2 0 1 5 >> a look back

I can’t even begin to describe this year. 
It was a year of many BIG milestones. And, in my usual style, I couldn’t keep the words (or pictures) to a minimum. Staring the year off with a new relationship, graduating college, watching my sister get married, buying a new car, shooting a wedding, moving to California, getting engaged, planning a wedding… wow, that makes me sound busy. But hey, don’t worry, I still found time to take pictures! So if you want to brave my nostalgia, take a look at several of last year’s memories. 

Cheers, 2016 – bring it on!
This, in case you didn’t know, is my *ahmazing* man – I promised a story coming soon, and I definitely will make good on that promise. Just let me recover from Christmas vacation first. 😉
But regardless, starting the year was even better than I imagined, because we were about four days into dating when 2015 hit with all of it’s promises and new beginnings. 
One of my favorite Christmas vacation traditions is getting together with this girl to shoot at least once during our mutual time home. Since it was my last Christmas vacation, we haaad to do it.
And we had to make sure to stop by Paul’s for the best blended mochas in the entire world. At least once. 
Then it was back to Pensacola for one last semester. Senior year… and boy, was it a year!
Some of us decided to kick off the new semester by watching the sunrise at the beach – gosh, that was a VERY cold life choice!! But it was only the first of many sunrise trips last semester. 
This spring, lots of Saturdays became senior-session-shooting days, with Heather being the first (and I think one of the few that I actually ended up blogging!).
That last semester was a definite testimony to the grace and goodness of God – and how there is literally nothing I can do apart from Him! It was a stretch – a growing experience, a learning experience… just an all-around experience. Not one that I’d like to repeat, but getting closer to the Lord is always something I’ll look at as a privilege. 
One really nice thing about being a senior is that by the time I’d been in the area for four years, I knew it pretty well. And I had lots of favorite hangouts – most of them being somewhere near saltwater!
What’s super sad is that this last year, it was ccccoooold for a few weeks into the semester. C’mon, Florida, that’s several weekends of beach time I missed out on!! Obviously, that didn’t stop me from hitting the beach completely… 
Gwendolyn was next up – this beautiful redhead is another piano major that I was blessed to know. And those Friday-first-hour coffee trips before Instruction Methods were a lifesaver this semester!!
See what I mean about Florida NOT cooperating with the whole beach weather thing??
This literary-themed senior session with Serena was one of my *very* favorites from the semester. I mean… well… I can’t prove it to you because I never got around to posting them!
Getting by on like 5.5 hours of sleep each night got old *really* fast… so when God provided me with a Keurig, I was suddenly a VERY happy camper! Coffee every morning for DAYS.
This guy flew down for a long weekend… did I mention he’s pretty special? 
You’ll recognize Meghan from her senior session a few years ago. Since she graduated with her Master’s degree, she needed more headshots. Shooting with this girl is always a blast and a pleasure! 
I guess I’m a huge fan of these bookish senior sessions – this is my amazing friend, Bre. Who is, basically, one of the most wonderful people you’ll ever meet!! 
And these girls are more of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. Especially when we all agree to wear black and white stripes to Bible Conference. *two thumbs up for good friends* 
In addition to beach sunrise trips, there were plenty of beach sunset trips. And beach runs with my good friend, Abbie… oh wait, maybe we only did that once or twice. Well hey, it burned, man – sand it hard to run in!! 
But sunset is literally my favorite time of day… combine that with saltwater and good fellowship, and I’m in seventh heaven. 
In April, Bre, Tyler, and I headed up the road for an impromptu trip to Bre’s grandparents’ house for the weekend!! 
I honestly can’t tell you what I wouldn’t done without these two girls in my life. College was made bearable because of their sweet hearts for Jesus and for others. Gosh, I miss you guys!
Just after we got back from our Tennessee roadtrip, the semester hit really hard and life started getting a new kind of whacky busy. I lived in the library and the practice rooms… just ask my sweet freshie roommate. I was never home. Because, I guess, the keyboard WAS my home!
But I enjoyed my weekends to the fullest, still – including this double-header weekend shooting and relaxing with this gorgeous friend of mine before another senior session. 
I guess I’m a huge fan of these themed senior sessions… this cute teacher is now teaching in Hawaii and is engaged to be married! Sarah, we’ve come a LONG way from sitting next to each other in freshman orientation! 
Each time there was a gorgeous sunset, I felt like it was a gift from God JUST to me. I can’t tell you how many times the brilliant sky lit up my life after a long day. 
And, truly… the best sunsets come with clouds, and the even better ones are after rain. Wow, that was philosophical. 😛 
A few weeks before graduation, we Seniors got treated to a banquet on the roof of one of the classroom buildings. It was truly magical – made even *more* special because of the company. <3
Could someone please tell me what else seniors are supposed to do when they’re done with finals and waiting for those grades so they can graduate?! Pleeease believe me that I didn’t spend EVERY weekend at the beach. Please. 
It was a week of many lasts – last classes, last finals, last white glove inspections, last goodbyes, last fine arts, last Commencement Program – oh, did I ever mention that one time our collegian swept all three awards? Yeah, that was us… (don’t worry, there’s a third trophy laying around somewhere with our name on it). GO BEARS!!
I haven’t had a chance to express how happy and blessed I am to have graduated from college with these amazing parents by my side. Without their support, prayers, laughter, and everything else… wow. I couldn’t have done it!
Even one of the most important days of our lives couldn’t keep us from being goofy. You’re welcome. 
It was so great to have most of my family in town, including my Grammie! I got to show them many of my favorite haunts – it was definitely a weekend to remember. 
Graduation began a whirlwind few weeks of summer – starting off with Daddy and my roadtrip to Olympia to watch my boyfriend graduate! You know… I was so caught up in all the moments that I totally failed to get any decent pictures (that I could post, anyway)!!
But exploring the little seaside towns of Seattle was a blast – Indian food with Dad on the bay (running into one of his old Navy buddies from way back when was awesome, too!), a tiny Korean coffee shop with Dad and the boyfriend, holding hands again after months. I could get used to this life. 
On the way back home, I REALLY wanted to see a waterfall. The Cascade Mountains are famous for their water – rivers, lakes, waterfalls, greenery, you name it. If it’s water-related, it’s in there. So when I saw the sign for Deception Falls, I yelled and Dad pulled over. 
About an hour and a half and some stomping around the forest later, we emerged victorious and I had four dozen pictures of little baby waterfalls, very heart-happy and laughing over the impulsiveness of our quality time. 
The end of May brought me down to Southern California for the first time – for a job interview and a survey trip. The amazing people, the incredible opportunity, and the beautiful ocean vistas stole my heart. This has been a good year, and it’ll be a good six more months. 🙂
Of course, I had to catch a California sunset in Santa Monica before heading home. 
But I wasn’t home for long before my family headed down to Louisiana to watch my big sister, Ro, get married. #roandjoeforever. And beignets. Oh lord. Now I know why people go to New Orleans. it’s just for these pastries, I swear. 
My sister made the most gorgeous bride ever – and I had quite a blast standing up as her Maid of Honor, let me tell you. But gosh… that bouquet got heavy!
He’s pretty good-looking… I guess we can keep him in the family. Besides, he puts up with us.

(credits to the ever-amazing friend and talented artist – Paige Overturf Photography)

Literally a few days after I got home from Ro’s wedding (and after spending all night in the Denver airport, gee whiz…), I headed down to Nashville, Tennessee, to shoot Kari and Ryan’s wedding. It was *such* a special time, and definitely a highlight of my year!
After I got home and got to work at my summer job, life calmed down a little bit. Except on random weekends, when Mason was in town! We took my little sister swimming up at one of our favorite beaches… 
We hit up this gorgeous lake one state over…
And we made new traditions (this is the view from which he proposed on Thanksgiving morning, just in case you were wondering!).
I’m so lucky that I got to spend almost an entire summer with my family in this gorgeous place before moving. Wow. 
I meant to say blessed, of course.
Also… I learned to drive stick this summer because I literally had no choice (so I went out and bought a car… that’s kinda what happened). But anyway, learning on that little red Kia made me stick to backroads on the way to work for at least the first month. That wasn’t something I was ready to show to the highway. But heavens. When the view is like this, who’s complaining?
And I know it probably also looks like I spent all summer driving around and swimming in lakes.. that’s not entirely true. I kayaked, too! Just kidding – what I meant to say is that I also worked. *cough*
And ate pizza with Mason and Sarah on her days off. 
And explored more waterfalls.
See, I was busy!
Before I moved down to California at the end of July, we had to squeeze in as many adventures as humanly possible. To store up for the long distance, see?
And one last adventure with my man to watch one final sunset at our spot by the end of the runway. <3
Just an FYI, Northern Oregon is a LOT of sagebrush and open road. Mom and I hit the road for three days with all my worldly goods and my new car. We had lots of adventures on the way down to California – Mom’s an expert at moving, so she knows all the tricks. 
Central Oregon isn’t so bad… those mountain views, though! I miss them. 
By the time we reached the California border, I was SO tired of driving 55 miles an hour… gosh, that Oregon speed limit is exhausting! But then again… I may or may not have been blessed with a lead foot. 
Mom and my travels saw us down to the very edge of California – in South San Diego to watch my girl Tyler marry the man of her dreams! But before that happened, us bridesmaids had to go have a little fun! (don’t freak out, we just went to the tidepools and drank coffee…)
Being a bridesmaid in Tyler’s beautiful wedding was the perfect end to my amazing summer. Plus… lots of new, awesome memories were made!
At my new job, I hit the ground running – but also found time to explore. The Santa Monica Mountains and I are pretty much best friends now. 
Thankfully, Seattle offers direct flights down here… Mason and I are *super* privileged to have the chance to see each other just about once a month. So I’m introducing this country boy to my new SoCal ways. 😉
And to my favorite beaches. 
And to Santa Monica.
He’s such a good trooper… and a patient man. 
Down here in California, I’ve met some amazing people – among them is this gem, Aura. She’s just starting her own photography business, and she’s got such an amazing career ahead! We got to do some headshots for each other back in the fall. 
I swear I was laughing in at least half of them. Maybe more like 90 percent. 
If you thought Pensacola sunsets were amazing… *whistle* 
Nothing beats a West Coast sunset. 
It was also great to get my married sis out here for a visit in October! I loved the chance to show her around my “little” town – I mean, big city. We had some awwwwesome adventures. She’s such an inspiration to me – a beautiful, strong woman with a great sense of adventure. Love you, Ro!
If you thought Pensacola made me into a beach addict… you’re right. I just can’t stay away.
Then it was home for Thanksgiving – the first Thanksgiving in five years!! 
And, of course, the biggest event of the year (and one of the biggest events of my LIFE!!) was saying YES to spending forever with Mason and becoming Mrs. A! You can read the proposal story here.
I can’t even begin to tell you how stoked I am!
My family has a new tradition – cutting the tree down out of the forest!! Gotta love that we live IN the forest… basically everywhere around us is Christmas tree material! This year we kept up with tradition and got the tree the very weekend after Thanksgiving – I mean, come on! If you can’t make the MOST of the short Christmas season, what is life? 
Obviously we need some selfie practice, but hey! We have the rest of our lives. =)
I loved coming back for Christmas and being surrounded by family, friends, and babies!! These two cuties are my future nephew and niece… aren’t they ADORABLE? Of course… my future husband and my little sister aren’t too bad themselves. <3
One of my very favorite things about Christmas is all the lights. Candlelight, tree lights, lights on houses… it’s all so beautiful and such a perfect illustration of what Christmas really is. I didn’t get the chance to wax eloquent this year in one of my traditional Christmas posts! But if you missed that… go back and check out past years. There are plenty to go around!
Man… I love this time of year.
And compared to last year… this white Christmas had me swooning all over the place!! Thanks, Washington. I’d been dreaming about this one forEVER. 
Not to mention White Christmas is literally one of my most favorite songs in the entire world. 
The whole vacation was cloudy and misty and snowy – I think it snowed almost every day – right up until Christmas Day itself. And I couldn’t have been happier to see those bluebird skies over the white mountains. 
The other day that it cleared up was our engagement session a few days after Christmas. Despite the snow the day before, I’d been praying and praying for sunshine and maybe even a sunset – and yeeessssssssss. We got both!!
Oh, I can’t wait to have more adventures with you, dude!
And with this sneak peek frame from our chilly (aka below-freezing) engagement session by the incredible Anna Rose, I’ll finally wrap with up with…

xoxo

+ Happy New Year

One Comment

  1. I just love the way you write these yearly recaps, Hannah! You are such a fabulous, smile-bringing writer. 🙂 Congrats again on your engagement [so excited for youuuu!] + praying as you prepare for this next chapter of your life!

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