S is for Sister-in-Law


In September of 2007, I was cruising through Kansas as a part of The Big Trip, en route to Nashville. My über-talented sister-in-law, Ashley, gave me the gift of some pictures to use for promoting my music – we spent hours in a field, and then at a barn, and then in a parking lot with a fabulous red brick wall, taking hundreds and hundreds of images. There were wardrobe changes, there were smiles, there was fabulous hair. The Annie that was captured is hopeful, warm, vibrant.

Just over a year later, I look at those pictures and think, “I feel like a completely different person.”

This past weekend, I talked with Ashley, and told her about what’s been going on in my heart. There has been a cold wind blowing through, and the death of some dreams. At times, it has felt like my life is a stark and barren wasteland. My heart has been broken, my spirit stripped, and I’ve been confronted with my many limitations. It’s been a dark time.

And yet, somehow, hope remains. There is a resilience in my will, and a warmth in my chest.

I told Ashley that right now, I feel simultaneously the happiest and the saddest I have ever felt. Odd, but true. So we decided to try to capture that in some pictures.

Can I brag on my sister-in-law? Ashley Parsons is a true artist. Creative, soulful, truth-telling. She allows people to be exactly who they are, and encourages them to take off the mask. She has this unreal ability of using a camera to capture something more than just a picture – she captures life. She takes the time to get to know her subjects, and has a deep desire to tell their story through photographs.

I don’t know anyone else like her. And when she laughs, I can’t help but feel absolute joy.

She has become one of my best friends, one of my favorite people – and she has set the bar high for those who might someday join the Parsons family. My younger sisters and I cannot marry duds, because Jeremy sure didn’t.

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your gifts. And of all of the beautiful pictures that you took, this one speaks the loudest to me. The happiest and the saddest I have ever been, all at the same time.

For more stunning images from the Parsons Photographers, see their amazing blog. And then hire them for all of your photography needs – you will not be disappointed.



  1. Emily on December 1, 2008 at 11:14 AM

    Annie, Annie, Annie.

    Your pictures are so beautiful they make me want to cry. YOU are so beautiful.

    I wish Ashley could take my picture!

  2. Jodie on December 1, 2008 at 11:40 AM

    Annie Parsons.

    I’ve never known anyone before they were famous before. (Yes, that’s 2 before’s.) It’s nice getting to know you, in an invisible sort of way. :)

    Also, I need to know what shade of red that is on your lips. I have brown hair and blue eyes and finding the perfect red is a conundrum. That shade may well do the trick.

    AND – You’re right – Ashley IS very talented and takes beautiful pictures – but my favorite thing is seeing your personality in the shots. Is that your song playing during the slide show?

  3. Annie Parsons on December 1, 2008 at 11:49 AM

    Jodie! I’m a lip color mixer. :) I think that the pictures from last year featured Mary Kay’s Amber Suede lipstick, covered with an Revlon orangey lip gloss. It made for VERY red lips.

    This weekend, I’m pretty sure that I wore the same MK lipstick, but topped it with Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in COFFEE (I have had TWO friends find me tubes, and mail them my way – probably the very best gift I could ever ask for!).

    Liv Tyler always has great red lips. She’s my beauty icon. :)

  4. Marijke on December 1, 2008 at 12:28 PM

    Your pictures are gorgeous. And like you said – so much art, life.

    Does your sister in law travel? Cause I would hire her in a half a heart beat.

  5. wrecklessgirl on December 1, 2008 at 1:07 PM

    these are all too amazing….i commented on a billion of them on FB. :)

  6. brooke on December 1, 2008 at 7:32 PM

    Your SIL is an amazing photographer. I second the other commenter who asked if she travels. I’ve had it in the back of my mind for weeks that should I ever have the occasion I’d hire her (and your brother) in a heartbeat. Their work is stunning.

    And by the way. You are such a treasure. It bowls me over how you can articulate all of the complicated mix of feelings that stumps me. Because that crazy twisty mix of sadness and happiness and hope? Yeah, I’ve been there but unable to put it into words so perfectly.

  7. THE PARSONS on December 2, 2008 at 1:24 AM

    I married a straight up vixen of awesomeness.


  8. Sarah Kate on December 2, 2008 at 10:01 AM

    I can’t wait for January; when she will take awesome pictures – of me! Oh, and my beautiful husband-to-be. Everytime I see her work I get more and more and more excited.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply