Monday, June 8, 2015

                         SHE WAS THERE

                           HONORING BRENDA COOK

Written by Amy Whitener Ward

    “I want to say thank you for everything you have done for our small town, schools and families.  It’s not just the impact you have made for us but also the memories you have preserved.  You have always and will be a major monument of all of us.  You have done a great job as a mother, sister, teacher, friend, photographer and a shoulder.  Your last one (child) may have passed through the doors as a student for the last time, but every child there is a part of you.  Every picture you have snapped will hold a memory for someone for the rest of their lives and a smile in their hearts.  Thank you for everything.  It is an honor to have you with us.”  Thomas Cash

    “We love you and the kids love you!  Just remember that!”  Heather Cash

    Niangua is a town with a population of around 400 people.  I’m pretty sure that Brenda Cook knows all of them!  Brenda and her husband Mike raised their four children in Niangua.  Over the last 20 + years Brenda shared her heart with so many people in the community.  If there was a ball game she was there with camera in hand.  A fund raiser for a sick friend, she was there.  Prom, graduation, yep she was there.  One could never count all the times that Brenda was there to lend a helping hand.  Bible school she was there to teach your kids about the love of our God.  How many church meals was Brenda there to help with?  Too many to count.  You got married and she was there to photograph it or to be your guest.

    “Brenda you are one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met.  Not only have you completely changed your life recently she has also changed mine.  You are fantastic at your job, lending a hand, listening and giving the best advice!  You are so positive all the time.  Brenda you helped me so much for my wedding and made the whole experience so easy with how much you helped!  From finding me a preacher (last minute) to helping us clean up!  And all of our family pictures are fantastic!  I love you Brenda!  Keep up the fabulous work!!  See you later darling!!!”  Megan Young

    Brenda has been there to welcome your newborn babies into the world and she’s there to wrap her arms around you as your loved one is laid to rest.  She was there and she will continue to be there because she has a heart of gold! 

    You might know me as Brenda’s “partner in crime,” as her second shooter at In My Heart Photography.  We met about 10 years ago and quickly became the best of friends.  I am not from Niangua but Brenda proves that her love for others has no end.  She took me in as not only her friend but her family.  She is a fine example of the love and generosity that God wants us to be.  She has taught me and encouraged me to become a better photographer allowing me to grow in what I love to do most!  And I’m not the only person she has done this for. 

    “Brenda Cook is one of the most kind hearted people I know.  She would give the world to someone who needed it.  If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be the photographer I am and I’m so grateful for that.  I’ve seen her put her all into her work for Niangua for as long as I can remember.  Working for hours to take, edit and upload pictures for every event.  The community is lucky to have such a selfless member.”  Kodie Weaver

    Brenda helps me to think about things in new ways.  She is there to cheer me on in my success.  She is there to walk with me through the storms of life.  She is my friend.  She is my sister and I love her to pieces!  Thank you Brenda Cook.  You were there and you are still there and you are very much appreciated by many!

Help us celebrate our beautiful friend Brenda
Give her a shout out on Facebook! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


                       RUN LIKE A DIVA

    The Run Like a Diva half marathon/5k run was held at the Branson Landing on May 17, 2015.  Run Like a Diva partnered with the Skaggs Foundation and Susan G. Komen Ozark affiliate.

    The day started off very cool.  It had been raining the night before and continued on and off throughout the day.  But the rain did not stop these dedicated runners and it did not stop
 In My Heart Photography from getting some fun shots!

 The half marathon runners started first with the 5K runners starting after them.  They all wore pink T-shirts that said, “Divas Half Marathon and 5K Branson, Mo.  May 17, 2015” with a tiara printed just above it.   New for this year, all participants received pink tutus.  These really added to the fun!  To complete the look these ladies also wore pink boas and tiaras. 

    There were lots of people that added their own touches to their ensembles.  One wore her wedding  dress!

                           Some wore bright pink lipstick.

 A few gentlemen were there sporting their own unique and stunning styles while running in support of these fabulous divas!

With the help of a very Special photographers assistant Miss Grandma Gail Help was amazing!

The rain did not seem to be a problem for the Diva-licious runners.  The firemen handing out medals at the finish line proved to be great motivation or maybe a good distraction from the rain!

    A 12 year old girl won the 5K and an amazing age group of 70-90 years young ran the race as well.

    When the race was completed the gals quenched their thirst with sparkling apple juice in super fabulous wine glasses in typical diva style.

  There was much laughter, photo bombing and many memories created.

 Various shops and restaurants at the Landing offered special discounts to diva participants.  They also could bid on purses in an online auction.  As if this day wasn’t diva spectacular enough, a concert was held in the evening featuring Candy Coburn. 

    In My Heart Photography’s Brenda Cook had a blast watching her own two daughters and sister running this race.  So much so that she wanted to share this experience with you.  Perhaps you might like to join in on the fun next year!

    For more information or to make a donation check it out at



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

                                 Step Back In Time

                       With In My Heart Photography

                                         DAWT MILL

When Jeff and Shannon hired In My Heart Photography last spring we were super excited to learn that their wedding reception would be held at Dawt Mill in Tecumseh, Missouri.  It would be another adventure for us!

    We arrived at Dawt Mill early and after touching base with our bride and groom we entered the mill where we were greeted by two of the mill’s managers.  After introducing ourselves, Sandy Steel graciously gave us a tour and told us some of its history. 

    Originally a mill had been built on the property as early as 1866.  That mill was burned down by a ten year old boy who was paid $10.00 by a rival mill to burn it!  The land was then bought by Alva Hodgson who rebuilt the mill.  Over the years the mill has survived multiple floods, the depression and has had multiple owners.

    Sandy explained that Dawt Mill is the only working mill in the area.  Unfortunately the dam is broken and renders the mill inoperable.  They hope the dam will be fixed so that the mill can run again as it did many years ago. 

    There has been some restoration and one room was added to the mill but they kept as much of it original as possible.  Sandy pointed out the original wood flooring complete with a few hole repairs done with tin can lids!  There are original pieces of the mill scattered throughout the property enhancing the unique beauty of the mill. 

    At the turn of the century the mill was a busy community.  There was a grocery store, post office, blacksmith shop, saw mill, cotton gin, roller mill, a few houses and a church.  Today the general store is still open.  The cotton gin is gone but the building has been turned into a beautiful cedar lodge called the Cotton Gin Inn.  Dawt mill also offers several small cabins and there is a campground as well. 

    Entertainment includes fishing, canoe rentals for float trips, a restaurant, campfires and the Gravel Bar where you can enjoy concerts and Karaoke. Small groups are hosted at Dawt Mill and many come back every year.  It also hosts meetings, receptions, reunions and other events.  Events like Jeff and Shannon’s wedding reception! 

    The wedding reception was held in the evening on the deck at the back of the mill.  The view was spectacular looking over the White River with its waters rushing from the North Fork.  The sound of the water was mesmerizing, so relaxing to listen to.  The deck was the perfect place for the reception.  There were multiple tables and chairs but plenty of space to move around and a place to dance.  Dawt Mill catered and served a dinner that was absolutely delicious!  The staff were so friendly and very helpful. 

    There was so much beauty and history at Dawt Mill providing In My Heart Photography plenty of photographic opportunities with our bride and groom.  We would highly recommend Dawt Mill for a relaxing weekend get-away, a family reunion and of course for a wedding! 

                                      Check out Dawt Mill at
                                        8 Dawt Mill Dr.  Tecumseh, Mo.  65760
                                        Phone:  888-884-3298 or 417-284-3540

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Niangua High School Graduation 2015

2015 Niangua High School Graduation

            The commencement ceremony of Niangua High School on May 8, 2015 celebrated the accomplishments of 19 graduating students. 
            In My Heart Photography has had the honor of photographing many Niangua graduations over the years but this one was extra special.  This one Brenda did not photograph.  This one she got to be the proud mom of her graduating son Nolan, the last of her 4 children to earn his high school diploma!  And when she asked me to photograph this graduation I was more than happy to step in for her.  After all, this is a great group of students!

            Graduation began with T.J. Bransfield the principle/superintendent who expressed his thankfulness for all who helped this class through the years.  He spoke of improvements made to the school over the last year and of improvements to come. 
            Guest speaker Dana Okerman spoke of her years of teaching experience remembering details of the first day of kindergarten for this graduating class. 
            Kelly Donaldson read a poem she wrote in which each student was named along with a heartwarming memory about each of them. 
  Our very own Brenda Cook put her heart and great effort into making a slide show for the graduation.  Each student chose a few pictures from the time of their birth to now and they chose a song to go along with it.  The slide show is always a hit at the Niangua graduations!

            This year’s valedictorian was Isaiah Cook and Salutatorian was Shaun Winters.

Amelia, Katie and Kylie sang beautifully a song called “See you again”. 

            With diplomas handed over, tassels relocated, caps tossed high into the air the Niangua class of 2015 stepped into their futures. 
Our prayer for you is that you will all go out and make the most of your lives.  Make a positive difference in this world.  Congrats Nolan!  You’ve made your Mom and Dad so very proud.  And congrats to all of the Niangua students! 
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding Proverbs 2:6

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nianga High School Prom 2015

Niangua Prom

                High school prom sure has changed since we were in school.  These day’s proms are held in some pretty cool places.  This year the Niangua prom was held on the Tropic Island Cruise boat at Tan-Tar-A on the Lake of the Ozarks. 

   Not many schools could have their prom on this boat but Niangua is a small school.  These students danced the night away on a small deck at the back of the boat.  The weather was perfect and there was a beautiful sunset, but if the weather had been bad there was room inside the boat to dance as well. 

  Prom is always a favorite event for In My Heart Photography  to shoot.  We love to see what dresses and hair styles the girls will wear.  The guys in their suits and ties and sometimes hats.  Their energy is infectious and we always have a blast catching the moment for these kids in pictures.  As parents ourselves, we know that parents love to see what a wonderful time their kids had too. 

 With In My Heart Photography  we put these prom pictures online where parents and kids can download all they want!  They also have the option to print from our professional printing lab. 
 During some of the quieter moments we were able to talk with some of the staff on-board.  They told us that there have been small weddings, receptions, anniversary parties, corporate events and reunions on the boat.  The staff enjoys meeting a large variety of people.  They move around the boat making sure their guests are having a good time and are safe.  They are friendly and helpful. 

 We had a great time capturing once in a lifetime memories for Niangua High School.  We are so thankful to have been there for this and so many other events for Niangua! 

Check out Tropic Island Cruises at
Or call for more info