BubbleWood Photography » Wedding & Portrait Photographer based in Manteca, CA

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” ~Genesis 2:7

easter service at movies cornerstone community church manteca ca This past weekend, I had the pleasure of capturing my church’s Easter outreach event. Our bold and faithful pastor decided to follow God’s leading him to close the church doors on Easter Sunday (the most visited day of the year for most churches) in favor of having service at the movies. We sang a couple songs led by our worship pastor and then watched the movie, “RISEN”. Some thought he was crazy, saying that God couldn’t move in a movie theater. Can I tell you that God knows no boundaries. He is not limited or constrained to a building. The church is made of people, not walls and doors. I am happy to say that God did indeed move and several made decisions for Christ that day…in a movie theater.

As I was standing to the side of the theater with my camera in hand, I noticed the way the spotlight shining on our worship pastor was catching the dust particles floating in the air. At first I thought man, it’s dusty in here, but then I thought “that would make a cool picture”. I played with my settings and clicked the shutter. Then I looked at the image and how I captured those little specks just right, and I thought “perfect”.light in dark placesFriends, we are dust. God formed man from the dust of the earth. Dust has no beauty on it’s own, but when you shine light through it, it’s made beautiful. We cannot shine on our own, but with God’s presence in our lives we become a reflector of His light and love. God is our Creator, and when he looks at the “image” of our lives He thinks we are perfect and beautiful. Those little particles of dust, so small and seemingly insignificant in such a dark space shown with such beauty when they were brought into the light. As believers, we are meant to shine in the darkest of places.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” ~2 Corinthians 4:6

“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” ~Matthew 5:14

What a beautiful and timely reminder of God’s promises and purpose for my life. No matter how the world may try to snuff out my light, I will choose to let it shine.

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first look bride and groom churchIn the world of photography, “first looks” are a new phenomenon. 10 years ago, they were not even a thing. Now, for some couples, they are a major part of the wedding day. Some couples choose to stay traditional while some photographers require their couples to do a “first look”. There is no right or wrong way, and I have never pushed my clients in either direction. It has everything to do with being informed and making the best decision for you and your wedding day. They can be great when planned and prepared for well, they can also be not-so-great. What do I mean exactly? Well, here is my list of pros & cons pertaining to “first looks”. Hopefully, it will give you some insight into both sides and help you make a decision that you can be happy with.first look bride and groom

PROS

  1. They are a great way to shake out any nervous jitters or stress. I find that when couples get the opportunity to see each other before the ceremony, it helps to put everything back into perspective. They can forget all about the “issues” that inevitably occur on a wedding day and remember that the most important thing is getting married to the man/woman of their dreams.
  2. They allow couples to party it up sooner. When couples can see each other and take all possible formal portraits before the ceremony, there is no “lag” time between the ceremony and reception. This is a BIG reason why couples opt for a “first look”.
  3. They keep guests happy. It’s sad to think that your guests would leave before you are done with pictures but I have seen it happen before. Unless you are having a cocktail hour, guests can get a bit restless if they have to wait an hour or sometimes longer before they can eat.
  4. They usually give you more time for the bride & groom portraits. As long as you’re not running late on your timeline, you should have more than enough time to get ample shots of just the two of you. The one thing from my own wedding I can 100% say was a mistake was not allowing enough time with just my husband and I. We spent way more time than was necessary on photos with our attendants when we could have been getting some seriously amazing shots of just the two of us. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ladies that stood by me that day, but more importantly, I love the man I married and I wish we had done more.
  5. They are intimate. Some couples like the idea of being “alone” when they see each other for the first time. It allows them some time to really take it all in. They can kiss, hug, and cuddle without everyone else watching (well except your photographer and/or videographer). They can talk and whisper sweet nothings. None of this is possible during the actual wedding ceremony.first look bride and groom

CONS

  1. They require an earlier start time to your day. When couples want to do a “first look” they sometimes don’t think about how this will affect their timeline for the day. In order to fit it all in, hair and makeup appointments will need to begin fairly early. For example, if your ceremony time is 2:00pm you will most likely need to be completely ready for pictures by about 11:00am, meaning your hair/makeup probably needs to start around 9:00am.
  2. They require more planning and coordination. Plans for a “first look” must be made well in advance of the wedding day. All garments, jewelry, etc. need to be pressed, cleaned and ready to go earlier in the day. All bridal party members or other persons that will be present during the getting ready portion of the day need to be informed and careful as to not allow the bride and groom to see one another (if you are both getting ready in the same location of course, a wedding planner/coordinator is great for this). Once the time comes to actually do the “first look”, you will need to be positioned and told when to walk/turn around.
  3. They don’t typically allow for those oh-so-gorgeous golden hour, sunset photos. Due to the nature of “first looks” you usually miss out on that yummy late afternoon light when you’ve taken all your formal portraits prior to the ceremony. So unless you carve out 10-15 mins later in the day to sneak away and get those sunset photos you’ve always dreamed of, they just won’t happen.
  4. They can be stressful and non-climactic. Maybe you’ve dreamed of what your “first look” will be like. You’ve looked at heartfelt images on Pinterest and hyped the whole thing up in your head. Now the day is here and your hair and makeup ran late and your dress was wrinkled and needed to be steamed at the last minute. Stress levels run high as you’re trying to hurry to what you believe will be this epic moment, and then it actually happens…the “first look”. And…it wasn’t at all what you’d played out in your head. Maybe your groom doesn’t say the things you thought he’d say. Maybe there are no tears of joy like you knew there would be. Or maybe some of your bridal party or family decides to sneak around the corner to get a view of what is supposed to be this super intimate moment between the two of you. Your “first look” could be something out of a fairy-tale or it could be this slightly awkward moment where you just stand there looking at each other unsure of what to say or do (kinda how my wedding day “first look” went).
  5. They could make your parents or grandparents a little crazy. Since “first looks” are such a recent trend, your parents and more often grandparents will ask questions or make comments like “the groom’s not supposed to see the bride before the wedding”. Ultimately, it’s your wedding and you can do what you want, but just know that there will be those certain ones who don’t understand or approve of your decision to do a “first look”.
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wedding rings canon 24-70mm

Image shot with Canon 24-70mm/2.8 at 70mm, f9.0, 1/30 sec., ISO 2000.

This post is purely personal and pretty deep.

2016 didn’t start off very well in the Woodruff household. We returned from Christmas holidays on a high. Seeing our friends and family and enjoying being back in Sweet Home Alabama was so wonderful. The whole trip made us extremely homesick and dreaming of the day when we can move back. There are things we like about living in California, don’t get me wrong, but having a child has completely changed everything. When we decided to make the move we weren’t pregnant and we thought moving out here would be this great adventure. Then we found out we were having a baby (and I wouldn’t change that for the world, I LOVE our little Lincoln and he is meant to be here) but it threw a bit of a wrench in our plans. We haven’t been able to enjoy California the way we thought and caring for a little one with no help from family has been very trying at times.

So here we are, back from the holidays and the whole month of January it seemed we were sick. Lincoln brought home some germies from the church nursery and made everyone sick. My poor hubby got the worst of it. Then I start to think about the year ahead of me in my business. One wedding was all I had marked on my calendar for photography work. Then the thoughts from the enemy started creeping in…”you’re a failure”, “you’re going to go out of business”, “you should hang it up”… After almost 7 years of photographing weddings, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. It’s hard not to look at social media and what many of my friends or others in the industry are doing and not be jealous. Why can’t I be busy like they are? Why am I not getting work? Have I lost my magic as a photographer?

God knows what’s best for us. He has gone before us and paved our way. He knew that I would have this lull in my business, He planned it. He ordered it. He has blessed me with it. Time to focus on my family, especially this adorable little guy that takes up most of my time anyway. Time for myself. Time to take a step back and educate and invest in myself so I can grow as a photographer and a business owner.

Mostly, God is trying to show me that I have to rely on Him…for everything. I can’t handle things on my own. Having a child has shown me that if nothing else. I need His divine help. Rest is good in every form. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean rest by simply being lazy. But rest from things that stress or busy up our lives and detract from the things that truly matter is good.

“ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN HANDED OVER TO ME by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. “COME TO ME, ALL WHO ARE WEARY and heavy-laden, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” ~Matthew 11:27-29

This year will be a year of rest, renewal and renovation for me. This year will be about finding peace and letting God show me what He wants for me.

The image above is of my wedding rings. I was inspired to get out the ole camera this morning and shoot. I am sad to say I don’t use my camera everyday like I should, but I’m going to work on that:-)

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This family is just the sweetest! I have never worked with more well-behaved kiddos. They love their parents and they love each other. It was just precious to watch and photograph. We shot their session in their neighborhood in Mountain House. It was a lovely fall day complete with the smell of cow manure, brought me back to my years in Alabama growing up across a dirt road from a cow pasture.mountain house ca family pictures mountain house ca family pictures mountain house ca family pictures mountain house ca family pictures mountain house ca family pictures mountain house ca family pictures

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Well, everyone said it. And it’s so true… TIME FLIES.2015-12-02_0002

Our little Lincoln is 4 months old already. Some days it feels like we just brought him home, but other days it feels like an eternity since I was pregnant with him. Mostly, I feel like everyday is a new adventure. Watching him take those little physical and cognitive leaps is so exciting. But there are a few things I’ve learned in these 4 months of being a parent:

  • NOTHING AND NO ONE CAN TRULY PREPARE YOU FOR WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A PARENT. Prior to becoming parents, you will receive lots of advice and information, some wanted, some not, some very helpful, and some not. You think to yourself, when I have a kid, I’m going to be “this” way and I’m NOT, under any circumstances, going to be “that” way. In the end, you do what you feel in your heart is best for your kid and that’s it. Your aunt’s cousin’s girlfriend may think she has the end-all, be-all knowledge and wants to clue you in, but what may have worked for her kid doesn’t work for your kid.  I’m finding that what works one day may not work the next. There is no particular method or trick that works all the time, every time. Each day is different from the day before and I have had to roll with the punches. And people tell you how great it is to be a parent, but you can’t fully grasp it until you have a child of your own. Holding this little guy in my arms and looking into those big blue eyes (yes, we are both still shocked he has blue eyes) and knowing that he is yours is something you can’t describe. Thinking to yourself about how much you love this little person, the joy is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
  • IT’S AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH ON 3 HOURS OF SLEEP. I was stoked when one night our little angel slept 9.5 hrs without waking. But that was only a tease (he’s taking after his father already). Because the very next week, our little devil began what it called the “4 month sleep regression” (that I’d never heard of until my sister told me about it maybe a month prior, seriously, Google it.). Holy mother of all this is good in the world, it SUCKS! I mean you go from thinking you have the best baby in the world to thinking your child is out to kill you. I did read that not all babies will go through this or to the same extent so if you were or are lucky enough to not experience this, be thankful. And believe me, we have tried EVERYTHING we know or have read works during this phase and have only made slight progress. I know it can’t last forever but it sure doesn’t feel that way right now. The only thing that makes it bearable is seeing that cute little face look up at you through tear covered eyes and smile, and grab hold of your finger and squeeze it so tight you can’t pull it away. Knowing that I’m responsible for loving and caring for this little person is what keeps me going.
  • BEING A MOM HAS GIVEN ME NEW RESPECT AND CONFIDENCE IN MYSELF. When I think back on my younger years when I cared entirely too much about how every single hair on my head looked and that I fit the “standard” I thought I had to, I realize it was all so petty. I mean, I literally got up every day before high school and hot-rolled my hair so it would look perfect and worried over every outfit choice wanting to look stylish and attractive. During that time, I was also the most insecure about myself I would ever be. Now fast forward to today…I’m 20 lbs heavier, flabbier and with quite a few gray hairs (all lovingly colored with dye) YET, I’m more secure and confident in myself and my body than I’ve ever been. Funny how having a baby changes things. I have greater respect for myself because I have endured a pregnancy, given birth (and man it ain’t easy!) and now raising a child. God created women to do all of this, and there is something so empowering in that. I have stopped giving myself a hard time and started celebrating the fact that I have been able to do what some women cannot.

Christmas will be here like tomorrow and Lincoln will be 5 months old, then 6 months and before we know it, we’ll have a 1 year old. I try to remind myself everyday that he will not be this little and young forever and that I need to cherish all the little moments I have with him. Praise God for a healthy child and for entrusting him to us. Praise God for the most amazing husband I could ever ask for. All I have to do is ask and he will roll himself out of bed and go deal with Lincoln to give me a break, and on weekend mornings he will get up with him and let me sleep in a little while also cooking me breakfast. He changes diapers (and we’re cloth diapering) and he offers to watch him so I can have some alone time, he does it ALL. My husband is truly spoiling me. I’m so thankful that Lincoln has such a great example to look up to as he grows.2015-12-02_0001We are fairly certain he’s teething already. I mean, look at him trying to get both sets of fingers in there. Silly boy!2015-12-02_00032015-12-02_00042015-12-02_00052015-12-02_00062015-12-02_00072015-12-02_00082015-12-02_00092015-12-02_00102015-12-02_00112015-12-02_00122015-12-02_0013And this face means, “I’m done”.2015-12-02_0014

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