Midwest Trip 2015

St. Louis, Missouri

This is our second year making a trip out to the midwest. It’s always great to get away from the normal everyday of life and have a few adventures! First, we drove the ten hours out to the gorgeous Union Station Hotel in St. Louis for a photography conference called Shutterfest. This is the second year that Shutterfest has been in existence. Sal Cincotta, a photographer and entrepreneur based in St. Louis started the conference last year. Sal has always had a special place in our hearts.

When we got married almost 3 years ago, we made a decision that we were going to pursue wedding photography together with the eventual goal of at least one of us going full time someday (little did we know both of us would go fulltime a year later!). About the time we made that decision, we found a brand new course by Sal Cincotta that changed our world. Sal is a business genius that left the corporate world to become a photographer and entrepreneur.

So last year when he started Shutterfest we had to attend! When we went last year, we had just left our full time day jobs and there were still a lot of basic things we needed to work out in our business. We took so much away from it! However, we have to admit that Shutterfest it seems is geared mainly towards newer photographers so this year we had to search a little bit harder to learn the things we wanted to take away. If you are starting out in photography, Shutterfest might be a great place for you! It allows you to try new things and there are so many classes to choose from that it is literally impossible to do everything!


One new thing that we did love this year was that at lunch and supper times, there were food trucks lining the road outside of Union Station! They had everything from barbecue to pizza to crepes! Everything was delicious. Ryan especially loved the spicy grilled cheese he tried on the second day. Alyssa loved the Philly cheesesteak. Amazing!


Shutterfest. Shoot. Learn. Party…yeah we did a lot more shooting and learning than we did partying. We are like grandmas and grandpas when it comes to all of that! We would rather play a board game than part it up. In fact, we toured an art museum, we explored St. Louis, and we sat in bed and watched tv in the evenings. That’s how we partied! Woot woot! But hey, to each their own right?

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Alyssa really enjoyed Vanessa Joy’s class on posing. Vanessa is such an amazing photographer and we took a ton of great ideas away from that class! Of course, if you want a good shot, you have to deal with 57 other photographers who want the same exact shot too! It’s kind of like the Hunger Games. You fight to survive and get the shot. And last but not least we got to squeeze in a photo with our old buddy Sal!

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Mackinaw, Illinois

After Shutterfest was over, we headed over to the small town of Mackinaw Illinois to see one set of Ryan’s grandparents! When we say small town, we mean it. Mackinaw has about 2000 people in it and it’s surrounded by farmland as far as the eye can see. But it’s always nice to get out in the middle of nowhere and slow down. Ryan’s grandparents have been living in the same house in Mackinaw for the last 51 years! That’s incredible to us! But they come from a different generation and we can learn a lot from those who have been through more than we probably ever will!

Of course, we also made our traditional stop at Monical’s Pizza, possibly the best pizza in the world!



Fishers, Indiana

As we pulled out of Mackinaw Illinois, we headed east towards Indianapolis. Right outside of Indy is a city called Fishers. We met Ryan’s other grandma there at Cracker Barrel for a wonderful meal and time of fellowship. If you met her, you would think Ryan’s grandma was 35. She has the energy and heart to match any 35-year-old that’s for sure! And though she has reecently been rediagnosed with cancer, you would never know it by talking to her. She cares more about everyone else than she cares about herself and we always look forward to seeing her! She is a blessing to us and we love calling her grandma!


Cincinnati Ohio

We are all about fitting everything into our schedule as we possibly can! So, when we knew we would be driving by Cincinnati, an idea popped into our heads. We have a wonderful couple that’s living in Cincy and getting married in Asheville and we hadn’t gotten a chance to do their engagement session yet. So we thought, how about we stop in Cincinnati and shoot their session there?! It worked out perfectly with Michael and Erin, and there we were! You can read more about their session here. Driving home 12 hours and stopping in Indy and Cincy made for a long day, but a wonderful day and a great cap to an amazing trip of learning, growing, and being around people that we are blessed to call family and friends!



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