30A Photography Education & Healthy Living » 30A editorial photographer inspiring women to savor life through learning about photography and healthy living. Serving 30A & Panama City Beach, Florida.

The nip at my  toes let me know the moment I awoke that things were changing… This morning’s air was crisp and cool, the perfect excuse for me to wear my favorite old sweatshirt as I headed out the door to get the little to school. As soon as I returned home, I cuddled up next to a hot pot of coffee and finished topping off batteries before packing up for the last wedding of the year.

Every year, it comes around the same time and carries with it familiar feelings. Joy. Relief. Pride. Hopefulness. Reflection. Thirty amazing couples. That’s how many have trusted me to document their weddings this year. Each one unique in style and personality, but all with a common trait – they love one another and view their wedding day as the start of a new adventure. It’s humbling, really. Looking back at the calendar and realizing how many have trusted me with their most intimate of moments.

Before I run out the door for Kristen and Gabe’s wedding at the Carillon Meeting House, I wanted to share a few photographs from a recent wedding that was unique and fun-filled – JP & Sheena’s rustic wedding at Southern Lea Farms. Between the stormy skies, elegant décor and the huge smiles on their faces, this wedding was just… everything. Congrats to JP & Sheena – I wish you many years of love and joy!

– Holly



Here are a few of the many people that made this day possible: 

Venue: Southern Lea Farms

Photography: Holly Gardner Photography

Hair & Makeup: Heavenly Hair, Summer Gay

Florist: Blossoms, Kirby Holt

Officiant: Mike Littleton

DJ: Southern Thunder (David Bass)

Here in the South, meal time carries a sort of sacredness. Holidays call for weeks of preparation, freshly-ironed party dresses and spending time with multiple generations. Thanksgiving has always been one of my personal favorites, since it signals the start of the holiday season and… PUMPKIN PIE.  In the two years since our little man was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies, we have taken family dinners by the reigns and figured out how to plan meals that are delicious and safe. The first year, we simple kept him away because he wouldn’t get into things. We’d feed him his own food and plates and just keep an eye on him. Last year, things got a little more difficult – he was reaching for things and putting everything in his mouth. Now that he’s almost 2.5, we decided it was time to make our Thanksgiving 100% safe for him. That meant no dairy, seeds, peanuts, tree nuts, mango, etc. Even saying the list makes me tired. After months of planning, I ended up being diagnosed with celiac disease. The upside of my son having food allergies (trying to thinking positive) is that we have learned how to read labels and really gotten into cooking from scratch. But no gluten? That was going to be a hard one! Fortunately, my in-laws are pretty amazing and decided to take charge. We scoured the internet for recipes I could also eat and worked on a few key items at home, like a surprisingly delicious blueberry lemon pound cake.

The photo, above, is actually of our first one. Yes, there was a second one. Yes, it was because we got into it the night before.

Chris also smoked several turkeys in his Big Green Egg. They were so pretty I had to take a picture.

When Thanksgiving Day came, I was shocked at just how much we could eat! Not only was everything 100% safe for him, but I could eat plenty – like the sweet potato casserole. See that orange dish? I licked. it. clean.

No Southern Thanksgiving would be complete without some fresh oysters though. Since little man is not allergic to shellfish, the men got to shucking together out on the patio.

The ice cold Appalachicola oysters were phenomenal, but we obviously didn’t feed the toddler any. It took me a few minutes to figure out the best way to eat them because I’m used to putting them on a Saltine. I ended up sucking it out of the shell. Yum, yum!

The biggest surprise of the day was the desserts my mother-in-law made just for me. She modified a recipe flourless chocolate cake and it was so good we were left fighting over the last piece. Seriously. The gluten and dairy wasn’t missed at all!

And then there were the apples. I have no idea what went in it, but I was reassured that it was completely dairy, nut and gluten free – the oats were gluten-free as well.

This Thanksgiving was certainly different from others, but with a lot of planning, it ended up being stress-free, safe and delicious. We hope that your family’s Thanksgiving was as pleasant as well. Gobble gobble!!!

– Holly

On this eve of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of all the things I’m thankful for. There are the obvious things, like having a roof over my head and a loving family, as well as the smaller things, like the way my son smelled as he fell asleep rubbing my arm as he lay on my chest. Among the things I’m most thankful for is that I’ve been allowed into the most intimate moments of people’s lives. I’ve been in business for six and a half years now and every time I think of how far I’ve come (and have yet to go!) I can’t help but smile. I’ve always thought that my smile was more of an inner smile, until a client at a commercial shoot last week started laughing and said, “Do you realize that you smile every single time you take a picture? Without fail. Every time. It’s something I’ve never seen!”

I smile because I’m thankful for you. Thank you for sharing your hearts. Thank you for trusting in me. Thank you for loving one another wildly and unabashedly and valuing the importance of the littlest moments and choosing to document them on film. Thank you for referring me to friends like Dana and Ryan, who were recently wed in an art gallery in front of their closest friends. And thank you for being comfortable enough in your own skin to laugh, cry and rejoice in front of me. It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly and am grateful for the opportunity to serve you.

– Holly


Here are a few of the many people that made this day possible: 

Venue: Panama City Centre for the Arts

Photography: Holly Gardner Photography

Cake: Fatty Patty’s Bakery

Officiant: Dawn Brooks

Hair: Indulgence Salon & Spa

Makeup: Becca Griffith

Rentals: Panache Tent & Event

I recently blogged about some work I’ve been doing for a few ladies in a group I’m in  – the Emily Ley Shop Coaching group. I’ve been a part of this group for around a year now, and we are constantly providing feedback and motivation for one another on our creative pursuits. A few of the ladies have hired me to photograph their product lines, and this past week I’ve been working on images for Hailey’s Shop, Grand Print Co. Hailey had a few sets of stationery sets and fine art prints that she wanted styled and photographed, starting with her southern quotes and inspiring quotable prints. After receiving  the products we chatted about what look/feel she was going for and how the images would be used. After a few trips to the store for flowers, mini champagne bottles and all sorts of other goodies, I got to work. I’m really excited to see the complete set of images implemented in her store and social media channels and can’t wait to see what good things she comes up with next!

– Holly





Back before we had a yard, we dreamed of the day we’d have room to grow our own produce. As soon as we bought our first house, we learned everything we could about permaculture and hopped right into converting our yard into a food factory. Since little man was born we’ve been slacking on the yard/garden/house upkeep, but we are grateful for the little seeds we planted a few years ago because now those little seeds (just like our little kiddos) are becoming fruit-bearing trees.


Unlike the more complex task of growing children, sunlight, water and good soil are all you need to set the ground for your backyard veggie factory! A home garden is not only economical, but it’s also a fun way for your whole family to truly appreciate fresh produce. The nutritious fruits of your labor will have abundant flavor that’s superior to anything you pick from the grocery bins.


To plan your vegetable bed well for meal prep, consider which foods your family loves. A personalized garden is the ideal “marketplace” for any family coping with food allergies or conditions, or simply interested in promoting healthy eating. If you plan right, you can create a brilliant, low-maintenance garden with a high return and healthy yield of yum!


Down in the South, we are able to plant winter veggies long after the rest of the U.S.. Here are some ideas for vegetables to put in the earth and cultivate now in order to make fulfilling and refreshing meals later on:

Winter squash: Some of the most versatile veggies around, winter squash are a must-plant item. Remember to leave enough room for their long vines and large leaves to creep across your plot. Or affix a sturdy trellis near the shoots and they’ll wind upwards as they grow. Kids love to watch the spiraling vines!


Roots and tubers: Root vegetables are the basis for many satisfying family meals. Carrots grow in sweetness as the weather cools down. Onions pair well with carrots, both underground and in your kitchen. Parsnips boast a gentle sweetness that tastes great mashed or in soups, and with their vibrant color, beets are just as delicious as they are beautiful! Pile mulch over root vegetables after you plant them in order to keep the ground insulated, and harvest as soon as they’re big enough to eat.

Peas: Sow pea seeds in winter for enjoyment in late spring. With dainty white blossoms and pretty leaves, peas also add decorative flair as they spread around a tepee or mini-fence.

Leafy greens: Check out the range of winter lettuces, which are extremely hardy and can tolerate lower temperatures. Spinach is also a great garden addition that’s packed with nutrition and perfect for tossing into your salad.


Beans: All types of beans can be combined with grains to create a whole balanced meal. They’re easy to grow from seed, germinate quickly and produce abundantly.

Cabbage: Savoy cabbage is a favorite type to grow, but all cabbages provide delightful crunch in fresh salads and add flavorful texture to cooked dishes.

Cruciferous goodies: Cauliflower heads are easy to grow in the winter and tend to supply an ample harvest. If your family is aiming to eat low-carb, cauliflower is a good substitute in many potato-based recipes. Broccoli, or as kids call it: “little green trees”, is fond of cool weather, full of taste and nutrients, and undemanding to nurture.

In addition to enhancing your meals, a kitchen garden is fertile ground for fantastic bonding with your kids. As you dig, plant, and weed together, you’ll reap the health benefits of outdoor exercise. The bonuses continue after the plants are grown – when you eat the ripe, nutrient-rich produce. You’ll also be left with many amazing memories of time spent together planning, planting and harvesting your produce. We’d love to hear your favorite tips for planning your garden for homegrown meals!

– The Gardners

All photos taken by Patrick Engman, long before our little man came around!