Avia Photography

My photo
Columbia, Missouri, United States
Warning, the following ramblings are those of a sometimes sidetracked photographer avoiding accomplishing tasks on her list. All we ask is that if you use one of our photos from here or elsewise, you kindly give us credit. = )

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

.:for lindsey:.

Even if it may be awhile before I get to write about how spectacularly amazing the two of you are... here's proof.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

.:megan boyer band:.

Megan Boyer and her band (the Megan Boyer Band) needed a promo shot, and fast! We went to Lucy's Corner Cafe downtown yesterday morning (we've heard that they have the best biscuits & gravy ever!) to take a few quick shots.

If you haven't heard their band yet, you're in for a real treat as Megan (the blonde bombshell in the center) and her blues band have incredible talent. They play all the time around Columbia, especially at one of our favorite restaurants called Jazz and generally rock the house.

This one was my favorite. = ) But what do I know about band promo shots?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

.:meet the bennetts:.

I promised in their engagement post that I would save more of their background for later. Katie and I went through discipleship with the great Jen for two years (along with three other BEAUTIFUL ladies-holla Laura, Kelley & Kyrsten!). During this time, Mitch came up more than once in our talks. He was always the tall kid who came to Navigators who was very friendly but we all knew he was in love with Katie. After all, who wouldn't be? I do not think that Katie has a mean bone in her body. Ask anyone who knows her. So we all saw Mitch watching her and knew it was only a matter of time. Eventually, Mitch went off for a Navigator's training summer where he grew in his faith tremendously. Upon his return, Katie and Mitch knew that it was time to begin their courtship--they were ready.

Funny thing, Brian went through discipleship with Mitch and several other guys for a year. When I tried to ask him about their time together Brian just shrugged and said, "I dunno... Mitch is a laidback, cool guy. We like sports so that's what we talk about." Men and their brevity! It is true, when we showed up to Katie's house (where only a year earlier we were taking pictures of Katie's sister's wedding) Brian, Mitch, and the fellas all got sucked into a sports conversation immediately.

Their wedding reflected them-simple, elegant, beautiful. I don't know what it is about their wedding day, but brides look absolutely, positively, radiant. I couldn't help but stare at Katie all day long, this beautiful young woman I'd known for years who just looked... well... stunning. Katie and Mitch have made their home in the huge metropolis of St. Louis, quite a difference from Eldon, where Katie grew up. They'll have one another this year as they begin not only their new lives together, but new careers (though Mitch already began). They both teach, which is how they met--in a learning community at Mizzou full of pre-teachers.

Looking at their photos again gives me a big warm fuzzy. = )

(Oh, and if you know Katie, ask her about her dress. There's a pretty cool God story there!)

(I'm inserting a confession. I LOVE shooting really dynamic people. I have a tendency to find someone who is expressive behind the lens and gravitate towards them. I have never met this couple, but I ended up with more than a few photos of them. What can I say, I love joy!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

.:the simple things in life:.

What is that a picture of, you ask?

That's a picture of what I came home to. Brian, who has recently decided to work harder at being spontaneous and surprising, dragged a box of Kroger's chocolate pudding mix out of our bare cupboard and made it just for me to greet me when I got home.

Who does that? I seriously have the awesomest, bestest, cutest husband ever to grace this planet.

.:justin & lauren:.

In June I posted this, a photo that took my breath away and made me go "Wow, I love being a photographer". (Brian says I have these moments with some frequency but rarely do I actually take the time to post the photo that makes me say that!)

In an effort to avoiding posting Lauren and Justin's engagement photos and wedding photos simultaneously (they get hitched in St. Louis in November), I wanted to get them posted because they are way too rocking not to show off.

Lauren and Justin contacted us over a year ago about possibly doing photography for their wedding. It was a longer process as they had more than a few photographer candidates. Apparently, in the end, we won out. We'd like to think it was our awesome personalities and charming good looks that got us the job, but no one seems to mention that when they tell us why they booked us.

I met Lauren in 2005 when she was a freshman in Excellence Hall. (Yes, that is the actual name of the dorm for all of you non-Mizzou folk. MU, or, more specifically, Frankie Minor, had the idea to name the four newest dorms after the four core values of MU: Respect, Responsibility, Excellence, and Discovery. They had found that when they gave buildings names that were meant to be temporary--like GCB which stood for General Classrooms Building--they tended to stick and they wanted to avoid blah names this time around until they got a big enough name donor to tack on the name to the dorm). I was on staff in the community she lived. She was one of the few that year that was active and generally motivated (unfortunately, often we don't hear those words in association with many of us college students any more!). She joined a sorority the first semester yet still was involved with a large volume of our community activities that year. Basically, Lauren is just a superstar. Seriously.

Apparently, it was her involvement in her sorority that caused Lauren to meet the man of her dreams, Justin. If I understand correctly, come time for Homecoming, a large portion of pomping responsibilities often fall to the freshmen in the Greek houses. It was during these oh-so-exciting times that Lauren and Justin met.

Because Mizzou is so special to them and their relationship, Lauren and Justin asked to have their engagement pictures done around the campus. Brian and I were happy to oblige. In addition, they requested they be taken during the golden hour (Lauren's dad does photography as a hobby and expertly suggested this!).

I cannot tell you how many couples warn us prior to their shoots that they get nervous at photo sessions. Lauren & Justin were no exception. We never really worry about this because Brian and I are natural nerds and it doesn't take people long to see that when we shoot. We normally make fools of ourselves naturally during our shoots which often helps alleviate some of the pressure of being cool and awesome in front of a camera when we ourselves are dorks. This time, Brian kept offering to catch the baby bunnies and little squirrels that kept appearing all over campus and give them to Lauren and Justin. He never pulled through, but it did get us all to laugh. You'll see a few of the little critters below. = )

We ended up with an a-MAZING example a tasteful traditional engagement shoot. And they were worried they weren't photogenic? I wish I looked this good when people took my pictures. You can tell just by looking through these images that Lauren & Justin are clearly meant for each other--which is what I wanted to capture. They laugh together, and when they look at one another they have that gaze of two people who are on the same page and just *know*. I can't describe it but I can tell you that it is just as it should be.

Lauren has been a huge encouragement to me as she's sent me multiple message with kind words about our photography which is always so uplifting. (She pointed out the many comments she's collected on her facebook album of their engagement photos.) Thanks for being so awesome, Lauren & Justin, and for being okay with Brian & I's dorkiness and his continual offerings to get you all a new pet. Can't wait for your wedding in November!

Monday, September 7, 2009


I don't even know where to start.

Grandpa "Jack" Thomas is a wonderful, onery, old man with an incredible sense of humor. My sister, Whitney and I always loved to visit him with our dad. We'd take the 4 hour trip up to Iowa to visit Grandpa's antique store he ran with his wife, Betty. (Our biological grandmother, Mary Ann, died from cancer when I was 4--I wear one of her rings as my wedding ring today). Grandpa, up until a few years ago, would still make several trips down to Jefferson City each year to help my dad out with projects at the Ecco Lounge (the restaurant my dad has owned and managed for many years) and generally just to visit. Grandpa was a sign painter and an entrepreneur extraordinaire. When Dad was growing up, Grandpa had many businesses. He really was a jack of all trades. When he'd come down to Jefferson City, he'd handpaint and re-letter a sign for Dad telling people the parking lot was just for Ecco Customers, or to please wait to be seated in the dining room, or to touch up the smiley face he painted onto one of the lamp posts in the lot behind the Ecco.

Grandpa had the touch--he could always make Whit and I laugh with his antics and general old-man-shenanigans. I can't even describe to you what he'd say or do that would make us laugh so hard or smile so big--he just did that to people. When we'd visit Iowa when we were younger we'd always go check out his new Donald Duck and Jack Sprat pieces he'd added to his collection at the antique store. Dad would always try to convince him to open up a branch at the Lake of the Ozarks, where he'd make a killing, but Grandpa would always shake his head. It was then that I realized these businesses were never about the money for Grandpa, it was just about enjoying life. He loved what he did and where he was. On these visits, Grandpa would take us down to the basement of their shop where he had his wordworking tools and show us his high rise birdhouses--some seven stories tall and all hinged to open for easy cleaning. Next we'd walk up the stairs adjacent to the store (he had painted numbers on each of them all the way up so when they were carrying anything up or down they'd know when they'd come to the end) to he and Betty's apartment. They always had several cats which, of course, Grandpa spoiled and Betty chided him for. There were always new contraptions in the house that Grandpa had invented and made to make life a little easier or a little more fun. Grandpa would tease and you would hear Betty, in her good natured way, saying "Jack!" in the background.

Sometime last year (or maybe it was the year before, it's hard to remember) Dad told me on the phone one day that the doctors thought that Grandpa was in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Betty ended up driving him down to Jeff City last Memorial Day where we all got to spend some time together. Grandpa definitely had less energy and was a little slower, but he was still, essentially, the same Grandpa Whit and I grew up loving.

(Here's a photo I took of him at the time)

(You can also see a picture we took together of Grandpa, Whit, Dad, & I here.) Dad called me earlier this summer and said Grandpa was getting progressively worse. At the time, he'd been put in the hospital and there didn't seem to be much hope that he would stay with us much longer. Whit & Dad were able to visit him shortly thereafter, at which point they'd discovered that his bad spell was due to some medications they had put him on and once he was taken off, he was much better. Dad went up a week ago and when I called him and asked about Grandpa, the tone of his voice didn't sound very optimistic. Though life hasn't slowed down yet for Brian & I (in fact, it's really sped up), I knew that we had to make the time to go. The stars aligned and Whit, Dad, Brian and I were all able to make it up yesterday to see Grandpa. Dad told us that Grandpa was now in an assisted living home but I didn't realize the extent to which his dementia had progressed. When I first saw him I didn't recognize him. This man who, just a year ago, was laughingly telling us how he had recently lost his driving privileges when he mistakenly turned too quickly when he was trying to make it to a McDonald's and turned into train tracks and got the van stuck there. Now he was confined to a reclining chair with wheels in a private room in a home.

Here was our Grandpa, but he had changed--he was thinner, his eyes weren't focusing on any of us, his shaven face bore the telltale marks of someone whose face is shaven by someone else, and his arms were covered with the same flesh-colored sleeves you see on the other nursing home patients that are either for circulation or protection from rubbing.

Betty's oldest daughter, Theresa, was there when we arrived and helped coach us at the beginning. I'm sure that she could see that we were all feeling overwhelmed and helpless. She gently let us know that Grandpa liked his hand to be held, that we needed to continually ask him questions and keep him engaged about the past because it would jog his memory and awaken him a bit, and that we needed to be very very close to him when we talked. I fought tears most of the morning and tried to rememer the old times and to bring him back there. What broke my heart was that partway through our visit, as he became more aware, Grandpa kept asking us to take him to our car and get him out of there. He asked us, in one of his sharper moments, if we'd like to be confined to a place every day and be so helpless. He asked us to drive him to Kansas City and promised he'd call Betty from the motel room. Dad, Whit, and I tried to laugh and smile and treat it like a joke because we all knew there was no way we could take him away but at one point he got flustered and said, "No, I'm serious, people!". What do you say to that when you really wish you could take him away? I cannot even begin to imagine what it's been like for Betty to watch her best friend deteriorate in this way and feel helpless to do anything about it. I can't think about what I would do if I had to watch this happen to Brian. Brian took a few pictures of all of us together. I asked him to because sometimes, even if I don't feel like taking pictures, I know later I'll regret it because some moments just need to be documented so that we can't forget them.

Whit & I took turns for most of the time holding his hands while Dad took the other. He would squeeze onto them, he knew we were there.

I finally officially asked Grandpa if I could personally take his picture and he said that'd be fine. He immediately put his hands to the brim of his hat, which it was hard to tell if he was being onery or if he had just decided at that moment that the sun was too bright. Whit gently took his hands for the next photo and I told him to smile.

Later that afternoon, Grandpa told Dad that if he liked his hat, he could take it. Dad laughed and said, "I don't need your hat, Dad, you keep it." Dad told us on the way home that there was a reason behind Grandpa offering Dad his hat. Dad said many years ago he told Grandpa that he didn't want anything from him, but that someday when Grandpa passed away, Dad wanted the LA Dodgers hat back that he had given him. Even though the Dodger's hat wasn't the same one Dad had given Grandpa many years ago, he was still offering. He remembered.

Dad took us through What Cheer, Iowa, his hometown on our way back. I didn't get my camera out fast enough to get photos of the motel that Grandpa ran nor the home he built a block away all by himself but I did snap the photo below of the spot where the old Thomas Foods grocery store was. Dad said it had three aisles at the time. Now it's just an abandoned, empty lot.

Coincidentally, across the street there is a Thomas Grocery. Dad said there's no relation.

Here's the back side of the home Dad first lived in. He said Grandpa added quite a bit to it and you can see the faint outlines on the edge of the photo of the garage that Grandpa built by himself.

Grandpa is an amazing man. I'm glad we went to see him yesterday. I feel like there's so much more of him I wish I knew.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


So this is Brian, making my first guest blogging appearance. I don't really know what this is going to turn out like, I just know there is a story to tell, and that I want to tell it.

Two nights ago I found myself sitting in bed at about 3 a.m. in the morning, thinking and praying. Recently, and after much prayer and consideration, Mallory and I had decided that I should go back to school and get a masters degree. At the end of May I quit my job, (which worked out really well as Avia takes much of my time) and began preparing for school. The photography business had put us in a position where I could go back to school and not take out loans this time around. Everything seemed to be falling into place.

So why was I sitting up at 3 a.m.? I was praying about direction for our business and lives when, somewhere around midnight, it hit me. I had always seen our photography business as a means to an end--a way to achieve our dreams, but not as a dream itself. My dream to support us financially and allow Mallory to be free to do whatever she wanted without having to be the breadwinner. After sitting there for several hours I realized that we had a choice. We could go forward with a dream of me being a breadwinner and Mallory being free to do whatever, but that would still have us living two different lives. Or, as we had already begun doing, I could forge ahead alongside Mallory and her incredible gifts, hand in hand, in Avia. But we couldn't do both, I'd discovered in the last week that there weren't enough hours in the day. One of the dreams would have to be given up. We were at a crossroads.

As I continued to pray and listen for guidance, the picture of what we have been doing with Avia became clearer. The gifts God had given Mallory through photography became painfully clear and overwhelmingly beautiful. Realizing that we had to make a choice, I began softly sobbing. Mind you, I'm not the emotional type, but at 3 a.m., when you are considering the possibility of either you or the most important other person in the world having to give up something you've set your eyes on, crazy things happen. Mallory woke up to this scene and had no idea what was going on. When she asked what was going on, I think I gave her quite a scare since it took me a good 3 minutes before I could find where to begin.

As I was explaining the situation to her, about how we couldn't keep on going like we were going, or otherwise we'd never get to spend time together again (if you've met with us, we've mentioned the Five Love Languages, and time is HUGE to the health of our marriage), I already knew what my vote would be. Could I do well at G.I.S.? Yes. Would I get a great job? Yes. But does it take a rocket scientist to study G.I.S.? No. Some say I'm a smart cookie, but I have nothing extraordinary to contribute to academia on an Einstein or Hawkings kind of level. Mallory on the other hand....

I believe that God sees beauty in each and every person. He sees us all as beautiful, wonderful, intricately made creatures that he created uniquely special. Mallory has always said that it was her desire as a photographer to try to capture that beauty. Speaking as someone who has literally seen well over 50,000 pictures she has taken, I have seen firsthand Mallory's incredible ability to capture the beauty of God's creation and as I sat up very very late praying and thinking, many of these images flashed before me. This may sound cheesy, but when I thought about making a decision that would deny even one person the opportunity to see a glimpse of their beauty as God sees it, I felt real palpable guilt and shame. Who am I to deny people an opportunity to experience that? How selfish would that be?

Needless to say, I told Mallory all this. I saw her gift in photography even clearer that night than ever before. I explained it to her that it would be as if she saw a vision of me in a huge concert hall playing before thousands of people bringing them to tears because of the beauty of my music. You couldn't then deny me, in right mind, of creating that music to move so many. That's what her photography is like and there is no way that I want to deny that. In this, I realized that she cannot do it without me. WE cannot do it without one another. There are aspects of Avia she will always be overwhelmed with and I can continue to be there to take care of them. Needless to say, all of this probably ranks as some of the best things a wife could ever hear from her husband, so, at that point, Mallory started to cry too. To make a long story short, at 3 a.m. in the morning on a Tuesday, I decided to pursue and devote 100% of my energies to a dream, OUR dream, for Avia. Not for what it can do for us, but for how it can bless others. I cannot describe to you the joy of sharing a dream with your spouse, and working towards it together. It is one of the biggest blessings I have ever received. I choose the extraordinary over the ordinary, working alongside my wife rather than in different spheres. How awesome will that be? Besides, I asked her to marry me because I couldn't stand spending the rest of my life without her. Luckily she said "yes".

So to Mallory I say, thank you for an opportunity to be a part of something amazing together with you. And to everyone else reading this, thank you for all your support. My hope is we can be as much of a blessing to you as all this has been to me.

p.s. Mallory always says that when you post, you have to post images, so here you go

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

.:ryan & leah extravaganza:.

We met Ryan & Leah only a few months before their wedding. We all met up one afternoon at McAllister's Deli to go over their expectations, hopes, dreams, and the like for their big day. They told us about how they thought a wedding should be fun--a huge celebration complete with whiffle ball, canoeing, fishing, games, piƱatas, candy, dancing, great food, sumo wrestling suits, and fun and laughter. Brian and I left really excited, we couldn't stop talking about how we wished we were creative and cool enough back when we got married to think of all the fun things Ryan & Leah had planned for their reception. Even though the Sumo Wrestling suits idea was eventually nixed, everything else went as planned. I've never seen guests enjoy themselves so much or a couple so relaxed.

We did their engagement shoot several weeks prior at the Shelter Gardens. I suspect that Leah, being an avid gardener and excellent cook, was the one who had the idea. Unfortunately, it ended up being one of the hottest days of the summer so the session ended a littler earlier than normal because we were all starting to fade pretty fast. But they were great sports and we learned quickly that Leah was going to be one of our favorite brides to shoot yet as she is absolutely natural in front of the camera and always full of so much joy as you'll notice throughout their photos. Their little one, Maddie Bell, tagged along for the photo session. One of her favorite things to do right now is to sniff the flowers (and sometimes eat them shortly afterwards) so you might see a few of her below doing just that!

Leah warned us that the place they were to hold their wedding at (a family friend's home & land just south of Columbia) was one of the most stunningly gorgeous places you'd ever see. Apparently Ryan, stud that he is, took Leah out there on one of their first few dates (if I remember correctly there was some canoeing and a guitar involved!) and they've never let go their attachment. When we arrived I was absolutely overwhelmed with the beauty of it all, not to mention the gorgeous flowers that were waiting for us that were done by the ever enchanting My Secret Garden. Everything felt magical--the lake, the butterflies in the garden, the rows upons rows of wildflowers, the old boathouse, the dressing room with its wall of windows and freshly cut flowers in a vase, the porch swing... just the serenity and beauty of it all. One felt like you had just arrived in a fairytale land far far away. It's hard to feel, in a place and event that wonderful, that you could even begin to do it justice in photographs.

Not only was the setting amazing, but just being around Leah and Ryan made you feel wonderful. Even after years of being with one another they hold tightly to their friendship and fun with one another. They look at one another like two people who have just discovered love for the first time. And to top it off, they are--honestly--some of the most patient, wonderful, loving, laidback, attentive, and fun parents I have ever come across and their little Maddie Bell knows without a doubt in the world that her parents love her beyond life itself. Their wedding truly was just a wonderful celebration of the joining of two lives and we felt really priviliged to share in it with them.