PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS

Have you ever had inspiration to do something completely out of your normal? I had that today. I’ve been wanting to kick off this blog (and a little bit of photography) for quite some time. But I didn’t know where to start, or where I wanted this to go. I have a pretty good eye for a good photo, but my editing skills were lacking. I barely know how to use my super fancy Nikon.

A few weeks ago, I helped execute a bridal expo at work. One of the vendors, a semi-new vendor friend of mine, was at the show, across from our booth. His booth was so cute, complete with a neon-pink sign and balloon arch. Oh and he had petit fours. Our booth was amazing too, complete with the largest charcuterie board I’ve ever seen (credit to my Director of Sales), but for the sake of inspiration, we’ll focus on his booth for now.

I have met Dale a few times throughout my time working  within the Northwest Arkansas hospitality industry, the first time being when I was still in college and he had a shoot at the hotel where I worked part-time. I’ve always admired his work. He and his fiancé, Tyler, were prepping the booth and we all kind of hit it off – the petit fours absolutely had something to do with it. I mentioned how badly I wanted to learn from Dale and his photography skills, and even sent a few brides his way. By the end of the day, I owed him my sister’s vegan pumpkin muffin recipe.

About a week later, his Instagram story had an announcement about a photography class. I instantly signed up and invited one of my friends to come with me. I couldn’t wait. The class was at 21C Hotel Museum in Bentonville, about 30 minutes North of Fayetteville. I had been to this hotel and museum before for a luncheon, and I was excited to see the Green Penguins.

My friend and I planned the entire day – starting with a trip to Target for a cute notebook and pens, which conveniently had a Starbucks inside. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Starbucks is the way to my heart, but when you combine Starbucks and Target, it’s even better. When we were leaving Target, a kiddo around the age of 3  was screaming that he didn’t want to leave. We felt that on so many levels. After getting our caffeine, we drove to lunch at Big Orange in Rogers. Their menu has gluten-free buns, which makes a gluten-intolerant person like myself very happy.

After lunch, we drove to 21c, arriving early to get the best seats. Dale gave two presentations: Portraiture & Composition and Camera Settings. He touched on aperture, f-stop, shutter speed, iso, and exposure. We learned what effects adding flash creates. Dale talked about the best angles to take photos, leading lines, framing, repeating backgrounds, foreground vs. background, sizing, and more. As he went through the presentations, I realized that some of the elements he mentioned, I naturally incorporate into pictures.

Overall, I learned a lot from the entire day. I downloaded and discovered more with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, such as Lightroom and Photoshop, on my computer and phone. But something that happened after this photography class – almost completely unrelated to photography – is that I gained confidence to actually start blogging regularly.

A long time ago, I thought about what motivates me. What impact do I want to leave? I still don’t know exactly. What I do know is that I want to live a life of altruistic hospitality. I want to always serve others, and welcome them into my life in the kindest way that I am able. What I do know is that when I spend time with my grandparents, I love hearing about when they were children, young adults, newlyweds, or before they had grandchildren. I love reminiscing with them, and one day I want to do that with my own family. I take pictures all the time, and I enjoy documenting my life on social media. I love to document memories. But I love to write. And I want to write more – about my life, my job, my family, my travel, my dog, and everything in between. So what motivates me? I said something one day to a friend of mine, and it’s always stuck with me…

Document everything. Someday you will be embarrassed, laughing, crying, or smiling, and remembering how you didn’t take that moment for granted.

XO – MC

FAYETTEVILLE FRIENDS IN THE FALL

Fayetteville, Arkansas is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the Ozark mountains. It is a tourist destination, home to the Arkansas Razorbacks, and is consistently named as one of the “Best Places to Live” (No. 3 in 2016, No. 5 in 2017, No. 5 in 2018, and No. 4 in 2019). It’s also a place where I have met some of my best friends.

This fall, I didn’t just meet new friends, I gained a Fayetteville family, and I am so grateful. I experienced some of the most memorable fall experiences that happen in Northwest Arkansas, with friends I will treasure for the rest of my life. We ate funnel cake at the annual Washington County Fair, saw Luke Bryan at the Walmart Ampitheater, and spent time at Beaver Lake floating the day away. We ate ice cream smushed inside donuts at a place called Smudgies, went to a family-owned pumpkin patch and jumped on trampolines in onesies. We became superheroes on Halloween, hosted our own “friendsgiving”, and saw the Christmas lights turn on in the Fayetteville tradition of Lights of the Ozarks.

I’m not from Fayetteville originally, and it’s never really felt like my home because my family isn’t here. I think that home will always be St. Louis. But it feels a little less “not home” when I can create memories, celebrate holidays, listen to music, and see Christmas lights, with friends in a town that celebrate its own traditions. Fayetteville is also a town that celebrates its locals. It’s made such an impact on my past eight years, and I would love to share the traditions, local hot-spots, and my own favorites with you in the post dedicated to Fayetteville, Arkansas.

XO – MC

DALLAS WEDDING

Five years ago, a good friend of mine asked to borrow my guitar. I said that he could borrow it on one condition – he had to play a few songs for my roommates. So he came over to the townhouse that I shared with two of my college best friends, and played a few songs for us. Not to my surprise, he hit it off with one of my roommates.

My friends continued their relationship as I took time off from school, and moved back home. But I could tell their relationship was something special and that their love was growing. By the time that I moved back to finish my last year of school, my friends had all graduated and moved. We all reunited at my other roommate’s destination wedding (floral button-ups and captains hats were involved), and I knew that they were going to be together for ever.

So after a lot of college fun, graduation, a move to Dallas, multiple promotions, and two pups later, these two celebrated being together for five years by getting married. It was such an honor to witness their love for one another, and hear their self-written vows. My favorite part was when the bride repeated after the celebrant all the way to repeating “Let us pray”. Her laughter afterwords showed how much she was enjoying her wedding day.

Their venue was beautiful. It was nestled in the suburbs of Highland Village, TX and featured a chapel and reception space. From the clear chiavari chairs, to the beautiful in-house chandeliers, to the delicately arranged floral arrangements, I can tell why these two fell in love with the venue. And as someone who works in events daily, I noticed so many features to the venue that were not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional for the operations side.

Beyond watching this couple take the next step into their lives together as one, I got to see several of our other friends, whom I hadn’t seen since that first wedding. It had been more than TWO YEARS. That was definitely two years too long. We went out to some random bars, reminisced about our college adventures, and ultimately went to bed early because that’s what happens when you’ve passed the age of a quarter of a century.

XO – MC