January 3, 2023
If we were to look at Jana Musselwhite Photography’s 2022 in terms of numbers, here’s what we’d see: 16 weddings. 12 engagement sessions. 5 rehearsal dinners. 11 newborn sessions. 44 family sessions. Half a dozen other miscellaneous shoots and projects.
To put it in the simplest of words: It was a lot of photography. And I’m grateful for each and every opportunity. Together, they allow me to be a photographer full-time (a dream come true)!
I’ve found that in the midst of a calendar full of weddings and sessions (not to mention all of the behind-the-scenes work it takes for them to happen), it’s absolutely crucial to remember why I’m a photographer.
I first picked up a camera because I wanted to create photos that emotionally resonated with people. The artistic and emotional nature of it has been and always will be my main motivator. Seeing the beauty of your relationships, your milestones celebrated, and documenting them all creatively with photography is the most perfect career I could ever imagine.
So at the beginning of this new year, I’m reminding myself how important creativity is to me, and taking a look at my favorite photos of 2022. These are favorite images. It’s not a “best of” list, or a year-end highlight, or even a list of favorite sessions and weddings. Some of my favorites didn’t even make it to the post!
These are 21 images that fueled me creatively as an artist and reminded me how special this work is. I shared a few thoughts and the behind-the-scenes stories below each of them.
There’s a running joke inside the photography community that a photographer’s favorite photos and their clients’ favorite photos are rarely the same. That’s probably the case for many of the photos you’ll see below. They were little moments of inspiration, trying new things, and looking at interactions from new perspectives. They’re full of feeling. They might not be the “framers”, but they’re each so special for the interactions and moments they documented.
Ally and Ryan: Ally and I visited her venue a few weeks before her wedding and spent a good amount of time walking the grounds and picking out spots for photos. After their first dance and cutting the cake, we stealthily snuck out for about twenty minutes of photos that turned out to be some of my favorites of the year. The top left is the first time I felt like I truly nailed intentional movement and motion blur, and the top right is one of my favorite film photos of the year – I’m in love with the soft lighting and colors.
Anna and Jackson: It snowed in Birmingham the night before their engagement session, and we were grateful the locations we’d chosen (General and SHOPPE in Forest Park) had indoor spaces for us to use! We’d been taking photos in SHOPPE’s greenhouse, and asked them what song they’d chosen for their first dance at their wedding. I pulled it up on Spotify, told them to give the dance a practice run, and stepped outside to take a few photos from a different perspective. I love the condensation on the glass, the way they’re perfectly framed in a window pane, and how they’re so gently nestled together dancing.
Anna’s Bridesmaids: Anna’s first look with Jackson was in the courtyard of her church, and the bridal suite conveniently had a window with a perfect view. Anna told her bridesmaid she didn’t mind if they watched. I turned around in the middle of the first look to see if they were watching, and took a quick photo (and I mean QUICK. I didn’t want to miss anything Anna and Jackson were doing!) To my delight, this was the result. The smiles! The laughs! The squishing close together so everyone can see!
The Cater Family: From a Spring Mini Session. I told the boys to run down the sidewalk together in the top left, and prompted Laura and Dan to tickle, kiss, and play with their sons in the top right. I love the life in these photos! They capture the sense of playfulness and fun they have as a family.
Nora and her Mom: Another from a Spring Mini Session. Nora’s mom Anna loves to garden, so I placed the two of them next to a flower bed and asked Anna to show and talk about the flowers to Nora. It’s another well-timed film photo that captured the sweetest look of wonder on Nora’s face.
Mary Leigh and Jarrett: They had a tenderness to their relationship that I wanted to be sure to document on their wedding day. After their first look, they sat down to read letters to each other, and I gave them some space and time to do so (but of course, took photos from afar). I love that they’re sitting in seats their family members would sit in to watch them get married just a couple of hours later. I love the sense of “watching from afar” and how they’re leaning together as they read.
Catherine and Spencer: Their engagement session was taken at the same spot Spencer proposed a few months earlier. The location had a beautiful view of Downtown Birmingham. I asked them to cozy up together and framed the skyline between them, focusing on the buildings for the photo.
Anna Kate and Brandon: A couple of foodies who made a reservation for a window table at their favorite restaurant for their session. They ordered pizza and wine, and I stepped outside to take a few photos “from the outside looking in”. It’s what anyone walking down the sidewalk would’ve seen — a couple in love, enjoying their pizza and each other. Candid and true to them as a couple.
Laura and Robert: Laura wore a vintage gown, a vintage bridal crown, and a cap veil with a blusher. I couldn’t stop photographing her. Every time we moved to a new spot for photos, I’d have her stop for a few more solo shots. My favorites were next to a window that offered soft lighting in a dark area of the church. I love the look she gives Robert as she lifts her veil in the top left.
Abby: On her way to her first look, coming down the stairs, bouquet in hand, smile on her face because she sees Josh in the distance and is *so close* to looking him in the eyes for the first time on their wedding day. There’s nothing like those little anticipatory moments on a wedding day!
Abby and Josh: The first kiss after the “first kiss”. They were pronounced husband and wife, joyfully made their way back up the aisle, and right when they got to the end, Josh grabbed Abby for a kiss. It was an unexpected and full of joy!
Baby Hampton: In the top left, we realized how perfect the wallpaper in the nursery would be for photos. We moved some furniture out of the way, took a couple of things off the wall, and took some of my favorite photos of the session. In the top right, I love the expression on big sister Mae’s face — the look of a middle child who just had her world rocked by a new sibling. Goodness, we love her for it.
Baby Hampton and Mom: My favorite film photo of a mother and her baby this year. Soft window light, all white, slightly out of focus (but isn’t life in the newborn days just slightly out of focus anyways?)
Morgan and Grant: a rose petal exit to cap off their wedding day. Direct flash, petals mid-air, and a big ole kiss before hopping in their getaway car. My favorite “exit” photo of the year.
Whitney and her children: On the beach at dusk, right outside the house where their family vacations together every summer. I asked them to play in the water, and captured her son in the midst of some three-year-old silliness, and her daughter taking a few steps in the sand. Just a little moment in one of their favorite places.
Baby Nolan and his Family: Whenever there are multiple siblings at a newborn session, the goal is to document things as they naturally happen. They’re never perfectly posed, and there’s always a slight element of chaos. There’s a lot of movement and emotions present in this new family of six and I love it.
Anna Kate: A perfect bridal portrait, taken in front of a stunning green mural at her wedding venue. I love her veil, the romantic flow of the sleeves of her dress, her eyes closed in contentment.
Thank you for a beautiful 2022. I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for us!
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