If you've ever been to the PNW coasts, you know there's absolutely nothing like it. Driving the 101 is literal heaven to me. When Cece reached out to me for an adventurous couples session, we immediately bonded over music and her vision for her never-had-wedding-photos trip met my heart head on. It was a bucket list of mine to shoot at Ruby Beach, and when she said to pick anywhere, I knew that's where we had to go. Meeting Cece + Alvin was like meeting old friends, and their love was playful and so real. There aren't enough words, but I will tell you that the Washington Coast, Ruby Beach and the Olympic National Forest-- it's incomparable to any place I've ever been. Whiskey sips, good tunes and lots of sunshine--scroll through to see it all.
An adventurous and non-traditional, desert inspired elopement nestled in the sand dunes with all the color your heart can handle. Proof that doing things your own way can lead to stunning results. Intimate, bright and most definitely boho vibin', you'll want to see these all.
Planning an intimate elopement in Spokane or the PNW (or anywhere really), look no further. I'm all about thinking out side of the box in 2020.
When you meet Courtney + Derek, you know right away that you love them. They're outgoing, kind and absolutely hysterical together. I met them both at a couples shoot last summer, where they fed each other popsicles in the blistering heat and ran through the sand on Coeur d'Alene Lake. Their connection was undeniable, and Derek even joked during the session with passers-by that this was their engagement session, leading Court to collapse into him with laughter.
As the vision of this styled shoot started coming together, I knew I wanted to include them as a real couple. Originally, it was meant to be a smaller elopement style, to get myself prepared for wedding season, but in talking with other vendors, it quickly turned into a bigger affair. Custom dress, full tux, amazing venue...Court and I talked eagerly about the event, both excited to work together again.
One Saturday night not far off from the shoot, Derek reached out to me to ask a few details about the day and I could hear him almost audibly sweating when he asked if he could propose during. I fist pumped. Heck. Yes.
So with a few quick changes, we had a custom made jacket for Court made that read her new last name instead of just bride, and a plan was in place.
I can't say enough about this day, the team that surrounded us, the friendships that were made and the absolute magic moment when he finally got to ask. Tears and champagne were flowing.
Please be sure to visit all the outstanding vendors involved on the day, and keep them in mind as you plan your wedding, elopement or any celebration you might have. I can guarantee with this crew, you'll have one hell of a good time.
I'm not crying, you're crying.
PS, I'm sharing the link to the amazing video that you have to watch here.
Venue: Schmidt Cattle Co Events
Tablescape & Rentals: Barn to Table Rentals
Florals: Firehouse Florals
Custom Dress: Affordable Elegance
Hair: Natalie Bligh
Makeup: The Beauty Bae Artistry
Videography: Bjorkman Film + Foto
Calligraphy: Crimson Calligraphy
Custom Jacket: Jasan Lagrimanta
Suit: Tuxedo Gallery
winter in the PNW + some truths + snugs
It was impressed upon my heart to write this blog when I was feeling my most vulnerable as a photographer, as a creator, as a mom...as a human. As much as these stories are about couples, and as much as we dream about adventures and epic images, the journey is often deeper than that.
Winter often feels brutal in our beloved PNW--we know its coming every year but manage to tune out it's hum, running through grassy fields and hanging out in EPIC late fall sunsets. This year has brought frigid temperatures and quite enough (I'm done with it) later-than-usual snow. Sessions are short and few and far in between and I find myself going absolutely stir crazy and anxious to shoot, especially when I first meet a couple like Bailey and Anna.
Often times I find my couples through social media, and through social media is how we most often get to know each other before our first in person meeting or shoot.
Bailey is the type of spirit that you can feel through her IG feed--effervescent, funny and sunny. Anna, her girlfriend, is ridiculously fashionable from her coats to her shoes, a quiet voice of reason and equally hilarious. Together they are a force.
It was freezing, and I do mean in the 'teens freezing. We ran back and forth over and over to my Jeep to warm up before running back out again, climbing under and over fences to get these images. The in between times we talked about goals, about family, about really candid things like anxiety. Real life shit.
You can get to know so much about the humans around you, even just in an hour. A photo session is never just a session to me.
I want to be clear that as a human, I don't always feel inspired. Days like today I am scrolling through literally hundreds of images, all beautiful, and feeling like I've failed each and every person I've every photographed. Feeling like I could be better. Feeling like I should be better. More relevant. Trendier. Days like today feel like a defeat, at least momentarily.
My goal this year was to be more vulnerable in everything, and so I am. I have a hard time NOT being open. The art of capturing memories is such an important job and I feel so extremely lucky to do this. The images we create together are amazing, but wouldn't be possible if not for those in-between times, warming up in the Jeep, seeing pieces of your heart and sharing some of mine with you. Getting stuck in the fence (ok, just me).
Amazing is not equal all the time to mountain tops. Adventure does not have to be anything but a quiet road. Epic is the ability to get closer, lay in the grass, forget the temperature, get your dress dirty, to go with the crazy flow, to snort laugh, to cry.
For anyone who is feeling the same way as me, get out. Make connections. Take a deep breath. Stop being so hard on yourself. Break out of the box, and in all things, be patient with yourself.
So even on those days, I remind myself not to skip the journey. I really thank you for trusting me. Cheers to so many adventures to come this year.
PS spring--holla at ya girl.
When I first opened the studio end of the year last year, I didn't exactly know what would come of it. It had been a total dream of mine to have a blank space to create.
I had a vision for this shoot, and it changed the day of...in the best way possible. With a total dream team of talented vendors, the day transformed into something seriously up there with unicorns and fucking glitter explosions in the sky. Everything just CAME together, totally different than planned but took beautiful shape.
We laughed so much, watched as Selah danced delicately to music, shared coffee and absolutely fell in love with the insanely gorgeous Laurel dress (ummm hello, those sleeves) that pulled everything together.
Check out all the whimsy and warmth from this day below. A little spring wishing for you to look forward to.
(and for all of those looking, please see the talented vendors linked below, most are linked to IG).
Dress: Honest in Ivory
Model: Selah French (selahfrenchofficial)
Hair: Katie (theglo_getter)
Make-up: Courtney (lashandmake)
Florals: Beth (snapdragonflowerfarm)
Studio: Paper Tiger
Here we are, February of a new year, and I had promised myself I would focus on blogging more. And why not, you know? I love my job so much, and I fall deeper in love with the people I meet daily, but often time is a factor (and there's never enough of it). So thank Spokane for it's overabundance of snow today so that I can finally sit down and blog my first wedding of 2019 featuring Kendal and Ian.
I feel extraordinarily lucky that I get to do what I do, and Kendal and Ian were no exception. From our first meeting, to their engagement session (blogged last year), to the moment I left them on their wedding day, I felt thrilled to be a part of telling a little bit of their story.
It was not warm (like...at all) and in between clouds, rain and freezing winds, we dashed through the alley behind The McGinnity room for pictures and back in.
The McGinnity room offers a special sort of warm and moody, with a killer ambiance that can't be beat. Romantic, fun, and gorgeously crafted, their open floor and stunning bridal room are one of a kind.
From handcrafted desserts to Bird Box jokes to an epic glow-stick jump rope dance battle, this isn't a wedding I'll soon forget.
You can see all this and more below, in a story that has some beautiful images, but not nearly enough words for how radical it was.
The McGinnity Room (venue)
Evelyn Mauro (makeup)
Marcella's Bridal (dress)
Honest In Ivory (earrings)
Combat Gent (suit)
I can't say enough about these two and this absolutely dreamy session. Proof that you don't have to be getting married, engaged or anything in between to make out on a beach and celebrate each other.
We talked about hiking, how they, met, and despite Shayla getting pooped on by a bird (I hate birds, to be honest) nothing stopped their crazy sunny personalities, infectious laughs and intense heat for each other. It would be impossible to pick a favorite from this day, so be sure you scroll to the bottom to see them all.
I know I'm a fan of up close and personal, but I'm not sure I could have separated these two if I tried.
There really is something about elopements that get me...the chance for adventure, the quiet exchanging of vows, the intimacy and beauty...the snakes. Kidding. Not kidding.
Together with a group of amazing vendors I was able to create this super sweet and moody elopement in the hills of Hog Lake Canyon. If you're imagining a more personal ceremony for your day--don't hesitate! With the focus mainly on the couple, we were able to create a custom dress, floral design and killer makeup and hair for the day. No hustle and bustle meant a relaxing day, a road trip filled with lots of laughter, and a nature-filled bridal session overflowing with romance.
What more can you ask for?
Special thanks to our vendors:
Models: Caitlyn & Tarnell
Floral: Dragon Flower Design
Custom Dress: Affordable Elegance Bridal
HMUA: Curly Sue (Shannon)
Chairs: Artifact Rentals
When I realized a year ago that my direction as a photographer was heading towards mostly weddings and couples, I felt the most incredible clarity and surge of excitement. Trust me when I say I throw my heart into every session, but my favorite sessions ever are couple based.
Engagement sessions for me are necessary. I think it's a really important part of being someone's wedding photographer--a time when wedding planning is still in the thick but not as rushed, a relaxed moment to come together as couple and even better, time to get to know and hang out with me! I joke about the last part, but only partially because you'll hear me say it time and time again--pick the photographer who is going to listen to your story, invest in it, and do it justice. Pick someone who you're excited to spend the day with! And uh, obviously pick someone who won't miss a beat after her skirt flies up over her head on a public beach during your session.
Kendal and Ian captivated me the moment we had our first meeting, but they really blew me away during their engagement session. Despite (a little too much) wind and darkening skies, their love for one another was apparent. They are fun, adventurous and full of light. I cannot wait for their wedding.
Things even got a little steamy...sorry moms. But not too sorry. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.
Don't get me wrong, okay. I love love a good posed session. I'm a huge fan of styled shoots, especially couples, but there's just something about getting down to the heart of things. Admittedly, most of us aren't actually models (and that's okay). I'm willing to bet if you're a photographer, your subjects aren't either, and might be looking for a little guidance from you. If you're like me and dying for the super raw emotions and real snort laughter, you're consistently working on how to get organic moments without just instructing "act natural". I mean, for me acting natural means I might fall over a tree branch. If you're in the same boat, grab a cup of coffee and read some of the best prompts and tips I want to share to get your couples even closer.
I recently did a beautiful sunset session for Kim and Ryan, who have been together for 12 years. They have 2 kids and really haven't had any photos taken together of just...well...since prom. Most couples I meet have either had very few or none (gasp) sessions together. If I could give any advice it would be to keep moving and keep talking. More than anything, throw your own heart into hearing their story, and I guarantee as time goes on, the prompts and conversations will flow.
Keep sipping and read below for my favorite conversation starters and prompts.
(I want to add that not everyone has the same comfort level. It's really important to listen and watch for cues. Follow your couples' lead always).
The fun prompts may seem a bit silly at first (because sometimes they are) . But they’re perfect icebreakers for getting your couple comfortable in front of the lens and gives them something to forget that they were ever nervous. What's even better, as goofy as they may initially feel, real laughter more often then not ensues. Start your sessions with a few of these and throw a few in later to keep up variety.
*Stand close and look into each others' eyes and wrap up into one another. Try to recall one of your partner's most embarassingly funny moments. Whoever laughs first has to listen to their partner share the story.
*Seductively whisper vegetable names into your partner's ear. Whisper your favorite pizza topping with sex appeal.
*Lean in close and smell your partner's hair. Their shoulder. Their nose. Really, really smell hard.
*Have your couple walk towards you side by side, holding hands. Hip check each other flirtatiously.
*Have one person grab the other person around the waist. Have the non-grabber try to run. Don't let go!
While also playful, these go a little deeper and encourage your couple to get closer. I don't ask my couples to kiss first because it often time takes a little bit of time to get warmed up and comfortable. The more romance you add in, the more hands-on (literally) you encourage your couple to get.
*Hug each other like you won't see each other for a year
*Put your head on your partners chest, wrap your arms around each other and sway gently (this is the PERFECT opportunity to start adding music into your sessions. If I don't have my speaker, I'll have my assistant pull out a phone. I've even asked what "their" song is or their first dance will be t0. And...maybe...just maybe...I've serenaded my couple for a few more laughs).
*Get close, face to face. Lean in to kiss, but don't. Get closer but don't kiss until I give you the go ahead.
*Wrap your arms around your partner from behind. Pull them in close and nestle into their neck.
These are my favorite, and some that inevitably become the ones I end up showcasing. This is where gauging comfort level is up to you--if your couple is really feeling it, it's okay to dive right in. Break down the walls. Bring all the love. You're about to ask your couple to let you in on the quieter, intimate moments. These are softer, gentler and absolutely beautiful to watch your couple connect (and re-connect) with. More often then not, I step back for a few and let things unfold without being in the way (sometimes I end up snort crying, ookkk).
*Get close and breathe each other in. Close your eyes for a moment and only focus on your partner.
*Take your partners face in your hand. Kiss their forehead, nose, cheeks and shoulder.
*Touch foreheads together and inhale together, sitting or standing.
*Move a piece of your partner's hair behind their ear. Kiss their ear and whisper that you love them
More than anything...
I can't say I have an exact formula, but I never get tired of capturing love. Be present. Listen to your couple. Engage with them. Ask them questions and you will get answers. I think more than anything, you have to be willing to be equally vulnerable. And hey, maybe that's just me, but I can't ask people to open their hearts to me and trust me if I'm not willing to do the same.
Have FUN. Be SILLY. Get WEIRD. Run through fields, swing each other around, bring flowers and champagne. Put your own touch to everything and write down your own favorite prompts when you come up with them!
I hope some of these tips and prompts help you on your upcoming sessions. If you have any tips you want to share or questions to ask, feel free to reach out because I would love to get to know you better!
check out the rest of kim and ryan's epic session below