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The secret’s out… I’m a sucker for a puppy in a cute collar.

I suppose I would say that I’m actually a sucker for puppies in general, but Presley June is more than just a puppy - she is possibly the cutest puppy I’ve ever seen. I was introduced to this beautiful bundle of joy one weekday afternoon as I met up with Katie and Shawn at their house. I’ve known these two for years (actually I was reminded today that I met Shawn 10 years ago exactly), and they are perhaps one of my favorite married couples. I admire the relationship they have with one another, equal parts serious and fun, and so warm, welcoming, and hilarious, that I find myself doubled over laughing and completely relaxed every time I’m around them. When you take a pair of wonderful people and toss an adorable puppy into the mix… that is a power-family, my friends.

As one might expect with a puppy, Presley was full of energy the entire time we were on our shoot. We used a number of tricks and treats to get her to pose, but despite her constant energy, she managed to look completely adorable in every single photo I captured of her. Not that Katie and Shawn aren’t beautiful people (they are, it’s quite unfair), but Presley was the real star of the show.

I love having shoots with friends… there’s a certain magic in taking photos of someone you’ve never met before, but there’s nothing more fun than wandering around with people who make you laugh and then getting to give them a product they love after it’s all over. We grabbed some wine late one night and I sat across from them as they scrolled through their photos, smiling and commenting on each one. That’s an irreplaceable experience. 

All three members of the Arani family are wonderful people, fabulous friends, and I can’t wait to take photos of them in the future - I have a feeling Presley is only going to get more pretty with time. 

, #portraits #portrait photography #pet photography #puppy #dallas photography #texas photography #family photography #outdoors #pretty #katie #shawn #presley

There’s Nothing Wrong with Selfies

Our culture is obsessed with selfies - either with taking them, or hating them with a firey passion. Articles are plastered all over the internet, titled things like “The Age of the Selfie” or “How Selfies Became a Global Phenomenon” or “My Selfie, Myself” (that last one is a real thing published in the New York Times). People across the board are lauding selfies as “desperate”, “attention-seeking”, “narcissistic”. But I’m gonna be real with you…. I think that selfies are awesome.

We live in an age where soft-spoken humility and repressed pride are socially applauded. Today, a confident woman is called “conceited,” “a bitch,” or “full of herself.” We’ve conditioned our youth to be meek. When a young girl receives a compliment, her instantaneous reaction is to deny the praise. Young women deflect compliments with frenetic intensity. And you know what? I think that’s pretty sad. Humans are amazing creatures, we are a miraculous race born out of the earth and out of love, and damn it, we are all exceptionally beautiful people. A selfie is a tiny pulse of pride - or what Rachel Simmons called “a shout out to the self” in her article, "Selfies are Good for Girls".

I love taking selfies. I will snapchat my face to my friends when I am feeling particularly beautiful or (more often in my case) when I make a ridiculous face that I know people will laugh at. For years, despite growing up in front of the lens, I couldn’t manage to smile genuinely in a photo. It would be fake, or forced, or I would be making a face. As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed a love for both, as evidenced from above. I love these photos. These were taken with my mother, my best friend, in the middle of nowhere right near the edge of a waterfall, and I’m so proud of the women we are and the adventurous spirit we are equally consumed by. Yours could be in your car, your bathroom, the streets on a big night out. And that’s awesome too.

The main rule of a selfie is that you don’t have to take yourself seriously - you could be having a bad hair day and don’t mind embarrassing yourself on Instagram, or you could be looking like a bombshell and feeling fully beautiful for the first time in days. No matter what the circumstances, embrace how awesome you are, because no matter what those mean bitches in high school told you, you are an absolutely phenomenal, radiant, stunning force of nature and you should be proud to share yourself with the world.

, #photography #nature photography #selfies #advice #women #self photography #self portrait #nature #michigan #upper peninsula #explore #waterfall #love yourself #confidence #beauty #portraits #personal

There is nothing more fascinating and miraculous than a newborn. Though I have yet to experience the joy of new parenthood, I have seen two brothers - now 10 and 5 - brought into this world, and holding someone in your arms that you instantly love and cherish is an indescribable feeling. You see it in new mothers and fathers all the time. This unstated feeling, this instantaneous glow, is amazing - but it was nothing compared to the ineffable feeling emanating from Brooks and Kristina towards precious Eloise. 

I met Brooks several years ago, a friend’s brother from high school. Brooks and Kristina were one of my first solo engagement shoots 5 or 6 years ago, before I upgraded to my D700, and though I still love their photos, my skills have greatly improved since that day in Highland Park several years ago. I joined Brooks and Kristina in their home and you could feel that newborn-aura that you feel upon entering a room where new life resides. It didn’t take any time at all for us to fall into an easy groove, enhanced only by the fact that Brooks and Kristina could barely take their eyes off of Elle for a second.

At one point, Brooks said something about the “blessings” in their life, and that word is thrown about too loosely these days. When Brooks called Elle a blessing, he quite literally meant that God had granted them favor in the beautiful bundle of tranquil joy that he held in his arms. They revered her, handled her gently, apologized when she made a scrunched-up little face, and were constantly touching her, as in disbelief that this little human was really theirs for the rest of their lives.

Certainly, she was sweet, adorable, surprisingly calm and quiet for the duration of my time with them. More than that, the three people in that room had an unending love for one another… more than just for baby Eloise Slade, Kristina and Brooks were enamored with one another and the fact that they had brought this life into the world. I hope they can look back on these photos and smile as she grows older and the sweet age of innocence fades to an older, vibrant, quirky little girl full of new adventures. 

, #portraits #portrait photography #photography #dallas photography #newborn photography #baby #newborn #celestecameronsmith #eloise #tutus #baby photography #newborn portraits #beautiful #love #adorable #happiness #life

The waterfalls in the Black River National Forest are beautiful at all times of the year, from the golden colors of fall, to the bright greens of mid-summer, to the slow-moving processional of almost frozen water in the winter. However, in the early spring in the Upper Peninsula, right around April when the snow is fully melted and the rivers are gushing, the beauty takes on a mystical ethereal quality, only enhanced by the fact that travelers in the area are few since the weather hasn’t quite lost it’s chilly demeanor. 

Tamytha and I wandered through the forests accompanied by our friend, and guide, Matt as we explored one waterfall after the other, traipsing through the forest alone with barely any sounds surrounding us, as the animals had yet to fully emerge from hibernation. Life was sprouting all around us through the trees, though, in beautiful tones of green. The feeling that we were the alone on the edge of nowhere, exploring this chilly, beautiful, misty wonderland was not something I’ll soon forget.

Black River National Forest, Michigan | April 2013

, #photography #travel photography #upper peninsula #adventure photography #nature photography #black river national forest #adventures #celestecameronsmith #michigan #spring #nature #waterfalls #forests #explore

I guess now’s as good a time as any.

Going through so-called “life transitions” can be difficult and I come from a family where change is the watchword. It always seems as if the next upheaval is just around the corner. There are good transitions - new life, new love, new opportunities - and there are stressful, painful, sometimes heartbreaking transitions - instability, confusion, loss. Just when you think you’ve entered a time of peace, the avalanche occurs and you find yourself tumbling down a mountain, holding your breath, praying for something solid to grab onto.

I am in the middle of my 20s, the most opportunity-ridden time of a young person’s life, and several months ago, I found myself in a period of transition, feeling a little lost, not sure what the next step should be. Should I pack up and move across the world? Should I sell everything I own and join a monastery? Should I search for love, for riches, for thrills? Should I simply succumb to the inevitable, apply for a desk job, settle down, adopt a dog?

The age-old adage says for a person to “follow their heart.” I know in many ways that that’s easier said than done. But in this state of transition, I heard those words with new meaning… my heart wanders, certainly, and there are so many things I want out of life. I’m thirsty for knowledge, desperate for new sights, fervent in the desire to experience new things on a daily basis, but one thing remains consistent in my heart - I love beauty, and most of all, I love people and I love sharing their stories.

I grew up with a camera in my hand. I had a camera before I had a cell phone and I had a creative heart before I had a mature one. My skills were not immediate - I honed them over years of practice, years of exposure, years of tutelage under a mother who saw in pictures rather than in motion. Today that has manifested itself into the one thing I will always love - taking a photo, sharing it, and praying vigorously that people will fall in love with it and see themselves or the world through new eyes.

Perhaps I haven’t figured out where I want the end of the road to lead, but I know I intend to explore it through photographs. I hope you’ll join me on this adventure. Today, in March of 2014, I live in Dallas, Texas. I have a degree from Elon University in Film Production and another in New Media. I’m over-educated and under-experienced. I am 24 years old. I am figuring out life as I go along, as we all are, while the planet spins on uninterrupted.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

, #photography #portraits #dallas photography #photo blog #texas photography #portrait photography #dallas #texas #introduction #personal