Jessi Casara Photography: Blog http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog en-us (c) Jessi Casara Photography / Logo design by Kelly Fly casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) Wed, 16 May 2018 16:06:00 GMT Wed, 16 May 2018 16:06:00 GMT http://www.casaraphoto.com/img/s/v-5/u948098394-o205565552-50.jpg Jessi Casara Photography: Blog http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog 120 120 Ashley + Nate Couple Session | Fairhope, AL http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/5/ashley-nate-couple-session-fairhope-al I was already so excited to photograph this beautiful couple in Fairhope last month, but then they asked if they could bring their fur baby Daisy, and if you know me, you know I pretty much couldn't contain myself. I had an absolute blast photographing these three. Here are a few of my favorites...enjoy!

 

I would love to photograph you and your significant other or family (including fur families!) so please give me a shout if you are in need of some fun new family photos! Also, a portion of all of my family sessions booked in the month of May will be benefiting Heart Gallery Alabama in honor of Foster Care Awareness Month, so send me a message today!

 

xoxo

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama beach canon casara photo couple digital dog fairhope families family film foley gulf shores jessi casara photography love medium format mobile bay photo photography portrait southern http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/5/ashley-nate-couple-session-fairhope-al Wed, 16 May 2018 16:03:56 GMT
Jones Family | Beach Session | Gulf Shores, AL http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/5/jones-family-beach-session-gulf-shores-al I had so much fun hanging out with this sweet family on the beach last month! The weather was perfect, and we got so many sweet and playful shots of the kids playing and the parents being all cute and cuddly. Couldn't have asked for a better session! Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

 

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here. If you are heading to the beach and would like some family portraits made, I'd love to hear from you! Just send me a message and I'll get back to you asap!

 

xoxo

Jess

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama baby beach birthday birthday portraits daphne fairhope family family photographer gulf coast gulf shores jessi casara photography mobile orange beach pensacola photographer silverhill spanish fort http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/5/jones-family-beach-session-gulf-shores-al Wed, 02 May 2018 16:47:09 GMT
Blakely State Park Family Session | Lenise Ligon | Spanish Fort, AL http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/4/blakely-state-park-family-session-lenise-ligon-spanish-fort-al Family is such a beautiful thing, and these lovelies are no exception. I loved getting the chance to photograph each of them, climbing trees, doing backflips, and just being altogether adorable. I hope you enjoy a few of my favorites from their family session!

If you are interested in having some portraits made of your family, I'd love to hear from you, so give me a shout! Have a great week!
 

xoxo

Jessi

 

 

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama blakely state park canon children digital fairhope families family film jessi casara photography lenise ligon medium format photography portrait southern http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/4/blakely-state-park-family-session-lenise-ligon-spanish-fort-al Mon, 23 Apr 2018 22:01:59 GMT
Katy | I Am Me Session | Spanish Fort, AL http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/2/katy-i-am-me-session-spanish-fort-al I probably use the word "magical" too often. Like, the pizza I'm eating right now? Magical. That first cup of coffee in the morning? Magical.

As a lover of fairy tales and all things Harry Potter, I tend to look for the magic in everything. As a photographer, I try to capture that magic as often as I can. The dictionary says that to call something "magical" really means that it is "beautiful or delightful in such a way as to seem removed from everyday life."

I may use the word too often, but if there was ever a time to call something truly magical, my session with Katy Herndon would be it. 

I met Katy for the first time at the Copper Kettle Tea Bar in my hometown of Foley, Alabama. It was a themed tea based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, and so I was surrounded by fairies and fauns in true fairytale form. A talented cosplayer, Katy was dressed as a fairy, with a sparkly face to match her sparkly fairy dress, and wings in her favorite color of blue. I later learned that Katy not only makes a convincing fairy, but can also hold her own as many a Disney character, from Snow White to Cruella de Vil.

Beyond cosplaying, another of her many talents includes playing the violin. The first time I heard her play, I was so drawn in by her music I almost forgot to take pictures of her, and trust me that is saying something.

Katy has been playing violin for 26 years now. Her oldest love, playing the violin has not only given her the opportunity to meet new people and go new places, it has also given her that soul-happy creative outlet some of us so desperately crave.

When Katy asked me to do an I Am Me Session with her, not gonna lie, I was really excited. As beautiful as she is talented, I couldn't wait to get her in front of my lens. We decided on Blakely State Park as the location for her session, and I don't think we could have picked a better spot. To be honest, it was almost more than I could handle. There is no possible way I could have really captured the beauty of this moment when her bow first hit the strings. I'll say it again - it was MAGICAL.

I mean, it was heavy y'all. I had tears in my eyes the moment she started playing. The sounds of the strings echoing through the woods, the morning light, birds chirping in the background, wind rustling the leaves around us, walking through tall grass, and Spanish Moss hanging from the oak trees...it felt supernatural, like at any moment a dove was going to come land on her shoulder. I wouldn't have been surprised.

Katy has this gentle power about her. She is humble but confident, sensitive but strong, a sweetheart but a total badass. For her 30th birthday, she treated herself to a 3 week trip to New Zealand (which is, by the way, my favorite place on the planet). She went by herself (hello, independent woman >insert fist bump here<) and took the Lord of the Rings tour (because, duh) and spent her birthday in front of Bilbo's house playing Bilbo's birthday song on her violin. 

Mic. Drop.



Katy's adventurous spirit is nothing new to those that know her. Her favorite memory growing up was having treasure hunts at her grandparents' house. Her mom would draw out these elaborate treasure maps with clues that led to a buried treasure - the most coveted, of course, were Polly Pockets. Katy would run around those paths in the woods for hours searching for her take. I imagine her even then as a creative costumer, dressed like a pirate with a wooden sword and eye patch, yelling, "Aargh, Matey!" at the squirrels that dared to cross her path. (But then once she realizes they are a friend and not a foe, she invites them along for the adventure).

Now a world traveler, New Zealand isn't the only place across the big blue wonder she has been. Katy has knocked 14 countries off her list so far, and Greece is next. Katy isn't just a dreamer, she is a doer. A girl after my own heart.

I think the dichotomy of Katy's personality goes hand in hand with her instrument of choice. When I think of the violin, I think of elegance and grace along with strength and power. When I think of the art of playing the violin, I also think of hard work and patience. And if her WEEKLY appointments to the chiropractor aren't clue enough, I think of perseverance. 

By the same token, when I think of elegance and grace, and strength and power, my mind also goes to the art of ballet. So it shouldn't surprise you to learn that Katy is not only a talented violinist, but also a ballerina. 

If I had asked pretty much anyone else to hop on that tree limb so I could take a photo, they either would have laughed at me, or I would have laughed at them (inwardly) (maybe) (probably not) as they attempted. But Katy was up in a single bound, landing in pointed toes and her "princess hands."

As a child, Katy both played the violin and danced, but when Katy was eleven years old, she had to quit ballet in order to pursue music. Though she never regretted choosing music over ballet, it was always something she longed to go back to in some capacity. So, three and a half years ago she started taking adult classes at the Mobile Ballet and hasn't looked back. Well, other than looking back over her shoulder at her toes cause the girl's got skills...

Katy now dances twice a week, and loves it. For the last year, she has even been able to dance en pointe. As in, on her toes. I don't have to tell you that it takes a lot of hard work and motivation to reach that level. Not only that, but to make something so difficult look so effortless, that's just a kind of grace I've never known.

Pointe technique is what a lot of us think about when we think of ballerinas. It's iconic. It's the thing they strive for, and work so hard for - that illusion of weightlessness, of defying gravity. It's like magic. 

I am so grateful for ballerinas. They teach us all how incredibly beautiful the hard things can be. How truly magical life can be.

And I am grateful for Katy. Little though I know her, she has shown me the power of pursuing your love, or loves. That the hard things are beautiful if you just keep trying, and that it is never too late to start trying, or to try again. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.”

Well, maybe you can be afraid. But never let that fear stop you from being who you were meant to be. As Mr. Wilde also taught us, it's important to be yourself. Because everyone else is already taken.

Thank you again, Katy, for giving me the opportunity to photograph you and share a little of your story. The world is better because of you! Don't forget to give Katy some comment love below. Part of the goal behind the I Am Me Sessions is not only to recognize the value of each and every person through photographs, but also through encouraging words. And, with 20+ comments, Katy gets a free 8x10 of her favorite image. So comment away!

For those of you that would like a little more Katy magic in your life, you can follow her on Instagram or check out her blog survingsinglehood.net.

To catch the magic live, she will be performing this Saturday (March 3rd) at the Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire. I strongly encourage you to go watch and listen to her play! You will not regret it. Plus, Ren Faires are like thebomb.com. (That's 90's lingo for us 30-somethings. Don't actually go to thebomb.com. It just rhymes.) She will also be performing again at the Hobbit Tea at Copper Kettle, which is always a fun treat! Check out their Facebook page for more info.

For you ballet enthusiasts, the Mobile Ballet Adult Recital is on May 11th at the Mobile Ballet Studio. Or, if you've always wanted to be a ballerina, or maybe want to go back to it, I have heard great things about their classes, so go check them out!

Katy also performs for private events, including weddings, so if you've always wanted to walk down the aisle to "Liz on Top of the World", then give Katy a shout! (Just don't make her play Canon in D again. She'd done that like a million times. Just kidding. Kind of. I mean she'll do it if you want her to. Maybe.)

And that's all she wrote! Have a great week!

xoxo

Jess

 

 

 

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama ballerina ballet blakely state park canon copper kettle copper kettle tea bar digital foley gulf shores headshot headshots jcpiamme jessi casara photography mobile ballet music outdoor outdoor photo shoot photography portrait promo spanish fort violin violinist http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/2/katy-i-am-me-session-spanish-fort-al Wed, 28 Feb 2018 16:54:22 GMT
Ethan + Taylor | Engagement Session | Pensacola Beach, FL http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/1/ethan-taylor-engagement-session-pensacola-beach-fl Sunset on the beach is beautiful enough - but add a beautiful couple in love? Unbeatable. Enjoy a few of my favorite photos from Ethan and Taylor's engagement session at Pensacola Beach!

If you or someone you know is engaged, I'd love to help you capture some beautiful moments like these! I'm also offering a FREE engagement session for a limited time if you book me for your wedding, so please give me a shout! Happy Friday everyone!

 

xoxo

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama beach engaged engagement engagement pictures engagement session florida gulf coast jessi casara photography pensacola pensacola beach photographer wedding wedding photographer http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/1/ethan-taylor-engagement-session-pensacola-beach-fl Fri, 26 Jan 2018 18:26:11 GMT
Keyshaun | Senior Portraits | Silverhill, Alabama http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/1/keyshaun-senior-portraits-silverhill-alabama It's about time for senior portraits again, and I am so excited. I love getting to photograph people during this time in their lives. There is so much "looking forward" to do, and getting to capture that excitement is part of what makes my job so fun. I offer a couple of different options when it comes to senior portraits, but my favorite is when I get to do the extended session, like what I did here with Keyshaun. We did cap and gown, formal, and extracurricular (in this case, baseball) so we got to see so much of his personality and captured the different things he likes to do. I even got to snag a few with he and his mom!

When it comes to senior portraits, I love being able to showcase everything that makes him/her special and unique. Here are a few of my favorites from Keyshaun's session. I can't wait to do more of these!

 

If you or someone you know is graduating this year, I'd love to hear from you, so please give me a shout and let's capture this special time! And congratulations Class of 2018!

 

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama canon class of 2018 digital film high school jessi casara photography medium format photography portrait senior senior portraits http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2018/1/keyshaun-senior-portraits-silverhill-alabama Wed, 17 Jan 2018 19:07:58 GMT
Mark + Slone | Garden Wedding | New Orleans, LA http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/12/mark-slone-garden-wedding-new-orleans-la I absolutely loved getting to photograph this beautiful garden wedding in New Orleans a couple of months ago. It was a beautiful day at the Degas House, with lots of laughter, dancing, and great food. They also did the traditional second line after the ceremony, which was a first for me, and now I wish every wedding had it! So happy for these two lovebirds, and wishing them the very best in the years to come!

 

Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to document this special day! If you or someone you know is gettin' hitched and you need a photographer to capture all the special moments, please give me a shout. I'd love to work with you!

xoxo,

Jessi

 

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) canon degas house families family garden wedding jessi casara photography new orleans photography portrait second line southern wedding wedding photographer wedding photography weddings http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/12/mark-slone-garden-wedding-new-orleans-la Wed, 06 Dec 2017 15:00:00 GMT
Taylor + Ethan's Cotton Field Engagement Session | Silverhill, AL http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/11/taylor-ethans-cotton-field-engagement-session-silverhill-al I absolutely loved getting to photograph these two lovebirds in our "Alabama Snow" a few weeks ago. Couples who laugh together are such a joy to photograph, and these two were no exception. Here are a few favorites from our session. Enjoy!

 

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here. If you or someone you know is looking for someone to document your special day, please give me a shout. I'd love to hear from you!

 

And don't forget to show Taylor and Ethan some love! If they get 20+ comments below, I will send them a free 8x10 print, so comment away!

 

Thanks again Taylor and Ethan for giving me the opportunity to document these special moments!

xoxo

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama canon cotton field daphne engagement fairhope foley gulf shores jessi casara photography photography portrait silverhill southern wedding photographer http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/11/taylor-ethans-cotton-field-engagement-session-silverhill-al Mon, 27 Nov 2017 20:57:26 GMT
Taylor Family | Silverhill, Alabama http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/11/taylor-family-silverhill-alabama I absolutely loved getting to photograph this beautiful family in this beautiful sunflower field! Dennis and Whitney and their girls are so much fun to be around, and combine that with the fact that they are ridiculously photogenic, makes for a photographer's dream! Thanks again for giving me the chance to photograph you guys!

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here. If you are looking for someone to document precious moments like these with your family, give me a shout! I'd love to hear from you!

 

xoxo

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama baby canon casara photo children digital fairhope families family film jessi casara photography medium format photography portrait silverhill sunflower field http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/11/taylor-family-silverhill-alabama Fri, 10 Nov 2017 14:50:56 GMT
Allison | I Am Me | Nashville, TN http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/10/allison-i-am-me-nashville-tn I love watching superhero movies. From X-Men to Spiderman, you name it, I've seen it. Multiple times. (Ok, maybe not Spiderman 2. I think we can agree we could have done without that one...)  The action, the drama, the comedy, the romance - they literally have it all - but I think the main reason I love them so much is because I love watching people help people. It's so hopeful. And I get sad sometimes, so hope is nice.

I especially love it when the superheroes really aren't that super. Green Arrow, Batman, and my all-time favorite - Star Lord - they don't really have any special abilities. They just see a need and choose to fill it, not because it was fun or necessarily rewarding...it just had to be done.

The world is so full of need. I see movies like Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, and Precious, movies I also love, and I realize that not all heroes wear capes (or expanding vacuform helmets...). Some of our everyday heroes have day jobs that aren't so every day. We know them as teachers and social workers. I know one as a very dear friend. 

I met Allison my (first) senior year of college. I needed a place to live after my Study Abroad semester, and most of my friends were graduating that year. My friend Kelly introduced me to Allison over the phone, and I was set to move in with her before I even met her in person. Kelly was sure we would hit it off, and she was right. Of course, what sealed the deal was the day I came home and offered her food. Nothing binds a friendship quite like the words, "Can I make you a sandwich?" Am I right? 

It’s hard not to be friends with Allison though. She never meets a stranger. Her smile is contagious, she never forgets your birthday, and you better believe her when she says, “I’ll see you later.” Because she will. Allison is probably the only person I know that says, “We should get together soon!” and actually means it. She won’t let much time go by before asking how you are. If she is in town, she will make a point to see you. She is one of the most genuinely caring people I have ever met, and if you are lucky enough to be her friend, then you are blessed to call her a friend for life.

I lived with Allison for a year in college, and during that year we led a small group together. Every week we would meet with a group of young ladies and lead a discussion about faith and life and love and doing the right thing. We talked about the hard stuff too, the stuff that most girls (unfortunately) have to deal with at some point in their lives (#metoo), as well as the obvious things, things that are easy to say. “Love thy neighbor” and “Do unto others,” etc. 

It’s the easy stuff that really gets us though, isn’t it? Because we hear them all the time and we internalize them as truth, but how many of us actually follow through? We know we are to love and make good choices, but how many people do you really love day-to-day?

I’m not sure I’ve ever known anyone to actively love the way Allison loves. She doesn’t just tell you, she shows you. She literally tries to love you however you need to be loved - whether it's a kind word or a hug or a gift - she will figure out how you like to be loved best and then she will just love the hell out of you. Like, hello poster child for the Five Love Languages.

So it wasn’t surprising when Allison chose Social Work as her major in college. Her pursuit of loving people combined with her interest in social justice made it a pretty obvious choice for her. Of course, there is a gamut of career choices when it comes to being a Social Worker, but superhero that she is, she saw a need and she chose to fill it - so she spent the next nine years after college working with childhood trauma and neglect cases, first in Birmingham, then in Nashville.

I can’t imagine the things she saw and heard. Obviously, for confidentiality reasons she could never really go into much detail about her work, but I know she saw a lot of evil out in the world. On top of that, it wan’t just a 9-5 kind of evil. In that field, you are battling it constantly.  She recently wrote a blog post about the people in helping professions and how they work outrageous hours because they are the ones that help people in crisis, and crisis knows no time frame. She points out, "We are the ones who answer the phone when you are crying because your boyfriend just broke your arm, who hear the terrified four year old crying hysterically when they tell you they are hiding under the table and their dad is drunk again and beating their mom, we are the ones your children look into their eyes while they tell you that they have been raped again by (insert family name here) and no one believes them- will you?...We answer those calls, all day, all night. We go to the hospitals and sit beside you- for comfort or for suicide watch. We do it because we think that people are worth it. That people are worth fighting for and loving, and that all persons deserve to be comforted…”

But It can be debilitating to be in a helping profession when you aren’t always able to help. The system is flawed, and we end up losing the very people we need the most, due to burn-out,  being under-appreciated, or being vastly underpaid. Allison writes, "I don’t know if the only thing that I feel that I am called to and that I feel I am good at is ever going to allow me to take care of myself or be able to afford a home and food. I don’t know if that is okay.“

Well, it's not okay. While Allison's mantra has always seemed to be, "If I don't do it, who will?" she also recognizes the importance of being healthy enough to help others. You know, it's like the thing they tell you in the airplane before you take off - you have to put on your mask before you can help others put theirs on. Well, as Allison puts it, "When you are constantly putting out fires, you don’t have time to take a breath of clean air for yourself.” But everybody needs air.

So after nine years, Allison decided to take a sort of sabbatical and nanny for a couple of precious babes. Now, y'all know that if caring after two newborns is a "sabbatical" we are talking about something serious. But really, it is amazing to see the sort of strength it takes for someone to step away from their calling just to make sure they stay strong enough to fulfill that calling. What she is learning, after giving herself that much needed time to breathe, is that just by being who she is, she can help people, and she can love people. “I went into social work because I love people and I want to see families succeed, and whether in a direct field as a case worker, as a nanny, or even working in a coffee shop I can do that. I can be creative in and out of a ‘work’ setting. I can love people every time I encounter someone. I am ALREADY DOING IT. I am already living the life that I crave! How can I not find gratitude in that?”

I think what I love most about Allison is that she is a lover and a fighter. There aren't many people you can say that about in equal measure. Just like the ocean she loves so much, she has both a calming and empowering effect on people, and I see her shaping the lives around her in important ways.  I mean not that she’s perfect - she did once get a cell phone antenna stuck in her nose ring - but as humans go, she’s pretty amazing. And whether she chooses to keep nannying, or go back into social work, or become a painter (yet another one of her many talents), she will be using her powers for good, encouraging others and fighting for their right to be fought for. And sure, it sucks that there are villains out there to begin with, but how would we know heroism otherwise?  

Just because of who Allison is, the world is a better place. I hope she recognizes that no matter where she ends up, she can say "I am me," and that is pretty damn special. And I hope you know that I see you, Allison, and I am so proud of you.

xoxo

Jessi

 

As the "I Am Me" tradition goes, please leave Allison some words of encouragement below! If she gets 20+ comments I will gift her with a free 8x10 print. Show the love, people!

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here. If you would like to book an "I Am Me" session, or gift one to a friend or family member, please message me. I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great week everyone!

 

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) canon digital film i am me iamme jcpiamme jessi casara photography medium format nashville pentax 645n photography portrait tennessee http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/10/allison-i-am-me-nashville-tn Mon, 30 Oct 2017 19:59:05 GMT
Adelaide & The Sunflowers http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/10/adelaide-the-sunflowers I feel like the title of this post could totally be a band name, and moreover, there is no doubt in my mind that this curly-haired beauty could totally be a rock star. I've loved watching Ada grow up, and even when she was still in her Momma's belly, I knew she would be something special. Here are a few of my favorites with Miss Adelaide. Prepare to to have your face melted.

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama alabaster baby canon children digital families family field jessi casara photography photo photography portrait southern sunflower http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/10/adelaide-the-sunflowers Wed, 11 Oct 2017 14:00:00 GMT
Beach Session with the Walker Family | Gulf Shores, Alabama http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/9/beach-session-with-the-walker-family-gulf-shores-alabama The Walkers were one of those families I wanted to invite over for dinner after our session. They were so warm and friendly, and I had so much fun photographing them and documenting some of their family time at the beach. I sincerely hope I get to photograph them again. Here are a few favorites from our time together. Enjoy!

 

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here.

If you would like me to document some of your family time, please give me a shout. I'd love to hear from you! 

Have a great week!

xoxo,

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama baby beach beach pictures canon children digital fairhope families family family photo family photography film gulf shores jessi casara photography medium format orange beach photography portrait southern http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/9/beach-session-with-the-walker-family-gulf-shores-alabama Tue, 19 Sep 2017 19:28:28 GMT
Sarah Grace | I Am Me | Birmingham, AL http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/8/sarah-grace-i-am-me-birmingham-al Unless you live in Alabama, seasons change. Like people, they change...and yet they stay the same. They come around, year after year, consistent as the sun. Dependent on the sun.

Autumn is my favorite season. The changing leaves that come to us like the sunset - typical but miraculous. I love seeing the complexity and simplicity of everyday occurrences. We watch the sun set everyday, so serene and gentle, we almost forget the fire behind it.

I met Sarah Grace in college, through a mutual friend. She has one of the gentlest spirits you will ever meet. She is kind and compassionate and nurturing, and has that kind of beauty you can feel. She's the kind of friend that makes you feel at home no matter where you are, always acting hostess, offering hot tea and a warm hug to you after running through the rain. 

She had candles burning and a pizza in the oven when I got to her beautiful home in Birmingham, Alabama: a woman after my own heart. After hugs and "How have you been's" were exchanged, I was greeted with kisses from her furbaby, Denna. Not sure if you know this about me, but I LOVE dogs, so I welcomed her sloppy kisses gleefully.

It would be difficult to fully explain the love I saw between these two using words alone. I'm so glad, especially in this particular instance, that I have photographic proof to go alongside my sure-to-be-inadequate description of their relationship. Because Denna is not just her dog. She is her child, her best friend, her hiking partner, partner in crime, snuggle buddy, roommate and confidant. They love each other, and it truly goes both ways.


After pizza, tea, and plenty of puppy cuddles, Sarah Grace and I finally got to chat. I hadn't seen her in over eight years, but we got on as if no time had passed. Friendship can be like that sometimes. Time doesn't really do much if you don't let it.

What time had done, however, was give us a few more stories to tell, and a few more ways to tell them. For all of my talk of becoming a writer, Sarah Grace had actually gone and done the damn thing. After her year-and-a-half travels through the Western U.S., looking for home but never quite finding it, she returned back to where she grew up in Central Alabama. She learned a lot about herself and about life out there, and though she had so much to share, no one really asked her about the many stories and truths that she encountered. You know how that is...you travel to a beautiful place and when you get back everyone wants to know how the weather was and how big the mountains were; they don't seem to care about how big the life lessons were, or how stormy they may have been.

An unheard story can be a lonely feeling, especially if that story has helped to shape who you are. To abate that feeling, Sarah Grace decided to make her story into a novel, and after prayer, felt led to make it into a trilogy. So it was that The Highlands Trilogy was born, under the pen name of Samantha Myers, with Peponi as the first of the three.

In this beautiful allegory, the main character, Sarah, is running from a life of pain and a rule-rich religion, until she is led through a mystical door to the hidden world of Peponi. There she finds her heart both challenged and restored by its inhabitants, and most of all their King. As Chris Blackeby describes, "In the tradition of CS Lewis, and a life redeeming message reminiscent of "The Shack", Peponi will open your heart, even through the worst of life's pain, to the truth of His unquenchable love and your true identity in Him."

Walking through life is not easy, but as Julie Wright once said, "What doesn't kill us gives us something new to write about." And sometimes the only comfort is knowing that we're not in it alone. Writers are so special to me because they tend to be the gut-wrenching honest ones. The ones you can say anything to. The ones that shout the silent secrets no one is supposed to talk about. 

One of the hardest things a girl can do is love the girl she is. Or be the girl she is. Or accept the girl she is. One thing Sarah Grace has taught me is that loving yourself, and accepting yourself exactly as you are, is one of the greatest favors you can do, not just for yourself, but for everyone around you. You are who you are for a reason. We need you to be that way. I mean, if you don't do it, who else will?

Misty Copeland, the principal ballerina for American Ballet Theatre (and the first ever African American Female Principle in said company) said, "The best piece of advice that I remember probably on a daily basis is to accept everything about me that is different. That is what makes me special." If she had said "I'm too short to be a ballerina" or "I'm too old" or "I'm too muscular" or "I don't look like everyone else," where would she be right now? Not where she is, I'll tell you that. And where she is, is clearly where she is meant to be. Even though it didn't look "the same" didn't mean it wasn't "right."

Sarah Grace is also a ballerina. It makes sense for her to love a sport that so eloquently combines strength with tenderness. I sometimes hate that as women we think we have to choose between being strong or being gentle, as if those two things are mutually exclusive. We tend to forget you can be both a Warrior and a Princess. Moreover, we forget that you don't have to be the stereotype of either. You can be a Gentle Warrior. And you can be a Strong Princess.

After catching up with Sarah Grace, I continued my trek through North Alabama towards Nashville to see some other good friends I hadn't seen in a while. One is a mom, one's a social worker, one's a scientist, another an actress. We are all so different, but so integral in the part we play to each other.

I started this portrait series because the more people I have the honor of knowing, the more I realize how important it is to be who you are. The world is better for knowing Sarah Grace, for knowing the way she walks through her life with the kind of simple elegance befitting her name. For telling the secrets others are too ashamed, or too scared, to tell. Because as different as we may be, we all have a story to tell, and the greatest gift you can give is to share it. It may have taken a lifetime to get here, but it's never too late to give yourself a chance, and let others in on the secret that is you. Do that, and just maybe, your life too can be "La Vie en Rose."

To see more from my session with Sarah Grace, click here

And don't forget to show her some love! Please leave some encouraging words for Sarah Grace in the comment section below. If she gets 20+ comments, I am going to gift her with a free 8x10 of her choice. If she gets 40+ comments, I will not only gift her with an 8x10, but I will also gift one lucky commenter with their own complimentary "I Am Me" Session*. So spread the love y'all!

xoxo

Jessi 

 

 

*All photos copyright Jessi Casara Photography. Gifted sessions 35+ miles from the Silverhill, AL area may be subject to travel fees. 

 

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama author birmingham canon jcpiamme peponi photography portrait samantha myers sarah grace the highlands trilogy http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/8/sarah-grace-i-am-me-birmingham-al Wed, 30 Aug 2017 21:18:12 GMT
New Album Covers! http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/8/new-album-covers One of my favorite things to do as a photographer is work with other creative professionals. I had the pleasure of working with two local musicians in the last year, doing headshots, studio sessions, and, of course, their album covers!! I can't tell you how rewarding it is to see my photos donning these amazing albums!

 

Christina Christian is a southern Americana artist who has been playing along the Gulf Coast for the last five years. She also plays with local favorite, the Ole River String Band. As Perdido Key Local says, "Christina makes music that hits you right between the eyes." She is a girl after my own heart, chasing her dreams wherever they might take her. I was so honored to be able to take some photos for her, and even more honored when she chose to use them for her new album! To keep up with where Christina will be next, be sure to check out her Facebook page, or click here to check out her new album, Silent Sea.

 

Ken Lambert, or as I know him, "Daddy," is without a doubt my favorite musician of all time. He has been playing music my entire life, and then some. This newest album, "Growing Old Gratefully," is an ode to all that made him who he is today. A beautiful compilation of his favorite hyms and old-time gospel songs, it includes favorites like "I'll Fly Away" and "In the Garden." I'm so excited that I got to spend time with him during the production of this special album, and so honored that my photos are a part of it as well! Big thanks to Anthony and Savana Crawford of Admiral Bean Studio (and Sugarcane Jane) for their work on the production as well! To keep up with where Ken is going next, be sure to follow his Facebook page. To order this or any of his past albums, check out the Son Shine Ministries store.

 

If you are a local musician in need of some new photography to help promote your music, please get in touch with me! I'd love to work with you. Hope you all have a great week!

xoxo

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) admiral bean studio alabama album beach canon christina christian digital fairhope film florida foley gulf shores headshot jessi casara photography ken lambert medium format music musician perdido photography portrait southern http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/8/new-album-covers Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:19:48 GMT
Benda Family Beach Session | Gulf Shores, Alabama http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/8/benda-family-beach-session-gulf-shores-alabama This family was so much fun to photograph! We met on the beautiful beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama while they were in town vacationing a couple of months ago. It was right before sunset (my favorite time to photograph) so the light was perfect, and that, along with the beautiful blues and corals they were wearing and the sunset reflecting on the water and the sand dunes...just...ugh. It was perfect. Here are a few of my favorite moments!

 

Thanks again, Benda Family for letting me hang out with you! To see more from this session and to order prints, click here. If you would like me to capture some fun/special moments with you and your loved ones, please give me a shout! I'd love to work with you. Have a great week everyone!

 

xoxo

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama baby beach canon children digital families family film jessi casara photography kids medium format photo photography portrait session southern http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/8/benda-family-beach-session-gulf-shores-alabama Mon, 14 Aug 2017 18:06:10 GMT
Lacefield Family Beach Session | Gulf Shores, Alabama http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/7/lacefield-family-beach-session-gulf-shores-alabama I had such a lovely time photographing this beautiful family! It was a bit windy on the beach, but it made for a beautiful cloud filled sky, and lots of laughs!! Here are some of my favorite images from this session.

 

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here. If you are interested in having me photograph your family's stay at the beach, please give me a shout! I'd love to hear from you!

xoxo,

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama baby beach canon children digital fairhope families family film gulf shores jessi casara photography medium format orange beach photo photography portrait southern http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/7/lacefield-family-beach-session-gulf-shores-alabama Tue, 25 Jul 2017 22:28:16 GMT
Parham Family Beach Session | Orange Beach, Alabama http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/7/parham-family-beach-session-orange-beach-alabama The Parhams are one of my favorite families to photograph. I've had the pleasure of photographing them several times, from wedding days to family beach vacations, and I love seeing their family grow each year. Here are a few of my favorite moments from our session this summer. Can't wait to see you guys again when we've added three more to the mix!! 

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here, and be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more updates!!

If you or your family is looking for someone to document some of your special family time, please give me a shout! I'd love to help you capture some memories you will cherish for years to come!

 

xoxo

Jessi

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama baby beach canon casara photo children digital families family film foley gulf shores jessi casara photography maternity medium format photo photography portrait southern vacation http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/7/parham-family-beach-session-orange-beach-alabama Wed, 12 Jul 2017 17:06:19 GMT
Emily Mann | Fashion Blogger | Fairhope, Alabama http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/6/emily-mann-fashion-blogger-fairhope-alabama I always have a blast photographing this girl. She was one of the first people I ever photographed professionally, and we've both come a long way since then. We've been from the beach in Gulf Shores, to the cityscapes in Atlanta, but somehow we had yet to take advantage of Emily's quaint little hometown of Fairhope, Alabama. Wanting that Italian vibe so she could showcase her new dress from boohoo, we went to the Wine Bar at Pinzone's, and it was absolutely perfect. Shout out to Louie for the fantastic wine and bread sampler - we will definitely be back - and, as always, thank you to Emily for inspiring such a fun and beautiful session!

 

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here. Also be sure to check out Emily's website, www.fashionablyhuman.com, and her Instagram for more fabulous fashion and home decor!

xoxo,

Jess

 

Check me out on Facebook and Instagram for more!

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama blog blogger boohoo canon casara photo emily emily mann fairhope fashion italian italy jessi casara photography photography pinzones portrait roman rome wine bar http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/6/emily-mann-fashion-blogger-fairhope-alabama Wed, 28 Jun 2017 16:28:25 GMT
Carter Family | Perdido Beach, Florida http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/6/carter-family-perdido-beach-florida I can't tell you how much fun I had photographing this beautiful, blue-eyed family. I was a little worried I wouldn't get to, the weather being so unpredictable this time of year, and they were only here for a few days, but thankfully we were able to make it work, and I couldn't be happier. They were so much fun to work with; I hope we get to do it again for many years to come. Thank you, Carter family, for letting me hang out with you and document your time at the beach! Here are a few of my favorite images for our session.

 

To see more from this session and to order prints, click here. If you would like to have someone document special moments like these with your family, I'd love to help, so please give me a shout!

 

xoxo,

Jessi

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more updates on future sessions!

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama beach canon children digital families family film gulf shores jessi casara photography medium format orange beach photo photography portrait southern http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/6/carter-family-perdido-beach-florida Tue, 20 Jun 2017 14:00:00 GMT
Arthur Bosarge | I Am Me | Artist Promo & Headshot Session | Fairhope, AL http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/6/arthur-bosarge-i-am-me-artist-promo-headshot-session-fairhope-al I remember my grandmother trying to teach me how to play the piano when I was a little girl. We got as far as Yankee Doodle before I called it quits. It is absolutely mind-boggling to me, the amount of patience and skill that goes into learning the piano. I mean, you basically have to read two different languages, and interpret on two different hands, AT THE SAME TIME. Combine that with the ineffable ability to tell a story without words, to bring a feeling to life that you didn’t even know existed. And if done right, it seems effortless, though you are fully aware it is not. It’s simple and impossible at the same time. 

There's a unique power that comes with certain types of music. I’ve watched seasons change just by listening to someone play the piano. I've felt anger and despair, joy and hope. I've understood what someone was saying without ever hearing any words. Maria Cristina Mena once penned, “Piano keys are black and white, but they sound like a million colors in your mind.” It doesn't make any sense, but it does. And the people that bring these colors to life are special. They are patient and hard-working and diligent and passionate. They have to be. And like his instrument of choice, Arthur Bosarge has created a life both grand and bright. 

I first met Arthur in my hometown of Foley, Alabama while working at the Banana Republic outlet. No offense to any of my other co-workers, but no one could put together an outfit quite like Arthur, which makes sense, seeing how his favorite childhood memory is going to the mall with his mom. It always amazed me the way Arthur could bring to life a pair of outlet chinos with an cardigan and a neck scarf. Try as we might, none of us could pull off a look quite as well as Arthur.

Fast forward five years from our time at BR, and I am finally pursuing my career as a photographer and writer, while Arthur is living his dream as a professional pianist and music director for The Prizery in Virginia. He gets to spend his days playing piano and directing music for other talented singers, an inevitable occupation choice for him, since his reason for becoming a pianist in the first place was because he loved “the sound of unamplified singing” - plus, “the literature is wonderful.”

When Arthur came into town a couple of months ago for a visit, he asked me to take some new headshots for him. I happily obliged, not not only because I love photographing other artists, but because I knew Arthur would be the quintessential mix of sass and elegance and give my photos the type of depth only an intriguing personality can bring.

I was excited to find that his fashion sense had expanded even farther beyond his already impressive eye for style. He walked into Kudzu, our beautiful venue for his session, with a vintage, faux-fur coat and retro, round sunnies (which I woefully did not get a photograph of), and I knew I was in for a treat. We kept the outfits simple for the sake of his headshots, but you can’t deny the magic this man brings to film.

As thoughtful as he is witty, you really can’t spend time with Arthur without wanting more. He has a way of keeping you on your toes while making you feel like a friend, a solace for us socially awkward types. If he were to have a dinner party, the likes of Quentin Crisp, Tennessee Williams, and RuPaul would be at the top of his guest list (just below me, I’m assuming), and I know he would find a way to relate to them all, to make them laugh, make them think, and, if he were to play piano, possibly make them cry. I would love to photograph that dinner party, if I could.

I do hope I get the opportunity to photograph Arthur again one day, maybe another five years from now. Maybe I'll get to catch a show at the Prizery, or maybe he'll be playing on Broadway. Maybe he'll be in France. Whatever he is doing, I know he will be working hard to keep the art of piano alive and appreciated, and the world of fashion on its tip toes. Either way, I'm glad you've had a chance to meet him here.

If you'd like to find out more about what Arthur is up to next (trust me, you do), check out the Prizery's Facebook page here. And if you also regret the fact that I did not snap a photo of Arthur making his grand entrance at Kudzu (which I will literally regret for the rest of my life), you can see some of his epic selfies on his Instagram.

Thank you for the chance to photograph and spend time with you, Arthur. Keep doing what you're doing. And keep looking this good doing it. 

 

To see more from Arthur's session,  click here. If you are an artist in need of new headshots or promotional portraits, please give me a shout! I'd love to hear from you!

Last but not least, huge thanks to Megrez Mosher for opening up her studio to us! Kudzu Aerial is a gem, and for those of you who have never been to an aerial class, you should give it a try. Check out their website or Facebook page for more.

xoxo,

Jessi

Check me out on Facebook and Instagram for more updates and future sessions!

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casaraphoto@gmail.com (Jessi Casara Photography) alabama arthur bosarge artist fairhope film headshot i am me jcpiamme jessi casara photography kudzu photography pianist portrait promo http://www.casaraphoto.com/blog/2017/6/arthur-bosarge-i-am-me-artist-promo-headshot-session-fairhope-al Fri, 16 Jun 2017 17:03:43 GMT