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portraits

  • 26 november, 2013: ellen and tyler: university of tulsa engagement shoot

    This engagement encapsulated everything perfect about fall: a chilly breeze, warm yellow leaves,
    cozy blankets and sweaters, cute boots, and the most nostalgic feeling of all:
    College football. 

    If you don't know Ellen and Tyler, you'll just have to take my word for it.
    These are two kind, generous and lovable people, and they make the perfect match. 
    We chose a backdrop that means a lot to them.
    They have been together since high school and have been dating almost 6 years.
    But more recently, The University of Tulsa has been a place they call home.
    Tyler graduated last year 
    with a degree in Electrical Engineering,
    and Ellen graduates this December with a degree 
    in Communication. 

    I mentioned Tulsa's mascot, the "Golden Hurricanes."
    Tyler made sure to educate me on this: there is no 's' in Golden Hurricane.
    So tell me you didn't learn something today. ;) 

    They're big TU athletics fans, so we met on the football field before walking around TU's beautiful campus.
    I had never been on the field at TU before, so it was fun to explore the stadium
    and the different photographic opportunities it had to offer us.
    It was great to spend the day with you, Ellen and Tyler.
    I'm so excited to see what the future has in store for you. 

    The TU campus is always lovely, but the fall leaves on the new U were especially gold this time of year. Couldn't pass that up!

  • 5 november, 2013: shaun and vanessa :: engagement portraits in tulsa, oklahoma

    Meet Vanessa and Shaun.

    Shaun is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, and Vanessa graduated from the University of Missouri.
    The two met in Tulsa, where Vanessa moved from Missouri to work as a producer at Tulsa's Channel 8 News.
    Shaun is now in optometry school at Northeastern State University.

    But let's forget what's on paper: These two are in love, and watching them interact so beautifully and naturally in front of the camera was a true joy.
    Shaun is such a gentleman, and an incredibly kind and happy person. He's also crazy about Vanessa.
    Vanessa is so cheerful, loving, drop-dead gorgeous, and she absolutely adores Shaun. It was beautiful to watch their love unfold in front of my lens.

    As we walked through Tulsa's Centennial Park, the sun was setting and the breeze was brisk. Shaun rushed to put his coat across Vanessa's shoulders.
    His sweet kisses on her forehead and brushes through her hair were subtle but loving ways that you could tell how much he loves her.

    Congratulations on finding the perfect partner. I can't imagine it any other way.

    The Center of the Universe in downtown Tulsa, where Shaun and Vanessa went on their first date. 

    Thanks to Vanessa and Shaun for being fabulous and so great to work with.

    I'm continuing to book engagements and portraits throughout November and December in the Tulsa area.

    To request information about scheduling a shoot, email rachelcoward@gmail.com

  • 17 march, 2013: dreaming of an oregon vacation

    Dreaming of an Oregon vacation today.

    The amazing Amanda Cullen, a professional model I photographed on my last trip to Oregon. 

    And of course, Savannah, who quickly became one of my favorite people to photograph.

    Happy Spring Break, college kids! The rest of the world is a little jealous. 

  • 4 february, 2013: karen elyse miller

    A wise man once told me to carry my camera everywhere I go. 

    Sometimes that allows you to shoot cool street scenes, a dog riding in a bicycle basket (nothing is better than that), or maybe you'll run into some friends in nice light. I ran into Karen on my lunch break and I made some portraits of her. 

    Her spirit is bright, and that's what I wanted to show in these portraits we created in just a few short minutes on my way out the door.

    I can't wait to see what she does with her skills, sincerity and her wit.

  • 22 february, 2013: snow portraits

    Columbia is enjoying TWO - count em, TWO! - snow days this week after 10.2 inches of snow hit the ground Thursday.

    This year, I actually got to enjoy these snow days like you're supposed to! You know, pajamas, breakfast all day, Netflix marathons. In the past, however, that hasn't always been the case. This year's snow storm inspired me to post some portraits I photographed from "snowpocalypse" back in February of 2011.

    Two years ago, Columbia got 19 inches, 45 miles per hour winds, and more snow days! I did not have the day off, as I worked the first half of the break for the Columbia Missourian, and the last half for Mizzou Magazine. A day off for most is not a day off for journalists! (or nurses, or doctors, or towing companies, etc.) 

    I lived close to campus and downtown, so I walked from my apartment downtown to see what I could find. For a while, it was hard to find people, but eventually, I crossed paths with a few brave souls who decided to get out in the storm. I made some portraits of these people, several of whom I still see in Columbia every now and again, and others who have moved away. 

  • 12 february, 2013: lindsay and nathan are engaged!

    Lindsay and Nathan are engaged!

    I met Lindsay years ago in photojournalism class at the Missouri School of Journalism, so when she asked me to shoot engagement photos, I was thrilled! October is a beautiful time to make pictures in Missouri, so we made campus our backdrop, and even made it into Faurot Field, where Nathan and Lindsay have so many memories from Mizzou football games. 

    I loved editing these. Lindsay is seriously glowing. You can see how much she loves this guy in every photo. I'm so excited for you, Lindsay and Nathan! 

    I'm proud to have made these pictures for you. 


    For details on booking an engagement shoot, send me an email at rachelcoward@gmail.com or click on 'contact' on the left! 

  • 24 January, 2013: Marvin Williams for Mizzou Weekly

    I'm so happy to be working at Mizzou Magazine, the Office of Publications at Mizzou, for another few months! (And being in Columbia and not having to go to class is fantastic, to put it lightly!)

    That means I'll be working for the magazine, various university publications, and also the faculty/staff weekly, Mizzou Weekly. I shoot portraits for the publication each week, and last week I had the pleasure of photographing Marvin Williams.

    Marvin is an accountant for the university in Jesse Hall, and he's also a coach for Rock Bridge High School football team. Since it's off-season, we met in Jesse Hall, and I made some portraits of him in nice light.

    Read the story here.

    Here's an outtake:

  • 2 August, 2012: Elliot and Chelsea

    Meet Elliot and Chelsea. Or you could call them Mr. and Mrs. Elliot Butay.  

    I met Elliot when I was in high school.

    We both worked as high school journalists for the Tulsa World. He was a writer, I was a photographer.

    Satellite, the section of the paper for high school students, was a defining part of my life. It's the reason I came to Mizzou to study photojournalism (thanks to many people, including Adam Wisneski for the Mizzou j-school peptalk when I was just a wee high schooler), and I got to meet so many great people because of the Tulsa World.

    Elliot and I worked on stories together throughout the year, and we also collaborated on Battle of the Bands (huge deal back then, y'all).

    Elliot was (still is) a rockstar, and like all of the friends I had made through the World, I was sad to say goodbye when it came time to move away to college in Missouri.

    It was not until a few months ago that I heard from Elliot again. He was getting married! Of course I wanted to document it. I could reconnect with Tulsa friends, meet new ones, and travel to Birmingham, Alabama to do it all! 

    Bonus: I shoot weddings with my boyfriend and best friend, Parker Miles Blohm, so we made a road trip out of it. We stopped in Nashville to visit with my lovely Grandmother, did some sightseeing in Nashville — including a trip to Third Man Records, Jack White's record label and store — and then we were off to Alabama.

    Meet Chelsea. If you're reading this, you may know her — but maybe you don't.

    We met her 24 hours before the wedding, but we feel like we've known her much longer after spending the wedding day by her side. 

    Chelsea is kind. She's beautiful. Generous. Elegant. Selfless. 

    She carries those things with her in her walk, in her smile, in her conversations with both the people she loves and the people she just met. 

    The wedding was as full of hugs as it was of tears. Happy tears, that is. Behind the viewfinder, I had tears, too. 

    Parker and I still talk about how unbelievably smooth and flawless the whole day was.

    No one was stressed out.

    No one was upset.

     Everyone was there for Elliot and for Chelsea, and the energy and vibe of the day was so calm, happy, peaceful and pretty. 

    Meet Elliot. 

    He's compassionate, softspoken, easy-going and studly. 

    He's a musician. A writer. A knockout when you combine the two. 

    With some people, you can tell a lot about them by their hands. I think Elliot's got that. You can just tell he's going to be a good, kindhearted guy.

    So, Chelsea and Elliot are pretty great. We've established that fact. 

    They also come with great support. Their friends and family are so tightly connected to their lives. It was evident in so many ways. Meeting their friends and family sealed the deal for us. We feel so lucky to have met so many strong and kind people. 

    Chelsea's mother was one of my favorite people to photograph that day. Seeing her look at Chelsea for the first time in her wedding dress was so beautiful. She said she wouldn't cry. But it was hard not to.

    Hugs from her bridesmaids before the wedding. 

    "What the heck," Chelsea said before she walked out. She couldn't believe this was actually happening. 

    I kept an eye on Elliot when she walked up the aisle. They didn't do a "first look," so this was his first time to see her. 

    A lot of photographers encourage the bride and groom to do a first look, but I can honestly say I much preferred the first look to be genuine in the church — at least with Elliot and Chelsea. It was perfect. 

    Chelsea's brother, Jacob, walked her up the aisle. The look on her mom and stepdad's face when she was being given away to Elliot still give me goosebumps. 

    Let's talk about the church. 

    Whoa. 

    I really don't have to describe it, because I'm showing it to you. It speaks for itself.

    The First United Methodist Church is located outside of Birmingham in a town called Jasper. 

    The church was absolutely gorgeous. The huge stained glass ceiling was just the icing on the cake to a beautiful venue with absolutely beautiful light. 

    A full house! 

    Chelsea hugs her brother after the ceremony.

    Check them out! 

    Another reason why Elliot and Chelsea deserve a gold medal: Jasper, Alabama was 108 degrees on their wedding day — and that's without the heat index. If you know some secret to looking absolutely stunning in a wedding dress during an outdoor reception when it's in the triple digits, please call me up and tell me. 

    The reception was hosted at a beautiful and picturesque ranch in the Alabama countryside. Narrow Gate Ranch was the perfect place to sit back, have a nice Southern meal, and have a donut. (You'll see why coming up.)

    We loved shooting portraits at the ranch. The fence and siding of the cabin were warm, rich browns, so it really glowed. And the reception was during the golden hour! If you're a photographer, you know why this is absolutely ideal. 

    The groom's cake was absolutely perfect. Donuts for everyone!

    The dance floor was far beyond my expectations. Set in the woods at the ranch, a small and intimate dance floor was set with greenery and a hanging chandelier. 

    I love this. 

    Haden, one of the groomsmen, was the party. It was contagious. 

    Megan and her fiancé Joshua will be married in December! 

    At the end of the night, the guests lit sparklers to lead the way to Elliot and Chelsea's getaway. Needless to say, it was absolutely beautiful. Appropriate for the heat, the sparklers were red and pink and lit up the woods. 

    I know I'm not alone when I say that I wish we could relive this day all over again. 

    So, we mailed off a whole 401 pictures to Elliot and Chelsea just a few days ago. They are married now. They're also New York City's newest residents. Chelsea will be attending New York University this fall to complete her Master of Social Work.

    Her relatives and friends will miss them dearly, but they're doing great things in this big, bad world. And hey, now I have more reason to go visit NYC! Do I see a post-marriage NYC photoshoot in the future? I do. 

    Thank you, Elliot and Chelsea. Thank you for inviting us to be there with you. We hope these pictures serve as beautiful preservation to what was a beautiful day in your lives together. We hope you'll flip back to these pictures when you're feeling overwhelmed or homesick or just want a good feeling. 

    Thank you to the Butays, Deans and Farris'. You were so hospitable and so generous. We hope this isn't the last time we see you. 

    Thank you to all of the guests, the friends, the family, the coordinators, florists, cake decorators, chandelier hangers, food servers, and cleanerupers. Every little bit made this day perfect. 

    Love,

    Rachel and Parker

    P.S.: Share these pictures. Share this post with your friends and your family. Send it to your long lost pre-school buddies and show it to your cat. Pictures are meant to be seen :)

    And connect with me on my Facebook Photo Page! You can interact and comment on these weddings pictures there, too! :)


    All buckled up and ready for the roadtrip to Alabama!

    For photographers, or techy people who are curious:

    Several people have asked us what gear we used on the wedding day.

    Here's some specs. 

    We shot the whole wedding almost exclusively with two prime lenses: 35mm 1.4 & 50mm 1.2.

    But those lenses can't do everything, so here's our gear list:

    5D Mark ii

    5D Mark iii

    24-70mm 2.8L

    70-200mm 2.8L

    50mm 1.2L

    35mm 1.4L

    Lots of CF cards. Lots.

    42" gold/silver reflector

    42" diffuser

    72" gold/silver reflector

    72" diffuser



  • 29 June, 2012: Birmingham Light

    Parker Miles Blohm and I scouted locations tonight for our big day of wedding photography in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham greeted us with some beautiful light. 

  • Rosemary Girls are Graduating!

    Rosemary Girls are Graduating!

    It's graduation season in Columbia, Missouri! Since I'm graduating in December of this year, that only means one thing for me: ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE LEAVING. (with the exception of a very appreciated few) ;)

    That includes my great friend Mary Fama. I met her when she was hired as a student photographer at Mizzou Magazine (just like me!) We had never met before, but I can't imagine going to work without her now. I don't think anyone at the office can, either. We're constantly saying things to her like, "Well, when you shoot that next fall..." Womp, womp.

    I couldn't have asked for a more talented, smart, funny and beautiful girl to share my photo-filled cube with. 

    In just a few days, she'll walk across the stage and start a new chapter of her life. I'm so excited to see where she goes and what amazing things she'll accomplish. Wherever you go, Mary, save a spot for me on your couch. 

    This past weekend, I shot some photos of Mary and her friends before they all part ways. More coming later! 

  • 29 February, 2012: Savannah

    Oregon is a stunning state for several reasons. It's full of lush vineyards, snowy mountains, and calming beaches. Needless to say, the whole state is a gigantic source of inspiration for me each time I visit.

    I was excited to do some creative shoots and something other than journalism for a while (it was the end of the semester, can you blame me?), and since I was going to Portland, it was a great time for me to do that. I've got a thing for portraits, and I was ready to try some new things.

    Creating simple, colorful, aesthetic, and clean images felt, in some ways, therepeutic — and it turned out to be an excellent way to clear my head, refresh my vision, play around, and meet some cool new people. 

    One of those people was a stunning fifteen-year-old named Savannah. Her elegance and maturity at just fifteen years old was impressive, and I felt lucky to have met her. She's basically the definition of the pacific northwest chic that I saw throughout the city of Portland.

    Cheers to refreshing our stuffed-full academic brains and having some fun!

    And don't forget to stay connected with my new professional photo page on Facebook!



    Here are some outtakes that didn't make the final edit: 


  • 1 November, 2011: Chase & Lily

    During my freshman year of college, I was cramming for and panicking about one of my first major tests in college. I was studying for Principles of American Journalism, and I had read as much of The Elements of Journalism as I could stomach (which, by the way, sells for three cents on Amazon now. Pretty sure I spent a pretty penny on that at the bookstore. Sigh, freshman year.) A couple of friends and I were sitting around studying (or watching kitten youtube videos and giggling) when we got an email from a classmate asking if anyone wanted to make a big study group before the test. We agreed, and met in the downstairs of Schurz and Hatch Residence Halls to cram some more Kovach and Rosenstiel into our brains before the first big test.

    That brave classmate who emailed the entire class looking for a study group happened to be a guy named Chase. Unique to your average random college study buddy, Chase was (and still is) a polite, charming and intelligent man. (Am I the only one who thinks that's unique? Because I've had some pretty strange random study buddies in my day. Just saying.) 

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, Chase left the journalism school and changed majors, (and kicked some serious ass with some impressive New York City advertising and Nascar internships) but recently, Chase asked me to shoot his engagement portraits, and I was excited to catch up and meet his dream girl. So that's what we did.

    Now, I may scream and giggle when I watch kitten videos on youtube, but I'm not always a big ol' sucker for the mushy gushy. Lily and Chase are much more than that. The two met in high school, and will marry each other once they finish college next spring. Lily is stunning in appearance, but also in how she carries herself. You can tell she's naturally a happy person; she doesn't have to fake it. She glows, and it's not just because it was golden hour.

    It was beautiful to see how Chase simply looks at Lily. You can tell he really loves that girl. 

    Enjoy some photos.