MSCM – Ireland Trip

Top of the mornin’ to ya. 

A lot of people have asked me about my trip to Ireland with my graduate program cohort. Unfortunately, when I’m asked how it was or what we did, I have a hard time putting into words all of the stops we made, or what it specifically was that we learned about. Primary reason being we experienced a lot and we learned a lot.

I constantly found myself being quiet (at peace) through out our trip, because of all of the inspirational people and stories we encountered. These were people we met during tours, interactions at a pub, and designated learning sessions.

Ireland, as a whole has been through so much, yet they are the most positive and collective group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with. The peace I felt during my time there, was similar to the feeling you may have gotten when you leave a really good sermon at church. A sermon that just struck you to the core and got your attention; or the feeling you get when you’re open to hearing and experiencing new opinions and insights – a total state of learning.

If you’re at the pub grabbing a pint, they immediately know you’re not from there and will make sure you leave feeling welcomed.

Their music and dance culture is amazing.

and yes, their Guinness does taste different, better.

So with that, this is my attempt to summarize my 8 day trip with some of the most amazing and motivational people I’ve ever met.


Fresh off the plane.

Everyone who knows me, knows I am NOT a morning person. BUT, I got it together this week (for the most part) and was really excited when we hit the Irish ground (I immediately started taking photos, hence the photo from a moving bus).

Our first stop was Monasterboice Round Tower and High Crosses.


Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses.


The crew filing in and zipping up.


Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses pt. II.


Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses pt. III


Inside the Cemetery.


Beautiful farm house nearby.

Crumlin Road Gaol

Our next stop was the Crumlin Road Gaol (prison), (I’m not going to go into the history lesson of this, you can click the link to read more about it). BUT it was cool, and had a really positive spin on their atrium of the prison.


Here she is.


Underneath the Crumlin. This passageway would take the prisoners over to the Courthouse.


Tam being artistic.


Our tour guide really had our attention. Pretty sure he was telling a ghost story here.

This next photo kind of got me. Our tour guide took us into a room, which was the final living quarters for a prisoner who was sentenced to death. Prisoners who entered this room were never seen coming out of it.

They would spend weeks in the room secluded with stationed guards until their execution day. The room had a trap door built into it and when that day came, the guards were able to flip the prisoner around, strap them to the noose, and then they would drop to their death, all within seconds and no warning.


The last thing a prisoner sentenced to death would see.


Mediation Northern Ireland

The next day, we got to spend time with some professionals in the CM industry. Picking their brains in the peace process following The Troubles, the role of the community during the process, as well what family mediation looks like from the Irish perspective.


Beautiful Lauren


Joe being suave.


Here is that “picking of the professional brain”, I was talking about


Streets of Belfast ❤

Peace walls

These walls border the Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods. If you want a really good info documentary look up the Art of Conflict on Netflix. It provides a lot of good context about these murals and their possible future.

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This mural is a reminder of those who were involved in the 1981 Hunger Strike


Looking into the Protestant side of town through their wall  – There are literally walls that separate the different communities in N. Ireland.


View from the Stormont building.


Area surrounding the Carrickfergus Castle.



Ph D. Dave – inside Carrickgergus.


City of Carrickfergus


City of Carrickfergus pt. II


I can’t really put into words how SMALL this place made me feel. I could have sat here all day long BUT, it was raining and very wind/ cold… AND we had other places to be, so I couldn’t literally sit there all day long. 😉


Giants Causeway pt. II


Giants Causeway pt. III


Giants Causeway pt. IV


Giants Causeway pt. V

If you are ever in Derry – this museum is a MUST.


Inside the Museum of Free Derry pt. II


The City of Legend-Derry 🙂


Free Derry Corner.


The most awesome tour guide – Garvin

This man, was able to speak to us about his personal Bloody Sunday experience, without any hatred or upset in his voice. He had so much positivity that he made you want to hug anyone who had ever done you wrong.


View from atop of Derry’s walls.

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Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral


St. Patrick’s Cathedral


Gorgeous architecture. Gothic and Romanesque arches 😉


Phoenix Park – 1,750 acres of pure green!

So, hopefully this gives you some idea of the experiences and stops we made in Ireland.

With that,

and the rest of the day to you”. 


Sims Wedding!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking photos for Emily and Drew, and let me just say that, every time I do a wedding, I seriously think THIS is the best wedding I’ve done. Every time I get to shoot something new, I learn more and more about people and how to get the best photos I can.

I met Emily and Drew my freshman year of college at Faulkner University, and I was actually friends with Emily’s sister Sarah (who’s wedding I shot 2 Decembers ago). I also knew Drew from an ex boyfriend’s friend circle.
So funny how things work out years later, and how you can tell this is how its supposed to be. 

This ceremony took place in the Lester Chapel on campus, and truth be told, I was extremely nervous about shooting in this little chapel. I had only seen  one time during my 2 semesters at FU (little convenient/ inappropriate shorthand for the Christian school).  I don’t have serious lighting equipment so, I needed to make sure the light I could get for the ceremony was acceptable. Thankfully, 2 things were true:
1. The rose window let in a HUGE amount of natural light
2. The “stained” glass windows are actually fake and you can control the light they put off.

Needless to say, I fell in love with the yellow light from the rose window and we spent a lot more time in the chapel taking photos than I thought we would. We were also able to achieve some fairly intimate shots. 😉 meow!

ALSO, between Faulkner and Alabama Christian School there is a water reservoir/ ditch, that I played in a few times, and I thought that that would be a pretty cool backdrop for these guys. Faulkner has a really pretty campus, but as I was scoping out photo spots, I noticed there would either be a brick building or a vehicle in the background. This ditch kind of gave it a little edge, without a view of the normal world.

Sims Wedding 181

Sims Wedding 182Once upon a time there was a bride, and she was a beautiful movie starlet…

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I think I’m going to put it in my future contracts you have save me a piece of cake. I always look back at the photos and think, “it looked so good…” Sims Wedding 203Baseball!! Sims Wedding 193I really did love Emily’s dress.. SO beautiful. Sims Wedding 321Sims Wedding 326
Sims Wedding 406Sims Wedding 411Sims Wedding 523
so cute. 🙂 Sims Wedding 533

Sims Wedding 574 Sims Wedding 580 Sims Wedding 586 Sims Wedding 600I CAN’T HANDLE THIS. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Sims Wedding 604 Sims Wedding 607and, what kind of wedding would it be with out a little butt grab?
Sims Wedding 669 Sims Wedding 676 Sims Wedding 680and nothing says a wedding well done, like a proud and happy momma.

You really get to know someone when you are in their personal space telling them to kiss their newly married spouse, and I will say, that I truly believe you two are going to have a life full of love and fun. You two have a special look you give the other, and that in its self is extremely special.

Congratulations, and thank you so much (seriously, I really enjoyed shooting your wedding) for asking me to take your wedding photos. I hope I was able to ease some of the fear of being in front of the camera ;).

Meeting Baby Asa.


You remember that baby shower I went to back in February? Well, this is what came after! This sweet little man you see is Asa.

Its funny, you think you know someone until they become a mommy; and then you see their whole life change.
At times when some things were priority, now are not so important. Or how you thought they were happy before, now just seems they were content in comparison to the way they light up when their baby makes a funny face, hand gesture or fart. 😉

This is how Sarah is with Asa.

This kid, is the light of her world.

Congrats mommy, I’m so happy he got here safely. ❤

Because I got High – at an art museum… with my friend’s mom. ;)

High Museum Post

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hanging out with one of my best friend’s mom. Which, I’m assuming some of you may think is weird… but I love this lady, so hanging out with her would not be weird at all. Deanna basically watched me grow up, from not being able to drive to, “OMG, ROSA!! You just drove to our house!”

( On my first trip with this family, I was given the nick-name “Rosalita”, because I was obviously a latino orphan who was rescued from the deepest, darkest jungles of Mexico from huge spiders… don’t judge us, it made sense at the time. Another thing that happened on my first trip with them; I farted out loud in front of the hole family, so needless to say, we were close from the start.) 

BUT, enough of that. Yesterday we wandered around the High Museum learning about Frida Kahlo and her majestic unibrow, and giggling about semi-inappropraite things. She shared her knowledge of the female anatomy and spanish language, and I shared what I remembered from art classes. Truly an amazingly simple experience. I loved it.

Afterward, we had lunch at Da Vinci’s pizza and talked for hours about anything and everything. It was so refreshing to be in the company of someone with more knowledge/ wisdom than me and yet, I felt perfectly comfortable to fully express myself and still pick up on her little tid-bits of knowledge.

After that, I went home and was feeling extremely artsy so I took some pictures of my husband, my cat, and billy balls from our wedding.


Yonah Mountain Winery – Never go to a winery on an empty stomach. Ever.


I was able to go to my first “official” wine tasting today, and it was in Georgia! We went to this place called Yonah Mountain Vineyards with two of my favorite people. My husband wasn’t able to join us because of work, but it was such a beautiful day. I just could not have imagined a better way to spend Georgia’s one day of 65 degree weather and sunshine in the past month.

As you see from the title of this post … I went to this shindig having only eaten a piece of toast & an apple so by 3:30 when the tour started and then the tasting, I was a little off my kilter, but I had Zack and Chelsea laughing pretty good.

Something I always saw when I was in Helen was the word “Yonah”. For I a long time I thought it was something to do with the Amish since I thought it was a common last name, but I confused that with Yoder… anyways, “Yonah” actually means “Bear” in Cherokee. This vineyard backs up to the Yonah Mountain, thus the name Yonah Mountain Vineyard.

I will say, I am not red girl, but my favorite wine was a red wine called the Traminette. Something special about this winery is that they are the only Georgia winery with a cave & they also use concrete containers for their processing.

Super cool stuff.

How to have the best reception ever – an unbiased opinion, of course.

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This past October I had the opportunity to photograph a co-worker’s wedding (during my October-Wedding Fest). It was the middle event that month and I kind of am weird about the middle of things. Before anyone thinks I have a weird jinx let me explain…

If you have a strain of events, say for instance a test, more specifically the GRE; you want to start out doing really well because this sets the bar for the remainder of your exam. I’m not 100% on this analogy, but from what I remember, the better you do in the beginning, the better you do as a whole. That includes the slump that occurs in the middle of the test. You know, that part where your eyes glaze over and you’re semi reading the questions you’re answering…but then you look up and see you have one section left, so you put some oomph into it! That way you can proudly click that ugly button that says, “Are you sure you want to submit?”.

I was scared, that since this was in the middle, I was going to have this slump. Anyone who has ever shot a wedding knows how exhausting it is. Being that I don’t do wedding photography as my full time job, I was so nervous I was going to be worn out and tired by my middle run, and specifically the reception. Receptions can be really weird, and if not done right, and kind of boring.

Luckily, Anjie and Darren know good people who know how to have a really good time. Somethings I picked up on, in order to have a really awesome reception (if you want the partying type of reception):

  1. Invite your friends. I know family is really important,but there are several instances where you have a count crunch on guests and it comes down to family vs. friends. You need your family, but you also need your friends, they are going to be the ones stirring up the dance floor, unless you’re lucky and have a dancing fool family, (Unfortunately, not all of us do).

  2. Play music for everyone! Not many of us feel confident or comfortable dancing to music we’ve never heard of. You’ve got to get music for the young people and the older, especially if your grandparents are there! Give them a reason to be out there with you!
  3. YOU pick the music. (Spinning from #2) Don’t let your DJ pick it all out… they don’t know your group, like you know your group. Pick some songs as dedications! ( At my wedding, we did Tootsie Roll- inside joke)
  4. Make sure you feel comfortable with your crowd.  I’m a believer in smaller weddings. If your guest list is smaller and you have a head count on who all is coming, you can predict how the night is going to go and feel good about it! Knowing there will be people there you don’t know well or haven’t met before can be kind of weird…
  5. Have a place for people to go cool off or escape the music. Anjie and Darren had a sweet little outdoor patio for people to refill their drinks and socialize. Sometimes receptions are mini family reunions. Give them that option. 🙂
  6. Make sure your DJ has lights. Dancing in a room with normal lights can be sort of intimidating for people who aren’t comfortable with dancing. You just see too much… Plus, lights can totally set the mood and make everything look cool for your photographer 🙂
  7. Lastly, Play Gangnam Style. No, but really. I never saw a group of people react to a song like they did. You can see in one of the images the girl is totally into this. Her and her dancing partner went nuts when this came on.

Any one else have ideas for having an awesome reception?

VSCO Film 02 presets for Aperture 3 – Courtney getting pretty

VSCOFilm02 Blog


I’m kind of nerding out right now on the availability of VSCO Film 02 presets being available for Aperture 03.  If you have an account and have already downloaded Aperture 01 you get this gem for half off. Can we say that again?


I can’t wait to play. And then play. The first Aperture release was awesome. I purchased it last October when I was in the middle of “Wedding-tober Fest”, and I kind of had a change up in my editing styles. I know that’s bad form, when it comes to clients, but I fell in love. These presets are perfect in grain and color, and if you want more grain, well by all means, add it! It gives you that sweet vintage (classy) film look that can be difficult to get if you’re not real big on editing.  i.e. me. – I’ve never really spent a lot of time in learning Photoshop or any other photo editing software, because:

1. I try to make a habit of taking photos right when I’m shooting (not that I always do it right or am a pro…not tooting my horn, promise)
2. It makes better images all the way around – when something isn’t exposed right, people can tell and you might miss the look you are going for and post processing can’t replicate it. Unless you are just balla at Photoshop
#3 LESS TIME EDITING – so if you shot a wedding and realize at the end of the night you took 2,000 photos you wont be killing yourself later

BUT the benefit to editing presets (or any editing for that matter), is getting a certain look your camera might not be able to do. Or just straight up change it up. 🙂

Above are a few photos of a bride getting her make up done. I just had to use the presets. The natural light was so gorgeous and perfect. It was on 2 sides of the bride creating this beautiful air… the moment was so calm and peaceful. I felt like it really amplified how I remembered viewing the bride getting ready. Kind of like, “Shhhhh… Courtney is getting pretty.” 

Is anyone out there using either the VSCO 01 or 02 packs?

Lizzy, Brenden & the Magical Land of Faeries.


The day after Jonathan and I got back from our honeymoon, I took these engagement photos for my friends, Brenden and Lizzy. The end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 were so hard for scheduling. I was planning my own wedding, working full time in insurance, and still wanted to do photography on the side… I didn’t want to let anyone down but still wanted to keep my sanity… hard line to maintain sometimes.

BUT I did it. Can I say that again? I did it! 🙂

I had been reading Jose Villa’s book, Fine Are Wedding Photography: How to Capture Images with Style for the Modern Bride, for a while and let me tell you, its amazing. Whether or not you want to be a wedding photographer this book gives you excellent insight on several big photo taking questions and how the business works. I loved it. Plus, the guy is a genius.

Anyway, since I had been reading this book, I was trying to pay attention to my light. Where it was going, where it was coming from and how I should be using it to get the image I wanted. These photos are very light and airy to me, which make them feel ethereal. I love them, to say the least.

Brenden and Lizzy are an outdoorsy couple. They hike, camp, and play with fire, so it only made sense we do something outside. We showcased their Vibrams in a beautiful covered bridge and headed to a magical waterfall through the woods. This place is actually an old mill turned into a public park where you can walk, run, or explore. I had never been there until these guys took me there and when I saw the background I instantly fell in love! It was perfect for them.

On the way back to the car, I noticed where the light was and how it was haloing their heads. I had to make them stop and do a few photos and they ended up being my favorites of the whole night.

Love you guys!