Category: Portraits

Happy 1yr Birthday to Marleigh!!


I couldn’t let this day go by without wishing our little-est princess a Happy 1 year old Birthday!!  Sharing a few shots from her 1 yr old shoot.  We went with an Easter theme since she was born the day after Easter last year.

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Recent Senior Portrait Session | Charlotte, NC


Here are some pics from a recent Senior portrait and cap & gown session. I always enjoy Senior sessions because it gives parents some unique images that captures the individual personality and style of their upcoming graduate.

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Say Hello to our early arrival


The last 72 hours have been crazy,hectic, a whirlwind, a blur….whatever other extreme adjective you can fill in that blank probably fits.  Let me start by saying that my wife and I ‘were’ pregnant…and as of Monday morning around 6am, I’m happy to announce that a healthy Ms. Marleigh Rose officially joined Team Clay.  This may come as a surprise to many, but because of previous unfortunate situations with child births and pregnancies, we simply don’t make any public announcements until we reach a certain point in the whole process.  We are ecstatic to have 2 little girls now!!  But we were caught a little off guard by how it all went down…

My wife and I could never get our schedules coordinated to do a maternity shoot.  But Easter Sunday, we finally had an opportunity to do a few portraits.  Maternity sessions are usually not my thing, but I don’t really have much choice to decline her….or there would be consequences. LOL.  We captured some great images playing around with a vision we had both talked about.Charlotte-wedding-photographer-blog_0077 Charlotte-wedding-photographer-blog_0078 Charlotte-wedding-photographer-blog_0079 Charlotte-wedding-photographer-blog_0080 Charlotte-wedding-photographer-blog_0081
Then here’s where it gets interesting. These last 3 images were not really part of the shoot. We were just playing around with Alissa practicing to see how she would do posing with mom & belly for Part 2 of the maternity session planned for a couple days later (with different outfits, etc). Part 2 never happened so these would end up being special images because they are the only ones we have with Alissa and mom’s belly.


Early Monday morning about 2am, my wife woke me up complaining about contractions about 5 mins apart. We ended up at the hospital about 3:30am thinking they’d give my wife something to stop the contractions and send us back home.  Negative!  Several hours later…this happened

Our beautiful baby girl was here. 3 weeks early!! We were a bit unprepared as we were still getting her room finished, mom still hadn’t packed the ‘official’ hospital bag, etc.  None of that mattered because our beautiful baby girl was here.  It was pretty surreal how fast it all happened.  Here’s a few photos of her first few hours outside the womb

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Then here is where it gets emotional. The next day, I brought Alissa by the hospital. This is one of the most precious things I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing…our daughter meeting her new baby sister for the first time. The look of excitement, curiosity, and love on her face is something I’ll cherish forever and will not ever forget.  I won’t even try to explain the feelings we had as parents…I’ll just let the images describe the moment.







We had no clue she would be arriving shortly after the maternity photos but here we are…Team Clay + 1 🙂  And we are loving every bit of it.


  • Tiffany Blu · Posted 04-08-15 at 3:13 pm · Link · Reply

    This was the best story with pictures I’ve ever seen! Wow! I’m amazed! Mike you capture more then just Team Clay +1 you caught GOD in there TOO!!!! Tears of joy, thank you all for sharing this!

  • Chastity Harper · Posted 04-08-15 at 4:03 pm · Link · Reply

    This is beautiful. A true blessing

  • Sidney · Posted 04-08-15 at 4:43 pm · Link · Reply

    BEAUTIFUL! Congratulations to all of you! xo

  • L.Rice · Posted 04-08-15 at 4:44 pm · Link · Reply

    The Rices are so happy for you all. She is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing these special moments with us.

  • Simona Kelly · Posted 04-08-15 at 6:13 pm · Link · Reply

    I cried reading this, thanks for sharing this. Congratulations again you guys!

  • LATOYA Jenkins · Posted 04-08-15 at 6:26 pm · Link · Reply

    congratulations…. truly a blessing

  • Toya Crichlow-Mack · Posted 04-08-15 at 6:28 pm · Link · Reply

    Mike you are a gifted artist with an amazing ability to share stories through images. Thank you for capturing my family’s early beginnings and congratulations on your beautiful family.

  • Dana Jones · Posted 04-08-15 at 7:00 pm · Link · Reply

    May God continue to shower his love and protection upon you for many years to come Team Clay !!.

  • Youca Shell · Posted 04-08-15 at 7:38 pm · Link · Reply

    Absolutely beautiful pics and awesome blog. Congrats!

  • Monique Wylie · Posted 04-08-15 at 8:36 pm · Link · Reply

    Congratulations on your latest bundle of joy. I agree with both ladies above the pictures captured God’s work at its finest, and all of his blessings. Simply AMAZING.

  • Matt Talford · Posted 04-08-15 at 9:20 pm · Link · Reply

    Mike/Meeka: You two are amazing people and amazing parents. You will be as much a blessing to her as she is to you! Congratulations!!!

  • Makia · Posted 04-08-15 at 9:46 pm · Link · Reply

    Now I’m all emotional! LOL. When I saw Grandma dropping off Alyssa a few days ago, I was hoping it was what I thought it was. We are so happy for you guys!

  • Eunice B. Gist · Posted 04-08-15 at 11:04 pm · Link · Reply

    Mr. and Mrs. Clay,
    I am elated to have witnessed the beautiful photos of such a joyous occasion. Congratulations to you both
    for a job well done.

  • Carmen Hicks · Posted 04-09-15 at 12:31 am · Link · Reply

    Congratulations to the four of you. Such a beautiful story!

  • Hattie Murphy · Posted 04-13-15 at 10:40 am · Link · Reply

    Congratulations!!! I am very happy Marleigh’s arrival was uneventful. The pictures are beyond BEAUTIFUL!! Thank you very much for sharing.

  • Marla · Posted 04-15-15 at 12:14 pm · Link · Reply

    Amazing photos of an awesome family. God has truly blessed you! Amen.

  • Arshana Copeland · Posted 04-17-15 at 1:56 pm · Link · Reply

    Thank you for sharing! She is beautiful!

  • Yumekco · Posted 04-17-15 at 11:35 pm · Link · Reply

    Congratulations on the new bundle/addition to your family! The story is beautifully captured and wonderfully narrated as only a father could tell it. The pictures are amazing; poetry in motion and film. Meeka and Alyssa are wonderful models as you can see the love flowing through. Again, congratulations!!!

  • Renee Grisham · Posted 04-17-15 at 11:51 pm · Link · Reply

    CONGRATUALTIONS!!!! We can’t wait to meet the new bundle. 🙂

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The challenges of a 3 yr old photo session


With weddings being my primary genre of photography, I don’t get many opportunities to shoot kids.   But I never mind taking our daughter out for some practice…and to get some images for our own personal family memories.  However, each time I attempt a photo session with my daughter….I am quickly reminded how different it is compared to shooting a wedding.  It presents a totally different set of challenges from working with couples on a wedding day.  Usually, I’m in some sort of creative control, but with kids you simply have to get what you can, when you can, while you can.  I thought it would be entertaining to show how a typical photo session with our daughter evolves.

Pretty much every session starts off with the first photo you see which is…”I’m pissed and I plan to be totally uncooperative…and I could care less about your creative vision“.  Then after some initial bribing, I get “Okay, I’ll look at the camera, but NOT smile”. Followed by “Now I’ll smile, but NOT look at the camera”. Can’t you already see where this is headed ?

Then we transition to “I’ll totally ignore all of your directions and just make a goofy face“.  Then we finally get something that resembles a usable image…Looking at the camera, half smile, decent expression.  She’s warming up right ?  Negative! Then we get another goofy face. <Sigh>Charlotte-wedding-photographer-blog_0002

We manage to get lucky and snag a few usable images. I’m not exaggerating….I really mean a few, as in these 3 you see here

Then we try a change of scenery. Mind you…as we are walking to a different location, she’s totally distracted by leaves, bugs, throwing rocks, etc. I mean, no focus whatsover. I figure if we try some shots with her standing up, that might help get her back in the ‘zone’. The first one is not so bad…cute expression, but her hands were a little cold which is why one is tucked in her coat and the other one is doing it’s own thing. Then, she started feeling herself and gave me the fiercest, dramatically over-posed swagger a 3 yr old could give…LOL!!

Another location and it’s “I’m tired of taking pics now and kinda ready for this to be over with“.  Still doing her own thing. It’s just comical at this point.

I figure I’ve gotten all I can and the shoot is over but finally…she figured she’s tortured me enough and gives me some adorable photos that I can be proud of and made the struggle all worth it 🙂  What you don’t see here is all the unusable shots that were out of focus from the excessive squirming, lack of attention, flat out sprinting, and anything else she could do to make it as frustrating as possible.  In the end, I feel like I have to shoot 25 or so shots just to get one. I hope this gives some sort of glimpse into what I have to go through to get a shot or two of a 3 yr old.  Or maybe it could just be OUR 3 yr old ?   But in the end, I cherish every single image our little girl and I’d do it all over again without hesitation.


  • Mary Ann Harrington · Posted 01-17-15 at 1:10 am · Link · Reply

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL Mike! She is adorable! I love the story and think you should submit this to the Observer! I mean it….I’m going to share this with Cliff, my husband who is a managing editor with the Observer. I see you and your beautiful wife on Sunday but never get to talk to you. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you soon! You should submit this story!

  • Eunice B. Gist · Posted 01-18-15 at 11:43 pm · Link · Reply

    Terrific job, to say the least. Now, there is room for your daughter’s first book, with dad creating a Cover Title to
    fit the gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing.

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3 year old Pics


My training schedule had me super busy earlier this year so I’m finally getting some time to post images from older shoots.  Of course, mom likes to experiment with different outfits and hairstyles 🙂  These are some of my favorite images I captured to celebrate our baby girl turning 3 last month.

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