RACHAEL HOUSER » photography for couples & families

For my northern friends reading this, you may not fully grasp the awesomeness of the situation but my southern friends definitely would! You guys, it snowed before Christmas! More importantly, it stuck on the ground AND stuck around! So on Friday, once the snow finally slowed down a bit we did the best we could, without snow boots, to enjoy it while it lasts. It was, however, 19 degrees outside so we didn’t stay out too long but it had to start with clearing off a pathway for the pups. Silly little things and their short legs… the snow was actually too deep (what? I know!) for them otherwise.

When I heard about the winter storm I was hopeful but have so many times been let down by the promise of a good snow storm. The last time we got much of anything was the ice storm of January 2009. And of course, that was almost pure ice and even thought I wanted something, I didn’t want that! Power outages that lasted for days to weeks (for some)! But we weren’t about to be unprepared. We got our gas fireplace checked out (and then replaced because the old one was broken), stocked up on food, and hunkered down for the storm. The freezing rain started late Thursday night and we awoke Friday morning to about an inch of ice covered in about a foot of snow and big fluffy snow flakes were still falling. It was absolutely beautiful and I was in heaven.


Back to TopEMAILPOSTFacebookPOSTTweetPOSTSubscribe

So in love with this couple! Erin found me through her friend Kelsey who is an amateur photographer and I’m so glad she referred her to me! I have traveled quite a bit for engagement sessions but it’s still exciting when a bride asks me to come to them! But it’s even MORE exciting when they want to shoot at a special location, somewhere that means something to them as a couple. Omar and Erin’s special location just happened to be where to they met AND thei alma mater! Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville!


Back to TopEMAILPOSTFacebookPOSTTweetPOSTSubscribe

There’s a secret shooting location I have in Eddyville; tucked back in the woods. It’s perfect for all seasons and all occasions. When Lindsay contacted me about doing a family session for her family, I knew that my secret location would be just the place! Three cars pulled up along side the road not too long after I’d arrived and I watched as all 15 of them emerged. 15! I’ve not photographed this large of a family before but I was so excited for the challenge! But who am I kidding?! They weren’t a challenge at all! Even the little ones behaved sooo well AND their coordinated outfits? Icing on a very large cake!!


Back to TopEMAILPOSTFacebookPOSTTweetPOSTSubscribe

You can ask Neil, the night before Max & Michelle’s wedding, I was a nervous wreck! I had only just met Max & Michelle a few days before during their pre-wedding consultation. So glad I make sure my brides and I have at least one sit-down before everything starts! Both Max & Michelle live in San Francisco and because of that, they opted to not do an engagement session. I was nervous because I hadn’t spent much time with them or worked with them.

I should have known better though! When Neil and I got to the beautiful Tanglewood House I went straight upstairs to where Michelle and the girls where getting ready and they welcomed me with open arms. I don’t know what I was so worried about! All their friends and family treated us like we were old friends and not just another vendor. Just writing that sentence made me smile… remembering how they made us feel. Max & Michelle have many qualities that make up my ideal client! Never mind that so much of their decor was full of sentiment or that they spent their money where they should have. Their family and friends traveled from all over the world to be in Clarskville with them for their special day. That’s what made Max & Michelle’s wedding one of my favorites from 2013.


Ceremony & Reception | The Tanglewood House
Wedding Planner & Coordinator | Karey, The Tanglewood House
Florist | Tanglewood
Catering | Tanglewood
Cake | Yaya’s Cakes
DJ | Epic Music Service
Hair | Kelly Green, Colorz
Bridal Gown | Maggie Sottero, Loveliness, San Francisco
Bridesmaids dresses | Donna Morgan
Tuxes | Men’s Wearhouse

Back to TopEMAILPOSTFacebookPOSTTweetPOSTSubscribe

By the title of this post, you’re probably thinking, Did she go on a trip to San Diego? And if you follow me in Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram then you’d know the answer is UH YEA! AND IT WAS AWESOME! The reason? Well, my best friend Megan and Neil’s best friend Bryan are actually married to each other. They currently live in Northern Indiana, where Megan is doing her medical residency, and we only get to see them a few times a year. SO when Megan found out she had to fly to San Diego for four days for a medical seminar thing she asked if Neil and I would join her and Bryan. Neither of us had ever been to California so we thought, What the heck! Let’s do it! On Thursday, November 21st, at the booty crack of dawn, Neil and I met Bryan & Megan at the Nashville airport. Be forewarned: most of the images in this post were taken with my iPhone.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0001PINIMAGE

We had a connecting flight in Phoenix. Super cool looking from the air.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0002PINIMAGE

We landed in San Diego Thursday afternoon and even though it was a tad drizzly, we hit the first stop: The San Diego Zoo! Everyone said we HAD to go so maybe I had built it up in my head, or maybe the rain hindered things, but I’m not sure the zoo was any better than the St. Louis Zoo. Just sayin’

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0003PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0004PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0005PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0006PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0007PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0008PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0009PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0010PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0011PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0012PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0013PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0014PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0015PINIMAGE

Our besties!

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0016PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0017PINIMAGE

And BAM, Megan’s pregnant with her second! And this time it’s, a BOY!

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0018PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0019PINIMAGE

From the zoo, we found our amazing (doesn’t do it justice) hotel: The Grand Hyatt. Every room had an awesome view… here’s our’s:

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0020PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0021PINIMAGE

Even the lobby was grand… Around 3:30 San Diego time, aka 5:30 our time and 6:30 Bryan & Megan’s time, we were STARVING. The best thing about our hotel? It was within walking distance to the really nice part of downtown. We took a walk and found a great Californian Mexican place: Las Hadas Bar & Grill.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0022PINIMAGE

I’m not embarrassed to say that we were all in bed by 7:30pm Thursday night. Which meant we were all awake by 5:30 Friday morning. Oy. Megan had her first day of seminar so the boys and I got ready and ventured out to the little “village” beside the hotel: Seaport Village. Something we found out about San Diego that morning? Even breakfast places don’t open until 8.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0023PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0024PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0025PINIMAGE

After we ate a delicious breakfast (we ate really well in San Diego) we headed back to the hotel to decide what to do for the day. Out in the distance we could see a front coming in. I set up my office and started working while the boys played Playstation. They were calling for rain and we didn’t want to get caught out in it. This little bird was my friend for about 20 minutes. He just sat there and watched me. Weird but kind of cool.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0026PINIMAGE

It rained for a couple hours and by lunch time we were ready to explore the Navy Battleship Museum in the marina.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0028PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0029PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0030PINIMAGE

Is it weird that I can’t, for the life of me, remember where we ate lunch Friday? Anyway, after the Navy Battleship we drove across the bay to Coronado Island to search for a good dinner place. And really? Just to drive around and use the rental car lol

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0031PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0032PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0033PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0034PINIMAGE

Driving around some more, we made it up to the Mission Beach area a little north in San Diego where we found Sunset Cliffs. Amazing place! The ocean rock allowed you to climb down right to the water, which was tons of fun!

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0035PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0036PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0037PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0038PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0039PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0040PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0041PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0042PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0043PINIMAGE

Please don’t think for a moment that, if Neil were actually in danger, I would be taking the picture to document it. The boys just wanted to play in the crevasse. He was actually standing on a ledge. Silly boys.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0044PINIMAGE

Once Megan was done with her seminar for the day we headed back out to Coronado Island, walked around a bit, ate some delicious Italian at Village Pizzeria and ice cream at Moo!

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0045PINIMAGE

Aannnnddd because we were up at 5:30am, we found ourselves back at the hotel around 8. These 27 year olds know how to live it up in San Diego on a Friday night y’all! How about some cards?!

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0046PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0047PINIMAGE

This time we made it till 10 before we were asleep! Saturday morning, up at 6:30am. Megan left for her seminar and we found breakfast downtown at Cafe 222. LOVED this place, inside and out.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0027PINIMAGE

We returned to our hotel room, I worked, boys played playstation, we waited until right before 11am to drive out to Mission Beach and Belmont Park. THIS PLACE. SO much fun! The whole area really! There was only one roller coaster (but yea, we rode it!) but tons of other cool games and a rock wall that the boys just HAD to do… several times… and race of course.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0048PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0049PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0050PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0051PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0052PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0053PINIMAGE

Bumper cars. Eeek!

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0054PINIMAGE

Right between Belmont Park and the ocean was a strip of little shops and restaurants. We stopped at Sandbar Sports Grill because Urbanspoon said it was good. Urbanspoon does not lie.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0055PINIMAGE

It’s really hard to say, because Californians know how to cook y’all!, but this MIGHT have been my favorite meal…? Chicken and black bean quesadilla. Holy mother. What I would do for one of these right now.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0056PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0057PINIMAGE

When Megan was done with her seminar she really wanted us to take her to the park and that was fine with us. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening there. We took so many Christmas Card worthy pictures of us but Neil had his sunglasses on in EVERY SINGLE SHOT. Fail.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0058PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0059PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0060PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0061PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0062PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0063PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0064PINIMAGESan-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0065PINIMAGE

That night we drove around the extremely wealthy part of San Diego and found a cute Thai restaurant, where I ate if not the first, then the second best meal of my life. Salmon in a ginger sauce and OMG I’m drooling. Sunday morning was a little lazy. We got up crazy early as usual. Megan wanted us to take her to Cafe 222 for breakfast and surprise surprise, it was delicious once again! We walked around downtown, chatted about the cost of living in San Diego, housing/apartment prices, and how much each of us could make if we moved there. A girl can dream :) Megan and I scheduled massages for right before we needed to leave for the airport and we stumbled upon yet another thing that San Diego does better than anywhere else (that we’ve been). Sadly, we had different flights going home. We flew into Dallas and then Nashville while they flew into Minneapolis and then to Fort Wayne. Neil and I were so glad to be back in our bed but wouldn’t have traded that long weekend for anything.

San-Diego-Wedding-Photographer-Rachael Houser_0066PINIMAGE

Back to TopEMAILPOSTFacebookPOSTTweetPOSTSubscribe