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!

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

Instagram Filters

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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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.

Couples Adventure Session - Breckenridge Colorado - Kait & Dave

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Couples sessions are probably some of my favorite to shoot. You get to get out and explore. It is a lot of fun hiking in and making photos that not everyone is willing to get.

Kait contacted me about shooting a couples session while her and Dave were out in the Breckenridge area for a wedding. The timing worked perfect because I was driving back from a wedding in Vail the day before.

We had two locations picked out, one by Dillion Reservoir, and then one on the mountain tops near the res. The hike in took about twenty minutes to get to the location I picked out. But once we were there, the views were epic.

The weather was perfect. It is not often that we get a nice overcast day here in Colorado. But there was a storm coming in and we had to try and get back to the cars in order to beat it to the mountain top storm. But one of my favorite things is having storm clouds in my photos!

If you are interested in booking a couples session or an elopement shoot me a message and I would love to craft the perfect experience for you. Say Hi

Dear Photographer: No one cares about your photos

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I have been thinking about his blog post for a long time. Because years ago I learned something important about my photos. That lesson is “No one cares about your photos.” The real meaning behind this is that no one cares about your photos until they are invested in them. Usually, this means that they or someone they love are in the photos. 
Many times we as artists and creators get so caught up in our photo interactions on Facebook and Instagram that we really do not think about what we are doing. But think about how many people are exploring on a platform like Instagram. Often when I see people scrolling through Insta, it is just that. Scrolling. Maybe it’s the
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No one is truly consuming the content. It's like walking around in a Costco and only sampling, but not buying the product. It seems that the goal is to get people invested in your work without them being in the photo. What is being delivered to them? Is there something that they will come back for?
Those damn meme feeds, they deliver a smile, a laugh, we find content that we identify with. 
When you post photos of your family, and the flowers in your yard, your close friends the ones IRL, and family will be invested. But when you are a business, and you are posting engagement photos or content from weddings, Commercial shoots, Landscapes, how does one get invested in that content when it is not about them. 

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At times you can get featured on accounts that matter. This lets others know that you are “important” that your content is “worthy.” But what happens when your content is just as good, but your style does not fit theirs? You get lost in the feeds. We tend to think that exposure means business, but this is not a guaranteed case. 
You have to create consistent content, consistently. 
But remember, no one really cares. If you stopped posting tomorrow. Who would be sad? Would people mourn, and if so for how long?

Now what I am saying might seem like someone who is bitter. But what I am writing from is a place of freedom. When I finally realized that no one cares about my photos. I was able to take a step back and breathe. I was no longer worried about the likes and reach from a validation standpoint. I still think about them from a business standpoint, but I don’t stress it. 
So in the end, remember that all these channels are just tools. If you are running a business, how can you use them for that purpose? If you are using thee channels for personal reasons, are you stressing for the wrong reasons? 
In reality, does it all matter? Maybe its time to just take a deep breath and just let go. 
 

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Instagram: Thoughts on building on rented land

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Instagram and Business

Over the past few days I have seen more posts than usual about Instagram and reach and likes. So I am writing another post about building on rented territory. Instagram is just a tool. You should never build a business on it. When you build a house you do it on land that you won, and the same with a business. So here are some thoughts from someone who is in the marketing world and how to use Instagram.

1.    Have a strategy. More than just posting once and day and hashtags. Do an analysis of what posts work and what posts do not. Figure out what your target audience is into and craft strategy around that.

2.    This strategy can change. With the algorithm out of your control. You have to be ready to change it. Work to push people to your site or blog or where ever it is that you deliver quality content.  

3.    Deliver quality content.

4.    Likes matter, but not as much as you think. Yes, they stroke your ego when you get a ton. But if you are getting 5K likes and not booking off Instagram does that matter? If you are getting 100 likes and consistently booking is that better? I would rather book more and have less likes. There is always the argument that if you have a ton of likes that people will want to book you more, but I would rather be booked off of my style and who I am rather than how many likes I am getting.

5.    What is your plan for when the algorithm changes? You can spend hours on Instagram and get no where. What are your goals, mine are to run a successful business. So after I took a full time photography and marketing job with an outdoor adventure brand I outsourced. I found something that worked and grew and booked more. Some may say it is not authentic, but I am the one who posts and captions and makes the stories. So it is me. I just don’t have time to spend on Instagram and have a life. So they interact for me. No commenting only likes and follows. But I still push people to my blog and website as much as possible.

So if you are worried about your Instagram reach come up with a plan, create come goals, and make it happen.

If you are interested in the service I used click here. 

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Boundary Supply Prima System Review - Initial Thoughts

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I have a problem, but this problem is not my own. It is shared by many others. 

I am always searching for the perfect camera bag, one that can double as my everyday carry, but I can put everything I need for a shoot.

My standard items that I need are;

2 Nikon d750 bodies, 3 lenses (Primes), microphone, camera stabilizer, and snacks. 

Part of this is that some bags can fit all this, but the shape is awkward, or when they fit all the items, the fit is weird. I had a bag previously, that I loved, but there were a few downfalls, mainly that the compartment that you opened to get to the camera, had the chance of failing (mostly due to the user). 

But then the Boundary Supply Prima System arrived. They had some issues originally with their manufacturers and shipping, but once the bag started to arrive, there was nothing but positive things to say.  

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I have been running around with the bag for several months and wanted to write out some initial thoughts. I am still waiting for MK-1 Insert, to write out a full review, but here are some things that I like about the bag. 

Build Quality

When I first opened the box, this was the first thing that I noticed. This bag was built incredibly well. Its heavy, but when I am carrying several thousand dollars of gear, I don't want a chintzy bag, the last thing you want it a strap to fail and drop. 

I am 100% confident in this bag. I feel like if you filled it with bricks and threw it off a cliff it would still hold together.  The material, the buckles, the straps, literally everything feels like it will last. 

Aesthetics

As I mentioned above, one issue that I have with camera bags is that if they fit all the gear they are too bulky. While I am still waiting for the MK-1 insert, I have so far been able to carry nearly all the things that I would like the carry on/in the bag. I have been using an insert from another bag for the time being as the Verge Case does not fit what I need. (Although the Verge Case is perfect for snacks). 

Use

Since receiving the bag, it has been my daily carry. Car, bike, Tauntan, it works great for all of them. It holds up to pretty much anything. I have had it in water and snow, dust and mud, and it has never failed. Gear inside has stayed dry and protected. There is one issue that I have noticed that really does not have a fix, and that is the magnetic buckles.A few weeks back I was shooting an elopement at the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado and when I was packing up I noticed that I had that magnetic buildup on the buckle. This did not affect the bag buckling, but when you have camera gear, any amount things that can get into your gear is not fun. 

Wishes

I wish it had just a bit more room/organization in the front pocket. There is a magnetic pocket that is nice for separating items, but if there were a spot to organize memory cards, cords, and other accessories that would be the bees knees. The Fieldspace (Laptop case) is very nice, but the organization there could be laid out better, but that is just my opinion. 

Front Pocket, You can use the magnetic hook for the provided keychain. and the back pocket is magnetic as well. Pockets are big enough for Phones, Hard drives, Snacks. 

Front Pocket, You can use the magnetic hook for the provided keychain. and the back pocket is magnetic as well. Pockets are big enough for Phones, Hard drives, Snacks. 

Other things that I like

 There are some really rad pockets that are hidden on the bag. One behind the water bottle holder and one on the inside flap that is RIFD, as well as two interior pockets that are nice for holding/ dividing things.

The fit of the bag when you are wearing feels really nice. Many of the bags I have had in the past are floppy and not fit for carrying your gear out in the wild. I had the bag in Utah for work and was climbing around in the canyons, sliding down wet rock, and doing a lot of activity. Never once did I feel like the bag was not secure. 

As I mentioned before I use this as my daily bag. I commute by bike about 15 miles each way to work and this bag feels great. While it is heavier than some, the airflow on the back is designed really well. There is no bag that will keep you dry 100%, but this one at least allows for the air to attempt to cool you. 

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Opportunity vs Working For Free

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I hate working for free, but I love opportunity. There are alot of times when one might be disguised as the other and if you are always chasing a $ sign you might miss something amazing. Recently I was reading Charlamagne Tha God’s book Black Privilege   

“Success is a process: there are no cheat codes, no life hacks, no shortcuts, and no half steps. Opportunity always comes before money, but sadly a lot of us don’t recognize it unless there’s a paycheck attached. Don’t make that mistake.”

I know that this post will rub some the wrong way, and I am prepared to have people throw shade and hate on it. But I am writing from experience. As someone who has seen opportunity and taken it, worked for less than I am worth and done things for free so that I could turn that opportunity into a career.

But there are things that I have learned along the way.

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  1. Not all opportunity is created equal. In fact 98.5% of it is bullshit.

There are alot of people and companies that want things for free. But can you blame them? We all love free things, it is an enticing word. Multi million dollar companies will ask to work for free, trade, or (the best) exposure. But I also get that so here are some thoughts on that.

Free - If a company is making money they should pay in some form. Which leads to…

Trade - In my opinion is a great form of currency. I have shot for restaurants where I have done cash, and gift cards. Getting part paid in $600 to a rad restaurant is a pretty good deal. If I could do trade for an auto mechanic I would totally do that. Some things are mutually beneficial.

Exposure -  Every creative hates this, and for good reason. Exposure doesn’t mean shit. It doesn’t pay bills, and I have never gotten a paid gig from exposure. Don’t be fooled.

(A word about companies, I work for a large international outdoor apparel company, as of now we do not have a budget for models. So we don’t use them, we use employees and other avenues to get the photos we want. We have used trade if people are interested, but I will never ask someone to do it for free, or to devalue themselves and work for exposure. But it is true, sometimes there just isn’t a budget for things, but in that case they should respect themselves and others and just wait till there is a budget)

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2. My opportunity might not be your opportunity

Everyone’s path is different, everyone’s skills are different. What works for me might not work for you. Maybe it was my style of shooting, maybe it was my personality, or maybe I was just at the right place at the right time. But, it usually is one of the first two. Which leads me to number 3.

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3. You have to make it work

Good things come to those who grind everyday, even when they are tired, even when a client is unhappy. When someone doesn’t like your work, don’t complain in a Facebook post. Assess if it is valid, if it is and it aligns with your vision change it. So let’s break this one down.

  • If someone complains saying that they do not look good in your photos there are a couple ways to look at it. You can get mad, post in a Facebook group looking for validation and dwell on it. Or you can assess what the issues is and possibly change it. Is the client just insecure? Possibly. Or is it that you used the wrong lens, unflattering angle? Some issues are their issues and some are your issues, but learn from them and move on.

  • If someone offhandedly says that there is no emotion in your photos and that is something that you are striving for, then maybe look at what you can do better, experiment and change. But only if that is your vision.

  • Many times I see photographers running at every little red flag from a potential client. The client asks for one small thing and the photographers take that to mean that the client is going to be a nightmare, when in reality it is probably the fact that they are wary of spending $2000-$7000 on someone without asking a few questions. Yes, there are clients that won't fit with you. Yes, you should say no to some people. But use the question period to educate and answer. Listen to what is behind the question. If you run every time there seems to be a red flag, you may miss an amazing opportunity. 

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4. You have to make it work Part II

When opportunity comes that is right for you, you have to use it properly. If you choose to do something for travel you can’t just sit back and think that everyone is going to want to book you because you shot in Iceland, or Santorini, or Columbus, Ohio. You have to figure out how you will hustle and work to make that into something that builds your value in a way that no one can take. Opportunity doesn’t come to those who wait, it comes to those that make it happen and keep working when they are burned out.

If all you do is work for travel you will go broke, unless you are a trust fund kid, but then you don't need someone to pay for travel. If you keep working for cheap, you will get burned out so fast that the craft you once loved will feel like listening to Fran Drescher for 8 hours straight. 

If you don't value yourself others wont either. 

So lets end with a story or two. 

This one is different as I made this opportunity from the ground up, but using your craft for networking, on your terms, can lead to rolling opportunity. I got together a styled shoot, just a small one with a few vendors, and out of that shoot I have booked over $10K of work, and some of that work is regular. 

Another opportunity that has brought me to where I wanted to be when I first started was taking a part time internship. I worked for very cheap, If I had booked these shoots at my commercial rate I would have made $3-4000 more a month. But I put in my time, showed my value and have a job that is others would kill for. 

Remember, Opportunity might not aways pay well immediately, but when you put your time in, show your value, and stay positive. It will pay far more than you could hope for. 

The road is yours to make. So get out there and do it. 

 

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#liveauthentic. But really do it

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Time and time again I see stories in my photography groups about people having work stolen. Sometimes it it images, sometimes it is words, or other content. But now matter what there are always feelings of hurt and anger. 

At times these people are just general public, other times it is a business that doesn't want to pay. But in my opinion the worst is when it is another industry person. Another photographer, or videographer, or designer. Someone that should know better. So here is what this blog post is about. 

NO ONE ELSE NEEDS TO FAIL IN ORDER FOR YOU TO SUCCEED 

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You as an individual has the power to set yourself up to succeed. But also to fail. 

When you steal others images in order to gain clients. You will fail. You will get found out and the photography community will rain down a fury that would send Zeus himself into hiding. That would be the easy way out. Worse you will gain a client by showing skills that you do not have, and when images are delivered, they will be disappointed and angry. You may have a lawsuit, you may not. But never the less, you will not last long. You will not succeed. 

This is not an easy job. Yes at times we get to travel and it looks super exciting, and yes we do love it because it fuels a creative fire within us. But what you do not see is the years of working multiple jobs in order to afford gear. The shooting weddings and sessions that were not a good fit, because we did not know any better. The tears, the anger and the despair when after pouring everything into a wedding, the client only has anger and makes you want to quit. 

But all these things are what sharpens you. What builds you up and crafts you into not just an artist, but a business person. You need to make mistakes in order to grow. You cannot, and no one has ever gone from 0 to Pro. It is a long road. 

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NO ONE ELSE NEEDS TO FAIL IN ORDER FOR YOU TO SUCCEED 

This also means that when you get jealous, or angry that you are not at ________ photographers level. Or you just want to book more that you can find an easy path. Trying to defamate someones character or business will not lead to your success. Taking copy from a website, or passing of images as you own will not lead to your success. In fact you will fall faster than you thought possible. 

What will lead to your success?  

I am sorry but the only answer is work. Get out and create. Shoot more. 

Be who you are. Don't try and be another photographer. You will not capture their market share or their clients. Go after different ones. 

Shoot sessions that will fuel your soul. Do them for free as long as they work for you. 

Don't shoot for free when it will suck your soul dry.

Practice. Get out of facebook groups that breed jealousy and popularity and contempt. 

Practice. 

As Rihanna says 

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The more you build into yourself, the better you will become. 

Shooting Commercial Adventure Products - Triple Aught Design

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So recently I took a full time job as a Visual Content Producer with a company out of San Francisco. That is basically fancy wording for I make videos and take photos for them. But the rad part is, I get to do adventure photography. Some of it is talking head video’s and studio shots. The other part of it is that I get to shoot lifestyle photos for our products. The other part of this is that I get to use my MS in Marketing for this job as well.

         When I finished my degree I spent time looking for a job that was a good fit. I held out I was broke, and it was hard. I met with some people and had phone calls with others. I even had one person tell me that I would never make it in the marketing world as I didn’t know how to code. (I had said in my resume and email that I am a creative with a mind for branding and communication, never mentioned coding).

Well, I finally landed this job, and it is a perfect fit, I am still going to shoot weddings but I am going to focus on a different realm of weddings. But the rad part about this job is I get to go to rad places and meet rad people and shoot rad photos. I am writing this to recount the adventure that just happened.

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So we are a two-man marketing team, we pitched this idea for a shoot for our upcoming spring/summer products and get out into the field to test as well as to get epic photos with each product. We planned to shoot in Southern Utah area as we had water, and epic scenes that fit with the story that we want to tell.

Day 1. Really the shoot started in the airport. We knew that as with most adventures, the travel is part of the story, so we spent some time getting some photos with the products we wanted to highlight as we waited for the plane to head out. We arrived in Las Vegas at about 11:30pm and had just enough time to pick up the rental car and to get to In-n-Out. Which is epic. Living in Colorado we keep waiting for In-n-Out to make its way to us. So even though this was only a couple hours, it was still day one.

Day 2. We woke up in Las Vegas, and after a hasty breakfast of waffles, yogurt, and an apple we headed to Hurricane, Utah. The big unknown of our shoot was some underwater photography. I have never shot underwater, or done free diving, so this was going to be exciting, but the wind was blowing really hard and the water was about 50 degrees. After a quick weather check we decided that the next day would be better so we headed to another location. We spent a good portion of our day in Snow Canyon State Park, which was gorgeous, but insanely windy.

Day3. We knew that the weather would be great in the afternoon so in the morning we took off to go check out Kanarraville Falls. It was 50 degrees when we left our hotel, but as we drove we watched the temperature gauge in the car continue to drop. When we arrived at the trailhead it was 32 degrees and there was snow on the ground, and we were wearing shorts. But after the 2.5 mile hike, which part of it is through the stream, which was basically freshly melted snow, we arrived at one of the most epic locations I have ever seen.

After hiking down and bringing life back to our feet, we headed to Sand Hollow to attempt the diving photos. The one thing that we did not take into account when planning this adventure was how cold the water would feel and how hard it is to hold your breath when your lungs seize due to the cold. So shooting underwater, without wetsuits, was extremely difficult. But we got some rad shots.

On the back to Las Vegas to catch our flight, we made one last stop to get some shots and footage in The Valley of Fire. The slot canyons here were insane. You could see where over the centuries the water had shaped and moulded the landscape. 

Even with the flight home being delayed by 4 hours and arriving home at 2am, the adventure was a success, we created epic content, and had a blast.

 

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