Outer banks styled shoot

This gorgeous now Michael Laura bride has been on our blog already this month, but we felt it’s high time we share our style shoot From last year. It was featured on Tidewater and tool back in January, and we absolutely love the photos they chose to share, but let’s be honest, we took way more!

It was our first styled shoot ever, and we got to work with some amazing vendors that helped us turn our vision into a reality. and though we didn’t have a groom for our bride, she didn’t need one… She rocked that bridal style shoot, even in the gale force winds and the sub 50° temperature. We can’t ourselves lucky when we work with a bride that can pull off a gorgeous model face, or A joyful laughter, but with Kayla we got both! Seriously… and she asked us to shoot her wedding coming up in September so Gadow excited!

As for how the call thinking together, we feel pretty good about it. It may have not been the best idea to start our styled shoot experience outside, on the beach that’s how we roll. Parentheses no I think next time we will choose somewhere we can control external factors a little more. Period our shake,Beachy,  seem really came through the tableware and cake, and the gold sequin top with sheer tool dress really balanced out the fun and quirky with a refined class that we were going for. But enough of us babbling a long describing it when you can flip through our entire day. Parentheses and we did spend an entire day there.

A special shout out to all our amazing vendors below, and we hope we get another chance to work with you soon.


The 10 things we are most excited for in the next 10 hours

Michael and I are a mere 12 hour flight away from being back in the US!!!   I still can’t even wrap my head around it.. Almost like 8 months ago I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that we were moving to Kenya.  Ha.  I need to learn to accept things..We are SO excited to be home.. But there are a few things we’re especially excited for…in no particular order.

  1. The availability of water, fountain sodas, ice, and diet coke (and not having to ask for my beer to come “cold”).  First stop, Firehouse Subs for a LARGE Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke with an ENORMOUS amount of ICE!!!  Ahhh so excited.
  2. Electronics!  Our dishwasher, washing machine, dryers, iron, and a stove.  I’m so excited to finally feel like my clothes are CLEAN, to not have to boil water to wash a plate, and to not wonder if I have enough clothes pins or a big enough line for the amount of wash I’m doing.. It’s going to be awesome. AND I can cook a real dinner.. Like in an oven.. Which leads me too..
  3. Grocery stores with things I’ve heard of that will take my credit card without being shocked and wondering what I’ve just handed them.. Literally ever time we go to the grocery story here I have to tell them 100 times “it’s a swipe, there’s no pin, I’m sure, no pin, it’s a credit card, swipe it…” But no longer..
  4. Internet and sites that allow me to view them.  We have gone a long time without a solid internet access and I will be very excited to have it again.  Also, you’d be surprised how many sites can’t be accessed from Kenya!  Hulu, netflix, youtube, tons of stores.. It will be exciting to be able to watch my shows and shop online again 🙂
  5. Restaurants! What I wouldn’t do for a Tragermeister from Anderson’s Showplace Café.. Or ribs, cornbread, and bbq baked beans from The Flying Pig.. Or a grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-a (and a chocolate chip cookie – ’cause those are THE BEST C.C.Cs money can buy).. Or burrito bowl from Chipotle.. Or a big ‘ole cup of Ritas.. Mmmmmmm I gotta stop..
  6. Being able to drive (I was way too terrified to drive in Kenya) with no speed bumps on the highway or waiting for herds of cows to cross.. And not being afraid when I see a police officer..
  7. TARGET.. A little sad?  Maybe.. But Michael and I have a deep love for Target.  I’m going to get myself a diet coke and big bag of popcorn and roam the aisles of that place like nobody’s business.
  8. A phone!  I’ve barely picked up a phone since we’ve been here.. And while I’ve never been much a phone person (in that I am awful at carrying my phone with me and responding to texts/call.. I really gotta work on that).. I am SO excited to have a phone again! Sorry in advance for blowing up your instagram
  9. Seeing friends and family!  We are so thankful that my family and one of my best friends came to visit while we were here, but it sure is going to be nice to catch up with all our friends and family!!! Especially excited for a few family vacations and attending some WEDDINGS as guests!
  10. And moving back into our HOUSE.  Unpacking all my clothes and not living out of a suitcase.  Staying put and not moving around a ton.  Having our own space again and privacy!!! Our big fluffy bed and sleeping without a mosquito net or waking up to buzzing in our ears.   Sitting in bed and playing on the internet.  Cooking without being in anyone’s way.  Lazy mornings eating breakfast on the couch and listening to our music on our record player.

Ahhh it will be nice to be home.


Happy Birthday, Michael!

lifetime-of-adventuresI remember this day..  We walked to the grocery store and collected armfuls of popcorn, and candy, Friday’s freezer appetizers, and a redbox movie for a good for the soul, bad for the cholesterol levels, date night in.  I remember waiting in line at the cashier exchanging banter back and forth and catching glances from the clerk.  She scanned our junk food and we laughed at ourselves for buying all this and made jokes back and forth.  As we grabbed our items and headed out the door, the cashier stopped us and said, “Y’all are the cutest couple I’ve ever seen”.  She said it with such sincerity and conviction that I was stopped in my tracks.  “Really?  We weren’t even being that cute” I thought to myself.  We’ve been WAY cuter than what we just displayed to this random woman at Farm Fresh.  I forgot about it quickly though, and we went home to our favorite kind of date night.. A movie, our couch, junk food, and pajamas.

And then the next day we were at it again, buying a good for the soul, bad for the cholesterol level dinner at Chick-fil-a.  We took forever to decide what to order.. Even though we get the same thing everyyyyyy time.  We quickly threw in a “Oh, and a chocolate chip cookie.. Sorry!” We felt bad for being so ridiculous during our order, but the woman checking us out stopped us and said, “I love it when y’all come in, you make such a great couple and always brighten my day”.  WHAT?  Two days in a row, we were NOT being cute.. But two different people commented what an awesome couple we made.  Embarrassing that the woman at Chick-fil-a recognizes us, but I’m thankful she did, ’cause she made me realized then and there, that sometimes I don’t even realize it.  I completely take for granted what a perfect match we are.  I completely forget how much fun you make ordinary tasks, like walking to the grocery store or deciding what to order at Chick-fil-a.  I can fail to realize how much JOY you bring to my life and how brightly it radiates for the rest of the world to see.

I read this quote the other day that I really love.., “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”   I know our lifetime has just begun, but you’ve already filled it with the best adventures I could have asked for.  Walking to the grocery store, throwing in a cookie at the last second at Chick-fil-a, or making it possible for us to move to Kenya for 8 months.. We’ve been living the best adventure a girl could ask for.

And I hope the same thing is true for boys.  That the best gift I could give for your birthday is adventure.  As we fly today to the African coast to spend a few days on the beach, and return to the US next week to all the unknown adventures that await, I hope you know I am forever grateful for having you in my life.  Thanks for the adventures.

Happy Birthday,


One Week Away..

This is such a big month for us!   Moving back to the US from Kenya and releasing our new brand.. It’s crazy! I can’t BELIEVE that we are only a week away from our release!  We’ve been working so hard putting our new brand together and we are so extremely excited to show you everything we’ve put together!  EK!

One thing we’ve been working on that we are super excited to start is a newsletter community!  We are giving all our newsletter friends first dibs on our WEEK FULL of giveaways!  Use the form below to sign up to receive our newsletter and be the first to hear about all our giveaways.

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You’ve done it again.  You’ve completely blow Michael & I away by your insane generosity and beautiful hearts.  A teacher friend of ours (shout out to Jessica Schmitz!) asked us after our Christmas Giving how she could help out.  We were about to move to Juja and I knew I’d love for this new group of children to feel loved and blessed, so I responded to Jessica that she could collect a few school supplies to give to the kids at Juja (my family was coming to visit and they could throw it in their suitcases to bring over).  And in true Jessie fashion she over did it.  And since my momma was the one bring it.. In true Momma fashion, she over did it too.

My mom called me and asked if she had to leave things behind, what should be the first thing to take out of the pile?  I responded, don’t you and dad both get 2 free checked bags?  Just bring another suitcase!  Welp, she had already filled FOUR suitcases with 50 pounds of school supplies.  FOUR.

So many people were so, SO generous.. And these little angels really felt the love (and so did we!).  Thank you so much for your amazing gifts.  And an ENORMOUS thank you to my incredible parents for bringing over all the goodies and Jessica for starting what turned into an AMAZING blessing for about 85 abandoned children in the middle of no where Kenya.

BIG news!… finally

Over a year ago, when Michael and I began telling people we were moving to Kenya, I was extremely hesitant to tell people about our plans.  This is because we had NO IDEA what our plans were.  We knew we were moving to Kenya, and that was about it.  We were just faithful that God had a plan for us, that he was going to use us in this place, and that it was going to be an amazing experience.  But we had no concept of what that meant.  We didn’t know where we were going to go, how we were going to get there, or how long we’d stay.  But of course, people wanted to know details.  The thing is, we didn’t have any.  So all I said is “we’re moving to Kenya”.  And people took that to mean a lot of different things, because it was vague.  Purposefully, very vague.  Because we just didn’t know.  Even after we moved here.  We had no idea.  We just went where we were led, and tried not to make many plans (which is exceptionally hard for a planner like me to do).  And that has REALLY worked out for us.  Just learning to trust and go where we feel led.  It has been amazing.  And I will tell you A LOT more about that in future posts, but for know I can tell you our plans.

‘Cause now we know.  Now we can tell you what we’re doing in Kenya (’cause we’ve done it) and how long we’re staying (’cause we have our flight back to the US).

We are moving home in MAY!  Like 4 weeks from now.  And we are so excited to come home and so ridiculously sad to leave.

Honestly, I am confused how it is April already.  I feel like it was just last week I was moving out of my house, sorting through my clothes, and trying to decide what I needed to move to Africa.  But then again, this place is home now.

We have loved our time here and I’m so excited to write many, many blog posts to sum up our time in Kenya, but first, we want to make a HUGE announcement.  Michael and I (with the help of a few amazing people) have been working really hard for the last few months rebranding Michael & Laura Photography.  I am SO excited that after months of hard work we are finally able to share everything we’ve come up with!!!

Since we’ve been living in a very remote area, with absolutely no internet access, we will be putting on the final touches this month for our re-launch this MAY!  AH.. How is it April already???

We wanted to give you all a little sneak peek of what we’ve been working so hard on (our rebranding board).. We hope you LOVE it.. And can’t wait to share the finished product, along with a lot more surprises (including a WEEK full of GIVEAWAYS)!


and of course.. some of our sweet, sweet babies!

kenya teaching Juja Teaching

(check back for another video later this week – school supplies style!)

Caitlin & Ray – Part I

Over 8 years ago (whoa I can’t BELIEVE it has been that long!) I was at freshman orientation at CNU.  A friend of mine and I went to a “dance party” in a residence hall lounge.. one of the many exciting things planned for that weekend.  Problem was, when we got there, though there was loud music, not a soul was dancing.  My friend and I decided to start dance anyways.. and the first person to join us, a total stranger then, is now my best friend in the world.  Caitlin has one of the most incredible hearts of anyone I know and I am so honored to call her a friend. Living this far away from her is killing me, and I am SO thankful her and her future hubby are planning to visit us here in Kenya.  Thankfully, I can call her and it’s like I’m sitting right next to her, or Facebook her my ridiculous thoughts from the day, just like normal.

ANYWAYS.. I love her, you get the point.. well a few months ago when she called me to ask about how someone goes about booking an engagement session with us, I started to freak.  All I could do was keep asking her “why do you need to know that?  Why, what’s happening? Why?!”.  She finally let me know that Ray had finally proposed!  And I of course, started hysterically crying.  I could not be more excited for these two.  I love Ray so much and I am so excited that my best friend, with a heart of gold, has found the man that deserves her.

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Such good model faces!



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Check back for part II.. just as soon as this Kenyan internet uploads it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Michael and I are dreaming of turkey and cranberry sauce, but samosas and Fanta will have to do.  It’s days like these we get a little home sick thinking of things we are missing out on, but we are so thrilled for the opportunity to be in Kenya, that a few missed holidays are worth it.  So while we aren’t celebrating in the usual way with tons of family and good food, we are celebrating by thinking of the many, many blessing we have and giving thanks for the amazing things in our life.

Here are a few things we have realized we are SUPER thankful for in our normal lives..

Long, hot showers with good water pressure

2014-11-27_0008 An oven, a big fridge and ice machine, and a dish washer.


A washing machine and dryer


kenyan thankgiving


No mosquitos in our house and our big king sized super cozy bed (really thankful for our two pillows we brought with us though!)


Our quiet little neighborhood


Wonderful parents who love and support our crazy ideas

Things we are thankful for here in Kenya…

 Malaria free mosquitos

 Chapati and samosas


Joyful children who have a home here at Happy Life


Our fruit lady

Beautiful, warm weather


 We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving day.. Eat some extra turkey for us!

Andrew & Olivia

wild world

This summer one of Michael’s best friends growing up got married in the beautiful Yosemite National Park.  We were so thrilled when Andrew asked Michael to be a groomsmen.. it’s such an honor to be a part of someone’s wedding day!  Anddddd we figured it would be an awesome excuse to take a trip to California #calivaca.  We’ll have to post some pictures from our awesome lil PCH road trip, but for now we wanted to share some of Andrew & Olivia’s big day.

I have a nasty habit of not being able to put a camera down.. even when we aren’t actually working an event.. and while I’m definitely NOT a videographer, that is one thing Michael and I really wish we had at our wedding.. so I though I might throw something together for the happy (and amazingly beautiful) couple.  We love you both, and hope you enjoy being able to relieve a little of your pretty perfect day! Thanks for letting us be a part of it.

Andrew & Olivia from Laura Downing on Vimeo.

Emily & Jonathan Part I

I have know Emily and Jonathan for a long time. I grew up swimming with Jonathan and playing soccer with Emily. I am so honored to call them both friends. When Emily called and told me she was engaged I was THRILLED! These two make such a beautiful and adorable couple and I couldn’t have been happier they were getting married! And then when she asked us to photograph her wedding I was so excited. I knew it would be an amazing day, and it was! When I told Emily we’d shoot her wedding day, she immediately had me promise her that we would still act as guests. Throughout the day people came up to us to make sure we were “having fun and being a guest”. Well, it would have been impossible to NOT have fun at this wedding. I may be a little biased with these long-time friends, but their wedding was an absolute blast! This day was definitely filled with a lot of good friends & family, love & laughter, and music & DANCING! In fact, it’s too much fun for one blog post, so we are going to split this one into two parts. Enjoy part one 🙂 2014-07-28_0021.jpg
Off to the church. They danced the whole way there!
I love that even when they bride and groom get ready in two seperate locations we can get some of the groom getting ready! Michael stays with the boys and I say with the girls.
I loved these engraved groomsmen gifts!
I love that almost all our brides this season are opting for first looks! I’m going to have to do an “I love” post on that one soon.. And even better when we have an amazing location like the capital to do it!
When we told Emily she could start walking to Jonathan, she ran! I think she was a little excited.
And here is why I LOVE first looks!
And here is why I LOVE that there are two of us! 2014-07-28_0057.jpg

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The beautiful St. Paul’s Church
Some churches have really strict standards of what photographers are allowed to do on a wedding day (like this church). But it makes it all OK when you get images like this that you may have missed otherwise… 2014-07-28_0068.jpg


Can’t wait to share part II! Leave Emily & Jonathan some love in the comments until then!