My trip to New York this summer was unplanned, to say the least. I love visiting home, and especially right at the beginning of fall, but it’s not quite the same when you’re forced to evacuate and aren’t sure what life will look like when you return.

I spent almost two weeks just hanging out with my family while Frank had to stay in North Carolina and work. It was stressful and tiring, and I understand now what people mean when they use the phrase “worried sick.”

Luckily, our home made it through the storm without too much damage. We were immensely fortunate in a situation where many friends, neighbors, and businesses are now having to rebuild or close their doors. Driving around and seeing entire homes in piles on the curb is heartbreaking, but the spirit of hope is strong in our community, and I’ve never seen a group of people more determined to lift each other up.

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Central New York / Upstate New York film photographer

Photographer | Jessica Slaunwhite
Film lab | Photovision

If you ask me about my happy place, it will involve a mountain, my husband, dog, and some kind of waterfall or stream. Our little family is most content just spending quiet time together and appreciating the outdoors.

We headed west this summer for a very special mountaintop engagement shoot (I will share soon, I promise!), and had such a wonderful time in the Blue Ridge Mountains that we almost didn’t want to come back to the coast! We hiked down a secluded path to the most beautiful waterfall where Frank and I took in all the fresh air while Nigel went for a swim and then sniffed every inch of every plant and rock.

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Boone, North Carolina / Blue Ridge Mountain film photographer

Photographer | Jessica Slaunwhite
Film lab | Photovision

Nigel is our goldendoodle. He is goofy and fluffy and snuggly and sweet. He keeps me company in the office every single day, and you can bet that if you receive an email from me, it was written with Nigel snoozing somewhere close by.

This handsome boy turned two at the beginning of May, and while he still acts very puppyish most days, we wish that he would stop growing up so that we could enjoy his gentle and loving company forever.

On his birthday, we decided to capture some moments of Nigel at the beach. It’s one of the places where he’s most happy because he gets to lick shells, try to play with sea birds, and gather a whole bunch of sand in his floof.

We just love our sweet Nigel.

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Camp Lejeune, North Carolina / North Carolina lifestyle film photographer

Photographer | Jessica Slaunwhite
Film lab | Richard Photo Lab