We are so honored to photograph this precious couple. Andrew and Jolyn met at Southeastern University in 2007. Andrew thought Jolyn was out of his league, and she thought he was cute… but neither made a move! Fast forward to 2012, they met again at the wedding of their two best friends. Days after the wedding, they finally started talking, but it took a year of countless phone calls and texts before they began their crazy long distance relationship between Florida and Texas.
The proposal was a complete surprise for Jolyn. She shared with us about how it happened, and how shocked she was!
“I thought that he was going to propose on our third anniversary, on New Years Eve, but when that didn’t happen I figured it would be sometime after my birthday in June. Well, Andrew flew out for Valentine’s Day weekend and when I picked him up from the airport, he told me that we were going to out and that I needed to dress up. I wasn’t feeling the best and told him that we really didn’t need to dress up super fancy for the restaurant but he told me that I have complained that we don’t get dressed up for dates anymore so I had to wear a dress. (So thankful that he made me dress up!) On the way to the restaurant he took me to Lake Alice, and my best friend Madeline was there. I should have guessed something was up but I was convinced that he wasn’t going to propose anytime soon so a proposal never crossed my mind. Andrew told me that for my Valentine’s Day present, we were going to take couple’s photos and that he wouldn’t complain. This is a BIG deal because he HATES taking pictures. I had been begging him for months to take cute couples pictures and he always told me no. We walked around the lake, and I kept telling him where to stand and to use his real smile. When we were in this little secluded spot he kissed my head and told me that he loved me. I told him that I loved him too, and then out of nowhere he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I, of course, started crying and said yes!”
Jolyn and Andrew are planning a Rustic-themed wedding with romantic elements and tons of flowers. They want an organic feel because they’d like it to represent their personalities. “We love to be outside. Some of our favorite activities include skiing/snowboarding, being on the lake, and working out. We both love to go out dancing and being with friends and family,” shared Jolyn. After talking with Jolyn and hearing her describe the vision for the wedding, she reminds me (Kristin) more and more of Joanna on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”. Jolyn comes from a family of builders and she can handle her fair share of demo, painting and remodeling. I have no doubt this “do it yourself” bride is going to impress friends and family with her creativity and skill!
We are so excited to photograph these two saying “I DO!” this coming January at Rembert Farms in Alachua, Florida. When we asked Jolyn how she would describe her and Andrew’s relationship, she replied, “Sarcastic, funny, and full of love!” We can tell this wedding is going to be an incredible amount of fun. When we first heard that Andrew “hated” pictures we considered it an absolute challenge! After the session, Jolyn texted me (Kristin) and said that Andrew actually had enjoyed himself. Victory!
Jolyn and Andrew, thank you for giving us the privilege of capturing your love story. It’s going to be an exciting few months ahead for you guys and we’re honored we get to share it with you!
We’re excited to share a fun and different senior session with you today. Ethan graduated from Eastside High School and wanted to do something that suited his lifestyle and personality instead of the traditional senior poses. His mom Molly and I (Kristin) brainstormed how to make the session comfortable and true to Ethan, an avid outdoorsman. We decided upon an area that we have not photographed at very often… private property owned by Paul’s parents. The property sits right near Payne’s Prairie and has a similar marshy forest atmosphere, perfect for a jeep, a gun, a hunter and loyal bloodhound.
When we described the feel Ethan was going for to Paul, he got very excited. It’s always a fun challenge to create a custom session suited for a special client. We have known and loved Ethan’s family for a very long time and sincerely wanted to make this an extra special experience for all of them. Ethan, Paul seriously enjoyed every minute of photographing you and Rose. We wish you an incredibly successful year ahead and we’re honored we could photograph your senior portraits!
We say it a lot, but it’s so very true… photographing families is a treasure and we are always so grateful every time we get asked. To capture a milestone in a family’s life that in an instant will change is a responsibility we take very seriously. The family we’re sharing with you today is one that couldn’t be any cuter or more special to us. Missy and her boys, Connor and Logan, are now some of our very close friends. We first met Connor as a teammate on Win’s, our oldest son’s, baseball team. While Paul coached the older boys, Logan and Brasher would dig in the dirt by the dugout and Missy and I (Kristin) had a solid hour to just talk. (Moms know how rare and wonderful this time is!)
Now Logan and Brasher play t-ball together and Connor and Win continue to play for “Coach Paul”. We get to see these guys 3 or more times a week during the season and we love every minute of it. I’m going to brag a bit on Missy now and I hope she’s ok with it. Missy, you are one of the strongest and bravest women I know. I am always blown away by how much you do for your boys while still managing to maintain a great career. You challenge me and remind me that while life delivers us unexpected turns, that it’s still our choice to be the mothers and women we want to be. You are an incredibly impressive individual and I am so grateful you are my friend. It was an absolute honor to photograph your beautiful family. Our family adores you!
Today’s post is just a short update about what’s happening in our personal lives that we’re really excited about. Paul and I (Kristin) decided to homeschool our boys this year. You may be like, “Wait? What?!” Sound impossible when Paul and I also work full time? Well, it would be impossible if it wasn’t for Nana, Paul’s mother… and Pop too for agreeing to this crazy adventure!
For the last three years, our oldest, Win, attended Cornerstone Academy, a school where he went to three days a week then we homeschooled the other two. We decided to do this because we work most Saturdays and it’s hard to imagine only having one full day a week with our boys. For those of you who don’t already know this about Paul, he and his 6 siblings were homeschooled all the way from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Because homeschooling was already a big part of our family, Cornerstone was an amazing fit and we loved every minute of it.
But this year we had a little change of heart. Nana had offered to help me homeschool full time. She would do the three days just like we had done with Cornerstone and I could keep my same schedule with Footstone. It did mean I had to start participating in the planning and curriculum, but Nana thankfully is a big part of this too. After many months of thinking, talking and praying we decided to go for it.
Yesterday was our first official day of school! Win is now starting 3rd grade (it looks like his sign says, “bro” I know!) and Brasher is starting kindergarten. Now our travels and adventures and baseball and all the other fun things we like to do as a family can be scheduled with flexibility and ease. The wonderful part of Alachua County is the resources and multitudes of homeschool families and support. I’m excited and nervous, but thrilled that my mother-in-law would be willing to do this with us.
What does this mean for Footstone? Nothing really other than I’m still out of the office Mondays and Thursdays, but you’re used to talking with Paul or the girls these days already. I’m still checking emails and texts every day of the week and will continue to do that. I just thought I’d share what’s going on behind the scenes around here! And to say that we are so incredibly grateful for our friends and family who make all that we do possible. Footstone couldn’t be what it is, nor would our boys be who they are, without the love and support of our family!
My favorite thing at a wedding might just be the first look with dad. That may or may not be a “thing” in your part of the world, but somewhere along the way Kristin and I (Paul) realized there was something special, something that touches the heart when a father sees his daughter for the first time in her wedding dress. Sometimes I wonder if that is a look that he gives to her once in her lifetime.
So if that first look is something our bride wants, we try to make sure it’s in a private area and there is beautiful light. At Andrea’s wedding, we were fortunate to have a nice front yard with the midday sun reflecting off several buildings. What that produced was a slightly overhead light source and smooth soft shadows when our Andrea and her father were in the shade. Kristin and I try to position ourselves so we can see both faces when they turn towards each other. In this photograph, Kristin was using a 70-200 lens at 200mm in a crouched position. She took multiple frames, but this was taken the second he turned around to see her. Since Kristin was crouched and shooting at f/4, she was able to minimize background distractions and really separate them from the background, creating a stunning and touching image.
I can’t imagine what’s going through a father’s head at that moment. If I have a daughter one day, I worry that I may not be able to get through that part without falling to pieces. If it does come to pass, I’m sure someone will be there, probably crouched a ways off with a long lens, capturing the tears and full body convulsions.
For all my friends on Facebook, and to family and friends who are calling and texting, thank you for the birthday wishes! Today I (Kristin) turn 36 (ssshhhhh!) and will be spending the day with my family, the best gift I could ask for. Paul has been pleaded with not to buy a single gift, maybe just a card, since we’ve recently bought a house and just returned from our summer travels, meaning all money is spent! I think I may like to eat dinner at Dragonfly tonight, but don’t worry, I get cooked sushi. I say that because most of you know, if you’re follow us on Facebook, that I’m expecting baby number 3. We don’t know yet if it’s a girl or boy, but as soon as do, we’ll share. It’s going to be an exciting year!
Today’s post is just a short reflection of what I’m grateful for, which is way more fun to think about than the big birthday that’s “looming” in a few years! I’d rather focus on what age has given me and this incredible stage of my life.
• I am so grateful for my two young boys who challenge me every day to be the best version of myself.
• I am so grateful for my husband who still amazes me at what a loving and selfless human being he is even when no one is looking.
• I am so grateful for my family who inspires me, loves me and blesses me in so many ways.
• I am grateful for my friends who bring me such joy and make my life more full and fun.
• I am grateful for Footstone and the relationships, friendships and moments we’ve had the honor to have because of it.
• I am grateful to God for loving, saving and blessing me far beyond what I deserve.
Here’s to my 36th year which I am genuinely looking forward to. With the baby coming and exciting things on the horizon with Footstone, I’m excited for all that’s ahead.
Thank you for reading and for all the birthday wishes. Again, to my three boys… I love and cherish you and am so grateful I get to spend my life with you!
As a few already know, we have arrived back home safe and sound and are enjoying seeing familiar faces again. Our Scotland wedding and our sessions in Italy were better than we could’ve dreamed, and we can’t say how grateful we are for the blessings of these experiences. However, as many know, international travel with children doesn’t always feel like a blessing. Today we’re going to share some of the funny, unfortunate and slightly embarrassing things we’ve #learnedthehardway through our travels. Hopefully this will be entertaining and perhaps even helpful for your future travel adventures!
Order kids meals when booking an international flight
When making an international 8 to 10 hour flight, it is preferable to be able to feed your children a solid meal before hopefully they fall asleep for a few hours. Somehow, this year we didn’t check the appropriate box when booking our flights for two kids meals. Needless to say, grilled pork sausage with bramley apple sauce, buttered spring onion mash, carrots, peas and gravy was not exactly what our boys were expecting to see sitting on their tray tables. So neither of our boys ate dinner that night, instead snacked on the potato chips and cookies I had packed from home. Thank the Lord for movies. At least they were distracted from their rumbling bellies.
2. Read up on Street Signs – They may be in another language!
If you like the idea of being self-sufficient and want the experience of driving in a foreign country, you may want to consider doing some homework and reading up on the meanings of street signs. Seems rather obvious right? Well… the first time we went to Italy, got our rental car, made it about a quarter mile down the road, we then shrieked upon our first arrival at a toll plaza! We had no idea what lane to enter, what any of the words meant, I’m not even sure we had euros yet… eeeeekkkkk!!!!
Now we giggle a little bit every time we pull up to a toll plaza because it’s relatively simple once you know that cassa means cash and carte means card. Knowing enter & exit signs, road closed signs, & pedestrian only signs is quite helpful. We got a ticket in Florence once because we drove down a pedestrian only road. There are cameras everywhere, and they’re happy to put a friendly ticket in the mail that you receive upon arriving home.
3. Hotel keys give you Power
This is something we seem to forget every year. For most of our trip we stay in houses we’ve found on AirB&B or VRBO, but at some point throughout our travels we’ll stay one or two nights in a hotel. When we arrived in Milan our first year in Italy, we couldn’t figure out why none of the lights were working in our hotel room. We walked around flipping every switch on and off. We then checked all the lamps. The air was on so we knew we had power. The receptionist at the front spoke ok English, but we were a bit afraid to call down and talk to her over the phone! I think it was Paul who finally noticed this small black box by the door. It has a small slit in it but nothing else. Paul slid the key in the slit and voila!! All the lights came on! You see, Italians are very energy efficient so when you leave your room, all the power turns off behind you. Hopefully this will help save you that scary few helpless minutes upon entering your first Italian hotel!
4. Strollers in Venice
I’m going to give you a visual most of you will recognize… you know when you end up at Disney on a rainy day? Parents are in ponchos they just paid $20 for yet are still drenched, kids are in strollers pulling the cover down in front of them, or those super unlucky kids in the umbrella strollers that are soaked and have the most pitiful looks on their faces??? Yep… you all know what tragic moment I’m talking about. We experienced this moment, but worse, one year in Venice. Our youngest was 3 and so a stroller was definitely needed for traveling. But upon arrival in Venice, the sky opened up and a torrential downpour ensued. That year we packed way too much so I was rolling two bags, our 6 year old was rolling a bag, and Paul had a rolling back PLUS a stroller with Brasher in it! In VENICE! There are 420 small bridges in Venice… and no ramps. Venice floods very quickly too so within just a few short moments, the water seemed to have already risen to our ankles. So we trudged through the narrow unfamiliar streets, drug our bags through the rising water, and Paul somehow managed to lift the stroller over the bridges with one hand and rolled a large suitcase with the other. TRAGIC.
Now, the rain you can’t avoid. But too many rolling bags and not being prepared with how difficult a stroller can be, you can. If you must bring a stroller, we suggest you bring an umbrella-style, light weight one that can fold up easily and you can manage lifting it with a child in it over the bridges. If you can bring a baby backpack where the child could ride, this is ideal, at least on the main island.
5. Dropping of rental cars
In the States, if you have a really early flight and need to return a rental car, there’s always a drop box, right? Drop the keys in, get your trash out, and you’re on your way. Not always the case in Europe, as we found out. On this year’s trip, we arrived at the Venice Mestre train station at 6:45am to make sure we had enough time to return the car and catch our 7:30 train. Never did it cross our minds we wouldn’t be able to just drop the car off. The rental office opened at 8am, which meant we were stuck. Paul was able to change our tickets to a later train (for a hefty fee, of course), and we drove around until we found a public park where the boys could run and play. However, being as we left the castle at 5am, I (Kristin) decided to lay down in the back seat of the van and plug in my headphones with my white noise app. Blame it on the pregnancy (did you see that announcement on Facebook?!) or just travel exhaustion, but I couldn’t force myself to get out of the van and join in the play.
Thankfully the boys had a good time!
6. Not all adapters are created equal
Not all power is equal. When you travel to a new place, it’s always good to research what their power voltage is. Otherwise, your appliances could end up like my curling iron on our first trip – fried. Rick Steves has some excellent info on adapters and voltages, and here’s a link so you can read up on it!
7. Public verses Private Beaches
When we first saw the Ligurian sea a few years back, we were so excited! We grabbed bread, prosciutto and fruit from a market and headed to the beach. We took our shoes off, the boys were splashing in the water, and we started eating our sandwiches. It was so beautiful. Then we were chased off by a burly lifeguard yelling at us “No public beach!!” We quickly learned that most beaches in Italy are private. All that means is that you go into the main entrance of the beach club, pay for however many beach chairs you would like, and then you have access to food and lifeguards and sometimes even swimming pools. There are public beaches that don’t cost anything, but you have to look for them. They are usually small stretches of sand, and are usually pretty full of people not wanting to pay for the beach!
8. Washing your Clothes… by hand?
There is this tricky balance of trying to pack light when traveling abroad while knowing you may not have access to a washing machine for quite some time. Luckily, if you stay in an AirB&B or a VRBO, you should have a washing machine. What you definitely won’t have is a dryer. However, over the past couple of years we ended up needing to wash clothes before we made it to an actual machine. One year I bought a bar of detergent soap thinking it would travel better than liquid. Bad idea. I also didn’t have anywhere to hang the clothes after. This past year we (Sally!) brought powdered detergent that dissolved in water which worked MUCH better and also a sink stopper, which was Rick Steves handy piece of advise. Bringing roll of clothes line and some clothes pins is a must too. You may not believe me, but taking the time to wash clothes is SO much better than lugging around an additional suitcase. If you don’t believe me, I guarentee you’ll remember this post as you drag an enormous suitcase up the concrete stairs at a busy train station!
9. Ordering sea food
Something you may not know about Italian cuisine is that Italy is known for it’s seafood. Makes sense because it’s an island, but it’s not something I expected our first year here. When you’re on the coast, I highly recommend braving to order seafood, but what you should know is that you’re likely going to get the whole animal. Ordering fish? Be prepared to see a whole fish. Ordering prawns, yep, still a prawn not a small little round bite that doesn’t resemble the animal. This may not bother some people, but I (Kristin) am one of those that likes to pretend it’s not an animal. You can ask the server to break it down for you if you don’t mind the snickering. Or if you see the world “fillet” that likely means the fish has been deconstructed. When I do order sea food and it comes out very much in tact, I gently slide my plate across to Paul and he breaks it down for me. It’s not that I don’t know how, I just can’t bring myself to do it.
10. Parking Garages 101
(this one is written by Paul) A few notes on parking garages. First, take your parking ticket with you. Most of the time you will have to pay at an automated machine when you are returning to your car, not when you exit. Second, if you’re driving anything larger than a Fiat 500, just know you may not make it back out of the garage. The garages are small. Really small. Quick story – we were in our passenger van (which dwarfs most of the vehicles over there) and pulled up to a parking garage. It had a sign that said 2 meters max height, so I knew I was ok. It even had the height bar that hung down, and I went under that no problem. The problem happened once we got into the belly of the garage. There was a water pipe that ran along the ceiling that made it just low enough that we couldn’t fit. About 2 inches too tall. Understand I had just gone up several levels of super tight circular tunnels to get here. There was no reversing out of this pickle. Fortunately the exit tunnel was on our side of the water pipe, and with some James Bond type maneuvering (picture James Bond driving a minivan really slow in a parking garage) I was able to get to the exit tunnel. With inches to spare on either side, we descended towards the exit. With literal light at the end of the tunnel, the exit gate only 50 feet away, I heard something go thump. Thanks to the 2 meter max height sign, we were now wedged in the tunnel. The top of the van was hitting the top of the tunnel, and this was the only way out. Long story short, I had the boys climb to the back of the van, and with Kristin and 2 large Swedish men on the back bumper, we slid that puppy out to daylight.
Enjoy watching as we realize it’s about to get tough. The noise you hear is our antenna hitting the roof.
We hope this was a fun and helpful post for future international travelers. We are big Rick Steves fans and anytime we travel abroad, we buy his corresponding book. Our clients have asked how we’ve learned how to navigate Italian cities the way we do… well, it’s mostly thanks to Rick. And of course… many trials and lots of errors!
It’s hard to put into words how special this place is to us. During tough days, stressful moments, those times you just wish you could get away and breathe, and you envision this blue expanse of sky and water… this is the place you’re wishing for whether you know it or not. Our family spent a week here last summer, and as soon as we drove the windy cliff road away, all four of us started counting down the days until our return.
Last year Paul shared an instagram post quoting John Steinbeck, “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
After our last Destination Portrait Session with Lem and Dana, from the Ceconi Castle in the Northwest part of the Italy, we trained down to Naples where then we hired a driver with the Positano Car Service to take us to Positano. Friends of ours Emily and Trey, a former bride and groom of Footstone’s, went to the Amalfi Coast a couple years ago and shared some very valuable advise about making your way from Naples to one of the coastal towns. There is a regional train you can take from the Naples train station and you can save a little money. But all that you read about pick pockets on tight trains and keeping your eyes and hands on your luggage at all times… this is one of those trains. Emily and Trey said it took them a day or so to recover from the anger and stress of this transition, and they advised it was worth every penny to hire a private car. I think it cost us about 130 euro for the trip in. Well worth it I think for a clean, cold, and private drive with no stress!
Paul took this first portrait from our balcony. We stayed in the same house as we did last year because we hit the jackpot with location and the view. When deciding on a place to stay in Positano, you really can’t go wrong with the view it’s the walk to the beach that can make or break an apartment. As you may know, Positano is a pedestrian friendly area meaning everyone is walking. There is one road that runs through the middle of the town where there are a couple of parking garages and drop stations for luggage. Your driver or a bus brings you here, and you can hire a porter for 10 euros a bag to carry your luggage to your apartment. Worth every penny! Our apartment was at the bottom of the cliff which is great for proximity to the beach, but it was 8 to 10 flights of stairs down from the road. Poor Brasher was begging to be held by the 5th or 6th flight!
Day and night are spectacular in Positano. If you look in the landscape above, see the boat that is closest in the foreground? Now look up slightly to the right and see the stone house, then a little white then the yellow house? The yellow and white was where we stayed. When we arrived we saw a familiar face right away. Jenny, a retired teacher from Georgia, spends her summers here helping the homeowners with the tenants. She helps you get settled in the apartment and shows you key places on a map of Positano. Jenny stops by each day and waters the flowers in all the balconies and prunes the basil plants. We’ve adored getting to know her, and for an American, it’s a lovely sound hearing her voice as soon as you arrive.
The first couple of nights of our stay the moon was full and the view was spectacular. We only ate out one night the entire week because dinner with this view can’t be beat.
Paul really enjoyed sitting on the balcony with our boys’ binoculars and creeping on people in their big yachts. He’d find the name of the boat and then google how much it was. The boats, ships and yachts you see dock here are just unbelievable. Paul found this yacht below online, and it’s a mere 1.2 million euros for a week’s day… gasp. It comes with a crew of 24 and sleeps 12. My mind is blown.
For being quite picky with our Italian food, when we’re home our number one favorite Italian restaurant is Antonio’s in Micanopy. The owner and chef, Antonio is a first generation Italian and the food is divine. When we go, Antonio always comes out and says hello, and we talk about our travels. Last year before we left, he suggested taking a ferry to Capri then walking up from there to a small town called Atrani. There is a little restaurant there he loves and said it was worth the trip. So we did, and it WAS worth the trip. But the walk from Capri to Atrani was on one of those windy cliff roads with no shoulders and with our little ones in tow, it was a bit scary. So this year, Paul did some research and found out that we could rent a private boat from Positano and ride down to Atrani. There is a guy there who you can pay 10 euros to row you in and he’ll dock the boat. This was probably my favorite day of the entire trip. We road all along the Amalfi coast all by ourselves and soaked up the sun, the beauty and the magic of this magnificent coastline.
The restaurant Antonio recommended and the one we ate at last year was closed unfortunately. We went on a Tuesday and surprisingly there were several restaurants and little shops closed. It wasn’t during the siesta time so my only thought was maybe Monday and Tuesdays are considered to be some places “weekend”? I haven’t searched around travel websites to see but alas, we found another lovely little spot and it turned out to be one the best meals we had so far. Serendipity.
This area is known for producing mouthwatering lemons. You see lemons painted all over ceramics, limoncello is common to be served after dinner at most restaurants and you’ll find lemon flavored dishes on most menus. For dessert I ordered a lemon tiramisu. That’s right… heaven.
After lunch we strolled around Atrani for just a little while noticing the similarities and differences from it and other Amalfi towns. I would guess Atrani doesn’t see the amount of tourists that Capri and Positano do. Most of the beach goers look like locals and didn’t hear or see as much English being used here. But don’t let that scare you. I think exploring this lovely little town is a must on your to-do list. It’s quiet and quaint with small delectable cafes, gelato stands, and shops with handmade and local wares. Atrani is a nice reprieve from the more bustling towns of the Amalfi Coast.
We walked back to the one small dock and found our friend to row us back out to our boat. I would guess it took us about an hour or so to make it to Atrani, but that was only because we took our time going slowly and stopping regularly to take pictures.
Other than this one excursion, we spent most of our time at our favorite little beach in front of the Pupetto Cafe on the north side of Positano. For those considering traveling to Positano, if you like the idea of a hotel over an AirBnB, Pupetto’s is also a hotel and restaurant. It’s steps away from what I think is the best beach in the area and you’ll have all the conveniences of staying in a hotel.
To find Pupetto’s, you walk north from the main part of town along the water. The sidewalk ends, and you follow the blue boardwalk through a few different cafes all of which look lovely, but I recommend keep walking until the blue boardwalk ends. You walk through the outdoor cafe that sits on the beach and walk up to the receptionist’s stand. She’s a delightful young lady who will open a tab for you and reserve your beach chairs. Then, one of crew members will walk you to your umbrella and chairs and make sure you like the spot. It’s as easy as that. They all speak beautiful English and are warm and welcoming. One of the servers from last year recognized as soon as we sat down. His name is Allesandro. He’s below on the left. There was a second server, Fabio, below on the right, who we didn’t meet last year but we saw him around. Most all of the faces were familiar, and it made me smile that these people must really love their jobs. Most of them are barefoot or maybe in flip-flops. All are wearing Pupetto Cafe t-shirts which I had wish I had bought one of this year. While I’m sure their job is still hard work and often feels like work, they are definitely in paradise.
Our family doesn’t do much soda. I never have it in the house and the boys are only allowed to have it when we’re on vacation. Even then it’s only one serving a day. Brasher refuses to even try soda, which is fine, but Win is obsessed! For all three meals of the day Win asks for a coke. Look at the pure joy in his face above!
Brasher isn’t napping below he’s warming himself on the rocks. The water was a bit cold so after awhile, he’d run up to me and lay on the warm rocks. But he insisted on laying his face directly on them. Each year we collect some of these rocks and we have a glass vase at home we’re slowly filling up. Make sure to buy good water shoes for Amalfi beaches, too. I saw many tourists hobbling and wincing and sighing as they walked barefoot along the hot rocks. Thanks to Rick Steves, we were prepared with the right shoes!
There is so much else I want to share about this special place but I will end here for today. With one last quote… this one is Scripture.
“By his hand the heaven is covered with clouds and rain is stored up for the earth; He makes the grass tall on the mountains.” Psalms 147:8
There were times I was almost brought to tears at the awe-inspiring beauty and power of this place. I thank the Lord my family was able to experience it.
At this point, we have been abroad for two weeks and are about to welcome our second family to Italy. Lem, Dana and their daughter Cakki survived the flight over pretty well. Lem said he slept about 4 hours and Dana said she closed her eyes for maybe a couple minutes. Cakki surprised us when she arrived bouncing with energy and full of questions about everything she set her sights on. She was amazed at the ancient buildings and the winding cliff roads. As she munched on her AutoGrill sandwich (see the significance of this sandwich in the last post), she talked her mom’s ear off as they made the trip with Paul up the mountain to join us at the castle.
Here is a video of their arrival. Notice Cakki had jumped out of the vehicle before the gate opened and was already running along the grounds. They look great for just having made a full day’s journey!
If you’re just joining us for our international posts, this summer’s journey included photographing a wedding in Scotland and then two families in Italy. Our last post shared a little behind the scenes with our first clients, Steven and Charlie. Today’s post we’ll share a few fun stories of our second family. Of course, once our clients see all of the spectacular pictures we took of them during their stay with us, we will share those with you as well.
Because our international travels take us away for weeks at a time, our two boys always join us. Now, when we make small trips we are happy to leave them with Nana and Pop and the boys are happy with this too. But for our summer trips, we’ve had to learn how to survive international travel with this little guys in tow. This was Cakki’s first overseas trip and she handled it beautifully. When Lem and Dana first told Cakki that she’d be flying over the ocean Cakki admitted she was afraid. But with movies and snacks and constant affirmation from mom, Cakki was on her way to becoming a world traveler.
There are days during are Destination Sessions where we are all together at the Ceconi Castle but there are two other days where we venture off to Venice and Wine Country. So Lem and Dana were able to spend some of their time just playing as adults and Cakki stayed back playing with our boys and Sally at the Castle. Sally, for any new readers, is Paul’s sister and works with us at Footstone. This is also her third year coming with us to Italy so she knows the lay of the land and helps us with the boys, logistics of traveling and helping us make our clients are comfortable.
For a special gift for Cakki, we made a gift box of crayons, markers, coloring books and some Italy activities and fun worksheets that was on her bed when she arrived. She and Brasher are coloring outside the castle on the day we took Lem and Dana for a wine tasting and tour of the Friuli wine region.
The kids also hiked down the mountain a little ways to play in the Arzino River. This river runs through the mountain and has several waterfalls plus natural pools and rock beaches were you can swim. On the weekends, there will be rows of cars parked precariously along the winding roads on the mountain and for a long time we wondered why. When Dario, our friend and marketing director for GraphiStudio, walked us down to one of the larger natural pools, we then realized where these locals were going. In this area, your “beach” or pool time is playing near the waterfalls and natural pools along the river. If you search Arzino River, you’ll see incredible images of the area. Paul took pictures of the river with his pro-body so we’ll share those soon. Sorry Win for posting this image, but it was just too cute. 🙂
While the kids played, we drove to Venica & Venica, our favorite vineyard in the Fruili region. Before our wine tour, we stopped in the adorable little town of Cormons for lunch. This year we chose a new restaurant, which we often don’t do with clients because we never know what we’re walking into. We typically like to scout it out first, but Lem and Dana were up for adventure so we braved it. It was a beautiful little restaurant but what we quickly realized is that no one spoke English. The good news about that is the food will be amazing… bad news is we had to order in Italian! Believe it or not, we knew enough to find exactly what we wanted and our server was delightful as we attempted our Italian. Dana actually knows Spanish very well and she was often able to recognize words and translate them quickly.
The funny thing that happened while we ordered is that Dana ordered three different plates thinking they’d be small because the prices were so good. For an appetizer, or aperitivo, she ordered a shrimp dish. For her meal, she ordered a caprese salad and a meat and cheese plate. Seems like a great meal. But we should have been tipped off when the only thing our waitress said in English was, “For you?” Haha! When the plates came out, Dana laughed and cried! Each plate was enormous and our waitress just giggled every time she put a new giant plate in front of Dana. Let’s just say we had a lot of leftovers to take home that day!
Here’s just a glimpse of the little town where we dined. We’re leaving the restaurant and heading to our wine tour which if you notice the mountain in the distance and the small white church, that’s where we were driving up to.
Our last night with Lem and Dana before they would be embarking off on their own to spend 3 days in Florence, we had dinner with Davide again. Right outside the restaurant he has this lovely little playground so while adults sit outside, enjoy the wine and spectacular views, the kids can run and play. As I write this post, I just had the idea of asking our two families to share some of things they learned as they made this trip. I’d love to hear what they found surprising and what they’d do the same or differently if they came again.
Paul and I are so completely humbled and grateful that our clients would brave the long trip and spend this time with us in Italy. I feel like we are more like tour guides than we are photographers. The pictures are hopefully just a bonus after the end of a wonderful trip. Thank you to Steven, Charlie, Lem and Dana for allowing us this honor of sharing this time with you. We can’t wait to relive the journey when we return home and share all of the pictures!
For our readers, stay tuned for our next post about our family time in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. This is one of our favorite places in the world and it was the part of the trip with just us and our boys. Thank you for reading!
After 5 incredible days in Scotland for Ashley and Scott’s wedding, we packed up what we considered our “winter” gear and planned to ship it back to the States so we didn’t have to lug it around in Italy. We found a local market that gave us some boxes and we were able to stuff our jackets, boots, sweaters and jeans into two relatively small boxes. They were taped up and ready to go and our friends Bea and Leslie, also guests at Ashley and Scott’s wedding, had offered to take the boxes Sunday morning and ship them back for us. Paul and I (Kristin) were so excited because as we’ve #learnedthehardway, overpacking in Italy can ruin your day. (stay tuned for a post coming soon about some of these stories)
Paul did a little research online about the cost because we’d have to leave Bea and Leslie with some cash for the shipment. Well…. Paul found out it would be about $140 to $150 dollars to ship ONE box. So, at about midnight the night before we left out at 5am for the airport, Paul went on the hunt for a cheap suitcase instead. The price to add a bag on the plane was a fraction of what it would have been to ship, so we decided this was the better idea. You ask why we couldn’t just put it all back in the bag we had because it obviously all fit on the way over? Well, funny thing happens when you travel… your stuff seems to multiply.
Our good friends Steven and Charlie were our first clients to join us for a Destination Portrait Session. We introduced them in an earlier Scotland post because they were also guests at the wedding. So they flew with us on the same early flight to Venice. Because we had already adjusted to the time change, this time flying into Italy was such a joy. As soon as we landed in the Venice airport, we felt like we were home. Paul knows this airport incredibly well so he walked us right to a little cafe near where he’d be picking us up shortly in the rental van.
Now Paul was driving on the “right” side of the road again and these roads are very familiar to him. He LOVES the way Italians drive, I think I’ve shared that before… they are serious about driving. You’ll even see drivers wearing driving gloves. You get where you’re going and you get there fast. Or you get out of the way! I would honestly be a little scared to drive. Paul must be scared of me driving too because I’ve never been a designated driver on any of our rentals (I get the hint!). Paul asked a policeman one year how strict they are about speeding. The policeman answered in his thick Italian accent, “Well, let’s just say… police are a little different here.”
Our first stop after picking up clients is going to sound funny to you. Unless you’ve just gotten off a full day’s journey having missed lots of sleep and feeling much like a zombie at the moment you’re reading this post. But we stop at an AutoGrill on the interstate, or autostrade. With Steven and Charlie, our first clients this year, they happened to be flying with us because of the wedding. But with most, Paul will pick you up from the airport, put your sleepy self in our rental van stocked with soda, water and snacks, then head to the first AutoGrill and let you choose a yummy sandwich and anything else that may make you feel better at this point. What we love about this moment is watching our clients take their first bite into their sandwich of choice. We know what they’re thinking… “why are Paul and Kristin making me eat a sandwich from a rest stop? I’m starving and tired and this is my only option?” Haha! Within five seconds of your first bite you’ll look at us is disbelief and utter joy. You see, these sandwiches are on fresh bread with fresh Italian meat and ridiculously yummy fresh Italian cheese. What we’d pay $15 for at a restaurant in the States, you’re getting from a rest stop for maybe 5 euros. There are so many reasons I love this country!
For Steven and Charlie, they got to experience their “first yummy Italian sandwich moment” at the cafe in the airport while Paul got our van. We headed off from there to meet Dario, the marketing director at GraphiStudio, for the keys to the Castle! Steven was actually interested in a short tour of the GS plant. You see, years ago before we opened Footstone, I worked for Steven with Herff Jones Yearbooks. Steven has worked in the book printing industry for decades and has heard me rave about my obsession with the quality of GS books. He had to see it for himself and Dario was happy to show him around and share some of the key components of their printing process. After our tour, Dario took us next to the the Ceconi Castle!
Here’s a short video of us pulling into the Castle for the first time this year. Wow does this place never disappoint!
After we got settled into our rooms in the castle, Dario treated us to dinner at our favorite local restaurant down up the mountain where we were excited to see our host, Davide, who remembered us from last year.
Our Destination Portrait Sessions this year were planned where the first day we spent the afternoon at the Ceconi Castle, a private castle owned by GraphiStudio. Our wedding and family albums are all printed here and because of our close relationship with them, we have the incredibly opportunity to bring clients to stay in the castle. Our second day we spent exploring the magical city of Venice and our third day included a wine tasting and tour of the extraordinarily beautiful Fruili wine region. Of course, our clients will be the first ones to see their portraits from their session so I can’t share them yet with you today. But I can say that our time with Steven and Charlie was incredible. Steven commented at one point that his favorite part was that he didn’t have to think or navigate. He and Charlie could sit back, look around, enjoy themselves and not have to worry about directions, trains, transitions, the time or anything but what they’d be eating and seeing next.
Our second family to join us were Lem and Dana along with their young daughter Cakki. Lem and Dana are friends and clients of ours and we’ve had the honor of photographing their family portraits every year for the past few years. This year, for a special birthday present for Dana, Lem surprised her with this trip to Italy. Our next post will be sharing a few behind the scenes videos and pictures of their trip plus the fun the kids had playing at the castle!
For information on our 2017 Destination Portrait Sessions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
"...Paul and Kristin were so helpful leading to our wedding and on that day were truly impressive! They were low key and still got the great pictures we wanted! They are personable and easy to work with! We totally recommend them!..."
"...Kristin and Paul do it all: save the dates, engagement pictures, custom made wedding books, bridal portraits, and of course, the wedding day! They are professional but very comfortable to work with. They go the extra mile for the perfect shots of your special day!..."
"...After I met Paul and Kristin, and saw their work - I just knew they were the ones! They are more than photographers. They are both modern and artistic and have an eye that you can't find anywhere..."
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