lynchburg wedding photographer

Lynchburg Engagement Pictures | A Downtown Engagement Session

Dylan and Rachel booked me for their wedding photography at West Manor Estate last fall. They had amazing chemistry (which Rachel tried to deny for years, ha!) and I had SO much fun photographing them together! After any couple books with me, I send a Getting To Know You form so I can, well, get to know them better. :) Rachel and Dylan did such a great job telling the story of how they met and how Dylan proposed that I thought it would be best to simply share their words with you! Aren't they adorable? 


First up, How They Met:

Rachel: My sophomore year at Liberty University, Dylan happened to be "the sound guy" on the same theater production as one of my best friends. I remember meeting him for the first time and wasn't exactly swept off my feet by his bravado. 
Dylan: Through Kaitlin, the mutual friend, I met Rachel and was immediately attracted to her. Working with Kaitlin gave me a great excuse to spend more time around Rachel. However, I was still a freshman guy...
Rachel: Our little band of friends grew increasingly close, spending countless hours together getting into mischief, studying, going on trips, getting snowed in, pranking each other, hosting holiday celebrations and movie nights, and generally having a great time. Dylan made it clear pretty quickly that he was interested in being more than friends and I made it pretty clear that I was not.
Dylan: Over the next two years I continued to take every opportunity possible to spend time with Rachel and get to know her better. Through that time, we grew closer, I matured greatly, and she began to have feelings (even though at the time she denied it with everything in her). 
Rachel: It was pretty obvious to perhaps everyone except me that Dylan and I had some remarkably strong chemistry. We often found ourselves instigating adventures or sipping hot tea (our mutual favorite beverage). When my three best friends moved into an off-campus apartment, he would consistently offer to drive me and had a captive conversationalist for a full seven minutes! This bearded West Virginia mountain boy with his cheeky grin and antagonistic ways started sneaking into my heart and...
Dylan: After two years in the friend zone, I finally convinced her to let me take her on a date.

And now... the story of their engagement:

Dylan here. On May 22nd I got up at 3:30 in the morning to get on a plane from Houston, Texas. Rachel was unaware that I was coming to Virginia and I wanted to keep it a surprise. The first leg of my flight went smoothly, however, the second leg was delayed an hour and began to throw off my entire plan. Now rewind a few weeks, I had been talking to Mary, Rachel's sister and Maid-of-honor, about how to make this plan work. What was supposed to happen was that Mary, conveniently home for the weekend from her summer internship in Haiti, was supposed to ask Rachel to go to lunch at the same pizza place where Rachel and I went on our first date. Ally, one of Rachel's best friends and roommate, would plan to join them, but "be running behind" and therefore cause Rachel and Mary to have to improvise and waste some time by walking around the gorgeous college right across the road.

Unbeknownst to Rachel, what was actually happening was that Ally was picking me up from the airport and driving me to Randolph College, where I would then propose where Rachel and I had spent hours walking and talking on our first date. However, with my plane having been delayed an hour, Ally and I were pressed for time and had to rush out of the airport. I changed in the airport bathroom, consequently dropping my wallet into the freshly used toilet. In her haste, Ally sped through downtown and was promptly pulled over by Lynchburg's finest with no time to spare as we knew Rachel and Mary weren't far behind. Throwing a coat over me to hide me from view, Ally flashed the ring and explained our urgency. The officer kindly gave her a warning and wished me luck. We pulled away at brisk legal speed and made it into Randolph College just in the knick of time. Once arrived, I discovered that the bench I had planned to propose on was no longer there. Once again, improvisation was necessary. Fortunately, Randolph College does not have a shortage of beautiful locations and we quickly found a nearby, gorgeous, brick gazebo to plant ourselves and, for the first time that day, wait. 

There I was, ready to ask the love of my life to be my fiancé. Then I saw her in the distance, walking, totally oblivious that anything was about to happen. She began to walk up the steps beside the gazebo and I peeked my head out and said "hey there". She looked up and a huge smile raced across her face as she sprinted up the stairs and leapt into my arms. (We had been long distance since January and hadn't seen each other in-person in three months.)

The rest, as they say, is history. I asked, and she said YES!


Oh my goodness, HOW CUTE ARE THEY?! I am so excited to share their stunning fall wedding with you soon! For now, enjoy my favorites from their engagement session below!

Are you recently engaged? Engagement sessions are reserved for clients who book the full wedding experience with Liz Cook Photography. I am fully booked for the 2017 wedding season and am currently booking for 2018 weddings. It is best to book your wedding photography as soon as possible, as dates fill up quickly.

Every Liz Cook Photography wedding photography package includes a complimentary engagement session, full day photography coverage, and the best 500+ high-resolution images from your wedding day. For more information, see the wedding page. If you would like to meet in person, contact me today to schedule a no-obligation, in-person consultation at my studio in Forest, VA (or online over Google Hangout). 

Lynchburg Professional Photographer
Ten Years In Business

Wanna know something crazy? Ten years ago this month I photographed my first wedding.

Wow. An entire decade!

I photographed the wedding on a Canon Rebel Xt camera with one SD card. I took breaks during the day to run out to the parking lot, download the SD card to my laptop, clear the card (omg I'm hyperventilating at this thought right now!!!) and run back to take more pictures. (Are you wedding photographers having a heart attack yet??) Oh, wait! There's more!! My camera battery died and I had the guts to ask a guest if I could borrow his.

Needless to say, I've come a long way. And the ride has been wild.

I still wonder sometimes why God led me down this path. Why did he take me, someone who does not handle stress very well, and put me in one of the most intense industries? Being an entrepreneur is serious business. Committing to capturing moments that are impossible to re-create is a huge responsibility. Putting these two jobs together creates a(n at times) stressful career! Luckily, I have been blessed with remarkable clients and colleagues who have freely shared support, encouraging words, understanding and (both welcomed and un-welcomed, let's be honest) constructive criticism.

As I look back on the last ten years in business, I am overcome with gratitude for this journey. And to still be IN business, at that! I have watched a lot of colleagues close their business doors for many different reasons. And for unknown reasons to me, mine continues to grow. I give the credit to God, because heaven knows, I have failed many times over.

I thought it would be fun to share Ten Life Lessons I've Learned as an entrepreneur, a professional photographer, a wedding industry member, a birth industry member, and work-at-home-mama during the last decade.

Can you relate to any of these?

  1. There is always something to learn from a difficult experience. You can walk away bitter, angry, or sad, OR you can choose to reflect on the situation and learn from any mistakes you've made.
  2. Your calendar is the best depiction of your priorities. You can say what your priorities are all day long, but it's how you are spending your time that one can truly see where your heart lies.
  3. It is never a bad time to improve your time management skills. Like, ever. Just when you think you have this down to an art, you'll find another area where you can improve. Never give up fine tuning and perfecting time management skills! (P.S. My favorite resource for whipping myself into shape is FocusBooster!)
  4. Failing is not the end of the world. If you're like I was and you can't give yourself grace and learn to accept that you are a flawed human, then running a business will probably never be enjoyable. I had to let go of my expectations of perfection before I could simply take a deep breath and tell myself "failing is not the end of the world." I remember being pregnant with Sunday and I was currently on the road traveling from Fredericksburg to Lynchburg. I received a text message from a client who was waiting for me in Richmond. She was sitting on a park bench with her daughters and mother, thinking I was running a few minutes behind. But, in reality, I was two hours away singing at the top of my lungs to a song on the radio. Getting that phone call gutted me. A genuine mistake, a "pregnancy brain" moment. I called Tommy and said "I want to quit this work. I can't do this... I cannot handle disappointing another client like this." It felt like THE END OF THE WORLD. But, you know what? It wasn't. I am human, and I'm going to make mistakes. I just had to pick myself up, brush myself off, share my deepest apologies, and do what I could to prevent making the same mistake again. Grace, not perfection. 
  5. Proper handling of stressful situations takes practice (and a whole lot of grace). The best thing you can do is stay calm, take a deep breath, and begin to problem-solve. I know this is common sense, but learning how to put this behavior into practice is truly an art form for a personality like mine. Ha! Of course, I'm still working on this... habits are tough to break! 
  6. Accepting people just the way they are and/or letting go of unhealthy relationships is one of the best things you can do to find peace in your work and personal life. I didn't really think this one needed much explanation. 
  7. Sometimes it is better to let go of control, even when you own your own business. For example, outsourcing a handful of business tasks has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, both personally and professionally. When you are not a professional at something, hiring another professional to take care of those items not only improves your product and experience for your clients, but it also helps you get back to focusing on that which you ARE a professional in.
  8. There are seasons in life and this is more than okay, it's a beautiful part of life! Seasons come and go. I've always said I will run this business as long as life, and God, will allow me to do so. Over time, this business has seen different seasons: I have focused on wedding photography, then birth photography, and recently studio work has been the forefront of my focus. This business has changed names twice. Did you know I originally began with the name Love & Laughter Photography?! Ah, I love to look back and see that my heart is still in the same place as it was in the beginning - capturing love and celebrating life! <3 Each of the seasons I've had in my business has followed the path of my personal life and what has been best for myself and my family at that time. What an amazing journey.
  9. No communication is the worst communication. Even if you have bad news to share, sharing it honestly (and quickly) is better than not sharing it at all. This is obviously a good life skill, but a difficult one to master. As someone who hates sharing bad news, I have had to learn the hard way a few times that it is truly better to share bad news than to hide from sharing anything at all.
  10. Personable service and client relationships are a part of a high-quality experience, but not a necessary part of a successful business. Hear me out. While I have a gift of compassion and I am very personable, I have had to learn that not all of my clients want that as a part of their experience. What they want is a business transaction - good images in return for a financial investment. For a long time, I spent too much time pouring into personal emails, long client conversations, and extra special gifts. While these are good things, they were not always the best use of my time. If you are beginning a new customer service business, take it from me: keep your systems simple until you have them down to an art. Then bring in the personal touches. 

And I thought it would be fun to finish out this post with a blast from the past... a few images from my first year of business. Whew! Let me tell you, this is really not that fun for me. But, I thought it was only fair to share that, yes, we all start somewhere. I have to share my genuine gratitude to each of these clients (and friends!) for trusting me at such an early stage of my business and photography journey!

Also, I had to grab these pictures off of Facebook because they are all stored on a hard drive tucked somewhere in the depths of my files. Ha! 

Okay, I can't help it! I have to redeem those pictures with a few of my favorite weddings from 2016!! Here is a glimpse at some of my most recent work. 

Are you planning a Lynchburg, VA wedding? I have photographed over 150 weddings over the last ten years and would love to capture the story of your wedding day. I am currently booking 2017 and 2018 weddings. If you are interested in having me capture your love, I would love to sit down and chat with you! Simply send me a message and we will plan a time for you to come out to the studio to share your story.

Are you beginning a photography career and looking for business coaching? I am currently booking a very limited number of mentoring sessions in 2017 and would be happy to send you more information about my availability. Send me a message and we can start the conversation!

Luke & Rebecca | A Glencliff Manor Engagement Session

Lucas and Rebecca met at Liberty University and their love story is simply beautiful. They have incredible chemistry and were so much fun to photograph. I had the honor of photographing their wedding this past weekend, which I absolutely cannot wait to share with you. But first! Their engagement session on the grounds of Glencliff Manor! It's not very often I encourage a late-winter session. For one, the trees are just.... drab. And two, it's super chilly!!! But these two kept things warm with their flirting and dazed-in-love eyes. The epitome of newlyweds (to be)!

I love the way these came out and I credit Rebecca for the extra details you see - her adorable felt hat, the cozy plaid blanket, and the touches of her wedding colors! The tiniest accessories can do SO much to a final shot which makes all the planning ahead SO worth it! Also, a HUGE thanks to the staff at Glencliff Manor for letting us romp around on the grounds for this session!! 

Sooooo sweet, right?! Love these guys! I can't wait to share their entire wedding with you!! 

Liz Cook is a wedding, family and birth photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph emotional and discreet birth stories, the details of parenthood, and fun and easygoing couples in love.

David & Britney | A Lynchburg Engagement Session

My baby brother is ENGAGED!!! Ahhh! I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be making this announcement! But... man... I am so excited! We ADORE his fiancé, Britney.... she compliments him in all the right ways! And she has shown such love and dedication to him while he was finding his way these past few years. It’s amazing to see him in such a good place after all he has been through in life!  

They came down to Lynchburg this past weekend to help celebrate my birthday and we squeezed in a quick engagement session while they were here. It was a sunrise session and the only other person who is (ALWAYS) awake in our house at that time is Sunday - and she wanted to come along!! It was so much fun having her there with me, although she definitely tried to take the lead a few times.  

“I gotta a good idea! One of you looks at mama, and then the other looks at me!”

I was cracking up. Monkey see, monkey do, I guess! :) Poor thing gave up after a little while when we all had to ignore her in order to really get the job done... but it was so much fun to have her along with us!  

Congratulations David and Britney!!! We are SO EXCITED for you guys and cannot wait to see where God leads you in the upcoming years!! Your wedding day can’t come soon enough!

Liz Cook is a wedding, family and birth photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph emotional and discreet birth stories, the details of parenthood, and fun and easygoing couples in love.

Barrett & Courtney | Liberty University Mountain Pictures

Barrett and Courtney met while working at a local kids gym... which if you ask me, takes a special kind of person to hold that sort of a job! When I learned that they BOTH worked with kids in an active environment, I immediately thought they must be fun and easy-going people! And they totally are! I had a wonderful time getting to know them while we walked the grounds of this beautiful property. You can't beat the stunning mountain views at Sierra Vista and combined with good light and two people in love... that's a recipe for a DREAM session! I had a wonderful time at Barrett and Courtney's engagement session and I'm really looking forward to their wedding day at West Manor Estate... which is right around the corner! 

One of my goals for 2016 is to back-blog all of my favorite sessions and weddings from the past few years. My poor blog has been so neglected and right when I was ready to make big blogging dreams come true last summer, life kicked into high gear and the poor blog was neglected yet again! So I am starting again and this time with a sure fire plan (and a combination of periscoping to bring in content to fill the gaps!) and I'm excited to get things rolling around here! :) 

Without further ado... check out this adorable couple and how comfy and cozy they are in the snow!! :) And a big thanks to Marianne at Sierra Vista in Bedford, VA for allowing us to shoot here! 

Liz is a wedding and birth photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph fun and easygoing couples in love as well as emotional and discreet birth stories and just about anything in-between