Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Heaven on Earth

For the last 6 years, this is one sure way to grab a slice of Heaven on Earth.
5:30 am, my sleepy wife, two cups of hot coffee, some candlelight, and the greatest Love Letter ever written.
Usually there's our old cat Jack on the scene as well, snuggling up and draping himself over the bibles because he likes how soft the pages are.
We have mornings that we disagree, mornings that different passages speak differently to us as they should, but for the most part, if you're ever looking for a way to get on the same page, this book has thousands of them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Crooks Christmas

You don't have to look very far to find a shining example of what real giving is this Christmas.
For the past few years Carrie and Joe Noe have been lighting up the night with an outstanding light show, and the proceeds go to Make-A-Wish. Over $50,000 has now been raised since they began just a few years ago, and kids who are fighting for the chance to see another Christmas are blessed because of this family. Joe works round the clock, directing traffic and putting the show together, and almost every day Carrie is running the deposits to the bank for Make-A-Wish. Even their own little ones make a sacrifice of giving, because while we don't see all the work that goes into this production, they give their daddy up for part of the season. While we were out shooting the picture, cars were driving in long past the closing time. Joe left the lights on extra long so no family would be disappointed. It was 10:30 pm already.

Help this family spread the cheer. Drive out to Crooks Christmas, (<-----click the link) tune into the FM station and let your family be wowed. When your done, walk over with the kids in tow and let them put in your contribution to the donation box at the end of the driveway, so they can experience the gift of giving. What a great way to teach the kids what giving looks like, to pass the tradition on to the next generation.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I shot her brother's senior pictures a couple of years ago, so it was fun to see the Christenson family again. Renee was a little worried that her brother had more leaves in the trees and more fall color for his senior pictures, but I had to remind her that big brother didn't actually embody all of those colors the way she does. Sure, he had rich tones and beautiful colors in the leaves and the trees, but Renee is her own flash of color. It wouldn't matter if it were 50 below and dead winter, she'd warm up any shot.
Her eyes are wildly beautiful in color, and it was my wife that pegged their shade when I couldn't describe them... they are like the color of the Caribbean Ocean. Emerald green with dashes of blue. And her hair, to contrast, is long and flowing shades of red, the fiery colors of Autumn.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6

Thanksgiving, in the language of the letter Paul wrote while in chains way back then, was the word ‘Eucharistia’ – which is ‘the grateful language that we give to God as an act of worship’. Thought you might find that interesting today.

Happy worshipping today. :)


Monday, November 24, 2008

Fall Has Caught Fire

We can always try to guess when winter is coming. Around here it can be as early as October or as late as the New Year.
But there is no greater confirmation of the ushering out of Fall than hearing thousands of Canadian Geese honking and swishing the wind beneath their wings just overhead. This time of year, in the busy-ness of Christmas orders, these guys are my release. When I want to unwind, I try sneaking up on them, and they always put me in my place. I think they know I'm there before even I do.
I keep thinking some year they are going to get really tired of me disturbing their evening dip in the pond, and they'll all dive bomb me in this massive, well-coordinated assault. I wince every time a couple hundred of them fly by, wondering about the odds of them using me for target practice, but their graciousness never fails. They always put up with me snapping away into the fiery sunset, and I'm reminded by their presence that time is fleeting.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pillow Fight!

Here's a few fun shots from a pillow fight session we had a few days ago. At first it was all sweet and still, flurry slippers and soft smiles...awwww...

Yeah, that didn't last long. Jamie, Chad and Caitlyn got waaaaay out of control, but I have to admit, it was alot of fun. :)

Even Jamie's sister Kelly's little girl got to hop in for some of the fun, and I'm fairly certain from the snow angel imprint in my shooting room that everyone had a good time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Busy Season

With the politics and the time of year, I realized this morning that I've been neglecting the blog of actual client images. I apologize. I looked back and realized I had more than half a dozen weddings and four times as many sessions that I wanted to post on here for you all to see, but I just never got around to it. One thing about my mind, I can get wonderfully sidetracked.
Well, today, my talented assistant Melissa and I will be getting caught up with the workload (just 1 session behind! Yay!), so now I can focus a bit on the particulars.

I wanted to post some favorites from a very recent family shoot first.
We first met Chelsea when she moved in next door to my mother-in-law a couple of years ago. Almost immediately, my son and her daughter hit it off, and there were some days you'd think they were glued at the hip. Chelsea has watched our kids no less than a couple of dozen times ever since. She has a great little daycare she runs out of her home.

Jordan is the spitting image of her mom in my opinion, right down to the cutest noses I think I've ever seen.

Chelsea's husband Mike is the reserved, laid back type of guy that would go a mile out of his way for you any time.

It's interesting because their little boy Isaac can look at me and instantly convey the need for speed, just from the flare in his eyes. I think in reality there's a good helping of each personality in both dad and son, the only difference is that dad is an adult and therefore he's obligated to act like one (a feeling I understand), and Isaac? Well shoot, he's just a kid, and at that age, might as well burn as much rubber as the law will allow, right? ;)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Available You.

Sometimes words just come, and I think they may as well be posted here.

Available You
He wants your eyes so you can see.
He wants your ears so you can hear.
He wants your hands so you can hold onto
The one who can take away all your fears.

He’s everything you’ve ever craved
He’s the only one by which you’re saved.

You’re in the perfect storm,
And he’s holding out his arms.
The waves are crashing down.
But with Him you can’t be harmed.

Take the peace that He is giving,
Throw the rest away.
Walk upon the water with Him.
Start a brand new day…now,

He needs your feet so you can walk the earth.
He needs your mind so you can bless.
He needs for you to put Him first,
He needs your willingness.

He’ll take your voice if you’ll just lend it.
He’ll make your words gentle and true.
He’ll pour the love that He’s the source of
Into the available you.

And wrath will be turned away,
When you let His light shine through.
When you tell them what HE did they’ll say
I can see Jesus… in You.

~Dan Elliott 11.9.08

Friday, October 31, 2008

Nine Years

Well the boy is officially 9.
We got a little tv for his room to share with his sister since the old one broke last winter. It has to count for his Christmas too.
When he woke up we had a new movie ready for him, and his momma pulled out fresh baked apple crisp with ice cream for breakfast in bed.
Him and his sis sacked out with the puppy for a lazy morning.
Nine years old and sprouting like a weed. Right now he's zooming a remote controlled airplane throughout the studio, charging it over and over, asking for more batteries, still in his jammies. By this 9-year-old's standards, it's shaping up to be a pretty darn good day. :)

I remember when he was first born and the doctors didn't know if he was going to survive. I remember when my eyes saw him for the very first time, and the sinking feeling in my heart when I realized he wasn't crying...because he wasn't breathing.
I remember the controlled flurry of panic in the room as tubes were being pushed down his throat. His life mattered, and a team of people fought to keep that little one alive.
Mostly I remember that while he was yet suffocating he looked at me, clutched my trembling finger in his hand and squeezed it with every last bit of might left in him.

He was telling me that he had a will to live, a desire to be born into this world, and he was fighting for that opportunity. With all my heart I'm grateful that he was granted that right to life. I'm thankful that he made the choice to fight, because the choice was his. Not mine, not the doctor's, not my wife's. It was his life and he made his stand.

Today he is a shining hope to me. He is a help to his mother, a teacher to his sister, a leader among his friends, and he is counted among the saints...he is one of the three greatest blessings in my life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Melissa & Rob

When Melissa and I first began chatting about her wedding they lived in Vegas.
Today they live in Omaha, so by my calculations, in another few years, we'll have them back home in Sioux Falls. :)

At first we had this engagement session planned at a location that would have required some 4 wheelers, but it ended up being a little too soupy as the weather goes.
I have to say it was probably for the best, as much as I was looking forward to it, because I think Rob and I would have had waaaaayyyyyy too much fun in the mud puddles with 4 wheelers. There's a good chance that the stunning young lady riding with us might have been a little frustrated with her photographer and fiance as they raced and launched themselves into the air at break-neck speeeds. 'What's that? This is an engagement session....oh yeah....whoops.' Sigh, oh well. Save it for another day. Maybe a trash-the-dress style session where we won't care how many mud puddles there are ;)

Instead, Rob was completely tuned into her, and capturing something romantic and sexy between these two was, to say the least, no problem at all. In fact, it turned out to be one of my favorite engagement sessions this fall.

Not only was the electricity natural and their love for one another apparent, in the chill of the fall morning, Melissa and Rob certainly kept things warm and close. I
loved being able to be with them, having an entire state park to ourselves. I can't wait for the wedding.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

White Crosses

My boy and I were riding our bikes early this morning and came across a local church that is standing up in Brandon, displaying old whitewashed wooden crosses in memory of the 748 South Dakotan children who were aborted in 2006. Just across a very narrow stretch of road on the other side of the display is a cemetery, filled not with wooden crosses, but crosses made of stone. Most are inscribed with the date that someone came into this world, then a dash that somehow represents an entire lifetime, and finally a date that they passed on. Most are decorated and adorned with flowers, frequented stops along life's busy highway for those left behind who choose to remember and celebrate a life once lived.

There's no real difference between the wooden crosses here or the stone crosses there, except that on one side of the road, those crosses are recognized to represent people, human beings who once lived. And on the other side of the road...they aren't. One side was granted the right to life, the other wasn't. Nothing separates them or makes them any less human.

In fact these crosses on this side of the road are an offense to some people. There's no flowers, no mourner to lovingly care for their upkeep. They are so abhorred that in recent years these little crosses have been yanked out of the ground in the night and thrown in the river. Do you wonder why it is that they strike such a tender chord, why some are so unable to stand for what those crosses stand for, why they are more inclined to tear them down and throw them away rather than see them for what they represent?

So what if we could give each whitewashed cross a face? What if we could see the child behind the symbol? Would we be so quick to dismiss them then, to throw them away if we could look into their eyes? If we could hear just one of them speak, just one audible giggle, would we stand up for them?

What if on this busy stretch of road as we zoomed to work we looked over to our amazement at 748 toddlers, 2-year-olds, unsupervised, unchaperoned, with no teacher or guardian in sight? Only inches from the street, would we be concerned for their safety? Would any of us stop to make sure one of them, so young and innocent, didn't wander into the oncoming traffic?

In 2003, the year my daughter was born, there were 819 abortions in South Dakota.
Today, she is 5 years old. She smiles, she cries, she laughs, she loves, she mothers over her new puppy, and she is an amazing speller. She eats up attention and she's an expert at Eskimo kisses. Today she's very excited because she gets to paint her toy horse in rainbow colors.

So today we see these crosses, and hundreds of choices that were made to end the life of a child, and one child who was given another choice, a right to life, just like you. In the image below, what do you see? Do you see one child or two? Of course you see that beautiful little American girl with rights, but do you see the little boy or girl that she's holding onto, that child that wasn't given the choice?

Click here to help make the right choice.

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