Studio Update!

We have a studio. A fully functional, albeit not completely decorated, studio. It's amazing. It's beautiful. I've already shot ten gorgeous women in it and the images are stunning.

I am going to post the pretty pictures of where my studio is currently. This has been fun. However, in the interest of keeping it real, this has also been the most panic-inducing, hair-pulling, head-banging, mind-spinning, stomach-churning experience of my life.

Let's see, how to sum up the past two months. Well, to give you an accurate idea of what my life has been like, imagine that someone hands you a Rubik's cube puzzle to solve. Now imagine that each of the individual cubes are just smaller Rubik's cubes. Now imagine I give you 10 seconds to solve said demon-puzzle or you'll never ever see your family again. Bleak, no? And I freaking suck at Rubik's cubes to begin with. But that's kind of how I've felt for the past two months. It's been terrifyingly awesome. To sum up, since October 20, I have:

-Found, negotiated and signed a lease for a studio space.

-Negotiated all changes & remodeling that needed to be done to the space.

-Taken down two walls.

-Tried to "expose the beams" and heighten the ceiling a bit.

-Realized said "exposed beams" are really just the interior structure and therefore not esthetically pleasing. Actually, downright creepy looking. In fact, they'd probably require me to promise my clients I was just going to take pictures of them and promise not to murder them.

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-Replace the murder-beams ceiling.

 

-Rip up the carpet upstairs and put down beautiful, light hardwoods.IMG_8202

-Shop. Shop. Shop. And then, when finished, shop a little more.

-Painted the entire space.

-Complete the renovations 36 hours before I had my first client coming in.

-Guilt every loved one I have to come out and spend all night getting every single piece of Ikea furniture ever made put together.

-Realize the "floors" that were put down were actually wall-paneling installed upside down.

-Shoot marathon boudoir sessions that I had already scheduled on terrible wall-floor.

-Replace wall-floor with a beautiful, new, floor-floor.

-Completely re-branded Meagan O Photography including logo, website and direction.

-Existed on less sleep than I believed was possible.

-Gone more days without showering than I'd care to admit.

-Had more wine than I'd care to admit.

-Attempted to completely suck dry my husband's incredibly deep well of patience.

-Attempted to remain somewhat jovial and enjoy my favorite time of year.

I'd love to say I handled this all with ease and grace. No sweat. Come out with make-up in tact and hair perfectly quaffed, but my husband would probably tattle on me. This has been hard. I've been more insecure about my abilities with my craft than ever before. I've also been more excited and energetic about photography than ever before. The ten clients I've had the pleasure of shooting ion the studio thus far have reminded me the bigger reason I am doing this.

I am doing this to show women they are BEAUTIFUL. That they are worth it. To the adorable, elegant, 80 year old grandmother who can barely make it up the steps and packs all her outfit accessories in little baggies, you are worth it. To the 30-something wife who has never donned lingerie, but wants to surprise her husband with something special, you are worth it. To the mom of two grown children who only has her yearly school pictures to serve as professional portraits, you are worth it. 

There's still a lot to do, but if I keep reminding myself the reason I'm doing all this is completely worth it.

So! They studio is up and ready! If you're interested in glamour portraits, shoot me an email! (meagan@meaganophotography.com) Also, I'll be doing more boudoir minis the weekends of Jan 17-18 & 24-25 in preparation for Valentine's Day! Email me for details!

Now, without further ado, the updated studio pics! 

Downstairs from entrance-www.meaganophotography.com

Meeting area (where we have yet to hang our Black Friday 55'' tv)www.meaganophotography.com

 

 

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Coffee & refreshment area-www.meaganophotography.comwww.meaganophotography.com

 

Shooting space with gorgeous, new floors-www.meaganophotography.com

 

Make-up area hallway (where we are installing a wardrobe system)-www.meaganophotography.com

Make-up area-www.meaganophotography.com

 

It's certainly come a long. LONG. way!

A STUDIO! It's a MIRACLE!

It has happened. I have a studio. As in lease signed, walls coming down, hardwoods being put in, paint going on walls-the real deal. I'm getting everything ready for the first boudoir marathon I'll be shooting there on November 21. Yes, that is  a couple of weeks away. Yes, I do realize how insanely crazy I am. And yes, my husband will probably need some sort of therapy after all of this is finished. What? How? When? Well...the story is pretty incredible. Two months ago I reached out to two separate real estate agents for some help finding a space. One never called me back (probably because my ridiculously long "requirements" list was a tad overwhelming). The other was a sweet guy who graduated from 'Bama and couldn't quite grasp exactly what my space would be used for. Alas, the whole glamour photography thing completely alluded him. Thus, we went to see a ton of properties that wouldn't really work. I wasn't being picky. One didn't have a toilet-anywhere. Another started with a 20 minute speech from the property manager about how great their security system is...which is never a good sign if someone is selling you that hard on the safety of the area. Yeah. It wasn't going well.

Here's where I have to pause my current story to share a background story. It's a story within a story. Story inception. Promise it's completely relevant. Scout's honor.

So, two years ago I'd been having a busy, intense week and I decided I needed to just get out of the condo for a bit. Get some fresh air, meditate and pray. Well, two blocks from my condo I see this space that's available that looks like it'd make a cool studio. Now, at this point I had no desire to have a studio. Zip. Zilch. Nada. But I was curious, so I cup my hands around my eyes to peer in. Suddenly, a woman turns the corner and starts walking towards me. I (aware that I look like I'm casing the place to rob later) stammer an explanation about me being a photographer and the place looking like it would make a nice studio...yada yada yada. She looks at me and says, "Do you believe in God?" Huh. Weird response. But I tell her that I absolutely do and she tells me to lay my hands on the space and claim it. She then proceeds to tell me about her son who's been wrongfully convicted of murder, is in jail awaiting trial and whom she's believing the Lord will deliver. Now, again, at the time I didn't even want a studio. But my interaction with that woman was so random and encouraging that it made quite an impact. So much so, that I even told my best friends, husband, parents and sisters about it.

Now, fast forward back to current day.

I'm having no luck finding a studio, so I do what any desperate, slightly insane business owner would do. I get on Craigslist. It's 11:00 at night and I'm clicking through some rather interesting properties when I happen upon quite a gem. It's 1,400 square feet and has 2 floors (a wish list item of mine). It has two huge windows that span the entire wall on both floors. It's under my budget (say whattt??). It has two bathrooms-one upstairs and one downstairs. I glance at the address and realize it is walking distance from my house. I continue to click through the pictures, my heart pitter-pattering faster and faster when I get to the last picture. It is the EXACT space that I was peering into the day I met that woman. The one I thought would make such an awesome studio. The one she told me to believe in God for. WOAH. Chill bumps everywhere.

Since then, the landlord and I have worked together so well. She is putting hardwoods in upstairs, taking down the popcorn ceiling upstairs and making it flat, painting the entire facade of the building, adding new deadbolts, getting a more upscale door installed, and pressure washing the windows. I'm paying for two walls to come down upstairs (so the light can flow uninterrupted) and for the walls to be painted. There has been a TON of changes made, and I am SO STOKED!

Now, I want to put a disclaimer on this. I don't know if you believe in God. I don't know where you've been in your life, or what your interaction with christians has been like. We can unfortunately be quite a hurtful, judgmental bunch. I certainly don't want you to feel like I'm shoving God down your throat. But I felt this was too incredible a story not to share exactly as it happened. God has done some things in my life that are far too big for coincidence. This was one of them.

Check it out!!!

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Where my sign will hang...I'm gonna have a sign!

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The downstairs lobby/viewing area. (Pardon the ladder-this was the day they began construction and I didn't want to ask them to move it. Come on, I can't be that girl.)

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Adorable little mail slot. Never thought I'd get excited over a mail slot. But, come on! It's so cute! I think I'll name it Betty and give her lips and eyes or something.

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And then upstairs...www.meaganophotography.com

We have the make up/hair area to the left.

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As well as another bathroom.

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And then right at the top of the stairs, we have two weird walls with window glass. No worries, those are coming down to open the entire space up.www.meaganophotography.com

And to allow this gorgeous natural light through!www.meaganophotography.com

The crazy thing is, they've already ripped up that carpet and taken down the walls. I'll be taking more pictures soon to keep you guys updated on the progress! And be sure to send me a message if you'd like to be included in the first boudoir minis in the space. It's going to be a BLAST!www.meaganophotography.com

 

2013 A Brand New Year

Ahhhhhhhh. (That was a combination sigh/stretch.) After a BUSY Autumn season, I have really given myself a break. I've seen family and friends, slept in, read new books, taken long baths. It has been a few weeks of desperately needed R&R. The final quarter of 2012 kicked my tail!! That is the wonderful thing about being a wedding photographer-the year is solidly busy from March-December. So I use January & February to re-cooperate, make new goals for my business, go hang out with my accountant, and figure out my marketing strategy for the year. It's awesome that the beginning of the year happens to coincide with the off-season for weddings! I've always been one of those people who loves when things are brand new. I loved the beginning of the school year or semester and getting new notebooks, pens, pencils, etc. I love starting a new book. I love beginning new friendships. I even love the beginning of the day. I am also a list maker. You see where the formula's going here...lover of beginnings + list maker = resolution maniac!

2012 was a beautiful year. I grew more in my business than I thought possible in one year. I grew a lot in my marriage and can honestly say I know how to be a much better friend, lover and supporter now than I did a year ago. Somehow I feel like I transitioned into "grown up" mode more this year than any other. I'm not really sure how that happened-it just did. I can tell that I'm more aware of big life changes that are coming in the next 5 years than I was in 2011. Things like having kids, buying a new house, and putting down roots. Those things used to really threaten what I thought was my independence, but now they are things in life I look forward to. I'm not looking to quicken their arrival by any stretch, but I look forward to the fact that they're coming instead of feeling like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz watching the giant hourglass running out. That's progress my friends.

2013 is going to be a big year. This is the year Matt and I will finish paying off all our debt. Last year we paid off the rest of Matt's car and all student loans-all we have left is a bit on my car. Once that's done, we'll actually be able to take the next steps in our life together-EXCITING! (FYI-We've been following Dave Ramsey's debt free guide to pay off our debt. It's an incredible program that can help anyone get debt free no matter how much debt you have or how much you make. HIGHLY recommend!)

All things considered, here are a few "resolutions" or "places I'd like to see growth for the foreseeable future" I've made for 2013. Both personally and in my business.

Commit and implement a new direction creatively. 2013 is also shaping up to offer some interesting new opportunities in my photography. I am beyond thrilled with all of the different directions it could go. In fact, narrowing the options down and picking one is proving to be the most difficult part. (That's what I'm currently doing now.) I cannot WAIT to get started!

Read more books and draw inspiration from them for my own art. Good books. I'm not talking about my chick-lit (although it has it's place too!) I'm talking about the classics. Works of art in themselves. Unfortunately, in college I thought it would be a waste of space to have hard copies of all the classics so I gave them away. Now I know I really want copies of every classic I can get my hands on. My way around this? Thrift stores. They are chock FULL of every book that ever appeared on an English class syllabus-for mere pennies!

Become a student again. No, I'm not going back to school. But another huge way I grow in my craft is by studying. Not other people's blogs. Not my endless pinterest boards. But art. Art in music. Art in sculptures. Art in paintings and drawings. Art in fashion. Art in nature. I promise I'm not trying to be some nose-in-the-air snob over here.  I've done this before sporadically and it helps me stay fresh and keeps me excited about what I do. I want to dedicate at least 2 hours per week researching, admiring, pontificating and marinating in art.

Be more consistent reading my Bible. It really does changes my ability to love people. To have patience. To show grace. I doesn't matter if I'm reading endless lineage or Jesus' teachings, God uses me more (or I'm more aware of it) when I'm in His Word.

Meditate more. I pray a lot, but meditation is completely different. It helps me learn how to be a spirit with ears, not just a mouth.

Pay more attention to how I treat my body. What I do with it. What I put in my mouth. How much rest it's getting. This isn't a fancy way of saying "lose weight". I just want to be healthier. After quite an indulgent holiday season, I began this year with a 10 day fruit, veggie and water fast. It really helped flush out my system and set my taste buds straight on what eating well means. I've since continued to be mindful that I want to eat real food. Not "food-like products". I've also signed up for Crossfit. Yes, I am nervous. But I'm also excited. Apparently it's going to change my life...I'll keep you posted.

That's it. Those are my hopes/desires/wishes/prayers for 2013. It's funny to think about what the year has in store for my life. However, I'd hate to completely say good-bye to this year without sharing a few of the highlights from my busy, crazy and wonderful holiday season..

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2013. Let's do this.

So you want to save money on your wedding photographer...

Oh, yes. We are going to talk about the dreaded M word. There's no turning back and I promise that although this will be lengthy, it will have a lot of information you need to know. Money. 

There. I said it. It's out there. Breathe. Money is a really stressful part of planning a wedding. How do I know? Because my husband and I paid for the majority of our wedding ourselves. And I totally understand why brides freak when they hear the price of wedding photography. Some photographers pull a random number out of thin air, slap it on a website, and expect you to write the check. Honestly, that's even what I used to do when I first started. Now I use a formula that includes the amount I pay into my business, taxes, advertising, and post production.  I then recalculate using the formula once per year and adjust my prices accordingly.

Now, photography is important to most brides. Not all, but most. It is the only service that you get to enjoy after the wedding day. It is the only representation of all the rest of the money that was spent. It is also the only service that increases in value as time goes on. Yes, that is a true statement. Why? Well, for example, Matt and I were married on September 18, 2010. Unfortunately, the following year my aunt was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away last December. I can honestly say that I would pay more today than I did two years ago for those "silly shots" I have of her on the dance floor. They are that special to me.

That all being said, there are some brides who flat out just don't have the money. They've hunted through the couch cushions, broken their childhood piggy bank, and they just don't have the money to hire me. For brides in this situation, I really do understand and I really do want you to have the absolute best photography you can afford. I don't want you going into debt or having long, drawn-out fights with that wonderful man you're marrying because you wrote me a check. Here's what I suggest:

1.) Don't totally rule out hiring an awesome professional photographer. There are a ton of them out there and there are a lot who are willing to give you a discount or let you have a payment plan. Do you have a really cool theme that would make your wedding a great addition to their portfolio? Is your fiance in the military? Are you getting married on an off month (Jan-Feb) or on a day that isn't a Saturday? Do you want 4 hours or less of coverage so that a professional photographer is covering the important portion of the day? If so, ASK. Find out if they are willing to be a little more flexible with their pricing. Now. Important side note: be honest about what you can afford. It isn't really fair if you drive a desperate photographer down to $1,000 only for them to show up to your lavish $50,000 wedding. Give them your bottom line and see what they say. Emily-29

2.) Look for a photographer who is newer at wedding photography. You do get what you pay for in photography, but that doesn't have to mean that you don't get beautiful images. It just means you won't have the same assurance that you will get beautiful images that you would if you were working with a professional photographer who has a track record in the industry. Reach out to local arts schools like the Creative Circus or SCAD. Contact a professional portrait photographer whose work you love and see if they are trying to break into the wedding industry, and if they'd shoot your wedding at a discount. Talk to your friends and find out if they know of an up-and-coming photographer who hasn't quite filled up their calendar. The only thing I would caution you about is this: Be SUPER careful about hiring someone who has never shot a wedding before. Weddings are incredibly fast paced even for professional photographers. You have little to no time to get in position, frame your shot, check your exposure, focus, etc. and take the picture before that moment is gone. Not to mention, you as the consumer really need to see exactly what level of product you're going to end up with. If you are considering someone who hasn't shot their first wedding yet (which-again-I do NOT recommend) see if they'd be willing to come out and shoot an event you're having (engagement party, shower, etc.) It won't be the same thing, but it will at least give you a better understanding about what their candid photography looks like. Edit-15

3.) SIGN A CONTRACT!!!!!! Brace yourselves. I am stepping up on my soapbox with my megaphone for this one. I do not care what your reasoning is, there is absolutely NO REASON not to have a contract. Seriously. None. Zilch. "He's my uncle." Sign a contract. "She's my best friend." Sign a contract. "They are doing it for free." Sign a contract. "She didn't give me one." Then grab that McDonald's napkin in your car, write down what is being exchanged and SIGN A CONTRACT. Ok. I'm done yelling. But seriously, this is how serious this step is. One of my best friends (whose wedding I was in, and therefore couldn't shoot) didn't sign a contract. *Insert facepalm here.* She won a photography "competition" this particular photographer was running and was getting her wedding shot for free. Well, the photographer showed up with a terrible attitude, half-heartedly shot the wedding, put up 12 beautiful photos on Facebook for all of her followers to see and then handed the my friend a CD of 400 non-edited, horrible photos that took three months longer than she originally verbally stated to get. Yeah. Shots of the back of people's heads. Shots of the floor. Now I realize when you hire someone to document one of the most special days of your life, you'd think they'd have more integrity than to screw you over. On your wedding day. Unfortunately, there are many photographers who see brides as a walking paycheck and they really don't care if you don't have the pictures you wanted.

Here's what needs to be detailed in the contract: the location of the event, the specific hours the photographer will be shooting, whether or not they will be editing the pictures, who owns the rights and where you can have the images posted/printed, WHEN you will get your images, if there is a penalty if the images are late, what happens if the photographer has an emergency and can't come, and any additional services the photographer will be providing (engagement session, second shooter, etc.) This protects you and it will go a long way to ensure you receive your final images in a timely manner. And feel free to write in, or scratch out anything you don't feel comfortable with and have the photographer initial the change.Atlanta, Worldwide

4.) Choose a photographer you enjoy being around. One of the things I find I have to educate my brides on is the fact that your photographer will be with you your entire wedding day. Until the reception, you will be with us more than you'll be with anyone else including your fiance. Make sure you sit down and have a real conversation with whomever you're considering.  Weddings are amazing, but the emotions and tensions are high and you need a photographer who will help enhance the experience you have, not detract from it. I have been at a wedding where the father of the bride called the morning of to say he wasn't coming because he didn't realize the step-father was the one walking his daughter down the aisle. I have been at a wedding where the groom didn't show up until 30 minutes after the ceremony started and no one knew where he was. I have been at a wedding where the mother of the bride and the bride got into a shouting match in the hotel hallway. No matter what drama the wedding day brings, I'm still there to do my job, which involves witnessing all of that. I will give a hug when needed, make a joke to laugh something small off, or give the bride space-just like a friend would. Conclusion: free photography from your foul-mouthed, beyond-annoying, inappropriate-comment-making Uncle Bobby will have a negative impact on your wedding day and it won't be worth the free photography. Truth.Edit-26

5.) Educate yourself. If you are considering what we in the industry call a "budget photographer", make sure you do your homework. It's amazing to me how many brides don't look up reviews. This is definitely a step I wouldn't skip. Oh, and "reviews" or "sweet things'' people have said about them they have posted on their own website don't count (not saying they aren't true, just saying you should do a little more digging than that.) I once worked with a photographer (who works a LOT and is still actively shooting today) who was terrible. He left weddings early, booked the bride by throwing something in (unlimited coverage, Blue-Ray DVD, etc.) then would up-sell her on that same service down the road and charge her for it, called a bride fat on her wedding day, you name it. Well, as you can imagine, he got some really AWFUL reviews. However, once one popped up, he simply made 10 new accounts that were rave reviews so that that really bad one would bump to the next page. If you paid attention, you could see that they were all written on the same day and had the same style of writing and emoticons, but most brides didn't notice that.  He did this on the knot, wedding wire, google, etc. Actually read the reviews. And if there is ever a photographer that has really high scores across the board except for a handful who have given incredibly low scores, I would avoid them like the plague. There shouldn't be that big a discrepancy between what the brides experience. I also highly recommend asking your photographer to put you in contact with a few of their clients so that you can actually talk to someone about their experience. Any photographer who has shot even one wedding should have the ability to pass along their contact info. www.meaganophotography.com

6.) Ask questions. You know what they say about when you assume something...if you don't understand something, ask. There really is no question that is too stupid. You need to feel comfortable with the decision you're making and the only thing that will bring you that comfort is information. What happens if there's an equipment failure? Do they own back-up equipment or would they be willing to rent it? What if you don't like the pictures? Are they willing to do re-edits? Is there a limit to the amount of re-edits they'll do? Why is Justin Beiber a world-famous icon? Hey. I didn't say they could answer all of them.  Whatever you don't understand, just make sure that it's clarified before you finalize any decisions. Emily-1

Whew. If you're still here, HIGH FIVE! You made it!

Also, if you have any additional questions, please feel free to message/email me (meagan@meaganophotography.com). I promise not to give you a hard time about the fact that you didn't just get a second mortgage on your house to hire me. No. Joking aside, I really would be happy to help answer any questions you have.

 

Those Days

Today was one of "those" days. You know the type. The one's where you're driving up 75 at 6:50am and you suddenly see this weird picture light up that looks like some symbol from the table of elements. I'm still just assuming it was the "check engine" light. So you get off at the next exit, turn off your car and realize that it won't turn on again. It's cool, you think, that's why you have a warranty. Then you find out the tow truck will be there in two and a half hours. And there you are, sitting at a Suntrust Bank...at 7:02am. No book. No other form of entertainment. Well, except for a mango you brought to eat for breakfast that you can't eat because you don't travel with your knife block.

As much as it sucks that I found myself in that exact place this morning, I realized it's kind of a gift. It's like God yanked all my lists and "busy-ness" out of my hands. Not that I didn't put up a fight, but He slowed that internet connection down so much I started to refer to it as my Stupid-phone. So I plopped down on the sidewalk and watched an ant. No, I didn't get some huge revelation about life from this ant. Nor did I find his (or her?) journey particularly interesting. But my mind got the space to wander. Not the kind of wandering with boundaries like brainstorming or figuring out a problem, but open wandering.

I really love my life. I really love my husband and my dog and my friends and my family. And my cats (man they would be so mad if they knew they were an afterthought...) I love my job and my awesome clients and I even love my not so awesome clients. It's funny because, for me, I can get to this place of crazy restlessness so quickly. I feel like my brain starts pacing around in my head yelling about why Matt and I haven't moved overseas to have our great adventure yet. Or why I haven't started that non-profit for sexually trafficked victims that will simultaneously bring down the entire sex trade industry. Or why I'm not a famous actress working on my first film I want to direct by now. It's a little maddening. But in this amazingly rare moment of freedom from enslaved thought, I felt full. I'm sure that little devil in my head will start back up again momentarily, and I'm glad she does. She's the reason I had the courage to step out and start my own business in the first place. But I don't want to forget that in the midst of pushing for more, I am full exactly where I am.

This sweet couple, Michelle and Stefan, knew how to live in the moment. Knew how to be themselves and fully accept each other for who they were. They will, no doubt, have a love everlasting.

Dress Up

Growing up, my absolute FAVORITE thing to do was play dress up. I used to have this floor length, fully sequined, cerulean ball gown that I would wear all. the. time. It's funny, the way I remember it, it was made of actual jewels, not sequins. I would run around outside in it and pretend I was being chased by the evil queen (aka my brother, Matt) and once I was caught I'd wait for my prince charming to come and rescue me.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage Interestingly enough, I found myself "working" two weeks ago and yet it looked incredibly similar to five year old me play time. I hooked up with Monique and Ashley at the Brock Cassidie Salon in Buckhead. Which is this INCREDIBLY adorable salon! It's decorated with all these vintage touches and they even have these cute silk robes you can slip into to really make the whole experience that much more relaxing! Well, we did a stylized shoot and they totally rocked all the styling from the hair, makeup, and set design! It was SO. COOL. Plus, I had that moment where I stopped, looked around and realized that I was basically playing dress up and that that is my job. Pretty awesome moment for me!!ImageImageImageImageImageImage

I had an amazing day "playing" with Monique & Ashley! As well as the beautiful models, Ladee Danger, Candice Dupree & Stacey Culpepper. I'll be teaming up with the Brock Cassidie team again to do more stylized shoots, so if any of you have some way amazing ideas, message them to me and maybe we'll shoot it! Happy Tuesday!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Evolution of a Husband and a Wife

So, Matt and I just got back from having a BLAST in Colorado! This was my first time actually skiing somewhere that wasn't on the East coast. Wow. Different. But WAY fun! I think I had this secret fear that I would end up spending the entire trip on the little bunny slope. You know, the one that pulls you up on that little rope thing. Thank the Lord I took to it pretty quickly and actually skied mostly blues (and even a few blacks! WHOO!) Image

It was such an amazing, romantic and adventure-filled trip! However, Matt and I did have one interesting moment that will be placed lovingly in my "mental-scrapbook". It was the third day of the vacation and I was really starting to feel confident. Maybe even a little cocky. I mean, this skiing thing was FUN! We had decided to do one last run before lunch, and Matt suggested doing a black to take us toward our condo. Now, it should be mentioned that Matt has been skiing since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He's good at it. Really good. I didn't even know about ski school, which is where around 20 or so three year-olds are put in skis while an instructor tries to keep them from falling off of the mountain. Me, trusting wife that I am, assumed he would never suggest I try something that he didn't think I could handle.  And surely he had a better handle on what I was ready for than I did.

Right.

He then tells me that this run (that's a black-remember?) has these things called moguls. No big deal he says, "just ski around them." Sounded easy. Nope. First mogul and I'm on my butt. I struggle to my feet (which is difficult given the 85 degree slope) and try again. I pick up a bit more speed this time, which really adds to the awesomeness when  I wipe out. This time I lose both poles and one ski. Matt skis up behind me to help me up and all I can think about is how many more falls it'll take before I reach the bottom and how it's All. His. Fault. Not to mention how embarrassing it is to be experiencing this while these graceful, Olympic skiers are all flying around me. So, like any prideful 3 year old, I snatch my poles from him, get my ski on, grit my teeth and basically have a "temper-tantrum-ski-fit". That's basically a vicious cycle of collecting my skis, struggling up, propelling myself down the hill, then completely wiping out. Each time getting more and more furious, more and more exhausted and letting the four letter words fly at an increasing rate and decibel level. I mean, at one point I actually punched the mountain. Yes. That's right. Punched the mountain.

FINALLY, after probably around 20 minutes (seriously) I got past the moguls and managed to ski down the rest of the mountain. Legs shaking, face burning and giving Matt the all out silent treatment. I mean it was All. His. Fault.

However, on the trek back I started to reflect on my behavior and had that sickening realization. You know the one. The one where you start thinking "I was...wrong." Dang. I HATE being wrong. It wasn't Matt's fault. And not only that, but while he was trying to help me, I had pretty much decided to push him off the mountain.  AND not only that, but I had pitched a fit. I mean a full-blown-two-year-old-worthy-temper-tantrum. So during lunch I did what any other prideful person would do. I slid him little glances. Small smiles. And then he did something that reminded me why I am so in love with this man. He let it go. He didn't make me apologize, or chastise me for being a TOTAL brat. He didn't even try to reenact how I looked punching the mountain. He held my hand and we finished lunch. Thank God I married a man who will be my best friend, when it would be so easy to be the scorekeeper instead. I am constantly learning and evolving into a better person through watching his love for me.

Now for the evolution of my husband! See, Matt decided to grow a beard before our trip so that he could get away without wearing a full face mask. I've never really liked beards, but Matt's was downright sexy~! I kind of miss it...But we had a GREAT time shaving it off!

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I love this man :-)

"Das A Positive!"

 So last week I had the incredible pleasure of shooting Liz and Mark's wedding down in the Bahamas.I honestly can't say enough about the two of them. Mark has an ease and general calm that surrounds him everywhere he goes and Liz clearly pours her entire heart into every relationship she has. It came as no surprise to me how awesome they were together after spending four days with their families. Awesome people breed awesome people. "Das a positive" is Bahamian slang for "That makes a lot of sense". And these two together...well, make a lot of sense.

   I went down with Courtney, one of my best friends ever since high school and we had a BLAST. We have always been the kind of people who come back from anywhere with a story. It could be a simple grocery trip or an international getaway, and somehow whenever anyone asks how our trip was it always starts with "well...you see, what had happened was..." I love it. And this trip didn't disappoint! 
 
   I think the best story happened to us downtown. If you've ever been to any Caribbean island you know there are a TON of diamond import/jewelry places. I mean they're everywhere. It must be a club or something. Anyway, as we were passing one I told Court that I wasn't really sure what kind of engagement ring she'd like when it comes that time for her. SO we should go in and take a look, and with much persuasion (alright, I physically pushed her through the door) I got her in. Now, Court has currently been dating a guy for about a month. It's definitely in the beginning stages, but he seems pretty great. However, this is obviously one of those things you wouldn't really want to get out that early in the relationship. I mean, can you imagine?! 
 
Court's guy: "So how was the trip?"
 
Court: "Awesome! I went shopping for engagement rings! Isn't that hilarious?"
 
Court's guy: ::insert puff of smoke::
 
   My disclaimer to you guys is that obviously I wanted to get that kind of trip out of the way BEFORE she gets to that point with said future husband. I mean, do you have any idea how hard it is to bring that subject up when it's even remotely close to happening? Pretty hard.
 
   All this seems like no big thing right? Wellllll...a little while later I noticed a camera crew. Oh yeah. Like five guys taping us. The director came over to me and asked if it would be ok if he filmed us. Of course it is! Hello! I'm an actress-could be my big break, right? I calmed Court down by telling her it was probably just a little local thing yada-yada-yada. Funny thing. It's actually for the cruise lines. ALL of them. It's going into an ad for all of the ships that cruise and port in Nassau. Um. Awesome. I think Court's forgiven me. Although, now I've blogged about it too...whoops. 
 

Newborn Baby Esther

After doing Jessica and Kyle's maternity pictures (check out the rest of the slideshow here http://meaganophotography.com/#/esther-slideshow/), it was a PLEASURE to get the opportunity to do newborn pictures of baby Esther. She is a stunning baby with a full head of hair! When I got there, I had the pleasure of meeting Jess's parents. Kyle and Jess were more than willing to oblige my every creative whim and, as always, it's just nice working with friends.

Matt and I have officially been married for one year and while we're waiting on the kids part (5-7 years sounds great to me!) We are really excited about being future parents. Based on how Matt acts around our adorable niece Blair (*cough* wrapped around her little finger *cough*) I'm pretty sure I'll end up being the disciplinarian.

Shoot, even how he acts around our dog, Max! Here is some typical dialogue from the O'Neal household: Me: Alright, Max. Time for bed. Crate time! Matt: Oh, he's alright! Let's just let him cuddle with us for a few more minutes. Fast-forward to around 2:33am, Max has all 69lbs of himself sprawled out on his back, mid-bed, legs splayed. Meanwhile, my 6'2'' hubby has contorted his body in an interesting shape so as not to disturb said dog, leaving his beautiful wife to lay precariously over the edge of the bed. Good thing they're both cute!

Ode to Mom

   This weekend something scary happened. 
 

   I got a phone call from my dad at 8:30am and woke up to the words "last night, your mom was admitted to the hospital." WHAT!? The questions poured out of my mouth as I tried to place exactly what my dad was telling me. First of all, my mom had been up at Gwinnett Medical Center visiting my aunt Tracey who has Stage 4 cancer. We've all been praying and worrying about her constantly...but now mom is in the hospital?? My dad explained that she experienced some extreme chest pain the night before (yes my heart was in my throat at that) and that they took her in and discovered that she had 5-7 gallstones that needed to be surgically removed immediately.    I was already pulling on jeans and yanking my dog towards the door to take him out before I flew (literally doing 90-100 to the hospital). My thoughts were a whirlwind. What the heck is a gallstone anyway!? I logically explained to myself that it couldn't be too bad, otherwise dad would've been more freaked out and would be flying to the hospital as well (he came later). But I couldn't stop the lump from rising in my throat, or the what ifs from assaulting my thoughts. What if something happens? What if she doesn't wake up? What if my mom...? I can't even finish that statement.     I got to the hospital and made a beeline for her room (though dad explained to me that she was probably already in surgery).  Room 261.  Even just seeing "Thomas" written on the door made my stomach flip. When I cracked open the door, there she was sleeping. Bathed in this blue light, hooked up to machines that were angrily blinking various numbers in the darkened room. Her Carmex that she is never without was on the side table. Next to that, her glasses that she will only wear if they are a flashy color or pattern.  I know some of you are thinking that this is dramatic. That gallstones aren't a big deal. Plenty of people have had that surgery. But none of that mattered to me at the time. This is my mom.    I made a noise that must've woken her up because she started to sit up while she gave me a cracked greeting. I put on my Meagan face for her. The one that's confident, witty, a little sarcastic and not the least bit worried. She told me how the night transpired and the nurse came in to get mom ready for surgery. My brother arrived shortly after. Wearing his Matt face. The one that's calm, relaxed, and comforting without being too concerned. We were great actors. Finally, another male nurse came to wheel mom down to surgery. We said a prayer together, kissed and hugged her and then she was gone.    As everyone expected, the surgery went perfectly and mom was cleared to go home late that same evening.   However, as I sat here yesterday afternoon finishing up the editing of a newborn shoot I just shot with Jessica and Kyle, I found myself thinking about moms in general. From the time each of us are born, there is so much preparation done. So much love lavished. While the dads do a lot, there is just something amazing and unique that each of us feels for our mom. Some of us have lost touch with them. Some of us had moms who didn't make very good decisions. I know that I'm one of the lucky ones to have my mom.  I also know that I really don't show her how thankful I am for who she was when she was 25 and had me, and who she is now-25 years later.    Mom, I love you. I love that you have such a huge heart for people in need. I love that you work with everything you have for your kids at school. I love that you instilled a love for God and people in me. I love that you know how to make my favorite pancakes. I love taking spontaneous trips that include bottomless mimosas and giant ants with you.  I love that you always surprise me with how much thought goes into the gifts you've given me through the years. I love that you used to make the rainbows dance in the dining room. I love that you want me to sit next to you at church because you enjoy worshiping together. I love shopping with you. I love that you always tell me the truth. I love that you forgive me in moments when my pride and arrogance get in the way. I love talking to you, listening to you and being with you. Most of all, I love who you are and who you've created me to be.     Now, everyone reading this...go call your mom!

Photo credit: Kelly Lewis with Kelly Is Nice (www.kellyisnice.com)

Sweet love

      So on my escapade to Destin, I had the pleasure of shooting Evelyn and Mike's vow renewal. I have to say, there is something really beautiful about seeing two people professing their love for one another after being together for years. The ceremony was close family only and was relaxed and honest in nature. There was no priest to perform, simply Evelyn and Mike standing in front of people they love announcing to them the commitment they made to each other and their continued love and devotion toward one another. They chose each other then, and they choose each other now. Beautiful.
 
When I took this shot, I remember wondering how many times they've laced their fingers together.
They truly light up when they're around each other. You can tell by how he looks at her, he is still in love with the woman he married years ago.
 
You can view their entire slideshow here!