Redemption Song: Mike Farris at Lake Forest Church

Mike Farris' song is one of redemption.

Farris performed Sunday at our family's church home, Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, as part of a series titled "Hope in a House of Blues."

Nearly dead from an accidental overdose of pills and alcohol before he turned 21, Farris moved in with his father.  He recalls “I taught myself how to play the guitar, and I started writing songs, songs that were healing me.”

Farris continued to write and eventually formed the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, which had had some success including a rock radio hit. He also got to tour with acts such as ZZ Top, the Allman Brothers Band and Sheryl Crow among others. But he continued to struggle with drug and alcohol dependency.

The addictions continued to dominate his life even as he spent time with Double Trouble, the rhythm section of the late guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughn.

After having an epiphany at a relative's  funeral, Farris became sober again with the help of his family and church. He now combines original songs with turn-of-the-century Gospel songs.

Having seen Farris at Lake Forest last year, I was glad I got the chance to take some pictures and once again hear his amazing voice.

Lake Forest Church lead pastor Mike Moses is heading up the Hope in the House of Blues series with musical leadership from worship director Kyle Dillard. The series runs through Nov. 1, when blues artist Larry McCray performs.

Farris' albums include Salvation in Lights, Goodnight Sun and Shout! Live.

Farris, in his his original song, "The Lonely Road", sings:

I was so blind
Till I saw your glory
The day you saved me from my fire
Will always be
The best part of my story
I ain't ever going back
to where I was before
No, I ain't ever going back - to the lonely road,
The lonely road can't lead me anymore.

Recording artist Mike Farris performs at Lake Forst Church

Recording artist Mike Farris performs at Lake Forest Church

Farris has an incredible voice along with an amazing story of redemption and recovery from a life of dispair

Farris has an incredible voice along with an amazing story of redemption and recovery from a life of despair

Farris joke with Lake Forest worship director about their golf outing. Apparently Kyle's game needs some work

Farris jokes with Lake Forest worship director Kyle Dillard about their golf outing. Apparently Kyle's game needs some work

"Just got to heaven and I can't sit down"

"Just got to heaven and I can't sit down"

Farris jokes with Lake Forest's singers

Farris interacts with Lake Forest's singers

Farris formed the Screamin's Cheetah Wheelies and toured with top bands but suffered through drug and alcohol problems

Farris formed the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies and toured with top bands but suffered through drug and alcohol problems

Farris returned to his roots and his love of deep Southern inspired Gospel tunes

Farris returned to his roots and his love of deep Southern-inspired Gospel tunes

Farris looks skyward as he talks about his life and his musical journey

Farris looks skyward as he talks about his life and his musical journey

Farris connects with some of Lake Forest's staff backstage at the Huntersville church

Farris connects with some of Lake Forest's staff backstage at the Huntersville church

Lake Forest worship director Kyle Dillard is a talented singer and songwriter as well

Lake Forest worship director Kyle Dillard is a talented singer and songwriter in his own right

Dillard works his guitar

Dillard works his guitar

Dillard leads the congregation in a song of praise

Dillard leads the congregation in a song of praise

Lake Forest lead pastor Mike Moses leads the Hope in a House of Blues series

Lake Forest lead pastor Mike Moses outlines the Hope in a House of Blues series





Rock Hill, SC Wedding: Stephanie and Thomas

It could have been a really tough day for a large collection of Clemson University graduates.

But these die hard Tiger fans shook off an unexpected football loss with a wonderful wedding and a huge reception celebration.

With the backdrop of a magnificent fall day, Stephanie and Thomas exchanged vows at Grace Lutheran Church in Rock Hill, SC, before moving on to a fantastic party at Rock Hill Country Club.

The day flowed smoothly with great leadership from planner Karen Blankenship of Events per se, who was stayed on top of every detail. Fredda Smith's  Buy the Bunch of Fort Mill created the florals with beautiful fall colors. And Sylvia Hinson of Sylvia's Cakes & Things created one of the more unique cakes I'd seen in a while. Aaron Earnhardt of Hart to Heart Media was a pleasure to work with as he seamlessly documented the event with video as I created the still images.

It was my first trip to Rock Hill Country Club and general manager Kevin Hart and his staff did a great job. This was a dancing crowd with the party soundtrack provided by The Mighty Kicks, who didn't take a break all night long.

It was such a pleasure working with Stephanie and Thomas' families. Congratulations to you and have a great time in Maui.

Stephanie and Thomas at Rock Hill Country Club

Stephanie and Thomas at Rock Hill Country Club

Stephanie in a quiet moment as she begins getting ready for the wedding

Stephanie in a quiet moment as she begins getting ready for the wedding

Adding some accessories

Adding some accessories

Stephanie gets plenty of help as she finishes dressing

Stephanie gets plenty of help as she finishes dressing

A quick portrait before the service

A quick portrait before the service

A beautiful fall day provided some nice window light

A beautiful fall day provided some nice window light

Thomas jokes with the groomsmen as they get ready

Thomas jokes with the groomsmen as they get ready

Beautiful florals from Buy the Bunch in Fort Mill, SC

The fall colors were abundant

Bridesmaid keeps flower girl Ashley busy

Bridesmaid keeps flower girl Ashley busy

Stephanie touches up her sister and Maid of Honor Sarah's makeup

Stephanie touches up her sister and Maid of Honor Sarah's makeup

Stephanie with her mother, Lyn, and flower girls Lilly and Ashley

Stephanie with her mother, Lyn, and flower girls Lilly and Ashley

Stephanie and her bridesmaids looking beautiful

Stephanie and her bridesmaids looking beautiful

Thomas' mother with his sisters Mary Beth, left, and Jessica

Thomas' mother with his sisters Mary Beth, left, and Jessica

Flower girl Lilly and her sister Ashley are Stehanie's cousins

Flower girl Lilly and her sister Ashley are Stephanie's cousins

Stephanie and her father, Steve, share a nice moment before the service

Stephanie and her father, Steve, share a nice moment before the service

Beautiful fall colors in the flowers from Buy the Bunch

More gorgeous flowers from Buy the Bunch

Having some fun on the way to the ceremony

Having some fun on the way to the ceremony

There weren't many empty seats at Grace Lutheran Church

There weren't many empty seats at Grace Lutheran Church

Another angle on the service

Another angle on the service

Stephanie glances at her parents near the end of the ceremony

Stephanie glances at her parents near the end of the ceremony

Sarah and Stephanie are all smiles after the ceremony

Sarah and Stephanie are all smiles after the ceremony

Stephanie and Thomas outside Grace Lutheran Church

Stephanie and Thomas outside Grace Lutheran Church

The wedding party outside the church

The wedding party outside the church

The wedding party gets some reaction from passing traffic

The wedding party gets some reaction from passing traffic

Some pretty light on the party bus ride to Rock Hill Country Club

Some pretty light on the party bus ride to Rock Hill Country Club

The bridesmaids relax as they head to the reception

The bridesmaids relax as they head to the reception

More florals from Buy the Bunch and a magnificent cake from Sylvia's Cakes in Lancaster, SC

More florals from Buy the Bunch and a magnificent cake from Sylvia's Cakes in Lancaster, SC

The new husband and wife share a kiss outside Rock Hill Country Club

The new husband and wife share a kiss outside Rock Hill Country Club

Thomas ans Stephanie were a little worried about this move in their first dance but they pulled it off perfectly

Thomas and Stephanie were a little worried about this move in their first dance but they pulled it off perfectly

Stephanie surprised Thomas with a little cake in the face

Stephanie surprised Thomas with a little cake in the face

The two dads, Stephanie's on the left, give their best "Soul Man" moves

The two dads, Stephanie's on the left, give their best "Soul Man" moves

The dancers never stopped during the reception

The dancers never stopped during the reception

The couple made their escape in Stephanie's father's beautiful Bronco

The couple made their escape in Stephanie's father's Bronco





Charlotte Wedding Photography: Monette and Jim

Dancing is a big deal to Monette and Jim.

After meeting at a Christmas party a little over three years ago, Monette was happy to learn that Jim with quite a dancer. In fact, he had been ballroom dancing for about 10 years. As their relationship progressed, Monette, who at one time studied ballet, and Jim become more involved in ballroom dancing and ultimately ended up becoming partners in Metropolitan Ballroom in Charlotte.

Our weddings are often booked a year or more in advance so it was a stroke of luck when Monette called last-minute looking for a photographer and we happened to have the date available.

Christ Episcopal Church was the setting for the beautiful service and their very own Metropolitan Ballroom provided a great venue for the reception. As you might expect, Monette and Jim's first dance was very impressive and the dance floor hosted some incredibly talented dancers all night long.

Kudos to the team from Armin's Catering for a superb job and to Cake Expressions by Lisa for the cake. And, as always, Ted Todd and the team from The Blossom Shop created some beautiful florals.

Congratulations to Monette and Jim!  It was a pleasure working with you and your families.

Jim dips Monette during their first dance

Jim dips Monette during their first dance

Monette's brother Paul walks her down the aisle during rehearsal at Christ Episcopal Church

Monette's brother Paul walks her down the aisle during rehearsal at Christ Episcopal Church

Jim watches Monette during the rehearsal

Jim watches Monette during the rehearsal

Trying to get everything organized as they prepare for the wedding

Trying to get everything organized as they prepare for the wedding

Some pretty light in Christ Episcopal Church as they exit the rehearsal

Some pretty light in Christ Episcopal Church as they exit the rehearsal

Beautiful bouquets from The Blossom Shop

Beautiful bouquets from The Blossom Shop

Monette and her bridesmaids reminisce before the service

Monette and her bridesmaids reminisce before the service

Jim watches his bride as she approaches the altar

Jim watches his bride as she approaches the altar

A happy moment as they leave the ceremony

A happy moment as they leave the ceremony

A quick kiss before heading to the reception

A quick kiss before heading to the reception

Metropolitan Ballroom was a great venue for the reception

Metropolitan Ballroom was a great venue for the reception

Cake by Cake Expressions by Lisa

Cake by Cake Expressions by Lisa

More flowers from The Blossom Shop

More flowers from The Blossom Shop

Another detail in Metropolitan Ballroom

Another detail in Metropolitan Ballroom

As you would expect, Monette and Jim's first dance was impressive

As you would expect, Monette and Jim's first dance was impressive

Cutting the cake

Cutting the cake

Jim talks with Alissa, daughter of dance instructors and partners Clement and Tatiana

Jim talks with Alissa, daughter of dance instructors and partners Clement and Tatiana

A quiz game involving lifting each other's shoes to answer questions created some funny moments

A quiz game involving lifting each other's shoes to answer questions created some funny moments

The dance floor was busy all night

The dance floor was busy all night

More great dancing

More outstanding dancing

Jim and Monette put a big finish on their dance

Jim and Monette put a big finish on a dance





Ballet Photography: North Carolina Dance Theatre (NCDT)

The North Carolina Dance Theatre (NCDT) kicks off its 2009-2010 season with Ballet, Ballroom & Bluegrass and I got the opportunity to photograph the dress rehearsal Wednesday night in the Belk Theater in Charlotte.

The eclectic show includes Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's Shindig,  featuring live bluegrass music from Asheville's The Greasy Beans.  Twyla Tharp's ballroom-inspired Nine Sinatra Songs includes music by Frank Sinatra and costumes by Oscar de la Renta. Rounding out the program is Alonzo King's MAP, which is a metaphor for the different paths individuals choose in life.

Dustin Layton and Kara Wilkes perform in Nine Sinatra Songs

Dustin Layton and Kara Wilkes perform in Nine Sinatra Songs

Anna Gerberich and Joseph Watson glide across the floor

Anna Gerberich and Joseph Watson glide across the floor

Addul Manzano and Jamie Dee show some ballroom skills

Addul Manzano and Jamie Dee show some ballroom skills

Addul Manzano and Jamie Dee move to the Sinatra music

Addul Manzano and Jamie Dee move to the Sinatra music

Manzano lifts Dee

Manzano lifts Dee

David Ingram and Traci Gilchrest

David Ingram and Traci Gilchrest

Gilchrest and Ingram get into the Sinatra vibe

Gilchrest and Ingram

Sara James spins with an assist from Max Levy

Sarah James spins with an assist from Max Levy

Rebecca Carmazzi dips with help from Sasha Janes

Rebecca Carmazzi dips with help from Sasha Janes

Janes lifts Carmazzi

Janes lifts Carmazzi

Alessandra Ball and Ann Gerberich move around xxx in Alonzo King's MAP

Alessandra Ball and Anna Gerberich move around Dustin Layton in Alonzo King's MAP

Addul Manzano soars in MAP

Addul Manzano soars in MAP

Sasha Janes and Traci Gilchrest are in the spotlight in MAP

Sasha Janes and Traci Gilchrest are in the spotlight in MAP

Gilchrest and Janes move in MAP

Gilchrest and Janes move in MAP

Traci Gilchrest and Sahsa Janes

Traci Gilchrest and Sahsa Janes

More movement in Alonzo King's MAP

More movement in Alonzo King's MAP

Janes and Gilchrest show some emotion in MAP

Janes and Gilchrest show some emotion in MAP

David Ingram lifts Rebecca Carmazzi

David Ingram lifts Rebecca Carmazzi

Dancers get ready to kick up their heels in Shindig

Dancers get ready to kick up their heels in Shindig

Sarah Hayes Watson works on her moves before the curtain opens

Sarah Hayes Watson works on her moves before the curtain opens

Sarah James and Alessandra Ball have some fun waiting to go on stage

Sarah James and Alessandra Ball have some fun waiting to go onstage

Justin VanWeest reflects as her prepares to perform

Justin VanWeest reflects as he prepares to perform

Kara Wilkes prepares to perform in Shindig

Kara Wilkes prepares to perform in Shindig

Sasha Janes and Anna Gerberich get into the Bluegrass music in Shindig

Sasha Janes and Anna Gerberich get into the bluegrass music in Shindig

Max Levy leaps while dancing with Traci Gilchrest

Max Levy leaps while dancing with Traci Gilchrest

Max Levy and Traci Gilchrest

Max Levy and Traci Gilchrest

Alessandra Ball leaps

Alessandra Ball leaps

Anna Gerberich in Shindig

Anna Gerberich in Shindig

Sasha Janes and Rebecca Carmazzi kick up their heels

Sasha Janes and Rebecca Carmazzi kick up their heels





Something Special: Fall And Holiday Portraits

For a limited time, we’re offering special pricing for our fall and holiday portrait sessions.

These lifestyle portrait sessions are $200, and include  up to four people  ($25 additional for each person or pet).
Also a $50 print or product credit if order is placed in two weeks;  Private online gallery for one month; prints and products purchased a la carte.

Sessions will be scheduled on a first come, first served basis, and book very quickly.
Email or call us to reserve your  time.  We look forward to working with you!

The holidays will be here sooner than you think

The holidays will be here sooner than you think

Our lifestyle portrait sessions are a great way to connect with family and friends

Our lifestyle portrait sessions are a great way to connect with family and friends





A Day To Remember: 9/11 In Charlotte

I think we all remember where we were and what we were doing on 9/11 eight years ago.

I stopped by the Palmer Building in Charlotte today to grab a couple of quick photos of the tribute placed there every year. The Charlotte Fire Department and volunteers place 2,997 flags to represent the twin towers and honor all who died there. It's hard not to be moved as you think back to the event.

Today we should all remember.

Children walk among some of the 2,997 American flags used to represent the twin towers

Children walk among some of the 2,997 American flags used to represent the twin towers

We remember the fallen

We remember





Photography in NoDa: William Puckett's Mural

The North Davidson Street area, NoDa to the locals, is a fun, funky arts center in Charlotte.

After a meeting there Wednesday afternoon, I took a little walk with my camera to take in some of the sights. I had seen William Puckett working on this awesome mural a few weeks back when I was taking photos with the children in the "Charlotte Through Our Eyes" project. You can read more about the mural here.

While Charlotte is most known as a banking town, NoDa celebrates its vibrant arts community.

William Puckett works on his mural in NoDa

William Puckett works on his mural in NoDa

Will's latest mural is in the heart of Charlotte's Arts District on North Davidson Street

Will's latest mural is in the heart of Charlotte's Arts District on North Davidson Street





Family Lifestyle Portraits: Jack and Family

I enjoy establishing relationships with clients and getting to see their families grow and evolve.

I first met Jayne when I photographed her father Norman, an internationally known Bible teacher, author and speaker. I later did a family photo for Jayne and her husband Steve.

With the addition of baby Jack, it was time for another update.

So great to see you all again and congratulations on your beautiful baby boy!

It was great to meet Jack

It was great to meet Jack

Jack with his mother Jayne

Jack with his mother Jayne

Uncle Brian helped keep Jack in a good mood

Uncle Brian helped keep Jack in a good mood

Family portrait: Jayne, Jack and Steve

Family portrait: Jayne, Jack and Steve

Jack keeps an eye on things

Jack keeps an eye on things

Happy Jack

Happy Jack

Jack is a determined little guy

Jack is a determined little guy





Charlotte Wedding: Katie and Rob

Katie and Rob's wedding was a wonderful family affair.

The day started with the ceremony at Myers Park Presbyterian Church and moved to the reception at Myers Park Country Club.

Katie and Rob are a fun, relaxed couple and they made everyone feel at ease. From the time they set aside to see each other before the ceremony to the end of the night they were a pleasure to work with.

Todd Sumlin, a talented photojournalist I've known for many years and had the pleasure of working with at The Charlotte Observer, worked as a second photographer and captured some beautiful images.

Planner Leslie Schlernitzauer, a family friend who also runs Porcupine Provisions with her husband Bruce, did an excellent job keeping everything on track. In Bloom created the florals and Haines Barksdale of For Goodness Cakes created another beautiful confection. The Voltage Brothers provided the soundtrack that had everyone on the dance floor all night long.

A special thanks to Katie's parents Debbie and Pat who made the day so enjoyable for everyone.

Congratulations Katie and Rob and have fun in Hawaii!

Katie and Rob

Katie and Rob

Flowers from In Bloom

Flowers from In Bloom

Katie checks her dress while getting ready at Myers Park Presbyterian Church

Katie checks her dress while getting ready at Myers Park Presbyterian Church

Rob looks relaxed as he waits for the ceremony to begin

Todd caught Rob looking relaxed as he waits for the ceremony to begin

Katie and Rob decided to see each other before the ceremony and Rob gave a great reaction when he took his first look at his bride

Katie and Rob decided to see each other before the ceremony and Rob gave a great reaction when he saw his bride

More reaction from the happy couple

More smiles from the happy couple

Sally, Katie's sister and Matron of Honor, responds when she sees her sons Carson and Connor in their tuxedos

Sally, Katie's sister and matron of honor, responds to sons Carson and Connor in their tuxedos

Connor waits patiently through the portrait session

Connor looking dapper

Todd got a photo of me as we were able to do some group shots before the ceremony

Todd got a photo of me as we were able to do some group shots before the ceremony

The ladies with Rob

The ladies with Rob

Katie's mother, Debbie, left, walks to the ceremony with Rob's mother, Anne

Katie's mother, Debbie, left, walks to the ceremony with Rob's mother, Anne

The waiting is the hardest part. Rob's niece, Annie, is ready for her flower girl duties

The waiting is the hardest part - Rob's niece, Annie, is ready for her flower girl duties

Pat, Katie's father, makes sure everything is in order

Pat, Katie's father, makes sure everything is in order

Steve, Rob's father and Best Man, waits for the ceremony with his son

Steve, Rob's father and best man, waits with his son

Katie and her father share a nice moment as they prepare to walk down the aisle

Katie and her father share a nice moment as they prepare to walk down the aisle

Katie looks beautiful as she prepares for her entrance

Katie looks beautiful right before her entrance

Katie and her father make their way to the alter

Katie and her father make their way to the altar

The Rev. Millie Snyder performs the ceremony

The Rev. Millie Snyder performs the ceremony

The kiss

The kiss

Time to celebrate

Time to celebrate

Portrait in the church

Portrait in the church

Todd captured bridesmaids in some pretty light as they waited for more photos

Todd captured bridesmaids in some pretty light as they waited for more photos

Katie looks elegant as she heads off to the reception in style

Katie looks elegant as she heads off to the reception in style

The wedding party arrives at Myers Park Country Club

The wedding party arrives at Myers Park Country Club

Some chilled champagne on a hot August evening

Some chilled champagne on a hot August evening

It's all in the details

It's all in the details

Debbie and Pat make their way into the reception

Debbie and Pat make their way into the reception

First dance

First dance

Katie and Rob as Rob's father gives a speech

Katie and Rob as Rob's father gives a toast

The Voltage Brothers lived up to their name as they had everyone energized

The Voltage Brothers lived up to their name as they had everyone energized

Hope he is holding on tight

Hope he is holding on tight

The ladies got on stage to sing "We Are Family"

The ladies got on stage to sing "We Are Family"

Is she next?

Is she next?

Testing the bubbles before the send off

Testing the bubbles before the send off

Katie and Rob escape through the bubbles

Katie and Rob escape through the bubbles





Wedding Photography in the The New York Times

In a little change of pace, I photographed a wedding last Sunday for The New York Times.

The article, featured in today's Style pages in the Weddings/Celebration section, gave me a chance to get back to my journalistic roots. But I didn't do anything differently than I normally do at weddings with the exception of not photographing formal and couple portraits.

The images ran in the print edition as well as the online edition, which included a nice slide show of the images. Mary and John live in Brooklyn, NY, but Mary is from the Rock Hill, SC, area and the wedding was held there. The story about how they met makes for a fun read.

Rock Hill, SC, wedding featured in Sunday's New York Times

Rock Hill, SC, wedding featured in Sunday's New York Times

One of the slideshow images featured on The New York Times' website

One of the slideshow images featured on The New York Times' website