Photography by April Pizana bio picture
  • Latest & Greatest

    If you've noticed my site has been a little slow this past year, pat yourself on the back for being a good observer!

    In the past year, I have photo'd 2 books:

    Junk Gypsy book that made the NY Times Best Seller List..shameless brag)

    and a cookbook with Carolyn Westbrook (her 5th book) which will be out this Fall but is available for pre-order on Amazon.

    a product line with the great folks at Marcus Luttrell's Team Never Quit ,

    and even had photos featured in some of my fav mags like Country Living and on and on

    And I STILL made time for family & senior sessions that i didn't get a chance to blog about ..booooo. Who has time to sit at the computer!

    Oh yeah and then there's my home gig...spending time and traveling with my boys (the 12 year old one and the husband one). Had a blast in Vegas 2x in the last 6 months!

    I've begun taking on regular sessions now so email me at 97,112,114,105,108,112,105,122,97,110,97,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109moc.liamg@anaziplirpa if you're in need of beautiful photos and a day of memory making this Fall after I return from Italy! Ciao Bella!

it was the best of times…it was the worst of times… or so they say.

but as the also say, the worst tends to bring out the best in people

and that’s not a cliche today.

this will probably be the longest post i’ve ever done.

but i have a feeling you won’t mind because of the subject matter.

It’s August 25

and no one was mentally-prepared for the

havoc Texas’ Gulf Coast was about to experience.

it’s been covered plenty, you get it.

massive destruction.

down to the studs and foundation kind of destruction.

neighborhoods sprinkled throughout the city with entire contents

of their lives spread out on the front lawn like some distorted garage sale —

and that itself a luxury considering how many homes

were completely destroyed and sentenced to death by mold.

harvey was relentless,

sitting on top of the city for what seemed

like an eternity of rain dumped on more rain dumped on more rain.

it was almost impossible to believe.

this is where mr. bill fly’s story begins

and his life is changed forever.

where many lives are changed forever.

Here’s how the story begins (basically).

Mr. Fly is a 99 year old veteran of World War 2.

His home flooded in Hurricane Harvey.

Mr. Fly’s neighbor, Jeff Wood, reached out to a group of

Rosehill Christian students and their moms, Karen & Missy

who asked if Marcus Luttrell would go speak to Mr. Fly.

Marcus, an amazingly dedicated veteran who

is known to the world as the the face of veterans.

He and his amazingly generous, awesome,

beautiful, intelligent, gracious, humble, jesus-serving

(i could go on but i’ll stop for the sake of a long post)

wife, Melanie, obliged and

the winds of change began to take form.

Winds stronger than any cat 4 category you could dream up.

Marcus and Melanie right there and then, adopted Mr. Fly

and put their work gloves on both figuratively and literally.

Melanie enlisted the help of so many,

beginning with Cotton Foundation.

Superstars of industry.

This is days after the streets cleared.

You can see the looks of concern on everyone’s faces.

But they didn’t just stand around “looking concerned”.

they took action.

countless people organized and reigned in by melanie,

DID SOMETHING.

They just showed up.

and as God saw fit, I was there one day when “they” showed up.

actually, the minute they showed up.

As it happened,

I saw Melanie’s post about “the 99-year old, world war 2 veteran”

on her instagram

and brought chicken pot pie to feed her people helping to demo mr. fly’s house.

I’ll never forget standing in the street, when a caravan of police vehicles and trucks

approached and a man said, “is this the vet’s house?”

something about that made the hairs on my arm stand up.

A group of police/swat drove from Evansville, Indiana  to help demo mr. fly’s house.

they came asking nothing but to offer their hands and hearts.

in case you’re wondering, Evansville is roughly 1000 miles and in post-hurricane conditions

where much part of the city was still under water, in complete disarray,

without electricity, food shortages, etc..

these men did this for a man they had never met nor

had any ties to or would benefit in any other way.

they were just your random, kind-hearted bad asses.

this is the way things are supposed to be.

and so the work began

After this, the work just happened and happened and kept happening again.

and it had to happen because the project had a very ambitious end date.

Mr. Fly’s 100th birthday November 13th.

As Marcus so eloquently put it,

“He fought for our independence, so now we will fight for his”.

The details that Melanie handled were astronomical.

To think that the entire project happened over

the span of barely 2 months is mind boggling.

$90,000 was raised from a  Go Fundme account set up for Mr. Fly.

and contributions of everything from lumber to towels to trees were given.

The plight may have belonged to this one man,

but the resolution belonged to the community.

and this is the way it’s supposed to be.

The Luttrell’s and their friends at Cotton

were on a mission — better yet– OPERATION 100 as it came to be called.

Not only did they fulfill their vow.

But they did it days ahead of time before Mr. Fly’s actual birthday…

which happens to be 2 days after Veteran’s Day.

coincidence? i think not.

A cool, crisp perfect Fall day with flags lining the street similarly to the last time

I visited Mr. Fly’s house on Labor Day.

A scene rich with sweet irony and perfect timing.

the big moment arrived.

and the star of the show arrived fresh from his 2 month stay

at the incredible Juneau Ranch,

graciously offered by the Juneau family.

and the people arrived.

Fox News reporter, Janice Dean, ready to report to the world

that goodness is alive in well in Houston!

and in these few photos…Marcus greeting

CEO/Pete Bell & COO/ Randall Thompson of Cotton Holdings tells it all.

It tells the story of devotion and gratitude for the common good of the fellow man.

a pat on the back for a job well done

and then the big moment came

so fun to have a front row seat and watch marcus & melanie

deliver on their word.

i can only imagine how mr. fly’s heart was pounding at this moment.

though, he handled it, cool as a cucumber.

 

the first smile as he saw his living room.

how happy he was to see his pool table restored to it’s greatness.

can we talk about the furniture for a minute?

GORGEOUS! SOLID. WARM. PERFECT.

AND FREE TO MR. FLY.

Houston’s favorite furniture genius, Mattress Mack, Jim Mcingvale, of Gallery Furniture

donated the entire contents of furniture.

i proclaim him saint of all furniture and

I WILL buy my next sofa from there!

everything new and yet somehow familiar too.

melanie worked to place furniture in their original location

to help ease Mr. Fly into his old, “new” digs.

onto the kitchen. bright and beautiful

RWS Cabinets cranked out custom cabinets

paired with the gorgeous counters donated by Simmons Granite

and how can we not talk about this jaw dropping beautiful cake from Cotton Culinary?

Mr. Fly took one look and said he was HAVING that cake!

I took a little piece home for my son and i really regretted sharing. It was MESMERIZING.

beautiful breakfast nook

everything done so tastefully, so perfectly, he had to touch it to make sure it was real

a little present from my heart to the Fly Family…

back during the demo, i made a trip to photo the exterior one day.

I came across a wooden spoon lying in the middle of the sidewalk and it broke my heart.

as a mom, a wife, a cook, i imagined how many times, mrs. fly must’ve used this spoon

to make family dinners, thanksgivings, stirred sauce, rice crispy treats…

i was glad no one was there to see my tears.

mr. fly lost his wife of 70 years– no that’s not a typo–  just a

few months before the flood.

all these changes and a loss this great…it’s hard to fathom.

so i took the spoon and instantly knew i wanted to do something with it.

melanie was so gracious to hang this in the kitchen and i will forever be honored.

No detail was left forgotten.

Even the fridge and pantry were stocked for Mr. Fly to settle right in. A dream.

Mr. Fly continued on his tour of his new, unbelievable house.

front room/formal with poker table for “guys nights” and dining table for family dinners.

It was evident that the personal touches like this meant so much to mr. fly and all his family.

Here, his great-grandson,  Army Corporal William Amundson Jr., 

3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia,

died in Afghanistan during his 3rd tour.

Such a heartfelt tribute including a stone rubbing of his name from the

Fallen Warriors Memorial on Cutten/Cypresswood in Champions Forest.

Easy to see what serving our county means to families like these who make such sacrifice.

serene secondary bedrooms for

family to come keep mr. fly company for a visit.

Guest bath with a spa feel

This dapper office for Mr. Fly.

Mr. Fly’s oasis.

master bathroom with easy access to get around

So now that we’ve concluded the tour of Mr. Fly’s new pad, let’s move on to

the events of the day. 

So many cameras to document this unbelievable experience.

Not including mine…at least 5 videographers.

why the fuss?

because this kind of heart and community are just not seen

anymore. good news doesn’t always make the news. but today things are

the way it’s supposed to be.

Janice Dean of Fox News Channel, such sunshine!

Not only is she bright and beautiful on screen (and undisputed best hair),

but she’s really the same in person.

Definitely made some new fans her in Houston.

PLEASE see the wonderful piece she and her producer Kelly May did

by clicking here 

Jason Miles/KHOU did a wonderful job on the unveiling.

You can see the piece here

The team from Cotton, again, can’t say enough about them.

Professionals and still all heart!

Melanie mentioned she’d really like to give Shain from Cotton

a BIG shout out. I can’t actually quote her here b/c i know a couple kids

that will read this post…but let’s just say she says he is FREAKING amazing

working 7 days a week/16 hour days….this project would NOT have been

possible without you!

It is not often you see that level of dedication.

I mean, I walked in the door with my spoon present for mr. fly and

Shain just took it from me and hung it.

no questions, just get-er-done!

You are one good man, Shain! I pray you will be returned

100 times your goodness and commitment!

 

Texas Roadhouse!

I know  you know they’re yummy eats but did you know they are an amazing

contributor to our veterans?

A check to the Luttrell’s organization to serve and care for vets for $50,000!

Next, what is a party without gifts?

What do you give a guy who’s lived 100 years?

How about a congressional shout out at the nation’s capitol?

Christian Collins, campaign manager for Kevin Brady presented Mr. Fly

with the proceedings of congress where his story and the story of the volunteers were told,

as well as, a flag flown over our nation’s capitol in his honor.

Everyone was overjoyed with this amazing gift, especially Mr. Fly

And the word amazing is not lost here. because truly, all of the gracious gifts

brought to Mr. Fly were magnanimous.

Not only in monetary value, but in the spirit of a community coming to his aid in love.

The National Memorial Ladies gifted Mr. Fly with a

year of groceries, bought and delivered to him weekly.

Mr. Fly, I would shed a couple tears if someone did this for me too.

I understand.

I jest, but truly, what a gift in the spirit of caring for someone… very moving.

A very worthy organization!

Another gift…this time from Houston’s son, JJ WATT.

he sent mr. fly a lovely, personal video wishing him a happy birthday!

remember our demo/police friends from Evansville, Indiana?

Well, they did it again. They came 1000 miles again. (really 2000 coming and going)

ok so here’s something I want to point out.

The way these men all surrounded Mr. Fly, kneeling to present this wonderful

moments of friendship and respect alongside Marcus.

It was brotherhood that transcends time, age, and distance.

I would almost describe it as holy.

The respect and love for our cherished veterans and elders…

just leaves a lump in your throat.

And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

and then there was this.

a moment.

see the look of gratitude on mr. fly’s face?

this is what pure gratitude looks like.

this is his neighbor Jeff Wood.

He is the person who began the ball rolling in this entire ordeal.

Jeff told 2 moms, Karen Kelso & Missy McGee, or as

Melanie refers to them, “superstar volunteers”, about Mr. Fly.

They reached out to Melanie and so began this labor of love.

here are the young rockstars who involved their moms, Missy & Karen.

I know your parents are so proud!

and one big surprise Mr. Fly never imagined.

as if  the whole house renovation wasn’t enough…

 mr. fly received a new Cadillac!

you can see the joy on everyone’s faces!

the joy on both their faces is too much!

time for cake!

singing happy birthday to a person who’s made it to 100

and lived all the life he’s lived.

Someone who’s survived war, destruction,

first walk on the moon, rock and roll, and on  and on….

A surreal and beautiful moment to blow out your 100th birthday cake with your great-great granddaughters.

i told the girls they should each keep a candle and remember that moment.

i hope and pray all your birthday wishes came true mr. fly!

this lady.

if you see Melanie, give a good pat on the back.

and maybe her favorite …. breakfast tacos.

what you and marcus pulled off is not describable.

it’s of another world.

a world of “supposed to be’s” that really only exists in dreams

and mr. fly’s memory and the memories of his great generation.

he is a treasure and it does all of our hearts good for all that have taken notice

and looked for a way to contribute.

From the big heavy hitters to the individual people who worked without being asked

and went above and beyond, doing jobs that they really didn’t even have to do

and helping with the final touches like

 Leslie Luttrell (Melanie’s sister in law),

Jozey Begeley with Team Never Quit,

Erica with Hello Lovely Make-Up,

I know I speak for the Luttrells when I say how amazing all of you are.

Please let this inspire many and begin a more prolific movement of

Giving our vets the dignity and love they’ve earned and so deserve.

Because it’s the way it’s supposed to be.

 

Many thanks to all the angels that made contributions:

Cotton Foundation

Steely Lumber

Texas Roadhouse

The McNair Family

The Cushing Family

Juneau Family

Gallery Furniture

Peace of Mind Foundation/Elizabeth McIngvale

Legacy Collective

RWS Cabinets

Simmons Granite

Amundson Plumbing

Chive Charities

Scott Bean’s Landscaping

Hello Lovely Hair/Make Up

Junk Gypsy

C&S Air

Bramble & Bee

Please let me know if I forgot anyone— promise it’s

not intentional– just so many wonderful people, it’s hard to keep track and build a house in 2 months.

whatever satisfies the soul is truth – walt whitman.

simple and spot-on.

in a world where following is life,

where the minutia of our lives are “liked” by our friends, by strangers…

in that world, world it is not easy to become.

and by ‘become’ i mean to evolve to who you are meant to

organically be.

so why the deep ponderings?

this is what i love about summer.

i was never much of a summer person till i had a kid.

now it is such  welcome relief.

life slows down.

no homework & activities and obligations.

amazing trips to Europe….

a time when you can dream freely, sleep till noon, &

eat popcorn for lunch, & wear your pj’s 2 days in a row (don’t judge-teehee).

Also a time to have fun with my passion and my job.

case in point…i’ve wanted to photo a stunning girl

at this location for gosh 6 years i think.

utterly satisfying with beautiful landscape to soak up

and also bc of this truly free spirit in front of me.

i got a little creative in my editing this time.

the vibe just called for it.

i could photo her every.single.day. and celebrate.

her talent is limitless.

i learned this when she was in the 4th grade

when i photo’d her twice  here and here.

9 years old and she showed

me what it is to be born with the special gift

of connecting with the camera in a super unique way.

i just can’t explain. how do you explain magic?

it’s no wonder she was recently crowned Miss Kemah Teen.

back to walt.

i feel like this quote applies to how i feel about photography.

i am incredibly lucky to photo someone who just “gets me” and what I’m after in a shot.

we don’t even have conversations about this.

she just KNOWS.

this is satisfaction.

this is truth.

love that we can get creative and do something with a

dead branch as opposed to a perfect bunch of flowers.

it’s just so much more interesting to me. edgy. different. yes.

change of scenery.

still rocking it.

and those painted jeans.

how about those jeans!?

smolder

what a fun girl!

not going to lie.

she was stopping traffic and breaking’ some necks.

shining brighter than the sun.

add some jeans and it’s vintage guess.

and the best cheerleading mom ever.

nothing is out of the question.

24/7 support and solid foundation.

as if beauty & brains & talent aren’t enough…

then there’s the heart.

Bryn’s recently begun a very special charity raising money

to benefit children in need of cleft pallate surgery.

i’m completely thrilled to photo a little sneak peek.

you should DEFINITELY check it out!

www.brynsstyleforsmiles.com

keep smiling and satisfying your own truth Bryn!

Wishing you the absolute best at WHATEVER you want to do, sweet girl!

itty bitty toes.

don’t you just want to nibble them a little?

oh my goodness.

just a little fun day at the park with this cutie pie from my

recent 260 saturday mini for ages 1-5.

why 260 you ask?

b/c that’s how many saturdays you get before they enter the world

of kindergarten and life takes off.

in the mean time, it’s the perfect moment to pause

and appreciate their sweetness.

with giggles and sparkly eyes

somewhere between toddlerhood and kidhood.

goofy jokes

discovering independence

and loving life

ok so discovering all kinds of feelings 🙂

and monkeying around

when character begins to shine thru….

and big brother approves

bare feet in the sand and smiles.

these are the simple days.

the easy days.

cherish them always <3

 

 

 

 

 

“Whomever receives one such child in my name receives me” Mathew 18:5

I feel like this verse should printed on the header of every adoption paper ever made.

Not only does it stir the soul but it hones in on what humans are called to do:

be the face of unconditional love.

have the heart of Jesus.

This story begins with a family of 4.

The perfect family in every way.

Active, lovely, sweet, charming, and most of all kind.

I should know…i’ve gotten to see them every few years….

here and here for example.

when you go through life and you’ve worked hard together.

made plans together.

build your dreams together.

when your cup is filled and runs over with a daughter and son.

a handsome, curious, and playful son (who by the way looks like a young brad pitt to me)


beautiful, smart daughter who is confident and observant.

so fun to see how these 2 have evolved over the years.

truly the epitome of being blessed.

even with their cup filled, this family has found room for another to love.

a darling, sweet, and utterly adorable little guy “Jo-Jo”…

(his face is blurred bc they are in the midst of fostering sweet baby boy.)

but he is scrumptious i can say.

although i positioned everyone where i wanted them for logistical & aesthetic purposes,

the looks of love are solely theirs.

this is something i can’t stage or photoshop.

to teach your children unconditional love…

what on earth could be bigger than that?

especially in times like these with so much that is wrong in the world.

what you’re doing is so big. so courageous.

not only in the act of teaching your children what unconditional love looks like

but also in giving hope to a tiny person who would have none otherwise.

I’m wishing & praying for the best for your family

Clint & Amy!

when you think about it…

it’s really one of the most important things there are– this thing called ‘bravery’.

i put it up there with hope, faith, and love.

really, how can you attain any of those if you aren’t brave?

you must be WILLING to be BRAVE to hope for good.

BRAVE  to sustain Faith and turn away from doubt.

and boy do you have to be BRAVE to set out on

the journey of love – be it loving your passion, a person, whatever……

yeah so i’m a philosopher now.

namaste.

but it’s that time of year.

when seniors are preparing to take flight.

and we’re all so hopeful for the future and hopefully taking it all in.

i took a few minutes to take in the “before I die” wall while i waited for my shoot.

the myriad of colorful chalks, different fonts, and messages of anonymous hope…

what can i say?

hope inspires me.

it takes courage to hope for something better. something amazing.

that and “eat tacos without being judged” is fantastic.

loved this b/c it set the tone for my shoot with one great girl.

meet Meghan Anderson.

remember this name.

obviously, the girl is easy on the eyes and then some

but to hear her sing!

goodness gracious.

check her site out, videos on youtube, music on iTunes…

this is a brave girl.

brave not only to get up in front of a crowd and sing

(which she does at many venues around houston including

the Houston Rodeo this month)

but also because she dares to dream.

and DREAM big she does.

back to our shoot.

such a fun time coming up with different looks…we did it all.

i even made up the names of the looks:

warhol/contemporary

neutral/sophisticated

eclectica/boho

glam/americana

poetica/girl next door

fun college girl

and finally

the grad.

yes i am a philosopher AND i have a very big imagination.

you get the whole package basically.

neutral/sophisticated

hard to believe this is a senior girl.

DREAMY then there’s the eclectic/boho look which

she rocked in her super cute shoes.
and then there’s THIS.

so just a week or so before our shoot was set to begin,

Meghan’s mom asked me if we could photo Meghan at a piano

b/c of her love for music.

so i find a cool little place to do a couple shots

and what do i hear behind me? someone playing the piano.

the owners were only too kind to let her sit for a few pics.

how this happened, boggles my mind.

i did not dare to even dream we’d find a random piano for our shoot.

but there it was.

next up

american glam girl.

somewhere between marilyn and the the uso

was our next look.

i’ve struggled with trying to decide what looks better….

b&w or color. she is so photogenic.

 i called this poetic/girl  next door.

effortless for this natural girl.

a focusing glitch…but i loveeeeeee it.

profound b/c of the blur.

it all goes by in just a blur doesn’t it?

this cuteness.

not only a girl who’s got the best smile since Julia Roberts

but humble and the polar opposite of pretentious too.

all american college girl.

you’re gonna make it after all (in my fav mary tyler moore voice)

and last but not least…

“the grad”

i have BIG hopes for you Meghan!

1 afternoon and i’m sold that you are the next big thing.

your sweetness, your humor, your talent…all going to take you far!

wishing you the very best on your journey!

 

C O N T A C T