Matt + Liz's Elegant Wintery Wedding at Grosse Pointe Yacht Club

There could not have been a more incredible way to close out the 2018 season than with Matt and Liz’s wedding. I have always been a sucker for winter weddings, and these two planned an absolutely gorgeous December celebration. The church where they were married was covered in red poinsettias, the Christmas trees sparkled at their wedding reception venue and downtown Detroit was dressed up for the occasion with every tree decked in lights. There is something so romantic about all of those lights shining in pictures.

Some of my favorite memories from the day were being in the room with Liz and her mom and her sister while Liz slipped into her wedding dress. Liz’s mom and sister made the last few adjustments to her dress, and it was such a sweet moment between the ladies in their family. The way that Liz’s mom and sister looked at her was with such absolute love and admiration- they were so excited to see Liz promise forever to Matt and they couldn’t hide the excitement on their faces.

I also loved being able to sneak outside with Liz and Matt for a few pictures once the dancing started at their reception. The two hadn’t had a chance to spend much time alone yet, and it was so sweet to hear them talking about how perfect the day was and that they were officially husband and wife! These two are so kind and thoughtful, and I couldn’t help but notice throughout the planning process how they always thought about others. They wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable and able to enjoy the celebration. They continued to think about their guests and their vendors, so I loved being able to see them taking some time to just enjoy one another.

I was so thankful to became quick friends with Matt and Liz during their wedding planning. From our first meeting for coffee to their engagement session, to wedding planning phone calls and then on their wedding day- all of our time together was easy and lighthearted. I am already excited to see where life takes them and to hopefully help them capture more memories along the way! Congratulations, Matt and Liz- I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness together- you two deserve the absolute best!

Quyng-Nhu + Chris

Since Michigan is in the middle of a polar vortex I am going back to sunshine and warmer weather for this week’s blog post!

Talk about a radiant momma-to-be! This beautiful momma hopped right out of the car at her session, slipped into her high heels and was ready to explore the park together in the summer heat.  We actually ended up squeezing in this session just a few days before their little one arrived- and I am so glad we did! 

Quyng-Nhu and Chris are so amazing.  They are in the midst of so many life changes and they just laughed it off and talked about all of the exciting things coming their way in the upcoming months.  Graduating from med school, new jobs, a new home, and the biggest one- the arrival of their little one! They didn't seem overwhelmed at all- just excited for what was to come! 

Maybe all of their joy comes from their unique ability to make one another laugh.  As soon as these two were cuddled up together Chris would say something to Quyng-Nhu that had her laughing away or vice versa.  It would certainly be difficult to stress about life when you have your favorite person next to you making you laugh during all of the adventures to come! Thank you for letting me capture this exciting stage of life with you, Quyng-Nhu and Chris!

6 Months with Leland Theodore

What?! I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those moms that was always saying where did the time go? But I totally get why moms are always saying that now, because seriously- how is our little guy already 6 months old? I won’t cry, I won’t cry, I won’t cry!

These past 6 months have been the most wonderful 6 months of my entire life. Life with Leland is more than I could have every hoped for. I knew being a mom would be hard, but the sleepless nights and crazy hormones made it a tougher transition than I expected, but through it all Leland has been the brightest light in our home. He is such a good baby and happiness is just his natural demeanor. The kid loves to be passed from one person to the next, he finds his cousins to be absolutely hilarious, and will flash a smile at just about anyone who says hi to him. If I had to pick one word to describe Leland it would be joy and his joy is just contagious.

Leland has his ups and downs with sleep, and I will be completely honest we haven’t really forced a schedule on him so I take full responsibility for his sporadic sleep habits. We are all about napping on the go, staying up later on weekends and rocking our little guy to sleep- I know all bad habits, but that’s just where we are at over here! Right now Leland is sleeping like a champ so I will count my blessings and continue to say a prayer each night that we make it to the morning without a midnight nursing session.

Our little guy has two little bottom teeth and when he smiles and flashes those two pearly whites I just about melt into a puddle. Leland is all about food and it has been so much fun to watch him discovering new tastes and textures. He adores his baths, which is great because this kid has some serious rolls that need scrubbing after his very messy meals. Everything in our house has turned into a song, and we find ourselves humming made up songs about avocados and Leland’s toy moose. But somehow we just keep singing no matter how made up and silly the songs get because it makes Leland laugh and we are all about Leland giggles over here.

Each month Leland and I have a little photo shoot on our bed, and it is the sweetest to see how much he has changed over these last 6 months, including that hair- from dark hair to almost a blonde! Oh what a difference a few months can make!

And these are just a few fun pictures from life, because every day is more fun with Leland around. Before Leland we were always on the go (and yes we are still on the go a lot), but now we find ourselves just wanting to stay in and make Leland laugh. Oh sweet boy, you have changed everything for the better!

Abby- Class of 2019

Abby brought so much joy to her session. High schoolers get a bad reputation these days, and I have to say Abby was kind, polite and easy going. I absolutely loved spending the evening with Abby and her mom. They reminded me so much of my mom and I at that age. They cherished spending time together and bantered easily as they chatted about their summer and family vacations throughout the years.

Abby had a very clear vision for her senior session- she wanted something earthy and bohemian inspired right at sunset. We had the perfect day to help make her vision a reality. We drove all around Stony Creek Metropark, me watching out the window for spots and quickly asking Abby’s mom to pull over so we could hop out and use the perfect patch of trees or the nearby softball backstop for Abby’s pictures in her varsity jacket.

Abby has such a beautiful sense of confidence, where she is sure of herself without any airs of boasting or self-centeredness. I could go on and on- Abby was an absolute joy to photograph! And let’s be honest, when your client shows up in an outfit as cool as Abby’s stripped romper you know it is going to be a good session! Congratulations on your graduation, Abby- enjoy all of the excitement of the upcoming year!

Nick + Anita

I absolutely love that I get the chance to capture Anita and Nick’s love story. Anita and I both went to Albion and played volleyball together, so getting the chance to reconnect with her has been so much fun. Anita is hilarious and I knew she would make being in front of the camera so much fun! And if Nick is marrying Anita I knew he had to be a good time, too!

I met Anita and Nick for their engagement session in Detroit. We had chatted about a few locations and I love that they decided to go with Midtown. It has such a charming feel and since they enjoy hanging out in this neighborhood it made it all the more special! The city was showing off for us this evening- with the changing leaves and the perfect setting sun. We wandered the nearby neighborhood and I just love the way the city made the perfect backdrop for these two.

So we have this beautiful little neighborhood and then we have Anita and Nick together who are absolutely perfect for one another. Like most guys, Nick was a little unsure of this whole engagement session thing. Anita had him laughing the whole time and by the end Nick was saying how much fun it was! If the sun hadn’t set I think we could have shot for another hour! Let me tell you men- I am not joking when I tell you that you will enjoy your photo session! An excuse to laugh and snuggle with your better half- yes please!

Anita and Nick, I am so excited to capture your downtown Detroit wedding next fall! Until I get to hang out with you all again I will be smiling as I scroll through these pictures and dreaming about all of the fun we will have in November!

2018 Personal Highlights

I could write a 100 blog posts about 2018. Becoming parents is more than we could have ever dreamed, and I think you all know how I feel about our little man. Leland Theodore is just pure perfection. I have so many favorite moments, so creating a top 10 is tough. If I could bottle up this year and keep every memory perfectly without fading I really would. God was so gracious and kind and we have a million big and little things to praise Him for. Don’t get me wrong, it was also tough. The sleepless nights kicked my butt this fall, and getting past the postpartum blues was real, but that all kind of fades away with time and baby giggles.

So here it is- my top 10 memories of 2018!

Being pregnant. I absolutely loved being pregnant. Watching my body grow and change was such a joy. For a person who often takes her body for granted I loved feeling more connected to my body. I felt so grateful for what my body was able to do. And feeling those baby kicks- there is nothing like it!

Hot air ballon festival. We’ve talked about going to a hot air ballon festival for years. We have even driven all the way there in years past to find out that it was canceled because of weather. Not this year! This year we made it to the festival and the balloons actually took off. I think there is just something so magical about hot air balloons!

Baby showers. We were seriously spoiled by our friends and families before Baby Beatty arrived. The ladies in my family threw us a “Next Big Adventure” themed shower, Ted’s mom and sister planned us a backyard “Baby-Q” celebration and the girls in our bible study group helped us celebrate with a poolside bash. It was so fun to celebrate with everyone and all of the details that went into the celebrations made us feel so loved and known.

Leland Theodore’s birth story. I haven’t share too much about Leland’s birth story. I hope one day to write a whole post about it, but for now I can tell you that it was perfect. I had a long and difficult labor, but the memories we made during those days in the hospital are some I will always cherish. I welcomed my sisters and our parents in to help while I was laboring and after Leland made his entrance into the world our room was a constant stream of family and friends. It was loud and a little chaotic, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Our little beach babe. We love the beach around here. So it didn’t take us long to head to the beach with our little guy. Ted’s family planned a little getaway on Lake Huron. We spent our time BBQing, exploring the beaches and climbing the local lighthouse. I may have cried at the end of our beach day because I was so happy. My little family with the sun setting behind us on the Great Lakes- yup, a dream of mine coming true.

Pool days. My parents have the best pool, and my favorite memories from childhood are the memories we made as a family in the pool. It has been so much fun to watch the pool transform over the years as a place of our family, and then a hangout spot for our friends and now the gathering place for all of the cousins. We couldn’t let the summer pass by without taking Leland for her first dip!

Our first flight with Leland. Ted had a work conference in Portland, Oregon so we added a few days on both sides of the conference and spent some time exploring Portland and the surrounding area and then we headed up to Olympic National Park for a few days. Some people may call us crazy, but we took Leland on his first plane ride at just 6 weeks- and hey it all worked out! We had the best time taking Leland on his first hikes and teaching him the art of adventure. Olympic National Park was absolutely stunning and watching Ted hike with Leland tucked in close in the rainforest made my momma heart explode.

Learning to be a full time work at home mom. Yes, I still work full time- I photograph over 100 sessions a year and up to 12 full day weddings. This year I took about 2 months off from work, but was back to photographing for the fall busy season. We get sitters when necessary, and we have the most amazing support system, but Ted and I do our best to balance our work and home life between the two of us when possible. That meant a lot of baby wearing, waking up before our little guy and quick baby hands offs when one person was home from work and the other needed to head off to work. It has been so fun to see our marriage flourish as we focus on this new stage of life as a stronger, more unified team.

Road tripping along the coast of Maine. We joined my parents for a road trip along the coast of Maine to check out the fall colors. My parents love Maine, so I grew up hearing all about it- and it truly was gorgeous. We loved stopping in all of the little fishing villages, walking along the harbors and eating delicious seafood every night. Our trip finished at Acadia National Park where Ted and I were able to have a little day date while Grandma and Papa hung back with Leland. We hiked the Precipice Trail, which is basically iron rung ladders that you climb up on the side of a mountain- it was terrifying and incredible!

Turning 30 in St. Augustine, Florida. We typically head south for my birthday, but skipped the tradition last year because pregnancy was kicking my butt. Ted went all out this year and surprised me with the most amazing trip to St. Augustine. We spent lazy mornings with coffee in bed and snuggles with Leland, enjoyed long walks and picnics on the beach and explored downtown. The highlight had to be the spa day Ted planned for me. An entire day of pampering- I couldn’t have asked for anything more! 30 sounded a bit scary, but celebrating it with my guys certainly made me ready to welcome it with open arms!

There you have it, the top 10 moments of 2018! Thank you so much for following along. Your love and support of our little family means more than I could ever say. We hope this year brings you lasting memories with the ones you love- and we can’t wait to capture some of them along side you!

Mikayla- Class of 2019

I am going to be catching up on summer blog posts all fall and then I will be catching up on fall blog posts all winter. I am just accepting that being slightly behind is part of my life now, and if that means more Leland snuggles and lazy mornings as a family I am totally okay with that.

Since I have Leland home with me each day I have to set realistic expectations for myself. I have learned to pick out three things that must get done that day. I accomplish those three things first, and if there is time for anything else then great. If not, I still feel accomplished and on task. Typically my top three things are editing sessions and getting them back to clients, even if that means they get their pictures back before I get to posting a preview or a blog post.

So that brings us to Mikayla’s pictures! We snapped these at the beginning of the summer. Mikayla was so much fun to work with. We started the session with some family pictures, then her brother and dad headed out to get a table for dinner while Mikayla, her mom and I wondered around downtown Milford. It was clear that Mikayla enjoyed having her mom there, which made the time together even more special. For most seniors, senior pictures are the first of many big milestone events for the year. You could tell that Mikayla and her mom were going to have a whole lot of fun with all of the events to come.

I can almost feel that warm summer sunshine when I look back on these pictures! I hope you are having the most wonderful start to your senior year, Mikayla!

That Wellthy Life

I just love being able to support other entrepreneurs. It isn’t always the easiest career path, but I feel so strongly that it is worth it. Mary Beth is a certified holistic health coach and runs her own business, That Wellthy Life. Be sure to check out her website here. Her blog has so many great posts on living a healthy, balanced life. And she always interjects her website and posts with hilarious pictures of her pup and encouragement that just makes you stop, breath and smile throughout your day. Stop by her Instagram to say hi!

Mary Beth and I also went to Albion together, so that’s just another reason that I love being able to support her business. So many of my fellow Albion alumni have supported Caryn Ashley Photography. I love that through my business I get to connect with classmates that I would have lost touch with over the years. There are so many Albion alumni doing so many creative, impactful things and it just makes me really, really proud to be a part of such an incredible bunch of people.

Also, can we just take a moment to talk about how beautiful Mary Beth’s home is?! I could just sit in that bright, white kitchen and drink coffee all day long! And yes, we did get to snack on everything as Mary Beth finished making it for the pictures- and since I was outrageously pregnant at the time this had to be one of my favorite sessions! I am so excited to see all of the things that are in store for you, Mary Beth!

Miller Family

These are certainly 5 of my very favorite people- my brother Scott, his wife Katie and their outrageously adorable little ones. Ted and I are so lucky to live close to family, and over the past years we have spent so much time being an aunt and uncle before being a mom and dad.  These three cuties are some of the sweetest little ones, and we often say we hope Leland takes after them.

Photographing family can be tough.  These kiddos are use to seeing me and running around, being tickled, and cannonballing into the pool.  So asking them to have a little more subdue time together can be a challenge, but they did great!

Ted and I had taken them to see Incredibles 2 in the morning and after their photoshoot we joined the rest of our family for a pool party at Grandma's house.  Right before they left to go home for the night their oldest son looked at me and said, 'Aunt Caryn this was one really special day.  Movies, pictures at the park, and swimming.  I wish it didn't have to end.' And then my heart melted right there on the spot.  We love you, Miller family!

Combs Family

I know fall is here, but I just had to share this summer shoot! We had to reschedule this session a few times because of rain, and then on the morning of our session it was 90 degrees by 9:00am! Thankfully the Combs family had picked the perfect location for a hot, session- the lake! We explored the park, and then when everyone got too hot, we just hopped right in the lake.  

Having three little ones for family pictures can always be challenging, and my favorite thing about the Combs family is how mom and dad always take it in stride.  They never stress if someone is taking a little longer to warm up, or needs a break, or at this session- just wants to jump in the lake! It keeps our sessions lighthearted and fun, and allows us to really capture the personalities of their kiddos.

I am so thankful I have been able to capture so many memories with this family over the years.  These three little cuties each have big personalities, and it has been so much fun to watch them grow and develop.  I hope you got to spend many more days together at the lake this summer, Combs family!