Mason City

Carlee | Illini Central High School senior

Carlee did two concept shoots with me before her own "official" senior session (plus a family session a couple years ago), so she is no stranger to my camera!  She modeled for me in her prom dress, in my "make small town life beautiful" shoot, and my county fair carnival-themed shoot with her friend Lexi.

This girl LOVES her volleyball, and so we knew we'd be starting in the gym with some off-camera flash, because let's face it -- gym lighting is horrible. I played around a bit with adding some yellow lighting to play off the school's gold and black colors (go Cougars!). Did I mention that Illini Central High School is also my alma mater?  I won't tell you how many years ago I graduated, but it will be a nice round number this coming year. 😳 I also added some flames to a couple of the volleyballs for some fun!

We then headed out to some private property of some mutual friends to use their land for some field photos, some photos down by the creek, and some chickens. haha!!  For the tail end of the session, we headed to Carlee's own front porch to snap a couple photos with her sweet (but hyper!) pup Ivy.

I'm sad that I may be done photographing Carlee for a while, but am looking forward to following along as she gets into the swing of her senior year and starts prepping for college! Best of luck, Carlee!!

St. Jude Run | Mason City to Peoria event + sports photography


I got the chance to once again photograph the Mason City to Peoria St. Jude run on July 30, and it was a fantastic day! It was a bit cooler than some runs in the past, and was overcast for most of the morning. The group of 71 runners raised $168,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and a total of $817,000 since the start of the run 7 years ago -- amazing!! The group runs a total of about 55 miles throughout the course of the day, on a few different "teams," divided into experienced runners to shorter distance runners who run the shorter legs and through the towns. The day starts at 5:30am when the team stretches and gets ready to leave from the Illini Central parking lot in Mason City at 5:45. They run through the town, led by a Mason City fire truck, and is cheered on by many spectators as they run through the town to the cemetery at the other end. We always stop to pray and lay flowers at the grave of Jessie Baugher, our team captain who was a St. Jude patient.

The rest of the morning is spent running a zig-zag through rural Mason County to San Jose, where the group stops for a light breakfast, bathroom breaks, and a short rest. Then it's north off to Green Valley where we stop for lunch, and organizers Nancy and Zach Baugher, Jessie's mom and brother, announce the final donation total. Following lunch, we head toward Pekin on a few more dangerous roads, so extra precautions are taken for the safety of the runners. We stop in Pekin at Tractor Supply for another short rest, and the rest of the run from there is mostly through towns with more traffic and we occasionally see other runs heading for Peoria The final rest point is in East Peoria where we regroup and runners change into the official shirts for the year (the teal with bright green/white text) to get ready to cross the bridge over the Illinois River into Peoria and to the civic center.

This year we had a couple of hiccups that were unusual, but everyone pulled together, made the best of it and found a solution to make the run a success. The first problem was the "Sag Wag" (the church van that goes directly behind the runners to carry those who need to catch their breath for a bit), overheated and had to be left on the side of the road. Luckily there was a jeep in the caravan that was easily converted into a smaller sort of "sag wag." Not ideal, but it worked! The second problem was the bridge we came upon that had a weight limit posted that wouldn't have held the two charter buses that are used to transport those who aren't currently running. The run route continued as normal, and the charter buses were rerouted around to meet them on the other side. Problem solved!

Congrats again to all the runners & thank you for your support of St. Jude!! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post to see a slideshow I made (including a few video clips!). :)

running through the four-way in Mason City

police escort on a Mason County country road

thumbs up for St. Jude

running the silent 1-mile leg of the run

runners stop in San Jose for rest and fruit

relaxing at the San Jose firehouse

setting up cones for runner safety

Mason County sheriff police escort

running into Green Valley for lunch break

rally at lunch to hear the final total

cheering on runners during a runner exchange

crossing at a busy intersection

Tractor Supply hosts a runner oasis every year

ready to roll again with Jessie's flag

crossing over the Bob Michel bridge into Peoria

Mason City St. Jude Run from Holly Smith on Vimeo.

St. Jude Runs | Mason City to Peoria 5th Anniversary Run


**MORE IMAGES & PRINT ORDERING AVAILABLE HERE.** 25% of all proceeds will go toward Mason City's 2015 run.In early August I had the privilege of photographing the 5th Anniversary of the Mason City (IL) to Peoria St. Jude Run. This year the team had a remarkable 84 runners and easily surpassed their goal of $144,000 for St. Jude by raising $153,000. The entire team was broken into 5 running groups and together everyone ran the 49.5 mile course into Peoria that day. It was a truly awesome day for an even better cause, and I'm so proud to call Mason City my hometown. I am so happy to share these photos with you! My favorite image of the day is with the gold team (the team that runs the most throughout the day), running down Towerline Road toward Pekin. There is a lead runner in an orange shirt, and you can see traffic on both sides of the road, and the "sag wag" behind the group of runners. I feel like this picture pretty much sums up how the St. Jude runs work. Thanks for looking! Mason City to Peoria St. Jude run team running through Mason City early morning run St. Jude rural Mason County runner change near Green Valley St. Jude Mason City St. Jude Run raised $153,000 Towerline Road into Pekin St. Jude Run behind the scenes St. Jude Runs crossing Bob Michel Bridge into Peoria