why Laura and Todd's intimate wedding was easily one of our favorites of the year.

Even before we met Laura in person, she had a way of making us feel like she already knew us.  She is gregarious, witty, and she calls everyone by a lot of pet names (it's a southern thing).  This sort of kindred sensibility was matched by both families present for the wedding - everyone was just so nice and welcoming.  They spoke to me as if I had been a part of the crew for years, joking and teasing and asking if I needed assistance.  Things got comfortable very quick.

Laura and Todd's wedding was full of both classic and unique elements.  It featured the traditional reds and greens of the holiday season with the accompanying decorative elements.  However, sprinkled throughout were little stamps of detail that made this day stand out.  For example, Laura's dress was decorated with Todd's family tartan and embroidered with the wedding dates of important family members down the back of the train.  She also wore her grandmother's fur stole, which added a touch of vintage glamour to her ensemble - even though had not originally planned on wearing it!

The importance of family echoed throughout.  We took portraits at Todd's family home, with the afternoon light shining.  Laura's mother created her bouquet of gorgeous red roses and thistles.  Family members were so gracious and fun.  Happiness.

The ceremony was simple and elegant.  Golden afternoon light shined through shutters, candles lined the seating and walkway, an absolutely stunning arbor of branches centered the space.  I found out later that the arbor was crafted the night before and was a group effort among family members.  A sign saved a place for Todd's mother.   Laura was walked down the aisle by her parents and her two sons.  Again, family taking center.

The vows were soft-spoken, meaningful, and symbolized with both rings and a binding ceremony.  The first kiss was one of the most beautiful I had photographed in some time.  The smiles as they walked down the aisle together said everything.

This couple is special.  Even in a time where people are less and less genuine, and focus on insignificant minutia and pettiness, Laura and Todd found the kind of love that lasts forever.  You can see just see it in the way they look at each other, the way they care of each other, the way they show love to others.  Congratulations Laura and Todd! 

 

 

LINDA + DON

As wedding photographers, we see a lot of scenarios play out.  Each bride, groom, wedding party, family is different.  Being flexible and adaptable is an absolute requirement of a photographer, and if you can embrace it, beautiful images are the result.

Linda and Don's fall wedding was unique in that it was a public affirmation of their marriage from the previous year, but it was also the type of reunion of family and friends that only happens after many years have past.  Being a photojournalist at heart, these factors made this wedding prime for special moments.

I arrived at Linda and Don's house to find everyone so relaxed and enjoying each other's company.  We took the opportunity to take some portraits at their home, which made these portraits more personal. 

Have I mentioned how awesome everyone was in this wedding party?  Everyone - bride and groom included - were friendly, go-with-the-flow type of people. There was joking, laughing, lounging, reminiscing all day.  Once we got to The Wheeler House and got settled, we took a few more portraits and waited for the guests to arrive.

The ceremony was full of laughter and sweet moments, as well as some unconventional touches.  Linda and Don's daughter, Olive, would not let go of her daddy for most of the afternoon, so she joined them at the altar!  Song choices were fun and sentimental (i.e. Parents walked down to "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge, Linda walked down the aisle to and acoustic rendition of "Everlong" by Foo Fighters).  The officiant's message rhymed.

The reception was an absolute party.  Both Linda and Don's first dance and the mother-son dance were fun, upbeat songs.  They even had a joint dance with Linda dancing with her father and Don dancing with Olive!  The TC Show did an incredible job keeping the guests on the dance floor.  It was clear that everyone was in a celebratory mood, and their eagerness to dance and have fun was infectious.  Oh, and there were s'mores.  And glow sticks and glow necklaces.  And a perfect sparkler exit.  I had multiple people comment about my Ramones shirt.  It was really perfect.

Really, this whole day was such a pleasure to be a part of.  You can see the love between Linda and Don, the kind that is going to last.  Congratulations and thank you for an awesome day!

LOURIE + ROYAL

Our fall wedding season has been off to a running start and it is definitely our favorite season for weddings.  After several weddings already in September, Lourie and Royal's romantic wedding at Dawsonville's Cold Creek Farm was a particularly special experience.  Weddings are a celebration of two people deciding to share their lives together, and Lourie and Royal's nuptials felt like a love letter witnessed by family and friends. 

We arrived at Cold Creek Farm to find the bridal suite upbeat, with dance music playing and everyone in high spirits.  The details were being put into place and while each were important, Lourie was at ease and happy.  Royal and his groomsmen were more than entertaining as they prepared, showing their excitement and support.  When it came time for the first look, Lourie and Royal had endless smiles.  It was a tender moment between them before the wedding day rush began.

The ceremony was short and sweet.  Lourie had the most adorable expressions throughout the ceremony, while Royal looked on with complete admiration. 

The reception felt like the best reunion among family, with so much socializing and smiles.  We never could have anticipated some of the details of the reception, but they were so fitting to this classy couple.  A feast that could feed a small city, two amazing outfit changes for the bride, the absolute best bridal party announcements that we have ever seen, toasts that would make you cry.  It was perfection.