Spring Engagement Photos at Loch Raven Reservoir

Lindsay and Adam's engagement session at Loch Raven Reservoir in Phoenix, MD is everything a photo shoot can be. We started by meeting for a walkthrough of their wedding venue, Eagle's Nest Country Club, and then drove a mile down the road to one of my favorite spots along the water. It was a cloudy evening, and dusk was falling fast. I love that this location has the best of both worlds- dark and moody pine forest, and well-lit, sandy shoreline. It's perfect almost any time of day, any weather. Lindsay's white calico dress provided such an understated and classic softness out in the open and a beautiful contrast against the rich green foliage of the woods.  

It didn't take much to get these two giggling, and Adam was ALL for being affectionate in front of the camera. Sometimes guys are hesitant to loosen up, but I hope these photos prove how beautiful vulnerability can be and inspire someone else to just go for it. I think Lindsay was a little taken aback at how comfortable he was too, and her smile just glowed the entire time because of him! 

Since it was overcast and quickly becoming dark, we started the session in the the woods to take advantage of what little light there was left. Adam and Lindsay danced, cried, and sang to each other through laughter. If you zoom in on one of these photographs, you can see a sweet little tear rolling down her face. She instinctively wiped it away, but I'm such a sucker for emotion and begged her not to. I'd asked them to reflect back on the first years of their relationship and that's certainly something to tear up over! I mean, you've been with this other human being for years, and now you're choosing to spend the rest of your lives together! It's kind of a big deal. I honestly get a little welled up just typing these words! 

That's part of why engagement photos are so special. They represent this pause before the next chapter. It can feel like such a long wait, but 30 years from now, it'll feel like the blink of an eye. I want my couples to have photos from their wedding day in addition to a visual of the time before forever. That moment when you were just two friends, completely and madly in love with one another. 

In Home Lifestyle Newborn Photos in Ellicott City

Nothing quite compares to in-home newborn photography, and it's always such a calming treat in between documenting the hustle and bustle of weddings. Adrienne and Greg actually hired me to photograph their wedding several years ago, and when I learned about little Finn, I could hardly contain myself!! It was so fun catching up and seeing them in their new roles as mom and dad. 

It was a rainy morning, so we moved a big comfortable chair near the brightest window and fawned over the baby. His perfect little fingers, toes, peach fuzz, button nose... newborn babies are just pure magic! Little Finlay wanted nothing to do with not being held, so Adrienne and Greg took turns cradling him. Sometimes it's nice to take photos of baby solo, but I'm never going to advocate for forcing a baby into that position. If they need to be held, they need to be held! 

Looking back on your newborn photos, I imagine that's the exact feeling you'll be hoping to summon anyway- what it was like having your tiny curled up baby on your chest. The way their little head smelled sweet and milky, their fingers curled around yours, their wrinkly newborn legs, and itty bitty fingernails, and dreamtime puckering lips.

DIY Garden Wedding with Spring Wildflowers

Alex and Enid's intimate wedding was hosted in a quaint public park and was a true DIY, family affair. At the top of a hill sat a small wooden pavilion, decorated in classic white bunting, twinkle lights, and simple wildflower arrangements in recycled wine bottles. Their invitations asked guests to dress for a "picnic-chic garden party" and everyone had their prettiest florals on, which provided an abundance of pastel colors to compliment the decor! When I asked Alex to share her vendor list with me, she came back with the most heartfelt email describing all the things her friends and family had done to make this day so special. Scroll to the bottom of this post to read more! It's so fun to read!!

Alex and Enid planned their spring wedding ceremony to begin at 1pm, which meant direct, overhead sunlight. Normally this wouldn't be the most optimal time for taking photos (harsh shadows, squinting eyes, etc.) but we made a few choices to embrace it! First and foremost, the ceremony was tucked away near the entrance to the woods so their guests faced the shade of trees. Much easier on the eyes!

Because the pale green spring canopy didn't provide much shade at all,  their portraits have a dramatic and sometimes light and airy feel to them from the full-sun. Perfect for a delicate garden party wedding! Finally, we originally planned for family portraits near a huge barn but when the time came, the sun was much too direct there (and hot!!) and everyone would have been squinting their eyes and sweating. Instead, we utilized a large hillside nearby that had the most beautiful filtered light coming over it. I think the moral of the story is that no matter what time of day you get married, no matter where the sun is in the sky, there are so many ways to make your guests comfortable and get lovely images to look back on! 

VENDORS (in Alex's words)

Signs - Enid's brother's girlfriend, Sarah Curry, spent days working on all of the beautiful signs--the detail that really elevated the whole event, in my opinion. She has since opened an Etsy shop, Museum of Sign Arts

Wedding planner / day-of coordination - My BFF of almost 20 years, Katie Ernst of Bizzy Bashes, does event planning on the side, so I was referring to her as our "unpaid wedding planner" since I relied HEAVILY on her. She was amazing and coordinated everything the day of (and helped with a million and one things beforehand too) by wrangling up friends and family to unload cars, hang lights, buy ice, place signs, etc. Last minute we decided to pay to have a friend and colleague of her's help, Kevin (don't have his last name at the moment), but we're soooo glad we did that! Kevin was there refilling drink jugs, refreshing ice, telling us when to walk down the aisle, etc, and was an integral part of the setup and tear down. 

Katie and Enid really organized a whole army of friend and family helpers for set up on the day of. Enid and his brother and best man, Denis, were there hanging lights, moving tables, hanging lanterns, delivering kegs, etc all morning. They did an insane amount of work and because they're both so efficient and strong, we really don't think we would have been able to get everything ready without them there.

Other friends and family helped by playing music for the ceremony, getting ice, setting up the game area, acting as greeters/ushers, hanging lanterns, etc. They did an incredible amount of work for us and we really can't thank them enough.

Flowers - Another dear friend of mine, Elanna Edwards, owned all things related to flowers. I picked her for the job because I knew she'd be able to really get and deliver my vision for imperfect wildflowers and not think they looked too cheap or like not enough. She also insisted on making a bouquet for me, even though I had decided not to do one just to simplify, and I'm so glad she did. The bouquet was soo beautiful and really made my look. She also decorated our coconut cake with flowers so it looked a little more like a wedding cake. 

Cakes - My uncle was incredibly kind and offered to provide the cakes for us. He is a founder of Foodie Direct, a company that works with restaurants, bakeries, etc. to make it possible to ship and deliver some of the most delicious, foodie approved, food. He works with Smith Island Cake and suggested ordering a few of their cake (via Foodie Direct-https://www.foodydirect.com/restaurants/smith-island-baking-co/dishes) for the wedding. They were SOOOO good. Especially the caramel one. *McKenzie here- sadly, my time was up before the dessert even made an appearance at this wedding! YUM!

Baklava and other Albanian dessert - Enid's mom made homemade baklava (really homemade - she rolled out each layer of phyllo - something I didn't even know people did until I met Enid's family!) that we had out with the cake. Another friend of their family brought a similar, homemade dessert (name escapes me at the moment).

Pretty cans for knock over the cans game - My mom made those for us at my request. I saw the flower paper on sale and bought it on a whim. I thought it would be a good job for her because she's an expert present wrapper. :)

Officiant - Kathy Gracenin - The Wedding ProOfficiant

Caterer - Cava Mezze

Wedding Dress - BHLDN

Jewelry/Accessories - Franchesca's

Hair - Glamsquad

Flower Crown Headband - H&M

Suit - SuitSupply

Tie- Nordstrom Rack


Casual Newborn Session with Twins in Hampden

Crystal and Renee live in a cozy little row house in Hampden with exposed brick, beautiful hardwood floors, and charming stained glass windows. I love that the aesthetic of in-home sessions is always defined by the style of a person's home. Some homes are bright and airy, some are patterned and colorful, but this special home lent a warm, glowing quality to the photos. Since life with twin newborns is all about snuggling, that's what I asked these sweet mamas to do. Not surprisingly, we mixed things up with burping, feeding, and a whole lot of giggling at all the adorable smiles and coos. Relaxed, low-key newborn photography is my favorite. 

Baby Photography in a Mt. Vernon Row House

Grace and three month old Lia are visiting from Turkey, so grandpa hired me for an at home photography session to document this precious time in Lia's babyhood. It was a very cloudy day, and the light was dark and moody which matched the decor of the living room so well. After I shared these images with Grace, she shared this sweet sentiment: 

“I asked McKenzie to photograph me nursing because I didn't want to forget how intimate and deep these moments with Lia are. How could I have photos taken of her at this age without covering this thing we do so many times a day and during which we exchange such pure love with each other? Sometimes we just gaze into each other's eyes. Sometimes we make each other laugh and joke. Nursing is the definition of ‘quality time’ for us right now so it had to be documented.”

Grace, it was an honor. Thank you so much. 

Rustic and Casual Fall Wedding in the Woods

Kalynn and Michael are my neighbors, so when they asked if I'd photograph their wedding for just an hour, of course I said yes! The couple wasn't planning to invest in professional photography and this documentation was the perfect gift paid for by Kalynn's sister. (Thank you!)

This was a true family affair. Kalynn's sisters wove a gigantic ceremony wreath backdrop and decorated it with mums and ornamental grasses. The bride wore a homemade eucalyptus flower crown and carried a DIY wedding bouquet full of eucalyptus, grasses, mums, and dahlias. I love that Kalynn chose to wear a soft linen wedding dress. The color was perfect against the bright yellow leaves.

A mossy creek winds through the backyard and they spend lots of time playing in it with their toddler son. It was the perfect spot to take romantic portraits and also the perfect place for the ceremony! Family casually gathered on one side of the creekbed and Kalynn jumped over the water to say her vows. The most romantic moment was when the couple jumped back over the trickling water, hand in hand. While I, of course, took my own photo of that special memory, I'm sharing Kalynn's sister and her instant photo here instead! Now I'm tempted to buy my own instax mini for weddings. How cool would it be to give the couple a photo on the spot?!

Elopement at Rawlings Conservatory and La Cuchara

When Meredith and Jim found out they were expecting their second baby, they decided it was time to tie the knot. And what better place than Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park? Kid-friendly but romantic as can be. I love that even in winter, this space offers so many stunning photo backdrop opportunities, inside and out. The couple invited 17 of their closest family and friends for an intimate, emotional ceremony under the towering palm trees. Each of their parents read a poem that had everyone (including myself) tearing up.

Meredith's mom made her wedding bouquet at home and included in it a variety of pretty yellow and purple flowers. They gave away succulent wedding favors the conservatory offers for sale. After the ceremony, everyone carpooled over to La Cuchara in Woodberry for dinner. The restaurant reserved an entire room and one long table for the party and it was decorated with lovely winter squash, candles, and a custom menu at each place setting. Meredith's friend made a chocolate wedding cake and surprised them with- get this- a lounging pregnant bride and groom caketopper! The whole family had a good laugh over that! Adorable!

Classic Newborn Photos at Home in Roland Park

Oh, how I love a good newborn session! Walking into a home that has a new baby is such a calm, quiet sensation. It's always such an honor to be invited! Grayson was born a month early, so Mary decided to give him a few extra weeks to grow before hiring a newborn photographer. Most of that month was spent snuggling, so that's exactly what I asked them to do while I was there!

For all of my in-home sessions, I like to walk around a house and scope out where the loveliest light is. At Mary's house, the nursery and living room were absolutely beautiful and filled with natural light. I loved how bright and airy they felt!

Rainy Day Mini Session at Rawlings Conservatory

I've had the honor of photographing Louisa (and now Morris) every six months of their lives. It's been a joy watching their parents settle into new roles and these kiddos reach new milestones- smiling, walking, running, talking. I'm humbled by the idea that someday this family will get to look back on a visual reminder of all the joy that these fleeting years were filled with. 

Even though it was a cold, rainy afternoon, we stayed warm and dry in the beautiful Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park. I'm normally down to make photos in almost any weather, but when tiny babies are involved, that can be tricky. I'm so glad this amazing venue exists! Both toddlers and big kids love putting quarters in the gumball-turned-fish-food dispenser and feeding the koi. It's a calm and peaceful environment and almost has the quiet air of a library. There are stunning archways made of vines, sweet-scented tropical flowers, giant banana trees (with real bananas), lemons, limes, cacti, a whole room dedicated to orchids, and a two-story greenhouse filled with enormous palm trees. It's the perfect place to wander around as a family. Slow, adventurous, and full of magical discoveries!  

Active Family Photo Session at Pierce's Park

Diana and her boys met me at one of their favorite downtown Baltimore playgrounds, Pierce's Park. If you're local and have never been there, get on it! This was my first visit and I was totally blown away. It's a unique mix of giant interactive sculpture, a music garden, and luscious landscaping. I also love this location because you can see the beautiful architecture of some famous Baltimore landmarks off in the distance. The boys came dressed in dragon wings and- like all devoted moms- Diana showed up lugging a couple scooters and helmets and very likely snacks and band-aids in her backpack. We had so much fun running through the willow tunnel and pretending to fly.

Photographing kids in their element means following their lead, getting down on their level, and occasionally enticing them into situations where they're cuddling up on mom. (That often takes creativity, since running around independently is pretty exciting!) I asked Diana to sit still, close her eyes, and gave the boys the "secret" task of running up from behind and tickling her. And as our session came to a close, the three were rolling down a huge grassy hill and collapsing into each other with laughter. 

Modern Waterfront Wedding in Canton

Chris and Hattie were married on a breezy summer's day in the heart of Canton, Baltimore's historical industrial district. I don't often photograph traditional church weddings, so I'm always humbled by the slow and thoughtful pace of a Catholic ceremony. After the mass, it was fun taking advantage of the beautiful exterior architecture for family portraits. The reception was an easy walk across the street to a public park for a bayside reception. Hattie's dad had carefully carved each wooden centerpiece and filled them with tiny monogrammed glasses for sampling craft beer. There was a mashed potatoes bar, an ice cream sundae station, and each guest signed a Jenga block instead of a guestbook. I love all the personal touches this wedding included, and that at the end of the day, it was all about relaxing and having fun with family and friends! 

ceremony venue- St. Casimir Church

reception venue- Boston Street Pier Park