Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sherri and Ryan's Little Rock Engagement Session

Hey everybody!

Back to our regular scheduled program... Sherri and Ryan's engagement session took place a couple weeks ago in Little Rock. We have some pretty scenic shots and some cool urban shots - I love having a variety! Here are my faves from the session...

little rock wedding photography
little rock wedding photography

little rock wedding photography

little rock wedding photography

little rock wedding photography

little rock wedding photography

Talk to you soon,

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Heaping Pile of Good News!

Hey everybody!

There is so much I wanna say tonight! The last few days have been a filled great news. I thought I'd start a list...

~~I got to take Ellie to see the President today. We spent a lot of time talking about what his message was, and what it meant for her hometown. (More in this in the earlier post) My favorite shots weren't of him inspiring and encouraging my hometown. My favorites shots were of him laughing with us, and hugging us. That's a president worth loving.

~~My lovely wedding couple from Saturday's wedding posted this at their reception. Meredith and I were totally shocked by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Sullivant and Mattiza families. I'm humbled and honored to work with such amazing people and friends.

~~Remember the post for my grandma? Well, it has spread all over (you can see it in the Kansas City Star here), and has spread some GOOD! Two of our facebook friends held blood drives in their towns in Grandma's honor - CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? I haven't followed up with one of them yet, but I know that one of the drives had more than 150 people give! Speechless.
In other grandma-related news, they found her body (they misplaced her, sadly) and we have the services set. I'm so happy that prayers were answered and my mom and uncle, along with the rest of the family, will be able to have closure.

~~Since I posted Clothes for Chloe, I've received emails from readers all over the US offering help. Some are sending clothes, some giftcards, some checks... all for Tom and Emily and Chloe. I am SO TOUCHED by all of your generosity. TO MELANIE, STEPHANIE, ANDREA, JAMIE, NANCY, and NICKI (sorry if I've left off names, it's late! :) - know that I appreciate you!) I know that the family will need a lot as they piece together their life after losing so much.
I got this from one reader...

(reprinted with permission) "we did manage to run to wal mart and grab a few girlie things as well- hair accessories, some socks,
colored pencils, flavored chap-stick etc. my little one (alexandra age 8) is insistant about giving this little girl her notebook and a giga pet that are hers (she had used about two pages of the notebook but she bought it with her own money as well as the giga pet)~ although not new, it's from the heart and the meaning behind means more than if it was in a package still. lol..."

~~Finally, PRINTS FOR PURPOSE is going well! I've personally received a couple hundred dollars in print orders that I'll be donating to the Joplin Red Cross. Furthermore, other photographers have posted it on their blogs as well (example here, here and here).

I feel so blessed to have loving friends and family, as well as loving and loyal blog readers. Even when life gets stinky... LIFE IS GOOD. LOVE Y'ALL!

Stay Strong,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Obama Delivers Hope to Joplin

Hey everybody,

Eight days after Ellie performed a dance on the stage at Taylor Auditorium in Joplin (so much has changed), President Barack Obama delivered a passionate and poignant message to Joplinites: "Your country will be there every step of the way," Obama said. "The cameras may leave; the spotlight may shift. But we will be with you every step of the way."

My favorite moment was when the President commented on heroes. "Heroes are all around us. They're in orange vests [speaking of the home depot employee who lost his life ushering others to safety], they take our orders, ..." and so on. It made me teary hearing again, as the President recounted them, the heroic stories I've heard all week.
I love this image because it conveys a feeling of hope.
And this image shows the President's passion as he promises the city of Joplin that the government will not forget about them in the weeks and months to come.
Obama visits Joplin

Stay strong,

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Clothes for Chloe, 9-yr-old tornado victim

Hey everybody!

Remember this girl? This is Chloe, the coolest 9-year-old girl on the planet.

Her house was hit by the Joplin tornado. Chloe, her dad, and her mom ran into the bathroom, hopped into the bathtub, and Tom pulled a mattress on top of them as the tornado passed through their house and neighborhood. Here is what their house looks like now.

They lost their all their belongings, including their wedding album (see their wedding here) that we delivered and all their images on CD. Fortunately, I can make them another disc. I will also be having their wedding album re-made for them (they of course will not have to pay anything).

Unfortunately, Chloe's parents aren't able to work because of the tornado (Tom was a full-time sub teacher for Joplin R-VIII, and Emily is a nurse - however, because of the hospital situation in Joplin, they told her it would be weeks, if ever, that they'd be able to use her). It's just awful!

So, I'm reaching out to you! Lots of people all over the US and world read this, and I'd love for you to help! If you want to make a donation to this family, clothes for Chloe, or money or whatever, contact me (dalebenfield@gmail.com) and I'll arrange it.

This is just one of many, many stories from Joplin. Some are quite worse. Tom, Emily, and Chloe (who told me her pets hopped into the tub with them - no joke!) are thankful they have each other after such a devastating storm.

Stay Strong,

Shelly and Caleb's Fort Smith Wedding Portraits

Hey everybody!

It's portrait day for Shelly and Caleb... but mostly Shelly! Isn't that the way these wedding things usually go? The groom is just back burner to the lovely bride. Haha! Here are a couple of my faves from the day and from the bridal session...

Talk to you soon,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Prints For Purpose - Please Help!

Hi friends of Benfield Photography!

As you of course know, Joplin was hit with a devastating tornado Sunday night. Meredith and I are both from Joplin, and have many loved ones who lost some or all of their belongings, and my grandmother was killed in the storm. This note isn't for sympathy (I'm jealous that my grandma gets to kick it with Jesus! She's so happy right now!); I want to encourage you to help Joplin recover. There is so much hope there, and the town has begun to stand back up and kick off the dust, but there is so much destruction that they need our help.

For the next week (ends June 3rd at midnight), I'll be running PRINTS FOR PURPOSE. I'm donating every penny to the Joplin Red Cross. I've already given sacrificially and can't give anymore. But I still want to help! If you've been looking for a way to help, I encourage you to participate in PRINTS FOR PURPOSE by simply placing a print order in your gallery (if it's expired, email me and I'll release it free of charge) and put "PURPOSE" in the promo code box. By entering the promo code, it'll take off the shipping (orders can be picked up the following week) and I'll know to donate your money. Every single penny will go to Joplin Red Cross for disaster recovery. Together, we can make a REAL difference in the lives of these victims.

Also, if you follow my blog but aren't a client, find your photographer and send them my way. I'd love for this to spread where more and more photographers help out. I'm trying to reach out to as many of them as I can, but you can definitely help!

Photographers, feel free to take my design, Prints For Purpose, and put it on your own blog and offer the same thing for your clients. You can set the time restriction for as short or long as you wish, but I ask that you please donate all the profits to the Joplin Red Cross.

Stay Strong,

Shelly and Caleb's Fort Smith Wedding

Hey everybody!

Shelly's family owns Always and Forever bridal salon in Fort Smith, so of course her dress was going to be fabulous. Here is a close up of the gorgeous detail on her Sottero and Midgley gown. Also, her mom got her a porcelain doll replica of her in her dress. Amazing, right?!
sottero and midgley dress porcelain doll of bride in sottero and midgley dress
bridal bouquet bridesmaid bouquet

I love this shot of Shelly and her girls as they head to the sanctuary...
Ah, I am IN LOVE with the Shelly's emotion during the first dance.
They bride and groom both went to TCU...

Come back tomorrow and you'll see some portraits of our faaaabulous couple.

Talk to you soon,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rebuilding Joplin (with a little help from my friends)

Hey everybody!

Meredith and I headed back to our hometown today and delivered another load of groceries and clothes. When we arrived, I became instantly inspired by all the help I saw. Organizations from all around the region were here cleaning, delivering food and water, rebuilding structures, etc.

I'm so proud to be from Joplin; it was such a great place to grow up, and it shaped who I am today. The community has come together in an inspiring way, and it warms my heart and chokes me up at the same time.

Instead of all the dark and depressing images you've seen everywhere, I thought I'd share life and hope that is spreading throughout the city.

This first shot doesn't look all "full of hope" and what-not, but when I tell you that it was Ellie's grandma's house that she was in the process of moving out of, and therefore saved (sure, all her clothes and groceries were lost - but those were replaceable), and when you notice the "OK" spray-painted on the wall, there is such a sense of thankfulness that swells up inside...
(by the way, this is an HDR shot of Ellie's grandma's house)
Ellie's Nana's house

I spoke with the owner of this house, who was as upbeat as could be that his life was spared. He even cracked a joke as we left his house. What drew me to this house was the sign, of course.
Joplin Tornado Destruction Panoramic

A group from Team Rubicon cleans up debris near the heart of the disaster...
Joplin Tornado Destruction help - team rubicon

A Joplin Group, Access Family Care, spread hope by passing out cleaning supplies and water, door-to-door...
Joplin Tornado Destruction help

It was apparent that God was everywhere...
Joplin Tornado Destruction help

Touching moment of a group praying in the midst of the tornado aftermath...
Joplin Tornado Destruction help

Even though there is much hope, there is still so much devastation. Here is the iconic hospital that was destroyed in the tornado...
Joplin Tornado Destruction help

And here is a huge panoramic I created - click on it for a full view - very large...
Joplin Tornado Destruction help

But despite the destruction, the people of Joplin are very thankful that the community has come together to rebuild, and thankful for the help of the surrounding communities.

Joplin Tornado Destruction help

Talk to you soon,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Favorite Arkansas Engagement Portrait...

Hey everybody!

Recently Meredith and I were in Little Rock photographing Susannah and Tommy's engagement shoot. Tommy suggested we shoot at this nearby park, and when we arrived I saw that I didn't wanna shoot at the park. Across the street from the park, I saw the most gorgeous light - the stuff out of movies - and knew that I wanted to back up far far away with a mega zoom lens and compress the gorgeous background and golden backlight. The result is one of my favorite all-time engagement images. Check it out...

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joplin Disaster Relief: How can YOU help?

Hey everybody!

The most-asked question I've been getting is: "How can I help?
I've provided a few different options for those who are willing to give:
Cross Church has a disaster relief page and are making daily trips to Joplin (drop-offs at all three locations). You can donate certain items (go to the page to see what's most important), or you can help volunteer in the cleanup. Ellie and I dropped off a load last night and today went and filled up our car again. We're heading to Joplin tomorrow to help and see our families there.
*** in a related story, my mom and I talked today and members of "my" church, Cross Church, was cleaning tree trunks and branches and what-not out of their yard. "It's so amazing and such a blessing," she said. I'm so proud of my church!

Fellowship Bible Church in Springdale is doing the same. If it's more convenient for you to help through FBC, see their disaster relief page.

Also, Tide Loads of Hope and Duracell Truck will be open to the public beginning Thurs. at the Walmart on 7th St in Joplin MO. The Duracell truck has power stations that enable people to charge devices and use PC's to communicate to their families they are safe (7am-7pm). Tide Loads of Hope is a mobile laundromat that washes 300 loads a day! Please share this with anyone that may need this.

Also, give blood if you're able. My grandma died because she lost too much blood and the hospital had no more for her. Contact your local Red Cross if you want to contribute.

***Updated to add:
End Update***

Most importantly of all, you can pray. It takes no money, no physical requirements, and has a ton of impact.

Tomorrow we'll be back to regular blog posts, but if you have any other questions or comments feel free to send me a message through email or in the comments below.

Hugs all around,

P.S. Here are some images that my college photojournalism teacher, Mike Gullett, took and have run all over the world:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rest in Peace, Grandma

Hey everybody,

When I was little, I thought my Grandma (Billie Gideon) was the one who put the bibles in all the hotel rooms all over the world. That might sound silly, but not if you knew my grandma. She worked for a church and was always a good Christian.

Last night, my grandma died after injuries she received from the tornado destruction in Joplin.

Grandma was always so sweet and caring. I have a few memories that really stick out that show her generosity. One of the most vivid memories was when our family was hurting financially and she came over and wrote my mom a check for $250. That amount might sound small to you, but I know that it was a fortune to my grandma, who lived without having a lot for most of her life.

When I was in 2nd grade, we had to move out of our house and into my grandma's house. I remember my grandma telling me that she received a letter from my school that I was to be tested to be in the gifted program, and how it made her light up.

One of the proudest moments in my life was seeing my grandma's face when she heard I was featured in Popular Photography magazine.

My brother and I often reminisce about the time we lived at Grandma's house because we would always get paid (a mere) 25 cents to rub our grandma's feet. Silly, I know. But maybe that's where I learned some fundamental business ideas: charge for your time, and do your best when performing a service for others. We'd always take our hard-earned money to the candy shop a few blocks away from my grandma's house and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

From what I know of grandmas in general, they're mostly known for their yummy cooking. Such is the case here... pork chops and sweet tea have a special place in my heart, and the cheesebread she made at Thankgsgiving was already legendary.

Grandma's life, from my perspective, was a difficult life. God doesn't guarantee that following Him will ever be easy, though. And grandma dealt with trials and tribulations with grace. She led her life by serving others, and I know that Jesus loves her for that. Grandma's health had been getting worse and worse over the past couple years, and her memory had been fading. I take great comfort in knowing that the Lord was ready to heal her.

Maybe she'll rub his feet. :)

Grandma with Ellie in 2005...

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Please pray for Joplin!!

We have Ellie. She is safe. Thank you for your prayers and messages.
Hi readers,

My hometown of Joplin has been hit hard by a tornado. I am in Joplin with Mere and her parents. I've checked with my brother and his family is okay. I haven't heard from Ellie yet, but I'm confident that she is okay. She was in Webb City (thank Jesus!) at a graduation party and, I'm praying, out of the path of the tornado. I'll keep you up to date if signal is available.

According to the radio, Joplin High School has been destroyed, and the hospitals were both damaged. Joplin needs your prayers.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ellie's Dance Recital (Rehearsal)

Hey everybody!

She didn't fall! :) Tonight at 6:30pm at Taylor Auditorium, Ellie is performing her latest dance routine. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it (they don't ask me if I have a wedding when they schedule these things), so I made sure to attend her dress rehearsal Wednesday night.

Ellie did really great. I noticed she kept looking over at the other girls to make sure she was on rhythm (or maybe to make sure they were... but I doubt that) - I remember uncertainty as a child... do you? I don't know what it is that happens to make a person just step up and own it, but I was a ball of nerves until high school. I pray Ellie finds her comfort much sooner. Anyway, I digress... check out her latest performance. I, as any pro photog dad would surely do, shot both still and video. Haha!

Isn't she beautiful???!!

And here we go with the video... (she's on the far right at the beginning...)

Talk to you soon,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Marissa's Dream Team of Vendors

Hey everybody!

Marissa (and I) got to work with some really great vendors to make her wedding and reception a masterpiece. Yes, as in a work of art kind of masterpiece. Two of my very favorite vendors were there:
NILO Productions (I wish I could work every wedding with him!)
Finishing Touch Event Design (she was so involved throughout the entire process, and deserves so much credit for the success of the day).
Below is the a big ol' list of vendors, but I wanted to include a few images of the us during the wedding day. :)

Talk to you soon,

Paper lovelies: Sincerely Yours Paper, Springdale, Arkansas
Photographers: Benfield Photography, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Videographers: NILO Productions, Fort Smith, Arkansas
Rentals: Eventures, Little Rock, Arkansas
Tents & Chameleon Chairs: Classic Party Rentals, Memphis, Tennessee
Band: Jeremy Shrader & the New Memphis Hepcats, Memphis, Tennessee
Flowers: Marlsgate Staff
Wedding Cake: Marlsgate Staff
Groom's Cake: Patticakes, Conway, Arkansas
Catering: Marlsgate Staff
Service Staff: William Shackleford
Piano Rentals: Piano Kraft, Little Rock, Arkansas
Professional Dancers: Arthur Murray Dance Studio, North Little Rock, Arkansas
Photo booth: Central Arkansas Entertainment, Benton, Arkansas

Alaska Proposal; The Time I Almost Blew It.

Hey everybody! Did you ever know something 100% in your heart, but you almost screw it up?  So goes the story of my proposal to Tyler. ...