Rhiannon & Ernie’s Winter Wedding

When I heard that Rhiannon and Ernie were engaged, I told Rhiannon that I really, really wanted to photograph their wedding. Not only are they artistic and all around fantastic people, but I had always loved hearing Susan tell stories of she & Ernie in high school running around making crazy VHS videos and taking black & white photos. There were a couple of plans for the wedding that I had talked about with Rhiannon, but one day she called me and said that they were just going to keep it simple and go out to her Grandmothers house in Cherokee and get married with family only. I didn’t realize how beautiful it would be, I just said yes!

Rhiannon modified the dress here grandmother and mother had worn on their wedding days. When everyone arrived, they went out to the gazebo and the ceremony began. Just as Rhiannon had predicted, a train went by, right beside the house during the ceremony and with perfect grace everyone stopped, waited, laughed, then resumed…
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Geneva & Brandon’s Wedding

From the moment we met Geneva, we knew this wedding would be dreamy! For one, I always look forward to being in my home town of Huntsville. Secondly, when we met for a consultation, Geneva’s mother, who is an amazing photographer, told us to go wild and do anything we wanted. Sometimes people say things like that, but rarely does the day lend itself to doing something like that. On the day of the wedding, we had an extra hour in the schedule, so we decided to go to an old abandoned mining cave to do some fun photos. We did not know till later that Geneva and Brandon love to rock climb, but thought that it was a fun coincidence when we found out. After a beautiful intimate ceremony with close friends and family, the day gave way to dancing in the rain. It was a joy to watch the families and guests learn and participate in traditional folk dances, which was Geneva’s college major. Being around such a close and eclectic group of people this night reminded me how lucky we are to be able to document such amazing moments in peoples lives!

This past Fall, Geneva and Brandon’s wedding was featured on the Cottage Hill Blog!

Most recently, a beautiful photo of Geneva dancing was featured on the cover of No’Ala Huntsville as well as a featured wedding spread in the January/February 2016 Wedding issue!Geneva & Brandon Wedding G&B(blog)-3G&B(blog)-2
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The amazing vendors!

Planning and coordination : Kathleen Bernal Events
Videography : Woodnote Media
Hair stylist: Ashley the Fabulous
Make-Up : Leslie Ware MUA
Rentals:  Mullins Special Occasions


Holiday Poached Pear Tart

peartart(blog)-18Sometimes the holidays can be a very stressful time. One way I like to combat this is by getting in the kitchen and working out a new recipe. I saw this recipe in Fine Cooking magazine and I knew I just had to try it. I made a few of my own tweaks and it was amazing! The pears I got were super ripe so we didn’t poach them as the recipe recommend, we just let them sit in the spiced wine for while. A bonus for not actually poaching the pears was that we were able to save the wine and turn it into a sort of spiced wine cocktail. This tart turned out so beautiful, I think it would make an amazing addition to your holiday table. – Susan

Styling Elements:

Tea Towels: Alabama Chanin

Apron: Idyllwilde

Candles: Silk & Willow
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For the crust
  • 8-3/4 oz. (scant 2 cups) all-purpose flour;  more for dusting
  • 3-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-3/4 oz. (7 Tbs.) pistachio meal (finely ground pistachios)
  • 6 oz. (12 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, 1 separated
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 oz. melted white chocolate

This recipe makes enough dough for two tart crusts; use one now and freeze the other for a delicious tart in your future.

For the filling
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
For the poached pears
  • 1 750-ml bottle of dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 whole (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 (3-inch) strips lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-1/2 lb. peeled, halved, cored, and sliced firm-ripe pears (preferably a smaller variety, such as Seckel or Forelle)
For finishing the tart
  • 1/4 cup apricot or apple jelly
  • 2 Tbs. water or white wine
  • Chopped pistachios, for garnishing
Make the dough

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, pistachio meal, butter, and salt. Mix on low speed until the butter begins to break up, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to just below medium and continue beating until the mixture looks sandy with butter pieces the size of tiny pebbles, about 2 minutes more.

Turn the mixer off and add the whole egg and egg yolk (reserve the remaining white). Mix on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and mix just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 30 seconds. Do not overmix.

Divide the dough in half, press each half into a disk about 4 inches across, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 disk for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. (Freeze the other disk for up to a month; thaw in the refrigerator before using.)

Shape and bake the crust

Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Spray a 9-1/2- to 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray.

Working quickly, roll the dough disk into a 1/8-inch-thick round. Transfer the dough to the tart pan and gently coax it into the pan, allowing the excess dough to hang over the sides. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off the excess dough. Patch any tears or cracks with the scraps. Refrigerate the crust for at least 20 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Line the crust with parchment paper and fill it to the very top with beans or pie weights. Bake until the edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and paper. Bake until the center of the crust looks dry and is just beginning to color, 3 to 5 minutes.

Beat the reserved egg white. Brush the inside of the crust with some of the egg white (you won’t need it all) and return the crust to the oven until the egg white has dried, about 2 minutes. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy once you add the filling.) Cool completely on a rack.

Brush the interior of the cooled crust with the white chocolate. Let it set for a few minutes in the fridge before proceeding.

Make the pastry cream

Combine the milk and 2 Tbs. of the sugar in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. If using a vanilla bean, split it and scrape the seeds into the milk, then add the pod. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod, if using.

Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the remaining 2 Tbs. sugar with the egg, egg yolk, and cornstarch until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture until combined. Off the heat, whisk the contents of the bowl back into the remaining milk in the saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a boil; it will thicken. Continue to cook for another minute past the boil, whisking constantly. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla paste or extract, if using, and the cardamom. Strain the pastry cream through a medium-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Poach the pears

In a deep, narrow 4- to 5-quart pot, combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, and lemon zest and juice. Stir to distribute the sugar. Add the pears. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Lower the heat and cover the pears with a circle of parchment and a plate to keep them submerged. Continue cooking until the pears give just a little resistance when pierced with a paring knife. (They will continue to cook a little more as the liquid cools.) Let cool completely, submerged in the liquid, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Remove the pears from the liquid and drain on paper towels before slicing and topping the tart with them.

Fill and top the tart

In a medium bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks with an electric hand mixer or a whisk.

Beat the pastry cream to soften and smooth it. With a large spatula, fold the whipped cream into the softened pastry cream until thoroughly combined. Fill the crust with the crème légère, evening it out with the spatula. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before topping with the pears.

Arrange the pears on top of the filling. Note that because the filling is soft, you’ll need to work quickly while the filling is cold and more firm. Because it’s hard to move the pears once they’re on the filling, you may want to practice your pattern on an empty sheet pan before placing it on the tart.

Put the jelly and water or wine in a small saucepan. Simmer and whisk together to form a smooth glaze. Allow to cool slightly. Brush it on the exposed pears, being careful not to pull up the cream filling from below. Refrigerate the tart until ready to serve. Just before serving, garnish the tart with the pistachios. Serve cold, within 6 hours of topping.

Chef Rick Vonk’s Rooftop Dinner

This spring we had the privilege of photographing Chef Rick Vonk’s first in a series of Rooftop Dinners in Huntsville. It was a beautiful evening of laughs, wine, meeting new people, and of course food! There was delicious Hummus from The Hummus People in two of the dishes. A full host of wines from The Church Street Wine Shoppe, as well as Ricks 5 Course meal. All of the courses were fantastic, but a few of my favorites were the maple bourbon glazed pork belly and the mussels & chorizo in white wine butter. All in all an amazing evening. The best part is that there are more rooftop dinners to come!

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Lyndsey & Jordan Engagement

This late summer engagement session was awesome! When we first met up to talk, Lyndsey asked if it would be possible to do some photos at Rivertown Coffee. Since it is one of my very favorite places to hang out in Florence and the fact that we had never done an engagement session there before, I thought it was a great idea! After getting fully caffeinated, we went around downtown and ended the evening on the bank for the Tennessee River. blog-l&j-14blog-l&j-4blog-l&j-3blog-l&j-9 blog-l&j-10 blog-l&j-11 blog-l&j-12 blog-l&j-13 blog-l&j-15 blog-l&j-19 blog-l&j-20

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Eleanor & Whitten Wedding

Every time I go through Tuscumbia I take the long way so I can drive by Saint Johns Episcopal Church. It is old and simple and elegant Church and I have always wanted to photograph a wedding there. So when Eleanor and her mother (who is the neighbor of and keeper of the old church which is only used for special occasions) contacted us, I was ecstatic. Eleanor and Whitten’s wedding was full of authentic moments and beautiful light so it was one that had to be shared!
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Smash Bash

Ready for the weekend? Wether you are looking to porch sit with your sweetie or throw an all out party, the Indie Shopography curated Crafted Taste “Smash Bash” cocktail kit is the perfect way to get your weekend going!

A few months ago our good friends at Indie Shopography asked us to team up with them to visually showcase the cocktail curation and design they were doing with the subscription cocktail service, Crafted Taste. Susan got right on it and knocked it out with her styling by creating the perfect setting and finding goods from some of our favorite makers, Alabama Chanin and Heath Ceramics. Not only was it a ton of fun planning and photographing, but at the end of the day we asked some more friends to come over and this Smash Bash really came to life!





that’s fashion smash

A smash variation of the Old Fashion.

1/8 orange
2 cherries
1/2 shot of simple syrup 1/3 cup of bourbon
1 mint leaf
Nugget ice

Put in orange, cherries, and simple syrup. Muddle well. Fill cup with ice and pour in booze.

Using mixing tin, swish contents of the glass from mixing tin back to the glass 2 or 3 times. Pour back in glass.

Rub mint leaf around the rim of a short glass. Top with more ice until full, garnish, and enjoy.




whiskey smash

A smash classic.

8 mint leaves
1/4 lemon
1/2 shot of simple syrup 1/3 cup of bourbon Nugget ice

Place mint, lemon, and syrup in a short glass. Muddle well.

Fill cup with ice and pour in booze.

Using mixing tin, swish contents of the glass from mixing tin back to the glass 2 or 3 times. Pour back in glass.

Top with more ice until full, garnish, and enjoy.

Note: Substitute peach for the lemon for another yum- my treat.


bocce smash

Because this combo just feels a little “Downton Abbey,” and pairs great with Bocce Ball.

1/2 plum
Rosemary leaves
1/2 shot of ginger syrup 1/3 cup of gin
Nugget ice

Place plum, rosemary, and syrup in a short glass. Mud- dle well.

Fill cup with ice and pour in booze.

Using mixing tin, swish contents of the glass from mixing tin back to the glass 2 or 3 times. Pour back in glass.

Top with more ice until full, garnish, and enjoy.

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throw your own smash bash

Smash Bashes are about experimenting. Fill a table with sliced fruit, bundles of herbs, and a few bottles of simple syrup, flavored ones if you want to get fancy!

Here are the other tools you’ll need:

• cutting board
• small knife
• mixing tin

• muddler
• bar spoon
• shot glass
• lots of high ball glasses (or small mason jars)

The point is that it’s not supposed to be fussy. Everyone makes their own cocktails, experiment- ing with flavors and combinations. You can even pass them around and vote on the best creation!

Want some help from your guests? Ask them to bring their favorite bottle of booze, while you provide the ice and assortment of fruits, syrups, and herbs.

symple syrup

1 cup water 1 cup sugar

Put water and sugar into a pot, and heat over medium heat just until sugar is melted. Cool.

Note 1: traditionally regular white sugar is used for simple syrup, but you can also use raw sugar or honey for the same effect.

Note 2: Making syrup on the fly and need it quick? Reduce the amount of water by about 1/4 cup, continue as instructed, and after sugar is melted, throw in a healthy handful of ice to cool it down quickly.

Bohem Spring 2015

Once again, we have had the pleasure of working with Heather Wylie of Bohem and Bohemian Bop to create a look and photograph just a few pieces in her Spring 2015 collection. Heather has a shop and workshop here in Florence as well as a new retail location in Birmingham on First Avenue North. Be sure to check out these looks and so many more at www.shopbohem.com! All photos shot on Kodak Portra 400 with process and scans by Indie Film Lab.blog-bohem-spring2015-1blog-bohem-spring2015-2blog-bohem-spring2015-3blog-bohem-spring2015-4blog-bohem-spring2015-5blog-bohem-spring2015-6blog-bohem-spring2015-7blog-bohem-spring2015-8blog-bohem-spring2015-9blog-bohem-spring2015-10blog-bohem-spring2015-11 blog-bohem-spring2015-12blog-bohem-spring2015-13 blog-bohem-spring2015-14blog-bohem-spring2015-15 blog-bohem-spring2015-16blog-bohem-spring2015-17blog-bohem-spring2015-18

clothing: Bohem

models: Kaitlyn Wilson & Elise Cofield

hair & makeup: Natalie Faggioni

accessories: Jen Boaz

shoes: Billy Reid

styling: Heather Wylie & Susan Rowe

process & scan: Indie Film Lab

Maggie & Blake Engagement

When we first met with Maggie and Blake we talked all about the wedding plans, but once we started talking about engagements, everybody got really excited. Blake was telling us about how much they love Jason Isbell in particular the song “Traveling Alone”. We used this as a fun jumping off point for a road trip engagement shoot through Lauderdale County and down the Natchez Trace. Blake found a friend with a 1934 Hudson and we were off!

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