As a photographer, I feel so privileged to be a part of some of the most special moments in peoples' lives...especially when those people end up feeling like family, and I get to capture ALL of the important moments. Drew & Naomi (and now Noelle!) are those people.
I met Drew through a close mutual friend right as he and Naomi started dating. When they got engaged, he contacted me about photographing their wedding, which also included engagement photos that we took at an amazing winery in Williamsburg, VA. From our first photo session together, I knew that Naomi was the kind of person that I could definitely be friends with.
Their wedding in November of 2019 was nothing short of a fairytale, although I may be a bit biased because it took place at Mountain Lake Resort where my all time favorite movie, Dirty Dancing, was filmed.
It was while photographing their wedding day that I got to know Naomi even better....that tends to happen when you spend a couple hours in the bridal suite and are surrounded by all of the nervousness, excitement, and other emotions that come right before a wedding ceremony. It's also usually the time when a bride realizes that I'm not "just a wedding photographer," but also tend to become a key member of their support system for the day. At one point, I remember sitting on the bed while she was waiting until it was time to start getting ready and frantically scrolling through my phone as quickly as possible to ultimately find the perfect song for a last minute change to the father/daughter dance at the reception.
I can't even begin to describe how amazing their wedding and reception were... there was such an overwhelming abundance of love in the room from their family and friends... and the kind of love that Drew and Naomi have is something that doesn't come along very often. It didn't help my crying behind the camera issue when one of the songs they incorporated into their ceremony was my own wedding song from almost 15 years ago.
Fast-forward to February when one night I received a Facebook message from Naomi that said "so...umm, what are you doing the first week of March?" I jokingly responded with, "You're pregnant?" She said "It's still super early and nobody knows, don't tell Drew I told you but I had to tell someone and I know you can keep a secret." (Ironically for that exact reason, I tend to always end up being the first person to be told someone is pregnant if I haven't already sensed it...what can I say, it's a "gift."
Although I was taking a break from photographing new clients because my husband was gone for the majority of the last 3 years, we did some fun "surprise!" pregnancy announcement photos in March that also incorporated Drew's beloved car and a Corona to represent 2020.
Because of the restrictions that were in place due to Covid precautions, Drew was unable to attend Naomi's first few OB appointments and there was a chance he wouldn't even be able to be at the 20 week appointment where they'd find out the gender. Because of that, I surprised them with a 16 week 3D/4D gender reveal session at a local, private ultrasound office. Knowing they wanted to incorporate Drew's car doing a burnout into their "Facebook Official gender reveal," I learned really quickly that morning how to make colored "burn-out powder" using cornstarch, food coloring, and a lot of time drying it out in the oven during the few hours before and during their ultrasound appointment. I live fairly close to where there appointment was, so I left a baggie of blue powder and a baggie of pink powder in my mailbox for them to put under Drew's back tire for the big Facebook Live reveal when they got home, and in return they left me a clue as to what they were having...once again and coming full circle... being the first to know, and yet somehow even already knowing, I still cried watching their gender reveal on my phone (but was also super stoked that the powder actually worked!)
My husband was deployed the majority of 2020 so I was desperately trying to stay as busy as possible and after learning that Drew has the same DIY mentality that I do, when I found out he was planning to surprise Naomi with a fully decorated nursery, I asked if I could help to add a "female touch" to it to ensure it included all of the "girly aspects" that a new mom would want. Over the course of the next few months, Drew and I worked together to create the most gorgeous nursery for Naomi and their sweet little princess, which included custom built pieces by him (by the way, check out his page Custom Built by Drew for your woodworking needs!) and an amazing geometric accent wall in the lilac, grey, and white colors he chose. I handmade giant paper flowers in the same colors to go on one side a wooden name sign I had custom made that would hang over the crib next to a wall mural of a giant 7' tree Drew painted using an incredibly complicated (sorry Drew!) stencil I created for him. Being a graphic designer (with an Etsy shop), I designed a few prints for him to hang around the room and also created a custom crib sheet and changing pad set to go with the theme. I made sure he had a few last minute little details to add that I knew Naomi wanted, including "something sparkly"....which I incorporated by coating a geometric vase with silver glitter and filling it with a mini flower arrangement version of the paper flowers I'd made for the wall, and then had him finish the room off with a white faux fur rug in front of the crib. Once again, I cried (becoming a common theme here!) when I watched the family and friends Facebook Live nursery reveal to Naomi, even though I'd already seen all of the pictures Drew sent to me throughout the incredible process he spent bringing his design concept to life in between working full time and other projects he had going on. We also managed to pull off a surprise baby shower a few months later with the help of some other friends!
Finally in mid-October, I got to meet their sweet princess Noelle when I did their newborn photos and she was every bit as beautiful as I imagined she would be. Unfortunately due to the "quarantine life" we've all been stuck in, I had only been able to see her one other time before last week when we got together to take some updated family and 6 month photos of Noelle and I was in awe of how much she's grown!
My point to all of this rambling is that you never know where something as simple as a "Will you photograph our wedding?" inquiry will lead... and in this case it led to two amazing friends who have basically become family, and getting to be "Auntie Lauren" to such a beautiful little girl.
I'll start with a compilation of an image from each session I've done with them, and I hope you love the most recent photos as much as I do! Love you Naomi and Drew!