Miriam Beach Adventure | Anniversary

Florida beach = warm & lots of sunshine, right? Ha. Funny. After having lived through one of the harshest Minnesota winters recorded, we thought we'd visit someplace nice, warm and sunny for our anniversary. Naturally, we thought a nice Florida beach might meet all our expectations...and it did. For a few hours. Then it commenced to pour/flood/monsoon the rest of our two days near Destin at Miriam Beach. Pretty sure we brought back the rain with us to Minnesota. Why? Because June was the wettest month recorded. EVER. In all of history. Minnesota is all about breaking records when the Smiths move into town! Yeeesh.

Right, back to our anniversary. Tons. of. rain. No big deal. On to plan B! We still had fun and I was able to capture a few shots before the massive storm hit. We laughed while getting absolutely and completely soaked from head-to-toe while running to the car after the movies; had a blast playing nine-hole putt-putt; enjoyed some celebratory sweet treats from a local cupcakery and still enjoyed spending some much needed time together. Oh Florida, though we've missed you, we really wish you would have stayed sunny for us!

No matter. We still celebrated three years of marriage. Through the ups and downs, the moves, buying our first home, a new "fur-baby" (whom you'll meet on the blog at some point), new friends, job changes and selling our first home, a lot has happened over the past three years and I am proud that we had each other to experience it with. Our marriage has grown stronger because of some of the trials we have been through. We have also been blessed beyond measure! God's grace continues to be our salvation and His love for us and our love for one another seems to be the only constant sometimes. Of course, there's life's lessons we are learning:

Change is good. Marriage is great. God is best. (And paleo chocolate chip cookies seem to work wonders when apologizing.) But really friends, hear me: God is best. Sometimes we think we need more money, more power, more friends, more success, more dessert, more house, more things, etc., to make our marriage work....but really, we just need more Jesus. Though we still have much to learn, I know we wouldn't want anyone but each other by our side, journeying through this life's adventures together.

Embre, the past three years have been an incredible whirlwind! Our lives have changed so much. I have no idea what God has planned for us next, but amidst the uncertainty,  I am certain of this: I will always love you. There is no one else I'd rather share this life with. I remember the first time I saw you in the high school band hall:

"As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen." -- Winnie the Pooh

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." -- Emily Brontë

The Neals | Family + Lifestyle | Pensacola, Florida

Remember that curly-headed cutie? Well, she's back! Introducing: The Neals. This family + lifestyle session was a hoot! Because of Florida's oppressive heat and humidity, we did this session in sections, which was much more accommodating to this one-of-a-kind family and that special little girl, Kennedy, in the dress. Sterling is my cousin, so for all intents and purposes, I can claim Kennedy as my niece, right? Well, I'm going to regardless because I do not have any brothers or sisters. Oh, and the dresses in this post? They are pretty special too. They are every-stitch-sewn-with-love, home-made dresses...by that little girl's great-grandmother. Even better, her mother wore them when she was young! YES. If you know anything about me by now, you know I love little unique touches like this that make sessions special and so much more meaningful. I mean, these dresses have stood the test of time, toddler tantrums and so much more (and they will have to withstand some more too, because Kennedy promptly stained one right before we switched outfits!). It was a privilege to photograph Kennedy in the home-made dresses her mother wore as a young child. This little girl has everyone around her little finger, including me, and I'm sure by the end of this post, she'll have you around her little finger too! Enjoy!

Chris, Sterling and Kennedy: Y'all are a beautiful family. Chris and Sterling, I can already see each of you in Kennedy in the way she laughs, her mannerisms and in how she is always on the go, exploring the great unknown. Your family is such a delight to my heart! Thank y'all for letting me capture this precious time in y'all's lives.

I had to get in at least one photo with this little monkey!

I could stare at these baby blues all day long. And yes, that is the real color of her eyes.

 

Susanna | Fairfax, Virginia

The beauty of spring in Virginia is something everyone should experience. The green grass, cherry trees blossoming and fresh spring air were a welcome delight after such a long winter. What was even better was getting to spend a little time behind the camera, photographing, and breathing in the sweet aroma of the fragrant trees. A few laughs into it and we were both rolling and having a good time. The joy and happiness captured below is far more beautiful than an east coast spring though. Here, see for yourself.

Susanna, you are beautiful and were so much fun to photograph! I loved being able to have a good time with you and share in the happiness that radiates from your genuine smile. Thank you for inviting me to Virginia, showing me the sights and thank you for your friendship. Here's to you, beautiful friend.

 

Birthday Beautiful

I recently had the privilege of traveling to Virginia to shoot some beautiful portraits. The weather was lovely and the cherry trees were blossoming in full force! More to come of the pretty you see here, but it's this lovely lady's birthday today, so I thought I'd share a sneak peek!

Happy Birthday Susanna Hope!

I am so grateful for our friendship. May God bless you in all your pursuits; may your cup runneth over.

Welcome home

Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota! Spring is such a wonderful season. It is full of promise, refreshing spring showers, beautiful blooms, miracles of new births and a taste of summer in the air!

This spring also brings new changes to McKenzie Smith Photography, including a new site launch (yay!) that has been in the works over the winter. It too, is finally here and will continue to be updated frequently with all the shoots I have been saving for this lovely new place McKenzie Smith Photography now calls home. After two years at the old site, a new, refreshed look was overdue. Welcome and thanks for stopping by! Check back often for new things!

 

Elyse | Winter Portraits

Let me tell you about this lovely lady. She gives real hugs. I am talking about the genuine, good, hug-you-like-a-teddy-bear, with both arms, longer-than-one-second hugs. They are pretty awesome, as is she. And bonus; did you know that hugging someone for 20 seconds or longer boosts your "happy hormone" levels?! Although it was bitterly cold outside, about -7° to be exact with the windchill factor (crazy, I know), this girl was such a trooper. She was willing to tromp around in the snow and even take her gloves off! Through chattering teeth and sitting on our hands to warm them up, we still had fun and caught some snowflakes in the process.

Elyse , you are such a beautiful woman inside and out. Thank you for sharing your genuine personality and for being brave and kind. I hope you enjoy these winter portraits.

Melanie + Brady | College Station, Texas, Wedding

This lovely wedding was like a fairytale! Complete with a groom in dress blues, a ball gown style wedding dress with beautiful beading, lovely soft colors and floral arrangements, a grand mansion, and of course a glowing couple, this wedding reminded me of the fairytale of Cinderella. What a dream come true!

• • • •

Melanie and Brady, may you write your own one-of-a-kind fairytale! What a special couple y'all are to me. Thank you for choosing me to help capture your beautiful wedding. May your love for each other grow as the years pass and may God bless your marriage abundantly! Special thanks to Madison Bamert who served as the first shooter for this wedding.

Vendor love: Venue, florals, and catering: Astin Mansion

Hairstyling & Makeup: Funky Cheveaux

Wedding dress: Marry Go Round

and they lived happily ever after...