Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne...

Well it’s that time of year again – the end. But this time we’re not only saying goodbye to another year. We’re saying goodbye to another decade. Ten years ago, my only worries were Y2K and hoping the world would stand long enough into 2000 that I could marry Kellie. And then I look back at ten years before that. I was eleven years old… eleven. That puts me in what, the fifth grade? The only worries I had… wow, I don’t even know that you could call them worries now.

And I look back at the many changes this decade has brought about in my life. I moved to Jackson County in late 1999, and married in February 2000. I became a daddy – not once, but twice! Mackenzie was born in 2002 and Makayla in 2005. I’ve been an employee at Unum since 2001, so I’m working on a decade of employment here. I bought my first new car in 2000… and I’ve still got it. I bought a house! And started more renovations than I’ve finished. I’ve written books, recorded CD’s, and other this-and-that’s, leaving my mark on the world for my children and grandchildren to remember me by when I’m gone.

The blessings at the end of this decade? I’m still a husband and more in love with my wife of almost ten years than I even have been. I’m still a daddy to two beautiful little girls. I’m still the son of two relatively healthy parents. And the most important… I’m still a Child of God.

And then there’s the trials of the past decade. Wow. Sometimes I never thought I’d make it. Life hasn’t been a walk through on the flowers beds of ease like it seemed it would be when I was “preparing” for it ten years ago (I draw attention to the word preparing because I realize now that nothing could have “prepared” me for it). And amidst those trials I look back at all of the friends and loved ones to whom I’ve said good-bye. Countless friends from the churches we fellowship, several aunts, uncles, cousins…Kellie’s step-grandfather, Red Cardin, who we loved so much left us in 2002. Granddaddy Bird passed away in 2003. Kellie’s great-grandmother, Mama Guffey (Mae Guffey), slipped from our sights in 2006. And then there was Alvie. I can’t even go into that loss without recalling the absolute worst moments of my entire life. I think about all the others all along; but I miss Alvie every single day. He was my father-in-law, my best friend, my mentor, my hero, my song-leader at church, my Mr. Fix-it, my piano player, my favorite singer, and so many more things, all wrapped up into one handsome, smiling, loveable package.

It is these changes – the changes brought about by the loss of a loved one – that I have discovered are the most profound in our lives. It doesn’t change this or that… it changes every single aspect of our lives. We are no longer the same person ourselves, after those whom we love so dearly are gone from our sights. And such losses have become my absolute greatest fear. Over the past decade, I would estimate conservatively that I’ve known upwards of 500 people who have passed away. That may sound extreme to you; but I’ve actually kept a list for 2008 and 2009 and there are more than 100 people combined on those two years alone.
So, that makes me dread next year and this coming decade. Some changes that seem unbearable are already on the horizon. And should I still be around ten years from now, I realize that I’ll probably be having similar thoughts of the changes over the passing decade. And I wonder who all’s memory I will be recalling.

"Should old acquaintances be forgot? And never brought to mind? Should old acquaintances be forgot and auld lang syne." Auld lang syne is Scotttish that roughly translates into “days gone by”. It was first written in the 1700’s by an unknown author; but I imagine that he, like me, was probably a sentimentalist who sat to write and could think of nothing more than days gone by and those acquaintances who filled those days.
I don't mean to sound absolutely totally depressed - because I can look back over a lot of days in the past decade that were filled with such happiness and undescribable joy. And I am so very thankful for my wife, my kids, and all of the blessings the Lord has bestowed on me. It's just those old acquaintances and days gone by... blessings that can only be recalled in memory. That's just the whole theme of this post, I guess.
Happy New Year, folks...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

CD's are DONE!!!

Well after months of hard work, our CD, "The Alvie McKenzie Family - Not Another Tear: In Memory of Daddy" is finally finished! I'll be picking them up in Nashville this week. The album features fifteen songs written by Kellie's daddy, Alvie McKenzie. The line-up includes: I'll Live Again, King's Highway, Be Ye Ready, Not Another Tear, I'd Rather Be Here, That Wonderful Day, Holy Power, Heaven's Beauty, Today is the Day, Comforter, The Roadmap, He Will Stand By Your Side, How Can You Measure Love?, Let the Praises Ring, and Go Get My Children.

So many of you have asked us to let you know when the CD is finally available for purchase; and we cannot express to you how much we appreciate your support! Since we don't sing in a group and won't selling the CD's at singings, some of our friends have offered to help us in distribution. Friends and family will be selling them in Huntsville and Big Cove; and of course we'll have them available for you to drop by and pick them up at our house any time. And if you'd prefer, we can mail one to you for only $3.00 shipping/handling. The cost of the CD is $15; and if you want to order by mail, please just shoot me an email and then mail us a check for $18.00, payable to Shannon Byrd.

Thank-you again to everyone who has supported us in this endeavor. We didn't record the project because we thought we were good singers; but instead, we just wanted to do this as a tribute to Alvie's work, and to preserve these songs for our children, grandchildren, etc.

Hope to hear from you soon!!!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jacob turns TWO!

Two years ago, I got to meet this little fellow when he was just a week or two old. That SEEMS like maybe a year ago; but now he's TWO! He's such a cutie pie too! Jacob did great on his photo shoot today in historic South Pittsburg, TN! Here's one of my favorites that I've looked at so far!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This Day in History...

Ninety-Eight years ago today, on November 11, 1911, my great-grandfather, Wiley Virgil Bird, married my great-grandmother, Willie Ann Josephine Hunter, in a civil service in Huntsville, Alabama. Wiley was seventeen year old native of Walker County, Georgia, and had been orphaned since his father's murder in Huntsville in 1902, afterwhich time he was left in the care of his grandparents, who died in 1906 and 1907. Josie was a sixteen year old native of Grundy County, Tennessee, who had moved to Big Cove with her parents in the early 1900's.

Just thought I'd share that while I was thinking of it!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mackenzie!

Man... seven years old! I can't believe my baby is going to be seven years old tomorrow! Where has the time gone? I don't know why; but it seems like seven is bothering me more than any age she's reached so far. I remember very well how much Kellie cried when Mackenzie turned one! Now, that's been six years ago!
I'm SO proud of Mackenzie! Not only is she absolutley beautiful; but she's as good of a child as God ever placed on the face of the earth. She's loud and very outgoing at times; but she has the heart of an angel. She's such a caring and loving person. She's slow to by angry and quick to forgive. She's just everything that I ever hoped she would be; and while it's SO sad to see her grow up - I couldn't hold my head any higher, as I'm so VERY, VERY proud of her.
I remember one night a few years ago, I went in to her bedroom to tuck her in the bed. When I reached down to hug and kiss her, she wrapped her little arms tightly around my neck and said, "Daddy, I want to hold you forever!" I just about lost it... kind of like I'm doing right now as I type this. I could just see the next twenty years of her life flash before my eyes; and I all I could think was, "Baby, I wish you COULD!"
She says that she's never going to get married and will always just live at home with me and her momma... one can only hope! :) I love you, Pert!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

How's the Recording Coming?

We've been asked this a lot lately. As most of you know, our close friend and project producer, Dustin Kelly, along with his family, was involved in a serious car accident several weeks ago. Their daughter, Kensley, was seriously injured and is actually still in the hospital; however, she is making GREAT improvements daily (see So, our focus obviously completely shifted away from the project and towards taking care of Dustin and his family however we could. All that being said, we are rolling forward with the project again; and are crossing our fingers in hopes that copies are going to be available around the first or second week of December - just in time for Christmas! :) Closer to time, I'll probably set-up information for those who wish to order copies of the CD online or through the mail. If you have any questions or comments about the CD or just want to say "howdy", shoot me an email at Talk to you soon!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christmas Mini-Sessions

Okay, several of you have asked me about Christmas Mini-Sessions this year. If I can get enough interest, I will schedule a day for Mini-Sessions, offering a great deal on packages, prints, and Christmas Cards. This year, though, I want to do something a LITTLE different! I'm going to do more of an urban Christmas. Now don't confuse "urban" with "gothic". It WILL be outdoor sessions - no real props, except your kid and whatever outfit you come up with. It could be formal Christmas attire, or even just cute winter clothes - coats, hats, etc. Email me RIGHT AWAY if you're interested. The proposed date will be Saturday, November 14; and the proposed location will be in Stevenson, Alabama.

Happy Birthday, Alvie...

I wanted to just take a moment to honor my late father-in-law, Alvie McKenzie, whose 50th birthday would have been this past Saturday. Friday afternoon as we were travelling to visit the Kelly's in Pensacola, I couldn't help but think had Alvie been alive, we would have probably been doing some big extravaganza to celebrate this milestone birthday. But as it is, we just somberly remembered this special day for this special man. On the flip side of missing him so badly though, we must consider that he'll never have another birthday... he will NEVER grow old. He was forty-eight when he passed away, which for me is looking younger and younger every year. He was mostly bald on top, had a lot of gray hair, some wrinkles, and probably felt older than he actually was most of the time (for it's not truly the years, but the miles that get you - right?). But in our memories, he'll never be any older than forty-eight. It's bittersweet.

At any rate, Alvie, we still miss you so bad and not a day goes by that we don't think about you. We love you very much; and while you'll never hear from this sorrowful world again, we wish you a very Happy Birthday in Heaven.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Konner & Kensley

On Friday afternoon, Kellie and I left for Pensacola, Florida, to go visit with our friends, Dustin & Melissa Kelly, and to check out their precious baby girl, Kensley. We got to the hotel late Friday night and the spent all of Saturday at the hospital with our friends. Probably about seven or eight more couples our age were there too - and for me, it almost seemed as a reunion of sorts as it was a lot of my friends from when I lived in the Huntsville area.

Kensley is doing "good", per se; but she still has some recovery ahead. She's still sleeping; but all of her tubes and the resperator are out (with the exception of the feeding tube). The doctors are still giving her small doses of sedatives to keep her from having withdrawals from the high doses of sedatives she had been on for the past week and a half. Hopefully soon, she'll be able to rouse up and talk to her mom and dad!

We found Konner to be... well, just plain old Konner! You'd have to know this kid - he's absolutely hilarious! He reminds me so much of Dustin & Justin back when we were that age! He's got some road rash on his side; but overall, he seems to be doing very well.

Saturday morning, he got to go back and see his little sister for the first time in a few days; and Dustin captured this shot with his CELL PHONE! Folks, I didn't know a cell phone could capture this kind of image - I couldn't have done much better with my Canon 5D! It's a beautiful picture; and one I'm sure they'll cherish for many years to come!

Anyhow, we had a good time visiting with our close friends - even under the circumstances; and I hope our presence there (along with all of our other friends), was a comfort to them.

We left the hosptial yesterday morning and drove over to Gulf Shores to make sure the beach was still there (it was). We stayed for probably 20-30 minutes, walking out on the pier and down to the surf; and then headed home. Oh, and I have to mention, it was FREEZING down there!!! We got home last night around 9:30; and loved-up our own daughters - all the while thinking of how Dustin and Melissa have had to leave their baby in the care of basic strangers (who, by the way are doing FANTASTIC taking care of Kensley) for so long. My prayers are that they're all home together very soon.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Praying for Kensley

Hello Friends,

Tragedy struck our extended family last week. Dustin & Melissa Kelly, along with their two children, Konnor and Kensley, were involved in a horrifying traffic accident in Florida. Everyone was injured; however, Kensley has suffered the most and remains in a north Florida hospital PICU. The family has not asked for any help; but I know the need is great and so I'd love to point each of you to a Blog that explains the details of the situation and ask that you all prayerfully consider making a donation of any amount to help this family - I know them very personally and they are not only in need of the money; but I feel like their lives cause them to also be well deserving of our help! Remember, no amount is too small!

The link is; and you can make a donation through PayPal directly from that site.

If any of you have questions, please let me know!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Waiting on an order or proofs?

Yeah, I'm a couple of weeks behind right now. If you have any questions about your order or proofs, please feel free to email ( or call me. I'm hoping that I can play catch-up next week! Thanks!!!!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Chandler Thomas

Busy weekend! Saturday found me in New Market, Alabama, where I photographed the newest addtion to the Denson Family - Mr. Chandler Thomas. CT is the son of our friends Wayne & Beth Denson; and he looks a lot like his older brother, Elijah! Sunday, we went to a family reunion and then had to come home and replace our well pump that had gone out sometime over night. Then yesterday, Kellie, Vicky, the girls, and I spent all day driving around furniture shopping. We went to two places three times each and finally settled on a set; but Kellie called this morning and said that she was doubts and so she cancelled that order and we get to go tonight to the other store for the forth time! :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

4th Studio Day

Well the vocals are finished for the most part. We might have a few touch-up spots; but overall, I think it sounds GREAT! Kellie and Cassie both did excellent!!! And Uncle Wayne Guffey did an awesome job on that low-down bass! So what's left? He have Caleb Stone going to come in and do some harmonica overdubs and Ms. Tina Miller going to do some fiddle runs. Dustin Kelly and Rusty Walls are going to add some orchestration here and there and then the mix. I'm hoping by around the 1st of November that we have everything finished and back and ready for everybody who wants a copy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday to my mother, Pamela Jane Stapler Byrd, who was born this day in 1954, in Orlando, Florida! This pic is of Mom with my grandmother at Mother's Day last year. Those of you that know her, be sure to tell her you say her pic on my website - she'll have a fit. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Vocal Day One

Saturday was our first day in studio laying the vocal tracks for the "Not Another Tear" project. Everything went pretty good - Cassie and Kellie did a great job! So did Janine on her song! We finished nine songs in about as many hours, which fortunately puts us ahead a little bit for next Saturday. Kellie's hoping we can finish early so that we can attend her 10th year High School reunion. We have six songs left - three of those are convention style songs that we'll be recording with Kellie's great-uncle, K. Wayne Guffey. The other three should be fairly simple - so hopefully, the hardest work is behind us.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

New Favorite Image...

Okay - this is my FAVORITE image that I've captured in quite some time! I think it's SO cute and hilarious (click to enlarge)! Today we photographed little Gillian and her baby sister, Gracelyn (let me know if I've spelled it wrong). Gillian was my very first Baby Steps baby! She'll be three years old in just a couple of weeks! Wow, how time has flown and she has grown! She still has though beautiful blue eyes though! We got some great captures today; but I had to show this one off now! Kim, I'll have the rest up in a week or two!


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Papa's Garden

Here are some updated pics of the flower garden we built on the spot where Alvie passed away last year. At the time he passed away, this was just a burn pile in the backyard where we burned scraps of wood and garbage from the construction of our studio. The day he died, he was standing in the burn pile clipping off the sharp corners of scrap vinyl siding to keep the girls from getting hurt on it (the man was ALWAYS thinking like that). Anyhow, after he passed, I knew that we had to do something to make that spot a special place; and this is what we came up with. The entrance is still not finished (I'll probably get to that this fall); but we're so pleased with the results so far. Kellie and I did this ourselves with a little tractor help from her grandfather. It was a lot of work; but it's a place now where we can go and reflect on Alvie's life and a place that the girls can play and remember their Papa.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Studio Day TWO

Wow! Studio day two went even smoother than the first day! The musicians were on their stuff; and not only did we finish all fourteen tracks that we had hoped to do - but we also laid a surprise 15th track!!! It was a great day, filled with emotion. While recording Go Get My Children, I absolutely lost it and sobbed like a baby for a few minutes. It just came out of no where; but man when it hit me, it hit like a ton of bricks. I know there's no way we could do this as good as we could have if Alvie were here to guide us through it; but I can't help but believe he would be SO pleased with the way everything has gone so far!
So now that we have music tracks to practice with, Cassie, Kellie, and I will begin practicing vocals and hopefully be ready to lay those on the last two weekends of August. Keep praying for us!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Studio Day One

Well we got through the first day of music tracks; and everything is sounded GREAT! Our musicians are doing a fantastic job; and we're really going to work them out this coming Saturday for Day Two! We didn't work a full day this past Saturday and only recorded five songs; and so this coming Saturday, we have eight (maybe NINE) songs left to record! But I have faith that they can pull it off - they're pros!

Here's one of our engineers, Bro. Jeff Walls, hard at work.

Yes folks, that is THE Joe David Cantrell - my production assistant :)

Mr. Jimmy Long is tearing it up on the electric and accoustic guitars - sounds fantastic!

And speaking of famous people - here's the one and only Bruce Terry wailing away on the steele guitar - doing an AWESOME job!

Here's my brother-in-law, Dustin McKenzie, doing his thing on the bass guitar. You wann talk about pro's? He's the bomb!

And here is the multi-talented Dustin Kelly banging on the keys like nobody's business! Dustin is doing a great job with our album as producer also!

Another pic of the band - Bruce Terry on steele, Dustin McKenzie on bass, Dustin Kelly on keyboard, and Rusty Walls, who's supposed to be in the drum booth but instead appear to be standing around talking! ;)

We're looking forward to another great day of music on Saturday! I'm sure I'll post more updates next week!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

New Project Underway!

Hello Everybody!

Kellie and I will be going to the studio this Saturday to begin a very special personal project! Alvie (Kellie’s dad) wrote 23 songs during his lifetime; and all but nine of those have been recorded by various groups over the years, including The McKenzie’s, The Long Family, The Higdonaires, Chosen, and others. This project will include those nine songs not previously recorded, as well as a few of his other songs that have become personal favorites of ours.
Joining us for vocals will be Cassie McKenzie, who is married to Kellie’s first cousin, Clint. And there will also be guest appearances by Uncle K. Wayne Guffey, as well as Alvie's sister, Janine. Kellie’s brother, Dustin, will be playing bass guitar; and serving as pianist will be our great friend, Dustin Kelly, who is also our project producer. Several other great musicians will be joining in as well!
We’re not forming a group and do not plan to book any singings. We’re just doing the recording in memory of Alvie, hoping to preserve these great songs that so few people have heard before, and have a great time doing it!
As you can tell, I’m very excited about the project! The album will feature the first song Alvie ever wrote, “Not Another Tear”, which is also the project name. Alvie was only ten years old when he first penned this beautiful song way back in 1969! Also included will be:

I’ll Live Again
King’s Highway
Let the Praises Ring
The Comforter
Holy Power
Be Ye Ready
He Will Stand By Your Side
The Roadmap
That Wonderful Day
How Do You Measure Love
I’d Rather Be Here
Today Is the Day
Go Get My Children

So be on the lookout for “The Alvie McKenzie Family: Not Another Tear” sometime this Fall; and please pray for us as we go along! Updates will be posted all along on my blog,! Please help us spread the word!

Love & Prayers,

***The picture is of Alvie at Gold Mine Studio in Gadsden, Alabama, during Chosen's "Power In Believing" project***

Friday, June 19, 2009

Me and my woman...

Wow... sure seems odd being on the this side of the lens! It's been a REALLY long time since Kellie and I had a professional picture made of just the two of us. In fact, I guess it's been nearly 10 years. Who's the photographer here, you ask? Makayla - our three year old - ha, ha! I set everything up and gave her the trigger and told her when to mash it. It's REALLY hard to pose yourself when you can't see yourself; but we liked this one okay. After seeing these, I remember why I try to stay on the other side of the camera! Oh well!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

North Sand Mountain Kindergarten

Pictures for North Sand Mountain's 2009 Kindergarten Graduation are now available! To see pictures of your child, please give us a call or shoot us an email! We have 8x10's Memory Matte's (like the sample shown here), class group pictures, and also individual pictures of your child receiving their diploma and performing their speaking part during the ceremony.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Rice Family...

This evening, Kellie, Mackenzie, Makayla, and Vicky, my mother-in-law, went to Guntersville, Alabama, where we photographed the Rice Family - Darrell, Mary, Chris, & Lizzie, who were in town visiting from the Nashville area. Actually, Chris is in the US Airforce and stationed out west. We had a great photo-session, including these two sample shots (click to enlarge). Darrell & Mary - I'll try to have the rest up on my website in a week or so. I hope you like these previews!

Afterward, my clan loaded up and rode about five miles into town, where we ate at the "world famous" Top O' The River! If you've never eaten there and are local (within two hundred miles), you should be ashamed of yourself! I ate waaaay too much; and we still brought home not one, not two, but THREE to-go boxes of left-overs! Yikes! Lunch for tomorrow is well taken care of! :)


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

North Sand Mountain Kindergarten Graduation

This year, I had the distinguished honor of photographing the NSM Kindergarten Graduation - and it was a bitter-sweet event for me indeed! My baby, Mackenzie, was one of the graduates (or as she would call it, one of the "graduaters") who graced the stage to receive her diploma! I was so proud; and she did SO good! Here are a few shots of her; and I'll have all of the photos from the day posted to my website soon! If any of the parents have any questions, please let me know! Oh; and a very special thanks to my good friend, Shannon Atchley, who helped me cover the event!!!!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Middlebrooks'...

Tonight I had a quick session with some of our best friends - Kyle, Amy, Emily, & Blake! Here's a couple of quick sneak peaks from the shoot.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you Momma's out there; and especially to Kellie, Mom, & Vicky!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Long Family...

It's a little after 11:00 p.m.; I just got in from Guntersville, Alabama, where I spent the evening photographing the family of Bob & Betty Long. They have an absolutely beautiful bunch of kids and grand kids; and it was such a pleasure to get to see them and spend a little time with them today. Here are a few previews from our session (CLICK TO ENLARGE); and hopefully I have the rest up in a week or two (I'm really far behind right now)!


Monday, May 04, 2009

It's Like Rain On Your Wedding Day...

Not just "like" rain on your wedding day - it IS! Bummer! Victoria and Ryan were originally scheduled to exchange their vows perched on the brow of Sand Mountain at her parents' beautiful home overlooking Dearhead Cove. It was a BEAUTIFUL setting for a wedding - but it rained us out! So, everybody worked like dogs moving everything over to a local church, where Ryan and Victoria were married in a very lovely ceremony with many of their family and friends there to witness. So, at any rate, congrats to Victoria & Ryan; and thank-you SO much for allowing us to be a part of your special day!!!

(Click on the pic to enlarge)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Ground...

Today, Kellie and I had the distinguished honor of photographing New Ground, a fantabulous Southern Gospel trio from Scottsboro, Alabama. Dale and Robbie Maxwell have been staples in my life for as long as I can remember. Robbie's parents lived across the street from my parents for my entire life (still do, in fact); and she is also a distant relative of mine (one that I'll actually claim - ha, ha)! Speaking of family, we got there only to find out that New Ground's new drummer, Taylor "Fannie" Guffey, is Kellie's third cousin! Wow - small world! We also were able to meet lead singer, David "Champ" Owens, and pianist, Micky "Prince" Bell. We had a great time and were treated with a verse of "Where Could I Go"! Robbie - I hope you like these quick-edit previews (click on them to enlarge)! I'll have the rest done soon! Great to see you guys and thanks again for allowing me this opportunity!!!


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bro. David Jones

One of the absolute greatest influences in my life, the Rev. David H. Jones, of the Huntsville Holiness Church, went home to be with the Lord last night shortly before midnight. He will be missed by so many people! I didn't make this photo, it's from the '90's; but I wanted to pay tribute to one of the men who helped me be what I am today.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Round Two - Senior Girls

My Class of '09 Senior Models were back in front of the lens this evening for their studio shots. Alyshia and Emily did great jobs striking their poses and working the camera! Both are beautiful girls; and we were so glad to have the opportunity to photograph them for their senior portraits! Here are a few previews from the evening (click to enlarge).