Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Walk Thru Bethlehem

I don't have many photos from Christmas parties or family get-togethers this year. The truth is, I didn't even take my camera with me to many events....which is completely out of the ordinary for me. 

So instead of blogging about parties and presents, I'll write about the event where I actually did take some photos....almost 1,000 to be exact.

Walk Thru Bethlehem is not something easily put into words. Many Christmases over the years I've seen or participated in Briarwood's Drive-Thru Nativity back home.....and that doesn't even come close to a good comparison. 

It starts in the summer when volunteers start building--putting up walls, etc. They work every Saturday morning until December. The finished product is a 3 acre replica of the city of Bethlehem that took over 30, 000 man-hours to build. There are walls, buildings, gates--even electricity. 

The entire church signs up for specific jobs--everything from acting, to cooking, to childcare for the workers. People learn lines and go to rehearsal months in advance.  

When the Big Weekend arrives, people show up from all over the state. This year, over 8,000 people came, despite the fact that the first night was cancelled due to bad weather.  

Actors in the city sign up for parts--shepherds, spice sellers, fish merchants, etc. and have three hour shifts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. That doesn't include the hours of practice and rehearsals and sewing costumes. This church LOVES this event and doesn't bat an eye at the commitment it requires. 

One lady told me, "We've been doing this for all 13 years and it wouldn't be Christmas without Bethlehem." Grown children bring their families back for the weekend so that they can participate in this event. I was amazed at how much people love doing this...it's very much an essential part of Christmas for our church. 

People come, register, and are assigned to a group number. They wait in the sanctuary for their group, many of them waiting up to 3 hours. So what do they do while they are waiting?

That's where my wonderful, amazing husband comes in. He is responsible for entertaining the masses and he did a GREAT job. He had some wonderful help too....and by the way, that's over 24 hours worth of music to plan and organize.
They bring in camels, doves, sheep, donkeys, wild birds, real fish, cows, goats, chickens, and turkeys. 

Groups are led thru the city by a tour guide...they stop at every booth and dialog with every vendor, the story line leading the group everywhere from the tax collectors...

...to the Roman soldiers...

...to the spice sellers, weavers, fruit vendors, the temple...

...and eventually to the part that matters most. 

It's an amazing experience and I am so thankful to have been able to photograph it...the whole thing was a photographers dream!

I was blown away by the time, energy, and commitment that the church dedicates to this event year after year. 

And while most of the people that come thru have heard the Christmas story before, to the church, it's worth it, even if only 1 of the 8,000 came and understood the importance of that little baby in the manger for the first time. 

Here's to many more Walk Thru Bethlehems! I'm already excited about next year. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Todd Reception

The Friday after Thanksgiving (was that last Friday? two Fridays ago? Last year? I don't know...time is flying and I can't seem to keep up) I had the opportunity to photograph the wedding reception of one of Scott's oldest and dearest friends, Adam. Adam and Scott grew up next door to each other. In fact, Adam's parents bought the house next to Scott's because of their friendship. Their families have traveled together, spent holidays and vacations together, and the kids have spent most of their lives as next door neighbors. 

When Adam and Blair got engaged, they decided to have a small ceremony in Jamaica and planned a home-town reception for the weekend of Thanksgiving. So Friday morning, we packed up and made the drive from Birmingham to Americus, GA,  Scott's hometown. 

I actually missed the first 45 minutes of the party because I was in the car, listening to the Iron Bowl on the the XM radio.  After a series of mild strokes caused by the last seven minutes of the game, I was finally able to go to the party that I was supposed to be photographing.

The venue was fantastic...it was simple but beautiful and the man that owns the property built this with his own two hands...I was very impressed. 

This was a FANTASTIC idea for centerpieces. They looked like something out of Southern Living and they were so simple and inexpensive. 

The Todd family rarely is all in the same place at the same time, if you can't already tell from their excitement. 

What a lovely family! Thank you Todds for asking me to be a part of this night--I had a blast! 

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Thanksgiving Pow-Wow

Once upon a time, 30 wild indians gathered in music class to make a Thanksgiving peace treaty. The two parties, Mrs. Young's tribe and Mrs. Johnson's tribe had been preparing for a Thanksgiving feast with the K-5 pilgrims. The two tribes met to discuss their upcoming meeting with the Pilgrims. 

There was some heated discussion about the bead necklaces....

Others demonstrated their frustration with sharing the playground with these Pilgrims. 

A few were skeptical of the Indians from the other tribe...

...while some of the boy Indians tried to demonstrate their superiority over the girl Indians.

The girl Indians retaliated by demonstrating their tribal dances. 

Then the two tribes had a tribal dance off to determine the greatest tribe. 

Many different dances were performed for the tribal judges. 

The judges were not pleased. 

Then one brave Indian squaw gave an eloquent and moving speech about uniting the two tribes in peace. 

Her listeners understood the wisdom in her words and were happy. 

United, the two tribes began to discuss their peace treaty with the Pilgrims. 

Some were hesitant...

...but their fellow Indians were convincing in their call for unity.

They prepared their peaceful greetings for the Pilgrims at the Thanksgiving feast. 

And the two tribes lived in peace forever after....

...or at least until they go to the playground. 

The End. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friends and Babies

Last week, Scott and I went back to our old house to grab a few things out of the attic and to have dinner with some friends....and to meet a very special little girl for the first time. 

These two ladies are very special to me. We ran together every day and by running so many miles together, these girls have become some of my best friends. While running we've talked, laughed, cried, rejoiced, mourned, and prayed together. Needless to say, I have missed them terribly since moving....and I have run considerably less since I can't seem to run very well without someone to talk with! Scott and I had a blast at dinner and I took my camera along since we were getting to meet this little pumpkin for the first time.......

Our newest addition to our little group, Sweet Baby S,  was born three weeks ago....and she is as beautiful as expected! She also has her daddy wrapped around his little finger, I might add. She's dainty, sweet, and pretty---everything a brand new baby girl should be! I'm not sure her daddy wanted to hand her over but I snatched her and got some snuggle time. She is precious! 

I'm a little bit smitten. I think Mama and Daddy might be too. I also snapped a few Christmas card photos...

And Uncle Scott got some reading time in with a very special friend who LOVES to read. 

He also loves my camera. He wants to hold it SO BAD. I would do just about anything for this little man but I just can't hand over the DSLR. Sorry W! 

What a fun night! After dinner, Scott and I went and grabbed the Christmas decorations that were still in the attic in the old house. After staring at the boxes for a few days I decided that I had to move them before our company comes this weekend and who wants to move heavy boxes two times? Not me. So I unpacked them...and got the idea to completely decorate for Christmas. So as of Monday, our house is completely decorated for Christmas, minus the tree! 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Second Shooting, Wedding 1

Last weekend I had the unique opportunity to go to shoot two weddings with Camille. She really does a fabulous job at weddings and I had so much fun following her around all night. These are some of my favorite photos from the second wedding that we shot, held at the beautiful 4H Center in Chelsea. 

What a fun, albeit cold, outdoor wedding! The perfect touch was the news of Bama's down-to-the-wire win over Tennessee, right before the bride walked down the aisle. That's my kind of wedding!