So this is Christmas....2008

“Look at that horse, mommy!” Graycen said. “And look at those people riding behind it. It’s just like Cinderella’s coach!”

How simple the world is through the eyes of a three-and-a-half-year-old.

“I’d like to ride behind the horse like Cinderella, daddy.”

Joy and I have been coming to Charleston together for Christmas for the past 11 years. And it’s been about 10 since we last took a carriage ride around the city.

Really, what better to do on a balmy 71-degree Christmas Eve in one of the most historic and romantic cities in the country? Two boarding passes and a quick snack at the world-famous Kaminsky’s later, we found ourselves waiting to board our “coach.”

Five minutes later: “Mommy, what’s that smell?”

“It’s the horses, Graycen.”

“Mommy, I don’t think I like those horses anymore.”

Despite her distaste for the less than pleasant fragrance wafting through the air, we rode anyhow and had a delightful time. This evening and tomorrow morning we’ll celebrate Christmas with Joy’s family in Charleston and then tomorrow afternoon we’ll head back to Tennessee to spend Christmas with Garrett’s family. Indeed, it’s the best of both worlds.

Speaking of ‘both worlds’, at the end of each year we pause and reflect on how blessed we are to be involved in a business and industry that allows us to invest so personally in the lives of our clients. Truly there is nothing we’d rather do.

This year has brought about lots of adventure, which we’ve done our best to chronicle throughout the blog. In January we went to DWF and Imaging USA conventions. We were excited to see Stephanie and Ted’s wedding featured in The Knot Florida.

In February, we photographed Brittany and Sam’s wedding in Orlando. We also had the opportunity to be one of the featured speakers at the ProPhotogs convention. It was an outstanding group of photographers and one of the most passionate groups of people we’ve ever encountered.

In March, we were featured in Professional Photographer magazine in an article about destination weddings. We photographed Angela and Scott Paul’s wedding in Chattanooga. Then, Garrett attended WPPI for the first time without Joy, as she stayed behind with Graycen. The day after Garrett returned home, we left to visit our dear friends in Van Wert, Ohio, Brandy and Sticky. Then we headed together with them to Indianapolis, where we spoke for the annual OSP Indy gathering of photographers. Afterwards we drove to Chicago to spend a few days with my brother and his family. Shopping on Michigan Ave in the snow is totally charming.

In April we had the opportunity to photograph Lauren and Mike’s wedding at 5-star Cap Juluca resort on the beautiful island of Anguilla. ‘Paradise on Earth’ doesn’t exactly do it justice, but there’s really no other way to describe it. We also photographed Rick and Jacqueline’s wedding in Savannah, Georgia as well as Jason and Natasha’s wedding at Isleworth, in Orlando. Silje and Crispin’s Norwegian wedding was featured in Destination Weddings and Honeymoons magazine. Toward the end of the month we hosted our third multi-day intensive workshop for photographers. This time we were thrilled to host the workshop in Denver.

In May, Graycen celebrated her third birthday with a small celebration in Charleston and then another celebration in Tennessee. Both birthday parties were special, but our time in Charleston proved extra special because Joy’s grandparents came from the Philippines and it was the first time they had seen each other in 20 years! Gray’s cousin Owen was born and his birthday is just a day after hers. We photographed Heather and Todd’s wedding in Atlanta. Garrett’s mother retired after being an elementary school teacher for 22 years. We photographed Marissa and Matt’s wedding in Princeton, New Jersey, then visited Lauren and Mike in New York and were thrilled to be on hand for the release of Lauren’s third novel, “Chasing Harry Winston.” Garrett was again published in Professional Photographer magazine.

Also in May, after months of searching, we finally settled on a location for our new Cobblestone Rue studio gallery in Chattanooga. It’s a downtown storefront location in a historically restored area on Main Street. We spent the summer renovating the space and moving in and we were overwhelmed by the love and support of more than 160 friends and clients who showed up for our grand opening in September.

In June we photographed ChiChi and Jonathan’s wedding in Southern California. We were also thrilled by the opportunity to photograph a small intimate wedding of Tracey and Pete in Interlaken, Switzerland. Because it was only the bride and groom and us, we were honored to sit beside them during their wedding ceremony and sign as witnesses to their union. Unfortunately our schedule didn’t allow us much time for sightseeing, but it was an exciting getaway followed by a wonderful day in Zurich. Each time we travel overseas we are amazed at how large the world is and how small we really are. It truly is humbling. It was also exciting to see Brandy and Sticky’s wedding featured in The Knot Georgia and some of our work published in The Knot Best of Weddings. In June we also photographed Christina and Albert’s wedding and Jessica and Aaron’s wedding both in Chattanooga at the same venue and on the same weekend!

July also found us in back in Colorado for an amazing wedding and bridal fashion show at new Ritz Carlton Denver. Coordinated by Lisa Konecny of E-events, the show featured the latest Kenneth Pool collection designed by Austen Scarlett, of Bravo’s Project Runway. It was a fabulous experience for everyone involved. Garrett also spoke for Graphistudio at their new education center in Minneapolis. July is when we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary and also when Graycen announced she was going to be a big sister! Watch the video in the archives! (Links coming soon and we’ll try to do as much as we can).

In August, there was lots of progress on the new storefront studio. Gray's cousin, Blythe was born! We were excited to speak for the Florida Professional Photographers Convention. Garrett first attended FPP several years ago right after we moved to Florida and he remembers how inspired he was after every convention. It was an honor to be one of the platform speakers for the group that meant so much to my photographic growth.

We left the convention and headed a couple miles down the road to spend a few days at Disney World. We’re pretty sure it was the most amazing experience of little Graycen’s life. She got to meet Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and lots of other Disney characters. Each night she peacefully fell asleep on our way back to the car, providing us with confirmation that the preceding hours in the sweltering Florida heat had been a success. She had an absolute blast and we did too. Next time we visit Disney it won’t be in August. We photographed Amy and Jason’s wedding in Atlanta as well as Logan and Daniel’s wedding in Asheville, North Carolina.

In September we attended the ONE conference, in Washington, Illinois. Our friends Jeffrey and Julia Woods hosted the conference for husbands and wives who work together in the photography industry. About 50 people attended and we forged friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. It was the most rejuvenating and rewarding experiences we’ve ever been a part of. The couples cooking class was especially fun and the dinner we all prepared was out of this world! We HIGHLY recommend the ONE conference and we’re crossing our fingers that it becomes an annual event. We already mentioned our studio grand opening in September, and to be more specific: complete with a “photobooth”, prizes, and lots of fun. We were excited to photograph Erika and Tim’s wedding in Daytona Shores, and then to be published in Professional Photographer featuring our feet series holiday cards. We also found out we are having a baby girl!

In early October we photographed Lisa and Mitch’s wedding in Daytona Shores. Then we hosted another open house especially for photographers and another multi-day intensive workshop, elevate4. This time the workshop took place at our new studio gallery in Chattanooga. We had a super-fun group and we spent a lot of time sharing and learning together. We also photographed Amber and James’ wedding in Cleveland, Tennessee as well as Corey and Will’s wedding in Chattanooga.

As the holidays approached, November was filled with countless portrait sessions for cobblestone rue in both Chattanooga and Orlando. We photographed Erin and Mike’s wedding in Orlando, Rachel and Curt’s wedding in Washington DC, and Jade and Rob’s wedding again in Orlando. We were published in Rangefinder for GraphiStudio’s annual project, A Day in the Life of WPPI, and then again in Destination Weddings and Honeymoons, in a brief feature on Tracey and Pete’s wedding in Switzerland. We spent Thanksgiving at home in Tennessee with Garrett’s family and enjoyed a delicious meal shared with 30-plus people!

December came and went faster than we can remember and that brings us to today, Christmas Eve in Charleston, South Carolina.

As 2008 winds to a close we are eternally grateful for family and friends more amazing than we deserve. There’s no telling what 2009 will bring. If all goes according to plan, Graycen will be joined by a little sister in about 5 weeks. She thinks her name is going to be Ariel, but we keep trying to tell her otherwise. Whatever the case, I’m sure she will adjust. She has no choice.

To our wedding clients, thank you for trusting us and letting us invest emotionally in your lives. To our portrait clients, thank you for opening up yourselves and sharing a little slice of life with us. And to the hundreds of photographers that we’ve been fortunate to interact with through workshops, seminars and conventions this year, our lives are sweeter because of you.

Thanks for the memories and here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2009!

(Annual holiday portrait by Brandy J and Sticky Rammel)


Anonymous said...

a great recap to a great year! congrats to you both! can't wait to see the exciting little lady coming your way in 2009 - gracyn must be so excited to be a big sister! much love!

Brandy J Rammel said...

Wow! What a great year! I have a feeling next year will be even better=) Hope you guys are having a wonderful holiday! Hugs to all of you!

amanda @ baci said...

Love the annual portrait - little Graycen is absolutely gorgeous! On a side note, SOOOO jealous about your visit to Kaminsky's - so yummy! I love Charleston! Merry Christmas :)

Erin Cady said...

With a crazy busy schedule like that, I'm honored that you guys shared a little slice of YOUR life and time with us! :) Big huge congrats on the new little baby girl headed your way and here's to many more wonderful things for your business and family in 2009!

Anonymous said...

I love that picture at the opening of the write-up. So cute.


Daniel J. Watkins said...

You continue to amaze and inspire me, Garrett and Joy!!!

Anonymous said...

How did the whole family get so hip? Garrett's shoes, Joy's cute dress with the baby bump, and Graycen's tights with shorts. I love it all!