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We’re Moving!

Raleigh, NC wedding photographers build a new home in Wake Forest, NC.

We’re moving!!!!!!

Now that I’ve scared all our brides, I’ll tell you we’re not moving far…only up to Wake Forest, NC. We’re actually building a house, so we really won’t be moving for a few months! This has been a dream of ours for years, and we are pinching ourselves it’s finally coming true.

We’ve been on the hunt for the perfect development for us to raise our family. We didn’t just want a neighborhood, we wanted a community. Somewhere we would know all our neighbors and feel safe. Somewhere Ada will have friends her age. About two years ago, they started building exactly what we wanted only a few miles from my mom & sister. At first I wasn’t sure about living in Wake Forest, actually I’m still not, but the benefits are outweighing my concerns, so we’re going to try it! If we don’t like it, we can always move again, right? : )

After finding the perfect community, we started saving, budgeting and planning to make it happen! That’s why we’re pinching ourselves. It’s been over 6 months of weekly conversations, and years of saving to see if this would be possible, and it finally is happening! We signed the papers and put our deposit down last weekend. We’ve even picked out our lot, floor plan and exterior colors! Next week, we head to the design center to begin the process of all the interior choices. It’s all happening so fast! It’s a crazy process, but in about 6 months, we’ll be living in a brand new house, in our dream community! I know you can’t see it well, but the back of that house behind us is actually our same house!

This is a totally new experience to us, so we would love your opinion! We get to customize (for a price) about 90% of the house, so any tips you have about building we’d love to hear them! Or even if you’ve never built before like us, what would you love to have in your next home? Outlet placements, fans, blinds/shutters, anything!

Thanks in advance for your help! We’re excited to share every step of the journey with you!

charity - March 25, 2015 - 10:07 am

Pick colors that make you feel peaceful, and places that your clients will love to come to. We have the front half of our house painted a light grey, and the back half of the downstairs something called misty lake with is a color that is both blue and green, and people constantly talk about how peaceful they feel in our house.

Enjoy the process!! I’m really excited for you!

Shannon Sales Stanley - March 25, 2015 - 2:25 pm

I grew up in wake forest and loved it! it is the right decision to move there! it is a great community! We are building a house too! (in joco) in a few months so I am not much help there! congrats!

Tierre Peterson - March 25, 2015 - 2:30 pm

Oh no! AJ and family, you all are leaving our great town. We actually lived on the Raleigh side of Capital Blvd (directly across from Wake Forest). We love it out there, but Wakefield wasn’t in our price range for homes. When we built our home, I kept in contact with the builders to make sure they were installing what we wanted. They called me once because there was some confusion on how many sinks to install in the guest bathroom. They almost installed two sinks, when there was suppose to be one. So visit the site as much as possible.
When it’s time to do the punch list, check things out very closely. As far as material selection, add a little of your own personal style.
Hopefully they will sod the front and back yard, but most only do the front, so keep in mind that establishing grass (landscaping) may take some time. I’ll stop there, but congrats to you all!! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on your blog…

Danielle Blocker - March 25, 2015 - 2:45 pm

AJ, I’m so happy for you guys!! Jason and I can’t wait to settle down and hopefully build again someday soon. The house we built in Maine sold with the very first showing, so I think we did a pretty great job.

Here are my suggestions…
- Be very detail oriented + visual (I know you’ll do great at this! I asked them to move the dining room light over a foot and it was perfect for where we planned to put our table. It’s little things like that many people will overlook when building, but it’s worth it in the end!)
- Find GREAT companies to work with, just like planning a wedding, having the right vendor will make it so much less stressful knowing you’re in good hands.
- Know that there will be at least one unexpected expense, problem, etc, something will come up, if you know it will and can prepare for it then it can help you manage when it does happen.
- When you have a baby, it’s hard to envision the house past her current age, but try to think of the best floor plans that will grow with Ada and not just what works for right now.
- Lastly – ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS! I felt so crazy asking about every single little detail, but I learned a ton + it was so worth it in the end.

Feel free to reach out anytime if you have questions. It’s such an exciting process + I hope it goes smoothly! I’m hoping to get down to NC sometime soon, looking forward to finally meeting Ada + seeing you again!

Deborah Powell Norman - March 25, 2015 - 7:03 pm

Some of our favorite things we chose when we built….we changed our plan to a three car garage & we’ve always been thankful for the space for 2 cars, plus kids outdoor toys & tools, etc… Also, we added a sink in the garage& the laundry room, & it’s been a great feature we’ve enjoyed!

Lauren Worley Autrey - March 27, 2015 - 3:41 am

So happy and excited for you! If you and Kyle visit Momma Dunlap stop off at exit 90. We finally got into our home and Russell included so many little things that I can’t think of all the special things to do. One thing I can encourage though, lots of outlets inside and out, in the bathroom, kitchen,and closets. If they don’t get used, no biggie, but if you need one and have to go searching for a drop cord, ugh. Russell put in lots, thank the Lord :-) Have fun and enjoy the journey. Miss you both.

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!

Angela | Wakefield Bridal Portraits

Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com

Angela, you made for a stunning bride!! I can’t get over your lace gown, the flowers, and how happy you looked on Friday! You make our job easy : ) Keep bridals a secret until the wedding day is SO hard! Especially when they are as pretty as Angela’s! We had a perfect (albeit very chilly) winter day, with beautiful light streaming through the trees. And then we ended up in a field. If you don’t know by now, I love fields, and I can make a field out of nothing haha. Give me a tiny tall patch of grass, and I’m going to make it look like the biggest most beautiful field you’ve ever seen. These were taken on the side of a parking lot in her neighborhood!

Thank you Angela for braving the cold temps and trusting me to walk into that tall patch of grass. You looked gorgeous & I can’t wait to show you the rest of your wedding pics. Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for a sneak peek from your day : ) Congrats!!!

Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com Sunny bridal portrait in a field. Photo by A.J. Dunlap Photography www.ajdunlap.com North Carolina wedding photograph in a field!

Meghan - March 27, 2015 - 10:05 am

AJ and Kyle,

Thank you for doing such an amazing job at my best friend’s wedding!! I cannot wait to be involved in more weddings that include you!!

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!

Anywhere but NC

Raleigh, NC wedding photographers are giving away their services to one lucky couple! As long as the wedding doesn

It seems that my post a few weeks ago was a little confusing, so I want to clear it up. We are giving away a 9 hour destination wedding photography package in exchange for travel expenses!!! That’s right, we’re not even charging a dollar for our photography services! By destination, we don’t mean what you probably think we mean. We mean ANYWHERE but NC! What might not be destination to you, sounds exotic and exciting to us compared to Raleigh. So if you’re getting married this year or next anywhere outside of North Carolina, you’re welcome to apply!

I’m putting this out there again, and extending the deadline for applications to April 30th, 2015. We are still hoping for a specific type of wedding, which is why we’re taking applications, and not just offering first come, first serve. To apply, please email me at aj@ajdunlap.com the following details:

  • Wedding date (we have to make sure we’re available)
  • Wedding location
  • Picture of you and your fiancee
  • Detailed description of your day (colors, gown, flowers, details, guest count, etc)
  • Pinterest board of your wedding day inspiration if you have one or images of whatever inspiration you’re using for your day

The fine print: The lucky couple will be given 9 hours of wedding day coverage plus full resolution images with a print release, normally a $4000 package! Albums, engagement/bridal sessions and prints will be available for a la carte purchase. Couple agrees to give us full creative freedom, and ample time for bride and groom portraits (amount will depend on the location of your wedding), and permission to share and publish images. The chosen couple will be required to sign a wedding photography contract & model release, and can not have a wedding photography contract or verbal agreement with any other photographer. The couple will also be responsible for all travel expenses associated with photographing their wedding. All applications due by April 30, 2015 at 11:59PM EST. We’ll email the chosen couple on May 1, 2015, winner will be emailed privately, and all couples not selected will receive an email notification. We’re reserving the right to not choose a couple as well, but that’s not our goal! We want to find the perfect couple for us to photograph!!

Like last time, please share on your Facebook page, so we can get the word out! We can’t wait to meet the lucky couple!

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!

Doing It All

A new mom

It’s one of those things we all wonder before having kids. How’s it all going to work? How will we fit a baby into our already busy life? Our lives before the baby were insanely busy. Kyle worked a full time job and worked with me practically full time. I was running a high-paced photography business, usually photographing 2-3 days a week plus 25-30 weddings a year, and blogging 5 days a week. We had two dogs, traveled a ton, exercised a lot, ate out practically every night, made time for friends, spent time with family, for the most part kept a spotless house…and then, on top of it all, we were going to have a baby. Insane doesn’t even begin to describe it.

When you’re running at a fast pace, everyone tells you you’re not going to be able to do it all once the baby comes. They tell you life will slow down. Priorities will change. Nothing’s going to be the same. I beg to differ.

Sure life is different, we have a BABY now!!! Priorities haven’t changed though, family still comes first. Life hasn’t slowed down. It’s sped up at an unbelievable pace. I mean, where did the last 7 1/2 months go?! Moms can you back me up here? And I can do it all. I do “do it all”.

Before you reach through your computer screen to slap me, let me back up a minute. The only thing that has changed is my definition of “all”. All has taken on a whole new meaning for me. My all includes nursing my daughter, feeding her homemade food, cloth diapers, and keeping a clean house (most of the time). It doesn’t include folding laundry. That’s Kyle’s “all”, I’d live out of a pile if he’d let me. It doesn’t include eating out like we did before or seeing friends as often, or even as much traveling. Business wise, I still strive to answer emails quickly, and give my clients the best customer service I have to offer. Which means, I can’t do 2-3 shoots a week to keep up with those standards. I do 1-2 max, and on wedding weeks, I try not to more than 1. Blogging has been reduced to Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and the occasional fourth post. “All” as I knew it, has changed, and my guess is it’s going to keep evolving with every new stage she enters.

So yes, I do it all. I just do my all. Not your all, mine. Your definition of all probably doesn’t include cloth diapers (most people’s don’t), but mine does. Mine doesn’t include running a marathon like some friends of mine. Yours might include two, three, four or more kids, whereas mine is just the one. Do what works for you and do it well. If there’s something that doesn’t fit into “all” right now, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s ok, maybe one day you’ll have time for whatever that was again. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up over it. You’re doing the best you can. I’m willing to bet that your kids are fed, clothed, clean and loved. Give yourself a pat on the back because you’re doing it all!

To all you super moms out there doing your all, here’s a virtual high-five! I’m proud of you, and your kids are too, even if they’re too young to tell you! Keep DOING IT ALL, because you’re doing a great job!

Image by Hartman Outdoor Photography.

Jillian - March 18, 2015 - 12:58 pm

LOVE this post! Our definitions of ‘all’ can be so different, but when you’re a working mom family always has to come first. I always get asked how I do it “all” – full-time job, small biz, little kids and a husband… but, there’s no other option. Those three things are SO important to me, so I have to make time for all of them. It just gets done! And I always remind myself there are people far busier than I am, that also make it happen everyday. You do what you have to do!

Jenny Herrera - March 18, 2015 - 2:28 pm

I love this post and miss you so. You’re a rockstar!

ajd - March 18, 2015 - 2:36 pm

It does all just get done somehow, doesn’t it?! Most days, I’m amazed it happened. But somehow it does :)

Cindy Watrous - March 18, 2015 - 10:08 pm

You are so right – and you are so wise for figuring this out so early in motherhood. Your all will definitely change and evolve as she grows… and that’s part of what makes motherhood so amazing.

Anna Bulfin - March 19, 2015 - 11:49 am

I don’t have kids but this is great!! I think we all beat ourselves up A LOT (I know I do) when we aren’t achieving every goal under the sun. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement! PS. I know you know this, but you have such a BEAUTIFUL little girl!! ;)

Maureen Hanifer Brooks - March 21, 2015 - 2:31 am

3 girls, 2 lacrosse teams, 1 dog, 1 husband, a full time job for both…..laundry more than one can imagine! Yup! Loving life and would not trade it!!

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!

Morrissa | Mentoring Session

After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that

I could see them. Light bulbs were going off everywhere. The more we talked, the more things clicked for Morrissa of Natural Spark Photography. She came to me wanting to take more consistent images. She knew how to salvage a not-so-great photo when editing, but she didn’t want to have to do that. She wanted to get it right when she took it.

We spent 3 hours on Friday diving into the nitty gritty of what is a properly exposed image. Why that happens, and how to achieve it photo after photo. This is my favorite subject to talk about! It took me years of practice before I understood the math behind photography. Which is why I love sharing it so much! It makes my heart so happy to see those lightbulbs going off. We are exist for something greater than ourselves, and I truly feel part of why I exist is to help other photographers grow. I don’t know everything, but what I do know, I love sharing!

Morrissa, I’m so proud of you for working so hard on Friday. I know I sent you home with so much to think about that your brain is probably still spinning! I have no doubt you’re going to take that info, develop it into your own style and your business is going to explode from here! I’m so excited to see where it takes you! There are still a few mentoring sessions open too!

Raleigh, NC wedding photographer now offers mentoring sessions!

After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that After 3 hours of intense photography training, I could see the lightbulbs going off! Together we can do big things, and that

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!