Carly & Ryan

Two years ago something happened when I least expected it and changed the path I was on. I am so excited for today’s post because these photos are of Carly Cotton and her husband Ryan, and I will try to put into words what meeting her for an hour on a hot day in June has meant to me.

I wanted senior photos of my son Allen, and I’m not sure how I even found Carly, probably on Facebook, but I saw her work and loved her style. Carly’s mom Carla is a childhood friend of mine from Ferrum Elementary School. We set up a time to have Allen’s senior and our family photos done in Ferrum. Carly and Carla met us at sunset on the beautiful land in the mountains that Carla & her husband own, and we spent the next hour chatting and taking photos. I was excited to receive them but really had no idea how much I would love them! The ones she took of Allen and Cameron are still the best ones I have of both boys! The lighting, composition, and creativity she used inspired me to try something new, after 17 years of working as a freelance graphic designer.

I dug out my old Nikon D80, took a class at Glen Echo Park and spent all of my free time learning the basics of photography and how to use manual mode. It’s really like a switch was turned on because I don’t even see things the same as I used to. Light and shadow look different and I always know the exact time the sun is going to set :). I’ve found the photography community so helpful and supportive. I love the personal aspect of working so closely with families, which is a big change from all the design projects I’ve done over the years with consulting firms. I’m sure there are more underlying reasons why capturing memories for people makes me so happy – a lot of change is happening in my life right now, with one son in college and the other going in just 2 years. I look back think about how it felt to bring a new baby home and how fleeting those toddler and elementary school years were. I’m so proud of Allen and Cameron and where they are now, but I do have moments when I really miss when they were little.

So that’s enough for my INFP self today, I am so happy to have done this session with Carly & Ryan and wanted to be able to give them at least a few photos that they will treasure as much as I treasure the ones she gave us! This session was done in the Blue Ridge Mountains – they were so comfortable in front of the camera. There were a lot of people watching us from the deck at the restaurant behind us but Carly & Ryan looked at each other like there was no one else in the world!

P.S. Check out Carly’s work on, & Ryan’s music on Spotify – he is a seriously talented musician!



  • Carla
    Posted at 23:19h, 02 August Reply

    Love them all!!

    • shill
      Posted at 00:33h, 03 August Reply

      Thanks Carla! 🙂 They were great models!!

  • Alissa
    Posted at 00:15h, 06 August Reply

    You can really see their love in these images ?Gorgeous!

  • Tania Wicks
    Posted at 01:13h, 06 August Reply

    Oh my goodness, these photos are amazing. Love the rolling hill backdrop and the couple are stunning! Love the dress, it’s so natural and elegant

Post A Comment