Dear Photographer, What can we learn from the recent $1 million lawsuit?

 Iceland elopement/wedding

Over the years there have been a plethora of stories of people feeling slighted, and then destroying a business that people have spent years to build. Cake shops being shut down for refusing service, photographers being sued for coverage, or images, or failure to meet expectations, it is a messy world. 
Recently a story that I have been following for awhile has been somewhat resolved. A photographer, Andrea Polito, was sued by her clients over "images being held hostage." I am not going to go into the whole story here, but you can read in the links below. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Before I start writing my opinions on this, let me say that I have not spoken to Andrea Polito or anyone else involved with the situation. 
So probably like many of you, after reading these stories about people closing their business after years of hard work due to an upset client, I have had the fear that this may, for some reason, happen to me. If you have been following my blogs for any time, you know that I am a huge proponent of branding (more in the non-visual sense) and communication. 
I believe that 99% of issues can be solved with good communication, and most of this comes before the day of the shoot/wedding day. Your email communications, your brochures, your consultation/contract and even any shoots/meetings before the big day are huge as far as what you are saying to the client. 

All of your customer touch points are massive when it comes to your brand's identity and image. Some of this is visual, but much of it is in the way it is presented. Now in the recent case, the couple felt like their images were being “Held Hostage.” I recently listened to a podcast where one of the guys was talking about how digital photography has changed when and how people want to receive their images. People don’t want to wait, everyone feels like digital is instant and they want their images ASAP. 
With our businesses, we all have the choice of how to make the final delivery of products. I for one value printed photography. Over the past two years, I have delivered all my images as 4x6 prints first before I send the digital delivery. I put a lot of work into my photos, and I know that a client can flip through 500-800 photos in 10 minutes. I want them to realize what their investment is worth and to be able to relive their wedding day over again as they work through the prints. Yes, this process takes time, and I have had impatient clients, but that impatience is good. I have told them before hand that this is how I operate because I value my work and I want them to see the value in what they are paying for. 


Like I mentioned before there is so much you can do before the shoot/wedding day that will help your brand. If you are working with someone for a single shoot, then make sure that you highlight why you do what you do before the shoot. This can be in the initial email, a follow-up email, and even…a phone call. Better yet use several of these methods. Make a PDF or even a hard copy of what they should expect. Set yourself up for success before you even start. If you are working with a client for a wedding, then you have far more opportunities to set your clients expectations.
When a client first contacts me, I send them an email that lines out why I do what I do. This includes why I find printed work important, my style, and what they can expect as far as the experience. 
During the consultation, I bring a paper copy of the contract (I send a digital one as well) and as we talk, I touch on key points of the contract, once again explaining why I do what I do. The clients can read over the contract, ask any questions, take it home, mull it over and ask any questions they may have. I strive to be as transparent as possible. 
Once they book, I send them a PDF that I created for tips on engagement photos and planning their wedding if they want the same quality of photos that they see on my site. In this PDF I mention things like when the best times are to shoot, what to wear to their engagement shoots, and when they can expect their photos after the wedding and how they will be delivered. 
Every business has clients that are unhappy, and many things can be resolved. But there may come a time when it goes to a deeper level. 

To Be Professional 

As photographers, it is our responsibility to educate our clients. Any professional should educate their clients. There may be a few that know the process of booking a photographer, but each photographer is different. Every type of shoot is different. It probably will not take the same amount of time to process photos from an engagement shoot as it will to edit a wedding. But clients may not know this. Also, they may have had a friend that received their photos within a week, and that will mean that they may assume this is the status quo. 
This education is also an opportunity for you to sell your potential client on YOU, not just on photography. Everyone has a unique selling point, the thing that sets you apart from others, find yours and sell it. 

The Lawsuit
This lawsuit in a way is a win for the small business owner. We now know there while there is and (hopefully) always will be free speech, there still may be consequences for what is said. Hopefully people in general, not just clients of photographers, but everyone will think twice about if it is really worth it to destroy something that someone has worked so hard to build, just to prove a point.

There will be clients that you will never be able to make happy. They may write bad reviews. They may harass you. They may try and destroy what you have taken years to build. If/when this happens remember several things. 
1.    Document. Print and save all emails. Record phone calls. Screen shot any text or social media messages. Prove that you communicated professionally and appropriately. 
2.    Stay level headed. No matter what they say or do remember you are the professional, so act like it. 
3.    Seek community. It will be a rough road; you will need friends to chat with, to go out with, to have a drink and enjoy life. 
You can read Andrea Polito’s open letter
From what she writes, it seems as though she communicated properly and professionally. 

As I said, I have not spoken to anyone involved in the case. These are my opinions, build a strong brand. Know who you are. Doing this will help carry you through anything. 


This session was so awesome. I have always wanted to shoot in the RINO district here in Denver and I finally had the opportunity to do so. 

It has been a little bit since I have blogged, or really been on social media for that matter. I felt like I needed a mental health break for my own good, and guess what. The world did not fall apart while I was away. But during this time I had a super fun time shooting with Aaron and Taylor in the River North District of Denver here in Colorado. These two just got engaged, and when I put out a call on my Instagram that I was looking to do a shoot with a couple that had visible tattoos, they responded. 

Aaron is the Shop Manager at Dedication Tattoo in Denver, and Taylor is a hair stylist. when these two showed up they mentioned that they are super awkward in photos. I can't tell you how many times that I have heard this and the couples are not at all awkward. Aaron and Taylor completely killed it during this session. 

I had realized that while I have a good number of tattoos, that my portfolio was quite lacking in couples and people with ink. So I would like to remedy that, if you or someone you know would like to book a couples session, or even an individual session, and you have a good amount of visible tattoos, hit me up. I am offering half price tattooed couples sessions through 2017. 

Don't Be Afraid Of The Sun - But Use Sunblock- Tips For Shooting In Full Sun

As photographers we do more than just click a button. I know that will blow many people's minds. Besides all the things that we do in order to keep our business afloat, we are also "readers of light." Meaning that we use what we have to our advantage, we shape it and mold it to create images.

Many photographers, myself included, loath bright sunny days, but rejoice when we have a nice overcast sky, one that acts as a natural diffuser. There have been many a wedding day when I have received a text from a bride who is so excited that it is bright and sunny., or sad that it is overcast. When in the first text my heart sinks knowing the the hash shadows that are to come, and in the second, my heart leaps out of my chest knowing I can shoot wherever I want and will have no shadows.

Many times we try to find shade so that we don't have to deal with the harshness of the sun. When you shoot in the sun your shadows are much harsher, your colors are more saturated, and your highlights are blown out. The above photo is a SOOC (Straight out of Camera) from a styled shoot I had a few weeks ago. 

When I woke up in the morning, I knew that we were going to have a bright, super-sunny, Colorado day. It is not often that you get a nice overcast day when you live in Colorado, but I was ready to face the challenge. 

As a wedding photographer you don't always have the light, the weather, the subject, or church coordinator on your side, so you have to learn how to work with all of them. So here are a few tips for shooting in bright light. A lot of these involve knowing how your camera works in the post processing like how much or your shadows and highlights can you recover. 

Shoot as Close as Possible

When you get close you block out a lot of other elements that can cause issues and may be distracting. Below is a before and after of a close up shot. I use the Nikon D750 and the sensor in that camera is amazing so I underexposed her face in oder to not blow out the highlights. Once the highlights are gone, you cannot get them back. 

Expose for the highlights

When shooting digital you want to expose for the highlights. (This is a good rule and a personal preference, it may also depend on your subject). Once the highlights are gone on a digital image you cannot recover them, but you can recover shadows. 

For the above image I exposed for the sky, I wanted to keep the texture of the clouds and the blue. I also wanted to keep the texture of the mountains in order to have a recognizable location. I knew that I would be able to recover the shadow in her eyes so i was not worried about loosing that. 

Again I exposed for the sky and mountains in the above shot. I also was shooting with a 24mm lens as I wanted to get the whole view. When shooting Colorado weddings, it is a pretty sure bet that you are going to have sun, so knowing how to approach it is key. 

Backlight whenever possible

Nearly all the images in this post are backlit. Meaning that the main source of light is coming from behind the model. While this casts the face in shadow, it gives the hair and any other elements (Flowers/dress/veil) a nice glow. Backlighting is one of my favorite lighting techniques. I use it with sunsets, midday light, and off camera flash at night (Read that blog here). 

When Backlighting your subjects be aware of a couple things. Lens flare and the shadows. Remember when I said that once the highlights are gone, they are unrecoverable? I hope so cuz it was only a few sentences ago. But an issue that I use to run into before I knew how to control it was that my lens flare would cause an issue on my subject. Sometimes the flare lands on the persons face and it is really hard to remove. The other issue is just the overall shadows and highlights in the image. Just be aware of them. 

Be aware of how the ground reflects light

For the above shot we were standing on a dirt trail. While she was in the shade the light was reflecting on her. No I did not use a reflector for this shot. It is all natural light. If you are shooting near water or on the beach those elements act as natural reflectors and need to be balanced when shooting. 

Again a huge thanks to these vendor for helping and to Kaysie for modeling


Anna Be                                                                                                                             -

Evolution Salon                                                                     - -

Metalmark Fine Jewelry  - -

Epic Styled Shoot Part 2 - Anna Be Bridal, Evolution Salon, & Metalmark Fine Jewelry - Denver, Colorado

In the previous post there were more words than photos. It is not that I have run out of words (just ask my wife, I never shut up) but I figure you would rather see these beautiful photos than listen to me ramble on and on about the dresses. 

I mean they say that a photo is worth a thousand words soooooo........

Dress - Monique Lhuillier - Dulce

Dress - Ines Di Santo - Spicy


Dress - Berta - 16-103


Anna Be                                                                                                                             -

Evolution Salon                                                                     - -

Metalmark Fine Jewelry  - -

Epic Styled Shoot Part 1 - Anna Be Bridal, Evolution Salon, & Metalmark Fine Jewelry - Denver, Colorado

This shoot was LIT. I think that is how you use that, right? Isn't that what the kids are saying these days? Anyway, ignore my efforts to try and use cool words.

I first found Anna Be Bridal while I was driving for Lyft. (I pick up a lot of passengers in this particular area of Denver. Also if you need some ride discounts use this code MATT067500). You can tell from the outside of the building that the inside is going to be amazing, and it does not disappoint. 

I knew that I wanted to try and shoot a styled session with Anna Be; so I walked in and introduced myself to the shop manager, Joy. A few weeks later I emailed asking if they would like to do a styled shoot, and to my amazement and utter happiness, they said yes!

So, the search was on for the rest of the elements for the shoot. I already had a model in mind as I had worked with Kaysie for a brief bit and we had talked about her modeling. Believe it or not, she is not a professional, but she should be. So I asked her if she was available and she said yes!

Berta Dress

Berta Dress

I also drive by Evolution Salon in Denver due to them being next door the the Starbucks near my wife's work. So I messaged them on Instagram and asked if they might want to do HMUA for the shoot, and yet again, I received another YES! 

Shucks, everything was coming together. So we finalized our date and made the plans. 

I was hoping for a cloudy Colorado sky, but the Sun decided to grace us with its presence almost the entire time. We had a few clouds, but this was a challenge to execute the vision I had in mind with direct sunlight. 

So we arrived at Anna Be around noon to get the Hair and Makeup done. Maggie, a stylist at Evolution Salon, Kicked A$$ with the Hair and Makeup. You can follower her on Instagram @maggiejeanhair or follow the Salon @evolutionsalondenver.

After the hair and makeup was finished, Kaysie had the opportunity to try on some rad dresses, even a dress from Berta, her favorite designer. Joy got in contact with Mary the owner over at Metal Mark Fine Jewelry and she came over and provided us with some gorgeous pieces for the shoot. Seriously, check them out. 

Berta 16-103 (9 of 20).jpg

As a guy this was my first experience in the world of bridal dress fitting. It is such an intense choice. I never really thought it could be as hard as brides make it out to be. But, as I watched Kaysie try on the dresses each one looked better than the last. 

Anna Be's store manager, Joy, is amazing when it comes to knowing what dresses will look fit well on what body types. She had a few dresses in mind when we arrived and they were all perfect. 

(As a side note, while we were talking, Joy told me that they have an amazing retention rate for stylists. They all love what they do and from what I can tell they are all amazing at it. The parent company - a&bé - has bridal shops in Denver, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, and Portland. But Anna Be on Denver is a separate collection from the rest.) 

After the fittings we headed out to Boulder to for the super sunny locations. If you are a photographer reading this, you know the fear of shooting in direct sun. The harsh shadows, the blown out highlights, and the super saturated colors. But, we scheduled this and I knew that chances are we would have a beautiful sunny day. So I was ready to face the challenge. 

I will write a future post for all you photographers about shooting in direct sun and making the most of it. 

But without further rambling of words, I will show you the images which you came here to view. Also below is a video that I shot during the experience for fun. 

Dress - Made With Love - Hayley

So this was just the first dress/location. Check out Blog number 2 that is filled with all sorts of photo goodness from the other 3 dresses. You can see that here!


Anna Be                                                                                                                             -

Evolution Salon                                                                     - -

Metalmark Fine Jewelry  - -

Dear Photographer, Be Bold

My Awkward shooting stance.

My Awkward shooting stance.

For many the wedding season is upon us, for some who are starting out they see photographers posting glamorous bridal photos and want to join the ranks. Many times in order to do this, things are done, that later down the road hurt their business and break down their drive, and they give up. 

Many times this is because they want to get to the place of shooting weddings without the hard work and the time to learn the camera, and the business. So they offer to do a wedding for free, or cheap, and they offer to do photos for friends for free, and later everyone wants them to continue shooting for free or cheap. But you cannot sustain a business doing this. 

(Now, just for the naysayers, I fully support doing shoots for free or cheap when you get started. Everyone starts somewhere, and many times we suck when we first get started. I look back on my first year weddings and cringe. But the issue that many starting out face is the lack of communication).

First year vs This Year

So there is the purpose of this post. 


Have a solid contract, get it checked and stick to it. If you agree to shoot for 2 hours. Shoot for 2 hours. 

Stick to your guns, this is your business, and your artistic vision. Make sure that the the client is hiring you for that and not because you are free or cheap. If you are starting out, communicate you ability honestly, tell them what they are going to get and stick with that. If you want to shoot longer, or if you want to provide more images, then do it. But make it work for you. 

But in all this BE BOLD. 

I am sure that you have heard the term, "Fake it till you make it." This is true, there have been times for every photographer that we are faced with a situation that we are unsure what to do, how to pose, where to shoot, and how to pull it all together. But the worst thing that you can do is to show this visibly.


Many of these things can be avoided with preparation. If you know just how far you can push your ISO and still recover an image, you will know what to do when the wedding coordinator decided to turn out all the lights for the first dance, and your flash is across the room in your bag. 


If a client keeps demanding the Raw files, or more photos from the session, but you have that covered in your contract, and are able to firmly but politely tell them, "I do not release the Raw files unless the contract has a commercial agreement and the purchase price of the Raw files has been agreed upon in advance." Or "I only give the very best of the photos that are taken. It would not benefit me or you for me to with hold any images that you look amazing in." 


You can do this. Keep your chin up and be open to learning. You will make mistakes, but learn from them, seek out a mentor, a photographer who has been around and can help. Let go of your ego, it will not serve you well. 

So Be Bold

So Be Bold



Brand Strategy

McWay Falls - Big Sur

McWay Falls - Big Sur

From time to time I like to write on branding. It is something that I am passionate about, something that intrigues me, and you might even say titillates me. (really I just wanted to use that word in a blog post). 

 But when it comes to business having a solid brand paired with a well thought out brand strategy is something that can set you apart from the competition. 

Think about some of the biggest brands. Many of them have worked hard for years to position themselves within our minds. They spend millions of dollars a year on market research, focus groups, product testing, advertising, and marketing in order to control a large percentage of the market share. 

All of these elements make up a brands strategy. 

As photographers we have several struggles in business. But many of these struggles provide amazing opportunities for us to build our brands. One struggle is that we do not have the millions of dollars to spend on market research, or focus groups, but what we do have is a personal connection with past clients that we can utilize. 

Touch Points

Your brand strategy will also encompass all of your communication touch points. What does this mean? It means that from your first email, to your contract, all the way to the final delivery and blog. Every time that you interact with your customers, you are communicating something to them, and if you don't have a solid brand strategy, you may end up communicating the wrong thing. 

Other elements that play into developing a solid brand strategy are your purpose, the consistency of the brand, as well as what emotions the brand reaches within the customers and what emotions your brand invokes. 

 Iceland elopement/wedding

Another thing to be aware of when building your brand strategy is your competition. See where they are, what they are doing, and how you can set yourself apart. 

What works for one person may not work for another. As a photographer that may come down to your personality, your region, your style, any number of things. 

But knowing what your competition is up too is part of the game. Sports teams will watch videos of another teams to see how they work. Quarterbacks will study an opposing teams defensive line, to read how they move, to learn how they blitz. This helps them to act instead of react. 

One of the hardest things to do in business is to blindly market yourself. It is alway helpful to get some outside eyes to assist in any sort of marketing. You know what you want to say, but the meaning may not come across as you envision it. 

You may want to evoke a certain emotion, but your message may evoke a one that is opposite. 

You may think that you know who your target market is, the client that you want to book consistently, but your targeting is off. 

Marketing is a game, one that with a plan one can win. But you have to try things and fail, and then try  again till you succeed. 

If you need help. I am now offering Brand Strategy and Marketing Mentoring. Check it out here. For a Limited time I am offering 2 sessions for the price of 1!!!

Get The Most Out Of Your Engagement Shoot

Engagement shoots are one of my favorite types of shoots. I guess couples shoot fall in this category as well, but with engagements there is the excitement of the upcoming wedding, and the fact that these photos are probably going to be used for the save the dates. 

Now that I am back out in Colorado, I have so many locations that I have the opportunity to use for engagement photos that I get giddy just thinking about it. 

Not everyone likes doing engagement sessions, which is understandable due to the fact that being in front of a camera can be intimidating. Most of the time it tends to be the guys that don't see the need for them, but do them because their soon to be bride is keen on having them. 

But why would a couple even need or want engagement photos? Well, there are several reasons. 

Engagement photos.

As I mentioned above, these photo are great for save the dates. (Artifact Uprising  has some really amazing options for wedding invitations, and save that dates). It's is always great to have an epic photo of you two to add to these, plus you have some extra photos to give to mom and dad, which always is a good move. 

Another reason to have engagement photos done is to be able to spend time doing something with your future spouse. Weddings are stressful, and getting ready to go and shoot engagement photos has the potential to be stressful as well. After the shoot you can look back on the shared time as moment of building intimacy between each other. 

My favorite reason for getting the engagement photos done, is that in a way it can be an interview, a trial run for you and your chosen photographer. You have the opportunity to see how they work, how they pose, and best of all you get to build a relationship with someone who is going to spend the entire wedding day with you. Once you see their photos of you and your partner, you will have complete trust in who they are and what they can do.  

Boston Engagement

There are a ton of things that you can do to make your engagement session more enjoyable. One of the main things is finding an experienced photographer. Someone that knows how to put people at easy, how to direct, and has ideas in mind. After all they are the professional. And I believe that first and foremost that it is the photographers responsibility, not the clients to ensure an enjoyable session. If the engagement session is miserable, what will the wedding day be like?

Denver Engagement

Here are some things that you can think about for your session. 

Coordinate your outfits. (maybe not cheesy matching)

Launder and iron your clothes, Photoshop won’t take out wrinkles or animal hair.

Bring props: something meaningful to you, your pet, an instrument, a hobby, sport or whatever suits you the most. 

Use it as an excuse to get professional hair and makeup or splurge on those fantastic new shoes you have been wanting. 

Now for some things to NOT do

Wear anything with big logos or lots of writing (it detracts from the two of you)

Wear exactly matching outfits (unless you’re going for the 80/90’s look)

Wearing new clothes that still have store wrinkles. 

Wear clothes that hug the wrong spots, or hang to loose.

Wear white socks that peek out of your pants, this just looks ridiculous.

Tan right before your shoot. Just Don’t. Lets leave Oompa Loompa’s out of it. 

Think about your body type as well; you know what suits you and what doesn’t. Dress for the season, especially if your engagement shoot is outdoors. 

The most important thing during your engagement shoot is to be yourself! The whole purpose of the shoot is to capture exactly who you are, and show your personalities. If you pick an outfit that just isn’t ‘you’, you’ll feel uncomfortable and that is never fun.

Also be willing to try something, get in the water, ride the bike, lay in the middle of a road (if no cars are coming). The best photos are the ones that are challenging to get. 

Check out some of my favorite engagement photos from the past years

Mention this blog post and receive $100 off your engagement session in Colorado!

Name *

Dopamine: Social Media and the Addiction of Likes

This is a heavy topic, and not one that I may normally approach on my personal photography blog. But there has been a lot going on in my photography groups recently, as well as in the world of photography that has compelled me to write this. I hope that it in some way my meager ramblings are something that provokes thought, something that you can take and mull over and think about as you approach your year in photography. As always in my blogs I attempt to write in a manner that is up-lifting and encouraging. If I am criticizing the photography industry, know that I am a part of it, and I fall prey to these things myself.

Some people may argue that social media has negative consequences, others that it is a positive element in our lives. We can stay connected with friends across the globe, we can make new friends and go and meet them. That really is something incredible. For those of us in the photography business, we have an amazing way to have our work seen. We can post a photo to Instagram and with the right hashtags we start seeing the likes rolling in. That something inside of us feel rewarded. People like our work. Some thing with Facebook and Twitter. We create a post and are instantly rewarded. 

Dopamine is the chemical in our brain associate with stimulus and reward/ the pleasure center of our brain. Dopamine is not only about pleasure and reward, but about learning and memory. The reward of having our image or post "liked," shared, or commented on is something that our brain soon learns. It is validating. When we see the little red dots on our phone, or open up Facebook and see the notifications lit up, it does the same thing to our brain we begin to have a conditioned stimulus. We have set the expectation of a reward by posting, and once we see the notifications and likes we are rewarded. Dopamine is released because we seek out the reward. Recent research shows that more activity happens in the brain when we are anticipating a reward. 

Dopamine and social media have another relation. Uncertainty/unpredictability.

We create a post, an image, we compose our "Shakespearian" 140 characters. Complete with wit and hashtags. But what we cannot control, what we cannot know is the response that people will have. They may like it and we see that red heart pop up with a number next to it, 10, 60, 200. We see comments, and maybe even gain a few followers. But, what happens if a post only gets 15 likes. What happens if an epic image with a gorgeous couple, a canoe, mountains, flower crowns, and "tones to die for" doesn't reach that 300/ 1000/ whatever amount needed to be featured. What do we get. Dopamine. We always still get dopamine. 

According to Mauricio Delgado, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, “The same brain areas [that are activated for food and water] are activated for social stimuli." This means that our brain sees this social media stimuli as a necessity. 

As people who are photographers, this is something that we deal with on a daily basis. It starts out with wanting to get our work seen, to promote our business, and to grow as artists. But then the Dopamine sets in, and instead of creating content that lets our creative soul breathe, we work to create content that is accepted that will get featured, and that will get us the likes. Sure it falls in line with part of our vision, but from what I see in the photo groups I am a part of is that people are worried more about engagement, and likes then they are about creating. Just my opinion. 

But, think about the recent infatuation with Instagram PODs. For one they are a pain in the A$$ to keep up with just to build engagement, and most of it is fake engagement. But also they feed the dopamine like the ferocious beast that it is, as you use more the brain needs more. 

So why write all this? Just to rip on photographers and social media? No, that is not my intent. Events in my life lately have shown me the powerful effect of dopamine on my brain. It feeds a lot of how I have operated in the past 8 years of my life. Most of it not for the good. I have noticed that recently, after re-installing the Facebook app on my phone, that I have become addicted to checking it. I do not have the notification on, but I will open it up multiple times an hour just to check. I deleted the app last year, but then once I moved back to Colorado and booking season started I installed it again so I could try and put my name in for referrals. 

The phone and social media is something that I have seen starting to take over my life. I make efforts to leave it behind, or to not take it out in certain settings but it still is there. Like a weight in my pocket. 

I guess I wrote this to provoke thought. To hopefully make you aware of what happens, and why, and to maybe reflect on what is happening. You may read this and think that it is ridiculous, or that it is not you at all, and it may not be. 

But, just take a moment and don't worry about the likes. 

(BTW, I get the irony of writing this and posting it on social media). 



Shooting Your First Wedding - Part 3 (advice from others)

Well, over the past two blog posts you have listened, or rather read, my ramblings and thoughts about shooting your first wedding. It is an intense gig and there is a lot that goes into it.  

Read the Part 1 HERE 

And Part 2  HERE

Well, I reached out to some of my photographer friends and asked them to submit some thoughts. 

Chris Nelson -

1. What is something you wish you would have known or done differently before you started shooting weddings. (I'm going to give you 2 answers. One with the focus on actual photography and the other on the business of photography).

First, I would just tell myself to practice photography all the time. And by that I mean don't just take pictures of things. Genuinely try to improve photography as a skill. Trying to replicate youtube videos and inspiring pictures on IG. Once I got over being nervous to spend money on education and started regularly practicing different types of photography and techniques is when I started really advancing as a photographer.

Secondly, on the business of Photography I would say "track everything." Keep track of how every client and potential client heard about you. Then learn what is working best, and what isn't. Sometimes your impression, may not be reality. Even if Instagram ads were ineffective its helpful to hold on to that data and use it to compare to in the future. "What gets measured, gets managed."

Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson

Cara Elizabeth -

What is something you wish you would have known or done differently before you started shooting weddings?

For me, I wish I had started shooting weddings sooner and also wish that I had found an amazing photographer to mentor with and learn from in the beginning. There is so much information that I would have gladly paid to learn from someone who I look up to with their work when I was first starting out. And the more I shoot weddings, the more I love them. It has been an incredible journey for me figuring out my niche in this creative industry, and over time, have really figured out my worth, my style, and how to really tell a story through images. Everything I have learned in this industry really has been by trial and error. I had only second shot for another photographer 5 years after starting to shoot professionally, and a few years after starting to pick up wedding gigs. Finding my style, and learning creative techniques that have been taught to me by others really helped me in the process of growing my business. And I feel could have helped me so much sooner if I had taken the time to find someone to learn from in the beginning. As it is not at all impossible to get to an amazing place in your business without the help and time invested with someone else, but it definitely helps to grow your business in ways you might not know, and faster than you may be able to achieve on your own. Not to mention, having other photographers you can go to when you have questions or need advice is the best.

Cara Elizabeth

Cara Elizabeth

Bailey Dalton -

One Thing I Wish I Had Known When I Started Shooting Weddings:

I wish I would have known it was okay to take control. Take control of directing large groups, of keeping the timeline in order, of helping the bride delegate, anything!

When I first started shooting weddings I didn’t want to interfere with what was happening and I wanted to just stand back and let it all unfold. Well, 90% of the time you are dealing with a bride who this is her first wedding. Even if this is her second wedding (or third or fifth…), she still hasn’t even seen close to a fraction of the amount of weddings we as photographers have seen. We have seen all different types of wedding and we have seen all types of wedding disasters. I learned that as soon as I stepped in and helped control what was about to happen, my weddings went way smoother and were way less stressful for the bride! It’s one thing they aways rave about in their reviews; how I played a much larger role than just the photographer. They love me for it!

I am not saying show up and boss everyone around. But show up and realize you are the professional here. They hired you for your expertise. So when something isn’t unfolding in the best way possible, step in and redirect it. A few examples:

- Family Formals — Everyone kind of understands what they should do, but they need a lot of direction. Like, A-flipping-LOT! Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell who to stand where and what TO DO WITH THEIR HANDS! haha I like to start with the largest grouping and work my way down. This way I am not trying to round up the random people at the end. They will have already been in the group shot and then I can start whittling away until I am down to the most important people.

- Details/Getting Ready Shots — I used to be nervous to take the dress out of the bag before the bride was ready. Grab the dress, and take it somewhere. You don’t have to shoot it exactly where it was hanging when you found it. Same with the other details. Step in, take control, and make it all look pretty. Chances are it wasn’t perfectly arranged when the bride plopped them all down.

- Bride & Groom Portraits — There are people waiting to congratulate the bride and groom and people are ready to get the party started. But again, they hired you because you are a professional and they wanted professional photos. Don’t be afraid to set up a shot or take them to the other side of the venue to get the perfect light. Most definitely be considerate of their day though and realize this isn’t only about the pictures. (I try not to take more than 20-30 minutes doing these unless the bride has specifically requested otherwise.)

- Cake Cutting — Tell them which side of the table to stand on for the best shot, have them cut slowly if you need to grab an extra shot, etc. Adding those 5 seconds isn’t going to throw their story off.

These are just a few examples, but there will literally be instances all day long where you might need to step in and help guide things along. I like to think of it as “controlling the chaos”. haha Everything will still happen and there will still be a story to tell. Just make sure you are taking your time and guiding it in a way that you are able to tell their best story and not a story filled with stress and haphazardly captured moments!

Bailey Dalton

Bailey Dalton

Kristen Kaiser -

I wish I would've known that what other photographers think about me doesn't matter. Photographers can be cruel, and I almost quit shortly after starting because of it. I got SO wrapped up in what other photographers were doing. What presets they were using, what gear they were using, what blogs they were being featured on, what locations they were shooting at.. and all the while, comparing those things to myself. I had a 5+ year old camera and a $50 lens when I started out. I so badly wanted to "impress" other photographers with my work, but the reality is, I needed to give myself GRACE. While I was struggling with comparison, I was also discouraged from pursuing photography by quite a few photographers I looked up to. It DEVASTATED me. But looking back, I KNOW this is what I was meant for and I'm so glad I pushed through. Despite my rocky start, I 100% believe it has made me a better/stronger photographer! So much of my passion for encouraging new photographers is rooted in my own experience. So to those of you who are either new to the industry or are considering joining it, my BEST advice to you would be to stay true to yourself, your passion and not let anyone's negativity get in the way of you chasing your dreams.

Kristen Kaiser

Kristen Kaiser

So the long story short. BE PREPARED. 

Almost every week I see a photographer in a group asking for help because they were not prepared. Take the time to learn, to ask questions, and to practice. 



Vendor Highlight - Flora By Nora - Denver, Colorado

So after moving back to my home state of Colorado I wanted to connect with some other wedding vendors in the Denver Metro area. After perusing Instagram for a bit I stumbled upon Florabynora

Floral by Nora wedding flowers (8 of 29).jpg

Her floral work is amazing. I loved the variety of tones, shapes, and vases that she utilizes for her work. 

I love being able to recommend vendors to my couples that I know will give them an experience that they will remember. That and I would love to have Nora's work to shoot at any of my weddings. 

Nora originally hails from St Louis, and while she still occasionally provides floral services for brides out there, her focus is here in Colorado. She has a great studio space in the Santa Fe Arts District in Denver. (910 Santa Fe). You can grab coffee and pastries next door and chat with her about her passion for flowers. 

She has spent quite a few years in the wedding industry, working for other florists, and stationary/invitation designers before branching out and doing her own thing. 

Check her out and book her for all your floral needs. 

Shooting Your First Wedding - Part 2

Bridal Portrait

Thanks for coming back! If you have not seen my first post about shooting your first wedding, check it HERE. 

Every wedding is different. The only constant is that the timeline will not be followed exactly, and you will run out of photo time quickly. I always tell my couples that two hours will turn into an hour really fast.

7. Creating a Timeline

My I touched on this in #2. Having a plan. The timeline is a specific part of this plan. Below is a sample timeline. 

Sample Timeline

I have my couples check this and email any changes, and at least one week before the wedding we agree to a timeline. This is how I create my master plan for the day. It took awhile for me to realize this, but it makes my day so much smoother. I can communicate with my bride as to where we are at and what choices she would like to make. So take the time and make a timeline. You will have a better experience and you will be more professional. If you need tips on how to do this feel free to email me

Veil Bridal protrait

8. Consider a second shooter

Second shooters are great to have. But they are not 100% necessary. Having a second shooter on a wedding day helps with being in two places at once, providing more photos, and lessens the stress. But, I have shot plenty of weddings without one. If you are shooting your first wedding for free or cheap, ask if someone wants to tag along for experience. Be upfront and be direct with what you need from them. In the end they represent you and the brand that you are building so they need to know what you need before hand. Having a second the day of your first wedding will help you and will also provide your couple with more photos. 

Second Shooter

9. Be Honest

When booking your first wedding, be honest with yourself and with your clients. This is a huge day and when you are honest and you set the expectations you have less of a chance of failure. Both in your eyes and your clients. 

This could mean second shooting for awhile before you take on a wedding of your own. This way you will learn the pace of a day and how to operate. Watch the lead closely and ask questions. 

Set up a styled shoot, either with a paid model or a friend. This will give you shots for your portfolio and can help with showing the couple of what to expect after the editing is complete. 

Bridal Portrait

10. Shoot in RAW

If you have never done this before it can be intimidating. You also may need to buy larger cards. But you can salvage a photo that may have otherwise been lost. You can shoot at a lower ISO and boost exposure in post if you need to have have a useable image. 

Trust me. You will never turn back. 

Wedding Rings

11. Have fun & encourage your couples to have fun

Wedding days are stressful. Like I said before it is the hardest job I have done, but the most rewarding. I encourage my couples to focus on the moments as they happen, don't worry about the other things. The day goes by so fast so enjoy it. 

Now if you have you plan and your timeline, you can focus on being in the moment. 

If you know how to use your gear you won't be spending your time fiddling with the controls or chimping (looking at your screen after every photo). 

You can focus on the things that count. The moments and the people. 

Random Tips

  • Turn off your camera beep. Nothing worse than a quiet church prayer and the beep of a camera focusing.
  • Don't worry about lens caps. Not only do these slow you down, but dropping one on the marble floor of a church during a ceremony is embarrassing. It hasn't happened to me, but I have witnessed it. No Fun. 
  • Think about backgrounds. When setting up a photo, think about what is in the background. I.E. beer bottles, trash, cars, street signs. Things that make it look like a person has something growing out of their head. Sometimes all you have to do is move over slightly. 
  • ALWAYS TAKE HAIR TIES OFF OFF THE BRIDESMAIDS WRISTS. Remembering to do this will make your editing so much easier. 
  • Your plan will get ruined, have a backup plan


Shooting Your First Wedding - Part 1

Wed (1 of 1).jpg

So you think that you want to become a wedding photographer, you see a photographer a work at a wedding and think, "Wow, that looks so fun/cool. I bet I can do that." After all your mom says she likes your photos. Or you take photos as a hobby and then you start seeing some of these epic photos that wedding photographers take and want to be a part of preserving the memories of couples forever. 

These are all ways that some people start shooting weddings, along with a plethora of other ways; a friend/family member asking you to do it cuz its cheaper and you own a camera or being a portrait photographer and someone liking your style and asking you to shoot their wedding. And suddenly after saying yes you realize that you have your work cut out for you. Hair and makeup starts at 9am, the bride and groom are getting ready 30 miles apart across a busy city, and the reception goes until midnight. Not to mention that the church will not let you move past the first five rows, the DJ has lights that ruin every first dance photo, and after it is all said and done the couple is asking you within a week when they will see their photos. Stress sets in. You cry, you complain, you edit like you are being chased by a ravenous lion, and then they want more photos, or they are unhappy, or they never respond once they are sent. All for $200 (or free). 


But do not despair. There is hope. 

 99% of wedding photographers started cheap, or even free. I shot my first wedding that I found on Craigslist for $500. My second and third were for $1000. My second year I started at $2000. Now, nearly 9 years later we charge somewhere between $4000-$6500 but don't be afraid to start cheap! Build to $3500 as fast as you can, but make sure you have a portfolio first. Also don't be afraid to play around with your pricing several times a year. - Daniel Aaron Sprague of The Spragues  

When it comes to shooting weddings there is no such thing as being over prepared. I believe that is it always good to have a small amount of fear and nervousness before the wedding. It means that you are taking it seriously. Many of us photographers have nightmares about wedding days. We dream about forgetting batteries, about forgetting memory cards. About driving to wrong locations, forgetting to get dressed, anything. But preparation will help you. So here are some things that I wish I knew before shooting a wedding. (No particular order)

1.   How to properly use my flash/speedlight.

During my first wedding I really had no idea what I was doing when it came to using my flash. I just kinda set things up, made it go off and hoped for the best. Figured I would fix it later. This was a mistake. I brought shoot through umbrellas and light stands, but no sandbags. They blew over and one broke. It was awful. It felt like such a derp. 

After that I took the time to learn about them, how to bounce my light, how to use diffusers, what power to use when, and it changed my game. Now there is no situation that I cannot light. 

Like the one below. Pitch black yet epic. 

See my post about backlit photos HERE

See my post about backlit photos HERE

2. HAVE A PLAN - Organize the day

My first year of weddings was awful. I just asked what time they wanted me to show up and showed up. I reacted instead of acting first. There were so many things that went wrong, only because I did not have a plan. Once I started working with my clients to develop a timeline days started going better. I realized that in order to present the clients with the best photos I need a certain amount of time to work with. 

I send my couples a questionnaire about a month out and then I use that information to build a timeline with my clients (and potentially the planner as well). I tell my clients this during our first meeting as well as during engagement shoots. You can see my that questionnaire HERE.  

Taken during my Iceland shoot. 

Taken during my Iceland shoot. 

3. KNOW YOUR GEAR (This should be number 1)

I cannot stress this one enough. 

  • Know how to switch your settings fast.
  • Know how high you can push your ISO and in what light and what you can recover in post
  • Know how to use your flash
  • Know your card speed
  • Know how to shoot a dark church from 20 rows back
  • Know what the lowest shutter speed you can shoot and still get useable images.
  • Know how open you can shoot and still get an in focus image - for each lens
  • Know what to do when your flash breaks and you have to shoot the first dance
  • Know what error messages mean what and how to fix them 

There are plenty of other things that you need to know before you shoot, but many times people blow into weddings without a full understanding of their gear and how it works. Remember, you don't get a second chance. Your couple is relying on you. 

In camera double exposure

In camera double exposure

4. Be Bold, Yet Tactful

You are hired to capture the photos that the couple wants. Guests will get in the way, wedding planners will tell you no, church coordinators will limit your movement, or try to ;). But you still need to be able to capture the moment and tell the story. This means setting your clients expectations before hand. Tell them that asking the guests to refrain from stepping in the aisle during the ceremony, or better yet suggest an unplugged ceremony. 

Talk to the coordinator before hand so you know what they expect. Then communicate this to the bride. If the bride has an issue the coordinator will listen to the bride far more than they will listen to you. 

If people are getting in the way of family shots, BE BOLD, take control and get the shots you need. You do not have to be an ass, but be firm. You have a timeline, the couple has a timeline and once met everyone will be happy. 

One of the coolest set ups ever

One of the coolest set ups ever

5. Don't forget the details

Wedding days go by fast. They are stressful. I have worked in both construction, landscaping, and kitchens and wedding days are by far one of the hardest things I have ever done. There are many times that a couple will tell me after that they do not even remember a certain moment or event during the day. 

That being said they spend months and/or years planning out the details of their wedding day. You are not only responsible for capturing the moments. But also the details. The table settings, the flowers, the napkins, the pin in the bouquet, the list goes on and on. There may even be things that mean something to the family, but you may never notice. So Ask. 

Get to know the bridal part 

Get to know the bridal part 

6. Get To Know The Bridal Party

The bridal party can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I arrive really early so that I can meet the whole group and get to know them. Luckily, for the photo above I worked with the groomsdude and knew his now fiance. But we are not always that lucky. 

I have had weddings though where I have left feeling like I am friends with the bridal party. They will dance with you, they will hug you, some may even friend you on social media. 

But when they work with you the results are amazing. 

One of my favorite bridal party photos. 

One of my favorite bridal party photos. 

Pro Tip: Lightroom Metadata The Easy Way

Big Sur - McWay Falls

Lightroom is an amazing program. For those of us that process a massive amount of images Lightroom is the way to go. But there are some things that you can do to help with efficiency, as well as to protect your images and boost SEO.

Many of us use Lightroom presets to speed up our workflow, but how many use metadata presets? This quick setup will help you with applying metadata on import.  

New Hope Photography SEO

In the library module select the Metadata Menu on the right.

New Hope Photography SEO

Once the menu is expanded, click on the preset sub menu at the top. Once opened select "Edit Presets"

New Hope Photography Preset

Once you have selected "Edit Preset" this screen will pop up. Fill out the information. 

New Hope Photography Metadata


When you import your photos select your metadata preset to apply on import. 

Intimate Couples Session - Standley Lake Colorado

I recently relocated back to Colorado since moving back there are a lot of places that I knew that I wanted to shoot at. Rocky Mountain National Park, Red Rocks, Downtown Denver at night, and one that I had the opportunity to shoot at last week. Standley Lake in Arvada. 

I met Stephanie through Instagram. I ran a short giveaway and she entered and much to her excitement she won. Unbeknownst to me we both have a common thread in our past. We are both graduates of UNC (The University of Northern Colorado). 

Stephanie is a dietitian here in the Denver metro area. You can find her website here or on Instagram here

Her husband Casey works in the oil industry here in Northern Colorado. They are both extremely fit people and this led to them meeting at the same gym while Stephanie was at UNC. She mentioned while we were shooting that she grew up in Orange County and moved out here and married a country boy and now owns chickens. Oh how love will change us. 

I seem to always get these couples that tell me that they are going to be awkward and look weird in their photos. But as you can tell, these two were making that up. I think that they wanted to try and give me a challenge. But when you have two people who looks this good and have such great chemistry with each other, they make my job easy. 

They also gave me the opportunity to work on my video skills. I have started including these short Instagram videos with my couples and my engagement shoots. Something that is unique, short and fun. Check their out here!

Music -

If you are interested in shooting a couples or an engagement session in the Denver/Boulder area or worldwide for that matter. Hit me up. Lets create together. 




A Rented Market Place - Shadow banning, paid ads, and followers.

Years ago there was a man who came to a new land in search of a better life. He had a dream of a home, land, and a family. But when he arrived the money he had worked for his entire life was only enough to either build a home or purchase land. In his haste he rented a small plot of land, and built his home. The dream was happening, he was on his way to the life he wanted. A few years later the landowner sold the land. The new owner wanted to build his house on the same spot so the man was forced to move. 


For many people Instagram is am amazing platform. You can share your photos and get them seen by people all over the world. You can follow the lives of celebrities and friends alike, or at least the lives that people want you to see. 

For many photographers, they built a decent following, gained clients, and grew their business for free. But along came Facebook, the platform that many had moved from due to decreased interactions, the loss of free marketing, and paid ads. Instagram slowly became more and more like Facebook, photos filtered by algorithms and many lost interaction and followers and saw their once mighty home withering. 

Photographers who once relied on hashtags to be seen were at a loss, people took to the streets of their Facebook pages screaming "I have been Shadow banned." "I am no longer having the likes, and reach that I used to." So what is to come? How are we to survive? How will we stand out within this market place of others who copy, undercut, steal, and "thrive."

The fact that all of these companies have started charging is not bad. When used properly this can be good and beneficial for your business. 


We as photographers are actually in a better place than we have ever been. We have the ability to stand out if we work hard. Everyone has a camera in their pocket, but not everyone knows how to use it well. 

The story that I started with was to illustrate a point. When one buys a house, they also purchase the land that is underneath it. No one in their right mind would build a house on rented land. So, why would you build your business on a rented marketplace? By rented marketplace I mean, Instagram, Facebook, or any other social platform where you do not control how your brand is sent out. 

So, what is your marketplace? Where do you own? Your website, your domain. The WWW. that IS you. Key's to this are

  1. Your Blog (probably your biggest market place)
  2. Your specific landing pages

One of the biggest factors in SEO is consistent relevant content. So rather than putting all your fish in one net like Instagram or Facebook. Build off of what you have, then utilize the social channels as best as your marketing plan allows. 

By building on the land that you own, you will be setting a strong foundation for the future. All the other platforms can fail, they can stop being free. But your content will not fade. 

Wedding Day Shots Lists

Shot lists. So many bridal blogs write about them. So many photographers dread them. But why? Copy and pasting a list and sending it to a photographer has to be helpful right? Maybe? Well, lets look at this. Many of the lists are written by people who are not wedding photographer. It would be like me telling a golf caddy how best to do whatever it is that they do. I have no idea. But...

You the bride have for days, months, and years, been dreaming and planning your wedding. Every detail, the flowers, what colors the ribbons will be. What font will the invitations have, who to invite, and who not too. All this money is spent and you do not want to miss any detail, or person, or moment. And I don't blame you. So you go to Pinterest and search for advice. 

After pinning several more flower arrangements, centerpieces, and fawning over all the things that you want. You stumble upon a shot list. It looks something like this.

► The first look
► Room shots at ceremony
► Wedding party and parents walking down the aisle  
► Bride walking down the aisle
► Groom’s face as he waits/sees her
► The vows
► Close-up of the exchange of rings
► The first kiss as husband and wife
► The recessional
► Room shots at reception
► Close-up of seating-card display
► Close-up of centerpieces  
► Reception entrance
► The first dance
► Father/daughter dance
► Mother/son dance
► The toasts
► The cake cutting
► Bouquet and garter toss
► Parents of bride dancing
► Parents of groom dancing
► Couple’s departure

Or this

Aimee & Greg (18 of 491).jpg

Immediately you pin it and save it so that once you book your wedding photographer you can remind them not to miss a moment. All your bases are covered. 

The Photographer

So as a photographer I have received many shot lists from brides. I always read them, and they are nearly always the same. Sometimes there are unique shots like "Grandma Ring that is around the bridal table centerpiece." Something small that we photographers may miss. Other times it is something like "Grooms father whispering last minute advice in his sons ear." How do we know that will happen? Do we need to fake it? Why? 

So here are some thoughts from a wedding photographer on shot lists. 

1. Hire A Professional

So what do I mean by this? 99% of the shots on these lists are ones that a professional will already be taking. Are we really going to miss the first dance? Or the cake cutting? My hope is that if you hired a professional that we will not miss this. Many times we skip bathroom breaks, water, and food, to make sure that we do not miss a key moment. Again, if you hired someone who does not do this professionally than these are not always true. Also, there are tho occasional odd balls that just don't care about getting the shots. But they never last long. Just because I put on my own tailpipe on my car or I cut my own hair, does not mean that you would hire me to work on your car or cut your hair. 

2. Trust

I know its hard. But there are many of us photographers who are in this because we love it. We care about providing you the best experience and images that we can. For myself I work to communicate as much as possible with my couples. I realize that, not only are they spending a decent chunk of change on their wedding day, and that they probably have

  1. Never planned a wedding 
  2. Never been married before 

So a lot of this is new to a couple and they are just trying to make sure that they get what they pay for. 

3. ASK

When in doubt ask a photographer about shots. Ask to see a whole wedding do a check list yourself and see if a photographer is able to capture what you are looking for. Ask questions. I love when couples ask questions, it does not bother me if couples ask about gear, lighting, situations, or any other questions they might have. I want them to trust me. 


When it comes to the shot lists, they are not bad. When used correctly. But if you are expecting to have your photographer walk around with a sheet all day and check of which photos they have taken and which they have not, they will miss many moments that are unfolding before them. 

Personally, I prefer when a couple lets me know about certain elements that they would like captured. If a bride spends a tone of time working on the decorations, or the table settings and wants a ton of detail shots, that is great to know. If the groom has cufflinks that have been passed down generations, it lets me know that I need to get some fun shots with them. 

These are all things that I do any way, but knowing what is important to a couple is beneficial when it comes to capturing the wedding day. 

Make your list unique to you and your day, but remember that we as photographers have done this many times before. Let us do our thing and chances are you  will be more than thrilled. 

Kara&Dan (497 of 512).jpg

If you insist on having a shot list, then add a second shooter to your wedding packages. This way you can have a photographer that is focused on what is happening in the present moment while someone is helping with the list. 

When working with the photographer to create your timeline, factor certain parts of your list into the day. 

Relax and have fun. The day will pass you by faster than you realize. I have often had brides come back and tell me that there are so many photos of moments that they do not even remember happening. Be present, make the memories that you want happen and we will be there to capture them. 

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New Hope Photography's First Senior Rep- Geneva - Red Rocks Colorado


So since I moved back to Colorado, I was excited to start shooting seniors again. In my last state senior photos were not a real big thing. I really love workign with seniors because each one is different and unique, they all have their own interests and passions and we get to use these to create some amazing photos for each one. 

Last month I began a Senior Rep program which I was super excited about. The problem was I really didn't know any seniors to pitch it too. But my cousin Mindy has worked with teens for years, and when I was talking with her mentioned that she knew someone that would love to shoot. 

So I would like to introduce Geneva. Although she graduates this year, she was super excited to be involved. 

Geneva - Red Rocks

Geneva attends Columbine High School, in Littleton Colorado and is an upperclassmen mentor. It does not stop there, she likes to keep herself busy with dance, singing, teaching dance, photography, working out, writing, modeling. 

She was a 100% natural in front of the camera. Even the test shots were amazing. We decided to shoot at Red Rocks in Morrison Colorado. I have always wanted to shoot here and never had the opportunity. Although I grew up in Colorado, I did not start photography till after I had moved away. 

Check out the rest of her session below. 

Interested in being a Senior Rep? There are some pretty cool perks! Check out the application here.

Family and Photos - A Personal Post

gpa (4 of 5).jpg

Most of the time I write about photography, marketing, past sessions, but I do not really get personal. But today I really felt like writing about family, mainly my Grandparents. 

Right now my Grandmother is in the hospital, which for our family is nothing new. We all thought that she may have been gone 20 years ago. But she is a short stubborn southern lady. My theory is that she has so many things wrong, and they are all trying to get through the door at the same time, so they are all stuck. That and she has an immense love for her kids, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren. She has invited all of the grandchildren's spouses into the family with welcoming arms and really become their Grandmother as well.

Recently we moved them down to Vail, Arizona from Fort Collins, Colorado. While they were staying with my Aunt and Uncle she took a fall, potentially due to a small stroke, she has a brain bleed that got infected, and every day we wait to see what will happen. We all know that she probably does not have long, but the hardest part is knowing how my Grandfather is dealing with it all. He has been sitting by her side, talking to her and repeatedly telling her "Norma Lorraine, I love you."

October 11th 1952 - 65 years of marriage

They met while in Russian class. She was taking Russian so that she could work for the NSA, he was in Air Force intelligence, 6901st support squadron, Suitland, Maryland.Over the years together they lived in Libya, Virginia, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Texas, and Colorado. He served for 23 years in the Air Force and had a tour of duty in Vietnam from October 1966-October 1967 and retired as a Master Sargent. Most notably he was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.  

 Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

My Grandmother raised their three kids during this time, My dad and his brother and sister. When she was working she worked in the banking industry and learned bussed all the kids to all their sports games. She has always been a fighter. Fighting umpires about the rules in baseball, the referees about the rules in basketball. At one point she received a technical foul as a fan. But her Southern spirit has always been alive and strong. 

Here is how this all ties in with photography. My Grandmother is all about memories. She has a mind like a steal trap. When telling stories she would often mention mundane facts like what was eaten for dinner, or what hotel they stayed in, things that no one really cares about. She also had albums of photos, whenever they moved she brought dishes and furniture that they have had with them since they got married. She created, captured, and harvested memories. 

We have always had the ability to create our own stories, to go out and do what makes us feel alive and happy. If we are not happy and do not feel alive we can change that.

We now have the ability to document our stories as we are living them. Become someone who lives their story, who captures and harvests memories. Do what makes you happy. Life is short. Find someone that will be your adventure buddy, that will travel the world with you. That brings you joy. Find the person that will sit by your bed day in and day out holding your hand, and whispering "I love you."

I for one couldn't be happier. I have that travel buddy. A woman who has more patience, love, and grace than anyone I have ever met. She keeps me centered. She calms my soul. She brings me more joy than I ever thought possible. When I look at my grand parents, now I get more and more excited to grow old with this lady. 

Most of these photos of my grandparents were provided from my Aunt Vicki. She always claims she is not a good photographer, but these photos have so much meaning it doesn't matter. 



Preparing for a Wedding - A Vendors Point of View

So, as a wedding vendor, I get the inside look at weddings. I don't get to see the whole planning process, but I do chat with my couples and I do offer them some tips along the way. The thing that I stress the most, from meeting to the day of, is... "The only thing that really matter is that at the end of the day you two are married." I will always stand by that.

As a photographer I may be biased, and I might ad to the thought above that it would be nice to your memories recorded in a photo or video form. Because to be honest, no one else will remember what your flowers looked like, or what food you served. (Although, I remember food at weddings, but that is because I love good food). 

So what are some things that you can do to help your wedding planning? Damn, I am glad you asked because I have just a couple of those things. 

Engagement Photos!

Do get them, especially with the photographer that will shoot your wedding. You will get to learn how they shoot and it will make the wedding day go so much smoother.  I love engagement photos. It can be a great time for us to connect and to get a feel for what we can create together. Engagement sessions are a time to capture your relationship and your story. The best part is that these can be super personal and you can use them for your save the dates and invitations. Think about what kind of fun things you would want to do. We can go out to a lake or a beach, we can hike up into the woods or we can hang out downtown. 

Some Engagement Photo Tips


Coordinate your outfits.

Launder and iron your clothes, Photoshop won’t take out wrinkles or animal hair.

Bring props: something meaningful to you, your pet, an

instrument, a hobby, sport or whatever suits you the most.

Use it as an excuse to get professional hair and makeup or splurge on those fantastic new shoes you have been wanting.

Some other thoughts

Think about your body type as well; you know what suits you and what doesn’t.Dress for the season, especially if your engagement shoot is outdoors. The most important thing during your engagement shoot is to be yourself! The whole purpose of the shoot is to capture exactly who you are, and show your personalities. If you pick an outfit that just isn’t ‘you’, you’ll feel uncomfortable and that is never fun.

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Speaking of the save the dates Paperless Post  does some amazing work. You can order any of your save the dates here. I don't receive any compensation from them if you do, but their work is stellar. 


First I suggestfiguring out what the top three things most important things to you are, and plan your day according to those.

Remember that at the end of the day you have your marriage and your memories.

The days timeline:

There are a few people that should be involved in the planning of the timeline.

  1.          The couple
  2.          The wedding planner/coordinator (if you have one)
  3.          And the Photographer.


Thinking about planning a first look? Great! But what’s so great about a first look? Wedding days move by so fast and seeing each other before the ceremony can really alleviate unnecessary stresses. It can calm your nerves, and give you a more relaxed day. It also provides for some amazing moments and more time for photos. 

First offthings will go wrong. But those things will be the things that you will tell your grandkids. But here are a few tips from my seasons that can help the day go a little smoother and a little more stress free.

Stay hydrated, don’t drink too much alcohol before the reception. Drunk faces do not look good in photos, and staying hydrated can keep away head aches and cramps. If you are looking to have your wedding outside the best time is about 2 hours before sunset. This way you do not have harsh shadows and the light falls more evenly. Remember it is about being married, not just getting married. At the end of the day all that matters is that you have each other. Focus on each other. 

There are so many things that I can talk about when it comes to weddings. As one of the only vendors that has the opportunity to spend the entire day with the couple, and even one of the few that stays in contact after (for delivery and such) I have the rare look into how many would have changed their day. 

Take time to look at a florist. Vibe with them. Make sure that you like who they are and their work.  

Find a DJ who is not cheesy and is involved. let them have fun and read the dance floor. No one but you will know if you have  a pre-arranged list. Most weddings that make the DJ play a certain list struggle with the reception and people having fun on the dance floor. 

There are so many great places online to order stuff from, Etsy is great and you are supporting artists. As I mentioned before a great company to order you wedding invitations from is Paperless Post. 

Food is important, but not as important as you might thing. I have even had other caterers tell me this. 

Remember that I travel all over the world for weddings. I would love to meet at chat with you no matter where you are located! Lets have fun and create some amazing images together.