Meet the Photographer

"For $5 I'll drop this towel"

My cousin Lauren joked, pretending to talk to bypassers on the street as I stood naked in between the car doors of her Subaru.

We were parked on a little side road in downtown Charleston and for the sake of time I was frantically changing outfits behind a beach towel she was holding up, while my other cousin Bethany (Lauren’s sister) worked out of the back hatch to pair jewelry and accessories with what I was putting on. While I was tying the bow on the perfectly palm wrap dress, Lauren was putting earrings in my ear. Her car was the rolling dressing room for the short 24 hours we were in Charleston to shoot the first ever launch of Midi Mae.

We had arrived in Charleston on Friday afternoon but shortly after we got there dark clouds rolled in and rain poured from the sky the rest of the night. We lost the entire evening, and missed out on the golden sunset lighting that Lauren so beautifully captures. I was bummed, but Lauren quickly jumped to plan B… “You know what light offers the same glow as the sunset?” she asked. “Sunrise!”

 There was a pause in the car.

Bethany and I looked hard at each other and then back to Lauren. She was adamant that we be ready to go by sunrise in downtown (which was 30 minutes away from the house we were staying in.)

Okay then.

As I was putting on my makeup at 4:50am that Saturday morning I was wide awake from excitement (or still feeling the effects of the Dr. Pepper I drank at dinner the night before) and couldn’t believe this was actually happening. It was a pinch me moment!

After hitting up the Starbucks for a major caffeine boost we made it downtown before the sun came up.

When we pulled up to The Battery, Lauren got that giddy (maybe a little nerdy) photographer excitement in her voice. “This is it! This is it!” We jumped out of the car and from that moment at 6:30am on, Lauren didn’t put her camera away until we sat down for lunch just before we had to start the 5hr drive back home.

And this friends… this is love!

My cousin Lauren, of Lauren Willett Photography has been taking our family pictures for years, and of course I am a liiiiiiiittle partial but honestly her work is amazing and it was proven this year as she was voted the #1 photographer in “Haywood’s Best”, a local survey that compiles the votes of people’s favorite businesses in every category.

Every picture on this site is credited to her creative eye and impeccable skill.

She catered to my wants and the vision I had for this shoot. Needless to say, she exceeded my expectations (she always does!) and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

A few fun facts about us. Our moms were sisters, very close sisters, and because of that we grew up very close too. Every year we vacationed together, every summer we stayed together, and every holiday we celebrated together. We have also been in church together our entire lives and grew up stacking crayons up the back of the pew during preaching and holding back uncontrollable church giggles when they all came crashing down.

When Lauren was a senior in high school I was a freshman and because our houses were just a few a part, Lauren picked me up every morning and drove me to school. Oh the stories I could share from that time of our lives. The yearly “We Hate Valentine’s Day” parties we would throw (until she got a boyfriend), the occasional moment of silence we would have driving down the road in reverence to the squirrel Lauren would so quickly kill (may they rest in peace.) The innumerable hugs she would give me with such force that caused my breath to slowly leave my body until she released her intense squeeze, and that one time we thought about going bowling in Canada so we could say "hey remember that one time we went bowling in Canada."

I still probably owe her a few quarters from all the ones she gave me to get a snack out of the vending machines.

Lauren is quiet, calm and soft spoken. I am loud, rambunctious and, well… not soft spoken, haha! Yet somehow she still allows me to ride in the front seat of her car while I dance and sing and sometimes reach over to blow her car horn because she’s too nice to. Not really… I did that ONE time and she’s never let me forget it. It mortified her!

Lauren reminds me a lot of my mom. She has a lot of her characteristics and I love that about her. I can go to Lauren when I need spiritual guidance or have a need and I know she’ll pray for me in the same way my mom would have prayed for me.

I’m so grateful to have her in my life and I’m even more excited that we get to bond over this new adventure!

Will trade pictures for long car rides, giggles, coffee (LOTS of coffee) and priceless time together!


I can’t write this post without mentioning Bethany, because this first photo shoot would not have been made possible without her. She referred to herself “as the pack mule” because we constantly loaded her up to carry the big towel, the accessories, the bags, the pairs of shoes, and anything else I needed for the picture.

She was the ULTIMATE hype girl, but that is who Bethany is on a daily basis. Lauren would be down on her knees in the streets of Charleston to give me that perfect angle, and Bethany could be heard in the background the entire time saying, “Oh Hannah! This is beautiful, that dress is my favorite… oh I love it so much! Lauren these shots you’re taking should be the cover of a magazine, oh my goodness!”

She not only kept both of us hyped, she kept us laughing too! Bethany is known to talk to everyone she comes in contact with. Yes, everyone. Walking down the busy streets of Charleston, Bethany would say “good morning… hi!” to anyone that would look her in the eyes. We won’t mention the crazy lady that Bethany came in contact with who ended up loving her conversation with her so much that she requested Bethany take a selfie with her! Dying! I can’t! I would pay BIG money to have that picture!

Bethany is 4 years older than me and when my mom owned the Hallmark store, Bethany and I were often her Saturday employees. We spent many weekends together laughing and “working” (Bethany worked, I didn’t too much.) I wish someone would have told us at that time we were living in the good ole days. We made countless memories together in that store.

Once again, the purpose for this trip was very important, but the experiences and the memories made from this trip are what I’ll cherish forever!


P.S. Yes I very well could have taken these pictures somewhere closer to home, but if you’re new here then let me just tell you how OBSESSED I am with the beach, palm trees, and hot weather! Unfortunately, Charleston is the closest beach to the Mountains of NC, so a 5 hour drive it was!