Category: Life with J&M  |  View all recent posts

Fri. Jan 16, 2015 by Mary    Life with J&M

Where We Want to Go in 2015!!

When people ask Justin & I where we're going on vacation, the joke that we always say is "our couch!!"

That's because we already do SO much traveling for our job, that just the chance to stay home and spend some time not in motion IS a vacation for us! But I am a total Gemini (the twins- of two minds) when it comes to that. Because when we're traveling I can't wait to be home, and when we're home I can't wait to plan our next trip!

So even though Justin & I did list one of our 2015 goals as "to stay home more," there are still some really fun trips that we either want to take this year or in the very near future!

Here are a few that are topping our list:

*Go to Rome, Venice & the Amalfi Coast (we already have this one booked around an anniversary session we're doing over there!)
*Spend some time in Montreal (we already have this one booked too for another anniversary session! how fun is 2015 shaping up to be??)
*Scotland & Ireland (I've been before, but Justin never has. And neither of us has really gotten the chance to explore!)
*Our friends Liz & Ryan are doing this awesome cross country tour in an RV all this year for their Amazing Marriage Adventure, and we are SO hoping to meet up with them in a bunch of places! Topping the list are Alaska, Montana, and Mt. Rushmore. You can follow along with these guys & help sponsor their mission to help create amazing marriages by going HERE!!
*Take my Dad to see the redwood trees (he's a logger, he would love that!) and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway in California
*Bora Bora. This was where we wanted to go on our honeymoon, but ended up doing St Lucia because it was much more affordable. We LOVED St. Lucia! But Bora Bora has always stayed as the dream!
*New Zealand. I am DYING to go explore New Zealand.....and drink sauv blanc at the REAL Kim Crawford winery!
*Paris. We've been itching to go back for a while! It's been almost 10 years since we were there! Crazy!
*Yellowstone and/or Yosemite. I've never been to either and I would LOVE to see them!

**So those are some of ours! What about you guys? Where do you want to go this year?

Thu. Jan 15, 2015 by Mary    Life with J&M

Oh The Places You'll Go...

When I first picked up a camera, I never knew that it was actually going to be more like a passport for my life.

If you're new around here, there are a couple of things you need to know about me. The first is that I grew up in a trailer in southern West Virginia, where our most adventurous travel in my first eighteen years was an overnight trip to Tennessee. It was seven hours stuffed into the back of my mom's forrest green Buick Skylark, and we had no sooner crossed over the dotted blue line on the map than we we hit a giant deer. Or more to the point, the giant deer hit us. Ran broadside out of nowhere right into the driver's side door. I don't really know why that point matters, but it seems symbolic somehow and thus worth the clarification.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. After all, there were plenty of adventures to be had right there at home in West Virginia. And believe me, we chased them all. I think it's just that when you spend a significant portion of your life doing what's familiar and what's known, it creates this itch in you to go. Go out into the big blue blank canvas of the world. And see what you can see.

Now the second thing you need to know about me, remember I told you there were two, is that I went to law school before I became a photographer. No it was not the straightest shot to becoming a photographer. Yes, it would be nice to have the tuition money back. But no, I wouldn't change a thing. Because in the summer after my second year, law school brought me the world. It came in the form of a summer internship in London. And from there, everything changed.

Because it was on those cobblestone side streets, where Justin & I walked and talked of a life where we could travel like that and not spend twenty hours a day in a law firm conference room. We dreamed of a life of adventure. And ohhhh the places we could go. And the story we could write- our story-playing by our rules. And our dreams. And the kind of new chapters you can only write when you're willing to step out of what's familiar and what's known and turn the page on a blank canvas. To just go.

And see what you can see.

We made the choice to leap and start our business nearly ten years ago. And ohhhhh the places it has taken us. In honor of that leap, we got to thinking about all of the incredible things we have gotten to do and see because of our cameras. This job is a dream. It's something we truly don't deserve to get to do, but that just makes us all the more thankful for it everyday. God truly had a plan for the broken, winding road that brought us here.

And we can't wait to see where it goes next.


**So in honor of all that, here are 10 of our favorite memories of things we've gotten to see or do because of this thing we get to call a job!

One. It's taken us to the other side of the world, when we got to travel to Sydney and spend 9 amazing days there while we were teaching a workshop!

Two. It's taken us higher than we ever thought, when we got to do a shoot IN a hot air balloon over Napa!

Three. We got to spend a whole day on a sailboat in the blue, blue waters of Antigua thanks to our amazing couple Lauren & Gary!!

Four. We got to go back to London and walk those same streets when we went there to shoot an anniversary session!

Five. And while we were in London, we got to hop over to France and see one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen: the lavender fields of France!

Six. That week we got to spend in Santo Domingo when we were down there to shoot a wedding. Incredible!

Seven. Caught in the prettiest snow storm in Amsterdam when we were over there teaching!

Eight. That time we got to shoot ON Mountaineer Field. As a die hard WVU fan, this WAS my Oprah moment!

Nine. Meandering around Vienna after we finished teaching in Germany, where we got to see basically the prettiest library on the face of the planet!

Ten. And finally, getting to go up on the top of a rooftop around New Year's to see the ball before it dropped thanks to our amazing bride Jil who worked there!!

Whew! It was SO fun looking back through all of those! Stay tuned tomorrow when we list out our bHags (big, hairy, audacious goals) for the next places we hope to go in 2015!

**Until then, what are some of YOUR favorite places that you've either been or want to go?? Tell us in the comments below!

Wed. Jan 14, 2015 by Mary    Life with J&M

Our Florida Adventure: Part II Disney

Happy Wednesday!!

And now, Part II of our Florida adventure: two days chocked full of Disney fun!!

We've been to Disney before, but only ever to the Magic Kingdom. So this time we decided to do two full days of park-hopper passes and jump between the four parks of Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot & Hollywood Studios!

We started off walking around to all the different countries of Epcot and eating way, WAY too much!

Also, I apparently decided to dress like Minnie Mouse. :)

We hit up all of the countries and I have to say that Italy and France were definitely my favorite. I loved how all out they went with the set ups. Like the Venice gondola poles in the water!

We spent some time in Morocco with these cool arches! :)

And like I said, we did TONS of eating! Guacamole in Mexico, potstickers in Japan, Crepes in France and of course funnel cakes in America! I was REALLY excited about the funnel cakes!

We got to grab dinner (with some of the most delicious tortilla soup ever) in Mexico!

And then after ALL that eating, we decided it would be a good idea to hop over to Hollywood Studios to ride the Tower of Terror! Thankfully, we had an hour long wait or that could have ended badly! I just LOVE this ride! The whole concept (a broken down elevator in an old hotel that goes into the Twilight Zone) and the experience makes it so much fun!!

On the second day, we started off at Animal Kingdom!!

Where we saw Lions....and Tigers.....

....and cuddling baby elephants!! How CUTE are they?!

One of the very first things we did on Day 2 was ride the Everest ride! I LOVED it! So much fun & so many surprises along the way! We ended up going back to ride that one a second time!

Then we hopped back over to Epcot for some lunch! And more guacamole! :)

After Epcot we spent some time walking around the Magic Kingdom and riding some of our favorite rides: the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain & Pirates of the Caribbean.

And then it was BACK over to Epcot to watch the fireworks show there (we had watched the Magic Kingdom one the night before). Whew! I think you guys can see how we got in those 75,000 steps!

It was SUCH an awesome few days away! And now we're so happy to be spending some time at home and getting back in the groove of things!

Have an amazing day friends!

Mon. Jan 12, 2015 by Mary    Life with J&M

Our Florida Adventure: Part I

The first time I went to Universal's Islands of Adventure was on Spring Break in college. And I instantly fell in love with it! I mean, where else can you find in just one place an entire island dedicated to all things Seuss, one that feels like you walked into the real Jurassic Park, a street where you get to walk through comic strips, and some of the most fun rides ever (Spiderman & The Hulk) in Marvel Comic land. And they've since added a Harry Potter island. It. is. awesome!

You should probably also know about me that I am a total roller coaster junkie. I mean I grew up going to Cedar Point in Ohio almost every summer as a kid. And they take their roller coasters seriously up there. They have at least 10 amazing coasters that have been on the top 10 in the world list at one point or another. So basically what I'm telling you is, I don't mess around when it comes to theme parks!

We have been to a bunch of other ones, but none has captured my heart on the Cedar Point level quite like Islands of Adventure. So when we found out that we were going to be starting our 2015 wedding season off in Florida, we decided to make a whole trip out of it and drive three hours north to spend a few days at Universal and ALL of the Disney parks (I had only ever been to the Magic Kingdom). So we'll start this recap off with Part I at Universal!

Here's a really good insiders's tip for doing the Universal Parks (there are two: Islands of Adventure and the separate Universal one): buy the two park pass and splurge on the VIP pass for both. It puts you at the front of almost every line and saves you so much time that it makes it totally do-able to do both parks in one day! It's definitely an investment, but we do it every time we go (this was our third!) and we always have such an awesome day because of it!

Here's our recap from our Universal Day & note that all of these pictures are from our iPhones (we didn't feel like carrying big cameras). So please don't judge!! :) :)


We always like to start off in Seuss's a fun warm up before the bigger rides! And you get to hang out with the Cat in the Hat!

From there we make a quick pass through the Lost Continent island (no need to spend much time here) and make our way straight to the Harry Potter island. This place is unreal. This was our second time going to Hogsmeade and it still blows me away! It's 90 degrees outside, but you feel like you're in winter because everything is covered with snow. And the detail on everything from the store front windows, to the train to Hogwarts is really incredible.

Hogwarts Express!!

Mmmmmmm Butter Beer!!

Just look at this Hogwarts! Crazy! There are a couple of really fun rides in the Harry Potter island....the dragon one is our favorite!

From there, we meander on over to Jurassic Park and hang out with the T-rex! I still love this ride SO much!

Toon Lagoon with all of these thought bubbles on the streets! It's so true....we really did need a vacation after our vacation! 75,000 steps will do that!

From Toon Lagoon, we made our way on down to the Marvel Comic area to where Spiderman & Hulk are. And then we headed over to Universal to make the rounds there!

So this was a fun new addition since we had last been there....there are now TWO Harry Potter parks (one in each Islands & Universal....another good reason to get the two park pass!) This one is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it focuses on all the London scenes, like the triple decker bus and Diagon Alley.

How awesome is this??

The ride for Escape from Gringotts is just ok in my opinion, but the lead up to it is totally worth it! Just check out the interior of this bank!

After the Wizarding World, we took a ride on The Mummy, The MIB ride, Despicable Me, and Transformers. Then as it was starting to get dark, we made our way back over to Islands to end out the night right! And we got to see a really beautiful sunset on our walk back!

One more pass through Seuss Landing at night!

And then a big finale by making our way through all the best coasters: the dragons at Harry Potter, Spider Man & The Hulk!! Whew! It was an amazing time! We finished up with dinner at Margaritaville and then went to get some serious sleep for the two big days ahead. Stay tuned for Part II at Disney!

Sat. Jan 3, 2015 by Mary    Life with J&M

14 Highlights of 2014

Well, we certainly have started off 2015 with a bang! We didn't waste any time and actually hopped on a flight around 4pm on January 1st to fly to Florida to shoot our first wedding of the year. And boy oh boy was it amazing!! We actually won't be able to blog this one for a while (or maybe ever) as we have an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) on it....but you'll just have to take my word that it was INCREDIBLE! And such a cool way to kick off our year. Like I said to Justin at the end of the night, if this is any indication on how our year is going to go then I say BRING ON 2015!! :)

But before we get too far into this year, I think it's good to look back on the year we're just finishing up and remember how far we've come and all of the great things that happened. The truth is, last year wasn't a super easy year for us. It definitely wasn't a bad year and there were actually so many incredibly GOOD things that happened. But there were tough things too. Times that we felt stuck. Times that we felt like we were hitting brick walls. Times when other photographers got really brave in forums on Facebook that they thought we would never see. :) There were times that we felt stretched....and times that we felt stretched too thin. There were waiting times. And working too hard times. And times when we stopped taking care of ourselves the way we should.

In short, there are times when I catch myself thinking "whew, am I glad that's over with!" But the truth is, to think that is to do a big disservice to all the amazing things that happened last year. And it's also the truth that there will never be a year that's either all good or all bad. It's always going to be this beautiful, messy mix of the two. That's life. That's what makes it interesting. And the really cool part, is that we get to choose. We get to choose which part we remember. Which part we focus on And for me, I think I want to remember both. Because the tough times make those good times all the sweeter. And they remind us what we've come through. I've been doing a bible study with my friend Jane Johnson, and we just read this quote: "Two women sat behind prison bars, one saw mud the other saw stars."

Today, I think I choose to glance at the mud.....but gaze at the stars.

So in pursuit of that, here are 14 shining highlights of our 2014 that I never want to forget.

One. On January 3rd, we came out swinging and launched twin wedding blogs The Black Tie Bride &The Well Groomed Groom. And let me tell you, these blogs have taken off in ways we NEVER expected. So much so that we are actually going to be dedicating a MUCH bigger chunk of our time to them this year, which is just crazy to think about. We never expected that would happen so fast or even at all! And we just feel so grateful for that & all the amazing people who have shared weddings with us!

Two. In March we got to speak at WPPI for our sixth time and this one was extra special because we got to meet the incredibleKelly Lemon & Miss Vivienne Harr who started the "Make a Stand" Foundation where she started selling lemonade at a corner stand to end child slavery. How COOL is this kid?? It was a total highlight of my year being able to surprise her on stage with this check to help her reach her goal. To quote Viv, "Whoa, BIG check, little person!" :) :)

Three. Right after WPPI, we hopped a flight to Germany where we spent four weeks traveling the country and teaching photographers at four different stops. And afterwards, we hopped over to Vienna for a few days. Honestly sometimes I really can't believe this is real life. For a girl who barely traveled outside of the tri-state area growing up, this is truly living the DREAM!

Four. While we were in Germany, we got to go see THIS castle that I had been dreaming of visiting for over a decade since I saw it on the cover of a Europe travel book when I was in school. It was every bit as magical as it looks!

Five. We got featured not once but twice on Martha Stewart Weddings! It was enough to make me want to break out an apron and bake something! :) Whatever would make Martha proud!

Six. In April we flew to Antigua to shoot Lauren & Gary's gorgeous wedding and we absolutely fell in love with the place! Take me back to those blue, blue waters!

Seven. My annual birthday trip (Mary's Preppy Bday) to Nantucket! And our annual sail on the Endeavor with Captain Jim! For this trip we all rented a house together with a hot tub and an awesome grill area. And when I look at this picture I am just so grateful for these faces & so many amazing friends who have come into our lives!

Eight. Our J&M Summer Bucket List and hitting up all of our favorite places in New England with Cooper the Wonder Pup. Like this particular day when we had just had the best ice cream EVER in Kennebunkport, ME. Cooper was one happy pup!

Nine. Getting to head BACK to Nantucket in August to put on our Walk Through a Wedding workshop! Our trips to Virginia & Charleston for workshops also fall under this category!

Ten. Finally getting some decorating projects done around the house like our meeting room update and our navy compass wall!

Eleven. Our trip out West to Seattle and Portland. In particular we loved hitting up the lavender fields and taking a sail around Seattle!

Twelve Getting to do our year long video series with Profoto. This was truly a DREAM come true for us!! I can't really even describe how much this meant to us, but here was this company that we had looked up to for YEARS and to get to represent them for an entire year was just pinch me moment after pinch me moment! We just got to put together another video with them in December and it should be launching sometime this month, and I can't WAIT to share this one with you guys! We're so excited with how it turned out!

Thirteen. The Black Tie Bride shoot we did in NYC! This blue dress. Central Park. Our gorgeous model Liane. Need I say more??

Fourteen. And of course, no highlights list would be complete without Halloween and our totally epic (if I do say so myself!) Bill & Ted group costume! PARTY ON DUDES!!

Whew, that was fun! And you know what, just putting this list together had me smiling so big and SO grateful for all the good last year really did hold for us. And it just has me all the more excited for what's to come!

Here's to the mud AND the stars friends! I hope the first only points you second!

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