CHAD FISHER

This weekend has been so awesome.  Last night I photographed Secret Stages, a musical festival here in Birmingham, and I'll be at it again tonight for day 2 of the festival. They've had over 60 bands, and it's been so amazing walking around to their seven venues listening to all the music.  I had the pleasure of interviewing one of our local artists, Chad Fisher, earlier this week. 

I met up with Chad at a coffee shop and was immediately impressed by his warm and casual demeanor.  Chad is really a true artist, a man in love with music and all that it encompasses.  He learned the trombone as a child and developed a interest in jazz early on.  As he continued to hone his craft through college, music organically became his living. 

Just talking to Chad you get a feeling that you're missing something from your own life.  You see his passion for music radiate from him as speaks, and you feel some sort of envy that he's found it. He's always creating music, whether en route to his next show or relaxing in his downtown apartment.  You've got to love that music literally is his life.  There's no delineation between the music and the rest of his life; it's just an ever-changing entity.

In addition to playing Chad also teaches trombone.  When asked what advice he gives his students, he very graciously and genuinely answered that they teach him more than he teaches them.  He finds inspiration from their spirit and the different musicians they're into. 

After meeting with Chad I just felt so good about life.  He just loves music so much that that passion kind of rubbed off on me after talking to him.  I was so hyped up to write this post because he's definitely one to watch at Secret Stages.

So if you get a chance, he's playing with St. Paul and The Broken Bones tonight at 12:15am at Rogue Tavern! 

*This post was sponsored by Secret Stages, but all the words and opinions are my own.

 

Image courtesy of Chad Fisher.

TWO YEARS

1455 mom2.jpg

Mourning is a strange and complex thing.  It evolves but yet it never leaves me.  It's been two years since I lost my mom.  I was alone in a hotel room in Canada when I got the call from my brother.  Shock isn't the word to even describe it.  I just walked slowly to the window and stared. I stared out, trying to understand the reality and finality of his words. Was this real?  I had just talked to her the night before.  I had just asked her if she was going to die and she had just told me everything would be alright.  How could my mother be dead?

That question's haunted me ever since.  

How could she be dead? After she passed away, when I was still living in California, I'd walk downstairs still expecting to find her watching tv or working on her computer.  But she wasn't.  She'd never be there again... and that's the most agonizing part of it all. Those moments when I forget she's passed away, and I try to retrieve some part of her but I can't.  

It's been a constant struggle to fight through the sadness and continue with my life.  To sort through the guilt and regret and to avoid the what if's and how come's.  That's something about losing a loved one or parent that I can't explain to people.  Unless you've lost a parent you were really close to it's hard to understand, and even then it's hard to understand how I feel.  I think it's even hard to navigate how people in my own family mourn because everyone deals with loss differently. 

But the thing I always cling to that has always given me peace is that God has a plan.  He had a plan that involved my mom dying when she did.  He has a plan that even now I've only seen the beginning of.  It's a plan I may never fully understand, but it's a plan I believe has great purpose.  

It's interesting though.  Mourning is somewhat of a selfish experience for me.  I think about how I feel and how sad I am without my mother.  How I was too young to lose her.  How I'll never hang out or talk to her again.  How much I hurt without her.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing that I feel those kinds of things, but looking outside of myself the truth is, my mother is living out eternity with our Lord.  She's no longer in pain or going to the hospital or being inhibited by her physical limitations.  She's living in God's glory in heaven.  And that's something I can celebrate when I'm most sad.  That even though I miss her, she really is in a better place. 

My mom will always be the one I crave to confide in and strive to be like.  I miss her like crazy, and I'll always love her with my whole heart.  Even two years later, I still cry over her death and all that I lost.  The pain of losing her will probably never go away, but I find comfort and peace in knowing she's in God's presence.  I will continue to celebrate the life she lived and the new life she's living in heaven.   I praise God for all twenty-nine years He gave me with her.  She was a loving and kind mother, and a great source of joy to all who knew her.  

The Best Apartments by Birmingham's Local Breweries

Birmingham is pretty new to beer game.  Its oldest craft brewery is Good People which started in 2008.  Over the past 7 years a total of four breweries have come out of Birmingham, Cahaba Brewing Company, Avondale Brewing, Trim Tab Brewing Company and Good People Brewing Company.  In partnership with Select My Space we've curated a list of the best apartments by these breweries. Read on to learn more about the breweries, apartments and local neighborhoods.

Cahaba Brewing Company

Cahaba Brewing Company is located in the Lakeview/ Pepper Place neighboorhood of downtown Birmingham.  It's in an area that's in the up and up.  You can go to the local Pepper Place farmer's market on Saturday morning then walk on over to Cahaba to play ski ball and drink beer at their 3rd Avenue South Building.  2616 3rd Ave South, Birmingham, Alabama 35233

A short drive from Cahaba Brewing Company are the Liv on 5th (pictured below) and Station 121 apartments.  Liv on 5th are beautiful condos just down the street from the iconic Iron City music venue.  While there aren't a lot of amenities in walking distance, the area affords residents beautiful views of the city, and if you live at Liv on 5th you'll have access to a rooftop terrace to enjoy those quiet, Birmingham Sunsets. 

Liv on 5th Apartments

As far as breweries go, Trim Tab Brewing Company has the best decor and ambience.  It's furnished in an eclectic way and its outside has one of the "It's nice to have you in Birmingham" murals.  If you're feeling like drinking your beer outside, Trim Tab has a beautifully relaxed outdoor area.  2721 5th Ave S, Birmingham, Alabama  35233

Close to Trim Tab are the Iron City Lofts (still in construction), the Lakeview Apartments and the 29 Seven Apartments (pictured below) which turned out to be my favorite of the three.  The 29 Seven Apartments are a mixed-use building with amenities on the ground level floor.  In the neighborhood you can find adorable coffee shops, delicious foods and everything you might desire as a young professional.  

Avondale Brewing Company, in my opinion, has the best beer. Adjacent to its main building is an outdoor biergarten and a large outdoor music venue space.  What I love about Avondale is its nod to the local history.  The name of each of their beers is derived from some part of the Avondale neighborhood history.  If you get a chance, you should take a tour of the Avondale Brewing Company to learn a little about beer and the Avondale neighborhood. 201 41st Street S, Birmingham, AL 35222

The Avondale area is up and coming.  With that said, a lot of new businesses are popping up in this older neighborhood which was once thought of as "dangerous". Most of the housing options by Avondale Brewing are older residences, but if you drive a bit you could live in places like the Avondale Apartments (still under construction), Highland Court and Clairmont Hill (pictured below).  The Clairmont Hill apartment complex is located in a quiet neighborhood across from a golf course and down the street from a bunch of amenities.  While it's not in walking distance to the Avondale Brewing Company, it's located in a beautiful area that's also up-and-coming. 

Good People Brewing Company knows how do breweries. Being the first brewery in Birmingham it set the stage for good beer and a welcoming atmosphere.  Good People has two areas for stages as well as two awesome outdoor spaces, each equipped with large (almost life-sized) jenga sets.  Not to mention Good People is at a prime location, across the street from the brewery is Regions Field, home of Birmingham's minor league team, the Barons, and kitty-corner to the famous Railroad Park114 14th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35233

I love this area of town. It's a good mix of industrial and modern, just what I love.  Adjacent to Good People Brewing Company and Regions Field is University House, a new, modern apartment building which looks like it's geared towards UAB students and young professionals.  Other apartments in the area are LIV Parkside and the Venue at the Ballpark, which is still under construction but looks like it will be amazing. The Venue at the Ballpark is right across the street from Regions Field and most of the units on the Regions side have views of the ballpark from the outfield.  It will be incredible to live there.  

That's my roundup of the best apartments by Birmingham's local breweries.  I hope this gives you a good glimpse of the different areas of Birmingham.  I love it here and hope that this post shows you the side of Birmingham you never thought existed. 

* This post was sponsored by Select My Space.  I was paid for this post, but all these pictures and opinions are my own. 

 

Birmingham, AL. July 2015 | Fuji x100s

MOVING BEYOND THE DARK SIDE OF WEDDINGS

Between being a wedding photographer and attending weddings I've celebrated with a lot of couples.  I'm that girl who's crying during the vows and speeches.  How can you not be happy for these two people who are committing their lives together?  Marriage is such a beautiful thing.  

I admit I'm a total sap about love.  Photographing love for the past 7 years will do that to you I suppose.  Now that I'm married each engagement session and wedding reminds me of that amazing day I said, "I do," to Lance.  It's really indescribable.  And to get to be a part of that day for someone else is such a huge honor.  I don't take it lightly.  

But after a conversation with friends I remember there is a dark side to weddings.  Unfortunately I know that personally.  I remember 7 years ago when I lost my job and my boyfriend broke up with me, I sometimes found myself miserable at weddings.  I hated that I was single and all my friends were getting married.  I'll be real with you, it was a hard time. I'm so sad that I wasn't completely happy at some of those weddings.  It's shameful, really, that I made their beautiful day about myself.  

So now having gone through both sides of a wedding I wanted to encourage people to put aside themselves and remember to celebrate the couple.  Here are some explanations about a few things that people take personally and get upset about that I wanted to tackle.  

You weren't selected as a bridesmaid or groomsman. My good friend Amelia got married and she didn't pick me as a bridesmaid.  I would have loved to be a bridesmaid but I realized that the people she picked were much better friends and better equipped to be a bridesmaid than me.  I was just overjoyed she was getting married. Sometimes people take that "rejection" a little too personally.  Sometimes it's logistics (the bride may only want three bridesmaids and you were number 4) and sometimes you're not as close to that person as you think.  

I know for me if my bridesmaids didn't make me their bridesmaid I wouldn't be hurt.  Sometimes we have friendships that we feel are very close.  These four ladies who were my bridesmaids could be my closest friends but they may have friends who are much closer to them to me.  And that's totally fine. It's their wedding and they should have their besties with them whether or not that's me. 

For me I chose my bridesmaids based on a lot of factors.  There was no doubt I'd choose my cousin, Kristina, who's always been my friend and like a sister to me growing up or my sister-in-law, Alison, who's grown to become a real close friend since she married my brother.  As for my other two bridesmaids, I chose them because I felt they knew me inside out.  I felt they had always loved, encouraged and supported me over the years, and I knew that they would continue to do so in the future, even if we grew apart.  

Choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen is a very personal thing and I think as friends we have to respect the bride and groom's choices.  (On the upside... being a bridesmaid/groomsmen is a lot of work and costs a ton of money, so you can be a little grateful you dodged that bullet. haha.)

You weren't invited. This is another thing that causes a lot of drama.  At Lance and my wedding we were paying for it by ourselves and couldn't afford to invite all our friends.  We had over 100 family members to invite and could only afford about 130 total guests.  We had to cut a lot of our friends.  Weddings are really expensive. Each person invited could cost the couple $75-250+. Just because you weren't invited doesn't mean the couple didn't want you there. Sometimes it's just not within their budget.

Nowadays when I'm not invited to a wedding, I'm still excited for the couple.  I still celebrate with them.  One friend of mine sent her girlfriend a wedding gift even when she wasn't invited. I thought that was a fabulous idea so now when there's a great friend whose wedding I wasn't invited to I'll still send a wedding gift.  Just because you're not invited to a wedding doesn't mean you can't celebrate with them.  

You're single or you've been waiting for years to get engaged with your partner. I've seen this destroy people.  And all I've got to say is... "I feel you." I know how hard it can be to want to get married and see your friends get married one after another, especially if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend and have been waiting.  It's really unfortunate that you're not married yet.  Really, it is.  But everyone has their own time and this is their time.  Try to put yourself aside and be happy for the couple.  

I was once a bridesmaid with another girl who had been dating her boyfriend for years and was completely bitter that the bride was getting married before her.  She was crazy and toxic.  She made the entire wedding process an ordeal.  She was constantly complaining and spreading lies about the bride and bridesmaid.  Don't be that girl.  

Be happy.  It's not your time yet.  Be happy for your friend whose time has come.  And when it's your time, we'll be sure to party like it's 1999. 

All in all I know that these things aren't a problem for a lot of people.  Most people are happy and excited about their friends getting married.  I just know it's human to feel a little upset about these things.  I just wanted to remind people that weddings are exciting and wonderful and amazing.  Don't let the drama overshadow your happiness for the couple.  

p.s. These images are from Michelle & Gary's wedding which was really a blessing to be a part of.  They were surrounded by an amazing and supportive group of friends and family. I loved their wedding!

 

Michelle & Gary's UC Berkeley Faculty Club Wedding. August 31, 2014 | Canon 5d markii