The Girl Next Door| Olivia – RHS Class of 2015 |Terri Gillis Photography

I lived in the sweetest little neighborhood for the best five years of my life.  I arrived with 2 children but moved out with 4.  1200 sq. ft is tight for 6 people.  I met my best friends Amy & Sandi there.  We never run out of things to talk about, we laugh a lot  and somehow manage  daily updates on kids, work and life.   The kind of friends where they know ALL the details and love you anyway.  In the five years that we lived there our neighborhood had 16 babies.  I added two, Amy added one and Sandi added 4.  Olivia was the first of all of them to be born in a neighborhood filled with boys, she was the girl next door.  She was so darling that she was positively contagious and undoubtedly the reason I have a 3rd child and a 4th who I gave the same middle name as hers… Grace. She has awed us and inspired us countless times. I can recall her sitting up (shake ’em, shake ’em), crawling in her Mother’s kitchen, toddling in our back yard, falling asleep in her high chair, popsicles, swinging, sandboxes, sledding, bike rides, missing teeth,  first days of school, classroom parties, singing at vacation bible school and marching in the band.  She’s always had this maturity about her. I think we had her in charge of watching over kids when she was four, and I know she could adequately care for an infant (her sister) when she was six.  She’s one of the kids that  I scan the crowd for her the way I would my own when I know she’s out there. Aside from the updates on life from her Mom I really only see at  church, marching at football games, and occassionally when I get my hair done in their kitchen.  She’s a teenager on the go.

I started this crazy photography endeavor and needed a subject for a portrait project. She was my first choice because at a few days old I knew she would sit still, something my 1 & 3yr olds were incapable of.  I just pulled out that image to look at it and  I won’t pretend that it’s even a good. But it was a first and a starting point.  One foot in front of the other as you have to start somewhere.  From there on she’s been a regular  and I’m sure I could put together quite a collection of her alone.  The reality of her being my first subject sank in about 4 years ago when I realized she was on the speed train to adulthood.  She’s so tall now and I can’t believe she’ll graduate next year. She’s gifted spiritually, personally and excells in academics, music and athletics.  She’s laid back and funny, easy to be around no matter how long it’s been.  I know that I’ll still update their family portraits but it’s pretty common that  senior portraits are often the last time you are photographed until your wedding.  Long gone is the spunky little red head who bobbed around from yard to yard; hello to this beautiful young woman with many  exciting “firsts” ahead of her while she finishes out high school leaves a trail of “lasts” behind.

I’ve been blessed in so many ways by this beautiful girl.

“Your off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way.”  – Dr. Seuss

Michael & Jen | Just Married | Terri Gillis Photography 2014

The Blue Water Grill was such a awesome location for this wedding.  Not too big &  not too small. A very intimate casual, party where two people tied the knot just moments earlier.  Michael & Jen were surrounded by their family and closest friends for this very sweet celebration. The rest of the world celebrated with them on facebook. I’m pretty sure a wedding is 10 times better than your facebook birthday party, so many sweet messages to them in the newsfeed that day.  LOVE  it.

When I arrived the sun was blazing and it was pretty steamy; then the rain came in. It sprinkled, then it rained (of course while I’m supposed to be doing the photos) and then the weather started to settle just as she came down the aisle.  Positively peaceful and poetic. They needed to decide who would say their vows first; a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors helped settle the matter.  They exchanged rings, updated their facebook relationship status, exchanged a quick kiss, took a selfie and walked back down the aisle happily married. Nothing complicated or fussy, sweet and simple and so much fun.  I was delighted to take part in their day.

The first look kills me EVERY. TIME.  So precious.  Love it.

Her Grandmother stitched that on her dress.  How adorable is that? Love it.

Jen LOVES all things marshmallow.  When I saw that the glasses has marshmallows I knew this was the spot to get a photo of their rings. The tables were so beautiful with these sweet and simple decorations.  My cupcake didn’t make it through dinner.  Red Velvet…. YUM. Love it.

His & Hers become “Ours”.  Love it.

Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Scissors cuts paper and she got to say her vows first. All decisions in my house from now on are going to be made using this method.   It’s as simple and complicated as that. Love it.

So you take a bottle of wine and nail the boxed closed with letters to eachother inside.  If either of you is at the end of your rope, you open the box, pour the wine and read the letters.  I think a good way to signal that someone is in the doghouse would be to go ahead and put the box in the fridge…. as a warning or maybe a white flag.  Either way that wine needs to be chilled before we even think about opening it.  Love it.

P.S.  I forgot to leave a wish for them and it would be this…. “I wish that you will never have to open that box.”

Forget the unity candle.  Let’s have wine and toast our family!!! Cheers!! Love it.

I’m not going to lie.  I sort of LOVE facebook (& Candy Crush so feel free to send me a life).  I thought it was so cute that they did this! Love it.

The ultimate selfie.  I don’t care where you are, nothing (NOTHING) beats this.  Best. Selfie. Ever. Love it.

Jared + Lauren Just Married | Terri Gillis Photography

Jared and Lauren tied the knot last weekend on a spectacular June day.  Light breeze, no humidity and 77 degrees….. Ahhhhhh….

I met with them last winter to discuss their big day and they brought along Jared’s brother, Caleb, who also has a passion for photography.  Caleb asked me a very specific question “How will you capture their personalities?’  I consider wedding photography to revolve around beauty and romance, not so much about “personalities”.  I want to deliver beautiful images to my clients that will tell the story of their wedding day and have images to convey the deep love that brought them to that day. However…. after shooting Jared & Lauren’s engagement session and getting a glimpse of their sparkling personalities I understood what Caleb was asking.  And the truth is, they are not capable of hiding their personalities!!  The unapologetically like to have fun/be fun.  It’s who they are;  you couldn’t hide it if you wanted to.  When I say fun I don’t mean obnoxious! They’re very sweet and caring and are just overflowing with some good old-fashioned JOY.  It’s been nothing but a delight getting to know them during this very special time in their life.

Congratulations Jared & Laured – I wish you a lifetime of joy!


Camelopardalids Meteor Shower May 24, 2014 | Terri Gillis Photography

Stepping out of my box last night  I decided to try and photograph the Camelopardalids Meteor shower.  This was about 11:45pm  and as you can see I have 2 little trails/tails  (not the HUNDREDS I was hoping for).   I set my alarm and got back up at 2, nothing more was happening and my husband got up at 3, still nothing.  I’m not sure if this was it or if we missed it?  If they were so slow that you couldn’t visibly see them??  I shot this with a 24 second exposure and I didn’t t see them until I viewed the image in camera. For me a  fun little discovery to say the least & I’ll take it.  It might not be the most impressive thing you’ve ever seen, but was a fun thing to try.  It brings me to this scripture. … “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14” .  Like these little comets/meteors (forgive me, I’m NOT an astronomer) how many moments do we miss when we are not completely focused? Things that we let go of or  get by us due to lack of time. We’re missing some big stuff people!!  Life is a vapor.  Can we be courageous, love deeply, forgive (again & again), seek joy, be content, cease striving and just relax once in a while? Don’t miss the vapor.

Family Photo Sessions| Terri Gillis Photography 2014 | West Michigan Family Photography

I photograph many family photo sessions every year and I deal with a lot of little people who are typically interested in getting their picture taken for the first 5 minutes of it.  After that the marathon begins….Me trying to engage them in any way I possibly can.   I have my standard tricks and these two were pretty easy. Just give them a chance to make silly faces and they erupt into uncontrolable laughter.  During this session there was dancing, there was a little singing (confesssion… I did not know the words to any of the songs from Frozen),  there was posing (Thank you Caroline for your assistance!!), there was a tour of their house,  there was candy, promises of rewards and shopping, a little tickling & lots of laughter.  Honestly, it was very fun!!

They are the typical family. They book their session with high hopes of having family photos to remember these precious days. The most important thing I can relay  is to just relax.  Sometimes having Mom and Dad walk into the other room is just enough to take the pressure off; that’s  when the magic begins.  Thankfully Jeffrey and Amy have trusted me with so many of the sweetest moments of their lives that they gladly let me have my fun with their kids.  A little time and a lot of patience is all that’s required to create images that will surely capture your heart. 

If a 4 year old wants to assist with posing her parents for a photo you just go with it.  Priceless!! 

I gave each of them the opportunity to pick their “pose”.  Keaton required his Cheetah and preferred not to smile.  Caroline put her hand on her hip and told me “Just tell me when you’re ready”…. Hahahahahaha…. I could hardly take it.  it was so cute!

Caroline offered MANY time to take my photo… “Just pass me your camera”… She settled for this photo with me.  {I might frame this in my office!}

The last image from our session…. so precious.