sibling and child wedding dress session | tulsa family photographer

HI! After an extremely long Facebook and blogging hiatus I am BACK! Planning a wedding is no joke, folks. I almost didn’t survive that insanity!

It’s only appropriate that my first back-in-the-saddle session be of my maid of honor’s children!

We have been planning to do pictures of her daughter in her wedding dress since she found out she was having a girl (4 years ago….).
It was worth the wait!

I might or might not have cried when Laylah got in the dress. I can neither confirm nor deny this….

MOMS: you absolutely MUST do this with your daughter. Even if you do it yourself. How incredible will it be to have these pictures at her wedding one day (in 40 years)? ๐Ÿ˜‰


DIY addict

When I’m not at my full time job, or doing shoots, or at CrossFit, or cooking…..I love to do home projects.
Very much like my photo shoots, when I see a piece of furniture that I want to re-finish, I know what the end result will be before I start.
Craigslist and antique stores are full of amazing steals. I haggle with the best of them ๐Ÿ˜‰
When Rachel from The Organic Bloom contacted me about doing a post for OB, she recommended something personal, like sharing all my crazy projects!
I have blogged some of these before with in-depth tutorials. As I get back into the swing of blogging I wanted to do a post showing my work that isn’t as detailed.
I hope you all enjoy!

PS? I REALLY love grey. Don’t judge me!

antique hutch wood distressing tutorialI got this 1950s pie hutch for $130 {talked down from $220} from a local antique store. I took it apart, lightly sanded the entire piece by hand, then spray painted it that gorgeous cream color. Yes, spray paint. No brush stroke marks, dries 1,000 times faster, and who doesn’t love spray painting? After the few coats dried I did some sanding to bring through the color underneath. I admittedly got wayyyy too heavy on the sanding. But David loved it and didn’t want me to change it. I also spray painted the hardware with a rubbed oil bronze spray paint so I could keep the original pieces but update them {who likes GOLD?!}. Gave the entire piece a coat of polyurethane protectant {spray paint, of course} and FINISHED! It now houses most of my newborn props+blankets.
Full post on pie hutch:ย
chalkboard calendar tutorialI love organization. I need it. I never knew how busy life would get as I got older. I don’t even have kids. How you Moms manage to do it all is a miracle to me!! Hence my chalkboard calendar! I took the measurements of this wall to Lowe’s and had them cut plywood to fit it. I did 3 coats of magnetic primer, 2 coats of chalkboard paint, painstakingly measured out the calendar and drew it on in chalk. Then I painted over that with paint, screwed it into the wall, glued a piece of cork to the bottom for our bills, spray painted a can and hung it next to the board to hold the chalk. I made the magnetic dates with wooden circles by spray painting them red, placing numbered stickers on them, covering them in mod podge, and gluing magnets to the back.
Full post on calendar here:
living room staircase wall grey paintThe turquoise wall was what I did when we initially moved into the house. At the time I LOVED how different it was and that it popped. I got that red (originally raw wood) table off Craigslist and painted it. The little suitcase bed is what I made for our cat, Macaroni {see in the picture below} One day I walked by the wall and realized that it was just too loud and looked…cheap. SO! Onward! I found the 3-drawer sofa table on Craigslist {listed for $75 bought for $40}. I took the pulls off, spray painted them with rubbed oil bronze spray paint, and painted the piece with Annie Sloan paint.
See my adorable Bloomies?!? I can’t get over how timeless they are!
table and chairs refinishingNot much to say here! I saw this table+chair set on Craigslist {$100} and KNEWย that underneath that dark glossy finish was some gorgeous wood. I sanded everything down with an orbital sander and did 6 coats of polyeurathane, using steel wool and tac cloths in between each coat. Eventually I want to paint over the black with white….but not anytime soon!
antique dresser turned media consoleMy most recent project and the biggest. I have been looking for a french provincial dresser, specifically with 9 drawers, for quite some time. The ones I have seen around Tulsa are always over $500 and I’m not willing to pay that for something I plan to completely overhaul. This one was listed for almost $300 but she sold it to me for $150. BAM!
It doesn’t look very big in this picture, but that’s a 60″ TV mounted over it. The dresser itself is 5′ long.
I sanded the hideous gloss off the top, stained it, and did a protective coat over it. Then I removed the absolutely filthy drawer pulls with the intention of washing them but the water ate the finish off them leaving me green hardware. Rubbed oil bronze spray paint to the rescue {again}! My plan, and the reasoning for wanting 9 drawers, was to turn it into a media console. The slats you see the cable box and speakers sitting on were already there when I pulled the drawers out! WIN! I was dreading having to do that myself! I used Annie Sloan paint and wax to paint and protect the piece with.
Full post on dresser here:
antique desk refinishIsn’t this desk gorgeous?? My parents surprised me with it for my birthday last year. I debated over painting it because I love the hand detailing. But the weird leather that was glued to the drawers was coming off and it ruined the wood when I removed them. I covered the leather desk top with painters tape and used an exact-o knife to cut around the edges. I did 2-3 coats of grey spray paint and a few coats of spray poly protectant. Oh, and I tossed those gross knobs and replaced them with over sized ones. This now houses my photography packaging and miscellaneous wedding junk ๐Ÿ™‚
grey bathroom remodel pictures2013-05-11_0004.jpgI really just wanted to show you that I meant it when I said I love grey ๐Ÿ˜‰
organic bloom frame

I wanted to show some special love to my sweet little Organic Bloom frames. We have a main (read: huge) wall in our living room that remains bare. After our October wedding this fall, I plan to cover that wall in OB frames. The Organic Bloom is just down the road from my house so I’ll probably drag some of their sweet staff to my home so I can get some help planning the entire thing ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope you have enjoyed this! After re-reading the post I realize it seems like I have a LOT of extra time on my hands!! HA!

PS- Don’t forget about the logo giveaway I’m hosting through May 19th!!


Bree - May 13, 2013 - 7:41 AM

I’m totally inspired! I always want to do these DIY projects but they seem so overwhelming. I love all the character these pieces have! And I love grey, too!

Alice H - May 17, 2013 - 11:42 AM

What did you do with that little red desk? Can I buy it from you for $40? LOL! You do a great job at making things look better!!! Love your entertainment center and pie hutch!!

I quit photography…..kind of.

Truth be told, December 2012 I honestly thought I was quitting photography.

I turned clients away.

I stopped posting on Facebook.

I stopped following most photographer’s pages.

I didn’t have a session for FOUR months.

I took pictures of my dog….and pig ๐Ÿ˜‰


It is SO easy to get caught up in this industry and let it run your life. I was spending every waking moment scouring the internet for new ideas, Facebooking, pinning, blogging, finding new locations to shoot, answering emails, looking for templates, reading blog after blog of photographers I admire, looking into new equipment, buying props and things I truly didn’t need, and it seemed to never end. I have a full time job at a medical school, I try to CrossFit after work 3-5 times a week, I am planning a wedding, and I have a fiance’ at home who I like to see when he’s not at HIS full time job, in school, or at CrossFit with me. I think I had a minor photography-related break down. I told my close photog friends that I was finished. That I was NEVER shooting again…other than my few pre-paid 2013 sessions. And God love them, they supported me. They said that while they hoped I changed my mind that in the bigger scheme of things I had to do what made me happy and in that moment photography was only weighing me down.

For 4 months I did nothing and everything. I didn’t have to plan anything around my shoots. My weekends were completely free. I slept in, stayed up late, went out of town, and didn’t touch my laptop. I did TONS of DIY projects at home and read until my little bookworm heart was content. It was like photographer rehab for meย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Then I had a long withstanding session I had do in March. I got anxious, sick to my stomach, and didn’t want to go. Lo and behold, the session was incredible and it felt SO good to be shooting again! I talked to my best friend about it and she encouraged me to always do what made me happy but to keep it on my terms. If I want to take on a session then do it. If it’s not the right time, be willing to refer out.

From now on I will schedule “closed” times for myself, and I encourage everyone to do this. For me, no shoots in July-August {when you can chew the air in Oklahoma from the heat+humidity} and no shoots for a few months after Christmas. Exceptions can be made {that’s the beauty of it all} but it’s important we don’t let this take us over.

DO NOT let this crazy beautiful business weigh you down and keep you up at night.


You can say no.

You can put YOU before your clients….and they will understand.

You can take time off!

I am taking on limited clients for 2013. With an upcoming wedding I just can’t mentally afford to overwhelm myself.
Have you planned a wedding?! I want to rip my hair out on a daily basis. No one should care THAT much about whether or not the corners of an invitation are rounded. THAT is my life right now. Be jealous.

I am also going to be changing my pricing structure sometime later this year. If I’m going to make this work I have to make it work for ME.

Please remember at the end of the day that this is a job. It is not your LIFE.

Be happy. Choose happiness. Choose yourself.



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Jessie Hartford - May 7, 2013 - 9:34 AM

Amy, this is so very well said. You are doing exactly what is right for you, and that is to be admired!

Lora - May 7, 2013 - 10:54 AM

Amen, sister! It’s good to see you back on your own terms.

Pam Smith - May 7, 2013 - 11:12 AM

I am not a photographer but I totally understand! Sometimes you just have to take a break! When a passion becomes a “dread” it is time to walk away for a while until you are ready to pursue the passion and not the work!

Em Green - May 7, 2013 - 11:21 AM

I agree completely!! I had a short break earlier this year, and treasured every moment! It makes you appreciate the work you *do*, AND the time for yourself. (Especially once you have kids–it makes things soooooo much crazier!) You put it so well! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ <3!-Em

Cris Passos - May 7, 2013 - 11:22 AM

That’s great Amy, do it for YOU!!!

Christine - May 7, 2013 - 11:23 AM

Amen Sister. I feel like I slept through about 2 years while I was starting my business. I feel like I never saw my kids, my little boy went from being 2 to 4 while I was asleep (working my ass off). Not worth it. I love my job, I love my clients, but I can’t give up my LIFE and my KIDS & my HUSBAND for it. No more.

Melissa C - May 7, 2013 - 11:38 AM

Great post ! I get that way sometimes too ! You are fortunate not to have to rely on the income from photography and can just keep it something you enjoy. Btw, love the pics of the dog and pig !

Jacqueline - May 7, 2013 - 12:05 PM

this was exactly what I needed to hear! I am finding balancing shoots and edits and my husband and kids and everything else so overwhelming. I forget that I have the ability to slow down if I choose to. It’s my choice.
Thanks for the reminder!!

KIM DANLEY - May 7, 2013 - 12:11 PM

CAN I GET AN AMEN!!!!… i have already done the same with my june-august schedule… have blocked out like three weeks (one will be catch up before i completely take two weeks OFF)… also making some changes to my fall schedule… we do tend to let others control our schedule at times… glad i realized this and made it STOP!!.. kuddos to you!!

rachel s - May 7, 2013 - 12:36 PM

It sounds more like having 2 jobs is your frustration, not photography, which you realized you love. anyone with 2 jobs would get frustrated like you, having no time for significant others, diy projects and ‘you’ time. photography is my only job (other than stay at home mom) and unlike you planning around your shoots, i plan my shoots around my life. i love it!

Sherri M - May 7, 2013 - 12:57 PM

I think that is awesome Amy! I actually did quit. ๐Ÿ™ It was to much for me right now! My kids desperately need me and my family was being put on the back burner. I’ve also stepped away from FB for the last 3 weeks and it’s been the best decision I ever made! It’s so important to be able to realize when it’s time to cut back or put certain things on hold in your life to make time for ourselves or our loved ones. Being a stay at home mom, I had to take a step back and remember the real reason I chose to stay at home……for my children!

Ashley - May 7, 2013 - 2:09 PM

I am so selfishly glad you didn’t quit, but would have completely understood if you did. I quit baking and a part time evening job because I finally understood that just because I had time to do more didn’t mean I actually HAD to do more. Enjoy your time with those precious little furry kiddos and that amazing dancer fiance you have. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jessica Harris - May 7, 2013 - 2:14 PM

I will be working on a similar post soon. You know why. I love you for always following your heart and encouraging others as well!!

Abby Hacker - May 7, 2013 - 2:28 PM

Nicely said! Way to go…always stand up for yourself! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sonja Jones - May 7, 2013 - 8:30 PM

Good for you! This is something that I learned years ago, always have “me” time.
I’ve been away from the film industry too long but with my hubby’s circumstances it can’t be helped. When he is better I’ll be jumping back in with both feet, or maybe I’ll do a big cannonball! ๐Ÿ™‚
I love looking at your pictures, your DIY projects and reading your posts. Can’t wait to see more, when you’re ready.

Jennifer - May 7, 2013 - 8:39 PM

I did the EXACT same thing… I quit in December after a grueling Fall season. I was done, burned out. I had put my husband and daughter on the back burner along with everything else. It was too much! I quit not thinking I would go back but after several months I missed it and just in the last week started back BUT on my own terms which includes very few sessions compared to what I did before. We just have to learn to say NO sometimes!

Sharna Waksmulski - May 7, 2013 - 8:50 PM

Congrats to you! so much of the time we feel like we have to give & give & give and have yet to learn when its OK to say *NO*. I had a hard enough time with my wedding plus 1 full time job, let alone 2 and working out!! Weddings are also a special kind of stress and pressure as well. Having then to deal with booking, clients editing etc… I don’t blame you!!

When you reach a place where you are comfortable with the bookings you have its OK to say once a month, or only these months, or only weekends or what have you.

It should also be ok to adjust your pricing based on what you feel is necessary to reflect your new outlook.

Jessica - May 8, 2013 - 1:05 AM

Thank you so much for posting this! I am not a photographer, but this spoke to me on so many other levels. I am pushing myself so hard at school work right now, and lately I feel like I am falling apart at the seams. I am also raising four kids, have housework, yard work, etc. For two years I kept it all together, then last month, I just fell apart. Didn’t turn any assignments in (huge anxiety, couldn’t complete anything), and just lost it. I think, like you, a four month break would allow me to go back into it with a different mindset. Thanks for being willing to put yourself out there and be raw. Not everyone is able to say “I am done!” You did just that. For yourself. I need to do the same. Even if it’s just for a few months. The similarity in your situation and mine is a ton of stress. Right now is a super stressful time for both of us. ๐Ÿ™‚ In a year you will look back and be proud. Hoping I will do the same. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Deirdre - May 8, 2013 - 10:52 AM

Thank you for this post! That’s where I am right now, and this gave me comfort because I’m also in a state of shock—I LOVE photography and normally shoots and editing and all of it were what GAVE me energy. But right now, I’m just drained by it all. I’m stepping back, taking time and hoping to fall in love with it all again.

(And, as a bride about to celebrate her 20th anniversary I can’t resist giving my favorite wedding advice —pick three things wedding details to care about, make them a priority and then let the rest go. For me, it was the Father-Daughter dance, the church songs, and including a bit of my heritage. The rest we just decided but didn’t get hung up on the choice—the most important decision, who to marry, has already been made. I give thanks I got married in the pre-pinterest days; it has the potential to make you nuts. All the best!)

Gina - May 8, 2013 - 12:53 PM

Thank you for posting this. I’m still hard working at it. My youngest is graduating this year and it will be an empty nest. Yes, I’m remarried and just recently planned the wedding! Had to put A LOT of this on hold to get it done! I understand the hair pulling. I have to say I did enjoy my time off planning and some days it’s hard for me to get motivated but I’m still very much IN LOVE with this thing we call PHOTOGRAPHY. <3 Follow your dreams girl!

Devin - May 8, 2013 - 1:10 PM

I am there with you my friend!!! Just went through that…yes and thank you

DIY Refinished Antique Dresser

Most of these pictures were taken with my point and shoot or my cell phone. Don’t judge me.
I’m going to start this post by shamelessly showing you what our living room looked like BEFORE…. For this, you can judge me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ever since David and I bought this house (our first) last year I have made my primary focus cosmetic upgrades. I re-painted both our bathrooms, re-did the cabinets in the bathrooms and laundry room, painted the living room, dining room, entry way, staircase, kitchen, and most recently took off all our kitchen cabinets, repainted the doors+drawers+cabinets, and re-installed everything with new hardware. I’m exhausted thinking about it! HA! {PS? I recommend mass quantities of wine for a kitchen overhaul!}

One of my goals for 2013 is to post more DIY tutorials. I am constantly re-doing furniture and love sharing tips!

Anywho. Back to my previously-embarrassing living room. Now that I am finished with a good portion of the cosmetic upgrades I am shifting my focus on turning our house into a home. We are getting married in 10 months {EEEEP!!!!} and I want our sweet little home to feel welcoming…..and not so much like a college dorm.

So here you have it. The embarrassing BEFORE that was our living room for over a year! EYE SORE!

living room before pictureMy amazing $150 Craigslist score!
french provincial antique dresserHere is everything I used to re-do the dresser! This was my first time using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It’s a special kind of paint that bonds to any surface and eliminates the need for sanding and/or priming.
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – Pure White
Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax and Annie Sloan Wax Brush (that crazy looking up-right brush!)
Minwax Dark Walnut Stain
Minwax Polycrylic – Clear Satin
Rustoleum Bronze Spray Paint
Purdy sash paint brushes
tack cloths
Elmer’s Wood Filler
The black piece of equipment in the back is an electric orbital sander my Dad let me borrow :::cough::: about a year and a half ago ๐Ÿ˜‰
Other than the Annie Sloan supplies, I already had everything else. I do a LOT of projects and crafting!

painting suppliesThe top of the dresser was pretty beat up and looked rough…. But I knew under all that beat up glossy finish that there was some gorgeous wood!
top of antique dresseraaaaaaand I was right!! SWOON!
{please note the spray paint stains all over our garage floor. poor David had no idea what he was getting himself into when he first told me it was no big deal that I spray painted some things in there! HA!!}
top of antique dresser after sandingAfter getting the top sanded and stained I did a layer of the clear wax and it looked AWFUL. You are supposed to be able to use it on painted OR raw wood as a finish. You can’t tell in this picture but it came out extremely cloudy. After a lot of sanding {and cussing.} I decided to do several {read:5} layers of the polycrylic just on the top for an even finish.
antique dresser without drawersThis is after my first coat of paint and one coat of poly (poly ONLY on the top). I did NO sanding to the body or drawers of the dresser. Only the top.
antique dresser progress picture After several poly coats. LOVE how the dark walnut turned out. I was iffy as I had never used it before!
dark walnut minwax on antique dresserOur new media console!! The boards that you see the surround sound and cable box sitting on were already in the dresser. WINNING!
When I took the handles off the drawers to paint I decided to soak them since they were filthy. That ended up ruining their finish and turning them GREEN. Enter the bronze spray paint!
antique dresser turned media consoleSOOOOO much better!! We decided to move our other TV upstairs and got a new 60″. We ran the cables behind the wall to prevent anymore dorm room resemblances! We are going to run the other cables behind the wall…I was just too impatient and wanted to take a picture so I could blog this ๐Ÿ˜‰
This picture really scales the size down. The dresser is 65″ long!
antique dresser in living room as media console
Now to start re-doing one of our spare rooms…..

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Bev - February 1, 2013 - 10:51 AM

this turned out very nice

Angela Ashcraft - February 1, 2013 - 11:23 AM

This is so beautiful! A lot of hard work looks like it paid off in the end. Nice!

courtney jade - February 1, 2013 - 11:33 AM

LOVE this!! You are so crafty, it’s wonderful!! Can’t wait to see more of your DIY Projects!!!

Judy Rees - February 2, 2013 - 1:47 PM

What an inspiration!

DIY addict - May 13, 2013 - 9:09 AM

[…] I used Annie Sloan paint and wax to paint and protect the piece with. Full post on dresser here: Isn’t this desk gorgeous?? My parents surprised me with it for my birthday last year. I […]

[…] My most recent project and the biggest. I have been looking for a french provincial dresser, specifically with 9 drawers, for quite some time. The ones I have seen around Tulsa are always over $500 and Iโ€™m not willing to pay that for something I plan to completely overhaul. This one was listed for almost $300 but she sold it to me for $150. BAM! It doesnโ€™t look very big in this picture, but thatโ€™s a 60โ€ณ TV mounted over it. The dresser itself is 5โ€ฒ long. I sanded the hideous gloss off the top, stained it, and did a protective coat over it. Then I removed the absolutely filthy drawer pulls with the intention of washing them but the water ate the finish off them leaving me green hardware. Rubbed oil bronze spray paint to the rescue {again}! My plan, and the reasoning for wanting 9 drawers, was to turn it into a media console. The slats you see the cable box and speakers sitting on were already there when I pulled the drawers out! WIN! I was dreading having to do that myself! I usedย Annie Sloan paint and waxย to paint and protect the piece with. Full post on dresser […]

Adorable Family Pictures in Tulsa, Ok

This is my second year to do this amazing family’s pictures! Last year it was close to 30 degrees and I had to photoshop out tears caused by the wind that was so brutal. Thankfully mother nature was kind to us this time around, and although it was a tad bit chilly, we had a blast! Gavin and Olivia are SO well behaved and swoon over their parents. I don’t know who is luckier ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lora - January 22, 2013 - 11:20 AM

Wow, those kids are so cute! Great job, as always, Amy. That last shot is amazing!

Jim Bundy - January 24, 2013 - 9:57 PM

Fantastic pics of a wonderful family. All so beautiful and great composition. I can feel their inner beauty. Love them all. Their OPA and Dad. Jim

Kara - May 15, 2013 - 12:32 PM