Part of Me Blog

big announcement!


I'm so excited to announce that my camera workshops (yes, that is plural!) are now available online! I've recently launched TWO courses on Skillshare:

The How To Work It Series

This course is designed to teach the beginner how to shoot their camera in manual mode and truly understand how to work it!

Here's a little preview:

- AND -

The Workflow Like a Pro Series

This course takes you through my workflow in Adobe Lightroom and shows you how I organize files and edit them.

Here's a preview of this class:






Both of these classes include 4 video lessons, PDF notes and my heart and soul :) 

If you've never used Skillshare before, they are currently doing a promotion where you can get 2 months for FREE! Yes, that is right- you can go through my entire course for FREE for the next two months. It's kind of wonderful.

Click below to get signed up!

camera myths • what camera should you buy?


It's one of the questions I get asked the most:

I want to buy a nice camera that takes great pictures. Which one should I buy?

There are MANY great options on the market- but I have to say- you're asking the wrong question....because my answer is:

It really doesn't matter. 

As long as you buy a new-ish (made in the past 5 years or so) DSLR (one that can change lenses) camera made by a major brand (i.e. Canon or Nikon), you're good. Any camera that has been made that recently will be more than capable of taking the photos you desire. 

Trust me, I know- my first real, professional Nikon was a 2 megapixel camera. TWO MEGAPIXELS. I made HUGE prints from those image files...and now my iPhone shoots images triple that size!

In fact, if you are eBay savvy, you can get some great deals buying cameras used! That's right- I buy most all of my equipment used or refurbished. Of course, I do have my equipment serviced yearly by the Nikon factory to be sure it is in great working shape. 

You can also rent a camera from places like The Lens Depot or Borrow Lenses so that you can have a test drive before you buy.

If you still need to be told the EXACT camera you should buy, check out Recommended Cameras on I have loved Ken's reviews and found them to be accurate throughout my career.

What DOES matter- is the lens you're putting on that camera. 

Your lens is essentially the "eye" of your camera, and your camera body is the brain. If your eyes can't see well, they won't be able to help the brain create a very good image. 

So, if you're the average DSLR hobbyist or just starting out- get a good camera body- and then choose to really invest in great lenses. 

More info in this video, and some helpful links for you below:

P.S. This is the lens I recommend for your first lens purchase! It doesn't do everything, but it packs a punch for it's small size and price! ----> Nikon  Canon

Here's a great article on a crop sensor vs. full frame sensor. 

that crazy plant lady

lissa-anglin2 Comments

I've been calling myself that lately- because I am trying. really. hard. 

My mom gave me an "heirloom plant" when we got married 11 years ago- apparently, it was one that she had been given by her mother and KEPT ALIVE for who knows how many years...I didn't get the memo and promptly killed it- along with any other green living thing I acquired for the next 9 years or so. 

I've killed alllll the "easy" plants. Moss, succulents, name it, my black thumb has killed it.

So, when we moved to the house where we now live I knew that one day I'd have to face the huge front flower beds. They span probably 25 feet, and get basically no sun. Sounds fabulous, right?!? The previous owners had put down english ivy that required zero maintenance but was actually choking out some of our trees- so it had to go. 

Last year, with the help of my mom and sister, I planted a ton of stuff. I asked the internets what to plant- did as much research as I could, and then put it all in the ground. Some of it grew, some of it didn't. So, I'm in my second year of plant-babying and so far I am LOVING IT. 

This year, I decided to simplify- just a few sure-fire plant types and a lot of patience. 

Here's a list of what I'm growing in the front of the house:

  • Snake Plants (on either side of my front door)
  • Foxtail Ferns (Knox's pick, which I have grown to love)
  • Asparagus Ferns (always a reliable one for my mom)
  • Hostas (I hated them last year but they've come back faithfully and doubled in size!)
  • Wild Violets (groundcover- it survived a West Texas winter!)
  • Caladiums (at least I'm hoping- these dudes are still sprouting)

Everything except the caladiums actually overwintered really well. I pulled all the ferns into the house for the winter and they seem to be happy to be back outside.

Another addition are these coleus which make me think of old ladies for some reason. I love the pink + green combo which are also in the caladiums I planted. 

I scored about 15 terra cotta pots at a garage sale a few months ago for $7! Some were cracked or chipped, but thus far all have worked out just fine. I also found several larger ceramic planters half off at At Home and those are the larger white and black ones you see in the photo above. 

We have said that this year would be our year to work on our backyard. While there is a LOT going on there- I'll save that for another post and just tell you about what I've worked on so far. 

There is a spot right outside the kitchen where I have my morning coffee every day. For the past three years, I have gazed upon this spot with disdain. It is a portion of the flowerbed (which, by the way, has never contained any actual flowers) that is just straight up mud where the dogs like to lay in the summertime. It's ugly and doesn't get much light. So I decided to do something about it since I stare at that spot several times a day whether I like it or not. I found some pots I'd been hoarding and bought a few fun plants at the store- and I'm so pleased with the result! 


This old chair has been sitting in our backyard forever- and now it has some purpose. I used old pots upside down to give some of the pots some height. 

All of these plants have worked well with the limited sunlight- more coleus (the hot pink leafy one), potato vine, and astilbe- the red and orange ones). 

It has been SO NICE to have something pretty to look at in the morning!

Lastly, I planted a few cacti/succulents for Knox. He was pumped to pick some out this year (I'd let him do it last year and so OF COURSE he expected to do it again). These are the ones I am most nervous about. I tend to overwater them, and they don't get enough sunlight because there is no good spot in our yard that actually gets direct sunlight. So, here's to hoping they make it. :) 

Any tips you have for me on this bunch would be wonderful!

Also- side note- can you see the geodes beside the cactus pot? My parents gave Knox a National Geographic Geode Kit for Christmas and it was so cool! You get 10 geodes that contain crystals inside and it includes safety glasses and educational material about them. Shawn and Knox have enjoyed breaking them open every now and then and now this is Knox's "collection". Could be a fun idea for summer projects if you have curious science-loving kiddos- or just ones who like to break stuff, haha!

I'd love to hear what you guys are planting or any tips you have for me as I try not to kill things! 

Andrew + Savannah • Wedding at the American Wind Power Center


I first met Savannah and Andrew in January, when we had the pleasure of photographing Savannah's sister's wedding. I remember watching them laughing together on the dance floor and thinking that there was some serious chemistry between them- and it turns out, I didn't know the half of it- an engagement was coming right up. :)

My parents had 3 daughters (I am the eldest), and so after meeting Savannah's family, which was the same, I felt an instant affection. This has been an incredible year for them- and probably one that they never could have predicted- all 3 girls married in the span of 5 months! And let me tell you, they did it with flair and so much love- wisely hiring Jill Leven to coordinate the two that were in Lubbock.

So, being such a special season, Savannah's mother asked if they could do a special shoot before the ceremony with all 3 girls in their wedding dresses. I loved it- it was the perfect way to celebrate and remember. The rain held off for us for just long enough to capture those photos. 

Speaking of rain, it was there. Alllll there....alllll day. But I have to tell you- it mattered not! Savannah, Andrew, and the rest of their families were so laid back and easy about it all, which made it just wonderful. The couple chose to get ready and do their first look and portraits at her parents' home. Upon entering, we saw Savannah casually talking with Andrew and the rest of their families. It was a relaxed atmosphere, and you could feel a buzz of excitement about the whole house. I am so thankful they trusted us- because we eventually ended up under their carport to shoot some portraits to keep everyone out of the rain. God still provided us great light and some green to shoot against. :)

The ceremony at the American Wind Power Center was an intimate one, including just family- and then the couple welcomed many more guests at the reception which featured the most delicious lemonade I have ever tasted, many familiar faces, and the most stellar entertainment-  the Caldwell Entertainment Players.

Enough talk- on to the photos- and also- check out that perfectly pink dress! Gorgeous! Congratulations you two!



Venue: American Wind Power Center

Event Coordination: Jill Leven with Eat, Drink, and be Marry

Hair: Ashley Williams, Roxi's Hair Studio

Makeup: Brenda Becknell

Dress: Bella's

Cakes: Jennifer Cisneros and Simply Decadent Bakery

Catering: Jeana's Feedbag Catering

Entertainment: Caldwell Entertainment Players

Floral: Dayspring Designs

Quartet: Ellsworth String Quartet



Always a project...Knox's Room Update

HOME + LIFESTYLElissa-anglinComment

I just can't ever sit still with house projects. Once I complete one, I have the urge to start something new, and much to Shawn's chagrin, that usually involves paint. :)

This project, however, my husband has actually volunteered himself for- so in order to keep my worker happy, I am doing the most planning ahead that I can.

What's the project, you ask?

Oh, just the one where we switch out the kids' bedrooms in the middle of our busiest work season.

Our house has 3 bedrooms, two of which are the EXACT same size, and located on the same side of the house- one nearer the front of the house, and one near the back. When we moved into this house, we only had 1 kiddo (Knox) and so we put him in the bedroom that was toward the back of the house, which worked perfectly- until we had another baby. 

Liv's nursery/room has inhabited the front bedroom, and there have been many times I wished I had switched their rooms. Namely, those times the doorbell rang and woke up the sleeping baby I had in the room right next to the front door. 

So, realizing that we will be welcoming another sweet girl sometime in the near future who will share a room with Liv has made me want to go ahead and do the switcheroo. So maybe you could call this nesting, in a way?

Regardless- it's time for Knox to get a little update. Here's a current view of his room:



Yeah, that's right- this is the way it USUALLY LOOKS. No prettying up real life for the internets here. 

I've made peace with the random socks and shoes on the floor, and we just aren't the people who make their beds every morning. But the books on the ground, the toys piled up on every piece of furniture, the sheer amount of toys that aren't actually played with anymore...those are the things that drive me bonkers. 


Here's what's working/what I'd like to keep for this room:

  • The full size bed
  • The vintage pennants and signs
  • The little mid-century bookshelf (I salvaged out of the alley many years ago)
  • The Ikea Poang chair and ottoman
  • The dog tail hooks that are holding up the art (not pictured)
  • The square storage shelves (functional, though I may want to update the fabric boxes)
Current mint wall color.

Current mint wall color.

Here's what I want to see gone/improved:

  • Hanging chair
  • Dresser (possibly)
  • Train table
  • Floating Shelves
  • Toys no longer played with (which is going to be a job in itself)

Another thing I am considering is that he will need to be able to "grow with" this room. He is just 6 right now, but I'm wanting to make it more of a "big boy" room he can really utilize in the coming years.

So, I'm wanting to add:

  • Desk
  • Upright storage or mirror over dresser
  • Nightstand

Liv's room (a.k.a. Knox's future room) is currently painted a happy, light mint color- and to save myself some time, I am hoping to keep that color, while adding an accent wall. 


Check out the mood board I put together:

I'm hoping to reuse several items we already have, plus add some must-haves for a "big boy" room, like a desk, reading light, and extra storage in an armoire. 

One of the things I am most excited about is creating an engineering print mural on one of the walls. This will be my third experience doing a mural like this- my first was in our retail store, Culture Clothing- look how tiny Knox was when I was putting it up! 

I'm having trouble deciding on whether I want to do an A) Constellation pattern or B) Mountain scene. Knox says he doesn't care and that he likes both. So, what do you guys think? Here are a couple of photos for inspo:





No matter what, it will be black and white print, though I do love the blue of the constellation wall- it's just much less expensive to do the black and white!

I'm also debating about curtains- hoping to keep them some sort of black and white pattern, but- how important is it that I get blackout curtains now that he is 6? Also, we will be raising those curtains allllll the way to the ceiling this time.

I also have not even thought about bedding yet- eesh! He does have a white down comforter inside the duvet he is currently using- so we will probably just stick with that. Simple. And BLEACHABLE. 

Any other input/thoughts/ideas/wish-you-hads for me? 

why we said "yes" to special needs


This post is number two in a series of posts about questions we get about our adoption. To see the first post- "Why International Adoption?" click here. 

Our family is currently in the process of adopting a special needs girl from China. I love talking with people about it- because even though we don't have her home yet, it somehow helps me process it, and get excited about it just as I would be doing with a pregnancy. (Many in the adoption community refer to the adoption process as "paper pregnancy"- which is a perfect way to describe it!)

A question we get a lot is:

Why did you decide to adopt a child with special needs?

Well friends, it pains me to tell you that we actually didn't.

Have you ever been cruising along, thinking that you understand just how your life should go and then all of a sudden, hard stuff happens and you realize your plan is crap and you should really just trust God- the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE- with it? No? Oh, me neither. :)

Truthfully, in the years I've been a parent, God has taught me over and over that His way is better than mine. And so one of my biggest pieces of parenting advice to new moms is to acquire the taste of your own feet. Never say never. God's plans are bigger.

Photos in this post are from a past trip to china. the children there captivated me and i loved photographing them!

Photos in this post are from a past trip to china. the children there captivated me and i loved photographing them!

You can read a little about how our adoption process started in this blog post, as well as a little bit on why we chose international adoption. Adopting a special needs child definitely wasn't our first choice, in fact – it was one of the only things I thought I could never do. God has been patient and gentle with me, however – and we are confident in the path that we're currently on.

Because I am a habitual list maker (and also love to see how God uses small things to make big changes), I've decided to list out the catalysts for this change of heart and direction in our adoption process.

1) We got educated.

One of the hardest parts of this process was realizing that I had my own misconceptions and suppositions about what a special need was, and what it was like as a parent to live with or treat. When we begin the process with the China program, our agency sent us a huge list of special needs that they commonly see. I was surprised to see that hemangioma – something that our biological daughter was actually born with– was on that list. Other small things like asthma, eczema, and missing a finger or toe were also listed. Don't get me wrong, there were many more severe needs and many of the "minor" needs were often in combination with another one or two. But, it was very interesting to realize that the Chinese definition of "special needs" is very different from ours as Americans. 

We were asked to go through the list and do some research to see what we would be "ok" with. Our agency provided us with several excellent resources that were specific to China special needs adoption. It was a hard process. We felt like in saying no to some need that we were saying no to a child- and essentially that's what was happening. However, we had to be realistic about what our family could handle and how we could best meet the needs of our child. We eventually came up with our own list – and talked through it with our social worker and agency.  We eventually decided that we were OK with anything that wasn't potentially life-threatening – things that could be treated with surgery or medicine.

We will not know what special need(s) our daughter will have until we receive a referral, review her file, do the appropriate research, and accept the referral. It is possible to just request one special need, such as cleft palate, but because we chose to list several, our agency can refer us a child with anything on that list. It is possible that after reviewing the files and seeking the appropriate medical advice, that we could choose not to accept the referral. But, I would have to say that is very unlikely.

2) We are wealthy by the world standards. 

I mentioned it in this blog post, but once Shawn and I realized that in the world's eyes, we were wealthy- and by that I mean as average-earning Americans, we make more than 99% of the rest of the world- it was hard for us to forget. Our American dollars are able to buy excellent medical care, healthy food, and a safe place to live. We don't take that lightly.

3) We have ample resources in our city.

Speaking of excellent medical care, our city has two amazing hospitals and thousands of medical professionals available when we need them. Lubbock is a hub for the medical field in this region- and knowing we would have access to specialists, clinics, and expert opinions when we needed them was reassuring. It also doesn't hurt that we have a Pharmacist brother-in-law that doesn't mind midnight text messages about children's medicine dosages. :)

4) It could've been our biological child.

This was a mindset shift for me. I mentioned earlier that our daughter Liv was born with a hemangioma on the top of her head. This was and is hardly an issue (except for a few unusual comments from strangers)- and now that she is two it has almost completely receded and is covered up by her hair. 

Liv was born in the middle of this long adoption process- and one day, it hit me- I do not have to fear- whatever special need our adopted daughter will potentially have could have just as easily been something our biological child could have been born with! Yes, the genetics are different- but if Knox or Liv would have been born with a cleft palate or limb difference, would we have said "no"? Absolutely not- how absurd would that be?!? So in many ways, that is my mindset. And, with adoption, we get the perk of knowing what is to come- preparing for her needs before she arrives.

5) It's Biblical.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
— James 1:27

Another hard truth I have wrestled with is knowing that somewhere out there is another momma who gave me her daughter so that she could have life. I am not going into this process expecting to know much about my daughter's history. Most children in China are abandoned in a "safe" public place where they will be seen and rescued quickly- such as the doorstep of an orphanage or hospital. Many are abandoned because their parents are unable to care for their needs and know that they must give up their child in hopes that they will be adopted and have access to proper care. You guys, that is heartbreaking. 

God tells us to look after these children, and it will be an honor to do so. 

One very exciting thing I learned about just today is The Love Project. This project was created by Meredith Toering, who runs the Chinese foster home Morning Star Foundation that cares for babies with complex heart defects. The proceeds from their shop go directly to families who cannot afford care for their babies. How wonderful is that? Please, check out their store and consider doing something powerful with your dollars today.

The Love Project

Click here to visit the shop!

6) Many have gone before us.

Seeing as we have been in this process a little over 4 years now, we have been exposed to a number of families adopting special needs kids. Their attitudes, perspectives and stories have really shifted my own mindset. It helps me realize that I'm not alone. There are parents who have gone before me. And that is really relieving. I know that whatever we are up against, I will have a village to refer to (whether online or in-person)- and I am so thankful for that!

7) Because God won't be surprised. 

Speaking of going before us...

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
— Deuteronomy 31:8

The Chris Tomlin song came out just as we began our adoption process and I can't tell you how many times this truth has soothed my soul. God WILL NOT be surprised, even if I am! The road we are walking is one we trust that God is leading us on. All we need to do is follow in obedience.

8) All orphans have trauma.

This is another tough truth. Our agency has supplied us with many awesome books like The Connected Child and one of the most consistent things we have learned is that no matter the circumstances- not age, location, or physical need- all orphans deal with trauma. The adoptive parent/child relationship is one born of brokenness, and because of that, there is pain to be dealt with- be it ever so subtle or severe. 

I don't mean to be pessimistic- just realistic here. Yes, I absolutely do believe that Christ's power is so much bigger than any of the trauma that exists. But it is there- and needs to be recognized and worked through for healing to happen. Having a non-"special needs" child does not mean that the trauma won't exist.


9) Every child's "normal" is different.

Selfishly, one of the concerns I had was the potential for consistent comparison between our biological kids and our adopted one. Until one day I heard an adoptive momma explain that  her daughter's "normal" was never supposed to look like her biological daughter's "normal". It was a breath of fresh air and made total sense to me. Already, in our two bio kids we can see how different they are. I could never discipline and reward them the same- it just simply wouldn't be effective! I've learned how to effectively discipline and encourage Knox and Liv in their own ways- ways in which they respond best. So of course, the same would go for our new daughter. 

And, as for any differences in physical appearance, how she gets things done, etc.- that is exactly how God created her! We will choose to celebrate that difference and appreciate the uniqueness of it. 

We are closer than ever to receiving a referral (essentially a phone call from our agency saying we have a match)! There are some days I think I might burst from the anticipation, but others I just long for the waiting to end. In the meantime, I'm soaking up all the info I can. Check out some of my favorite bloggers who have adopted special needs girls from China:

Ashley Ann- Under The Sycamore               Shay Shull- Mix and Match Mama               Ann Voskamp

What other questions do you have regarding adoption? Feel free to comment them below!

a friendly fiddle leaf!


So, yeah. I'm about to be that lady who devotes an entire blog post to a tree. But I'm TOO IN LOVE. I can't help myself. 

Last week, my husband who loves me tracked down a fiddle leaf fig. This is a big deal because I have been looking for one and though commonly found at a home improvement store, for some reason, Lubbock just doesn't carry them. So when he told me he found one for me, I was alllllll over it. 

I've been crushing on these trees for a couple of years now (see them all over The Jungalow, Apartment Therapy, and The Selby). They're indoor plants that somehow add interest to every corner they inhabit. 

So Peter from Xylm (follow him on @xylmshop on Insta) brought over the perfect little plant. Peter is working on opening a shop next to Culture Clothing (our resale shop) in the Tech Terrace area. He is the guy that cares for all our plants at the shop and has a knack for cacti, air plants, and trees just like this one. I can't wait to see what he does with his new store!

I was nervous about where to place it since our home has covered porches on both the north and south sides- but Peter said that was actually perfect as direct sunlight could be too much for it. Look how perfectly it fits! 

I just love that pop of green! Peter actually replanted it in that yellow-orange pot before bringing it, not having seen our home before and it fit so well.

I ran out to buy an Aqua Globe almost immediately- knowing that I did NOT want to leave it unwatered or overwatered. If you've never used an Aqua Globe before, I love them! They are blown glass bulbs that basically self-water your plant. When they are empty, just refill! I found this one at Lowe's, but I've also ordered them on Amazon. There are two sizes and they come in a few pretty colors. 

I was worried that the kids would be tempted to touch the tree (we don't have anything too precious in our home), but so far neither have and both have noticed/liked it. I have been amazed at how much a small thing like a tree would bring me a bit of happiness on a daily basis. 

Anyone else have one of these? Any tips?

Madilyn • Frenship High Senior


Madilyn's shoot was on one of the windiest days yet this spring, and she handled it like a champ. I always say that sometimes the West Texas wind can give us some "good" drama- and I love so many of these images because Madi was willing to work with the wind rather than worry about it. :) I kept thinking I was looking at Jessica Biel while shooting- do you see it?

I loved that Madi brought along her toe shoes and even though she's finished dancing, she was able to hop right up on those toes- gorgeous! Thanks so much for a great shoot Madilyn!

Trey + Katie • Wedding at Eberley Brooks


Katie and Trey's wedding was extra special for us because Trey is my cousin and we love them so! It was a big honor to me that they would choose us as their photographers- and of course made us want to work that much harder. Shooting this wedding was a complete pleasure- it's not often that our own kids show up while we are working (thanks Mom and Dad!)- but Katie's family and friends were also so wonderful and fun. 

Lubbock decided to have 40 mph winds the day of their wedding, so I was extra thankful for the beautiful interior of Eberley Brooks Event Center. It is so perfectly set up. My mom and many helpers worked hard on all of the florals, and the bridesmaids even made their own bouquets the night before- and it all turned out so beautifully. 

Mostly, though- and this is the part I enjoy about getting to see Katie and Trey often, because it hasn't changed since their wedding day- I loved getting to see how perfectly these two go together. Katie looks at Trey just the way you would hope a bride would look at her groom. There is a peaceful hope about her that I just love, and I'm so happy to see the man that Trey has become. They both love Jesus, and I can't wait to see what God does with this new union. 

Thank you for the honor, Trey and Katie! Congratulations- we love you!

kinsey • ttu grad


Gorgeous Kinsey is graduating this May from Texas Tech and we had the best time shooting around campus. She is a girl after my own heart- an English major- so we started out at the English building, which is one of the prettiest as well. :) I had the best time shooting with Kinsey and love so many of the images! Congratulations Kinsey!