Author: Rachel

Indian Rocks Beach with Jess Hanna

I was recently introduced to an incredible woman with a heart of gold, a spirit full of joy, and with the most genuine smile. I’m so excited to share this session at Indian Rocks Beach with Jess Hanna & share some of her story with you all! She is currently battling breast cancer and her life has been flipped upside down. My hope is that having these photos will bring some unexpected joy to the journey and give us all a great reminder of how good things can come from bad places. When I’m fighting my own battles I want to know that it wasn’t all for nothing.. that the struggles I’ve gotten through has been a guide map for someone else walking through the same. And Jess has certainly been doing her best to document the hurt & incredibly hard stuff, but giving perspective with hope.

Here is JESS for you!!

Hi everybody! My name is Jess and I just hit a big milestone…40 years old! My husband and I are coming up on 17 years of marriage, I am a mom to four pretty great kids; three boys, 16, 14, and 12, and our sweet adopted daughter who joined our family when she was 3 years old. She is now 7. For five years, I have worked and grown a home-based skincare business, I coach boxing, I homeschool my children, and I hold a leadership position with our local homeschooling community.

My most recent job has been cancer patient. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2020 and many of my other tasks have had to take a backseat while I fight this disease. The day I was diagnosed was hard. There is no other way to say it. It was an out of body experience. I can honestly say it is just like the movies. I was sitting in the doctor’s office with my husband by my side and my doctor rolled his little stool over to me, placed his hand on my knee, and said the words, “You have cancer.”

I felt like I was drifting away from my body. I could hear him as he continued to speak but I was not actually hearing anything he was saying. His voice was faint and far away. I was so thankful my husband, Erik was with me because he was able to repeat what was said and help me begin processing. I knew right away that I had to decide on how I was going to walk this out. I didn’t have a choice in my diagnosis, but I did get to decide how I was going to handle it. I chose positivity, leaning into my faith, working on a strong mental game, and a good dose of humor. Making this very important choice (because we all have a choice) I had a sense of unexplained peace wash over me. I was bathed in a protective covering that may waver, because human emotion will do that, but it would not break.

Cancer changes your life. Whether you are the one walking it or you know someone who is. There are obviously some big downs like the physical pain and the effects of treatment, but the mental battle is by far the hardest to overcome. I will say there have been positives. I have had a greater sense of purpose. I have been able to connect with my children at a deeper level because we have having more conversations about life in general. All the things I used to think, “Oh, we’ve got time!” I don’t wait anymore.

My marriage is the best it has ever been because when you or a loved one is facing a disease that wants to rip you out of your beautiful life, you let the petty things go and enjoy one another more. One of my favorite places to go is the beach. After spending 30 years in Michigan it was a treat to move near the Gulf beaches of Florida.

Indian Rocks Beach is my most favorite beach! Our family lived here for 3 years and would take our golf cart and cross Gulf Blvd so we could enjoy a day at the beach or even just a quick sunset, whenever we wanted. It’s my happy place! Being as busy as I am it can be hard to carve out time for fun but there are a few things I really enjoy. Boxing is a BIG #1 for me! I can’t wait to get back in the gym. Hand lettering and faux calligraphy is another pastime I love. I’ve already mentioned the beach, but I’ll say it again because it is a place that brings calmness into my crazy life. The water, the waves, the wind. The sounds that drift into your ear. The sights that bring you to a point of awe. Take me there now!

I’m a discount shopper and I enjoy finding great pieces without spending a lot of money. My top and skirt were both purchased at Marshall’s. The skirt is made by Cupio. My earrings (which are my favs right now) are from Banana Republic. A couple years ago I started a Facebook show called “The Mess in the Middle with Jess” This show was a way for me to bring my experience, the ups and downs of this ‘middle’ part called life and hopefully encourage others, help them to know they aren’t alone in the mess, and share tips I have learned along the way. I ended each episode with the line. “The middle is messy, it’s all in how you handle it.”Breast cancer survivor

We are not in this world alone. We were made for relationships. Our job is to connect authentically with others so we can lift one another up and become better than we were yesterday.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the beautiful photos from Indian Rocks Beach with Jess. For those of you who know her, you know that her journey has progressed since this photo and she has started chemo. With chemo comes hair loss. She knew this was coming & asked if we could get these photos in before that hit. I wanted to give you guys an updated photo of her and share her vulnerability on doing a Facebook live when they shaved her head.. she is an incredibly open & giving person for sharing this intimate part of her life. Here are a couple of photos from her Facebook that I’m sharing (with permission of course) and if you want to keep up with her and support her – you can follow her on Facebook. She is constantly sharing great nuggets of information on cancer, life, parenting, etc.

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film

Lakeland, Florida based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Serving the areas of Central Florida, Tampa, Orlando, St. Louis, Chicago, and Southern IL.

With over 10 years of wedding photography experience, Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings –

they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact their team today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – CLICK HERE for our contact page!

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Fall Engagement Session with a Vintage Truck

I can’t wait to share this Fall engagement session with a vintage truck with y’all!

Molly Wehking and Cletus Price were so in love with the thought of wanting their engagement session to be all about their favorite season – FALL! They wanted it all: the fall photos, fall props, and the fall wedding. The pumpkins used for the engagement session were grown by Cletus’ younger sister, Corissa Price, the mums came from a Galatia High School Fundraiser, the signs were made by Ed and Julie Michael of ExpressionsNMore from Salem, Illinois, and the vintage blue truck is a very special truck that belonged to Cletus’ great grandfather, Claude Phelps.

Engagement Session with Vintage Blue Truck

Fall Engagement Photo    Cute Fall Engagement Photo idea

Molly and Cletus met their first day of law school at SIU School of Law in 2014. In the first year, they were in all of the same classes and ended up going to the Barrister’s Ball together where they started dating soon after!

Engaged in Southern IL

The couple enjoys hiking, kayaking, going to the movies, and spending time with friends and family. Their goals for the coming years is to settle down in a nice home in Southern Illinois with a couple of kids to play with and enjoy their time with.

Wedding announcement with blue truck

Cletus proposed under the waterfall at Jackson Falls in the Shawnee National Forest on December 8, 2018. Molly had picked out a ring a couple of months prior to the proposal and engaged life has involved a lot of wedding planning for the two! The couple says they are looking forward to married life and can’t wait to spend their wedding day with their friends and family.

 

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS ENGAGEMENT SESSION
SALEM ILLINOIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY | SALEM ILLINOIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film
Southern Illinois based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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Great Gatsby themed 1920s Gala

The Great Gatsby themed 1920s Gala during The Reset Conference was definitely one of the BEST parts of the whole conference. This conference is such an intimate and joy filled atmosphere – it’s like no other conference for creatives I’ve ever been to! The speakers are always so awesome about being real & sharing their stories (even when it isn’t pretty) and I’ve grown to expect that each year and I truly appreciate it! The hostesses of the conference Rebekah Albaugh and Kellie Penn had a change of venues – which gave us the opportunity to partake in some 1920s themed fun! They planned a 1920s gala for the speakers & attendees in the lower level of the historic Seelbach Hilton Hotel in downtown Louisville, KY.

I’m jumping out of a jam packed weekend full of fun and learning at The Reset Conference for photographers and I’m so excited to share a few photos from the Great Gatsby themed 1920s Gala! Let me introduce to you Kayla and Adam!!! Kayla is a fellow photographer that attended the event and she is such a sweet gal! I had so much fun getting to know her this weekend! When she asked me to photographer her and Adam – I melted! Getting to shoot another photographer in a historical hotel like Seelbach was like a dream come true! We had a blast!!!

great gatsby gala dress 1920s dressGreat Gatsby themed 1920s Gala seelbach hotel The Seelbach Louisville KY

 

GREAT GATSBY THEMED SESSION  |  LOCATION: SEELBACH HOTEL – LOUISVILLE, IL

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY  |  SOUTHERN ILLINOIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film
Southern Illinois based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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Engagement Session on Their Family Farm

Quintine & Grant’s engagement session on their family farm was SO much fun! We had so many personal aspects to incorporate, too! Their barn, old truck, cornfields, Grant’s welding gear, and cowboy boots to name a few fun things we incorporated! These two are the sweetest, most down to earth folks ever! I’m SO excited for their wedding this summer!
southern illinois engagement photographer country corn field engagement session welders love engagement session

This is Grant’s welding mask… fun fact, it’s called a PANCAKE! (Appropriately named because of its round shape and literally flat as a pancake!) We had some fun using it as a prop for a ring shot & also used it for some snuggly photos of the two of them! As a wedding and engagement photographer – I typically steer away from using props.. because a lot of times they aren’t meaningful props, however, when a client wants to use something so personal and sentimental for a session – you bet your booty I’m all over it!!! It made their engagement session on their family farm even more meaningful!


vintage truck photos barn engagement session

As a country raised girl myself – I can’t deny that I love dresses and boots for an engagement session outfit! Quintine was perfectly put together for her session and I love her style!

midwest engagement photographer, cowboy boots

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS ENGAGEMENT SESSION | LOCATION: FAMILY FARM – XENIA, IL
SALEM ILLINOIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY | SALEM ILLINOIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS

HAIR & MAKE UP ARTIST | Bella Chez, Salem IL
Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film
Southern Illinois based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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Stylized Shoot at Haue Valley

Last month we attended a stylized shoot at Haue Valley in Pacific, MO with SSAA (Styled Shoots Across America) and we were completely blown away by the details! The models were amazingly sweet & they did awesome even in the below freezing temps! Heather Benge did an amazing job working to make sure every single detail with the stylized shoot at Haue Valley were perfect. We are so excited to share the images from this shoot with everyone!

Succulents in Wedding Flowers The colors Heather Benge with SSAA chose were absolutely PERFECT. Everything flowed so well together and I personally love all things purple toned – so I was in heaven! The wedding cake was an absolute masterpiece with the gold dipped fresh roses and flecks of gold throughout the design.   We split off into four groups to shoot different categories and rotate through the models and details. The group of ladies that we worked with were so talented and sweet! It’s not always easy trying to get ‘the shot’ with little elbow room with other photographers also trying to get their shot – but these gals were super respectful & made sure we all got the images we wanted! I purposely did a few pulled back images so I could show the atmosphere!   My favorite part of the whole day was completely unexpected… at the last minute we decided to use the local cows at Haue Valley for photos since the weather didn’t permit the dove release we had planned on. Photographing the models on the rolling hills of Missouri with these sweet cows roaming free was just breathtaking! The sun started to hit the treeline and glow.. just gorgeous! Haue Valley Wedding Flowers Intrigue DesignsTalk about a gorgeous spread of food! Graze Catering did a phenomenal job creating a food display for us to photograph at the styled shoot at Haue Valley. And my goodness – I’m just sad we didn’t get to stay for dinner! Haha! Graze Catering St. Louis Stylized Shoot at Haue Valley Styled Shoots Across America Styled Shoots Across America in STL Haue Valley There are SO many opportunities for photos at Haue.. the giant windows.. the waterfall.. the cows.. and their new(ish) archway that I have no doubt will become an iconic “Haue Valley” spot for photos! Haue Valley Pacific MO Bouquet by Intrigue Designs St. Louis MO Flowers Intrigue Designs St. Louis MO

ST. LOUIS STYLED WEDDING SHOOT | HAUE VALLEY | PACIFIC, MO

         HOST | Styled Shoots Across America      PLANNING & CREATIVE DIRECTION | Heather Benge Events

 CATERER | Graze Catering     GOWN SALON | Signature Bridal      JEWELRY | Ariem Treasures

HAIR & MAKE UP ARTIST | Eye Do STL     SHOES | Bella Belle Shoes      BAKERY | Cake House Design

STATIONERY | Okota Weddings      FLORIST | Intrigue Designs      LINENS | Nuage Designs

VENUE | Haue Valley      MODELS | Catie Howard, Dan Mosier, Sarah Shellhorn, Brandon Silvers

A special thanks to the sweet cows at Crooked Creek Beef for posing with our models during our stylized shoot at Haue Valley!

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film – Southern Illinois based
husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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Classy & Vintage Wedding

Our most recent couple, Tommy and Taylor Bruce, had a classy & vintage wedding at A Fair Barn in Salem, IL. Taylor said the venue made everything magical! The crew at the barn were in charge of decorating, catering, floral arrangements and even baked their wedding cake! Her favorite part of the decor was the archway where they were married and she said the best part of their day was being announced husband and wife!! Ring Box and Wedding ProgramsClassy & Vintage Wedding

One of the sweetest moments to witness from their wedding day was the gift exchange between Taylor and her mom. Each of them had purchased special gifts to surprise each other on the wedding day. Taylor’s mom had a pearl necklace made with pearls that Taylor’s grandma had purchased for her and Taylor bought her mom a very special ring and a personalized handkerchief with a poem (unknowingly from the SAME jewelry store, I might add!)Mother Wedding Gift Wedding gift to the Bride Gorgeous Wedding RIngs Groom Detail Shots Ella Park Bridal Wedding Dress Ella Park Bridal Wedding Dress First Look with Bride and Groom Emotional First Look with Bride and Groom

The couple’s first look was so intimate and special! I’m so thrilled when clients decide to see each other before the wedding. It gives them a chance to relax and be themselves with each other before the day unfolds!
First Dance  Taylor’s cathedral length wedding veil and intricately detailed dress were absolutely stunning! Her long sleeve, lace dress was from Ella Park Bridal in Newburgh, Indiana (which is now on my bucket list of places to visit because their website just makes this place look like a fairy tale!!) Her gown and accessories fit perfectly with their classy & vintage wedding theme! The candid moments we are able to capture from weddings are always our favorite ones! Nothing beats a huge, genuine smile! And there were LOTS of those on Tommy & Taylor’s wedding day! A Fair Barn, Salem IL Wedding Venue floral wedding arch Fall wedding decorWhat an incredible pleasure it was working with Taylor and watching her classy & vintage wedding come to life! The lace, rose gold, wine and blush colors were perfect with the southern charm of the barn! The venue, A Fair Barn, did a phenomenal job putting so many pieces of this wedding together! Grand Exit for Wedding romantic wedding poseWe are always trying new things and pushing ourselves to get creative shots during a wedding. The best time for us to have creative time with the bride & groom is after their first look! Here is a fun behind the scenes shot of us working to get some “under the veil” shots with some romantic flair!  Naked Wedding Cake with Greenery Wedding Barn with vintage decor Outdoor Wedding Photo

 

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS WEDDING | A FAIR BARN VENUE – SALEM, IL
SALEM ILLINOIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY | SALEM ILLINOIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS

DJ  | Off the Chain       CAKE | A Fair Barn       FLOWERS | A Fair Barn

SALON | Marla Reynolds    MAKE UP ARTIST | Sydney Vallier

   WEDDING GOWN | Ella Park Bridal

CATERER | A Fair Barn

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film
Southern Illinois based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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Fun Backyard Engagement Session

This was such a fun backyard engagement session!! Tommy and Taylor are so stunning and their family owned property was the perfect sentimental backdrop for the session! Taylor’s engagement session dress was so flowy and gorgeous – we can hardly wait to see her wedding gown!!!
sunset session in southern IL Gorgeous Flowy Black Dress for Engagement Session Grandparent's backyard setting for engagement session

We are SO excited for Tommy and Taylor’s wedding day! These two are going to be married tomorrow (October 13th) at A Fair Barn in Salem, IL and our team is doing both photo AND film for them (they are getting a super sweet deal for booking both with us, too!) Taylor shared a little bit about their love story with us and we are excited to share it with all of you! The two of them met at Bill’s grocery store in Bluford, IL – Taylor was getting a soda and Tommy was there getting a soda as well. Their mutual friends set the two of them up and clearly that worked out amazingly for the two of them!! Tommy proposed while they were on the beach in Dauphin Island, Alabama! They were taking pictures at sunset and Tommy dropped down to one knee and surprised Taylor!

Old Dirt Road - Engagement Session Engagement session featuring carCheck out Tommy’s sweet ride! We were stoked to get to play with different angles and shoot some engagement photos with the car! Sunset photo with epic cloudsWe had the most gorgeous sunset to end our fun backyard engagement session!! Love when the weather, clouds, and sunlight cooperates for epic sunset photos!!

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Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film – Southern Illinois based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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Blush and Navy Wedding at St. Theresa Catholic Church

Long Wedding VeilRyan Pruemer and Alyssa Shetley had a gorgeous blush and navy wedding at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Salem, IL. Alyssa said, “The ceremony means the most to Ryan and I. We are excited to have all our favorite people in one place. And also just to celebrate the love we have for each other as we start our new journey.” The bride crafted a lot of DIY elements for the wedding, including the bouquets and decor!
Blush and Navy Flowers I spy some Fall colored Ginko leaves… which happen to be my absolute FAVORITE tree leaf shape! These along with the wall of ivy made for a breaktaking nook for photos!!!
St. Theresa Catholic Church Salem IL
Their blush and navy wedding at St. Theresa Catholic Church was followed by their wedding reception in Knights of Columbus in Teutopolis, IL – but first a bar hop stop to Kenter’s Taven!
Rustic Wedding Cupcakes First Dance

Alyssa shared some of the sweet details from their destination proposal story! She said, “We planned a trip to Norway over the holidays last year. We booked the trip in September when I was still living 2 hours from Ryan, so he told me that people probably expected him to propose but it wasn’t the right time. (He was being completely honest!) I got offered a job in St. Louis in November and he then got the idea to propose. We skied most of our time in Norway so on New Year’s Eve, we got really dressed up & I wanted a picture of us. After dinner he took me out in the snow, overlooking the town, and he had written in the snow “will you marry me?” It was absolutely beautiful!”
Stella York Wedding Gown Blush and Navy Wedding Colors  Stella York Wedding Dress Hollywood Hair Centralia ILCongratulations to the newest Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Pruemer! We were so thrilled to get to work with you two and your lovely families! 

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS WEDDING  |  ST.THERESA CATHOLIC CHURCH  |  SALEM, IL

CATERER  |  Salt & Strings      WEDDING GOWN  |  Stella York

       HAIR & MAKE UP ARTIST  |  Ally with Hollywood Hair Salon – Centralia, IL      BAKERY  |  Bri’s Bakery

 FLORIST |  Paradise Flowers – Salem, IL & DIY      RECEPTION DECOR  |  DIY

DJ  |  Vince Higgs, Friend of Groom      RECEPTION VENUE  |  Teutopolis Banquet Hall

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film – Southern Illinois based
husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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Intimate Country Wedding

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of photographing a intimate country wedding just down the road from our studio in Salem, IL! Kalin and Rachel met when they were teenagers at a horse campground in Southern Illinois. Rachel said, “We would hang out and ride horses together in the summer for a few years. We each went our own ways and then reconnected on social media 15 years later.” These two sweethearts had a backyard private ceremony with just a couple friends as witnesses (and a couple more named Chunk and Gus if you count the animals, too!) We absolutely adored working with these two for their intimate country wedding!!!
Country Wedding in Salem IL

First Kiss as husband and wife

Rachel shared the proposal story with us:
“I was at work and he kept texting me, asking me if I was getting off work early. That wasn’t uncommon, but he seriously asked me like 12 times which was more than normal. He had a Christmas program to go to and I just thought he really wanted me to go with him. Then he told me that if I got home before him I couldn’t go in the house. I thought he had gotten us a new puppy because we had been talking about it, and he wanted to surprise me with it. We got home at the same time and he went inside and he told me I had to wait in the car until he was ready for me to come in. When I got the OK, I walked in and the lights were off but there were candles and rose petals on the kitchen island with wooden letters that said “Marry Me”. Ruby (our Frenchie) was wearing a little belt with a pillow on it and the ring was tied to the pillow. He got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Of course I said yes!”

Backyard Country Wedding

Intimate Backyard Wedding with Horses Their horse, Chunk, was so funny! He kept wanting to get closer and closer to our couple for the photos! He clearly wasn’t seeing our vision for the image! We love the way Kalin was in his natural element on his horse. He had the biggest smile on his face the whole evening! Getting to spend the evening marrying your best friend AND riding your horse – that’s something to smile about!

Bride with DIY Bouquet

Bride and Groom with pet frenchie bull dogWe are SUCH suckers for animals… and I love that they included their French Bulldog, Gus, in photos! This little guy was so sweet! Garren convinced him to sit for a few photos without mom & dad holding him with some treats for coaxing!

Wedding rings on hay bale

cowboy boots for wedding shoes

DIY Country Wedding Bouquet

Custom Hanger for Wedding Dress

First Look before an intimate country wedding

French Bulldog Wedding

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Kalin Benjamin! You two are so unbelievably sweet and we had such a good time capturing your intimate backyard wedding! Cheers!

Cowboy Wedding Dip

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS WEDDING  |  BACKYARD INTIMATE COUNTRY WEDDING IN SALEM, IL

WEDDING GOWN  |  Farmer’s Daughter Formals     FLOWERS  |  DIY from a friend

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film – Southern Illinois based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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Amazing Story of Recovery

This morning we had a young woman come into the studio for a model call. My inspiration for the shoot was to bring encouragement, positivity, and confidence to this lovely momma of four. We brought in a makeup artist and hairstylist from Bella Chez Salon in Salem, IL and this beautiful lady got the royal treatment. What I didn’t know when I reached out to Michelle was that she is a recovering drug addict. She shared the honest truth about her story with me and I was blown away by her progress. She is 14 months clean and has taken huge steps to stay clean.Bella Chez Salon Salem, IL Hair and Makeup artist in studio

From Michelle:
“I started smoking pot at 12. Worked my way to harder drugs by 16 & was a functioning addict.. I held jobs, went to school, and raised my children. I graduated in May of 2011 with my A.S. in early childhood education and I am 3 classes away from my A.S. in criminal justice. I got pregnant at 19 and again at 23 and was able to remain clean during both pregnancies. I am working my 12 steps in a small women’s step study in Centralia on Sundays. I’m one week away from completing it! When I started using IV drugs I lost control and the dope took over. We nearly lost everything and the main reason we are clean now is because my husband got into trouble and we knew we couldn’t be together with one of us clean. We had wanted to be clean for a long time, but that was the push we needed. Since then we have gotten our home out of foreclosure, gotten all our bills caught up, bought a nicer vehicle, we have custody of all of our kids, and I’m back working full time.
What helps me stay clean is having my husband Jerad who understands and taking a step back and looking at how we were living compared to now. I never want to go back. We now have honest, true friends and trust of our families back. Our children now respect us and we will never be bad influences to them again. We are their role models and I was slipping, but I’m never going down that path again.”

One thing Michelle shared about is the Celebrate Recovery meeting she attends at the Apostolic Church locally. With a little research I found that Celebrate Recovery is a world-wide program that helps pull people out of addiction. What an awesome resource for those struggling with dependency. Michelle said that it’s an amazing place to share safely with others & hopes that others who are struggling can find out about this program. From a CR advocate, “While Celebrate Recovery is known for addressing addiction it also addresses any type of hurts, habits, and hang-ups. That’s the beauty of the program.”

Glamour Shots

We are so thankful God brought Michelle into our studio today.. it’s truly a God thing that pulled this idea out of nowhere & made such an amazing impact on me. I truly hope that her honest openness and her incredible story can help someone else who is in a dark place and needs hope that change CAN happen. Thank you Michelle for being so transparent and allowing me to share your story with others.

She has been through so much and LOOK at her. She is stunning! I had to share the black & white version of each of these images because there is something so classy about a good ol’ black & white photo! I can’t tell you how proud I am of this young women for recovering from the addictions and awfulness of drugs. God is going to do amazing things with you, Michelle!
Recovering with Celebrate Recovery

Studio Glamour Shot I noticed Michelle’s tattoo on her collarbone – it says “One Day at a Time” and she said it’s something they say in meetings and that it’s a personal reminder to her. One day at a time. She said, “I also suffer from anxiety and it’s a small reminder.. just one day at a time.. sometimes I think one hour at a time one minute at a time.. even one second at a time.”

One Day at a Time Tattoo - in reference to CR

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film – Southern Illinois based husband and wife photography and videography team.

Contact us today for more information about booking your own photo experience.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700

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