Skeatti and Meatball’s first trip to the beach l Personal

Last month while we were getting snow in Virginia, we snuck off to Nags Heads on a random trip to just get away….and boy was it needed. This trip was special, not because it was just a trip to the beach, or my favorite place EVER, but because I realized Skeatti and Meatball have never been to the beach. Yes I know I am that crazy dog mom, but these are rescues and I may or may not have a bucket list for them now as I feel like they should get to enjoy as much life as they can with me as well. I do not have children so these rescued pugs are my spoiled rotten kids, plus they are uber cute, but I’m also partial. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 

 I mean seriously it doesn’t get much cuter than that!!!! And yes it’s going on the wall in a large print.
 Life is all about the little details
 Skeatti: “huh mom” Meatball: “enough I can’t take it anymore”
 And there goes little brat trying to eat everything…..
 The simple beauty of Nags Head always amazes me and has a sense of calming πŸ™‚

Melinda & Maegan growing as a family l Personal

I have loved this year of getting close with Melinda again, as we had a strong friendship about 10 years ago and grew apart with me going to college and LIFE. She is a woman with a strong heart that has shown me that love is more than what I was taught and how I was raised. I’m proud to say that my mind is more open than ever in learning the difference in our thought processes, and this needs to be stated for many folks that may have wondering questions when it comes to same sex relationships.
Myself and Melinda were both kind of rebels at heart as younger versions of ourselves, which is probably why we got along so well. Some of those qualities are still true to today, as we are both hard working, independent women in our late 20’s and now 30 (she’s gonna hate me for that). And as most young folks we made some decisions in life that we look back on and think ‘what the hell was I thinking’……like tattoos (we won’t bring up name tattoos or the matching tattoo I got with not so great ‘friends’), going out……and getting married on a wim……….. (cough cough), all the while learning WHO we are as individuals.
Can you answer that question….who are you?
What defines you?
Does sexuality define a person? I don’t think it should. Now with that being said, that is NOT how I was raised to believe. I grew up in a very old fashioned, closed minded, stricter southern home. And in growing up and making my own decisions on how I view things and people in life I wish I was raised to be more open minded. I shouldn’t have spent my high school years and late teens thinking gay was WRONG or BAD, along with many other things. Going to college and meeting more open minded people really allowed me to view love as not just a man and a woman, but left many many questions that I was afraid to ask. Being with a woman is not my personal preference, but I don’t hold that choice again Melinda, her happiness is most important in my book. And who she loves shouldn’t matter the gender or color of their skin just because it is not MY preference.
I have asked Melinda why this is her choice…..and I LOVE her response that she tells many people.
  “I love someone for their heart not their parts.” 
Sit and think about that for a moment, shouldn’t we all love someone for their heart prior to anything else….
And I love LOVE, I live for wedding days and capturing happiness in couples, love stories which happens between two men, two women, and a man and woman. LOVE IS LOVE!!
My next question was probably a stupid question and I was on the fence about sharing it, BUT I’m sure a lot of people want to ask this: If you like girls why do you date girls that look like boys? (wasn’t being mean, but I really wanted to know)
“Because men are men. As a lesbian, I’m attracted to the parts and mind of a woman.I have a very hard time connecting on an emotional level with men. I can have friends that are dudes, but the truly falling in love with a man was tough, even though I thought I had a few times… Now that I am 100% comfortable with who I am, I realized, I just don’t relate to men in the same way. We don’t “click.” Another way to look at it –
It’s just a sexual preference, much like the way that some straight women prefer biker guys, or the way that some straight men prefer athletic women.
My sexual preference should affect someone no more than if you order ham and pineapple on your pizza and I like ham and mushrooms – if you aren’t sharing that Pizza with me – than why do you care?”

I have to give mad props where it is due. And it makes my heart so happy that Melinda is raising her children in an open minded world. She is very honest with them with her thoughts and feelings. WE do live in a small town where many pass quick judgement, and it’s NOT FAIR. 
“I actually do not want my children to be gay – it isn’t an easy road to travel and there will always be someone there to tell them they are wrong or they shouldn’t feel that way… but I want them to be honest with themselves, no matter how they feel. Not just with their sexuality but who THEY are as a person. If they want to cover themselves in tattoos and then go to medical school, that is ok fine. If they want to run off to LA to chase dreams of being an actress, that is fine too… I will always always support my children in whatever and whoever they choose to be”
So to my parents, SHAME on you for embedding that such things were wrong. I’m glad I have rose above your teaching on me as a young Crystal.

Now scroll back to the top and tell me what you see in that image….
I see happiness, laughter, and love in which that image makes me smile, because I feel the happiness between those two people. It’s not just an image it’s a real moment captured……
For the rest of my life I want to see this world more open to LOVE in general. Be happy for you! And allow others to be happy for themselves as well. Stop passing judgement because there are questions that are unknown. 
 A family with open minded children
 Love looks good on you!
 Your happiness matters!!!
 Keep walking to your future……because it’s bright!
 LOVE IS LOVE!!!

Taking a little time just for me l Personal

A hard reality of growing up and running a business is making time for yourself. The last time I took vacation time from work was to move into my house, which lets be real wasn’t a vacation. And that was two years ago this month. I am a very busy person, and I always try to keep myself that way (which isn’t always good). I work full-time at my day job, I run my basically full-time photography business, I have house chores, yard work, meetings, working out, etc. There is little time left for me except the little sleep I do get.
This year I not only made time to educate myself more for my business in two trips with my fav photog gal pal, Erica. But we also planned out a pretty awesome concert season around wedding season. I decided to make more time for ME, so I don’t get burnt out and loose out on life because my work 90% of the time comes first before anything.
When Warren asked if I wanted to come to the beach, I definitely contemplated it for awhile, as I am quite a bit of a work-a-holic. So adult pep talk to myself goes like this: ‘you need a break!’ Truth be told WE ALL NEED A BREAK sometimes. We all NEED a chance to recharge our batteries.
I did work Wednesday morning before leaving for the beach. I packed the IPad so I could check my emails in the morning. The first thing we did when I got there was go down to the beach, which the beach is happy place. A place where I can sit for hours and reflect, think, and just let things go.
The beach for me is normally quiet time for tanning, but when Elizabeth asked to help build sand castles and such, I couldn’t say no. I hadn’t done those things in YEARS.
 See answering emails while on vacation πŸ™‚
 A quick little selfie of Gabby and I at Chic-fil-a
 Then the little sister drove from her new home in SC to see me πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
 Chase photo bomb hehehe
 My heart was completely whole this day πŸ™‚
 We decided on dinner at Medieval Times, if you have never been there you definitely have to go!!
 And you get to eat with your hands
 LOL we have a special bond πŸ™‚
 And all the kids wanted to ride with us, Sammi’s face is pretty priceless πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
 And then a walk on the beach….LOVE HER!!
 We ate out of dog bowls LOL another fact about me: Hot dog is my fav food, not exactly allowed on my normal diet, but hey I was on vacation.
 I LOVE the beach at night.

Then home for the Band Perry concert with this chic!

 B is really for BLUE.

Working on me for me l Personal

I believe being happy with yourself is one of the greatest things you can do in life. For me I have set so many goals for myself this year, business wise and personal. I am not saying that I am unhappy by any means, because I am not… I LOVE my life. But I would like to feel better about myself in general. As some of you know I posted last year about my weight loss as I became a somewhat avid jogger. I did 2 5k’s last year, during my busy season. I absolutely fell in love in jogging again, it was a way to free my mind and just have some me time.  Well, during this time of loosing about 35-40 lbs last year my foot begin to hurt. Me being me, didn’t pay much attention to it, stretched it out every once and awhile, but I noticed it had gotten worse. During the winter some morning I could barely walk. With being a wedding photographer we are on our feet for many hours a day, I knew I wanted to kick this before my wedding season started in 2014. During the winter months I also slacked on training and exercise, but I am glad to be back at it and focusing on me.

2013 I over came a rather harsh knee injury, it took months to heal. But I pushed through that and started my healthier lifestyle for ME. My biggest eye opener last year was my doctor suggesting a weightloss surgery….I REFUSED!!! So it was time for a change……… I gave up dairy milk, and real cheese. I gave up sodas. I threw out all sweets and junk in my house. I threw out all bread and pasta. To this day I will not bring sweets in my house, because that is my weakness. I do not care for bread or pasta much so I will have it in my house, but it stays in the cabinet for quite some time before getting eaten. I focused to learning my diet first and foremost. Now, I could never be vegetarian, but I have added quite a bit of vegetarian and vegan things to my everyday life that I enjoy.

 Finding out I have plantar faciitis, I get to wear this super cool split to bed. Sike, it’s really a pain in the you know what, but when I get up I can actually put weight on my right foot. So it is helping tremendously. And with this I know it can take months to heal, as I can’t stay off my feet 24/7, it is a step in the right direction. This year with wanting this to heal ASAP, I have restrained myself from wearing flip flops, and if anyone knows me, I could live in flip flops. I tend to stay in tennis shoes, danskos, and my toms to support my arch.

 With the new year, I am back to clean eating. Not only for health reasons, but because eating this stuff keeps me energized and makes me feel so much better. If you don’t follow me on instagram please do @crystalreyns I share recipes and dinner ideas on there…..a lot. I know everyone’s first reaction to green smoothie is a turned up face, guess what, so was mine. I was scared to try it, but one day I did, and to my surprise it was awesome. So since then I have experimented with new recipes, and most I love. Very few have not been so wonderful.
 I focus a lot on meal prep. I make lists when I go to the grocery store to plan out my meals and snacks for the week. And I DO NOT go into the store hungry, cause that would be so bad for my diet.
Some of my favorite snacks are: cliff bars, vanilla greek yogurt with fresh blueberries, gluten free oats with honey and bananas with PB2, protein waffles with fresh fruit. 
Do I have cheat days? Heck yes I do!! I’m human, and I love food and beer, so cheat days are a must in my world. And it works for me; keeps me happy. πŸ™‚ 

 Last week I finally got T25 in. It was a program that was suggested to me by an amazing Personal trainer, Brooke Anderson of Pumps and Push ups last year. So I finally decided it was time to see if the foot was ready. And it’s only 25 minutes a day, I should be able to do that between getting up at 430 to work a full time job and run a rather busy wedding photography business right???

 Yesterday was day 3, and probably the hardest of them all yet. I do not suggest this program to anyone just starting out on their healthier lifestyle journey. It will push you to a new limit of hating Shaun T. Yesterday I felt like if that man told me to do one more squat I would fall out.

My personal goals for this year: 
Heal my right foot
Become a fitter me, size 6/8 please!
Feel comfortable in my skin
Do my very first boudoir session just for ME

HOKIE STRONG 4.16.07 l Personal

I don’t know exactly where to begin on this, but I am struggling a little more this year with this tragic day. The songs, the pictures, the memories, and then the sadness and hurt. I know we see a lot in the media, and many remember this day, but I want to explain it from my point of view as a student at Virginia Tech on that day and the after math.

Myself and Crysty, my college room mate and great friend, got up early for Bio-chem.  Our teacher was an older fella that was very laid back. About mid way through class we hear yelling and running. A lot of the class gets up to look out the windows, myself included, we see SWAT teams running with rifles drawn and with those huge metal things in front of them like a shield. (please know this is very hard to type out, and this is all through tears) Then the intercom comes on, and this is the first time it had been put into use, so it was like a cell phone with bad signal. It kept saying stay where you are, stay inside, take cover, etc…..OVER AND OVER AGAIN. My teacher told us we could leave if we wanted to……Which we all thought it was like the first day of school that year, when there was an escaped inmate on campus and cops were searching for him. Yes, the very first day of my senior year there was a man on the loose on campus, and driving to school we saw black unmarked vehicles everywhere, drawn rifles, cops with rifles lining 460….it was crazy and scary. But on this day myself and Crysty both thought ‘its just another crazy person on campus.’ Little did we know the extend of the damage.

We left class, rather than staying locked in there. As we walked to my little Tibiron the sirens were still going off LOUDLY, still not hearing every word. Then we heard gun shots, and more gun shots. After getting in the car we drove to leave campus and went down by the drill field where state troopers cars and ambulances lined the drilled field. People were jumping out of the windows of Norris Hall, they were dragging people out of the building…..then that dreaded chained BLUE DOOR. At that moment I don’t know how I felt, scared, sad, unknown. We proceeded to leave campus and was pulled over by cops by the dairy farm, where they proceeded to tell us to get out of my car, and they had to search us and my whole car before leaving campus.

As we got back to the apartment, we sat in silence with our animals, all 5 of them. We didn’t have cable because we both worked, so we turned on the radio to try to figure out WHAT was going on. I stared at my old school pink razor as texts were not going through, calls weren’t going through, and we knew this had hit the news and our families were probably thinking the worst….. AND…. they couldn’t get through to us. All I wanted to do was call my mom and brother and tell them I WAS OKAY, and I was safe. The radio begin to come with news on the Virginia Tech campus…..the first body count was 5. As we sat in our apartment living room floors just in silence, the number count just went up and up and up.

Our neighbor then came over to check on us, he was going to go to class that day, but he said “something told me not to.” Later that day he found out that was his German class.

In the mist of tears and anger I couldn’t help but question many things. Why that building? What those classes? Why those students and teachers? Should I feel lucky I wasn’t in that building? What if it was my class room? What would I have done in the that situation? Many questions I still ask, but never have the answer to.

It took HOURS to be able to talk to my mom, brother, sister, and Dawn. The relief in their voices is something I will never forget, like most of this day.

Blacksburg was a ghost town, only cop cars and ambulances were the noises that were heard, they were in place of laughs and college students having happy conversations. Strangers hugged strangers, we were all in a shock, BUT we were all there for one another as a HOKIE NATION.

We decided to attend the conference where President Bush came to speak the very next day. I had to sit in the stands for this, and it was AMAZING as the field was covered in students and staff all dressed in orange and maroon. After this we decided to walk the campus, a very morbid campus. As we got to the drill field it was hard to walk across to see Morris Hall, our neighbor couldn’t go across the drill field. I could never and still can not imagine what he was going through knowing that that was his classmates. The news dubbed this as a ‘massacre’ of all words why such a one that would be imbedded in one FOREVER?

That night was the candle light vigil. The support from everyone that night was amazing. “We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and
unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be.
We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue
to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our
sadness. We are the Hokies. We will prevail. We will prevail. We will
prevail. We are Virginia Tech!” -Nikki Giovanni (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-Qx9dIr-68)

I go back to that word Massacre…. why such a horrible word? why? I opted to go home to try to take my mind off this day. How my first choice school, a school I dreamed to go to since 7th grade had been brought to its knees…. Being with friends and family took things off my mind a little. Well until that one day I was at home alone, I was leaving to meet up with some friends. As I walked into the garage, our neighbor decided to have target practice. I had a melt down at the sounds of gun fire, I was almost in the fetal position on the concrete floor with Pugsly in tears on the phone with mom yelling to call them to tell them to stop. It was something I wasn’t ready to deal with, and I never knew I would be effected in that way, but I was. I was afraid to leave my own home. The sound of each shot stunned me and made me jump in fear.

A month later was graduation. I decided to come home and work for my vet office before going into the real world. I will never forget two days that happened during that month and a half. One: I was assisting with a tumor surgery, and once the removal began there was a blood splatter on the wall, and one of the tech said ‘wow that looks like a massacre.’ I had to remove myself from the room and have a mini breakdown in the bathroom. Two: A clients last name was Cho, I couldn’t be in the room with that person, and also had a mini break down. 

Now two years after this day I helped with a career day at an elementary school. We were talking about careers and colleges. I asked a little girl what school she wanted to go to, and her response is one that I will NEVER NEVER NEVER forget and it hits me to the bone “I don’t want to go to Virginia Tech, because I don’t want to die.” Things like this I’m sure have happened to more than just me as how people perceive VT. Guess what crazy people are everywhere, it can happen anywhere, and yes it happened to my school. But we can’t let it hold us down. Please teach your kids that just because a tragedy happened, it doesn’t make a place unsafe. Please be aware how you bring up a subject matter such as this, because you never know whom is effected and how they are effected by it.

In today’s time: That dreaded blue door, is no longer blue. I can now stand the sound of gun fire and even shoot guns now, but every once and awhile the sound will take me right back to that campus. The sound of “keep holding on” I will still tear up. The breakdowns have stopped, but I still cry and hurt for this day and my campus. As I say it gets easier, but it will never go away.

My reason for sharing this is to help everyone understand, that as a student there and being on campus that day, we deal with it in different ways. I hate for people to see me upset and crying. The pain has gotten easier, but it hasn’t gone away. It’s not easy. This day will forever be embedded in me, certain moments, phrases, names will always have a hurting effect on me because of this horrible day.  I don’t expect you to understand my pain, and why I am upset today. I just hope more people have the respect to speak of this in a meaningful manner. Maybe give someone you don’t know a smile today. Let’s make this world a nicer place, because you don’t know who may be hurting and may need a little sunshine let in their life to make it seem slightly better.

WE ARE VIRGINIA TECH, AND WE HAVE PREVAILED!!!!

Myself on the drill field the day after. image by Crysty
 Image by Crysty at the candleligit vigil
 I grabbed these off my Myspace: this was my view of Lane Stadium

 Myself and Dawn at the vigil
 Myself and Crysty

Flashback Instagram Friday Series l Personal

I started this series last week to share a little more of my life with everyone. This last week has been quite busy, from getting the studio ready for valentine minis, bumping up my workouts, location scouting with my fav Erica of Hildebrandt Photography, date nights, and WPPI planning with Erica.

Friday was an interesting day for me last week. On way to meet a wonderful bride I hit the water main break back up on 64, it was AWESOME……NOT!!! Once I got there I got to talk to them about their amazing Lewis Ginter wedding in September. After their meeting, I went to my all time favorite store, Hobby Lobby, to get the finishing touches of the kissing booth set up to prepare to have these two cuties in the studio to model for me. This is an outtake after their wild, fun session. They are both covered in kissing from their mom’s…..how cute right?!?!? πŸ™‚

Saturday was a fun filled evening with this chick-a-dee, Erica. LOVE HER!!! We went to four different locations to scout for her family session when her love comes home from across the world. And this will be just days before we leave for VEGAS for 8 days. We will be out there for WPPI, site seeing, and learning from AMAZING photographers all around the world, a dream come true to be better for all of our clients. Since we hadn’t seen each other in what seemed year, it was really weeks, we had to have dinner and drinks and have so much girl talk πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
 If you follow me on Facebook, you will remember earlier this year I had a 50% off sweetheart giveaway. Well I am planning a super cute styled session for these couples. How could I NOT get these cute mugs to include for their sessions?!?!? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

I almost didn’t share this image on any social media much less this, BUT I need to learn be PROUD of how I have changed my whole lifestyle to be healthy for ME. This road has not been easy, it has been very hard. I lost me in 2011/2012 and I lost a lot of confidence, and I decided to make me happy for me. Its a long road and I am still not where I need or want to be, but I WILL get there. I am so grateful for Miss Brooke Anderson of Pumps and Pushups for her kick ass works outs, I do not think I would be seeing these amazing shedding results with out her. I also have changed my eating habits a lot. Clean eating is the way to go to shed belly fat…..but sometimes pizza happens….and I have to make up for it with an extra work out. :/ My ultimate goal is to be in a two piece by summer, which hasn’t happened for me in about 8 years. I also can’t be more motivated and determined this year.
I share A LOT of pictures of Skeatti, lets be real he is a moma’s boy and right next to me 24/7. So when I’m doing my work outs he essentially gets in the way. It gets on my nerves, but how can I be mad at that cute pug face. He totally melts my heart, and I am so glad I rescued him almost 4 year ago. 
A goal of mine this year is to read more. So my trip to Barnes and Nobles I finally started picking up photography books to add to my new collection. 
Through out the year I purchase new backdrops to have more diversity for my clients. I can not wait to use these for some cuties birthdays and cake smashes this month. 

How could it be Instagram with out sharing my food…..my new favorite snack: Celery and PB company white chocolate peanut butter…yum!

How and why I got into womens photography l Personal

I was once told, “A woman with self confidence can do anything.” And I was told this weekend that I need to share how and why I am so passionate about women’s photography and helping women see themselves as beautiful as I do through the lens. So it is time for me to open up about a hurtful past that helped me get to where I am as a strong confident business owner, and most of all happy within myself and my work.

In the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 I lost all of my self confidence between my mother asking me to stay out her life and in the midst of a man that was abusive towards me mentally and physically I lost ME and my voice to speak up for ME. After the fact that my mother, that had been my rock my whole life, asked me to stay out of her life I became very down in myself, but I hid it well. Except one person got to see that hurt, and that was with someone I was in a relationship with at the time. Shortly after this he became physically abusive and more mentally abusive towards me, I had no one to turn to so I stayed and thought at this moment in my life ‘it was me bringing hurt on myself, and maybe I deserved this.’ Things then got worse, and I stopped giving myself me time, started wearing more comfortable clothes rather than something that looked nice. I wore my hair up a lot, I didn’t care. I hated looking in the mirror, so I didn’t. I stopped working out, and self confidence went right out the window. 2012 was the worst year and best year of my life. I almost lost my life due to physical abuse, and I could’ve one night if I didn’t fight back. And in a life where you are called worthless amongst other things, you don’t think things are worth fighting for, but in that moment I proved I still had some fight left in me. At this moment I didn’t know if one night it would be worse, if I would see next week, next month, or next year. My best friend would call and check on me very often, because she knew what was going on 100% she kept me going, and she knew if she didn’t hear from me she would be have to be one to fight for me, and SHE WOULD! I was scared, and that was hard to admit. I was scared of what would happen to me if I got authorities involved, so I didn’t and I know now that was the wrong thing to do.

In finding my small bit of fight to get back to me, I got away. It was hard, but I had a lot of support from friends and even in one opening up her home to me and my animals as I waited to close on my now home, and I will ever be grateful for that kind of support.

Now I am an advocate to help women know what abuse is. Help them realize they are strong. Help them seek help. Be a shoulder to lean on. I will always be against women’s abuse, and some don’t even know its happening. We never want to think a man/ woman we love would hurt us, so we fall into the “I’m sorry’s” and “It will never happen again.” Guess what it does, and some aren’t as lucky as I was to get away with just a few bumps, bruises, and broken property.

So why do I do this? I know what its like to have no cofidence and it to be lost 100%

I know what it’s like to not have your mother’s support, or both your parents for that matter. As my father was abusive to all of us growing up. And I never thought I would allow myself to be in that sort of relationship, but I did.

Stacy is an amazing woman and she lost her mom to cancer, and in that moment I like to feel have helped her find her smile and helped her find confidence in herself in a world where she doesn’t have that rock.  Isn’t her smile just gorgeous?

In being a woman, we all come in shapes and sizes. We all are strong in our own way. We all have our own struggles. We are all emotional. We are all HARD on ourselves. We all think we are NOT PERFECT, and you know what I will be the one to say hey your beautiful just the way you are and I will SHOW ALL MY GIRLS just that!!! LOVE yourself!!!! LOVE your life!!! Find happiness in yourself!!! Ignore people telling us we need to be a size 2, and 125 lbs! OWN your curves ladies, because they are gorgeous!  Own your inner diva! SMILE, because a smile is contagious, and it shows you have confidence!

LOVE who you are, because NO ONE can be YOU!!!!

Know your beautiful through all your battles!!

Thank you ladies for allowing me gain my confidence back in myself and my work in helping y’all gain your confidence back as well.