Phanny is my best friend. Her family has an amazing story; they immigrated from Cambodia and came to the U.S. when she was just a baby. I never knew until she told me while we grazed at an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet at Punch Bowl Social on January 1, 2016. Her grandmother had nine children. One was lost while they were traveling from one village to another during the chaos of the Khmer Rouge regime. Naturally I was anxious to meet her grandmother AND mother, and Thanksgiving weekend gave us the perfect opportunity. I love photographing mothers and daughters. I think there is something powerful about capturing a portrait–not a lifestyle or action image–but a timeless, classic image that will be handed down from generation to generation. We met at Westwood Country Club for a quick mini-session. “Ma” was rather sober while the camera was clicking away, but afterward she laughed and hugged and kissed me. My favorite portrait is one we took outside, and she got distracted by her three-year-old great-grandson, Jordan. He made her smile.

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What a way to end 2016! I watched Jenna grow up with my daughter, Hannah. They were both in theatre at Canyon High School. They moved to Austin at the same time, starting college. So when Jenna called me to say she was engaged, I admit I had a mild panic attack–are these babies ready to get married???!! How time does fly. It was a whirlwind planning session of about three months(!!) but Jenna and her amazing mom, Amy, pulled off the sweetest, relaxed New Year’s Eve celebration at Grandpa’s ranch way out in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. Technically Seguin. After a couple of days of freezing temperatures, we had a beautifully sunny day of about 75 degrees. It was great fun being part of a truly family affair: furniture moved to the garage, chairs lined around the swimming pool outside and tea lights floating in the water, Jenna’s “baby,” Charlie constantly underfoot as he stuck close to his mistress. Home weddings are just nice. These two lovebirds are off to Hawaii where Andrew is stationed in the U.S. Navy. Godspeed you two, and may you have a long and happy life together. Thanks to Krissy Davis for assisting me!

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Vendors: planning, Love Joy Events; rentals, Premiere Select; venue, Brazos Hall; lighting, Austin Event Lighting; catering, Crave Catering.

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Grace and Ryan’s wedding day was just perfect. Perfect! Westwood Country Club is a terrific wedding venue; the ceremony began near sunset, overlooking the water.  The sunset pouring through the chuppah was amazing! Their whole day was just filled with joyful emotion, lots of happy tears! From Grace’s daddy seeing her in her gown for the first time, to Ryan’s gasp at their First Look and all the moments during their reception–it was such a pleasure being there, capturing their big day. Kimberly with Love Joy Events did an amazing job, as well as Melissa, the trusty catering sales manager for Westwood. Golly if you want good food at your wedding, Westwood is the place! Grace and Ryan opted for a little nontraditional wedding dessert: they had mini-cupcake towers (Nothing Bundt Cakes) in lieu of a cake as well as ice cream for guests. I loved her palette of bright coral and classic navy blue. My favorite moment was during the ceremony, as the rabbi wrapped the prayer shawl around the newly-married couple. It was Grace’s prayer shawl from her bat mitzvah! It really touched me to see Jewish traditions span a lifetime. They exited to guests holding sparklers and floated off into the night on a boat! Mazel Tov, Grace and Ryan! I wish you a long and happy life together. Many many thanks to Breanna McKendrick for assisting me that day!

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Layla’s bat mitzvah was a terrific party. Her friends and family gathered for her reception downtown at the AT&T Executive Center for a fun-packed night. Disch Events did their usual job of gorgeous florals and uplighting, including a personalized vintage car gobo above the dj booth. So cool! Guests had fun posing by a vintage car in front of the hotel before coming upstairs. The Cupcake Bar had a yummy doughnut bar AND candy bar (you can never have too much sugar) and a popcorn bar and drink stand awaited guests on the other side of the ballroom. Premiere Events provided beautiful rentals and furniture for the henna station and Hype Rhythm kept the kids busy with dance contests, singing contests, races and other games. Layla was honored with a slideshow of her parents’ favorite memories, the traditional hora as well as family blessing. The AT&T Center provided catering. Many thanks to Jessica Frey for helping me on this one!

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