Jan 28-14

This year my goal setting has shifted a bit. It hasn't completely changed - I am still blogging my monthly goals (the 1st day of every month), and I see a lot of value in doing that. What's different? I've incorporated Lara's Powersheets in my goal setting, and it has really been such a blessing to me! Because this is my first year doing the Powersheets, I am feeling a bit behind because they have been incredibly thorough. I didn't finish them until I was halfway through January, which left me (Type A, planner, perfectionist, organized, likes-to-finish-things-early) feeling behind and a little frustrated on my start to the year. But guess what? Because I stuck to them and did them a little each day, I'm learning that the next 5 months will be even better. I'm not behind now: I'm in a better position than I was before! And today I'm beginning to work through my power sheets for February. (As you'll see below, planning ahead is one thing I'll be implementing in 2014!)


Image by Lara Casey

If you're considering buying Powersheets for yourself, It's well worth it in my opinion. Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind:

1. They are incredibly thorough. I love this about them, but it does take some time to sit down and go through them. Lara usually recommends around 2 weeks: sometimes more, sometimes less. With my travels, it took me 3 weeks.
2. They are just a tool. They are to enhance your life and your goal setting, but not completely redefine your life. Use them to benefit where you are in your life!
3. YOU still have to do the hard work behind your goals - the Powersheets will not do the work for you.
4. Do a little each day. Don't let them overwhelm you - just finish 1 page or 1 step every day until they are done. If you have extra time, then you can work ahead.
5. For all you perfectionists: MESS UP THE PAGES. This is hard, but good. They will only work if you use them, scribble on them, write what comes to your mind. Just write. The outflow of that will be beautiful goals from YOUR heart, not perfectionist goals from what you think your life should be.


Image by Anna Paschal at Making Things Happen in October

Okay, so one of the exercises that I love is What Worked and What Didn't. Lara also posts about this in her amazing Goal Setting: Part 1 blogpost.  Inspired by my friend Emily and her 2013 recap post, I wanted to share with you some lessons learned in my personal and business life in 2013.


What Worked
1. I spoke more and discovered that I truly love to teach (B&L, Making Things Happen x 2, Influence Network)
2. Took time to train the NRP team at weddings, shoots, and in the studio
3. Learned to shoot film confidently (and had an all-film shoot published) so I'm ready to dive in this year
4. Delegated more tasks to Callie in order to free up my time to work on my business, not just working in it
5. Updated my logo and products to stay current with the industry

What Didn't
1. ShootQ is disorganized and is not working to it's full potential
2. Film and Digital Workflow is a challenge
3. Too many systems that overlap in the studio: Wunderlist, ShootQ, Workflow Wall, iCal
4. I got behind on preparation: reserving rental equipment, organizing Winston-care for weddings and travels, etc. I saved too many things for the last minute.
5. Editing and photo delivery got more behind than I would like.

What I want to change in 2014
1. Hire a ShootQ consultant to help me organize it for a team of photographers
2. Streamline workflow by installing a Drobo (and working from that network), while solidifying my film + digital workflow
3. Simplify my tasks: use Workflow Wall + ShootQ for workflow related tasks. Use Things for Studio / Business / Organization related tasks.
4. Speak more! Speak more at conferences and offer to speak at my church, when needed in youth or women's ministry.
5. Set hard deadlines for preparation (rentals & Winston) and editing in my new workflow




What Worked
1. Increased our giving: took a trip to Nicaragua, sponsored 2 new children: 1 through Compassion and the 2nd through a school we painted in Nicaragua
2. Took a solid, non-work related vacation for just us
3. Spent prayer, time and effort in finding a diet that works for my health, ran a half marathon, and hired a personal trainer.
4. Early to bed, early to rise. Continued my morning ritual and time with the Lord daily.
5. Focused on spending less and doing more through my missions trip to Nicaragua and the Contentment Challenge

What Didn't
1. House has become more cluttered than I would like; I am not in love with my current decorations and wall portraits. (Every photographer's problem, right?)
2. My ankle injury has caused confusion with my fitness goals, and my posture has declined
3. Did not take a weekly sabbath like I had hoped. I would somehow find the excuse to work an hour or two on our "off" days
4. Not shooting personal stuff with  my nice camera. Lately I've just been using Instagram and my iPhone, but I want to document my LIFE with the gifts that I have been given
5. Not enough time one our boat! Something we love to do together.

What I want to change in 2014
1. I want to regularly stop and focus on the big picture of my home: it's cleanliness, decor, and clutter
2. Create new fitness goals that don't involve running / impact on my ankle. One of those goals being strengthening my back, shoulders, & posture
3. Take a weekly sabbath: schedule it in my calendar. This will be especially difficult in high wedding season, per usual, but I want to fight for it this year
4. Rest from social media on the weekends, and plan to take my "nice" camera with me on a few personal trips. Choose to make it fun and creative instead of feeling like I'm taking my work with me
5. Schedule times to enjoy our boat and invite friends to come along, too

If you have any questions about the Powersheets, feel free to comment below. Do you use them yourself? What tips do you have to share?

Comments: 5

  1. Lorin January 28, 2014 2:03 pm

    Nancy, this is such great reflection/looking forward for the year! I’m still working through my PowerSheets for 2014 & have found that the following saying is so true: done is better than perfect. The freedom to make a mess, like you mentioned, is so freeing & helpful for making things happen. Thanks for sharing your heart :)

  2. Em January 28, 2014 2:20 pm

    Love this whole post, but especially love the personal side. I think the “what I want to change in 2014″ is a great addition — kind of like a mini set of goals that directly flows from what worked and what didn’t!

  3. Kristin Brown January 28, 2014 4:38 pm

    I am loving the PowerSheets too! Completely changes goal setting for me! I also thought I would mention–if you aren’t totally happy with shootq I replaced it with a project/task management program called Asana (which is free!) last year and have LOVED it. It works really well for a team too. I’d be happy to tell you more about how I use it if you want… I’m obviously a big fan of it! :)

  4. Victoria B January 28, 2014 8:09 pm

    This is a great post! I too love the What worked and What didn’t questions and love that you took it step further. I have Powersheets and am really excited to use them this year!

    I also wanted to highly recommend you try Pilates as a workout. There is mat Pilates, but I think you would really benefit from the reformer Pilates classes. Just my two cents.

  5. Allison Mannella January 29, 2014 11:58 am

    Thanks so much for sharing Nancy! I too am using PowerSheets for the first time ever and I also found it hard to mess them up and feel behind. But January has been my most productive month in years – hooray! Sitting down this snowy NC morning to work on next month; can’t wait to see your goals!

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Jan 23-14

Armlin Family

Families ~ by Elizabeth Tate ~ 2 comments


Everyone, meet the Armlin family: Chet, Angel, Isaac and Brady. Without going into too much detail for you: the Tate’s have quite the history with the Armlins. I was 19 when I met them and became their nanny. The next 4-5 years for me would be spent playing lots of hide and seek, enduring tons of ball fights, building many forts, reading many books, cleaning up lots of ...fluids (it was a glamorous job), and cuddling two precious little boys. Y’all... I wouldn’t trade that time for the world. Robert and I love this family, a lot.



The smallest Armlin that you see in these pictures? Yep, he was 8 months old when I met him (he’s now 6). The little bit bigger Armlin was 2 (now 8), and the elder Armlins... I won’t say how old they were. (You’re welcome.)


In all seriousness though, what a family. This verse comes to mind, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Simply put, Chet and Angel are all about instilling unwavering values in their boys: a Biblical worldview, family, integrity, sacrificial love, grace. They choose as a family to celebrate big things and little things, milestones and little moments, whether perfect or imperfect. I’m not sure that I can think of a more admirable trait to find in a family.

Comments: 2

  1. Angel Armlin January 23, 2014 3:52 pm

    Oh….my! I’m working from the library today and cried when I saw this! You guys did a fantastic job with our pictures and the blog post! E, you’re amazing and the Arms adore you! Thank you so much!

  2. January 2014 Gratefulgrams | Nancy Ray Photography January 31, 2014 9:07 am

    […] of my favorite engagement sessions so far / Pretending to be fancy with hubby at Biltmore /  The Arms / Cozy mornings working from home / Texas bound to see my best friend and to meet her sweet baby […]

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Jan 22-14


photo by Eric Kelley

Happy birthday sweet Callie! I am so grateful to have you in my life, and I don't say that lightly. Always smiling, always joyful, always on time (seriously - I admire this about you!), always willing (no matter how crazy I am), always hard-working - you have so many wonderful qualities I admire deeply. You love well, you encourage others, you worship even as you edit in the studio, you sing, you have a confidence about you that draws people to you. You like big scarfs and clean handwriting and Anthropologie and lists, so of course we are friends! And you let Winston drool on you pretty much every day and never complain. That pretty much sums up how amazing you are. (Not to mention how every day when you walk in the door Winston is crazy excited - like today when he decided to sprint through the house! Even doggies adore you.) You are a strong lady, a faithful believer, a loyal friend. I am so, SO grateful for you!

Happiest birthday, Callie!


Comments: 1

  1. Jennifer January 23, 2014 5:28 pm

    Such a sweet post, Nancy. :)

    Happy Birthday, Callie!!

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Jan 20-14

Blog Features!

Press ~ by Nancy Ray ~ one comment

Happy Monday, friends! I've been thrilled to see our work land so many different places throughout 2013, so I'm starting out the week by sharing all the places we've appeared on wedding blogs. Click on the links and leave comments on the actual features, if you'd like! It shows these beautiful blogs how grateful I am, and it shows our support for them too. Thank you to each blog editor who chose to feature our work. We are so, so honored!

I'm "pleased as a peach" as the Southern belles over at Southern Weddings would say! The Daily South picked up Nicole and Matt's Wedding and I loved Nicole's sweet words in her interview. Definitely worth the read! (Especially the fact that her yellow flowers were her something "borrowed" from her parents wedding.) Wedding designed and planned by Leigh Pierce.

2014:01:17 The Daily South

Southern Weddings Recently featured our work in their "Best of 2013" series, and I'm proud to say we landed spots in the "Best of Bouquets" and "Best of Photography" in 2013.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 4.36.20 PM

I gotta say, I'm pretty proud of my amazing 2nd shooter and husband who captured this tear jerker below:

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 4.35.33 PM


The Wedding Chicks featured a styled shoot with mint, pink and gold wedding ideas!  This was an entire NRP team effort, and it turned out beautifully. Styled by the amazing Rebecca Rose Events.

2013:09:10 - Wedding Chicks


Southern Weddings featured my print editorial "Song of the South" on their blog, and I just love the additional images they chose. A recent mother of the bride asked me, "What is your proudest accomplishment?" I proudly replied that this shoot was, because it incorporated my family and my love for music. Planned and designed by Amber Housely.

2013:11:21 - Southern Weddings Song of South

I just love the quaint and lovely design choices that Ruffled Blog always makes: as the style of their blog and the style of the weddings they choose. They graciously featured a sweet mountain wedding I photographed last year. Lovely wedding designed and planned by A Southern Soiree. 


Not only do I love Southern Bride and Groom, but I love sweet Leah who works there. It was her very own Fearrington wedding that was featured on their blog! Event designer Erin McLean worked her glittery magic.



I personally adored the color pallet of this wedding that was featured earlier in 2013 on Style Me Pretty. So classic yet different! A Southern Soiree planned this lovely event.

2013:03:15 - Style Me Pretty

Style Me Pretty also featured one of my favorite cake photographs in their Floral Wedding Cake Round Up.

2013:02:13 - Style Me Pretty

I'm curious… what are your favorite wedding blogs? Leave a comment!


Comments: 1

  1. Emily January 21, 2014 2:58 am

    It was so exciting to see Leah and Austen’s wedding pop up all over the web! Thanks again to all of you for being so great to work with on that awesome day!

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Jan 15-14


This winter I had the privilege of taking beautiful new photos for Erin McLean and her team! Let me just say, I love this lady. Not only is she an incredible wedding planner, but she is a dear friend of mine who has a beautiful heart. She is all about serving her couples, and she does it so well. Every wedding I've done with EME  runs smoothly and effortlessly. They always designs such beautiful events! I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to work with them on a regular basis. If anyone is looking for a Wedding Planner in the Raleigh area, I highly recommend Erin and her team! I mean, who doesn't want to be friends with someone who loves hot chocolate and glitter confetti?


Comments: 2

  1. Lorin January 16, 2014 2:00 pm

    Gorgeous!! I heard Erin speak on the webinar chat y’all both did about Southern traditions & upcoming trends a few months ago :)

  2. Allison Mannella January 16, 2014 3:47 pm

    Yes to confetti and hot chocolate!!

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Jan 10-14


Venue: The Fearrington
Officiant: Shawn Stinson
Cake Artist: The Fearrington
Caterer: The Fearrington
Florist: The Fearrington
Event Coordination: The Fearrington
Ceremony Music: Wind and Willow
Reception DJ: Joe Bunn DJ Company
Videography: Heart Stone Films
Wedding Gown and Veil: Victorian Rose Bridal
Bridal Shoes: Becca and Louise
Going Away Dress: ModCloth
Bridal Dressing Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar
Guest Book: Bleu de Toi
Ceremony Doors: Simply Put Vintage

Check our their beautiful wedding film by Heartstone Films !
A big thank you to Faith Teasley for being an amazing 2nd shooter!

My goodness, y'all get ready!  This morning Fearrington wedding sure is a special one. When Megan booked me, she described her style as "bohemian ballerina" and after her wedding, I would totally agree! So many thoughts come to my mind when I think about this wedding: Megan's stunning dress, the gorgeous vintage ceremony doors she walked through with her father, the sweet vows they wrote and promised to each other, the gluten-free delectable brunch, and the tandem bike exit. Don't get me wrong, these things were beautiful but what was even more beautiful was the feeling of this wedding. It's something that I hope for my own wedding day. For Megan and Spencer, this day wasn't about the little details being perfect. They were certain it was going to be the best day ever  because this day was about becoming one in marriage. As you will see, this wedding was filled with lots of tears, love, laughter and joy!





Congratulations,  Megan and Spencer! What a joy it was for me to stand aside and capture each sweet moment of your best day ever. From the beginning to end, it was a gorgeous wedding celebration!

Comments: 5

  1. Faith January 10, 2014 9:44 pm

    Ahhh such a beautiful wedding! Love it! :)

  2. Kaitlin January 12, 2014 2:05 am

    Absolutely beautiful, Callie!

  3. Tiffany January 13, 2014 5:09 pm

    What a sweet wedding!

  4. Allison Mannella January 14, 2014 12:31 pm

    Oh my goodness! Just gorgeous!

  5. Megan January 14, 2014 4:24 pm

    Callie, you made our day look as magical as it felt and we could not be more grateful for the heart you put into capturing that time! Thank you for everything!

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Jan 06-14


I have been waiting with so much anticipation to share these images! They are so dear to my heart, because I love this couple. Callie, as many of you know, has been working with me for almost 2 years now. During that time, I have had the privilege of watching her relationship with Jamie grow. I met them as a sweet dating couple, and now I see that they are a strong, committed, selfless couple engaged to be married. After capturing the day Jamie proposed, I was so excited to watch Callie plan her wedding and experience the joys of being married to your best friend. I am incredibly honored to capture friends whose hearts are so pure and in love with one another.

Callie is beautiful from the inside out. She has amazing style, she is focused and driven, she walks out life in joy. Callie is one of the most loyal people I've met - always supportive of Jamie, constantly making memories with her best friends, and caring for her family with her words, encouragement, and actions. Just overhearing her talk to those she loves on the phone encourages me to be more uplifting, honest, and real with those I love. What's most beautiful about her is her love for the Lord and for Jamie, and her dedication to changing lives through Young Life. She is living a beautiful life, and I cherish her friendship so much.

What I love about Jamie is that he's a strong leader, a man's man, a hard worker, and he happens to be hilarious! (I've heard stories about Young Life skits he's performed and I'm still dying to see one myself.) He loves the Lord more than anything, and he serves and loves Callie in a way that catches my attention. He's a true gentleman in the way he opens doors for her, offers his jacket to her, and always makes sure she's taken care of. He literally would do anything for her, and he's  going to make an amazing husband for Callie.

These sweet engagement images were taken in Pine Knoll Shores, on the beautiful coast of North Carolina. These beaches have a lot of meaning for Callie and Jamie, since Jamie's family owns a home within walking distance of this beach. Every aspect of this session brought me so much joy - because I know this couple really well, I could tell that it every detail was perfectly them.  On the beach, at sunset in... a beautiful gown and handsome suit. It couldn't have been more fitting for their style. We also had a more casual time in the harbor where Jamie's family boat is located. There was so much laughter and joy throughout the entire session; I couldn't be happier for you, Jamie and Callie! I'm so honored to call you friends!

Film Lab: Indie Film Lab
Gold Dress: Badgley Mischka
Suit: Jos. A. Bank
Floral Crown: Kelly Odom
Calligraphy: Rachel Velasquez




Comments: 19

  1. Graham January 6, 2014 10:52 pm

    Favorite. Session. Ever!!!

  2. Elizabeth January 6, 2014 10:55 pm

    Just, wow! Such stunning images. The one with the bright blue ocean in the background? Holy cow. Congrats to Callie and her beau :)

  3. Dana L January 6, 2014 10:58 pm

    love love love everything about this session! that dress is to die for!

  4. Lindsey Wachter January 6, 2014 11:20 pm

    These photos are SOO beautiful. I love them! Such genuine people :)

  5. Lisa January 6, 2014 11:47 pm

    SERIOUSLY, could those two be any more stunning?! Absolutely gorgeous!!!

  6. Faith January 7, 2014 12:30 am

    Oh my goodness… these are absolutely INCREDIBLE! Love every single frame. Callie, you are so stunning. Nancy, your talent is amazing. Love, love, love!

  7. Brittani Croft January 7, 2014 12:36 am

    Wow. Every single one of these images is completely stunning. Absolutely jaw-drop worthy. Your film work is beautiful and it’s so clear that each capture is intentional and full of purpose. I would be so over the moon if these were my images. Congratulations to Callie and Jamie…what a gorgeous couple!

  8. Carrie Coleman January 7, 2014 12:50 am

    Nancy! Oh my goodness, these images are stunning! You are truly mastering film, and I for one could not be happier about it! I can’t wait to see the beautiful film images you produce this year!

  9. Justine January 7, 2014 1:48 am

    These pictures are lovely!!!!!

  10. Em January 7, 2014 2:02 am

    Just beautiful, friends! Love all of these!!

  11. Carly January 7, 2014 3:02 am

    These are crazy beautiful, Nancy!! Callie, you are going to be such a beautiful bride, and Jamie a very handsome groom. Congratulations!

  12. Hannah January 7, 2014 7:18 am

    I am in love with her gold dress. Best session ever.

  13. Emily January 7, 2014 2:00 pm

    WOW. These are dreamy!!!

  14. Stephanie January 7, 2014 3:10 pm

    These are absolutely fantastic! Every single picture is breathtaking, and this is one of the best sessions I’ve ever seen!

  15. Kaycie Davis January 7, 2014 5:15 pm

    These pictures are just too perfect. Absolutely stunning dress, beautiful location, the crown… the sign… all just breathtaking.

  16. Allison Mannella January 8, 2014 12:40 pm

    So beautiful! That sunshine looks like a dream on this chilly NC morning!

  17. Lorin January 8, 2014 1:59 pm

    Simply stunning! That gold dress looks incredible on Callie! Beautiful engagement session, Nancy :)

  18. Madelyn January 9, 2014 12:12 am


    These are GORGEOUS. I love the emotion you captured and the beautiful lighting, not to mention how adorable Callie and her fiancé are. Great work once again!

  19. Shirlee Pitts January 21, 2014 4:34 pm

    Oh My! My beautiful granddaughter who I adore.
    So happy for the two of them and excited to have Jamie as my new grandson.
    Your happiness jumps right off the pictures.
    Love you bot

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Photographer, wife, and worshiper... I am a Southern girl who looks most forward to waking up each morning to drink my coffee, read my Bible, and soak in the beauty that surrounds me. These pages chronicle my work, my life, and the things that I love most. You'll also hear from Callie, Will, and Elizabeth - my amazing team who has so much to offer. Thanks for visiting, I do hope you stay a while!
Nancy Ray