Westin's Afternoon

A lot of times, as a professional photographer, I forget to stop and take high quality photos of my life and my son. I end up with a bunch of phone photos which, while phones have come a long way, just aren't the same. For some reason, about 2 years ago (when I was still teaching) I got home one day and decided to just document my son's afternoon. I always wished I had continued photographing all the way until bedtime and this year, I will because, they have turned out to be some of my favorite pictures I have ever taken. I love looking back on the curl in his hair, the way his little legs and big diapered butt still looked so funny in jeans, and remembering how he used to hide behind my easel and knock whatever canvas that was on there, off, so he could use it for his hot wheels cars. They are so honest, they show his personality so well, and they are such a wonderful capture of a time that was so fleeting. This is exactly what is so wonderful about lifestyle sessions. They give you a glimpse back into how exactly life was in that very moment. It wasn't perfect (life never is), but it was absolutely beautiful! They also tend to yield more photos simply because you're just naturally doing life and think about how much variation there is in your movements and actions just going through your day. I vowed, to myself, to do this every year and it's time to do it again. But, here are some of the photos from last year. If this is something you want for your kids, I would LOVE to help you out! Hit that contact tab, at the top of the page, and we'll get started. :)

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Booth Buildup

So, I recently participated in my first wedding show. It was a gorgeous boutique show, put on by Enchanted Brides, in Nashville, Tennessee. When I registered I immediately started thinking about how I wanted my booth to look. I believe in small details. I also believe that the way you present yourself is a pretty good representation of the work you put into other things. Because of those beliefs, I knew I had to go all the way with my display. Where else to turn but Pinterest? After collecting some ideas, I developed my idea. I have some experience with construction as I flipped our last two homes, so I wasn't afraid of building something, but I knew it would be a big job. There were a couple things I needed to consider. First, this thing had to be mobile- very mobile as it would be setup for only a few hours and then traveling home again before going to another location and repeating. Second, it also needed to be somewhat light. Again, it isn't a permanent structure so being able to carry it pretty easily was a must. Third, it needed to be stable. With a lot of people walking in and out of my space, I don't want anything to happen to anyone and the likelihood of the booth being bumped and leaned on is 100%. And fourth, it needed to be cool, of course. I want to make sure people notice us in all the right ways. With so many other vendors literally right next to us, it's important to stand out. I turned to my dad to help me come up with a build plan. Out of all that, here is the outcome...

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I am seriously so excited about how it turned out. I took photos while building, so you could see the process and if you're looking to do something like this, you can learn from my mistakes (there were PLENTY). I also tried to make sure I got a shot of all the products I used for reference. So, if you're interested in all that boring construction stuff, keep reading...

The whole thing is constructed of different panels. Each one is four 2x4s, a piece of underlayment, and cedar planks. The back wall has four panels. The top two are 4'x4' and the bottom two are 4'x3'. The sides are constructed of three panels. The top pieces are 3'x4' and the bottom four pieces are 3'x3'. This created the perfect size for an 8'x8' booth space. A lot of shows have 10'x10' spaces and if that's the case, I could add additional panels or (my preference) leave it like it is and allow more space in between me and my neighbors, as well as, more space in the front for display. For the majority of the primary construction, I used Grip Rite 1-1/4" exterior screws. They were not easy to put in and you definitely need to pre-drill your holes (I hate pre-drilling, ugh). Part of the way through I switched to Grabber Construction Product's interior 8x2-1/2 in screws. They went a lot easier. 

 

The underlayment provides a surface for the planks to be attached. If you didn't want to stagger those and just wanted them to go from one side to the other, you could leave that part off and nail your boards straight to the 2x4s. I wish I had gotten a product picture of the underlayment so I could give exact specs. I can tell you that I bought it at Home Depot and it was the lightest version I could find that still felt sturdy enough to hold up. I bought 8'x4' pieces and had them cut in half.... so dumb!!! My 2x4s were cut to 4' so when you attach a 4' vertical 2x4 to horizontal 2x4, you gain the extra height of that 2x4 (roughly 1.5 inches because for some reason lumber measurements are just weird). 

So, how are the panels attached to each other and the better question, how are they secure? The answer is, carriage bolts and wing nuts. That is the key to making the structure completely mobile and sturdy. These pairs get incredibly tight using no tools (make sure you put a washer on your wing nut side to avoid eating into the wood) and they're large enough to hold A LOT of weight. Each of the 2x4s that meets with another is connected with two carriage bolts. I used 5" long 3/8" diameter bolts and Everbilt 3/8" wing nuts. I used a 3/8" drill bit for the holes and wiggled it around a bit to give my bolts a little space since they would be sliding in and out so frequently. Watch the threads though as they can get little bits of wood in them and then be damaged making it difficult for the wing nuts to screw on. Just get extra of everything and you'll be good. I kept all my hardware in a big ziploc so I'd have it all together. 

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On top of my underlayment, I used Pacific Knotty Cedar Planking. I have to be honest. Up until this point, I was seriously questioning this project because, y'all, it was not looking good. But, as soon as those planks went on, it looked like a dream. The panels that went together (side by side) were "planked" together. The only thing is, these planks are tongue and groove. If you're a construction person, you are laughing right now because guess what? I was going to have to pull the panels part and hope I could perfectly line up those tongues and grooves again each time I put the booth together. BAD IDEA! I tried it on one wall and then decided my panels were just going to have to stay together. So the back wall is now two panels instead or 4. Get the idea? If I were doing it again, I MAY have chosen a product that wasn't tongue and groove, but then again, these planks are super light and really gorgeous... so maybe not. The other option would have been to just create larger panels to begin with. Live and learn. 

I stained the wood with a dark walnut (always my go-to color). It creates a beautiful, rich, not too warm, not too cool finish. 

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You may be wondering about that white bar. I wanted the bar so I would have a built in area to display products and decorations, but only wanted it on 2 sides so I could have seating on the other side. I can't remember the exact specs (sorry again about not getting a product photo), but I used a bullnose board to create this. It is in the middle of my top and bottom pieces so the carriage bolt goes through a 2x4, the bar board, and another 2x4. That is why you need the 5" bolts. On the right side, I had to add a spaced board that didn't stick out so that the height on that side of the booth would be the same at the others with the bar. I stained this board so that you don't really notice it and it looks like one continuous wall. 

Whew! I think that is the most concise guide I can write for the build of this. I am sure I left some things out. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I am happy to help others on their endeavor to build something similar. Oh, I almost forgot. I didn't want the outside of the panels showing at the show because they aren't very pretty, so we tacked canvas painting drop sheets on the outside. It actually looked really cute! At our next show, I'll take some photos of the assembly process and do a little update post and show you the canvas.

Thanks for reading!!