Best of 2013 Posted on Dec 25 2013 by amarishames

Holy mother, what a year.

There were definitely times that I thought I wouldn’t make it.  You would never know, looking through these images, of all the moments I wanted to throw in all the towels and drive to the ocean with a case of wine in the back seat.  An artist I deeply respect says that when launching new endeavors, you learn who really has your back and who doesn’t.  Jeremy Cowart, you speak so much truth.

Almost one year ago, I decided to make photography the only job.
What a year.
Bestof2013101

Cameron Robinson knew he wanted to propose and have a photographer on hand to capture it, as he’s a photographer himself!  Insert me and the most nervous ten minutes of my. entire. life.  My friend Brian joined me at the table in Charlotte, just feet from Cameron and (his now wife!) Joy.  We had some time with them after the proposal and they are two of the most radiant souls walking the earth.  I can think of no other way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Advance 2013
Music has this magical way of resonating through the chambers of my everything.  Even more so, when I am immersed in it.  Some of my most favorite memory clips involve loud voices and drums.  Advance13 was an Acts29 conference hosted in Raleigh for many of their leaders and pastors.  As many of those within the Acts29 network are men, I found myself holding my little metal box in Memorial Auditorium amongst a sea of men singing praise to our Jesus.  There are not many moments that cause me to put the camera down and just soak it in, but this was one of them.  I simply stood and listened in complete awe.  In a society that speaks so much negativity over men, it was moving to be in the midst of this.  I hope to carry this one with me forever.

Printed
My work got published for the first time ever this year and not just once, but twice!  A piece from Prague was put in the NC State Design School’s magazine at the end of the 2012-2013 year.  Simply titled “Egg & Bread” many folks have asked if they might print it for their kitchens or something similar and it is now available as a print!  Then, my *amazing* friend Jen Bonchak & her Slingshot Coffee got featured in Southern Living.  ”If anyone can pull something like this out of their ass, it’s you!” <—Might be one of my biggest compliments ever.  My portrait of Jen graced their July issue!

MiFamilia_302
Meet Renee’.  Look familiar?  If you guessed this is my sister, you would be correct!  She’s in this year-end recap because this might be the first time she has ever, in the history of ever, voluntarily graced my camera.  My sister is a takes-no-prisoners type of girl and I love her for it.  With many a bride, I’ve joked that whenever I get married, Renee’ will be the point of contact for the details because she’ll handle it all before I even know there’s a problem.  She’s amazing and also a creative.  We help keep each other sane.  If you haven’t met her, you should make that happen!

Rosalie
Ohhhhh, Rosa.  This pretty girl came home after two years in Uganda only to stay for a year and go right back!  Rosalie has this radiant spirit that infects you and I am so so thankful to call her my friend.  Her emails are like small novels and I save them in my inbox for times when I can grab a snack and settle in for what I know will be a great read.  If your heart has ever been pulled to Africa or missions, in general, click her name and get in touch.  I can’t wait to visit her at her second home.

Hartweg
Chelsea & Dana Hartweg have to be two of the most generous and understanding people walking the planet.  I captured their wedding in fall 2011 and, like most wedding days, things were hectic and crazy.  My skills also weren’t anywhere near where they are now.  So, when all three of us learned we would be in Charleston, SC on the same weekend, I emailed them.  ”This will sound crazy, but you want to bring your wedding clothes and get dressed up again?  I’ll bring my camera?”  I could almost audibly hear the “YES!!!” that was the reply.  We grabbed some flowers, they got dressed, and we walked around the beauty that is downtown Charleston ’til our hearts content.  I’ll be offering these sessions going forward in 2014, as couples that do them all think they’re amazing.  The Hartweg’s have been believers in me since the beginning of this ride and I’m so thankful for them, their hearts, and their constant encouragement.

NYCBeau_107
Beau.
To be honest, we first met online through a series of Skype calls.  Our mutual friend, Ben, was all “Hey you’re both in Europe! You should hang out!”  Beau was in Barcelona and I was in Prague, so the connection was crap and we could only use audio.  The internet in Europe laughs at video connections!  We met in real life when I went to Barcelona for a few days and then intentionally went to New York City for a holiday weekend this spring.  He walked my ass all OVER the place and I am the better for it.  There are people that come along who make your friendship easy and support you, no matter what crazy happens.  This is one of mine.
And I’m so glad he’s here.

Tabitha
If you’ve ever met Tabitha in real life, you would have a hard time realizing that image on the left is her.  But, it is.  We partnered together to tell her story of redemption through a series of portraits and I. love. this. woman.  Her support this year has been incredibly kind and I’m grateful that she’s coming more and more into understanding just how beautiful she is.
“I had never held photographs that made me feel pretty before”, she said.
“But, now I have.”
Blown away.  Absolutely blown away.  I am.

Minnesota
Minnesota.
I had never been before July and, because I’m not entirely mentally stable, I decided to drive.  Yes, from Carolina.  It was great on multiple levels.  I started taking random pit stops with my car when I thought it was pretty out.  What kind of rush am I in anyways?
The world’s happiest baby, Hope, graced my lens for just a few moments as I got to know her parents and her favorite uncle.  That uncle is a man that brought me back to health.  He loves me and supports me and returned me to stable ground in ways I doubt he even knows about.  Minnesota was one of the most refreshing times of my whole year.
You should go.

Brodie
Yep, that’s me in the middle.  That crazy fool on my left is Luke.  And the crazy fool in the glasses?  Justin Brodie.
These two guys bring joy to my life on a level I cannot even explain.  We get together for food and we wind up singing Lady Gaga at the top of our lungs.  People will stare at The Pit because we are laughing so hard there are tears.  More than once, I’ve had to walk away to catch my breath.  And the three of us are all wired the same in that we will do whatever it takes to get things done.  Luke has shown up with a milkshake on a crappy day as many times as he’s helped me move something.  When my train didn’t show once, he told me to get my ass in the car and drove me to Charlotte.
Brodie left us to go serve in Romania, where he still is, and with all things going well, I’ll be leading a team from the states to his non-profit in Romania next July.
Come with!  Must be ok with singing at the top of your lungs and laughing ’til you cry.

Family_McClure309
The McClure’s!
God, I love these people.  They are living in Prague with their ah.DOR.able daughter Heidi Marie and kicking so much tail at it!  When I had the chance to capture a wedding in the wine country of Italy, I asked Brian if I could come visit on my way.  Without hesitation, I was invited into their home and picked up at the airport.  They love Love and it shows.  I can’t wait to capture a wedding in Prague next summer with Brian as a second shooter.  It is going to be amazing.

HamesWedding1HamesWedding2
Welcome to my crazy family.
Right after Europe (no, literally, ONE DAY after I got back from Europe), I was on a plane to Vegas to see my baby brother and his long-time girlfriend tie the knot in Vegas, complete with Elvis!  Two weeks later, they held a reception in downtown Charleston.
We don’t do anything boring in this group.
And I love them.

Parish
“I’m sitting in this class for the state department on some medical training and for, gosh, at least half an hour, Rob taught with a piece of tubing hanging out of his ear – with the other end coming out of his nose!”
Yep, that sounds about right.  Somehow, even with mess like that, he won over the student in that class for the state department and Mandy is here to stay.
And all of us rejoiced!
She’s beautiful and the perfect compliment to him.  I was overjoyed to be asked to capture their January DC wedding.
Yep, they’re getting married next month.  Currently, they’re wandering Central America somewhere.
Haha, I love it!

Doing an end of the year recap forces me to look back at all the incredible opportunities I’ve had.  It certainly hasn’t been an easy road, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Over 150 of you graced the other side of my lens this year.  In October alone, I clicked the shutter button 28 days out of 31.
For a girl that doesn’t advertise, I’m so *so* grateful.  Thank you doesn’t come close to covering it, but is a start.
Thank you.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Have a beautiful holiday!
In so much Love,
Amaris