Month: June, 2012

Nneka + Idris Engagement Session


First of all, I have to mention…we did a killer bridal session for Nneka a couple of weeks ago, but I can’t post any of those pics until after the wedding 🙁  Now that’s off my chest, on to their Engagement Session.  They are an absolutely fun, beautiful, & tall couple.  They are actually my tallest couple ever !!  Idris is 6’5″ and Nneka is 6’0″, so I had to get used to looking up at both of them.  We had a bit of rough time getting around to doing their E-session because we got rained out several times and had to keep rescheduling….but when we finally got some great weather, it was all worth the wait.  They are perfectly matched and we are super excited about their upcoming wedding in August.

I really hate picking favorites, but this is hands down one of my favorite Engagement session photos….EVER


  • Stephanie Poole · Posted 06-22-12 at 10:20 am · Link · Reply

    I love it! You two look gawwwwgous!!

  • Ebony · Posted 06-22-12 at 11:09 am · Link · Reply

    Beautiful People + Beautiful Location + AMAZING Photog = *WINNING!!*…. nice!

  • Natarsha Adams · Posted 06-22-12 at 12:00 pm · Link · Reply

    Simply breathtaking! Awesome work M Clay and best wishes to Nneka and Idris!

  • Martinez Sullivan · Posted 06-22-12 at 12:01 pm · Link · Reply

    Love these….they are so beautiful, and they did a wonderful job…u can tell yall are so happy 🙂

  • Nneka Sokoya · Posted 06-22-12 at 12:06 pm · Link · Reply

    Great photos. Have you both considered modelling as a career??????

  • Travis Williams · Posted 06-22-12 at 12:49 pm · Link · Reply

    All I can say is wow, congratulations and wow again. i couldnt help but smile as i scrolled thru your pictures. I’ve had doubts on love in this world and I’ll admit that you two got me rethinking everything. Be blessed and congrats again little big cuz.

  • Necci · Posted 06-22-12 at 3:33 pm · Link · Reply

    These pics are gorgeous! Such a beautiful couple! Nneka, I wish you two well! 🙂

  • Moochie · Posted 06-22-12 at 4:40 pm · Link · Reply

    Awesome gawgeous couple

  • Florence Warren · Posted 06-22-12 at 5:20 pm · Link · Reply

    Simply beautiful! I think you too look are such a great looking couple! I wish you the best on the next chapter of your life! Congrats!!

  • F Deloatch · Posted 06-22-12 at 5:48 pm · Link · Reply

    Nneka, these are absolutely beautiful. so happy for yall

  • Debora F. Hill · Posted 06-22-12 at 6:32 pm · Link · Reply

    Your pictures are awesome – Black love is a beautiful thing.

  • NeQueela · Posted 06-22-12 at 7:54 pm · Link · Reply

    Absolutely gorgeous! Continue to love, honor, support and enjoy one another! You are an amazing couple and your pictures capture the beauty of your relationship!

  • Ruby Slade Gambrell · Posted 06-22-12 at 8:27 pm · Link · Reply

    Congratulaions!! These pictures are BEAUTIFUL. I agree with Nneka S. you two look like models.

  • Shameeka Montgomery · Posted 06-22-12 at 8:36 pm · Link · Reply

    Absolutely breathtaking! Every time I thought: oh that’s my favorite, I would scroll to the next photo and have the same thought!

  • Camille · Posted 06-22-12 at 9:40 pm · Link · Reply

    All of them are beautiful, but I love the one with the kiss on the forehead also!

  • Nkechi Ndieli · Posted 06-22-12 at 11:42 pm · Link · Reply

    Love,love,love the pics. You two are so beautiful. Formal pics are my favs!

  • Portia Thomas · Posted 06-23-12 at 3:30 am · Link · Reply

    Wow……..lovely optics!!! Beautiful couple. So happy for you both:)

  • Bessai · Posted 06-23-12 at 4:45 pm · Link · Reply

    These pictures are beautiful and you two are magic together. I am so happy for both of you!!! God Bless!!

  • dei dei caston · Posted 06-25-12 at 1:23 pm · Link · Reply

    You guys are very photogenic… the camera really loves you! i’m sitting here crying looking at these photos. once again BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

  • Sharon Hamilton · Posted 06-26-12 at 8:30 am · Link · Reply

    These pics are simply beautiful, God’s blessings on your upcoming union. Congratulations to both of you!!!!

  • Sharon Johnson · Posted 06-26-12 at 12:14 pm · Link · Reply

    So precious! may God bless you both with your new life together.

  • Aqilah · Posted 06-27-12 at 4:34 pm · Link · Reply

    I am so happy for the two of you and also having a future daughter in law.
    Love you both.

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Levine Museum Wedding | Bryon's South End Reception {Carly & Terrell}


Last month, we shot Carly & Terrell’s wedding at the Levine Museum in Uptown Charlotte and the reception at Byron’s South End.  You can check out their engagement session.  Carly & Terrell are such a perfectly matched couple and have an amazing story of how long they’ve dated through high school and both alumni of USC (Gamecocks), so it was great to be able to capture the union on their special day.  The wedding party and both their families were such a pleasure to work with.  Here are some images from their wedding.

I thought these T-shirts were hilarious !! You would have to have seen the movie “The Hangover” to understand.

LOVE this shot of a future ‘bride to be’ admiring the bride…

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One of my greatest personal achievements....completed my first triathlon !!!


I love blogging about all of the wonderful weddings that I shoot for my brides, but I had to take a moment to devote a blog post TO ME !!  🙂

This past Saturday, I completed the Tri Latta Sprint Triathlon!!! 750 meter open water swim, 17 mile bike, 3.1 mile run. This is definitely one the biggest achievements in my life.  I know this probably came as a huge shock to many of my friends because they had no idea I was training or planning to compete in a triathlon. Well, that was 100% on purpose, because honestly….I wasn’t sure if I’d be able complete the swim portion (more on that later). I didn’t want to mention I signed up for the tri and then not be able to complete the race.  That would have been too much of a letdown.  So a little about what led me to competing in a triathlon and my 10-week journey of training in each of the 3 disciplines.  In hindsight…10 weeks was probably not enough for this type of triathlon.  It wasn’t exactly a beginners tri, and I am definitely a beginner.


Several reasons…

* The most important being purely for improved fitness & health. I’ve worked out in the past, but found that my biggest problem was not having an end goal to work towards and I didn’t stay motivated. I figured…participating in a triathlon will give me that goal I was looking for.  It really helped motivate me knowing I had to be prepared for an event by a set date.
* I blogged about my sister participating in the Rambling Rose women’s mini-triathlon last year and it inspired me to set a goal to participate in one this year.  I met my goal !! I’ve also been inspired by many of my friends & family who have increased their activity level this year or who are part of local running groups or who run full marathons on a regular basis.
* Work\life balance.  Last year, I let my photography business consume so much of my time, I didn’t feel like I had any personal time. I obviously enjoy photography, but I also value my health….even more-so after my daughter was born.  When I realized I was spending 90%+ of my day in front of a computer and not doing anything to stay in shape, I decided it was time for change.  This year, I cut back on the number of weddings I booked so that I would have more time to devote to fitness.

Uggghh….:-(  From Day 1, this was by far, the most challenging of the three for me.  My dad was a lifeguard many, many years ago and taught me how to swim at a very early age.  I’ve never had any fear of water and have been swimming for about 30 years.  However, it’s been all recreational pool swimming.  I’ve never swam competitively or for distance or much in open water…..there is a BIG difference.  Open water swimming is scary.  There is no bottom, sides, or ropes to rest on, you can’t see anything, and the water isn’t as calm as an indoor pool.  Distance swimming requires stamina, but more importantly…proper technique.  Body position, head position, breathing, stroke, leg kick, etc.  I’ve gotten frustrated in the past with sports that require a lot of technique (ie: golf)… yeah I’ve thrown many clubs back in my golfing days 🙂  I still don’t consider myself a “strong” swimmer, but was decent enough to tackle the swim portion of the race.  However, I ended up having quite a scare during the race.  About 150 yds from the swim finish, both of my legs had cramped up so bad to the point I thought I wasn’t going to be able to continue.  With such a short distance to go, I had to swim the rest of way using my arms only, but I was able to push through and finally get out of the water.  The hardest part was over !!!

This is where I’m strongest and also what I enjoy the most.  I took an interest in cycling last year when I started riding with my sister to help her train.  Since then, I’ve upgraded bikes several times and worked my way up to a weekly 30 mile ride with another group of cyclist.  My cycling improved greatly each week and it’s something I will definitely continue to do for exercise and recreation.  It was a bit of a letdown to be one the last one’s out of the water, but quickly got my motivation back when I started catching up and passing other riders.

I hate running….PERIOD.  I am not a great runner….I don’t have a very fast pace and I’m always tempted to walk.  I know it’s a great form of exercise, but the only thing I can think about while I’m running is how much I hate running.  I’ve never enjoyed distance running and my goal all along for the triathlon was to get to a point where I could comfortably run a 5K without walking.  I have an enormous amount of respect for anybody who runs full marathons and Ironman’s.  During the race…my run wasn’t as bad as I expected.  I had to walk a few times because my legs were about gone.  I still have some things to work on but I finished the run OK.

There hasn’t been anything but positive results from training for this triathlon.  In addition to having an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, I’ve been practicing better nutrition, my blood pressure has gone down, my resting heart rate has gone down, and I lost weight.  Before I started training, I was 212lbs….the morning of the race, I was 196.8.  Because of the distances that I swim & ride, I actually pay attention to stuff that I never knew was important like hydration, heart rate, glycogen & sodium levels, etc.

I’m not gonna paint a picture that everything went perfectly.  There were definitely some bumps along the way during my training and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to disclose them.  It was all part of the journey that made the success of achieving my goal that much more enjoyable.

– Week 1 – Day 1 of training, I started off with a 3 mile assessment run.  Well, I stupidly pushed myself and ran the whole 3 miles (which I was not accustomed to doing yet).  My wife ended up taking me to the ER that night because I was suffering from symptoms of dehydration & fatigue.  I simply over-exerted myself.
– Week 7 – Man down !!  Yep…I busted my a$$.  I took a spill on my bike during a training ride 🙁  We were riding on a road that had been stripped for repaving and my tire ran up on a 2 inch lip where it met the sidewalk. I went from vertical to horizontal on the pavement in the blink of an eye.  I scraped up my leg, arm, and shoulder.  Still have the scar on my shoulder as a reminder.  After putting my chain back on and adjusting my brakes, I was able to finish the rest of the 5-mile back ride back to my truck.  It could have been a lot worse. I ended up being pissed mostly because I tore a hole in my brand new cycling jersey.
– Week 7 – I chickened out on an open water swim training at Lake Norman.  I was overcome with fear and let it get the best of me.  That was not a good feeling especially with 3 weeks left before my triathlon.
– Week 10 – The Monday before the tri, I chickened out again on another open water swim.  At this point, I didn’t know how I was gonna complete the race considering I had never actually swam the race distance in open water.  Somehow, I managed to get up enough courage on race day to complete the entire distance…mainly because I had my wife and sister there waiting to cheer me on at the finish line and I refused to let them down.

Well, I’ve completed my first triathlon, but it definitely won’t be my last.  I’ve already registered for the Lake Norman Triathlon coming up in a couple of months !!  The goal for my first triathlon was simply to complete the race.  I wasn’t concerned at all with my times for this one.  But now I feel like I can challenge myself further by improving my overall time, so that will be my focus for the next race.  I only trained to increase my stamina and endurance this time around, but now I want to work on my strength and speed.  I “may” consider a longer Olympic distance triathlon in the future.  Here are some photos my sister took at the race on Saturday.

Before the swim.  Laughing & joking…trying to act like I wasn’t nervous.  I also wasn’t digging the pink caps our wave had to wear….it clashed with my green top.

One last salute before the horn sounded for us to start.

Probably can’t tell from the images, but I was in a bit of agony after swimming 8 football fields and the last football field I had to swim with severe leg cramps

This is what it was all about….crossing the finish line !!!  The most rewarding feeling in the world.


  • Felicia · Posted 06-11-12 at 1:20 pm · Link · Reply

    Thanks for the blog…yes swimming is going to be my beast in the triathlon I’m participating in on sept. 23rd…I’m so nervous and humbled by the entire process…but you give me inspiration…I can do this

  • Kisha Johnson · Posted 06-11-12 at 1:21 pm · Link · Reply

    Great Story Mike!!!! Can’t wait to hear about the results of your 2nd Tri, its only gets better from here!! And my hats goes off to you, swimming in open water makes me nervous for those same reasons you pointed out AND the leg cramps!! Congrats again!!!!

  • Stacie · Posted 06-11-12 at 11:25 pm · Link · Reply

    I love every bit of it!!!!! I knew you could do it. You were able to overcome your fear of the open water. I am proud of you!

  • Doug · Posted 06-12-12 at 11:57 am · Link · Reply

    Mike – Three words: You Da’ Man! You killed it on the bike ride, dude. I’m going to start calling you “Big Chain”!!! Proud of ya, man.

  • Kia · Posted 06-20-12 at 9:54 am · Link · Reply

    Mike this is so awesome! I can tell that the bike is your strong suit, you look real smooth on it.

  • Becky · Posted 06-20-12 at 12:58 pm · Link · Reply

    Great Job! It sounds like you are hooked!

  • Curtis Clay III · Posted 12-06-13 at 9:42 am · Link · Reply

    I love how you were able to be in this event AND photograph yourself. You’re Peter Parker Dude!!!

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Ballantyne Hotel Wedding | Tina + Melvin


Ceremony & Reception: Ballantyne Hotel & Spa Charlotte, NC

I had to mention this.  Tina had a 5/19 theme for her whole wedding day.  She got married on 5/19, ceremony start time was 5:19pm, and she got ready in room# 519.  Pretty clever

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Up close with a snapping turtle!


Now I realize where my lack of fear of animals comes from….My dad is to blame.  He’s caught just about everything you can think of, including this snapping turtle.  They are such interesting looking creatures.  I had to get a few shots up close. He was a pretty good size too…I’m sure at least 25-30lbs.  Reminds of you a dinosaur a little bit.

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