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Our 7 Year Old

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Our little Baxter is 7 today!!! Part of me feels like he’s still such a puppy (probably because he acts like one), and part of me feels like we’ve had him forever. He’s crazy, unpredictable and a tad bit stubborn but we seriously couldn’t imagine our lives without him. He’s such a little snuggler, and now that I’m pregnant he’s become my little shadow following me every where I go. : ) We’ve spent the last 6 months re-training him because of some epically bad running away problems, and are so proud of our little man. He’s become SO responsive, obedient, loving and a really, really good dog overall. I know he got tired of me at times, but he put up with me making him go on 8 training walks a day up and down our street, and not letting him be alpha dog any more. He still runs the house and gets whatever he wants, but at least now he comes when I call him! And there’s no doubt he keeps us entertained.

We should have known from the start though. Before we got him, we had Allie and another puppy, both of which I picked out of the litters. Sadly, our other dog got hit by a car at only 10 months old, but she left a space for Baxter to join our family. We’d heard about his breed but didn’t know much other than they were energetic and gorgeous. We thought we did enough research, but we quickly learned they’re one of a kind dogs. As we were driving out to pick him up, Kyle made the executive decision that he would get to choose the puppy this time. I just had one stipulation…his gray and brown markings. We played with the litter trying to decide which one was ours when Baxter came running around his pen using all his might to carry a 4 foot long stick in his tiny 7 week old body. He was all legs and ears and pretty much the cutest thing you’d ever seen. Kyle pointed at him and said that’s the one!

From then on he’s been ours. It may have taken 6 1/2 years to train him into an obedient dog, but it was worth every second. We are so blessed he’s ours! Every morning I wake up looking forward to his morning kisses (he only kisses when you have morning breath, haha). Every evening I walk up stairs anticipating the crazy position he’s gotten himself in trying to get cozy on the bed. He’s ours, and we love him. Happy Birthday buddy! Thanks for making our lives better and definitely more entertaining!

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Casey & Dan | Chapel Hill Wedding | April 5, 2014

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Their love story started way back before Casey was even a teenager. Middle school sweethearts…a rare thing! During his toasts, Dan’s dad talked about the evolution of their relationship. I love how he described Casey joining their family. How she started out as an observer, just watching things as they happened, to eventually becoming a protective family member who wasn’t going to let anything come in the way of the ones she loves. He described it all in hockey terms, but that’s what I took away from it : ) Their love has grown up together, literally. It’s tried and true, and nothing will tear them apart.

On the photographer level, we have LOVED getting to know these two. Casey has the warmest heart. I can’t call or email her without her turning the entire conversation around to see how I’m doing first. No matter how hard I try to keep it focused on her! They’ve grown from two people who hired us as their photographers, to friends. We were so honored to be part of their day. We hope these photos help you re-live your day every time you look at them.

Congratulations! Welcome to the best club in the world…the one of us old married folks : )

0003 0004 0008 0011 0020 0039 0044 This was my favorite detail of Casey’s! Her dog Blue, as her something blue!!! 0050 0051 0052 First Looks. People, this is why we love them! Just watch their reactions unfold, and tell me that doesn’t pull at your heart strings! This bond between husband and wife is what a wedding day should be all about!
0075 0078 0084 0088 I love Kyle’s perspective too!!!  0091 0093 You two! 0096 0143 0147 0155 0156 0165 0171 0182 0188 0197 0207 0205 0210 0212 My favorite photo from their day! 0216 0218 0226 Love this moment too! It’s not normal for me to shoot in full sunlight like that, but I think I might start incorporating it. Love this photo! 0230 Casey’s girls were amazing. And I love their dresses!!!! 0268 0280 0287 0288 0295 0302 0304 0310 I love that Dan had his sisters on his side of the wedding party. Who says you can’t do that?!
0318 0321 0374 0378 0384 0393 0403 Kyle captured these next three. I just love the moments he photographs of newly married couples : ) 0411 0418 0448 0484 0451 0454 0457 0459 0460 0478 LOVE the family style seating and string lights!!!

0488 0490 We had to grab a few photos of them on Franklin Street before the sun went down : ) 0533 0534 0537 0547 0551 0553 0573 0580 0650 0670 0676 Thanks to the music of our favorite DJ, the guests danced all night long! 0677 0678 0712 0749 0750 0756

Congrats again you two!!!

Vendors:
Church: Chapel of the Cross
Reception: The Great Room, Top of the Hill 
Wedding Dress: Susan Deborah Bridal
Bridesmaids & Groom’s Ladies Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids
Suits: Jos A. Bank
Hair: Caju Salon 
Makeup: S. Davis Makeup Artistry
Flowers: Tre Bella Florists
Tables, Chairs, Linens: American Party Rentals 
Topper & Cupcakes: Gigi’s Cupcakes, Chapel Hill, NC
DJ: Unlimited DJ Services

Casey & Dan | thegreatroom - April 17, 2014 - 4:17 pm

[…] Unlimited DJ Service. All of the gorgeous images below are provided by the talented A.J. Dunlap of A.J. Dunlap Photography. Cheers to this beautiful and happy […]

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Kelsey & Sloan | Surf Club Wrightsville Beach Wedding | March 29, 2014

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These two. I don’t even know where to start. They are why we do what we do. They have this magical bond that people dream about having. They love to just be together. And it shows. They are always smiling, laughing, kissing, holding hands, and you can even catch him staring at her when she’s not looking. Photographing couples like this, who let their love show on the outside, is easy (and fun)!

Which is why we were so extremely sad when their wedding day had an 80% rain and storm forecast. Not that we wish that on any couple, but especially not this one. After about Thursday, I just stopped looking at the weather. I’d given up hope of it improving, and had made peace with the sad fact that it was going to rain on their wedding day. As we drove to Wrightsville Beach, I took another look at the forecast only to confirm what I already knew. No change, it was going to rain. It poured our entire drive, poured while we toured their venue beforehand, and poured while we ate lunch. Kyle checked the forecast again  and gave me the best news I’d heard in a while…the rain was going to move out at 2PM! Our outdoor portraits were scheduled to begin at 3PM! As it got closer to 3 it was still sprinkling. Kelsey and I stood on the porch checking the radar (again) and making a decision about what she wanted to do. She was game as long as it wasn’t pouring!

3PM rolled around and guess what? THE SUN CAME OUT!!!! I couldn’t believe it! There was the sun on what had up to that point been a nasty, rainy day. It stayed out for a while, went back behind the clouds, the fog rolled in, and then it came out again just as it was time to take their portraits on the beach. Seriously, I’m still in disbelief. I’m over-the-moon happy that they end up with a beautiful day after all! It ended up being perfect, and we had one of the most amazing couples sessions we’ve had on a wedding day.

Thank you two for going with the flow and for not letting the crazy weather effect your moods. Thank you for letting us into your lives and choosing us to photograph your very special day. We wouldn’t have dreamed of being anywhere else on March 29th! Congratulations! We wish you the happiest of marriages!

0003 0007 Kelsey wins the cute invitation award! 0009 And the award for cutest bridesmaids dresses…just wait til you see the back! 0022 0024 0030 0036 0054 0083 0089 0092 0102 0107 0113 Kelsey, you were a gorgeous bride! Don’t you love her dress?! It’s from J Crew! 0119 0123 0129 0135 0138 Ahhhh, love those bows! 0143 0145 0149 0159 0163 0166 These ladies were wonderful! They didn’t let the weather bother them a bit either, and I love them for that : ) 0180 181 182 Now the guys had a different story. By the time we got to them, the fog had rolled in. That’s ok! I still thought it was fun! 0206 0230 0231 0240 0253 Their ceremony was tented on the lawn of The Surf Club. Beautiful and simple, just the way I like it. 0256 0261 Instead of a guest book, they had people sign a bench. Love that idea! 0297 And this was the sign the ring bearer carried down the aisle : ) 0350 0354 0356 0368 0376 They were this smiley their entire ceremony! 0382 0394 0398

Now, that’s a first kiss!

0404 0418 0475 0483 0490 0500 0501 The fog stuck around for part of their photos. I LOVE the effect it gives in these, so I was ok with it! : ) 0511 0513 0520 0523 0524 0527 0535 0536 0543 As you can see, the sun came out again! 0545 0552 0553 0557 0558 0560 0579 0582 0592 0597 0600 601

606

607 602 They opted for a pie instead of a cake. So adorable! 603 604 605 Half way through their first dance the band switched songs and went from romantic to pop. Loved that! 0621 0628 0639 0645 0649 0667 This was one of my favorite bands I’ve ever seen at a wedding: The Party Nuts! They could play anything, and kept that dance floor packed. We’ve never seen so many people dance at a wedding! It got hard for us to move around, haha.  0689 0742 0747 0757 0806 0809 0817 0825 0828 0845 0862 Off they go! 0870 0876

Huge thanks to all the vendors who made their day a dream come true:

Venue & Catering: The Surf Club
Wedding Planner & Florist: Lily Belles Design
Wedding Gown: J Crew
Bridesmaids Dresses: Erin Fetherston
Pies: Hot Pink Cake Stand
Band: The Party Nuts
Hair & Makeup: Brooke Winters
Violinist: Maura Kropke
Officiant: Bryan Harris

Emily Wood - April 15, 2014 - 2:40 pm

AJ!! I don’t even know this couple but I feel like I do through your pics!! This is one of my fave weddings you’ve put on your blog in a long time!!! Love it!

Seldon Jones - April 15, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Absolutely beautiful!! Wonderful job A.J. And Kyle! And Kelsey and Sloan you are both gorgeous! Wishing you so much love and happiness!!

Sabrina Fields - April 15, 2014 - 3:29 pm

So beautiful!!! All of it – the dresses, the flowers, the details, the foggy AND glowy portraits! So thankful the rain stopped for them on their wedding day. It looks like it was a blast!

Sarah Gilreath - April 15, 2014 - 5:01 pm

I loooove this wedding AJ!! Y’all did an awesome job! And I l-o-v-e her dress!!

Alexandra {Heart Love Weddings} - April 15, 2014 - 5:39 pm

So, so gorgeous, A.J.!!!

Stephanie Lauren Balkman - April 15, 2014 - 10:50 pm

loved seeing these pictures-what a beautiful bride and wedding-and how talented are you two!!! :) so so so excited for you and Kyle! :) Love, Steph

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Bank Accounts

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I know, I know, this isn’t the most exciting topic in the world to talk about. Cameras, lenses, how we made an image…all of that is WAY more fun than talking about bank accounts. What photographer doesn’t like talking shop? But what’s the purpose of talking about all of that if we can’t support ourselves. If you just want photography as a hobby, that’s awesome! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s a great way to release your artistic side, and capture some memories of your family in the process. If you’re like us, and want your art to support your lifestyle then you need to talk about the boring stuff…like bank accounts. The only way you can stably support yourself financially is to have a system set up for the money you bring in and the money that goes out of your business. It’s absolutely necessary. Oh, am I being to serious for a Monday morning? Oooops sorry : ) I know it’s a lot to take in this early on a Monday, but stick with me, and I promise it’ll be worth it!

About a month ago, I wrote a post on “setting up a photography business“. In that post, I briefly hit on the bank accounts we have set up for our business, and today I wanted to break those down a little more for you. I’m going to put a few disclaimers on this post. Disclaimer #1: this works for us! It’s not the best system, or the only system, but it is a system. I highly encourage anyone who collects any money (even if it’s only a dollar) for their photography services to talk with an accountant and a banker on how to handle those funds. Disclaimer #2: for this system to work, you have to keep up with it weekly. I sit down every Friday (or Monday morning if I run out of time on Friday), and do my paper work/bank transfers. The entire purpose of our system is so that we can run a successful & profitable business will planning for those unexpected financial surprises.

Are you ready? Do you think you can handle a little serious conversation right now? If not, go grab some caffeine and come back! I promise this will still be here : )

We have 4 business checking bank accounts for our business. 4 sounds like a lot, but it’s not that complicated as you’ll seed. I say business checking too, because it’s important that your accounts are protected under your LLC license and are not under your personal name or you could lose everything if someone were to sue you. Business accounts typically charge small fees, but talk with your banker and it’s possible that he/she might be able to wave some of those. No promises, but it’s at least worth asking.

Account #1: Operating Account
Any money that we receive goes into this account first. It’s the workhorse account for our business. When we set this account up, we made sure it had a high transaction limit (I think we have 100 or 200 a month), because we knew that this account would see a lot of action. We send everything into this account first, because we want to have a record of all our money. For us, it was easier to have it all go straight into here than trying to divvy it up between accounts when we deposit it into the bank. This is also the account that I write my salary checks from. We pay ourselves bi-weekly, to match when Kyle gets paid from work. I’ll be honest and say I forget which week to write myself a check, but thankfully I have a husband who loves handling finances that happily reminds me : ) Lastly, we pay all our bills out of this account! None of our other accounts even have checkbooks or debit cards. Everything comes out of this account. The other accounts are strictly for holding money until we need or want to spend it, which is when we transfer it over to this account.

Account #2: Taxes Account
We automatically put 25% of all incoming money into this account, plus all money we’ve collected in sales tax. The last thing we want is to get stuck with a huge tax bill that we weren’t prepared for. That’s stressful! But it can be avoided if you set the money aside before hand. We all have to pay taxes, so technically that money is already spent. So instead of having it in our operating account where it could potentially be spent, we move it to the tax account and leave it til the tax bill comes around. I love knowing that tax bubble is there! It takes so much stress off me! 25% is the number that works for us, but again talk to your accountant to make sure that will work for you. We also look at this as a savings account, because anything we don’t end up paying in taxes at the end of the year is ours to keep! YAY!

Account #3: Product Account
This is an account we created for when our clients pre-purchase products (like wedding albums). When they purchase an album with their booking package, it’s typically going to be 12-18 months before we actually purchase that album for them. First, the wedding has to happen, and then the album has to be designed, edited and approved. So we just go ahead and set that money aside as soon as they give us the wedding deposit. As if it’s already spent, because, really, it has been. I can’t tell you how often I meet a newly married bride who is dealing with a nightmare of a situation regarding their wedding album because their photographer didn’t put the money aside. Wedding albums cost hundreds (if not thousands) to produce at our cost. If you aren’t prepared it’s a very easy way to go out of business. Don’t do that to yourself. Put that money away and don’t touch it until the album is ordered! Once the album is ordered, I then transfer the money back into the operating account, because again all of my money comes and goes from that account…including album purchases.

Account #4: Emergency & Savings Acccount
It’s not 4th on the list because it’s not important. In fact, it’s very important! This account is a non-negotiable for us. We ALWAYS put 10% of the money we bring in into this account. Not 10% of our profits…10% of what we bring in. Having a nest egg is very important when running a business. What if a camera breaks, and I need to replace it now? No problem, we already have that money set aside. We look at this account as an emergency/savings account. We keep a minimum balance in there that will replace a camera at any time, and the rest is our savings. We try to keep it in there for big things like buying a new house, but we also use it for upgrading our equipment so that the money isn’t coming out of our daily expense operating account. We sit down and discuss it together any time we’re planning on spending the money in this account. Currently, it’s a baby saving account for unexpected hospital bills. Not planning on those, but if there is a surprise we’ll be a little bit more prepared because we are saving along the way : )

Sorry to be so serious for a Monday! Well, only kind of sorry. I want your business to grow, and managing your money is a very important part of that! Hope this helps, and if you have any questions, I’m more than happy to try and answer them. And if I don’t know, I’ll direct you to someone who does : )

And because every post is prettier with a picture, how cute was Saturday’s couple?! Just look at them!!! So stinking adorable!

Britt - April 14, 2014 - 12:28 pm

Nice insight, AJ. Cool to see you blessing others with his site! Love your work!

Like the photos? Click the "like" button above or leave a comment! It's the only way we'll know :)If you're getting married and would like to talk to us about your photography, please click HERE to contact us!

The Day I Told Kyle

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I’m not going to say we had trouble getting pregnant. There are people out there who have real problems with it, and I’m not even going to try to put myself in the same category as them. What I will say is that it didn’t happen quickly for us. It took us a while of on and off “trying” before it worked. I say trying lightly, because we weren’t trying consistently. We’re wedding photographers…we were trying to time a baby around our off seasons! As if we’re in control. But that’s exactly what we did for the last few years. Yes, years, as in multiple. We’d try for a month or two because it worked for our schedule, give up for a few months, and then try again. We weren’t to the point of being worried yet (or heading to the doctors office), but we were to the point of, is this ever going to happen. And we were definitely to the point of, if one more friend has us over to dinner to tell us they’re pregnant we’re going to flip, haha. Joking! We were excited for our friends, just slightly frustrated it didn’t happen as easily for us. So you can imagine how surprised we were that it actually worked this time!

So you can imagine how surprised we were to find out we were having a baby. We had just gotten back from family vacation for Thanksgiving, and I was a week late. Not to get to graphic or anything, but that’s not unusual for me. It happens every so often, and, honestly, I’d gotten tired of taking pregnancy tests when it did. So this time I waited. I wasn’t feeling any differently, so I was reluctant to take one. But I had a cold, and wanted to know for sure, so I didn’t take any medication that might hurt the baby if I did happen to be pregnant. I was home alone, took the test, and instantly it said pregnant. I stood there looking at it like, “Where’s the not. It’s supposed to say not pregnant!” But it didn’t. This time it really happened.

Up until this point, I hadn’t thought of a good way to tell Kyle if it ever happened. I knew I couldn’t keep it a secret from him and had to devise a way to tell him as soon as he got home from work, but I wanted it to be special. We used to keep these journals, and have been talking about starting them back up again. The basic concept, is one of us writes in them to the other, and then we trade. There are no rules, no deadlines. Just writing to our love whenever we feel like it. So that’s how I decided to tell him.

When he got home from work, I let him unpack and settle in. He was anxious to get outside to work in the yard, but I made him notice the journal sitting on the table. It was getting dark out, so he said he’d read it when he came back in from the yard, but I insisted he read it now. He sat on the couch, reading this journal entry I’d wrote to him, completely un-suspecting of what was coming. As he turned the page, and read the news, he just looked up at me with the biggest smile on his face and said “A.JJJJJJJJ.” It was the happiest moment of my life getting to tell him that news. We hugged, celebrated and did a little happy dance…and then I brought the test out to prove to him it was real.

After our celebration, and soaking it in together, he got this glazed look on his face and said I need to go cut the grass and think about this. I will never forget that, “oh my gosh, I’m going to be a dad” face! When he came back inside after thinking things through, he had one thing to say to me, “I’m going to have that hospital bag packed and in the car, not just sitting by the door.” hahahaha! It still cracks me up that was his first baby thought! I love him for it too. He already wanted to take care of the little baby, and had only known it existed for an hour : )

Here we are, over half way through, and we are still just as excited as we were that very first day we knew.

Kristen Hill - April 11, 2014 - 2:25 pm

Dawww you guys are too darn cute.

Marisha Gordon - April 11, 2014 - 2:39 pm

LOVE THIS! :)

Barbara Jo Edmundson - April 11, 2014 - 2:43 pm

This is awesome A.J. I am so excited for you both!

Marva Hinton Gibson - April 11, 2014 - 5:14 pm

I’m so happy for the two of you! I know you’ll be awesome parents.

Kelly Maloy - April 11, 2014 - 10:11 pm

Awww!! Teared up reading this!!

Hank Lowry - April 11, 2014 - 11:15 pm

I am so proud to be your Dad and Kyle’s Father-in-law and this baby’s Pops. You restore my faith in the next generation. Thank you

Deana Macdonald - April 15, 2014 - 3:28 am

I love how you honor each other and you both keep “playfulness” in your marriage. You’re setting a beautiful example for others with every loving action. So proud of you both! Hugs and love always!

Like the photos? Click the "like" button above or leave a comment! It's the only way we'll know :)If you're getting married and would like to talk to us about your photography, please click HERE to contact us!