Selfie Tips | Nashville Photographer

As soon as I walk into a room, I notice light.  What it illuminates, what it hides.  And sometimes I can't help but take a selfie, without shame.  But my favorite kind of selfie is when I get to include this pretty girl.  You beautiful, exhausted Mothers of the World: GET IN THE PHOTOGRAPH.  You will never be this young again.  And, I promise, your children will want to remember you like this.  Regardless of the bags under your eyes.  Regardless of the few extra pounds you may carry.  And I am here to help you take photographs of yourself in the most beautiful, true way possible.  I want to teach you to find beauty in yourself naturally with the right angles, with the right light and with the best editing possible.  

So, let's get started!  

First step:  Find the light.  Start noticing where the light hits in your home at certain times of the day.  If you have a blank wall where the light hits in the afternoon, you are golden!  (no pun intended). I usually am drawn to late afternoon light that comes through my kitchen window.  

Second step:  Walk towards the light.  No you are not entering into eternity but you are going to shine like an angel when we are finished.  And bring a child with you, if you dare.  

Third step:  Move around.  Put your phone on selfie mode and then click on your face to get the exposure correct with the light.  Move around to find what looks best on your face.  Don't worry about what is behind you right now.  Just find the light that makes you look most beautiful.  

Fourth step:  My secret for the best selfies ever: put your phone on the 3 second timer.  You have so much more control and can move your hand further away from your face which will make you look slimmer, naturally.  Up and away.  

Fifth step:  Just keep shooting.  If you don't like it, try something different until you do.  Even something as simple as putting your hair up can make a huge difference.  

Final step:  Edit.  But edit lightly.  One of my favorite apps for editing iPhone photos is Facetune.  Mainly because it allows blurring of the background.  I will go over editing in detail in a later blog post.  

The image below is one of the first photos we took together in this series.  Notice the light hitting the wrong areas.  Our eyes are completely in the shadow.  I usually try to always highlight the eyes.  And the light here just seems to accentuate all of my wrinkly parts.  A BIG NO.  


The next image goes in the complete other direction.  The light is way too bright on our faces.  How do you change this?  Click on different areas of your face and the exposure will change accordingly.  Or you can manually change the exposure by sliding the exposure up or down by clicking on the sun icon.  


The one below was my favorite of the group.  I like how the light gently hits our eyes and the soft expression on both of our faces.  


Below is the fully edited image.  I edited everything on my iPhone.  I blurred out the background and lightly brushed my face, specifically on the place the sunlight directly hits.  And, of course, put a filter on it.  But the real secret is with editing is to NEVER use the full power of the tool.  Always move it down in intensity.  


Feel free to ask me any questions!  Hope this was helpful!

Enneagram Project | Nashville Portrait Photographer

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” 
― Brené Brown

I can remember the day like it was yesterday.  I was sitting in a comfy chair in the front, sun-lit sitting room of my beautiful home that I had dreamed of for years.  I had it all.  A family.  A home that we built in the perfect Nashville neighborhood.  A dream job.  Really good friends.  And here I sat, lonely and sad.  Really sad.  I was seeing a therapist at the time that suggested for me to read this book by a researcher named Brene Brown called "The Gifts of Imperfection."   Another "one of those kinds of books" I thought to myself.  You know what I am talking about:  the self help kind of advice that motivates you for like a day and then you forget about it the next.  I didn't need another reason to feel like a failure.  But, like I always do, I ordered the book and started to read it.  And, sitting in that chair, with my sad, heavy heart as the sunlight tried unsuccessfully to cheer me up, something in me awoke.  It was one of the first times in my life that I thought, YES, YES, YES, this person GETS IT.  They get me.  I felt seen.  I felt heard.  And I no longer felt alone.  

Brene gave a voice to my heart.  She gave me permission to step into the vulnerability that I always desired.  She named this dirty, ugly thing that I had been carrying around for way too long: shame.  And she also pushed me to be honest about my story.  To truly delve into the deepest, most shameful places and live there for a bit, to tell the truth about who I really am.  Now, let me tell you, it SUCKED.  It was not a fun journey.  To "explore your darkness" is a slow, painful exploration.  It was as if I was only given a scalpel and a very, small flashlight to find my way out of this hole I had buried myself in for years and years.  But the beautiful thing was that I had help.  And the honest thing is that I could not have done it alone.  I had the help of a professional therapist that sat with me in my tears and questions.  I had the help of my dear friends that did not give up on me, even when they had every reason to give up.  And I now know that I had help from a God that loved me regardless of my darkness.  

So, years later, I sit here in the light.  Am I happy?  Sometimes.  Am I lonely?  Yes ,a lot of the times.  But do I know myself?  Hell yes.  And that is the greatest gift of all.  And it is a gift that I want to give to others.  One of the tools that I was given to help me better know myself (besides therapy, Brene Brown and wine) is the Enneagram.  If you don't know much about it, I would suggest heading to the Enneagram Institute website  for a better description than I can give you and a test to take that can help you know your type.  

For those of you who know your Enneagram type fairly well, I would love your help.  I am going to start a project this month on vulnerability and the Enneagram.  I would love to photograph one or two people for each type, men and women.  If you are interested, please email me at with a current photo, your type and a brief explanation of what your type has taught you about yourself.  

My hope is that we can feel less alone.  That we can encourage those who have not "explored the darkness" to step in with brave hearts because the journey is painful but damn worth it.  And that there is LIGHT on the other side.  Love and peace to all of you!  

McDonalds & Smiles | Nashville Photographer

When I tell most people that I have worked at McDonalds, they tend to not believe me.  But it's true.  I worked at Mcdonalds in Clearwater, Fl in the summer between my sophmore & junior year of college while on a summer project with Campus Crusade.  I was able to work with several friends but also made a lot of new friends as well.  One was nicknamed "Shorty" and we started out as the "hospitality" staff, aka janitors.  The manager took one look at me and my little silver Mazda Mx-6 in the parking lot and put me in charge of cleaning the restrooms.  To this day, every time I walk into a McDonalds bathroom it takes me back to that summer.  The all smell exactly the same.  Unfortunately Shorty did not stay the entire summer due to a police car pulling up and taking him away in the middle of our work day.  I stood there crying knowing that I would probably never see him again.  I then convinced my manager, Lori, that I was ready to work the drive through.  Now Lori was not the typical McDonalds manager- she ran this place like a tight ship.  It was one of the busiest McDonalds in the south and she had us on timers.  So when a car would pull up in the window she would yell, HBO, HBO!!!  I was like "we don't have TV here, Lori!"  Then she explained that it meant, "Hand Bag Out the Window!"  So literally my hand would have the bag out the window as the car pulled through.  It was quite fun.  She saw my potential so eventually moved me to the first window where I was able to take orders and receive money.  I made up a little song for our customers that I am glad I can't sing to you but just imagine: "welcome to McDonalds, can I take your order pleeeeeease?"  Most customers loved it but a few just rolled their eyes at me.  Oh well.  The one thing I was terrible at was dropping change as they handed it to me.  Thankfully there was a really tall guy that worked with me and he would grab me by my feet and drop me out the window so I could get the dropped change as the blood rushed to my head.  

So, yes, that is a lot of stories.  But I have a point.  The other day I was driving through McDonalds with my 3 year old.  YES I go to McDonalds, Go ahead, call DCS.  But I still love their fries.  And if you don't then who are you?  Anyways, every single time I drive through McDonalds, I look right into the workers eyes and smile with a big thank you.  Why?  Because there is a small part of me that knows how they feel behind that window.  It's hard being stuck behind a window while watching everyone else enjoy their so called freedom in their car.  I would look at those people and just want to jump in.  And some people were just down right mean.  So even though I can't identify fully with the person behind the window, I have stood where they stand.  I know what it feels like to have someone smile at me and say thank you.  It changes things.  Those little things make a difference in your day when you are doing something so mundane and at times, really smelly.  

I guess what I am trying to say is that we really can't fully identify with anyone but there are ways we can feel a bit of their story.  I am thankful that I had the chance to work at McDonalds coming from my life of privilege.  Honestly I think it changes me more now than it did then.  Though I will say putting on that turquoise hat and pleated black pants was definitely a bit humbling at the time.  And my kids are really going to hate me when I make them go work somewhere that is out of their comfort zone.  But I still have the nametag so I have proof that if I can do it, so can they.  And just maybe it will make them smile at someone and really mean it too.  

Refugees Are Welcome | Nashville Photographer

I have always considered myself a person with a big heart, the gift of mercy.  I can remember one of my dreams in college (along with a good friend) was to run an orphanage.  We dreamt of a huge, white columned house filled with children who needed love.  With the recent turmoil in Syria, my heart has broken for the refugees fleeing the only home they have known.  I gave what I could to Preemptive Love but wanted to give more.  So I did what I know to do, take photographs.  I had the idea for the children to write notes to the children of Syria- I did not direct, just wanted it to come straight from their heart.  Of course, it was beautiful and real.  Just as children always are.  Then one night lying in bed after a really hard day as Mom, I decided to ask my daughter, Bella, to write a note.  And in her big hearted way she said: We will take good care of you.  

The next day, the kids and I, along with a few friends took some gifts to a refugee family who recently fled here from the Congo.  As most of you know, I asked you for help.  And you showed up in big ways.  The need was bigger than I originally thought and knew I couldn't do it on my own.  And I didn't have to.  Friends, near and far, came to give.  I was truly astounded by the generosity.  

Ok, so you know I tend to be quite honest, sometimes to my vulnerable detriment.  So here comes my honesty, once again.  I got a lot of praise for my actions.  People were like, "you are amazing."  "Your heart is so beautiful."  etc, etc.  And I liked it.  It made me feel good, like I was a better person than I really was.  So the van was packed to the max with groceries, gifts, clothes, etc.  And I FELT LIKE A HERO.  So, in my imaginary superwoman cape, I walked in with my 3 children and guess what?  My cape didn't work.  There was no one to save.  I was no hero.  Yes, we brought food and necessary things for them to live but they were happy and alive.  They didn't need Misty Trone to come rescue them from their tiny apartment packed with people.  

The next day all I could think of was Bella holding that sign: We will take good care of you.  And all I could think of was: You will take good care of us.  I didn't want to leave that apartment because even though we brought material goods (in a way sort of Americanizing way too much goods), they gave me so much more.  Their smiles and love in the midst of all they had lost was balm to my American soul.  I wanted to curl up in a ball in the corner of their couch and just stay.  Let those kids bring me their smiles hiding behind foreign words and let it soak up my egotistic, American way of being.  

I walked away feeling like a bit of a failure.  But not in a completely bad way.  Just in a way that humbled me and gave me eyes to see my motives behind my actions. And also to ask these people who have lost their homes along with their homeland what they really need.  Because when we were leaving, one followed us to our car.  She was trying to speak but we did not understand.  Finally my friend who spoke Swahili said that she was trying to ask the girls names and wanted them to know hers.  And then she pointed back and forth saying "friends."  Maybe that is all we really need in the end, is friendship among us all.  Needing each other instead of them just needing us.  I hope to make it back to that apartment soon with an open heart and open hands ready to receive instead of just give.  And bring my gift of friendship instead of a car full of things.  

Fall | Nashville Photography

I've been thinking a lot about seasons lately.  Honestly, I have always hated it when someone told that it was "just a season."  Especially when it came to my babies not sleeping.  It just seemed to diminish my painful sick exhaustion to mere seasonal allergies.  But the word "seasons" has been coming to me in a new way lately.  Fall has always been such a beautiful, yet also strangely aching time for me.  There is so much beauty in the smell and feel of the air yet there is so much loss experienced as the colorful leaves slowly fall to the ground leaving bareness all around.  

And my life seems to be in the midst of Fall itself.  Letting go of what I have held on to for so long through the Spring and Summer of my life.  Yet in the midst of the letting go, I am also learning to hope.  Knowing that Winter is coming and that the bareness will soon turn to beauty once again.  And isn't there some sort of odd beauty in the bareness as well?  You can see a bit more, right?  I am always amazed at being able to see things that I didn't see when the leaves hung on the trees: a neighbors house, the trail wrapping around the river, the sunset, the moon appearing a bit earlier through the bare branches.  And in this falling away of what I have known and held on to for so long, I am slowly learning to see a bit more.  More of myself.  More of my family.  More of God.  And the seeing isn't always pleasant or easy but it only gives way to growth.  And growth always leads to beauty.  Always.  

So, here I am on this path towards Winter and longing for Spring.  Yet I will stay in the falling away with my hands open knowing that this is where I am suppose to be and that soon my hands will be filled once again.  But I must keep them open and ready to hold whatever comes.  For it is in the openness that I can blossom.  

May wherever you are give you peace today.... 

The photo below is from one of my favorite places on earth, Onsite in Cumberland Furnace, TN.  If you are at a place that you feel like you need to hit a reset button on life, I would strongly suggest you looking into going here for a week.  It changed me and continues to change me today.  I am also happy to talk with anyone about my experience there as well.  Feel free to reach out.  

Finding the Light | Nashville Photography

I needed a bit of a break from my super intense personal blog posts so I thought I would start sharing with you all a few of my photography tricks.  If you follow me on instagram then you saw many of them in my video posts a few months ago.  I took them all down so thought I would write a lot of them out here so you can have them for reference if you want!

One of the first questions (besides what to wear) from my clients is usually, "where do we need to take the photos?"  In the beginning of my years as a photographer that was also a very important question to me.  I would spend hours scouting out the perfect locations and trying to find the exact right field or barn-like door.  Now I feel like I can go *almost anywhere and get the exact shot that I want.  How?  Looking for the light.  

The first thing I look at when I arrive at a location is where the sun is located in the sky and any area that is shaded in the vicinity.  Then I decide on which shaded area I want to try first.  I usually look for an area that has the sun behind it and is partially blocks out the sun if the sun is high in the sky.  If the sun is lower then I just find an open area and shoot with the sun behind me.  That gives my photos the dreamy, sun-washed look that you expect to see from me.  Now the one thing you must be careful of is the sun-rays can impact a photo by blocking out part of a head or an entire person.  So I always just move around until I get the exact right light that I want to fall on my subject.  MOVE AROUND- even with an iphone.  It makes such a difference!  

So next time you are taking photos with your camera or iphone, try looking for the light.  When I see beautiful light, I cannot help but take a photo.  Just ask my patient children!  Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have...

Here are a few photos that I took in the middle of Sevier Park with a tree and the sun behind my subjects.  There were many distractions behind the tree but the sun was able to wash those things out so the focus could fall on my subject and the beautiful light.