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My name is Susan, and Designs by Prater is what you could call my creative outlet that pulls together my photography, art and graphic design endeavors! The most important thing you should know about me is that my life revolves around my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, my family (especially my husband Todd, son JD, and puppy Lexie), family and friends. Other than that, I am pretty much obsessed with photography, Coca-Cola, and the color green (and all shades of green for that matter, especially teal). I love sports but cannot play them worth a lick. I would not trade my time as a college student at Mississippi State for anything in the world. The friendships and memories made there will stick with me forever...Hail State and Go Dogs! And I am very picky about my chocolate chip cookies, grilled cheeses, and shaved ice (gotta be SnoBiz watermelon flavor).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Operation: Provide Hope - Commence!

Wow...can you believe the drop in temperatures we have experienced in the past 24 hours?! We just left the softball fields not too long ago and everyone was in sweatpants and long sleeves carrying blankets and asking for hot chocolate. Fall is officially here, and I love it! And the colors of autumn make for great backdrops for pictures...hint hint!! ;)

But in all seriousness, too, I have been wanting to remind everyone about our fall MINI sessions we'll be having on Sunday, October 11 in Collierville as part of Images for a Cure. 100% of your $60 session fee would go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®, and you'd also receive a complimentary high-res download of your favorite image, as well as 10% off all other prints and products. This is a great way to honor anyone you know who either is fighting or has fought a courageous battle against cancer recently or in years past.

As for why I am doing this? It's not to book sessions or to sell photos. Yes, that would be a major plus for me, but this issue runs so much deeper for me right now. Let's backtrack a few months (and posts) ago...I shared that after participating in Relay for Life, my husband and I found out that his mother had been diagnosed with uterine cancer. Well, she had surgery to remove the cancer cells and she is recovering quite nicely. And then there is her neighbor, Beth. Beth went in to the health clinic on the Columbus Air Force Base in MS about a year ago because she was experiencing dehydration and was running a fever. It was in the next few weeks they learned that she had cancer of her liver. A year later, she is still fighting a courageous battle and some cells are growing back while new cells have formed. She is a fighter though; please keep her in your prayers and read more about their story here.

Well, fast forward again to when I made the announcement that I would be a participating photographer with Images for a Cure. It was only a few short weeks later that my mother-in-law had another scare at the doctor's office. During her regular mammogram and office check-up, they found some abnormalities in her breast that worry them...so she is undergoing additional tests today to see what all is going on. Having lost her mother to breast cancer when my husband was a toddler, I'm sure you can imagine how scared she has been (and our family) since the doctor told her a few weeks ago that he's found something else that worries him.

Now I know we all have these stories, too. Cancer has affected and will continue to affect us all in some form or fashion. But there is hope! There is hope in the bond that cancer survivors share. There is hope in the bond that family members of those who lost their battle with cancer share. There is hope that a cure is within reach! Please be a part of that hope. Please participate in some way in this fight alongside us. Whether it be booking a little ole mini session with yours truly, walking in your neighborhood's next Relay for Life, shopping at The Avenue at Carriage Crossing this weekend during their Pink Tie Event, donating directly to the American Cancer Society, or whether it is just praying for or cooking meals for a family you know who is fighting this tough battle. Please just find your place to get involved and provide hope! Thanks, and God bless :)

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Quick Update on DBP Fall Schedule

Yea for the weekend being here again finally! Just wanted to give a quick update about our schedule the next few weeks in case you were thinking about booking a session or wondering when we might be visiting your neck of the woods.

Sat/Sun, Sep 26/27 - Starkville, MS
Fri/Sun, Oct 2/4 - Home in Collierville
Sat, Oct 10 - Columbus, MS
Sun, Oct 11 - Collierville (Images for a Cure MINI sessions)
Sat/Sun, Oct 17/18 - Cleveland, MS

If you are interested in a FOCUS or MINI session while we are visiting Mississippi, give us a call or drop us an email! Details on our FOCUS sessions can be found here, while info on our MINI sessions is below:

MINI Sessions
- 30 minutes on location
- up to five people; $10 for each add'l person
- approx. 20-40 edited images
- online ordering and proofing site for 30 days
- $50

The Print Collections and A La Carte pricing on items that can be ordered after the session can be found here. The different collections include several print sizes and available products that can be purchased together for 30% savings.

Happy weekend to all! :)

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Backwards Garage Sale

SO...I'm in the process of setting up a small studio/office in our home and collecting props for future photo shoots, and I got to thinking...I bet my wonderful clients and blog readers can help me out! I've started compiling a mental list of certain items I'd LOVE to find and am wondering if you'd have any of these you wouldn't mine donating to the cause. Or at least let me know if you run across a great find at a garage sale, flea market, antique shop, etc. I'm thinking about paying you back in DBP Bucks, good for sessions and prints. What do you think?

Here is the deal...below is a running list of items that are on our DBP wish list. If you have or find something on this list and want to participate, shoot me an email and we'll see what kind of a deal we could come up with! Obviously the bigger ticket items will get more DBP bucks than smaller items. OK...here we go:

Distressed Wooden Photo Frames
- picture frames made from scrap pieces of wood like old barn doors, etc, in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes.

Vintage Luggage
- luggage from previous generations that have that old timey feel

Wooden Benches & Chairs
- vintage/antique/old wooden bench and/or chair you might find that has been sitting in a garden for years; would love one that's brightly colored with a worn-out paint-chipped look

Antique Chairs & Benches
- furniture that has that old Victorian style feel to it

Wheel Barrow
- old wooden or rusted up wheel barrow that won't give me tetanus

Vintage Cameras
- of any kind...lots of them!

- colorful fru-fru tutus for babies and young children

Baskets & Bowls
- the fun ones you always see babies in for newborn photography

* Note - we'll be adding to this list as we come up with new ideas so check back often :)

* Fine Print - we reserve the right to politely turn something down if it is not quite what we had in mind or we are already overloaded on that item. Thanks!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

wedding : phyllis + jed

Last weekend I had the incredible honor to shoot the intimate wedding ceremony of Phyllis & Jed in a local church that had the most amazing stained glass windows serving as backdrops! And what made this wedding even more special to me is that I was asked to be the photographer by my dear friend Amanda, who was serving as bridesmaid and daughter to the bride.

This wedding was a special one for so many reasons! One - it was a blessing to see two daughters love their mother so much and pamper her the way any bride should be on her special day. Two - it showed a courageous woman, who years after losing her husband to a tough battle of cancer, found her way to opening her heart again to love someone new whom God had placed in her path. Three - it showed daughters who, while always holding a very special place in their hearts for their father, found themselves able to also open up their hearts and lives to a stepfather. Four - I saw a groom welcomed into a new family with open arms. And finally - because I can only imagine that Amanda's dad, sitting with our Heavenly Father above, looked down on them that very special day - proud of his daughters and full of joy for their mother.

Well, without further adieu, I give to you PART ONE of the wedding photos showing their ceremony at Faith Lutheran Church in Collierville, TN. Stay tuned for the second half of their photos showcasing the happy couple and other family members taking a pre-reception stroll through Historic Downtown Collierville...

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and I must give a very special shout out to the son-in-law who loves them as his own and took up Best Man duties on top of providing the music for the bride to walk in to with :)

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and I am not sure what it is, but something about this picture just warms my heart! perhaps it is the sweet smile of the bride!

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p.s. do they make a hot couple or what?! just sayin'

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he snuck a lot of these in during the day ;)
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so did they!
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ok...everyone shhhhh! DO NOT tell Amanda I posted this picture; she may not like it. BUT I DO! It captures her spirited personality and just makes me laugh. :) and hopefully, she won't kill me since I posted the normal photo, too...

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stay tuned for part two! God bless :)

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Monday, September 14, 2009

wedding : foster - maxcy (part two)

I hope you've been waiting on pins and needles for Part Two of Laura & John's wedding! But before we get to that, I wanted to give proper credit to some of the other vendors. (If you aren't mentioned here, please let me know and I will come back and add you.)

Location - Lake Tiak O'Khata in Louisville, MS
Cake - Hailey Peterson
DJ - Scott Burns

Now on to the photos, starting with some of my favorite detail shots!

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Time for the ceremony!
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And off to cut the cake and dance the night away!
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even the vendors decided to have a little fun...look at the other photographer and DJ dance :)
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To see more photos from the night, click here to see them on our Flickr site and here to see them on our Facebook page...enjoy! :)

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Spread the Love Tour 2010

After being out sick almost a full week along with our internet at the house being down a few days, I was especially overwhelmed this morning when I opened up my Google Reader to see that I had over 700 unread posts...yikes!! And yes...I have had to cheat a bit and mark several at a time as read even though they had not been, but I am SO glad I did not do that on this one particular post!

Justin & Mary Marantz are two fabulous photographers from New England and each year partake on a 20-city Spread the Love Tour to meet, inspire, and encourage other photographers in their journeys. Well, here is where I need your help because I would love to be one of them! They are running a contest to let us pick the 20 cities and I am hoping that Memphis can be one of those 20 cities.

All you have to do to vote is to visit their blog here and leave a comment on the Spread the Love post telling them you want them to come to Memphis...it's that simple! Will you join me? Right now, Memphis is not even making the Top 25 vote-getters... :(

Thanks so much! :)

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

wedding : foster - maxcy

My deepest apologies for going AWOL on the blog this last week! I was bitten by the sinus allergy bug as the weather took a turn from the cooler temps we had been having back to the hot humidity we are used to experiencing this time of year.

Well, I had promised a sneak peek from a fabulous wedding I got to shoot last weekend, but I think I may do you even better since you had to wait so long. What about I just go on and post PART ONE of the wedding photos instead? But first, we must recap the story of these two and why their wedding proposal was also a most memorable event from 2008!

Picture it! Sicily - 1922... Oh, wait, sorry...wrong story! Picture it! Louisville, MS - December 2008 - the wedding of Heath and Rachel is just wrapping up as all the single ladies are lining up to catch the bouquet before we usher the happy bride and groom off to their honeymoon. Seems like a normal enough scene when the bride lets go of her bouquet, until we realize all the other girls scatter away leaving just one groomsman's girlfriend left to catch it...which she does. And then right at that moment, the groomsmen comes from nowhere, plops down on one knee, and all mouths drop. He's proposing!

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See, don't you see all those mouths dropping in the background?! She was completely taken by surprise and it was a really cool moment to witness. Ask my husband, I think he is still bouncing around somewhere in shock! (The wedding videographer got the whole moment on record, and the funniest part of it was seeing my hubby bounce around in the background; click here to see if you can view it on Facebook. Click here to see the rest of my photos from that moment.)

Back to the story...of course, she said yes! And now several months later, we find ourselves at their gorgeous wedding at which I have the wonderful opportunity to second shoot alongside the uber-cool Jenny of Pink Ink Boutique.

Without any further adieu, here are the photos from Part One that lead all the way up to the ceremony. One might ask how everything that happened before the ceremony could warrant it's own post. Well, this couple had so many fun moments just hanging out with their bridal party beforehand and so many great details to photograph that I just couldn't stop snapping away. That's one of my favorite parts of journalistic photography - some of the best moments come in between all the posed photos.

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And no, this next one is not posed...it's what a room full of bridesmaids genuinely looks like before a wedding! :)
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Had I told you yet how stunning this bride was yet? Well, if not - take a look for yourself...
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And no, the groom wasn't too shabby himself either!
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Oh, how I love First Looks - when the bride and groom choose to see each other before the ceremony for the first time and have those special moments together before all the crowd comes in...
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love this shot...pure gold!
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sharing a funny moment as the rest of the bridal party starts to join them for the photos:
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have I mentioned how much I loved the details of this wedding? just look at these gorgeous flowers!
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yeah - they were pretty much like this the entire time :)
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One word - STUNNING!
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and yes, this is what the groomsmen were like the entire time, too! just wait for the reception photos :)
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this is when they were giving me their best cheerleader pose!
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and we also had some uninvited guests to the picture taking!
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the girls' reactions...
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but no worries, the groom is here to save the day!
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I'm not really sure what instructions they were given for this photo - kinda scary, huh?
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the next two shots were simply timeless shots of her that I just love!
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and I just love it when the bridal party bring their own cameras to get their candids of the day, too - I always do, too!
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Part Two with photos from the actual ceremony and reception are coming soon...stay tuned! God Bless :)

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