Kindness Matters (Photography)…

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I’ve always love the lyrics to the Jewel song, “In the end only kindness matters.”  In life and in work, I truly believe that.  At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, was I kind?  We had a rough couple weeks recently when the kids got a stomach bug, and then our family dog passed away.  While some fantastic things were happening with my business, personally there were a few sad days.  In the midst of it, a package from Florida arrived on my doorstep.

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Inside the box was the most sincerely written card and a box of gifts.  The gift givers were a couple that crossed our paths a few months ago on one of the most exciting days of their lives.

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In February, as my family walked into the Magic Kingdom for the first time, we stood before the famous castle.  My husband starts nudging me and directing my attention to a man who was proposing to his girlfriend right in the middle of the Magic Kingdom.

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I grabbed my camera and photographed it for them.  After the beautiful moment, I got their e-mail address and sent them the images.  This kind couple packaged and shipped a thoughtful box of thank yous.  The words they wrote in their thank you card were so heart warming.  They also sent chocolates and a statue with Mickey and Minnie that says, “And they lived happily ever after.”  My oldest daughter quickly staked claim of the statue for her room to remind her of the proposal she saw.

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Also in the box was a small piece of fabric that says, “Kindness Matters.”  I held it for a minute, thinking.

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This I’m going to frame, I thought.  When it’s just been a rough week, I want to look at that and remember, beyond all the “problems,”  kindness matters.  It’s so interesting the way God introduced these then strangers into our lives.  There are many more “strangers” that will cross our paths in different ways, all as an opportunity to show that kindness matters.  Kindness matters, when nothing else does. Thank you, Michelle and Kevin.  They don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing.

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See their engagement post here:http://wp.me/p3hmbh-vH

http://www.sheradeehurstphotography.com

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Pre-K The Sequel (Family)…

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This isn’t the first time these boots have seen the first day of Pre-K.  Yes, it was just a few years ago the tan, slouch boots danced their way into the school building while the video camera rolled.  My oldest daughter donned them as a new era dawned in our lives…the school years.  See I know what these boots started.  They marked the day that my baby started to become a little girl.  And now, like a song on repeat, the cycle has started again with my second baby girl.

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Albeit, in a much, much different beginning, but it’s started.  This time those tan slouch boots didn’t skip, but rather quietly and bravely inched into the Pre-K classroom.  Last time they paraded in on my oldest daughter’s feet with lots of bouncing , jumping, singing, and dancing.  This time, my peanut wore them as she ventured into her classroom to immediately plop down next to her best friend.  Yes, this is the day that laying in her underwear and wearing Nutella on her face take second place to the dinosaur song in music class.  I don’t think school is the big bad wolf.  I don’t even think it’s close.  In fact, I think it’s happiness and rainbows and youth, and that’s so darn hard to accept as a parent.  I don’t doubt the education or the care of my children, in fact I know it’s nothing less than top notch.  However, it’s the first time I let go of my tight grip on those five little fingers since the day they appeared on Earth, so there’s some adjusting for mom.

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It’s the time when I said, “You can do this!” and thought “But I can’t.”  It’s sad, not because it’s some terrible thing, but because it’s some wonderful thing.  It’s sad because she got in the car when I picked her up after her first day, and honestly answered, “No” when I asked, “Did you miss me?”  It was only two and half hours, but I know.  I know what happens in two and half hours at Pre-K.  I know, because I’ve done this before, with these very boots.  I’ve stuffed my heart in these little boots before and let them walk in the door to Pre-K.  So, I know that by May, those boots will be too small, and that tiny piece of my heart will be smarter, bolder, and ready to take on the world.  It was hard.  It was hard to let go of her hand.  I had flashbacks of cooking dinner with her in that baby carrier on my chest.  Then I thought of that incredibly clingy monkey baby who gripped her feet so tight around my waist that it was easier to just carry her everywhere I went rather than put her down on her own.  But I know that this time if I don’t let her go on her own, she’ll be monkey wrapped around me until it’s obnoxious.

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I wasn’t the only one letting go of a hand that’s been there since the beginning.  This little guy was letting go (well for two hours a day) of his his partner in crime, his candy stealer, his interpreter, his best friend.

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So, I, make that we, let go of her hand.  I pulled her close and squeezed her harder than I ever have.  I slowly walked back to the car with her dad and her brother’s blonde curls blowing in the wind.

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My husband got in his truck to go to work.  Me and the boy started for the long two mile drive home, just the two of us.  Tears streamed down my face as I looked at her empty car seat, just like when I dropped her sister off a few years ago.  Then, out of nowhere, the sweet blonde behind me began shouting, demanding that I hold on to one of his feet while I drive.  He insisted, “Hold my soot!” (That’s foot.)  So, knowing that his cowboy boots will all too soon make their way through the doors of the school, I held his right foot all the way home.  I continued to cry until he started shouting in his caveman voice about giants, and spiders, and monsters.  Then I laughed out loud, but I didn’t dare let go of that foot.  What on Earth will I do when I drive away and there’s no high maintenance “giant” begging for my attention in the back?  What will I do when I finally drive off in a completely empty car?  The better question is what on Earth will *they* do with the opportunity ahead of them?  It’s hard to swallow, but preschool rocks.

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(The First Day of Pre-K for my oldest is posted here: http://sheradeehurst.com/2011/08/22/pre-k-go-away/ )

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Confessions: Dog with A Blog (Don’t Tell Disney)….

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Hey, It’s National Dog Day! Yeah, that’s me talking to you.

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So, I’m guest blogging for my person, Sheradee. (That’s me above in the pink bean bag.)  It’s my first time to blog, so pardon the spelling.  I have the tiniest little nails to type with and I have cataracts, and I couldn’t bride any of the three little people around here to type this, mainly because two of the three can’t spell.

So, the subject at hand is wedding photography, but stay with me to the end because I’m dishing up confessions on my person, too. I’m celebrating National Dog Day with some photographs of dogs and weddings.  Below is Danielle and her pup, and Jessica and her big baby proving that bow ties are not just for humans.

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Now, I know my person, Sheradee is known for making confessions on the blog.  Bet she never ‘fessed up to this???  (See below.)  I’d love to give a photo credit here, but I don’t know who the photographer was on hand that day at the pet store about ten years ago when it was right before the 4th of July, and my person was feeling all patriotic and did this.  And then, in a weird twist of events, a friend of hers put it on a customizable coffee table book.  And so now this treasure of me, will live in history forever.

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Yeah, that’s me draped in an American flag.  Long before she had those three little people, she dressed me and acted like I was a child.  I must say, it was a relief when the little people started filling up the house.  No more velcro on my belly or weird fake wool sweaters around my neck.  Although, there were some weird outfits that transpired when the little people got big enough to put doll clothes on me.  Those I’ll never speak about in public.  Never.  These days I’m just strolling naked through the house, like a geriatric dog should. Sure, I’ve got some grey these days, okay a lot of grey, but I’m finally comfortable enough in my manhood to sleep in a giant pink bean bag, and I’m looking pretty good for being 16.  Happy National Dog Day, Ya’ll!  XOXO, Chee Chee7D9A0597

http://www.sheradeehurstphotography.com

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America, I Present to You, Your President At Age 7 (Family)…

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I have a brilliantly talented seven year old who surprises me with breakfast in bed regularly, eagerly does laundry, and yearns to be educated in every possible subject.

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Dance lessons, yes please! Swim Team, for sure.  Jump Rope club, can’t miss it.  Running Club, a must.  Gymnastics, without a doubt.  Voice lessons, have to.  Guitar lessons, how awesome.  Drama lessons, please, please mom?

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There’s nothing this kid won’t try.   Her ambition has lead her to experience things I never, ever thought would be “up her alley.”  She’s proved repetitively that her alley happens to be anywhere she paves it.

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She blazes a trail everywhere she goes, and she leaves a streak of sunshine behind her. Her smile has a power over me. It’s why I fork over all my money for her interests or challenges or maybe just for a gigantic pink bean bag she needed in her room.

7D9A9668 7D9A9669She has declared that she may one day run for President of the United States.  There’s also that restaurant she wants me to run for her.  And of course, performing on stage may take a little time away from all that too.

 

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She may one day be your  President, America, but for now she’s tearing up the guitar for anyone who will listen, performing on her pre-Broadway stage of my fireplace, and conquering one fear at a time and bringing home first place ribbons to show for it.  (That’s another blog post.)

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Say she can’t; she will.  And when she does, she’ll remind you that you thought she couldn’t.

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I won’t let you down America, I will raise your first ballerina President and proudly hand her over in her tutu for her patriotic duty when it’s time.  It’s likely I’ll have an empty wallet and an exploding heart.

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Go into this world and use your talents for good, baby.  When the White House gets too hectic, don’t forget the tune to your favorite song.  When the pressure of foreign policy is eating your lunch, don’t forget the steps to your favorite ballet.

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7D9A9689 When your kindness isn’t well accepted,

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don’t forget to give more.

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When the day has been long,

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don’t forget your mom’s number.  I will always be your biggest fan.

 

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Red, White, and Blue Engagement Session (Photography)…

morrison 12Steve and Lindy dressed in patriotic colors and wanted a rustic feel to their engagement shoot.

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When it all came together, it was completely Americana, and seems perfect to share on the end of the 4th of July weekend.

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The rusty nail wedding ring image, the red flats, and of course, their contagious smiles, made everything perfect.

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The nasty black and white skunk that showed his colors during the shoot he, however, didn’t make the blog, nor did I photograph him as I was was running the other direction screaming.  Sorry, Steve and Lindy, I wasn’t prepared for that wildlife interruption!  But these two carried on like pros after our stinky guest made his appearance.morrison 8 morrison 5morrison 11I’m so very thankful that I live in a country where I can pursue this business of showing others love through images.  Thank you to the many who have given so much, so that we can experience so much.  God bless America.

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Special thanks to McGranahan Barn. www.sheradeehurstphotography.com

 

 

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Home Sweet Oklahoma, Confessions from The Styled Shoot

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There’s no denying my love for my state.  Born and raised in Oklahoma, I know how great the people are, how beautiful the land is, and how genuine the overall vibe is.  To be able to display that in a styled wedding shoot published on an exclusive, national blog makes me downright giddy.

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Swooned magazine picked up and published a styled shoot that I worked side by side with stylist, Krissi Farrimond to create.  Swooned titled it, “Home Sweet Oklahoma” and my heart swelled.

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I am so glad to represent our state this way. One of my favorite lines from the publication is,  “The final result reflects the spirit of the region—its wide open skies, dusty beauty, and downhome hospitality—and the soul of the community who brought it to life.”

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Those words resonated with me, because I love this place.  It’s raised me.  So when I collaborated with Krissi (a native Oklahoman) on our styled shoot, I jumped at the chance to show how gorgeous Oklahoma weddings can be by showcasing the talents of brilliant Oklahoma vendors.

7D9A0655 I’m sharing some of my favorite images and, as always, some confessions, so keep reading to the end.

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First confession, there was a hat tip to my husband in the shoot, really a cowboy hat tip, if you will.  Those boots next to the Valentino’s, those are my husband’s.

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In the world of cowboy boots my husband owns the equivalent to those Valentino’s (They’re caimen, that’s a big cowboy boot deal, ya’ll!), so he got a spot. However, those Valentino’s are not mine!  (Unless of course he wanted to surprise me and purchase a pair as a congratulations gift.  The price tag is about a grand, so I’ll just enjoy that I shot them.)

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I loved that I could acknowledge my husband in some way in the shoot.  Which leads to another confession:  this shoot was the day before my second flight to the Dominican Republic in a matter of one week.  I had just traveled there to photograph a wedding and here it was seven days later and I was going back, but not before our day long styled shoot.  I scheduled a family session and a styled shoot the day before I flew out at 6am.  My amazing husband stepped up as always and took care of the family.  So, those boots, that’s my thank you, honey.

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Confession #3:  Since these images were being submitted to an exclusive blog, everything was kept under wraps completely, even to the vendors.  So, these seriously talented vendors didn’t get to see anything, not one image, not one preview of any of the shoot until it published and the entire internet got to see it.

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Their trust and confidence in blindly committing to this project, to not seeing anything until the final product published, it reiterates the genuineness of Oklahomans and that a hand shake still stands in our part of the world.

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One other moment, not caught on camera, but vital to the shoot, Krissi and I enjoyed some fake cheese while shooting.  Roast beef and cheddar is a deceiving name, because let’s be honest, that is probably not cheddar.  Whatever it is, we inhaled it, giggled at our mutual love of fake cheese, and then realized we had something here.  We also both have a love for this adorable powder blue Ted Baker dress and our model, Abby, who was outstanding.

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The entire team had mutual love for all the vendors involved.  They are fantastic.  And from the bottom of my heart, to you all, my clients, blog readers, friends, you are all one in the same, I can’t thank you all enough for your constant support and love.  It continues to inspire me.  Thank you.  If I were real corny, I’d sing that old country song, “You’re the reason God made Oklahoma” right here.  I’ll let you sing that for the rest of the day.

Trochta’s Flowers-Floral Design, JJ Kelly-Dress, The McGranahan Barn-Venue, Linens, & Chairs, Mitchener Farrand-Jewelry, Cake-Amy Cakes, Videography-Little Big Films, Make-Up-Toni Marlo, Hair-Sarah Woolly Hair Care, Stationery-myheartcreative, Nail Stylist-Brianna Mock, Krissi Farrimond-Shoot Stylist, Sheradee Hurst Photography, Model-Abby Davis.

 

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The Rustic Glam Styled Shoot Gets Published (Photography)…

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If you’ve missed the blogs, and didn’t know, Stylist Krissi Farrimond and I, got together and created a vision for a styled shoot.  A styled shoot that became our baby.  A project we fostered with love, creativity, and passion for perfection.  We built something I’m so very proud to put my name on, and let me tell you why. It’s because of the people involved. We curated a group of amazing, local Oklahoma vendors who saw our vision, believed in it, and devoted their time and talents to it.  And the buttercream icing on the wedding cake is, it’s got Oklahoma’s signature all over it.  All over it.  This Friday the exclusive, international blog will publish the reveal of the styled shoot. I can’t give many details, but know that I swooned over it.  That is actually a detail, without blatantly being a detail.  So what you can expect from the post is so beautifully Oklahoman that it makes me want to clap my hands while singing at the top of my lungs, “Your doing fine, Oklahoma, OKLAHOMA, OK!”  The essence of Oklahoma is fused with glamor and a love of finer things in the shoot Krissi styled (she’s originally from Oklahoma, too!), and it’s such a brilliant piece of community talent artwork.  Beyond that, the editorial storyline that goes with it all stems from this barn, The McGranahan Barn.

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It sits on land that is on the historical register and the barn itself is a standing piece of history.  So imagine if you will, the rich history of this barn and the undeniable luster of those gorgeous gold Valentino’s at the top coming together for a styled wedding shoot.  Keep watching the blog, I’ll have more details as the week goes on, and then on Friday, we can FINALLY share some of these amazing images with you!  I’m bursting to do that! A huge, huge thank you to the vendors that made it all possible: Trochta’s Flowers-Floral Design, JJ Kelly-Dress, The McGranahan Barn-Venue, Linens, & Chairs, Mitchener Farrand-Jewelry, Cake-Amy Cakes, Videography-Little Big Films, Make-Up-Toni Marlo, Hair-Sarah Woolly Hair Care, Stationery-myheartcreative, Nail Stylist-Brianna Mock, Krissi Farrimond-Shoot Stylist, Sheradee Hurst Photography, Model-Abby Davis.

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High Hopes and High Waters (Family)…

easter 8Most all parents do it.  They dress their kids in their cutest Spring clothes and cram them together with high hopes of a reasonable family Easter picture.  We got one of all three on Easter Sunday, and the girls were willing to pose for another.

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But one of the three, I’ll let you guess who, didn’t want anything to do with his mom’s stupid family Easter pictures.

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And maybe his best Easter picture boycott was this.

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I was about to write off Easter photographs altogether.  And I was also about to write off an Easter tradition.  A few years ago, I started this tradition of decorating eggs and placing them on my Granddaddy’s grave.  When I was a little girl my family had an Easter egg fight every year, and Granddaddy use to love to throw my favorite eggs just to get a rise out of me.  When he passed away, I began the tradition of making him special eggs each year, and placing them on his grave on Easter.  This year, I knew we would be pressed for time.  I made him and Granny an egg as usual, but I didn’t know if we’d have time to take it to his grave.  It was on my heart that morning as I loved on my Granny at church that I probably wouldn’t make it to Granddaddy’s grave that day.  Family lunch on my husband’s side came and went, and the Easter egg hunt was underway there. I changed my boy into a pair of hand-me-down overalls that he had never worn before then.

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My husband noticed instantly that they were too short.  So, there he was…blonde locks blowing in the Oklahoma wind, cowboy boots so little you couldn’t fit a fist in them, and those overalls that were about an inch or so too short.

 

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Rounding out the perfectness of his look was a little dribble of chocolate coming out of his mouth from candy out of the only egg he found.

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And I’ll have you know, my boy could not care less.  He could not care less about any of it, including hunting Easter eggs.  His most delightful Easter moment was curled up next to his Pa in an old porch swing.

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Easter eggs were the farthest thing from his mind.

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There those two sat loving and laughing and talking about Pa’s cows.

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We didn’t make it to Granddaddy’s grave that day, but we made it to this.  This memory we’ll have forever.  And, I know that some day, maybe on a hurried Easter morning years from now,

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my boy will long for those moments from his childhood just as I do.

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http://www.sheradeehurstphotography.com

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Listen to Me, Go See ‘Listen To Your Mother’…

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Last year I poured my heart out and snotted my nose out live on stage and on YouTube.  I wrote a piece about my Granny and read it in the Listen To Your Mother show.  This is a national show in cities across the U.S., but last year was an honor to be part of the inaugural cast in Oklahoma City.  I’m certain everyone in the audience that day was just as shocked as I was at what an entertaining and emotional live, local show took place.  It was produced from the writings of some very talented women.  I could not believe the emotions I felt while listening to their stories and, quite frankly, I was surprised at the level of talent on the stage.  The show last year exceeded my expectations by miles.  It was a fiercely talented group.  I mean I expected there to be some good stories, but I never expected to be truly moved.  This year I didn’t submit a writing, but I’m proud to be named the official photographer for the show.  I photographed all of the closed door readings.  I’m here to tell you; It does not disappoint.  I didn’t know if the producers, Misti Pryor, Heather Davis, and Julie Bohannon could bring the same caliber of talent to the stage again.  They have.  It is a moving experience in its own right.  I thought it would be hard to produce a show that was as well curated as ours last year.  I’m telling you; it’s happened.  Every emotion under the sun is in the show: losing a mom, being a mom, being a daughter, it’s all under the umbrella of this magical live show.  So, right now, text your girlfriends, call your mom, round up your ladies. Get tickets, take your favorites with you!  You must see this together!  You will laugh and cry and completely enjoy it! See the behind the scenes images below, and then see the show May 4th at 2pm at Will Rogers Theatre.  (Proceeds from ticket sales are donated to ReMerge, a local non profit giving women a second chance at life and a running start at recovery.)

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Once (really twice) Upon a Dominican Dream…

dominican 8  April, or Dominimonth as I’ve named it, felt like a dream.  Two amazing trips to the Dominican Republic for two phenomenal shoots, and I came home thinking, “Did that really just happen?”  I photographed a lot of images to prove it indeed did.  I’ll soon be blogging the beautiful sunset, beach wedding and the grand engagement session that I traveled there to photograph.  It was two separate trips and two different couples that I was shooting.  It just so happened that both couples wanted me to fly to the same location, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and in the same month.  Seven days separated my trips, so it goes without saying, I have a really supportive husband who is a phenomenal dad to our three kids. (Shout out also to my mother, my sister, and my mother in law, all of whom kept my kids, did our laundry, cleaned my house, and did anything else to keep the Hurst boat afloat.)

I’ve received several messages from people asking about the Dominican Republic as a vacation, so here’s a little bit of a personal look at my visits.  First of all, if you are considering it, the answer is yes. Yes, go there.  If you need photographs taken there, take me.  I’d go again in a heartbeat.  The resorts are elaborate and gorgeous.  The resort landscaping is immaculate.

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Adding to the beautiful scenery is my sister hard at work during the rehearsal for the wedding.  She is such a good sister, and she only rested for a minute there with all my heavy gear she had to lug through the sand with me.  And, she really is the best sister ever, so she deserves to lounge in that chair all day and night if she wants to.

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For the engagement session, the groom researched a little town called Altos De Chavon that was about an hour away from Punta Cana.  Oh, he was so right on with this!  The bride and I practically drooled over the cobblestone town that had culture on every corner.

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These people were just drinking coffee and reading books in the middle of the afternoon in this perfectly quaint atmosphere.  I want to go there every day at 2pm and do that.  Is that too much to ask?  Every day me and this donkey drinking our coffee together.

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Oh yeah, and there may have also be this magnificent view.  Breathtaking.

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Another view that stopped me in my tracks….this guy.  He did not receive an invitation to the wedding, but he came anyway.  A flamingo.  A flamingo wedding crasher.  Awesome.  If only I had a dollar for every American that walked passed this guy and his flamingo friends and said, “Are they real?”  We, Americans, we are a funny group.  Animals in their natural habitat, not the zoo totally rattle us and make us question their reality.  Also following the system of the Dominican airport makes us insanely inquisitive too.

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I would be remiss to not mention that the overall vibe of the Dominican people is so welcoming and upbeat.  They are really lovely people, and while the resorts are over the top exquisite, the poverty you witness in passing is heart breaking.  So just as we Americans believe flamingos only live in the zoo, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the life of the Dominicans who work very hard and have very little besides their positive attitudes and beautiful country. I was honored to be their guest.

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