Kieso family

I was honored to not only get to capture this family, but to capture the biggest family I’ve ever done.  I took into account that kids will be kids and have zero patience for a lady trying to get that right picture.  So, I just snapped as many pictures as possible.
When Tiffany and I discussed what she was looking for, she mentioned that she wanted some of her and her husband together. Knowing that this was something she really wanted, I made sure to get some for them and them alone. I hope I delivered to what she was looking for.

I loved doing this session and capturing this wonderful family. It was a fun evening!





























Canon EOS Rebel T5 SLR
Wichita, KS
Photographer: Cassie Stephens






















Sixty years later.

August 5, 1956 was a sunny day filled with, a slight warm breeze of smiles and cheer in a little small town in western Kansas.  Of course, I may just be starting this with complete fiction, but isn’t most fiction just a wonderful telling of what may have been? Besides all that, it was the day my grandparents did the big ‘I Do’.  Since my grandpa is a young buck, my grandma had to wait until he graduated high school until they got married, that and well he also had surgery done as well.  They grew up in the same town, went to high school together and the whole relationship began with a blind date.  She was all that was good, sweet and followed the rules.  He was the jock, rebel and all that she wasn’t.  But, I think that is what makes a couple. Maybe back then they were the complete opposites, however sixty years later they are still married.  It wasn’t easy at times I’m sure, but they grew stronger in their marriage and adding God helped a great deal too.  She was growing in her faith and he remained, however sometimes it takes a great push for the stubborn to fall to their knees and find God, that was him.  Now after one daughter and two sons, three grand girls and one great grand girl, they can see the accomplishments of what their love did.



I’m in complete adoration of their relationship and what it looks like.  I love them to the moon and back and grateful that I spent all those summers with them and still able to spend time with them as an adult.   I love you both and I’m honored that I was not only able to witness your sixtieth anniversary but to capture it with photos, love and tears.


















































Congrats you crazy kids!



Canon EOS Rebel T5 SLR
Derby, KS
Photographer: Cassie Stephens

A tale about a Lightsaber.

Like with any good story, you should always start at the beginning.

Two years ago, my friend and roommate was off traveling in Italy, which left me home alone.  One evening I couldn’t sleep, so it was decided I would rearrange the furniture at two in the morning. Put in my ear buds and got to work.  Have you ever been in the shower and heard loud banging? Instead of investigating, you just slowly pull the curtain back and continue your shower, praying you don’t get murdered.  I wasn’t in the shower, but I kept hearing a loud banging noise. Yet, whenever I took out my ear buds, it didn’t happen.  Shrugging my shoulders, I continued on.  Almost an hour later, I pulled out my ear buds to someone banging on my door.  I jumped and held back my scream… That’s a lie, I screamed like a five year old girl, who got a pony for Christmas.
As it continued, I heard someone yell some inaudible words. In a slight panic, I slowly walked over to the top of my stairs and tried to look who could be banging on my door. Not seeing anything, I went into my room and grabbed the first thing…. It was my Lightsaber.

This was the most ‘nerd’ I’ve ever been.  Ever so slowly I walked down the steps until I reached the landing.  My front door is glass with wood trim, so anyone could look right in.  In the corner however, that’s the safe spot.  There is a window and next to the door is more glass, but on the inside I can see out, you can’t see in.  So in that corner I looked out the window and noticed a shadow next to my house.  Quietly reaching up, I unlocked the door and started to open it.  That’s when the person heard me, they started to walk back over to the door; it was now or never.  I hit the button, my Lightsaber glowed the brightest green and I ran out and hit the person on the head.
Their are moments in a person’s life, that the only thing you can say is ‘shit’.  This was my shit moment.  As the adrenaline within me slowly faded, I got a good look at the person I hit.  The person was a man, a man in a uniform, a man in a cop uniform.  I just hit a cop over the head with a Lightsaber…. Shiiiittttt.  Nothing was said, for what felt like an eternity. He and I just stared at one another, I finally hit the button and turned off my saber.  He finally reacted and said the only logical thing you could say in this situation; “did you just hit me with a toy Lightsaber?”
“Yes… I thought it was a murderer or something.” I replied.  He laughed, he laughed harder than I expected him to.  Once he calmed down, he went on to tell me that my neighbors tried knocking, because they thought I was getting attacked.  I explained what I was really doing and the reason for not hearing, was because I play music loudly.
“It’s a shame I can’t tell the others about this.. They’d never believe me anyways.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry again.  I should probably reconsider my options of weaponry.”
“Yeah, but you have a story now.”

A story indeed…

Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a link to a sermon.  When I arrived home late last night, I watched it.  I’m not usually a yell out loud, ‘AMEN’ type of girl, but I was on fire last night.  This sermon was basically killing it, don’t worry, I’m working on writing a blog.  I was so into this sermon and yelling amen, that I forgot my windows were open.  I also forgot I have neighbors.
Once I was done watching the sermon, I started to get ready for bed.  That’s when I heard it, a tapping noise.  I’m no stranger to people tapping on windows or doors. I recall a Halloween years ago, were a lady by the name of Samantha tapped on a window and it freaked myself and my BF Camissa out.  Like, Camissa had to have a hand over her mouth to stop from screaming and I just held onto her like a pillow. It’s safe to say, tapping isn’t my favorite.
The tapping continued on my front door and I found myself in the exact same situation. The only difference, I heard what the person was saying outside.  As they continued to tap, he spoke up and said; “I know you’re up.”  Now, that doesn’t sound creepy or horrible, but his voice was saying otherwise.  He sounded like Emperor Palpatine with a heavy breathing problem.  That’s NO BUENO! I tried to look and see who it was, but all I saw was feet.  So, I went ahead and did that good ol’ nerd thing, I grabbed my Lightsaber.  Once I started walking down, I didn’t see anybody, so I thought I was in the clear. I still wanted to make sure, so I looked out the window and he was standing right there.  He was looking up and said in his heavy Palpatine voice; “Your lights are on. I know you can hear me.”
This was my chance again, I unlocked the door, opened it and walked outside. He had his back to me, when I turned on my saber he turned around and that’s when I attacked another male with my Lightsaber.  This was another shit moment.
Not only am I using a toy to defend myself, I’m also hitting innocent men… This man happened to be my next door neighbor.  Once again I was asked the only logical question; “Did you hit me with a Lightsaber?”
“Yeah.. Sorry.” I replied
“Have you done this before?” He asked
“Umm yeah. A cop.”
“Hot damn! Really?!?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry again. Did you need something?” I finally asked
“Huh? Oh yeah, are you okay? I kept hearing you yell ‘amen’ and ‘yes’. I mean, I know why other girls may yell those. But you aren’t most girls.”
I laughed harder than necessary and told him why.
If you happened to drive by my place last night, you would have seen two adults laughing like children and one adult with a Lightsaber still on.
Before he bid me goodnight, I had to ask why his voice sounded off.
“I’m sick. I know I sound like a groundhog while in heat. Sorry if that scared you.” He replied.
I didn’t ask how he knew about groundhogs in heat.

Today, I found these in my mail box….

With this note…

It reads: Sorry I scared you, so much so you hit me on the head with a Lightsaber.  Good arm, however.
Stay strong lady.
Your friendly neighbor!

P.S. Got you these. We cool?

Yeah, we cool.

Tragic Prelude


“Oh my god. Racist!”

For the past several days I’ve chosen to remain slight.  I’ve read all the Facebook posts, news stories and lord… all the comments. I really need to remember to never read the comments.  After reading all the things, it basically comes down to an argument between white rednecks and white people.  I know that is harsh to say, but I was called a racist today, over the most stupidest thing, so forgive me if I finally express my thoughts.

Taking down the Confederate flag from government buildings, I can get on board with. I get it, what it represents is horrible.  Oh, the argument that it was the battle flag and not the state’s flag… Here’s a thought, does it matter? The flag flew while they fought, meaning they fought for their state rights and people their in. They fought to keep the people as their slaves and other stuff that I could go into, but no one wants another history lesson. Basically battle flag, smadattle flag. It’s all the same.
Going back to the horrible part, please remember another thing. Our history, how we became America is horrible, dirty and kinda shady.  It’s not just America, history in any country is gross. But it’s history. Now, do we need to wave a flag over a state capital that holds no relevance today? Absolutely not! But, do we get rid of them completely? Eh… Maybe keep one or two for a museum or something, but regardless for what it stood for, it’s history. You can’t erase history.

Removing a flag is just one small tiny step, hatred still exists, KKK are still under the impression they’re the supreme race… Along with the skin heads, Nazi and white supremacist. They will not stop, they will pass it on and they are the bigger problem.  You see, a flag is not a person’s identity.  My identity isn’t the American flag, my identity is me alone and since I love Jesus, my identity is in Christ.  Any kind of decision, choice or change are ones that I made.  The way I was raised and brought up is how I am today.  Sure, I’ve made little tweaks here and there, I love my family dearly, but I think differently and have different views.  That’s okay! Being the same as your family would be to.. same. I’m a firm believer that how a person is raised is how they’ll end up, unless they themselves change.  If hate for another race is in the family tree, it’ll continue, regardless of a flag.

One last thing, removing a flag from retailers is all fine and grand.  But be careful how you word it.  Removing a flag from, oh lets say Wal-Mart, and the reason is because of what it represents and slavery. If I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure a slave made that flag and any clothes sold within the store.  I’m not saying we should all become nudist, because any clothes that are made, could in fact be made by a child slave.  I’m saying look at the bigger picture! Who are the voices for the slaves still existing today?!? Sure it’s easier to complain about a damn piece of fabric, but it bothers me our focus is on 154 years ago and not present time.  Slavery is still existing and it hurts that we continue to ignore this issue. But, we also ignore mental health issues in America as well.  Human trafficking is a BIG passion of mine, I want it to end, I know not everyone has that shared passion and some could careless… I know people know that slavery is still alive and well, It’s just crazy to me that it’s not being talked about.
I know I may come off as some crazy and I know I didn’t make sense. But I rarely speak up about anything, unless it’s about Star Wars or Star Trek. But the focus we put on things kills me. I wanted to see more of the march that took place in Charleston, I wanted to see more of the pure love that came out of that city in the midst of such a horrible crime and yet all I keep seeing is hate.  Hateful words after another on which person is right about a flag. I’m not sorry southerners, you lost 154 years ago, let it go!  Kansans that say Kansas was a Confederate state… What?.. I mean… Have you ever read a history book?

Finally, to the whole point of this rant… A person I’ve never met decides to voice her opinion towards me. I’ll spare most of the conversation that took place, because I know I’ll get judged for expressing my thoughts on this matter. I don’t need anymore judgement for my lack of control my words had on the woman.

“Oh my god! Racist!”

It was 7am, I was focused on filling up my Jeep, and I didn’t hear her.. At first.

“Huh? Are you talking to me?”
“Um, Yeah bitch.”
“So, I’m a racist and a bitch.. Fantastic. Why am I those things?”
“The flag on your car!”
“What flag? My Wichita one?”
“No. This one right here!”

The minute I saw her point to it, I laughed in my head…

“This one right here? The one with NO stars or red in it! The one that doesn’t even REPRESENT America?!?”
“What is your problem?”
“You called me a racist and a bitch, you don’t know me at all, yet I have a problem? For you information that flag is for Scotland! Think before you speak!”
“It was an honest mistake.”
“Sure. Calling someone a racist is an honest mistake…”

I’m also pretty sure her name was Tiffany.. Tiffany’s are the worst. Except for maybe two, they are cool. 

Why I hide my depression.

In a series of events this past week, I’ve hit the proverbial wall. I’ve made mistakes that were completely my fault, a possible relationship I chose to not pursue, and making people at work hate me or be disappointed. In all this and much more, I feel like a failure.

You see, I struggle with depression everyday, yet I choose to smile and make people laugh rather than have people see me the way I truly am. Because if people saw what I’m like, I’d be truly forever alone.  I know I have it good compared to other people’s situations and I should be thankful, I just can’t. I understand that makes me sound selfish, but is it bad to be selfish every once in a while? I truly do not know how to make myself happy, I know how to make others happy but I’ve ignored myself.

It’s a daily battle that I have to fight, and I once thought that I’ve won… It was short lived.  Everyday I have to remind myself that it could be worse and I can do it.  That I’m actually not a failure, a disappointment or a loser.  All that works right up until I step foot at my job… where I’m called a bitch, asshole, yelled at for no particular reason, turned cold shoulder by other associates, not treated like a human rather a robot, and always failing my boss.  I still question why I chose retail as my profession….

I’ve never really questioned God all that much throughout my walk with Him, well except why the Dinosaurs had to die, are their aliens, the Dodo bird and why I have headaches almost everyday… But besides all of those questions, for my entire relationship I rarely questioned.  That was until about a month ago.  I was told depression is a key factor that a person isn’t truly living for God, that if a person is depressed they are living for themselves and not God.  This spiraled into me questioning my entire relationship, why I haven’t been healed, why I’m still single, why I struggle day in and day out with depression and am I truly His daughter?

You see, this may not be a surprise to many but it’s been my struggle for some time.  I want professional help, but heaven forbid I seek it outside the of the church… Plus, it’s just a step I’m scared to take.  Why? Because it would just be another thing a my list of many that makes me look like a case for, “awe.. poor her.”  I don’t want that.  Which is why I hide my depression behind laughter, sarcasm and smiles.  I want to be normal when I’m not, I want relationships not pity parties, and I want to be free.  I think I will and always be a woman who puts others in front of her, even when I’m hurting.

This may look like I’m wanting attention, it’s actually attention to the fact that whatever life you’ve chosen for yourself, depression can hit anyone.  For those who think Christians are perfect, we are not and for those Christians who think they are in fact perfect….. Please stop shaming other fellow believers, that you think are not in the realm of perfect.

It’s through a core selection of people that I am here and living as best as I can.  These friendships range to knowing people well over ten years to new friends I met just a year ago.  They may or may not have known this information, but each and everyone of my friends has said or done something that made me dig a little deeper and stay strong.  I’m also stronger for not giving in, when it’s so easy to.

I have to know that I will be okay and someday I’ll be even better.

Because Bill.

Living with someone can be a challenge at times; married, roommates or civil union; regardless of your living situation, sometimes a challenge can occur. I for one cannot complain. When Liz moved in with me three years ago, I did not know her at all, it was like a blind date… Well, that “blind date” (because making this even more awkward is a must) turned out very well!  I’ve come to call her friend, we’ve traveled to Scotland, we laugh at dumb things, have some serious conversations, I got her to watch LOST, she got me into Doctor Who (thanks for that), I call her Liz Lemon sometimes.. Regardless if she likes it or not, for her birthday last year I put Nick Cage faces everywhere and last Christmas she retaliated with this..


If you ever need an alarmingly way to wake up, may I suggest putting Mr. Bean in your shower.

However, one thing stands between us.. It’s not super duper major, but it is alarming.  While watching one of my favorite movies; ‘What About Bob’, Liz quietly watched it with me and then outspokenly said, “I don’t like Bill Murray.. Eck.”

How can one NOT like Bill? I mean… It’s Bill!

She has explained her reasons why she doesn’t like Bill, I have refused to hear her words.  So, what I’m proposing to hopefully some day happen is a meeting between the two.  I keep reading stories of Bill popping up at random places like a bachelor party, going to an ice cream social, sing karaoke and play kick ball .  Bill is everywhere!  I have nothing amazing to persuade Bill into coming to the big city of Wichita, KS.. Maybe some tacos and pie will get him here.  I don’t know.. Regardless, I think it would be humorous if Liz had dinner with Bill Murray, share some conversation, life lessons learned and see the charm that’s Bill.

Also, she doesn’t like the movie What About Bob.  Guess who’s going to get 10 copies of that DVD….  This has become my new mission in life, mainly because Liz will hate it and I’ll get a laugh.  If somehow this makes it across the interweb, I’d like to hope that somehow Bill will see this and come to Wichita.  But if that never happens, which I’m absolutely sure it won’t, Liz gets the pleasure of parking behind my Jeep from time to time… When she does, she gets to see Bill…


So I have that at least.

So, dearest Bill… Please come to Wichita! Please come to the land of ICT! We promise to make it somewhat less boring. My friend would love it, well maybe not, I’d love it though! Drinks on me! Free drinks Bill, think about it!
Sincerely, Cassie. The Bill fan!

If this does anything, my next mission is Benedict Cumberbatch.. That is, me meeting him.

How retail made me the worst person.

Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to a person tell me that they would like to work retail because, “it looks easy”… They even did the hand air quotations! Before I laughed in their face, I stabbed them with a fork. Just kidding, that’s psychic and I’m not their; yet. The thing is, it’s not. Retail is a soul sucking, take all, give me your first born type of job. I didn’t hop and skip my way into retail willingly, I needed a job after my first job shut the doors FOR-EV-ER. I’m still in the business, nine years later and I’ve gotten worse.
Before retail, I saw the good in everybody, no one could do wrong and if they did, I’d like to think they’d get up and do well after. I use to enjoy weekends off, run down hills like Laura Ingalls, pick daisies, enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do none of those things any more, rather I dislike humans and nurse a glass of whiskey every night. When I began this wondrous journey of retail, I didn’t think I’d still be in it; but alas I am. Nothing surprises me any more, I think the last time I was surprised by what a customer said, was when he came up to me and said; “someone crapped down your aisle.” Sure enough, someone did indeed crap in my aisle… Someone walked and pooped at the same time… Pooped.



Now I know what you may be thinking; “why doesn’t she get a new job?”  I’ve already tired that avenue, and the problem is simple. I like the company I work for, Shoe Carnival is truly the best company I’ve worked for in my short retail span. Old Navy was meh, even though one manager was slightly crazy and how I found out I was loosing my job with Steve & Berry’s was instead of the company telling us, the company in which we called to fill our vending machines said; “Uh, this store is closing right?….”

Working with great people help that as well. The peeps I work with are a mixed bag of interesting, boss looks just like Simon Pegg and the laugh out loud type.  Plus, let’s be real.. The pay is choice and the benefits for my heath is rad. But it is because of these crazies that I get through my day a little better, mainly because we all agree on one thing… People are the worst.


I’ve painfully tired to understand people and why they think it’s okay to leave out 50 shoes,  have the balls to walk up with a smile and say, “I didn’t want those.”  I’ve tired to understand all the stupid jokes they seem to think I’ve never heard before, “my card isn’t scanning…. I guess my shoes are free!” I’ve tired to understand all of the dumb questions I get asked everyday, one in particular is about our BOGO… I guess people forego reading the sign, that’s right in front of their face.   The worst thing someone has ever said to me, (and I’ve told some), was just last year on Thanksgiving day. Lady came up to me with a sad face and said, “I really hate that you all have to work and miss your families.”  Inside my mind exploded with full anger, almost to the point of having aneurysm…

I could go on and on, for those who are friends with me on Facebook get the random status from me on which these random situations happen.  Honestly it’s because of those everyday situations, that I truly do dislike humans. I’m quick to an angry attitude, I’m way to sarcastic for my own good, I’ve perfected the fake laugh, I sigh the minute I hear someone yell, “help!?”, and I look at the people shopping in my store and wonder how on earth they think it’s okay to be rude, messy and lazy.  What has happen to you humans?  Is it because I’m just working in retail,  that automatically makes me garbage? What is it? Why?

Now I can pretty much read your mind while reading this, “man, she must be crap at customer service.”  False.  I may mentally curse and wish death upon all, but outwardly I’ll charm the pants off you.  I will make sure you find the right shoes, you’ll leave satisfied and will want to come back because of that excellent service! (that’s what she said)  Yeah, people will yell at me, tell me I’m an idiot and proceeded to say they should get what they want…  But I’ll always make sure to let you, the customer speak your mind, all the while I’ll make sure to have my mouth slightly open and a ‘bored’ look upon my face. Or maybe this face….


But once you turn your back…


On the flip side, every once in a while I will get a sweet, nice and the most loveliest customer ever.  When that does happen I almost want to give them a free pair of shoes and take them out for a steak dinner!  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it seriously makes my day.

In the end retail has changed me, it’s given me talents along the way and I get to be apart of people’s lives I never thought possible.  I’m a black belt at folding shirts (without the shirt folder!), I’ve become friends with a wide variety of people and I’ve taken that next step into my management career.  Yes, retail sucks the life out of me and I’m fairly certain I’ll have to give my first born to Shoe Carnival…  But, I can say with full honesty after all that being said, working retail is the most satisfying way to see how much people has changed over the years and it’s also the kind of job that I love to hate.