Susan Dixon Photography » Blog

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I hope your new year is off to a great start! I think that January is a perfect time to give back….

…so I’ve put together some of my favorite winter survival items in an awesome January Giveaway!!!

I went shopping this weekend with YOU in mind! It’s so nice to be able to give back to the people who follow my journey on social media!

Here are the fabulous items that you may enter for a chance to win:

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It was so much fun to go shopping…….and, let me tell you, it was hard to narrow it down to just five items.

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(1) cabin socks

We have hardwood floors in my house. And, even though we live in Florida, I LIVE in cabin socks all winter! This pair is from Born, and my daughter got a pair from this same brand for Christmas. She absolutely loves them!

(2) hand cream

Also included is a la Maison hand cream in honeysuckle. This is the 1.7 fluid ounce size. I would let you know how great it smells, except that it’s sealed. I think that’s a good thing since I will be mailing it off to the winner of the giveaway. We wouldn’t want any leakage. I also chose this because it is paraben-free.


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(3) small journal

Also included in this January giveaway is a small, gray George Stanley lined journal. Fill it with wise words!

(4) chocolate

You know how I love chocolate! This giveaway wouldn’t be complete without it.

(5) ceramic mug with travel lid

Whether your a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate person, this ceramic travel mug will cheer up your winter days. It’s dishwasher & microwave safe. I chose this one because it doesn’t have a handle to get in the way of putting it in a cup holder. And it’s cute. :)

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How to enter for a chance to win:

You can enter on two social media platforms:

Find the post on my Facebook page at Susan Dixon Photography, LLC.

Find the post on my Instagram feed at Susan Dixon Photography, LLC.


(1) Like my Susan Dixon Photography, LLC PAGE on Facebook and/or Instagram.

(2) Like the specific POST that shows the giveaway.

(3) Tag one, two, or three friends. (one entry per friend you tag)

You can enter on BOTH Facebook and Instagram, if you’d like. If you do it on BOTH platforms and tag three friends on each, you will receive the maximum number of SIX entries. Of course, you may receive a maximum of three entries if you only enter on either Facebook or Instagram.

This giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on Friday, January 19, 2018.

I will announce the winner on both Instagram and Facebook on Saturday, January 20, 2018.

All five items will be awarded to one winner. Winner must provide a mailing address within five days of the end of the contest.

This giveaway is in no way associated or sponsored by Facebook or Instagram. It is limited to residents of the continental U.S.

I’m excited to see who will win. It is great to be able to bless one of my followers!!!

Contact me.

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Doing a first look can be a bit controversial….

                               …….especially here in the South.

However, there are some REALLY good reasons to do a first look on the day of your wedding!

What IS a “first look”?

Traditionally, the first time a groom is supposed to see his beautiful bride on the day of their wedding is the MOMENT she walks down the aisle. In fact, an old wives’ tale says that it’s bad luck for the groom to even lay eyes on his bride on their wedding day before the ceremony starts.

I’ve photographed enough weddings that this secrecy takes a lot of effort and communication!

A first look is a private, planned meeting of the bride and groom at a specific time before their wedding ceremony.

There are so many good things that happen because of a first look:

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(1) The bride and groom enjoy several intimate, once-in-a-lifetime moments together.

When the groom sees his bride coming down the aisle, there are about three seconds of pure wonder on his face…..and the the ceremony takes place.

Really, most wedding ceremonies are very quick. And then the couple is whisked off to do a million pictures. Except for a few words here and there, they may not actually get to have a full conversation until they leave the reception venue.

However, the only people present at a first look are the bride and groom + the photographers. The initial meeting is photographed in a very photojournalistic style. Aside from setting the couple up in the beginning, the photographers will let the two see each other and interact in a very natural way.

Some couples choose to exchange wedding gifts during this time.

Often, there’s a lot of laughter. Sometimes there are tears! If the bride needs her make-up retouched after the first look, the make-up artist is usually still around to help her.

I think the BEST part of this is that the bride and groom are able to savor the time and share their experiences of the day so far. This eases tension and relaxes them before the ceremony.

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(2) Almost all of the formal portraits for the bride and groom can be photographed before the ceremony.

After they have several private moments together, we have time to do formal portraits of the bride and groom.

The bride’s make-up and hair are still very fresh. If the ceremony is very hot and/or windy, this can be critical!

The bride and groom’s portraits will turn out better because they are more relaxed, and there’s simply more time.

The lighting (and often the setting) for the bride and groom’s portraits taken at the end of their first look will match what is done for the rest of the bridal party. If you plan to have your images displayed in an album, this can be super important.

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(3) Almost all of the formal portraits of the wedding party can be taken BEFORE the ceremony.

This straight up saves time.

You don’t have to keep your guests waiting, and waiting, and waiting to start the reception.

Family/extended family portraits still need to take place directly after the ceremony. However, your wedding party portraits will be complete!

It’s also insurance against inclement weather. I’ve had situations before when I was unable to get the bride in a formal portrait outside after the ceremony because it started to rain. The formal portraits after the ceremony under a shelter simply did not match the gorgeous ones we took outside earlier during the day.


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(4) A first look frees the bride and groom to steal away for sunset portraits.

When a newly married couple is able to spend more time with their guests because most of their portraits were taken in advance, this makes them feel OK about stealing away from the reception later on to do sunset portraits. These can be relaxed because they are a “bonus.” They already have many beautiful images from their earlier session. These are just icing on the cake!

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Still want to have a traditional “first look” down the aisle?

I absolutely respect that. It is YOUR wedding, and you should do what’s best for you and your guests. Thank you for even thinking about an alternative.

Another variation of this is for a bride to do a first look with her father. Her mother is usually with her throughout the getting ready process. But when her daddy sees her for the first time as a bride, it’s a very special thing!

I photographed a father/daughter first look at the wedding seen HERE.

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Hello, 2018!!! I feel like this is going to be a great year! Each January, I decide on a “word of intent” for the year. My word of the year for 2018 is COURAGE.

After much thought and prayer, I’ve realized that fear is holding me back in several areas of my life. There are too many areas where I lack courage. Often, it’s fear of failure. Sometimes it’s fear of success. At other times, it’s just simply being afraid of the unknown.

This is not a effective way to live a life that’s productive. I believe in living intentionally and making my days matter. And God does, too. Over and over in the Bible, people are told to be strong and courageous. To be brave and and act with courage.

I want to be brave in so many aspects of my life.

I want to have the courage to be honest with myself. This includes regular self-evaluations and digging deep–no matter what may be uncovered. It means being willing to face up to who I am and what’s going on in my soul. It means having the courage to let God purge things, teach me, and work through difficult things so that I come out better on the other side.

In addition, I want to be brave enough to go where God leads me. That can be scary, but I want to trust Him enough to step out in faith….even when the outcome is unsure.

On the flip side, I want to have the courage to step away from things that God does NOT want we to do. And they could be good things in and of themselves…..just not for me. I’ve come to realize that if it’s NOT God’s will for my life, then I don’t want it! My I have the courage to actually live that out day by day.

I also want to have creative courage. In fact, creativity itself takes courage. I seek to be brave enough to forget about what everyone else is doing in photography and do ME. To listen to my voice. To let my work be an extension of me. To not worry so much about what other people think.

I also want to be strong enough and courageous to live openly about my faith. I know some will scoff and reject. Others will just roll their eyes. A few may be outwardly critical. But God is everything to me. And I have to be honest about that.

starting off 2018 with courage

Yesterday was New Year’s Day. DAY 1/365 if you like to count things.

I made the conscious decision to do some studio photography. I’ve done a little in the past, but I’ve never put a lot of time into it. It’s not that I don’t have the equipment, because I do.  I even have a couple of backdrops that I hand-painted this past summer.

What was holding me back?


What if things didn’t go well?

What if I couldn’t get the posing just right?

What if I didn’t like the results?

What if it was just a straight-up FAILURE?

“When I lost all my excuses, I found my results.” Truth.

the outcome

I faced my fears yesterday. I did the studio session. (Gracie was a semi-reluctant model.) And I LOVE the results!

Here are a few of my favorites.

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Success breeds success.

And, you know what? Because I faced my fears and found success, I’ll be more likely to choose courage next time.

Failure will eventually come, but it’s one of the best teachers. If I fail and learn, it’s still ultimately a WIN.

I’m looking forward to 2018 being a year of COURAGE.

How about you? Do you have a word of intent for 2018? I’d love to hear about it!

My word of intent for last year was explore.

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San Marco Christmas Family Session | Jacksonville, Florida

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I did several family sessions this holiday season, including this fun family session in historic San Marco. Although I’m a wedding photographer, I always get a lot of requests from clients needing Christmas card photos. The best time to do these sessions is in October, November, and VERY early in December.

And, although these sessions are always great, I usually can’t SHOW the pictures. I don’t want to spoil my client’s Christmas cards by posting their images all over social media. That would be terrible! So I only post a Christmas session if I have special permission.

this sweet session

I had the BEST time photographing this sweet family!!! They contacted me after being referred to me by another client of mine. [Word-of-mouth referrals are wonderful, by the way!] This couple met and married a few years ago, and now they have an absolutely A D O R A B L E son! I kept telling them that they should audition him for modeling/acting jobs! Seriously, he has that sparkle in his eyes that make his whole face light up. Amazing!

their story

As I photographed their session, I discovered the amazing story of how this couple met, fell in love, and got married. They are both from Nigeria. However, they did not know each other in their home country. Separately, they ended up in different parts of the United States. They were introduced by a mutual friend who knew that both of them were from Nigeria. They developed a long-distance relationship, and their love blossomed. Now they are together in Jacksonville, and they have a cute son to complete their family.

the location

As we discussed the location for the photography session, we talked about many different options. We finally settled on San Marco. There were a couple of reasons: (1) It is near the family’s home.  (2) We needed to do the session at 2 pm, and San Marco offers a lot of shady spots…..even in the middle of the day. And, you can’t really tell it from the images, but the weather was PERFECT that day! Not too hot….not too cold….and a gentle breeze. In addition, I tried to do a mix of images that were clearly in San Marco (like with the theater in the background) + nondescript images that focused solely on my clients.

Get tips on choosing the location for YOUR next photography session HERE

their outfits

Did you notice how adorable their outfits are? When I posted one of these images on Instagram, one of my followers commented that their outfits are “Christmas card perfection.” I think that’s a perfect description!  I love that their outfits compliment each other, with out being exact matches. So festive!


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See more family sessions HERE and HERE.

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Last weekend, the 2017 Eagle’s View Academy Homecoming Court took over Stinson Park for a quick afternoon photo session before the big game. And they looked absolutely stunning! I can personally testify that this is an amazing group of young people–both inside and out!

Underclass Representatives

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Our three underclass representatives looked amazing!

Freshman Rep: Vanessa (left); Sophomore Rep: Meg (middle); Junior Rep: Hayley (right)

Senior Homecoming Court

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Five gorgeous Eagle’s View Academy seniors made up the senior homecoming court. (Left to right) Tee, Sydney, Kasey, Breanna, and Hannah represented their class well.

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Homecoming Queen and King

Just a few hours later, Sydney was crowned queen during half time at the EVA homecoming game! She joined Evan, who earned the title of Homecoming King in a hard-fought contest held earlier that week. Our senior guys competed against each other in a variety of events. We already knew that Evan is Mr. EVA, but he won the homecoming king contest, also!

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Crowning the Queen at Half Time

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Mr. and Miss EVA

Each year, Eagle’s View Academy honors two outstanding students…one male and one female. Unlike homecoming queen, which is decided by students’ votes, Mr. and Miss Eagle’s View Academy are selected by a vote by the teachers. It is a very special honor to be considered by the teachers as the best male/female representative from your senior class. A good character, a strong spiritual testimony, excellent work ethic, extracurricular involvement, school spirit, and  leadership skills are some of the many qualities teachers consider when voting for students for these two positions. This year’s Mr. and Miss EVA are Evan and Tina!

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Group Photos

If you think homecoming photo shoots are boring….think again! We definitely had fun with the group shots. Even though the grass was a little challenging for those wearing heels. The girls did great! The weather was perfect….not too hot, not too cool, and definitely not too windy. This was a great start to a wonderful 2017 Homecoming Game evening!!!

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