LAUREN DAHLHAUSER PHOTOGRAPHY

NATURAL LIGHT PORTRAIT & WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

Kayla • Heritage Hill HISTORIC District

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It feels so good to get back into blogging again. Life has been quite exciting as of late and I guess you could say I’ve been distracted. I plan on writing a little “Lauren Life Update” post soon as a little introduction to the new faces that have been coming by, but also to give those of you who have been following me a little update on the big changes I’ve made and adventures I’ve had in the past year! Time is flying and I have experienced so much, but one thing has remained the same: I am still madly in love with portraiture. If anything, my love and passion for capturing people has only grown. I am so thankful for this creative outlet.

The following set of images were pretty spontaneous. Kayla has been one of the sweetest connections I’ve made since moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I always love photographing her. These were all taken at dusk just as the sun was setting. It wasn’t bright because it was so cloudy, but I am in LOVE with the moody vibes we got because of it. We didn’t plan on shooting in the historic district of Grand Rapids, but I am so glad we did. There are some drop-dead gorgeous homes/offices in the area. The building that looks like a castle at the end is actually a dentist’s office!

MR. + MRS. MCNEIVE • An Indianapolis Fairytale Wedding

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This wedding at Laurel Hall in Indy was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It was nearly impossible for me to narrow it down to my favorites for this blog post. It's quite long, but it's worth going through every image. Social media did it's magic in connecting me to Logan + Katie and I am so thankful it did. It was an honor to be a part of such a gorgeous and special wedding day! 

All images were shot on a 5D Mark iii + 35mm 1.4 Sigma Art / 24-70mm 2.8 Canon.

ELLERY • WHITE DRESS

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As an artist, I think it is SO important to create for yourself every once in a while. Of course, there is a part of you expressed through all of the work you create for others, but you need to get out and express yourself through work you are creating for you and you alone. I take trips out of my hometown to create and collaborate with other people in different communities around where I live. I drove up to Michigan recently to photograph a model I've been wanting to shoot in a place I've been meaning to visit for quite some time. All of these images were taken at Silver Lake State Park at sunrise. I am so happy with how these turned out. Here are just a few from my dreamy, moody, midwest shoot with Ellery. I can't wait to share more in the future.

LAUREN + JOE • FLATIRONS ENGAGEMENT

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When Lauren contacted me a couple months ago about photographing her engagement session in the mountains of Colorado, I couldn't have been more ecstatic to say yes.

I'm an Indiana girl. Originally from the flatlands of the Midwest. No shame, but I long to settle down in the mountains by a lake. As much as I've dreamed of traveling out west, I didn't get the chance to check out some places that have been on my travel bucket list until this past month. I planned a 3 week trip to Utah and Colorado for the majority of July. I planned on going regardless of how many sessions I could book. When Lauren saw my Facebook post about traveling out to Denver and Boulder, she got ahold of me and we both planned a shoot toward the end of my road trip in the Flatirons. 

This session was everything I dreamed of and more. Thank you Lauren and Joe for enduring my giddiness and adventuring with me in the early hours of the morning. Getting up at 4:45 a.m. was well worth it. You guys are both beautiful souls.

CASSANDRA • JORDAN HALL GREENHOUSE

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I've always been so mesmerized by the light and plant life in greenhouses. After this dreamy session, sometimes I wonder why or how it's taken me so long to finally shoot in one! Cassandra and I met up at Jordan Hall Greenhouse on IU Bloomington's campus to capture these portraits. I am so thankful places like this exist and are open to the public. 

Susannah + Bryan • Engaged

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This is one of the most special sessions I've ever captured. For context, this is my best friend, Susannah, and her lovely fiance, Bryan at Mounds State Park in Anderson, Indiana.

I look up to both of them very much, but especially Su. She is one of the most well-grounded, loving, intelligent, accepting, and wise souls I've ever crossed paths with. When I met her in a bible study group my freshman year of college, I just knew we would be close. We roomed together our sophomore year and moved into a house together our last two years at Ball State. To this day, a year out of school, despite the distance, she has remained one of my dearest companions. I cannot WAIT to see her get married to Bryan in June.

 It meant so much to me that these two would have me capture the love I've seen blossom between them over the last few years. I hope you enjoy looking through images of Su and Bryan in this perfectly sun kissed session.

Nolan • 2017 Senior

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Suspenders, bowties, Captain America backpacks. This is not your typical senior shoot. I absolutely loved having fun with this senior session. I also love it when seniors incorporate props that tie in what they love and are most passionate about. In Nolan's case, rocking the vintage vibe was more of a creative experiment between his mother and I (hehe); but, he brought his Captain America backpack and wore his favorite pair of chucks because they represent who he is and where he's been. I just love that.

Congratulations on your last year of high school, Nolan! Outside of the fact that you are the valedictorian for your class, you have a very bright future ahead of you.

Straeter Family

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I had an absolutely wonderful time spending some of the last hours of Summer capturing the Straeter family. It was such a refreshing session to start off with after a long (amazing) summer abroad. As much as I love travel photography, portraits have always been something I've been passionate about creating. I forgot how much I love catching the little moments in between posed and candid portraits of loved ones.

I crossed paths with the momma of the three little ones you'll see below in a photography workshop earlier this year. I am so happy I crossed paths with Sarah and that she asked me to be a part of capturing her beautiful, spontaneous, outdoor-lovin' family. With the combination of warm summer sunshine, a cute little Airstream, and this lovely family of five... this session was nothing short of picture perfect!

Arianna • Spring

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I've never been one to dread winter, but I must agree with the majority in that she lingers on for way too long. There is such a unique beauty that can only be captured during the cold, crisp winter months. Once Spring rolls around though, there is a refreshing and inspiring shift that takes place within my creative mind and desire to create. The blossoming flowers and budding leaves make me want to get out and shoot more than ever before. This photoshoot of my lovely friend Arianna was a result of this. 

Fayne • Remnants of Winter

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Although it didn't snow much this Winter season, it was wonderful to capture Winter's last few breaths on this chilly photo adventure with Fayne. I shot these images a little over a month ago. Since Spring is almost in full bloom, I figured I'd make a blog post featuring Indiana's last snowfall. This could be considered an ode to Winter I suppose. (Even though I'm more than ready for warm weather and sunshine.) 

Hannah • Golden Hour

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One of the most beautiful things about golden hour is that it can make even the chilliest of days seem warm and inviting. On this particular day of February, the sun did pair up with rising temperatures to create a refreshing spring-like evening for a change, but it blows my mind that I was able to go on this spontaneous portrait shoot with my good friend, Hannah in the middle of Winter. I would have never stumbled across these images and have assumed they were photographed in the Spring!

Outside of this time of day I'm extremely thankful for, I wanted to dedicate this post to the beautiful soul pictured below (who I am also thankful for). I graduated from college with Hannah in May and it is crazy to see how much things have changed and are changing since our college days. Growing up truly is a bittersweet experience. 

I don't know where I'll be in the next few months, years, or even decades. I don't know where Hannah will be in the next few months, years, or decades either. One thing I do know, though, is that I recognize a kindred spirit when I've found one. Here's to a happy and fruitful future for the both of us, Hannah. Also, share some beauty with the rest of the world, okay?


Sitting at the Crossroads

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June 27, 2015 • Marrakech, Morocco {flashback}

Sitting here on the roof of the third place I’ve called my ‘home’ in Marrakech now, birds chirping behind the distant sound of drums and music coming from Jamaa El Fnaa, sun shining, the smell of Moroccan street food mixed with a warm summer breeze... I wonder if what I’m experiencing is really real. Just over a month ago I was in Muncie, Indiana, walking across the stage in disbelief I was even graduating. 16 years of school done. Just like that. At the end of a chapter with a new on in sight, not knowing what the next stages of life would bring. I was free, sitting on a rooftop in Africa on my first trip abroad by myself. At the foot of a once in a lifetime experience to work for a company that will push me to grow tremendously as both a photographer and a leader.

August 28, 2015 • Kokomo, Indiana

Fast forward to here and now: here being my hometown of Kokomo, Indiana, “now” being just two months after I sat down to write the above journal entry 4 weeks into my summer spent abroad in Morocco. (Did it really happen or was it a dream?)

On that afternoon on the rooftop of my riad in Marrakech when I sat down to journal, excitement, adventure, doubt, disbelief, and the passing of time sat at my feet. And here I am in Kokomo, Indiana, sitting under the gazebo at the edge of the lake next to my home, realizing a new form of excitement, new adventures, similar doubts, a sense of disbelief, and time still passing sit at my feet on another continent, even.

No matter where we are in life, we are always faced with the excitement of what is to come next and the inevitable doubt that things will turn out in the near future as we’d envisioned or as others hope they would for us. It’s hard to avoid letting doubts about ourselves and our futures seep into our minds as we take the next steps forward when so much is expected of us and the pressure of “succeeding” is always whispering in our ears.

Life is full of big choices and the freedom of being able to choose the next path of life can be daunting, but it is also a huge blessing. It’s about mindset and seeing these times of life were we feel like we don’t have what it takes to succeed and turning it into a form of patience and growing faith, and remembering that it’s not about our timing, it’s about God’s. It’s about seeing the combination of the unknown and vast freedom of walking our own paths of life as an exciting journey with many adventures to be had. It’s about knowing we may fail, but that we will grow from these failures and we will be made more into the image of what God wants us to be throughout the this journey we call life. If we weren’t faced with tough choices, I guarantee life would be a bore and we’d start wishing we could go back to the adventure-filled life of making our own choices with God by our sides, every step of the way.

Kölner Dom • Cologne, Germany

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Germany's most visited landmark, a renowned monument of German Catholicism, and a remarkable example of the intricacy and magnificence of Gothic architecture, the Kölner Dom looms over the city attracting an average of 20,000 people each day. I was one of those people on the morning of July 8, 2015. 

When I stepped out of Cologne's main station after climbing steps to a large, open area in front of the cathedral, I instantly gazed up in awe.  A wall of clouds floated behind the skyline of the cathedral's intricate towers reaching high into the sky. As a cool breeze brushed my face, sending goosebumps over my body, my first thoughts were, "Is what I am seeing real?... I feel so small... Humans built this?".

It was a lot to take in. The walls and towers of the massive structure are so intricate that it's hard to tell the brain what to focus on. All you can really do at first is look up in amazement, pinching yourself occasionally to verify that you are, in fact, alive.

Usually, the areas inside and outside of the cathedral are swarming with more people than you see pictured above, but I chose a good day. The weather was particularly chilly with chances of rain throughout the day (which doesn't stop me from traveling), so I think the crowd of tourists was far smaller because of it. 

I was thankful for this. I know I'm a tourist myself, but a small part of me hates tourists. I always want to capture these extravagant attractions without people everywhere. How incredible would it be to experience main attractions around the globe without people swarming around you?

As a photographer, it's always hard to find a good spot to stand when people keep getting in your way, too. On the bright side, (and because I realize I have no control over the number of tourists), I love that people offer a sense of scale to massive structures like the Kolner Dom. 

Anyways, without further ado, here are some of my favorite images captured in and around the beautiful Cologne Cathedral. I hope that if you haven't, you get a chance to visit this place some day. Someone can show you pictures of the towering arches, or the experience of witnessing  the grand structure of the largest Gothic church in the world can be described to you in a way that makes you feel like you've visited, but nothing can amount to experiencing this work of art in person. 

Doing Life Right.

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When the word "surreal" can be used to describe your life in the present... or you have to question whether or not the experiences you're having are panning out within a tangible reality, are you doing what people mean by "living out your dreams"?

Water, no matter where it is, really has a way of triggering thoughts and the feeling of serenity doesn't it?

Water, no matter where it is, really has a way of triggering thoughts and the feeling of serenity doesn't it?

I pondered this question as I sat out on some rocks scattered along the Rhine River at sunset a short distance from where I'm currently staying in Düsseldorf, Germany last night. This life I'm living right now is definitely not what I expected I'd be experiencing just a couple short months after walking across a stage to receive my hard-earned college degree. Surreal is the only word I can think of that accurately describes what I'm thinking, feeling, and living right now. 

•••

So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted to write about for my first blog post abroad. There is so much running through my mind. I've also taken more images than I know what to do with (no surprise there). I don't really even know how to adequately or neatly process anything and everything I've experienced so soon and fresh out of college in such a short amount of time.

When I accepted this job with Rustic Pathways just three short weeks before flying to a foreign country for the first time on my own, I knew I would be changed. I knew this summer would be transformative...

...but I didn't know it'd be THIS transformative.

In just one month I've been to Casablanca, Marrakech, the Sahara Desert, and now, Germany. I've ridden camels through windblown dunes, driven an ATV down the coast of Essouaria, waded through rushing gorges of Tinerhir, Morocco, gone swimming near the waterfalls of Cascade d'ouzoud, ziplined over small red rock covered canyons, meandered through winding streets lined with souks of lanterns and artwork and rugs of every color under the sun, stood in awe and amazement under the ceilings of the biggest mosque in Morocco, sipped on mint tea on high terraces overlooking the buzzing square of Jmaa El Fna at dusk, among so much more. I've learned more about Muslims and and the Moroccan culture than I could have ever anticipated, cultivated relationships with some amazing people a giant ocean away from where I grew up, and experienced the lifestyle of what life might really be like as a traveling photojournalist. My eyes have been opened to a whole new way of living. 

•••

This summer has been one of many firsts and many adventures that I will cherish in my memory for a lifetime. I've grown as a photographer, a leader, a traveler, and on more personal levels than I can count. I've been watching my dreams become reality and it has given me a new hope, a broadened frame of mind, a new mindset on soaking in culture, and an even deeper passion for travel. The wanderlust inside of me is alive and happy and eager to experience even more cultures and places. 

So it sounds like all fun and games, but trust me when I tell you there have been times abroad when I have felt scared, alone, and uncomfortable as a minority in an unfamiliar land. It's not always easy settling into new places with people of a culture so drastically different from your own. It's also not easy taking on a big job while experiencing new places as a solo female traveler new to the nomadic lifestyle of living out of a suitcase.

There are times when I want to cry and there are times when I long for home; but here I am, abroad, living out my dreams and growing as a human being in more ways than I can count. I'm young and alive and blessed. It's not always easy out here on my own, but what would be the point if it were? I'm being challenged and tested in so many ways and I couldn't ask for more.

Those moments of lowered courage, fear, and temporary loneliness are definitely worth it if it means gaining these priceless peaks of adventure, excitement, and views of God's incredible creation before my very own eyes.

New Chapter • New Mindset

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Taken on my recent trip to Arizona at the Grand Canyon during my Spring Break in March. 

Taken on my recent trip to Arizona at the Grand Canyon during my Spring Break in March. 

With graduation just around the corner, this goes without saying but, I’ve got a lot of change to prepare myself for.

Although, realistically, how well can you really prepare for a chapter of life that hasn’t been written yet? In addition, how can you fully embrace the current times and fully write out the closing paragraphs of the chapter you’re in while preparing for something you haven’t even experienced? And then to top it off, how do you keep the anxiety, stress, and excitement levels low enough so that a breakdown or over-anticipation don’t knock you down out of nowhere?

I can’t be the only one who has pondered or asked these types of questions. (But if you’re in the same chapter of life and you haven’t asked any of these questions, would you care to teach those of us freaking out your ways? Thanks.)

The truth is, a chapter comes and a chapter goes. It’s how life works. A lot of times it’s hard to move on, but if we don’t learn to do so, it’s like reading half of a book and then shutting it, never to find out how the story pans out in the end. Or maybe it’s like skipping pages and jumping back and forth, reading bits of the past and getting too antsy and reading snippets of the future. (We all know you crazy people who like to read the ending first are out there. News flash: that’s cheating.)This isn’t how books are meant to be read! From a logical stand-point, we can’t know the end until we reach the end. And from a Christian stand-point, this isn’t how God intended us to live out our lives.

Chapter by chapter, God already has our lives planned out. He wants us to trust in Him enough to fully embrace the present moments while knowing that what is to come, good or bad, is what was intended to take place at that moment in time. I’m going to be blunt and honest about one thing: I sort of suck at not skipping around and trusting in God. I’m going to be blunt and honest about one more thing: I’m learning.

Looking back at old times isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s so important not to get hung up on those past experiences. You can re-read the words as much as you’d like but those words are stuck permanently on a page in the past. Just appreciate them, and move on. 

It hasn’t sunk in yet, and it won’t until I walk across that stage, but I graduate in May. I’ve had elevated moments of pure excitement about being done with school and picking up on a new chapter with the freedom of going any direction in life that I want. I’ve also hit frantic, hopeless states of rock bottom a few times. It’s moments like these that either cause me to freeze up because I feel so overwhelmed by life, or breakdown because I don’t believe I have the strength to get back up and push forward. 

I’m not going to sit here and say I’m never going to breakdown again, (it’s basically impossible to avoid a meltdown here and there when we’re living this thing called life), but it’s time to take on life with a new mindset. I’m ready to believe in myself, trust in God, embrace the present, and prepare for future endeavors.

I’m young. I’m healthy. I’m not tied down anywhere. I have a brain and a heart with drive and passion. It’s time to stop neglecting these realities and take life on by the reigns.

I’m still finishing out this chapter of life, but here’s to a new, exciting, and adventurous one to come.

Arianna

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As much as I believe that social media consumes us on a day to day basis, it is also a huge catalyst for bringing people together. Without Instagram, I would not have crossed paths with this beautiful lady.

Arianna and I connected through Instagram a few months ago. We were following each other for a while when suddenly, I realized we attended the same university. I sparked up the idea of getting coffee together and I'm so glad I did. Even though she is a freshman at Ball State while I'm a second-semester-senior, we had so much in common and so much to talk about! I'm certainly not the biggest fan of our social media-driven culture, but I'm thankful it's the result of connections like this.

It's time to turn the page.

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I’m writing this blog post because I feel like a lot of my friends in college can relate. I also feel like those of you who have graduated and moved on can relate. And if you don’t yet, you will soon. 

So I’m a little over 3 short months away from graduating. I’m going to pose the cliche question: where did the time go? In response to this I’m going to pose the question: why is it so common for us to complain about time passing? Haven’t we lived long enough to realize and *accept* that time cannot be stopped and that moments come and go. 

Chapters of life are played out and they end only to move on to the next one. Page by page our lives pan out like a book and they keep turning and turning and turning.

Aren’t books meant to be read front to back? Why then, do I want to keep rereading certain sentences and certain chapters? Good ones and bad ones alike. Constantly, I’m going back in time and trying so hard to remember the sweet, cherished memories. I want nothing more than to relive them in the present. Sometimes I even find myself hung up on the bad memories though. The ones that seem to haunt me no matter how hard I try to let them go. 

Today I was hit with some hard realities.

It doesn’t take Einstein to realize nobody gets through life without a bad or good moment. The beauty is that the bad moments make the good ones better. Although we want to at times, if we go back and try to rip out all the bad pages, we wouldn’t be the same person we are to this day. The good times we had and will have following a bad one would never have panned out the same because our experiences build off of one another. At the same time, we can never relive the past exactly how it was, no mater how hard we try. 

I find myself trying to recreate the good times I’ve had in the past constantly. I may be half-successful, but never fully. Then, I’m disappointed. Should I really feel disappointed if I actually had a good time though? It seems that my attempts at trying to recreate the past lead to uneccessary disappointment and take away joy I could be experiencing in the present.

The past is the past. It cannot be relived. We need to quit wasting time trying. 

I don’t say this to bring anybody down. I say this because if we come to terms with passing time, letting things go, and focusing on the present and future alone, life would be SO much easier to deal with. We can stop placing our focus on, as Jack Johnson’s song goes: sitting, waiting, wishing. 

Forgive and forget. Be hopeful. Have some faith. Figure out what you want and go for it. Move forward, not backward, and avoid stagnancy. There is and always has been good to come. Don’t waste your time trying to live up to expectations. Time is precious. This reality becomes so real when a certain chapter of life is about to end. But a new chapter is about to start. Isn’t that a blessing in itself?

Nitasha • a natural beauty

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I wish I had more time to shoot portraiture regularly. I love capturing people for who they are in ways that express their inner and outer beauty alike. This is Nitasha. She is my brother's gorgeous girlfriend. She is great for putting up with the cold and the wind to get these shots. 

One + One

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I think a huge reason why relationships don't work out in today's world roots back to a lack of self-evaluation and rushing into something society deems ideal. Too many young people give in to the pressure of the "need" to be in a relationship before becoming independent as an individual first. This may be an unintentional weakness, but the reason why many relationships don't work out in the long run.

Ask yourself these questions: What is it you look for in a relationship? Honesty? Trust? Good communication? Emotional support? Someone to lean on? A leader? A connection of values?

…are you all of those things? Or could you be to someone else?
If you are only some of them, or would not be able to provide everything you look for in a relationship for someone else, then you are not ready for a relationship.

Jumping into a relationship without emotional stability with the hope that someone else could provide the stability you've been searching for all this time puts too much pressure on the other person. Whether your realize it or not, it strains the relationship and causes tension to build until the relationship is no longer functional.

Solid relationships are formed when two WHOLE people come together and are able to provide and support the other person. A relationship can only last when two people are able to build each other up. Building each other up is not possible if one person is always depending on the other to fill a hole in his/her life. This kind of relationship does not grow or bear any fruit. It stands still with the possibility of falling apart at any moment.

Don't get me wrong, relationships can be extremely fulfilling and a gateway to shared happiness with another individual… but what is the point of entering a relationship too soon if the potential of it not lasting is there?

Also, a relationship is not necessary to be happy in life. Too many people believe this to be the case. If you can't find satisfaction within yourself, how could you satisfy another individual to the best of your ability? Relationships are not about you, they are about the other person.

Whether you're in a relationship or not, I think we all need to re-evaluate who we are and where we are headed in life. Self-improvement is never a bad thing. And we all need to improve in certain areas of our lives.

Life happens.

Lauren DahlhauserComment

My time as a student at Ball State has been wonderful for the education, but for me, it has truly been more than a college education. It has proven to be a journey of pursuing what I am passionate about, understanding the true meaning of independence, and developing relationships that have shaped me even more into the person I am today.

If there’s anything I can say was really drilled into my head this past semester of school, it’s that each person on this earth is fighting his own battles, whether they be internal or external. We have to keep in mind, that we were all born and raised with different people through different experiences and the way we react to things root from these experiences. Additionally, every person that crosses paths with us is more than likely dealing with an issue we know nothing about. How people appear to behave or appear to look on the outside may not be a true representation of how they really feel or what they are really going through. 

I bring this up because there were so many times last semester where I felt like I was going to break down from overworking myself or attempting to balance everything I had going on. This included school, sleep, student media, family, friends, and spiritual stability among other things. I was falling behind in areas of my life I hadn’t before because I had to place my focus in new areas. I began to lose faith in myself, wondering why I couldn't handle all of the work everyone else though I should be able to handle. Even the smallest addition to my pile of stress seemed like a mountain to me, but others didn't see it that way. They questioned why I "couldn't handle" a small task or "make time" for something. People started to notice I was falling short in areas I hadn’t before and so many times, I wished I could just explain myself instead of seeming like I was making up excuses. Nobody but me really understood what I was going through. I could attempt to expand upon the reasons why I felt overwhelmed by the smallest things, but that didn’t help others really understand. 

Feeling this way sucked, but after some thought (and surviving the semester), it was really eye opening in the end. It made me feel guilty for all of the times I assumed someone else was “overreacting” or “making up excuses”. The reality of it is, to them, they probably weren’t overreacting. They were behaving the way they were because of a combination of a million other things I was unaware of going on in their lives. They were fighting battles I knew nothing about and I wasn’t taking them into consideration. 

We all fall short. We all make mistakes. We all forget. We are all fighting our own battles. The things that lead to our shortcomings or our failures don’t really matter in the end. What matters is that we pick ourselves up when we fall down, never give up, learn from our mistakes, and cut other people some slack when they fall short because, well, let's be honest about one thing:

 Life happens.