the best part of waking up

This is perhaps the only day in my life where I say, "My hands smell like Folgers." The company clearly did an excellent job branding their pungent coffee, because the best worst part of waking up is Folgers in my cup pores. Indeed, my cuticles are just as brown as the two-hundred coffee filters I just dyed.

Saturating fibrous materials isn't something I typically do every day, but since the start of this whole wedding process, I've been doing a lot of things I previously wouldn't have considered normal:

-- patrol gravel roads with mom in the 100+ degree heat and, with my scythe, hack down Iowa grasses (Okay, so I didn't really have a scythe, and my "hacking" was more of a dashing snip snip than a hatchet-wielding Indiana Jones.)

-- measure fabric in "knives" (As in, "The piece needs to be "knife-lengthed.")

-- think about destroying an old book

-- actually destroy an old book

-- spray paint "lumber" the dying backyard trees deposit onto the grass

-- listen to Victrola music ... intently

-- dye coffee filters. Two hundred of them. Fill the kitchen and dining room tables with them, circle the tables' edges with them as if layering a pepperoni pizza. All with the intent to make them into something.

I have the intent to make everything into something. An atlas into garland. A book into a table runner. A potato salad container into a hat, a light bulb into an ornament. A vase into a candy jar, an engagement into a marriage.

I think I'm going to need more than rubber cement, stitches, scissors, burlap, black lace, cattails, or masking tape for that last one, though.

a victorian steampunk wedding?

It's less than two months to my wedding now. I'm in shock, still. In reality, it was not long ago that we were engaged, not long ago that he dropped to his knee, asked if I would give him the honor of being his bride. All the same, that day seems so long ago, especially after our difficulties in selecting a reception area, and my indecisiveness in selecting a dress. We have the basics down--we secured venues, a DJ, a pastor, a date, a time, a "minstrel," my dress, a photographer, within one month. However, we have yet to secure the rentals (chairs, mostly, and other things we may need, such as silverware or tablecloths or even an archway). More importantly, our caterer is yet to be booked. I am a bit frantic, a lot worried, about finding one, and am especially frenzied about supplying enough food to feed our special-diets, our vegetarians, our diabetics. To top things off, I have yet to see our reception venue. (We booked it solely on trust; my Hans visited it one day and sent me photos. I agreed it to it; it had an outdoor feel, had its own tables and chairs, a full kitchen. It had less rules, too, which was especially beneficial to us, a somewhat non-traditional couple.)

There is much to do.

Back in Iowa for a couple of weeks, I have been spray-painting, cutting, snipping, pasting, licking (stamps, that is). I have also punched holes, strung, stared, pondered, worried.

Worried and worried and worried. (I know it is useless to, but I do it anyway.)

And stare at pictures. Stare and wonder if our wedding will be just as magical, just as romantic, just as elegantly whimsical as the ones pictured below. I was always drawn to the old; interested in the rustic and the antique. It is incredibly popular now, yes, which is a bit unfortunate. However, those items and that feel, that "rustic chic," that "antique charm," is us. With Hans's suggestion that the wedding be a blend of Victorian and steampunk (something that his interests really balance), I've found some inspiration.

Found things that embody him, represent me. Stand for what we like, prefer, enjoy. Old. Respected. Dated. Intelligent. Elegant. Whimsical. Romantic. Outdoor. Fairy-like. Woods. Wooden. Industrial. Cyclical. Rustic. Typographical.

... I only hope that our wedding be as photogenic as these ...

I think outdoor ceremonies are magical. To me, it is incredibly beautiful to be married outside, surrounded by natural elegance.

(I saw this photo here. I had a hard time searching through the photographer's archives to find this exact photo. There is a very similar one in this gallery, however.)

I actually sent out my invitations this past week. I can't wait to show them to you, can't wait to post what they were inspired by. However, they will have to wait until after the wedding. I am eager to share my inspiration and ideas, but wish to divulge our true intentions only after the big day.

(If anyone knows the original source of this image, I would very much like to have it. I saw the photo here, but there isn't even a link to the pin.)

Ball jars and vases, doilies and books. You can never have too many books.


Silhouettes? Yes, please.

As I said, you can never have too many books.

Hans was especially interested in finding scales to use.

I, however, am especially interested in finding a typewriter.

In addition to the photo at the very beginning of this post, these next two photos came from a wedding centered around steampunk. It is Hans's favorite wedding post, and one of my favorite places to steal ideas from. It was fantastical and imaginative, that wedding, and I love the little touches.

Another source of inspiration featured a black and white wedding shoot I greatly admire.

I truly hope it comes together.

toddlers, take two

Here's some more mediocre photos I took for parents who think I possess some sort of talent. (It baffles me, these people's beliefs in me. Every time I'm about to start I shoot, I always say, "As long as both you and I know that I have no idea what I'm doing.")

I need a mentor. There is so much to learn, so much I will never learn because there will always be new advances, new techniques, new software. Faster and faster, better and better.

I want to be better. I will always want to be better.

This little guy was pretty shy during the beginning of our shoot, which was at the pedestrian bridge that connects Council Bluffs and Omaha. However, once we walked over to the Omaha side, the young sir lit up. He loved romping around in the fountains.

He was interested in having a big boy bicycle, too.

Other photos of this little guy can be seen here.

I met this full-haired munchkin a couple of days later. She was especially interested in the grass, the rocks, the trees and the birds in the park we visited that afternoon. She touched and smelled, and even attempted to gnaw on the chain which hoisted the swings.

More photos of Little Miss Madi are here.

Thank you for looking ... and if anyone has guidance or suggestions, feel free to share them! I'm always willing to learn, always looking for ways to better what I'm doing. I don't mind being an amateur; but I would like to be an amateur with stunning results. I just need to learn ... and never stop learning.

the green

When I lived in Boone, one of my favorite places to visit was Ledges State Park (I even shot part of an engagement shoot there). Ledges has a valley that opens to the Des Moines River, and there are miles upon miles of hiking trails that lead you up and around the Iowa sandstone. On one of my last visits there, I hiked the "Lost Lake" trail, which first leads you to a stagnant pool. However, after an additional of hiking through the mulch, you finally reach the actual lake (which is more of a glorified pond, of course). It was utterly peaceful there; all I could hear were birds, insects, bullfrogs. My grassy footsteps were the only thing that disturbed any of the natural wonder.

This trip further cemented my choice to have an outdoor wedding. The trees were green, the grass was vivid. Shade and sunlight interspersed, and I knew that there would not be a more beautiful place to hold our ceremony. For we are all held in awe when it comes to the natural world.

Some experimenting with freelensing.

little ones

For the two weeks I stayed at my mom's house in June, I kept relatively busy, mostly with wedding planning. I did, however, also do some photo shoots to get some experience. These are some of the shots that came from two separate toddler shoots.

Little Miss Tyrza was incredibly fun to photograph. Her facial expressions were priceless, and she was one of the most talkative little girls I have ever met. Her curly hair is adorable, and her interaction with both the puppy, Blue, and her parents gives me the impression that she is going to take on the world someday.

Keira and Gabriel are a brother-sister team who, from my time with them, got along remarkably well. They chased each other, tickled each other, and hugged each other (though, judging by the first photo, it looks as if Gabriel is trying to strangle his sibling rather than love her).

When I presented the finished photos to the mother, she exclaimed that I "made her children look like angels!" I appreciated the compliment, and was humbled by her kindness. Truly, I never feel like I am good enough. And, truly, I never will be. There will always be things to learn, things to try, things to pick up and advance and educate. Though I will always be an amateur, I hope that, someday, my photos won't look so much like it.

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