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Author Archives: Chris Michael

Austin Weddings | Ryan & Candice

Our beautiful bride Candice and her handsome groom Ryan got married in a tiny church in East Austin. As we arrived at the Church, we were greeted by Reagan High School students all dressed in purple and black. As everyone who loved them squeezed in, the ceremony began with a video on a large screen. We watched Ryan and Candice unfold their story

{Ryan & Candice’s Wedding Album}

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Music Photography | Blind Pilot & Dan Mangan at The Parish

We love living in Austin. Live music is our favorite part of this incredible city so when KUT announced that one of our favorite bands, Blind Pilot was coming to play in Austin and we knew we had to be there! The Photographer (that’s Chris) has been asked to shoot events at The Parish three times in the last two weeks so when we realized that’s where the show was, we got a kick out of it. We went early and had a really good dinner downstairs at The Beale Street Tavern. (By the way, we highly recommend this move. The drinks are less expensive at Beale Street.) Then, we made our way upstairs (well we stood in a really long line first). The girl who runs the lights for all the shows never lets us down and this show was no different.

Dan Mangan opened for Blind Pilot and honestly we had no idea who he was. Before his second song was over, we had already decided he would be another favorite and done our research (immediately followed by thorough embarrassment for not having ever heard his music before). Now, that we’ve been let in on the secret (and have Blind Pilot to thank for it) we feel much more “with it” and hope we weren’t the last to find out about this stellar musician.

We had been giddy for weeks and now our excitement was oozing out of our faces while we waited for our band to take the stage. The smiles plastering our faces were not alone. We were in good company. The house was packed and the energy was high with all of our anticipation. Instruments lined the stage, some we’d never seen before. Finally they took the stage. We sang. We danced. The photographer did what he does best. It was over much too quickly and we hung around waiting for our turn to thank them for coming. It never fails- when someone you really appreciate or admire is in your midst, normalcy is out of reach. Hopefully my nerdy-ness was well contained and I only felt like a goof ball. The Photographer held himself together just fine.

Dan Mangan in Austin Live at The ParishLive in Austin, Dan Mangan plays with Blind Pilot at The ParishDan Mangan in Austin Live at The ParishBlind Pilot plays live in Austin at The ParishBlind PilotBlind Pilot plays live in Austin at The ParishBlind Pilot plays live in Austin at The ParishBlind Pilot plays live in Austin at The ParishBlind Pilot plays live in Austin at The ParishChris Michael Photo with Ian Krist from Blind Pilot at The Parish in Austin


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Free Austin | Musicians Sing Out Against Human Trafficking

Free Austin is an initiative to end human trafficking put together by ALLIES against slavery in partnership with other local anti-trafficking organizations and community members. During the month of September, events all over Austin served to educate and empower the community about human trafficking in the United States. Ending human trafficking is a cause we’re both passionate about. Once we were aware how pervasive the issue is, right down the the products we use every day, there was no getting around the fact that we are playing a role in Human Trafficking whether we mean to or not. Since then, we’ve had the privilege to volunteer with some of the hardest working and compassionate people we’ve ever known. Being the event photographer for Free Austin this year was a privilege. We wrapped up the week with Sounds of Change at The Parish. The Musicians all volunteered their time and energy to Free Austin and the proceeds for the night were given to care for survivors of trafficking in Austin. If you don’t already know who these Austin Musicians are, check them out:

Lamar Stockton

Brennen Leigh

Ryan Harkrider

Miranda Dodson

Brennen Leigh performs live in Austin at The ParishBrennen Leigh preforms live in Austin during Free Austin at The ParishAustinites watch a trailer for Trade in Hope during Free Austin at The ParishMusic Photography of Ryan Harkrider live in Austin at The Parish during Sounds of ChangeRyan Harkrider plays live in Austin for Free Austin at The ParishElora Ramirez reads a dramatic short story for Sounds of ChangeMiranda Dodson plays in Austin live at The Parish for Free AustinPhotography of Austin Musician Miranda Dodson playing live at The ParishAustin Musician Miranda Dodson plays in Austin live at The Parish to bring awareness to Human TraffickingWe are so grateful for all the hard work everyone did during Free Austin. For more information on human trafficking and what you can do to end it, please visit the following sites:

The City of Austin Police Department

The Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking

ALLIES Against Slavery

To purchase responsibly and local to Austin Texas, visit these sites:

Good & Fair Clothing

Hill Country Tribers

Open Arms Shop

10 Thousand Villages

Whole Foods

Whole Earth Provisions

Parts + Labour



To purchase responsibly from national retailers, visit these sites:

Ethical Ocean

Pure Citizen

World of Good

Revive Store

Green Heart Shop 

Global Girlfriend 

Fair Indigo

Global Stewards

Sweat Free

Fair Trade Sports

Locally Grown Clothing

Maggie’s Organics

Good Society

Autonomie Project

Proxy Apparel 

When convenience wins:


Eileen Fisher

Alternative Apparel

Gap Brand

Nordstrom Brand



Melissa & Doug

Green Toys




TOMS Shoes


Simple Shoes

Lastly, we don’t mean to be bossy but don’t try not to buy from these terrible national retailers:

Hanes Brand


OshKosh Brand


Cannon (this hurts our hearts!)





JC Penny

Hasbro Toys

Leap Frog


Burlington Coat Factory

What fair-trade options are we missing? Please leave a comment and let us know where else to shop!

Check out Fatback Circus live at Stubbs in Austin

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40s Inspired Engagements at Hangar Hotel | Kassy & Edward

Hanger-Hotel-Engagements-photoWhen Kassy and Ed attended his mothers wedding, they fell in love all over again.

“After seeing my mom so happy, it made me want to make you that happy forever” he told Kassy.

Ring shopping ensued immediately following the wedding.

40s Inspired EngagementsThey’ve raised a child together from the very beginning of their relationship, endured Ed’s deployment and him being hit by a car.

“We’ve had a lot of difficulties along the way…but we push through each time” they told us.

These two are undoubtedly in love and and looking forward to their future together. They plan to travel to Italy and own their own business; which made us giggle. (One of our first conversations before we were engaged was about traveling to Italy and owning our own business).

Love-notes-Engagement-SessionWe’ve been looking forward to this engagement session for a while because of Kassy’s love for vintage glam. On our search for the perfect location, we discovered a hotel that had been converted from an old airport hanger in Fredericksburg Texas. The Hangar Hotel couldn’t have been a more perfect location and everyone on staff was super nice and accommodating. They even gave us free reign of the diner for the day!


We used the actual letters Kassy and Ed wrote each other during his deployment for their engagement photos. Our goal was to capture Ed’s military lifestyle, their personal letters, and Kassy’s affinity for 40s flair and I think we may have nailed it!

Hanger-Hotel-Engagement-Session40s-diner-engagement-session40s-insipired-engagement-sessionDiner-themed-engagement-session40s-inspired-engagement-sessionHanger-Hotel-Engagement-shoot40s-inspired-photosPilot-Diner-engagement-Sessionvintage-diner-engagement-photosPilot-vintage-photo 5Hanger-Hotel-Engagements-51


Thank you, Edward and Kassy, for being so easy to work with, fabulous and trusting.


Make Up: Keep Austin Gorgeous 
Location: Hangar Hotel


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Senior Portraits | Travis

Travis is a Senior at Georgetown High School this year and off to Texas State Technical College to become a diesel mechanic in the fall.


He’s also my little brother.


When he asked us to shoot his Senior pictures, we were nervous. Okay, Chris was nervous. Most people probably assume photographing people you know, especially family, is easier. However, providing family photography for your own family adds some pressure. I mean, you’re in the optimal position to make the next decade pretty awkward. I wasn’t that nervous. My little brother is a pretty big goof ball and Chris is the best photographer I know so I knew they’d have some kind of goof-ball, photographer, brother-in-law synergy or something. The photo session flew by; they made it pretty easy on each other.  Despite all the laughing we were all doing, Chris even managed to snag a few good ones (imagine that).


In all seriousness, I couldn’t believe we were taking my not-so-little-anymore brother’s Senior Pictures. (Get ready I’m about to spew a cliche’ all over your monitor). He has grown up so fast! One moment we were sharing his beanbag watching Toy Story and the next, I’m sitting at his High School Graduation wondering where all the years went.


I know I said all that stuff about taking family portraits for your own family being nerve wrecking for a photographer. But, you’re also afforded a really special opportunity to play an integral role in the pivotal moments in the lives of people you love. Rather than getting a senior picture in the mail, we created them. It’s always a high to witness people’s reaction when they first see a portrait of someone they know. You can tell by their reaction if you nailed it or missed the mark. (For the record, my mom giggled smiling ear to ear as she sorted through proofs. That’s a pretty good sign).


Did I mention that my brother’s middle name is Wingate? Pretty cool middle name for a guitar playing diesel mechanic from Texas.

 Check out Leighann’s Senior Pictures!

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Families | The Rothenflues

Meet the Rothenflue family. That’s Lee, Virginia, Bella, and Carter. Oh…and molly  of course!

Bella is a creative who loves to draw, paint, sew, and write. Carter is seven going on forty and awesome at wii. Not just kinda awesome. He’s really awesome. He’s also a great secret keeper; he didn’t even spill the beans about Bella’s really cool birthday presents hidden in the closet for weeks before her big day. According to my wife, this indicates steel will-power.

Families | Routhenflue2

Virginia and Lee, or ‘Flue as Virginia calls him, have been married for 12 years and have a lot of fun with their mini versions of themselves (seriously- its a little freaky). Virginia is extremely resourceful and creative (wonder where Bella gets it) and works as a graphic designer. Lee is a video editor and producer currently working on a documentary called Love To Kibera. You can check out the film’s website here (bravo, Virginia). You can find more reels of Lee’s work on his website eleven72.Family Portraits

I had everything I could possibly need for this backyard shoot; fun people, hilarious kids, and perfect weather. Thanks for hangin’ out with me ‘Flues!

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Families | Jennifer Poppy

We really loved reading the entries for the Mother’s Day Contest we ran last month and there was one that stuck out immediately. Greg Poppy nominated his wife Jennifer with this entry:

Her name is Jennifer Poppy and on April 26, 2003,  she changed my life forever by becoming my bride.  However the biggest change for both of us would come in January 2006.  She was working at the church we attended, and I was at my “office” ( a local coffee shop) getting ready for my third year of college.  She got the call that morning, and she called me immediately afterward.  It was time, we had a new addition coming to our family.  His name was Bryan, the youngest son of my wife’s cousin, and he needed a home with a mom and a dad.  My wife just took to being a mother without complaint.  For the first three months, she continued to work at our church, but she soon felt a burden to be a full-time mother.  This terrified me because I was a full-time college student, and a part-time bus driver.  We had very little income as it was, but God had provided for our needs.  Since Jennifer was called to fully embrace motherhood, by faith, she quit her job and started spending everyday loving and encouraging Bryan.   By God’s grace, we survived until I started teaching full time in August 2008 at which time she gave birth to our second son, Gabriel.  They are all blessings to me, and Jennifer has been the best change in my life this side of heaven.  I thank the Lord for her faithfulness, caring, and thoughtfulness.  I ask the Lord everyday to teach me how to love her better.  Of course, Jesus is our example of how to live and love, but thankfully, Jennifer is an example of His love for me everyday.

Jennifer knew in high school she wanted to adopt. After marrying Greg, who had a deep place in his heart for the fatherless, it was agreed that someday they would make a home for a child without a mom and dad. After three years of marriage Jennifer’s mom called and asked them to begin praying for the Poppys’ cousin Bryan who was in a difficult situation at home and would likely need a new one soon. By the world’s standards, and according to Greg and Jennifer’s plan it wasn’t time for them to begin their family. As you read in Greg’s entry, he was still in school and they needed Jennifer’s income. But, they prayed.

Poppy Family
Two months later, in January, Jennifer received a phone call at work. Her mother’s voice on the other end of the line said “Jennifer, its time.”
“I thought she was talking about taking down the Christmas tree,” Jennifer told me as she laughed.  When she realized her mother meant it was time to get Bryan, Jennifer just knew it was what they had to do. Within two hours of that phone call, the Poppys had two-year-old Bryan in their arms.
“When we picked him up, he had about five trash bags filled with clothes and things. Almost none of the clothing was his size and the shoes he had on were way too big and just hung off his little feet…I sat outside his room that first night until he fell asleep.”

During the first twenty-four hours, one of Jennifer’s priorities was finding someone to care for Bryan while she worked. As you can imagine, becoming instant parents brings with it, a plethora of immediate needs. “Thankfully many families gave us clothes, toys, diapers, books, and other toddler essentials. We were really blessed to have so much support, and on such short notice too!”

Within three months Jennifer was able to stay home full time to care of Bryan. “We were really poor.” She told me as we walked through the park. “But, I watched as God provided for us…” Although he called Jennifer and Greg mom and dad right away, his adjustment took some time. Mealtime was a stressful time for Bryan. Jennifer would cook while Bryan screamed and cried at her feet. When she would put his plate in the freezer for a second to cool, he would lose it. It was hard to believe that the boy in front of me had come from the situation they described.

Full of wonder
“My favorite thing about Bryan is his caring heart.  He loves to take care of people and has a great compassion for others.” -Jennifer

As I watched him, with his adventurous energetic spirit pretend a stick was a sword (with full blown sound effects); I tried to imagine how much faith each step of becoming parents in this situation must have taken. Jennifer told me she clung to Hebrews 11: 1 & 6. ” Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…”

Now, Bryan is a big brother to Gabriel (who stole my heart away with his blond curls the moment I saw him). We sat at a picnic table under the trees. Gabriel climbed up in Jennifer’s lap, and then down again, and then back up again, and then back down again. He was born with an eye disease called Nystagmus and had to wear and eye patch until he had surgery when he was only a year old.


Jennifer said, again, she knew God was in control of everything and held on to 2 Corinthians 4:18. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Her prayer for her son was that regardless of his physical vision that he would view the world with a vision for what is unseen. He’s done well since his surgery and will hopefully not have to have any other surgeries in the future. His eyes are so beautiful; it was hard for me to believe there had been anything wrong with them. I was completely enamored by the smile that never left his face.
“My favorite thing about him is his joyful spirit. He brightens the room with his smile” Jennifer later wrote in an email to me.


We hear amazing stories all the time on the news, in movies, books, blogs, and from friends. But, for me, there’s almost always a little something missing. At the park that day I felt very fortunate to hear their story first hand. Rolling around in the grass with Bryan and Gabriel, their laughter warmed my spirit, and their story became tangible.

Poppy Family

Poppy Family 7


To read more about or keep up with The Poppys, please scoot on over to their blogThank you, Greg, for your nomination. And Jennifer, Happy Mother’s Day!



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Personal | Grandma Precious

I got to see my great grandmother this weekend. We were very close when I was young; I treasure the little time I get to spend with her. We would take road trips together, she bought me almost every comic book I own and taught me to play dominoes. She still loves telling stories of living in Hollywood and talking politics. As a boy I couldn’t pronounce her name, so I made up a new one. This is Grandma Precious.

Grandma Precious

Grandma Precious

Grandma Precious
Grandma Precious
Grandma Precious
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Families | The Williams

And the cutest family of the year award goes to….. the Williams family!  Seriously, this was probably the easiest family session I’ve ever done just because I had such a good time hanging out with them. It was really awesome to see how much they love each other. Thanks for making my job so easy…

Williams Family 4

Williams Family 5

Williams Family 6

Williams Family 7

Williams Family 1Williams Family 2Williams Family 3
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Families | The Johns

We took a weekend trip to Rockport this month with the Johns family and just cannot really describe how much fun we had. I mean, seriously, I just can’t explain it. We fought off mosquito’s the size of small cats, shared one bathroom seamlessly, laughed until we almost peed our pants (okay, that was just me), stayed up late, ate great food, and experienced Owen’s first trip to the beach.

He wasn’t so sure about getting into the ocean at first. He inched in up to his ankles and a minute later was dancing and splashing non stop. I think that we were all a little jealous of his innocent joy and energy. Plain and simple, it just made me really happy to see him enjoying the sun and salty water.

Owen vs the BeachOwen vs the Beach2Owen vs the Beach 3Owen vs the Beach 4

Owen vs the Beach 6
Mandi taught me to make spanish rice and brought me some of her home made chocolate truffles (which were awesome) and Rob shared his mad music skills. The best part of the whole weekend was seeing the way they love their son and it made both of us all the more excited to be a mommy and daddy some day.
The weekend was good for my soul.
Erin Beth.
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