Storytelling Blog

We believe everyone is a story-teller and everyone has a story to share. This is where we share stories, tips and updated information about 99 Hills. We'd love your input in the comments! If you want to write for us, email


Vanderwoude Wedding Story

Recently we got to be with Becky and Chris on their special day to capture their intimate wedding. It was beautiful. 

This was the first "private" wedding I've ever shot. There were literally only 5 of us there: the couple, the pastor, the photographer, and me. Thankfully, the couple totally didn't mind us moving all around them and pretty much just tuned us out. It was quite an experience to be that free to capture this occasion. Normally, I have to be completely out of site, and out of mind at a typical church or outdoor wedding with guests and such. It allowed me to get some much more intimate shots and recreate some very touching moments afterwards. 

7 things I loved about this story:

  1. Their letters to each other were so touching in and of themselves, but I also really loved how the footage of the other person added so much more emotion to what was being said
  2. The trampoline footage shots, showing them individually at the beginning and then as a couple at the end. They are such a fun couple and this was a great way to show some of their personality off aside from the more "serious" shots
  3. Using the footage of her walking down the hill, on the pathway, and down the "aisle" all leading up to Chris' "Turnaround" moment, built so much anticipation throughout the first 3 minutes. I tried to intersperse just enough of her trip from the top of the hill down throughout the beginning minutes without breaking it up too much
  4. The music score! Loved the crescendo to the "Turnaround"! The tone, tempo, and emotion were there for all the tracks, 5 in total. The build up is also really good at "the kiss" 
  5. The pastor forgetting to say "You may now kiss the bride", and the groom waiting for it! 
  6. ALL THE SLOMO! It's amazing how much drama & emotion can come from slowing down a bit of footage. You can really feel the emotion of a moment, just a split second can become 5 seconds of eternity. A quick smile, a laugh, a look, all become so much more 
  7. Their "Blooper" lol

Thank you again Chris and Becky for letting us be a part of your special day! Lot's of love to you both and best wishes for your new life together! :)

Introducing 99 Hills Virtual Tours!

We are excited to offer our new Virtual Tour packages to Real Estate agents in the western North Carolina area (and beyond)!

We've been working hard at getting this off the ground for quite a while now, and are finally ready to launch!

Virtual Tours are the biggest trend in Real Estate Marketing right now. They allow the viewer to move through the home as if they are actually there. Videos are great, and we will continue to offer and create those as well. We see their biggest value in being able to tell the emotional story of the home through more creative shots and the little details of the home. However, with video, as well as still photos, the viewing is limited to where the camera is and where the angle is pointed when the picture is snapped. Our Virtual Tours blow those limitations up.

Powered by Matterport technology, our tours let you click through the home, walk down the hall, move around the kitchen, living room, bedroom, wherever. And look any direction you want to.

It takes your 3D experience to the next level.

Here are just a few of the benefits of purchasing a virtual tour with us:

  • A link and embed code usable across social media, emails, MLS, Zillow and other real estate sites with your branding and contact information.
  • Affordable pricing for both lower and higher-priced homes.
  • Great for out-of-town buyers.
  • Fast, 48-hour delivery.
  • Six-month hosting.
  • Still images from the tour, tour pop-ups.

With all that included in the price of your virtual tour, we hope you see the amazing value that is now available for your lower-priced listings, and the incredible potential for your higher-priced ones as well.

Visit our For Realtors page to read more information and contact us today!

See for yourself just how useful our virtual tours can be for your current and future listings!

So Long, Summer...

This was a sweet, sweet summer. It seems as if I'm always surprised when it's over, year after year. School starts this coming Monday in our little mountain town and though I am excited for my kids (2nd grade and K4), I so enjoy the lazy days of doing what we want, when we want! No schedule. No papers to sign. No car line. Plus my daughter is such a good helper with the boys and around the house. I will miss her the most (don't tell the boys...shhh!). 

However, the best thing about summer ending is that fall is approaching. I am an autumn person, I've decided. After living my entire life in south FL where it's really just perpetually summer, I have fallen head over heels in love with fall. I love wearing the boots, the scarves, drinking the apple cider, walking through corn mazes, collecting leaves with my kids (and mailing them to friends back home!), opening the windows/doors and so much more. It's just the best, guys. I've always considered myself a summer girl, as I live in flip flops most of the time, but now having spent two years in the mountains of NC, it's clear I was meant to experience fall all of my life!

Here are five things we did this summer and a few memories and pictures to go along with them. 

1. The day after school let out for summer we drove down to south Florida as fast as the van would get us there! We spent a glorious 2 weeks with family and friends. We went to all of our favorite places, lots of pool time and of course the beach. Bonus - no one got sick (our middle son had strep for weeks last summer). 

2. We spent a few days in Chattanooga, TN. What a cool city. Did you know it's a two-time winner of Outside Magazine's Best Outdoor Town? There's so much to do, free and otherwise. Through the generosity of amazing friends we were able to "See Rock City", eat at this amazing burrito joint and visit the Tennessee Aquarium. Fun fact: Joel and I were on a mission trip 17 years ago in Chattanooga and on one of our off days our youth group went to the same aquarium. We started liking each other on this trip and even held hands in the aquarium (so scandalous, I know). It was fun taking our kids to the same spots where our fledgling romance began!

3. We had fun in our town! Last summer we spent the entire month of July in south FL. As fun as that was, we missed out on some town events and time with our friends here. We went to the 4th of July parade, a cook-out with our life group and got to see fireworks from just down the road from our house. We entertained guests who came to visit and stayed with us, went to the pool, hiked some, visited our local library a lot and just enjoyed where we live!

4. Our family time was amazing. Summer doesn't mean 99 Hills is on a break but because our office is in our home, we get more family time than we know what to do with sometimes! We had lots of movie time, played games, really listened to each other, got to know our kids better and really connected. We only have 18 summers with each kid before they're on their own. Trips are fun and we make memories but there's nothing like seeing them blossom and change before your eyes at home in their own environment.

5. We purged! In the middle of the summer I had the crazy idea to join a huge yard sale at a barn here in town. My older kids happened to be away at their grandparents' house so I had free reign to go through their stuff and throw away things without anyone crying or arguing with me! Before you think I'm a terrible Mom, I let them keep SO MUCH and honestly, they haven't noticed that ONE THING is missing. I sold all kinds of stuff. But what really got me at the sale was that we sold our baby car seat. I almost couldn't let it go! We brought each child home in that same car seat. It was, for sure, the end of a season but also the beginning of something totally new: no more babies. How did this happen already?

How was your summer? Ready for fall?

Happy Valentine's Weekend!

It's been a while.

We hope this blog finds you well and WARM! We had a crazy amount of snow fall this morning in Western NC with no notice! It's so beautiful. If you were here, we'd make you a cup of cafe con leche (basically very sweet & strong coffee), sit & watch the snow & chat about life. But alas, an email will have to do for now! I (Jenn) had never driven through snow alone so today was a first!


We've had some fun projects in the last year, including our regular clients and some new ones. God has opened doors and provided opportunities we never thought possible!  We're just so thankful!

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Weekend! Who cares if it's a Hallmark holiday?! It's a great reason to show extra love to your family & friends. We're looking forward to a (rare) date night on Sunday at our favorite restaurant.

By the way, our daughter wrote a cute poem for Valentine's Day that we decided to make into a free graphic! If you want to use it, go for it! Feel free to share on your social media platforms and/or with someone you love. See below! It cracked us up! 

(Just right click & hit save if you're using a mouse. If you're on your iPhone, tap the picture & hold it till you're prompted with an option to save. If you're on an Android, I can't help you. #AppleForLife) :) :)

Thanks for your support & love! <3

Joel & Jenn Collins

Doing the Work of Vulnerability

We all know those moments when you have to be an example to your kids. Like, when you're teaching them to eat, they need to see you eating. Don't like broccoli? You do now! Can't stand bananas? They're your new fave! (Of course none of this is from personal experience...). Kids learn by watching, for better or worse. 

I have to admit (Jenn here) that when we made our huge move from south FL to NC and all that came with it (hello pregnancy, moving again and new baby!), I was not a great example to my kids. I put on a good face for them but every so often I would let my true feelings show. Fear, anxiety, sadness consumed me on a daily basis. It was hard to find the good in my days shortly after we moved. I was homesick and heart broken. I was fearful of living in a new place, learning new things and making new friends. I let it consume me instead of pushing through it.

Soon I realized I had to get through it; for myself, for my family. First of all they needed to know that Mommy is OK, and second, see me thriving. I thought, if they can see me happy again, truly content in my circumstances, they will really learn a life lesson. I thought about what fuels me: people, relationships, community. I knew I needed to press into that and start being vulnerable. This meant putting myself out there, inviting people into our home, initiating coffee dates and lunch dates. Going to park play dates and Mommy groups at the library. Getting showered and dressed when it was more comfortable to stay inside in my pajamas. 

Guys, it is HARD to put yourself out there. The fear of rejection is real. The fear of people not reciprocating is real. But, my kids saw me trying. I felt more connected. The fear, anxiety and sadness started to subside. We have an amazing group of friends in our new community who love us and who we can count on. The work of vulnerability is rough but in the end, it is so worth it. Brene Brown says "Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage." When we're truly ourselves (with the right people), we only gain intimacy, connection, become more courageous and ultimately free from what was holding us back.

If you find yourself in a new place: geographically, emotionally, spiritually...whatever. Get out there and LIVE. Find a community, a Bible-believing church, a Mom group, a hobby group...whatever you like to do, there is a group out there doing it. I'm so glad I pushed past the awkward to find contentment. And I'm so glad my kids watched me, for better or worse.