When Kiyomi reached out to me about photographing her wedding, it became increasingily clear to me the more we talked that she was, and is, someone incredibly special. Since she and Orlando currently live just outside of Austin in a little town called Hutto, we met for the first time over Zoom and not in person. With their daughter Eliana in her arms, and her characteristic smile on her face, I knew the minute I saw her that Zack and I were incredibly blessed to be invited into this special season of her and Orlando’s lives. Kiyomi is someone you instantly feel at home with. Gentle, kind, soft spoken, and yet full of spunk! She’s personable and full of life, an absolute dream to work with! So, when she asked if we could fly to Hutto, Texas to take their engagement portraits, it was a resounding, “YES!” One of our favorite things to do is to travel and explore and when you pair that with getting to know a beautful family and take thier pictures, we were beyond thrilled.
We arrived in Austin on Thursday night and after going to Congress Avenue Bridge to see the millions of bats come out at dusk (yes, there are literally two million free-tailed bats in Austin!), we headed a little north to our hotel. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that there was a bottle of champagne waiting for us in our room with a note from Kiyomi and Orlando welcoming us to Texas and letting us know how excited they were to meet us in person. True to form! We felt so loved and encouraged!! We were there to love and serve them but instead they made sure we felt welcomed and at home.
On Friday we spent the day in Waco completely in awe of what Chip and Joanna Gaines have done at “The Silos.” Amazing, truly. We only went for the morning though because we had something more important to do…scout for the perfect location for Kiyomi and Orlando’s engagement session. Being from San Diego, I had reached out to some Austin and Hutto photographers and they gave me some suggestions, but in reality, I had the perfect scout all along – Kiyomi of course. I mentioned to her what I was looking for and she found it right away, two blocks from her house! If I lived in Hutto I would be shooting at this location all the time! We met her and her incredibly aborable daughter Eliana near the portrait location and I felt like I was reunited with a long lost friend! Hugs all around! We then had a really lovely time walking over to a pond, enjoying the beautiful wildflowers, and gawking at the size of the bumble bees! Everything truly is bigger in Texas! Unfortunately it wasn’t much longer until I also encountered another southern resisdent, the fire ant! As I was scouting, I stopped in the grass and unknowing was standing right on top of a fire ant mound…in sandles! Let me just say that they don’t get there name for nothing! It’s been a week and a half and my feet are still itching and stinging. However, I would do it all over again because I had such a wonderful time with this family.
When we came back to Hutton on Saturday, after spending the morning and afternoon cruising around the quirky shops and restaurants on South Congress Avenue, we ran right into a full blown Texas storm! Lighting, torential rain so thick the windshield wipers barely worked, and Kiyomi said they even had hail. This was not obviously ideal for a photo shoot but Kiyomi and I were both determined to make the most out of it. She was so positive and upbeat and optimistic that I was not surprised at all when the rain stopped and we headed into “downtown” Hutto. This place was just adorable! Old buildings that had been there for over a hundred years with quaint storefronts. Perfect! This was also the location of their favorite coffee shop, so the area had sentimental value as well. Another thing to note about Hutto is that everywhere you go you see hippos. As the story goes, there was once a traveling circus and a hippo escaped and made its way to the local pond. Since then, Hutto has embaced everything hippo. There are over 2,000 hippo statues around the town and the high school mascot is even a hippo. So, we had to obviously get some shots with the hippos as well. Not to mention, Eliana had a stuffed hippo named “regular hippo” whom she carried around with her as well. This town is the perfect spot to settle for them!
I don’t usually write this much for a blog, but Zack and I had such a wonderful time in Hutto and Austin and we felt so loved by Orlando and Kiyomi, that I just can’t say enough about this trip and this couple. Beautiful inside and out…and they have a little side kick who you just want to eat up because she’s so cute! Spending an evening with them downtown and then by the pond, the river, on the bridge, and then out to dinner at the famous “Salt Lick” was incredibly special. We can’t wait for their July wedding! It’s going to be intimate and personal, just like the two of them. I am sure we will feel like guests and friends and not just their photographers because that is just how they roll! They love and then they love some more. Thank you Kiyomi and Orlando for a wonderful long weekend in Texas and thank you for inviting us into your lives. You are truly special and we are so grateful to be able to stand by your side on one of the most important days of your life.