Now that another year of school has begun, temperatures have cooled down, and we've all settled into those September vibes, I've set my sights on all the lovely things coming this autumn! Each year brings with it the traditions my family keeps-- Sunday afternoons cheering on our football team, chili bubbling in the crock; our annual trek to Clarke Farm for a proper hayride to the pumpkin patch, and to measure the boys under the "How Tall This Fall?" sign. In these few precious months, our family can be found along the sidelines /on the soccer field, searching for the perfect stencil to carve into our pumpkins (which has become A Thing), baking delicious cinnamon-and-nutmeg-and-ginger-filled goodies, and inaugurating the season with a Hocus Pocus movie night. (Raise your hand if you wanted to be Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson after seeing this movie!) It's a beautiful time of year with unique offerings, and I am so very grateful for the memories I've accumulated with my guys.

It seems as though time has accelerated at a dizzying rate, and, disappointingly, I've discovered myself saying things like, I wish I would've done that, or Why didn't I make time for that? With my fall work schedule filling up, I didn't want to allow the season to pass by without dedicating myself to things that make me happy-- good friends, delicious food, and traditions old and new. I took a look at my schedule and realized that there is time for these good things, but I had make them happen. If there is anything I've learned in growing older, it's that if I'm not careful, living can turn all too quickly into existing, which is something I won't accept. I went about creating a Fall Bucket List-- a compilation of tradition and new experiences-- and knew that the perfect kickoff would be the surprise 30th birthday/engagement party for my dear friend Cristan. 

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Now would be the time to fill in the blanks: "I met _____________ at ____________". That's the way a photographer's blog post seems to go for this sort of thing, right? My only issue with this is that I can't seem to remember how Cristan came into my life. We have loads of mutual friends and acquaintances, but I cannot pinpoint who introduced us, or where. Not that any of that matters. I can tell you that I've been a fan of hers from the start.

Cristan is absolutely gorgeous, hilarious, sharp, and salty. (Hence the Morton Salt Girl themed party!) She's a talented artist, and a wonderful friend. Crissy has been a faithful supporter of mine, a confidante, and an overall badass for as long as I've known her. She has always offered to help me in times of need, so when I was asked to photograph this event, I knew I had to make it happen. 

I've had the pleasure of photographing Cristan and Matt, her fiance, over the years at parties, cookouts, for Christmas portraits, and as wedding guests. She is an absolute dream to photograph, because she is aware of her body, her face, her angles. No frame I take is ever the same because she moves effortlessly, in time with each shutter click. Simply put: I don't have to give her any direction, she moves like a professional model, and, at great risk of sounding like a cheesy photographer, the camera loves her! 

With catering by Still (please do yourself a favor and experience this fantastic Portsmouth restaurant for yourself), decor created by one of her best friends, and a guest list of the couple's nearest and dearest from far and wide, this was a truly spectacular fete. One of my favorite parts of the day was just before Cristan came in the door, how Matt was buzzing with excitement. He turned to me and said "It's so exciting isn't it?!?!" I'm 99% sure he was rubbing his hands together as he said this. It was so awesome to witness. As a friend it's a wonderful feeling to know that someone you care about is with a worthy partner, that they make a great couple, that she's happy. 

A few of my favorites from the party--

Surprise Engagement Party VA Documentary Photography
Surprise 30th Birthday Party Event Documentary Engagement Photography
Custom Unique Engagement Ring Designed by Groom in Virginia
VA + Destination + Traveling Engagement Photographer
Just Engaged Suffolk VA Engagement Photographer
Suffolk Virginia Engagement Photographer

Now, I'm known to get emotional sometimes when I shoot, but this was just a whole new level of love for me! 


With the rest of the season stretching ahead of me, I've been updated the Bucket List to include:

  • School Bus Camp Out  -- As I'll be traveling to Winchester next month to photograph an engagement session with the loveliest brides-to-be, I decided to turn what would ordinarily be a day trip into quick getaway for Logan and I! After scouring Air B&B, I found the coziest school bus for us to stay in!
  • Check out what Harper's Ferry has to offer -- (Hopefully some hiking to take in the gorgeous foliage!)
  • Sharpen my cocktail slingin' with some new fall recipes
  • Take my son Justice to our first concert together! (!!!) 
  • Head into O'Connor Brewery for a date night complete with a food truck dinner, and to sip Punkleweisse
  • Fatten my family with delicious autumnal eats -- One of my greatest pleasures is to cook for my family. My Happy Place is breaking bread with those nearest & dearest to me around a beautiful table. Each fall, I break out time-tested recipes, and make it a goal to try new ones as well. 
  • Commemorate the NEON District in Norfolk -- If you haven't been to Norfolk lately, I suggest you do so! There are GREAT BIG things happening, including this festival for starters!
  • Bizarre Foods Dinner -- This was just added! At dinner over the weekend, I found an advertisement for Bardo's Bizarre Foods Dinner, which claims a menu consisting of live scorpions and tarantulas! 

Three cheers for autumn! 

Tell me, what does your Fall Bucket List include?