Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
Happy Monday friends! Hunter and I write this blog today from our NEW HOME! For those of you who are following along on social media, you know that we announced last weekend that, despite being in the midst of a crazy fall season (double-digit weddings and just as many portrait sessions in less than two months), we bought a new home, packed up all our worldly possessions with the help of some friends, and moved into the historic Fry’s Springs neighborhood of Charlottesville!
We are, of course, overjoyed at this new step in our lives! We know it took a lot of discipline to pay off our student debt and save up for a down payment, as well as an incredible amount of hard work to run and grow our business to the point where we felt financially comfortable to buy a home at all. And of course, God has granted a TON of favor on us in the way we’ve seen our business grow so rapidly in a relatively short amount of time.
But we can’t help but feel bittersweet today. Our lease in our last apartment – affectionately named “Shell Cottage” as a nod to our love for the ocean and our last name – expired last week, and we had to officially say goodbye to the first home we ever had as a married couple.
You see, I found Shell Cottage more than three years ago when I took a chance on my then-boyfriend Hunter and moved to Charlottesville without a job or an apartment. I stayed with friends until I found my first job – right off Charlottesville’s downtown mall – and a friend tipped me off to Shell Cottage, also near downtown. For a single girl living alone, it was the perfect apartment.
It was tiny (barely 350 square feet, a two-car garage converted into a tiny apartment) and it was cheap (about half what most of our friends reported paying for a one-bedroom in the Belmont area).
(Hunter swears he was more helpful when I moved in than he looks in this photo…)
But when Hunter and I got married the following year, we made the decision together that rather than looking for a bigger place, we would relish the inexpensive apartment in downtown C’ville. After all, we figured we could put up with living in slightly cramped quarters, at least for a time. We agreed to give it six months, and see how we liked it.
But before we knew it, it had become our home. Like we wrote about last Thanksgiving, it turns out we would come to love always being nearby each other, and the tight quarters forced us to live more simply and efficiently.
Plus, over those three years, Hunter and I shared countless home-cooked meals at our kitchen table since, as we paid off debt, our tight budget meant we didn’t eat out very frequently. And we did, it was often quick-service like Chipotle.
During our first winter together at Shell Cottage, we endured some pretty serious snow storms.
But we splurged on some outdoor furniture that Spring to share meals and our morning Bible reading outside! Fun fact: that 10×10 canopy increased our livable square-footage by almost 30%!
Despite our tiny square-footage, we still loved to host whenever we could.
And we played the occasional board game together on Sundays when recovering from weddings.
From the beginning, we didn’t hesitate to decorate the apartment like a home (especially around Christmas time!)
Despite the limited space, we dog-sat a few times, although only once for a pupper as big as Oakley…
And one time we made homemade limoncello as a thank-you gift for our wedding party… Then broke out the leftovers on our first Anniversary while we ate a frozen cupcake (and realized that some wedding traditions should probably just die).
We voted together for the first time while living at Shell Cottage, and I tried on new dresses for my first trip to Europe.
We prepared for the first Bible Study that we ever led together.
And of course, shared plenty of silly moments.
And even though it was small… It was home.
Most importantly, Shell Cottage was the place where both our marriage and our business truly began, grew, and thrived.
(Business growth is here visually represented by Hunter’s expanding desk — you have no idea how excited he was for the extra space.)
And even assembling it was an adventure we took together!
All in all, we couldn’t be more excited for our new home in Charlottesville, and the new adventure of home-ownership. But it’ll always be hard to say goodbye to a place as wonderful as Shell Cottage!
Until next time,
Sarah + Hunter