Get The Most Out Of Your Engagement Shoot - Colorado Engagement Photographer

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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. 

Colorado has 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.  

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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?

I haven’t done a before and after for a while so here is one. I tend to underexpose most of my work because I know that I can save the shadows better than I can save the highlights. It gives me more to work with and to create what I see in my mind.

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. 

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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. 

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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!

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What's In My Bag - Gear I Use & Like

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Gear.

I love talking gear. I have shot photos with many different cameras, carried many different types of bags, and used a variety of tripods, straps, and whatever else you might need during my years in photography. When I was beginning It was always intriguing to see what other photographers used as far as their gear and why they use what they use. So here it goes.

For starters I shoot mostly elopements & couples out in the wild as well as commercial photography in the realm of food and apparel. So the chosen gear is used for my primary uses. Also not that while I appreciate good gear (and there are times that I would love more) I have realized that I can shoot with a very pared down set and I do not need all the lenses and filters and even at times name brand pieces.

Bags & Cases

I have condensed to 3 bags and 1 type of case for my average photography uses.

Boundary Supply Prima System - My everyday/hiking bag

I did an initial review here. But I have used this bag nearly everyday for the past year. It is great as a bike commuter bag as it has great ventilation, and sits really well on my back. It comes with a great laptop sleeve that has its own designated pocket as well as a case that can fit a DSLR with a lens and it attaches with a sling side pocket. So this bag is great for the short hike as well as for everyday carry. Boundary has an MK-1 insert that I have yet to pick up.

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ONA Astoria - My Everyday/Couples session bag

I love a good messenger bag, especially a nice waxed canvas bag. Over the years I have had 3 waxed bags. I had a Kelly Moore bag, which I used for many years. The size was great, but it lacked the build that ONA has in their bags. Later I picked up the ONA Brixton, but it lacked the space and the organization that I had in my other bag, so alas I sold it. Later on ONA came out with their Astoria bag. With just a few added pockets and organization, this bag is perfect for a wedding day or a couples shoot. I can throw two bodies with lenses in this, toss my third lens in and even add a flash or two. I have a secure pocket for SD cards and batteries as well as some snacks.

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Shimoda Designs 30 & 60L - My Adventure bag

I initially did a review on the Shimoda 30L for Carryology here. This bag is amazing. I have both the 30L and recently picked up the 60L as I needed a bit more space for my adventure elopements. This bag can fit alot, and it carries really well, so when it is fully loaded it does not feel very heavy and it stays steady on my back. I love that the bag has a variety of access points. My other favorite part is that the bag opens from the back, so when I am out shooting and I lay it down in the snow, mud, dirt, whatever, the front of the bag gets dirty, but i can put it on my back without getting dirty myself. There is not enough great things to say about this bag.

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Pelican 1510 - My Safe/Big travel case

I have two of these. One just to throw random gear in, and one that has the padded dividers. This case is my storage safe at home, as well as the case that I use when I travel. It can be stepped on, dropped, rained on, rocked around and my gear is safe. Every photographer should have one.

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Cameras & Lenses

Nikon D750

These are my two main bodies and the ones that I switched to when I switched over from Canon. I chose the D750 for the dynamic range as well as the tones that nikon has in its sensors.

Sigma 24 Art, 35 Art, & 85mm Lenses

For some reason I hate the way that zooms look. So I am a prime lens shooter. I have culled my lenses down to these three focal lengths as these do what I need for all my work. The 24mm I use for big landscape shots, and big tablescapes when I shoot food, I use this alot as well during most of my commercial work while shooting lifestyle apparel. I like to be right in the action and the 24mm gives me the ability to get close and still show the surroundings.

The 35mm is my main lens when I am shooting. I really just love this focal length. Many times when I am shooting couples I get about 6 inches from them as I shoot. This lens is just my everything.

The 85mm gives me the one lens when I need some compression and reach.

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Panasonic G85

I picked this camera up as it is compact and produces some great content. The camera and lenses with it have a built in stabilization system that allows me to be able to hand old for some video work. This camera is also just a backup in case one of the other ones break. I utilize a 20mm 1.7 lens as well as a 14-45mm3.5-5.6. for what I utilize this camera for these lenses nail just what I need. The 20mm gives me that low light F stop, and the 14-45mm gives me the stabilization and the reach.

Mavic Pro Platinum

This is my drone of choice. I like this drone as it packs down in my bag and I can hike with it out of the case, which saves room on my long hikes. The Mavic Pro has a 25 minute battery life and is super easy to control.

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Assorted

Yongnuo YN 560IV

I have used the Yongnuo flashes for years. This is one the the pieces of equipment that I don’t buy name brand. I have never had an issue with them and they are cheap enough that if they break I can buy another. Most of the time when I use my flashes it is during inclimate weather so if the snow or rain causes damage, its alright.

Holdfast Moneymaker - My go to

I love this harness. When I am shooting weddings and elopements it gives me the ability to have two cameras with different focal lengths on me at all times. For a wedding day that lasts 12+ hours this is comfortable and easy to use. Other than this I really choose not to use straps. They get in the way and I dislike them.

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Memory Cards

I use Sandisk 128gb cards in both slots of my Nikons. Never had an issue with them so I continue to use them

Peak Design Capture Clip

I utilize this on my backpacks for various shoots. If I know that I will be climbing at all or will need to snag various shots on the hike.

Batteries

For my cameras I utilize only name brand batteries. At times the 3rd party batteries can fail or not give you a good reading on charge. For my flashes I use Eneloop Pro. These hold a good charge and have a great recycle time.

External Hard Drives - Seagate

Over the years I have used mainly Seagate External Hard Drives as a storage and backup solution. They have never failed on me and the slim ones travel really well.

MacBook Pro 13in & 15in

Mainly use a 13in Macbook Pro as my primary editing computer. It is lightweight and small. It gives me enough power and RAM for my uses.

Alien Bee 800 & Vagabond Mini

When I shoot the occasional studio gig I use the Alien Bee 800. I love the ease of use and the ability to use it on the go with the Vagabond Mini Battery Pack.

MeFOTO Classic

For my tripod I use the MeFOTO Classic. It is small and light and can take a beating.

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All your wedding planning Solved!!! - Colorado Wedding & Elopements

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I have been in the wedding industry for almost nine years, and I have learned a lot. While my wife and I eloped and didn't plan a wedding, the couples that I have talked to over the years have given me insight into the planning process, what they regret what they do not and what they would do again. 

So so this post is a collection of thoughts on what I have gleaned over the years. So as you think about your wedding, whether it is an elopement or a traditional wedding. 


One of the biggest things that have heard from couples about was guests. Seating arrangements, how many to invite, who to invite, and who not to invite, what fall out there will be if someone is not invited. All the politics that go into planning can be the most stressful and least fun. Some couples said that they chose a smaller venue so that there was not enough room to invite a ton of people. Other couples want to elope for this very reason. The community can be a huge part of getting married, but it can also be fun just to be the two of you. Remember, the choice is yours. 

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Ask your vendors who they like working alongside. You may have people that you follow on Instagram or that worked on a friends wedding, but if you are at a loss, ask your wedding planning, your photographer, your florist who they have worked with, and who was rad. I have worked with DJ's who are highly recommended, but the dance floor was empty, and I have worked with others who were not as well known, but who are amazing. 

Planning can be a nightmare for some, but the greatest joy for others. Brides.com has a great checklist. 

But in short, you need to. 

Set a date, find a venue, find a dress, book a photographer, a florist, a HMUA, a DJ or band, a caterer, possibly a planner. Get the guys suits, figure out transportation, pick a cake, figure out honeymoon plans, figure out invitations, the list goes on and on. Each of those might have several steps or items. Again this is why some choose to elope because things happen on their timeline, and there are a lot fewer things to plan. 

Junebug Weddings has a great downloadable checklist here.

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Having a budget (a realistic budget) is a hard one as well and one that may determine where, who, and what you book. If your budget is $20,000 and your dream venue is $10,000 that does not leave much for everything else. There are many ways to wiggle around in the budget but knowing what you want and what is important for you if the key to planning a successful wedding. 


Picking your vendors is huge. These are the people that will help you in making your wedding or elopement a success. Make sure that you feel comfortable with them. As a photographer, I may be biased, but your media people are with you all day. While there are others that have a huge impact, your photography team and video team are the ones that will see you from the makeup to the send-off, make sure that you feel comfortable with who you have. 

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Wedding planners or day of coordinators can be a huge help to the success of the day. That said I have been part of many a wedding that has not had one and they have gone off without a hitch, but they also had an immense amount of help from family and friends. 


As I have mentioned before, the decisions are yours. So don’t let anyone rush you into your decisions. You know what YOUR budget is, and what you want YOUR wedding. If you have any questions, want to chat about your wedding, even if you already have a photographer, shoot me a message and let me know!

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Wintery Colorado Elopement - Nikki & Jeff- Colorado Elopement Photography

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Colorado is unpredictable. That is one thing that I always tell my couples that are coming from out of state for a mountain wedding. This was no exception for Nikki & Jeff’s elopement. This past spring was one of the strangest that I have ever seen in all my years of living in Colorado. We had snow and blizzards all the way through June. Nikki and Jeff eloped at the end of May and as the day approached I saw that there was potential for some intense snow.

I was a freezing rain as I left my house in at 3:30am, and as I drove up into the mountains I went through rain, fog, blizzard like snow, nothing, and finally light romantic snow.

The road was closed to the fist location we had chosen, and the hike in was a good 8 miles so we went to location two. After a short hike in the snow, which was hard, we arrived up at the lake. Nikki and Jeff were both troopers and they had an amazing time.

After they read their vows, which were hard to not get misty during, they popped some champagne and we shot some more photos.

I also created a video for them. Here is the preview. (I learned it is very hard to film in snow, when you cannot see the rocks and trees underneath your feet). Check the video here!

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Solving all your photography problems (Not Really) - Colorado Elopement Photographer

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I am in many photography groups, and there are a lot of things that they have in common. Many times there are some frustrating circumstances which photographers seek answers too. I am going to address my opinion on some of the most common problems.

Clients Misusing Photos

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While my thought is unpopular this is my blog and my opinion so here it is. It doesn't really matter. They paid you to take a photo you took them, and they have them. Clients may through a filter on them thinking they are making them better when they are not. If they tag me after doing it, I will remove the tag. But over the 8 years that I have been doing this, no one has said; “I saw your photo on Carrie’s Insta and just had to have you.” It tends to be more along the lines of “You shot so and so’s wedding and I loved how you worked.” Or “Carrie said you were amazing, so I looked at your photos and I love them.”

So you can make a big fit about it and leave a sour taste in a previous client mouth who then will only mention their negative interaction to people, or you can let it go and be creative in ways to keep clients from filtering your work.

For me, I stress how much I craft each session to be unique and fit the mood for the day. I mention this at nearly every touchpoint that I have with clients. It doesn’t always work, but it has helped. But even if they do, I have bigger fish to fry.

Using photos in ways, they didn’t pay for

There are many posts about clients who booked a session for family photos and then use a photo for their profile or “headshot” on their website, or some sort of publicity. Again While it would be nice for them to book a new session, or pay for proper usage, I can guarantee that 99% of the clients that do this have no idea about commercial usage vs. personal. So instead of getting all worked up over the fact that they misused a photo, spin it a different way. Mention to them that you love that they enjoy their photos so much but that from a brand standpoint doing a professional session that fits their brand would be far better in the long run. Offer a return discount or something else. Look for ways that you can turn this into a repeat business rather than leaving a sour taste in a client's mouth. If people don’t understand usage, they will not understand why you are making a big deal about it.

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Giving photos to vendors

In the wedding industry there are many times where vendors do not want to pay for images, so they will approach the couple to get the photos. Often the couples don’t think twice about giving them to the other vendors, especially if they enjoyed their services. So again, the clients probably do not understand the big deal about this. So you have several options here.

You can let it slide - If it was a vendor that I don’t care to work with again. I usually do this. If they post it on Socials, I may comment on it. But there have been times where I just don’t want to work with that vendor, so I am not going to try to network.

Touch base with the couple. Talk about how you do special packages for vendors and how you would love to touch base with the vendors about the photos. Then proceed from there.

Reach out to the vendors and talk to them. But look for ways that you can get repeat business. I ask for backlinks. I will give them non-watermarked photos in exchange for backlinks on their site.

This is my preferred option; when the couple books and you talk about delivery, mention that you will share certain photos with vendors so if any of them contact the couple they can send them to you. If you don’t want to give photos to vendors, that is up to you. But for me, the photos are already there, I have already been paid for them, by being pleasant to vendors and giving them a great service as well you have a better chance of being referred or even booking business off of them. For example, I gave a salon photos, they loved them so much they booked me for their rebranding photos and then several continued shoots after. By giving them photos, I booked several thousand dollars of shoots over the next year.

Copyright

So there is a lot of info about Copyright out there but here are the basics of it.

Whoever presses the button own the photo. If you are at a wedding and you have a guest take a photo of you and the couple...that guest owns the photo.

There is no need to register your photos for a Copyright to take effect. Once you publish online, they are copywritten. Although no registering decreases the number of damages that you can collect if there is a violation.

There are work for hire instances where you do not maintain the copyright, but this is signed away in the contract for said job.

So when clients want copyright, that can be negotiated. It is a lot more common in commercial work than in other types of photography. But there are times where individuals want copyright when what they want is printing rights. This is something that can be touched upon in many ways, on your site, in your contract, or during a consult.

Read more here

Clients with “Big” asks

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Uploading old Galleries

I have seen posts about old clients coming back and needing photos from years prior. I have had this happen. You know how long it took me? Under 10 min. I located the HD, plugged it in, made a new gallery and uploaded.

I do say in my contract that there is an archiving fee. That if I need to upload a gallery after X amount of time I charge X amount.

It gives people incentive to back up their gallery and wedding photos.

It gives me the opportunity to make them happy again if they need to have their gallery re-uploaded. I can mention “Hey normally there is a $100 unarchiving fee, but ill waive this and if you want to order any prints Here is a 20% off code.” Boom, smile on their face.

Wanting Photos Faster

I find this one the simplest. Communicate in the booking process, the contract, and after the shoot when the photos will be done. If you have someone that is asking for photos faster, then tell them you have X number of sessions before theirs, but if they would like them faster, there is a $1000 rush fee. Or whatever $ amount you feel is appropriate. Hold your ground and be firm.

Working for free for brands

Occasionally there are times where brands ask you to work for free or exposure. In your head, you are thinking “ They sell jackets for $500 a pop they can afford to pay me.” Well, here is the plain and simple truth. They should, but they may not have a budget for it. Some brands just do not put value on the visuals, so they do not have a budget set aside for photos. Instead of worrying about it. Move on. Brands that can’t pay will suffer in the long run. But you can also respond with “Thank you for your interest when you receive a budget for elevating your brand shoot me a message and I would love to chat with you about what we can do!”

Just don’t work for free.

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Business Management

For years I struggled with business management. I didn’t want to pay for a client management software. I thought that the few dollars a month could be spent elsewhere. I was so wrong. Once I started using Honeybook it made it so much easier to track everything. I was using an Excel spreadsheet to do what this amazing program was doing for me.

Honeybook keeps track of all your inquiries and projects and even can help automate things like payments and email responses by keeping your files in one place.

OMG. Seriously a stress reliever if i have ever seen one.

If you are interested feel free to email me and ask any questions.

or use this link and get 50% off your first year.

Adventure Photography - Shooting a Spelunking Adventure

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As I have mentioned before, I also spend a good majority of my time shooting outdoor apparel for a company called Triple Aught Design. Besides our shoots that are product specific we go out and adventure with our customers. Most recently, we went out and explored a cave with our community. So for me I wanted to shoot this as true to life as I could, meaning that instead of using a flash to light the cave, I wanted to use only the lights that we had. One of our company partners is Surefire. They provided us with several of their Minimus and Maximus Headlamps as well as several of their Flashlights. Having used the Maximus and Minimus once before I knew that these would be provide enough light to shoot with.

One of the struggles of shooting in a cave is that any rock that is right next to the light suffers on being too hot. Losing the highlights while not providing enough light to your subject. This is what makes a flash near impossible to use. I brought a flash so that I could utilize it for any off camera work, but on camera I was just not happy with the results.

Below are a few shots where I used Off Camera Flash to light and you can see a few hot spots in the photos.

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions!

Boulder, Colorado - Engagement Session - Rachel & Drew

Couple kissing on mountain top with a sun-flare between them.

Engagement and couples sessions are probably one of my favorite things to photograph. There is no real timeline. There is no real stress. It is just a fun time to go out and create some rad photos with some rad people.
This session with Rachel and Drew was no exception.

This engagement photo session was booked as an engagement gift by some family members. Rachel had seen my photos on Anna Be’s Instagram and quote “ was obsessed with the photos.” Which is always something that you want to hear when you book with someone.
Our first day we had to postpone due to all the avalanche warnings in Colorado, and the day that we rescheduled for still had warnings. So we changed locations, which worked out possible even better for us in the end.


After a quick little outfit change, we went and played with light and wind up on the top of the mountain.

Watch their engagement video here!

Surprise Proposal - Dillon Ice Castles - JC & Alli

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Shooting proposals is fun. There are so many elements that go into them that it really challenges the skills as well as puts your talent to the test. I have shot proposals that were in pouring rain, proposals where the guy arrived by sail boat to a dock and leapt out, proposals at night, and during broad daylight. But this one was probably the most challenging by far. There were alot of elements that were out of my control taht I had to plan around

  • Changing light

  • Lots of people

  • Small space

  • Timing

The Ice castles in Dillon are an amazing place to shoot. I knew that we were not going to have much light except for a small bit of ambient light and some light from within the Castle itself. Shooting here you cannot block off anyone, so I had to be able to shoot around people. Luckily when you tell people that someone is about to propose in a spot, people are more than willing to move. The spot that I had picked out was, for the 10 minutes that I observed it, not all that busy. But literally the minute before they were about to come through, everyone seemed to pile up in that one location. But as I mentioned before they were more than willing to move once I told them I was shooting a proposal in that spot.

For those of you that are photographers out there. The proposal part of the shoot was shot at ISO 1000, f2 and 1/200. I was using my Nikon D750 with both the Sigma Art 24mm and the 35mm. I shot a majority of the shoot underexposed so that I would maintain the detail of the Ice Castle and recover the shadows in post. Below is a before and after.

She Said Yes!

After she said yes (thankfully I have never shot a proposal where she said no) we found a few locations around the castle to shoot in and get some seriously rad portraits.


After the Ice Castles JC had a special dinner planned at Ember in Breckenridge. The Chef had prepared a special menu for them and One of my favorite florists in Denver, Flora by Nora did the flower arrangements.

(I previously wrote a blog where I went down and did a promo video for Nora, Check it here)

All I have to say is JC really knows how to plan a proposal.

If you want to see the video I put together.



Boulder Colorado - Britnee & Austin - Colorado Elopement Photographer

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So last weekend I was hanging out and my wife and I were going to go do something in Boulder. But, alas, she had to go take care of something at work. So rather than sitting inside and playing some video games, I decided that I wanted to get out and shoot. So I posted on my instagram, that I wanted to get out and shoot in Boulder. Low and behold Britnee was hangin out in her living room, probably cuddling with her dog and skipping through insta stories when her eyes fell upon my offer.

“Yes!” She replied.

And we set it up. So we headed out to a spot I had in mind up Flagstaff Mountain and shot some fun little Photos.

Austin is a huge proponent of the Prom Pose so we hooked it up.

Then we were lucky enough to see some deer.

Well, we next moved over to a spot some some rad views of the surrounding mountains and took the photos on a slightly more intimate turn.

Best of 2018 | Colorado Elopement Photographer

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Photographers love to brag about their years. At this time there are thousands of blog posts out there about the Best of 2018, and here I am writing one for myself. I really am not worried about if someone sees this or reads my ramblings. Well, I know that my mom probably will.

Hi Mom!

So personally this year was interesting. I started a full time job working as a visual content producer for and outdoor apparel company called Triple Aught Design. Technically I started in 2017, but in 2018 I accepted a full time position. In this reay I got to go to Spokane Washington to tell the story of White’s Boots.

Having the opportunity to get out and see these handcrafted boots was really amazing and getting to own a pair is really a treat.

We also went on an adventure to Utah and got to shoot some underwater photos and see some rad sights like epic waterfalls in slot canyons and petrified dunes.

We also did some fun overland trips with some super fun people.

We explored Moab

We also Explored some of Colorado’s beautiful backcountry

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There is much more that we did but man, that would fill so many pages. I got to shoot mountain biking, high alpine running, overlanding, and so much more. We also had the opportunity to launch a women’s line of clothing. Which was certainly something that I never would have expected to do.

Weddings/Elopements & Couples

This year was an interesting one. Now that I am working full time, I do not have as much time as I would like for my business. But that also means that I was able to change some things are really focus on what I love. Spending time shooting couples and really exploring that side of my creativity. So no I am focused on Elopements and Couples sessions.

That said I had the opportunity to shoot two weddings this year.

I was up in Vail for this rad Mountain Side wedding. I shot their engagement last year and was looking forward to getting to spend the time in vail shooting something with these views.

I also got to fly back to Rhode Island and shoot a good friends wedding at Roger Williams State Park.

I also got to shoot several Elopements in Colorado

A Winter Elopement in Vail

An Elopement at the Great Sand Dunes

And a rad Sunrise Elopement at Horsetooth Mountain

Colorado has so many amazing places to get out and shoot elopements that, that I think I found my new passion. I am really looking forward to shooting more of them this next year!

I also had the opportunity to meet a ton of amazing couples and to get out and create, what I feel like, are some truly amazing photos for them!

All in all I was pretty stoked with the year. In 2019 I am going to focus on my creativity and try and push myself. I will probably do less weddings as time goes on, but I am excited to see what happens.

Planning Your Elopement - Colorado Elopement Photographer

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Elopements have become one of my favorite things to photograph. Especially since moving back to Colorado where there are endless sources of epic locations to shoot. One of my biggest challenges is finding places where I can take couples that have amazing views, but that are not crowded with people.

Rocky Mountain National Park is so crowded now, on some weekend days it can take you 30 minutes just to get into the park. Then you have to wade through the crowds just to get to a view that is rad.

But the good news is, there are a ton of rad locations that are off the beaten path (while still on the path, cuz you know Leave No Trace) that are just as amazing, if not more amazing.

MOUNTAIN TOP ELOPEMENTS

Jones Pass, Kingston Peak, Loveland Pass, or any of the other billions and billions of epic mountain tops are amazing locations to shoot on, near, or around.

MOUNTAIN LAKE ELOPEMENTS

There are so many mountain lakes and even more to discover. I am down to try one of my known locations or go find a new one.

We could even find some inflatable paddle boards and have some fun! (As long as we are allowed).

THE FRONT RANGE

The Front Range in Colorado has some really beautiful locations. I have a few bucket list places, like The Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Eldorado Springs, & Lost Gulch Overlook, and many more.

Thoughts On ELOPEMENTS

Often times there is a stigma in the older generations about eloping. More often than not is is associated with bad choices, someone getting pregnant, or rebellion. But now days that is changing.

Couples are wanting to forego the big wedding, to have a small intimate moment. Sometimes with just the two of them, sometimes with several family members. But no matter what these moments are more focused on the idea of BEING married rather than GETTING married.

My favorite part about shooting elopements is that I really have a chance to connect with my couples. When you spend time hiking up to a location and shooting. As well as getting to witness them say vows that they have written to each other in an intimate setting, man its is such a great moment.

With the longer adventure elopements we can hang out, cook a picnic and really make the day something special. Sometimes hikes can take several hours and other times just a few minutes.

One thing to note is that in Colorado there is a very real chance of dangerous afternoon storms. Morning sessions and elopements are always a better choice due to a lower risk of getting caught in a storm.

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So you want to elope in Colorado? (Or Anywhere really).

Decide who you want to be there.

So you might want to elope with just the two of you or you might want some family and friends. Couples usually start just wanting the two of them, but as they plan they realize that maybe some family or friends would be nice to have along.  I have packages and solutions for all sorts of intimate wedding options.  

Don’t be scared, Be proud!

With elopements there are times when people may fear the reactions of their families. When My wife and I eloped there was mixed reactions. But other people’s reactions is not on you. For is it was more about the being married rather than getting married.

Plan something at home.

After eloping, many couples plan a small gathering at home. Sometimes they have a dance together, sometimes it is just a night of drinks and hanging with family. I have even had one couple have a small reception just for family and friends, that was catered and all that jazz. But again, eloping is making it about the two of you so, as they say

You do you.

Marriage License.

Know the laws and requirements of where you are going to be eloping. Colorado is one of the few states where couples self-solemnization and anyone can do it. You have the freedom to have your wedding exactly your way. If you want an officiant let me know and I can help you out.  (I am also ordained through a previous job if you are interested in that).

How do I get a Colorado marriage license if I’m from out of state?
Colorado makes it pretty easy.  You can obtain your license through any county in Colorado, it does not need to be the county in which you are getting married. All the offices are open M-F so plan ahead. You will need a valid ID so be sure that you have that. The clerk & recorder at the office will give you specific instructions on how to fill out the license, where to send it after the ceremony and when you can expect to receive your final copy in the mail. Read more info here!

Elopement Planning.

  • Research legal requirements for marriage at your destination

  • Hire a media team (Photo and Video) to tell your story

  • Book your Airbnb or Hotel

  • Rent a car (If needed)

  • Make sure all your shots and travel Docs are up to date

  • Plan the day with your photo/video team and/or coordinator

When planning your elopement, it is good to do as much research as you can. Feel free to reach out for questions and we can help you with your planning.

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How do we book?

             Get to know each other. Lets talk. The best option is to set up a phone call/skype/or Facetime.

             Contract: I will send you the contract for you to sign.

             Retainer: The retainer is 50% of the final package. There are multiple payment options available. The final payment is due within one week prior to your wedding day.

Once you finish with these three steps we are ready to start planning.

Want to book an Elopement? Contact me here!

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Lookout Mountain Couples Session - Carrie & Dave - Colorado Elopement Photographer

Ever since moving back to Colorado I have wanted to shoot a session or elopement at Lookout Mountain in Golden. Finally I was able to meet up with Carrie and Dave and shoot not only some fun photos, but also we were able to create a fun little video together. Check out their session here.


After we finished up at Lookout Mountain, we headed down by Clear Creek to get just a couple other photos down by the river.

Check out their video here!

Stop Destroying Your Business - 5 Tips to take out the noise

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Website design and user interface is something that I find interesting. There are so many different templates and designs from Squarespace to Flothemes and Wordpress to name a few, that it is interesting to see how people utilize them to look different (or the same). But there is one thing that can kill your site before your customer even begins their journey. Noise.

(Disclaimer: I am still working on this on my site. I’m not perfect, I just like to help others as I grow)

Donald Miller over at Storybrand talks about this in every podcast and hammers it home in his book Storybrand.

But what does this mean? For the most part, it means that you are confusing the customer before they even know what you do. I see this often enough with photographers. They are not clear on what it is they do. Sometimes they even start with the landing page on the about them section. Now, in all honesty, no one cares about you. What I mean by this is that when the first thing someone reads on your site is

“I love love; it makes me giddy to see two people walk down the aisle….”

No one cares, and worst of all you just made it all about you.

I am also not saying that you shouldn’t have an About page, just don’t let that be your hero. In your about show your personality in a way that describes you, but try to keep it short.

When you start saying “I photograph families, seniors, children, births, weddings, engagements, dog maternity, and boudoir.” They get that you are a photographer, but it really doesn’t set you apart.”

Now what I mean by this is think about it from you clients eyes. When they show up on your site and there is a gallery filled with a bunch of “random” images they might know that you shoot all that but at least be concise. Maybe lump it all in to family photographer.

For example, if you are booking a hotel room at a private resort, do you REALLY care about the detergent that they use on their sheets, the photos of the conference rooms, or the energy output of the sauna? (I know that there will be the small few that do) or would you care more about if your time there is going to be relaxing and stress free?

One of the best websites that I have seen recently is from Adventure Instead (Maddie Mae and her business partners rebranded). Let’s take a look at the first things that you see when you open the site.

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  1. The Navigation is simple. The first link is to provide more info then about the photographers, then pricing, then the planning resources.

  2. There is a Contact Us Button right at the top. The call to action that pushes visitors to hit them up about their elopements.

  3. The Main header calls out what they are and what they do

  4. Followed by another call to action (leading those that want more to dive deeper).

  5. Right under this they utilized a space above the fold to tell people about their style in simple words. Relaxed & Stress Free/Intimate & Meaningful/Unique & Adventurous.

Even on mobile the experience is the same, minus the Contact Us button. You still know who they are and what they do.

There is no question in my mind about what they do, who they are, and what the brand is about.

Now here is the big thing. Don’t copy them. Like actually think about your site and your brand. Maybe use elements, but the words and content is theirs.

The other thing that their site and brand does well, is that they make the client the hero, they solve the problems, and provide resources for their clients to have the relaxed and stress free experience that they claim on the home page.

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Get rid of the nonsense.

A majority of people are browsing on mobile devices, so when a newly engaged girl is looking for a wedding photographer on her phone while at her desk at work, will she really have time to read through why you shoot sony, or why you like pies, and then go searching for where you are located, pricing, and how to contact you. Might you have the same luck with a landing page showing some of your work, where you shoot and pricing? Especially if they came from a place like pinterest or instagram and have already seen your work?

What about a mother who is booking for a family session over the holidays, right now she is thinking about 9 million other things, and probably doesn’t care to read about your life story, She wants family photos, that look good, and she can send to family and friends and look like life is as put together as she portrays.

People don’t have time. So here are a few tips to cut down on the noise of your site.

  1. Make sure what you do is stated.

  2. Make sure your location (or where you serve) is stated.

  3. Make it easy to contact you

  4. Put at least a starting price on your site (In my opinion, you are wasting time if you don’t, yours and clients. And no one likes that)

  5. Make your site more about your client than you.

If you are looking for insight and brand mentoring shoot me a message. Or check out my page on brand strategy mentoring here. 

Mount Evans Wilderness Engagement - Heather & Tim - Colorado Elopement Photographer

Being a Colorado native, I love getting out in the mountains. There is something about getting out in nature that just hits the me and breathes life into the soul. Well, anyway, one of my favorite things is taking couples to new places, locations where when we roll up, they just stop and say

“Wow”

Well, when we planned on this location there was a chance that the Mt. Evans road would be closed. We were hoping to get up into the Summit Lake Park, but I knew there was a chance that we would not be able to use the road, so I had a back up plan.

We planned to meet at Echo Lake Park and start shooting. There is a great view of the mountains there and it is absolutely gorgeous.

Next we did a quick outfit change. Heather had been on the search for the perfect red dress for the engagement session. And all I can say is CHECK IT.

And as with all of my sessions we created a video together. Check out their engagement video!

Dillon Reservoir/Loveland Pass Couples Session -

Ok, this session, Literally everything fell into place for. (Yes I just ended that sentence with a preposition, but it’s my blog so I do what I want). Ok, Anyway these two and this session was perfect. (Were perfect?). Geeze. Well, anyway I was rolling back through the Breckenridge/Dillon area after shooting a wedding the day before in Vail and I met up with these two for a quick adventure session. We met up by Dillon reservoir and hiked in for the first part of the shoot.

After shooting at the reservoir we headed up to Loveland Pass for some rad mountain view photos. There was a storm moving in so we had to move fast, but it made for some epic photos.

Check out their video here!

Sunrise Couples Session - Samantha & Dan - Colorado Elopement Photographer

As I mentioned in a previous blog post sunrise sessions are some of my favorites. You get to wake up early see some wildlife and shoot some epic photos with some rad couples.

Samantha and Dan headed out for a short trip from Minnesota. When she first messaged me she told me how the two of them eloped because they wanted to be able to put more money to travelling rather than spending it on a big shindig.

About a year ago (just a few days after their elopement) Samantha was involved in a near fatal car accident, so they promised that they were going to get out and travel as much as possible and to not take their time together for granted.

So they Ubered up from Denver really early, and met me in Boulder. From there I drove them up Flagstaff Road where we had the most epic views for the first part of the session.

After this rad mountain view and sunrise clouds, I wanted to take them down to Boulder Falls to shoot just a little bit more.

The falls had been closed for some time after the flood in 2013, but this real had recently opened back up. I had been down there for a shoot for the outdoor apparel company that I work for, and knew that I had to shoot there again soon.

So I decided to take Samantha & Dan down there.


Check out their video here.

Flagstaff Outlook Boulder Sunrise Session - Brooke & Jeff - Colorado Elopement Photographer

Once again I bring you a rad sunrise session. Brooke and Jeff had recently moved to Colorado and they wanted to have some photos done in their new home state. So I took them up Flagstaff and we met just before sunrise.

Most of my shoots in Boulder I try to shoot in at least two locations. There are so many amazing spots that it is fun to get several scenes for my couples. So after sunrise at Flagstaff, we headed down to Walker Ranch.

Check out their couples video here!



9 Lightroom Tips That I have Learned

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Over the years I have spent hours in Lightroom. I would not call my self a pro, but I wanted to lay down some little tips to help those who might not know. I mean I learn new stuff all the time, I mean these programs are so in depth that you can probably never know all that there is to know. So without further ado here are several tips that may help you. P.S. they are not in any particular order.

To read more here is a link to a rad article from Shoot Dot Edit

http://shootdotedit.com/2018/04/how-to-edit-wedding-photos/

 

1. The Sharpening Mask

Holding option while you use the sharpening mask slider will change your life. We all love sharp photos. But Sometimes you just don’t need all the sharpness. Just a smidge will do. So check out this nifty trick. After you apply your preset, you scroll down to sharpen, add your desired level of sharpness. Then while holding Option (Mac) slide the Masking Slider up. It will show you where you are masking the sharpness onto the photo.

 

2. Caps Lock While Sorting

If you do not use a program like Photo Mechanic or another culling program, you can engage the Caps Lock button and it will automatically go to the next photo. So whether you use the Star Rating or the Flagging to select photos this might help you.

( I could take a photo, but just hit caps lock)

 

3. Apply Preset on Import

When you import your photos you can apply a preset on import. Many people know this. But, when I was first starting, I had no idea this was possible. If you know what preset you will use on a session you can apply that preset when you import. Just select it in the import window and Boom. Time saved,

 

4. Editing Video

Did you know that you can edit video and apply presets in Lightroom? Well, you can. But only in the Library Module. When you import the video you can apply the preset on import.

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First import your video and apply the preset. Remember that you can only do this in the Library Module. Then any of the tools that are nor dark you can use so adjust to your liking.

 

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Next, see these little pause sliders? You can move those and they trim the video. So if you only want to export a short piece, move those and export, it take a shorter amount of time to edit a 10 second piece rather than a 30 second piece.

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How rad is that?

5. Creating print/social banners

So, while I use other programs for creating my albums. The Print Module is a resource that is very under utilized in the Lightroom program. I use these if I want to make a custom blog layout, if I want to make a banner for images for Facebook, or If I want to make a banner of images for Pinterest. After doing research I found that long banners perform on Pinterest better than single images. So I made presets for that that I use for myself and others. They are super easy. You just drag and drop the images into the templates while in the print module.

Here is a link to my Print Templates

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6. Metadata

Just like the preset you can apply your metadata on import. See this blog here. For more info on that. Just like the preset you just choose your metadata preset on import and Boom. There is is.

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7. Smart Previews

OK, This was another one that I learned about recently, which is dumb, because I have been in Lightroom for 8 years and just learned about this 2 years ago. Creating Smart Previews allows you to edit your files even if the Hard Drive is not connected. So if you are like me and import to an external hard drive (Several external Hard Drives), sometimes you don’t want to carry you portable HD with you. Well, if you create smart previews you can edit on the go and you do not need to have your external HD with you!

Want more info on Smart Previews. Check this link out.

https://www.creative-photographer.com/smart-previews-lightroom/

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8. Virtual Copy to compare edits.

So this is something that I do. But I do not know if others do. 90% of the time when I arrive at a session, I know how I will edit it before I have shot the first frame. Other times when I am shooting I might move and the mood feels different. Sometimes I just want to try something new. So I will choose a photo. Right click on it and create a Virtual Copy. This way I have one or two other files to edit and then I can see them all side by side and see if what I am am feeling is correct. I do this from time to time, so I thought it might be useful to others.

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9. Auto Straighten

I learned this little trick a month ago. Now it does not work with all photos, but you can have Lightroom Auto Straighten the photos. So if you are like me and every photo is off. Well, here is a little trick that may save you some time.

(Below is an example of one of those accidental photos, we all have them, but it is so crooked it is a perfect example).

Lightroom is a beast. There are so many things to learn in this program. It literally has changed my life. If you are looking for more resources on how to edit. Here is a great link from Shoot Dot Edit on how to use Lightroom to edit your wedding photos.  

http://shootdotedit.com/2018/04/how-to-edit-wedding-photos/

Continue to learn, explore, and have fun.

Link to my print Templates

Link to my First Volume of Presets

 

 

 

Sunrise Elopement on Horsetooth Mountain - Kyle & Greta - Colorado Elopement

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Sunrise elopements. Does it get any better than that? I submit that it does not. While sleeping in nice, getting up early to watch two people say vows that they have crafted to each other is pretty rad. And don’t even get me started on the light. OMG. That early morning light is absolutely amazing.

I guarantee that you cannot change my mind on that.

This elopement was a little more special to me than most. I have known Kyle for over 12 years. I first met him when I was in college and working as a track coach and Younglife leader at the local high school. I was coaching pole vault and he was one of my vaulters as well as one of my Younglife kids. (To date I have had the opportunity to shoot weddings for 2 of my former track and Younglife kids, which is pretty rad)

So being able to be there as Kyle and Greta got hitched was radical.

After running into some deer. We headed back to Kyle’s parents house for a little backyard get together and family wedding ceremony. Kyle and Greta are also Star Wars fans so there was a few nicely placed homages to the greatest movie of all time.

Also check out their elopement preview video here!

Great Sand Dunes Elopement - Mariah & Malachi - Colorado Elopement Photographer

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About a year ago I transitioned from shooting the big all day weddings to the small intimate weddings and elopements for a couple reasons. I was really just over the all day shooting and the wedding hangover (It is a real thing that does not involve alcohol). That was a huge reason, but I also too a job as a photographer for an outdoor apparel company. So that takes a ton of my time, but is super rad.

Also after shooting my first elopement in Iceland I was hooked. Now that I live back in my home state of Colorado, I have an endless amount of locations to shoot around.

The Great Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado is one of those that is epic.

So when Mariah contacted me, I was super stoked to have the opportunity to shoot there. But being that this was in the height of summer the sand dunes were at about 90 degrees, so while we waited for sunset to hit I took them up to Zapata Falls, one of the hidden gems in the area.

This was perfect as the falls were about 20 degrees cooler than there rest of the area.

After starting at the waterfall and waiting for the evening to cool off we headed down to the sand dunes where Mariah and Malachi were going to say their vows.

I had done a little scouting earlier and found a nice spot that was down between some dunes. We had a perfect view of Mount Herard, as well as being out of the way of the wind and with no people in the way.

We also had a bit of fun with some of their wedding gifts.