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When Stephanie and Alex first contacted me about doing an engagement session with their dogs and coming along as their Iceland elopement photographer I knew that I was in. There was NO way I could say no to that!

After tossing around a few ideas we chose Brainard Lake for their winter engagement session. In the summer Brainard is accessible by car and swarming with people but in the winter getting there requires a 2.5 mile hike on a snowpacked (if you’re lucky) road. I was stoked.

I met up with them and their three rescue dogs (Breeze, Luna, and Zoey) on an unseasonably warm March day. We made it out to the lake way faster than we thought we would and had some time to kill before the light got good so we sat on a bench, drank some wine, and enjoyed the afternoon.

As the sun sank behind the Indian Peaks the light got all sorts of magical and it was game on! We stayed out until sunset, watched the full moon rise, hiked out by headlamp in the dark. And then I drove home thinking about how damn lucky I am to have this crazy ass job.

Here are some shots from our session. Enjoy!

[Shameless self-promotion: Are you eloping in Iceland this fall? I will be in Iceland for Steph and Alex’s engagement in September and I would LOVE to do more shoots while I’m there. Contact me for more info! Exact dates are still TBD ]

 

When I first met up with Gian and Lawrence to talk about shooting their engagement photos and Estes Park wedding I knew we were a perfect match. They had just moved to Colorado (like, two days before) and were throwing themselves into the lifestyle – exploring the mountains and learning their way around. We clicked instantly.

These guys are fun, adventurous, and love to travel. Not long after they started dating they ran off to Europe for a few weeks. It was on a stop in London that Lawrence handed his camera to a random stranger, dropped to one knee, and popped the question. If that isn’t a good place to get engaged, I don’t know what is!

We went round and round on locations for their engagement shoot. They really wanted a snowy, mountain vibe for their engagement photos which should have been no problem in the middle of the February – but Mother Nature had other ideas. Unseasonably warm weather forced us up to the mountains (it’s a tough job but someone has to do it …). We chose the Brainard Lake area for their photos and it couldn’t have been better!

We parked at the winter trailhead lot and then made the short walk up the road to Red Rock Lake. It was warm and wintry and perfect.

Enjoy!

 

Eric and Donna knew they wanted a snowy mountain location for their engagement session. After throwing around a couple ideas we decided to make the quick hike up to St. Mary’s Glacier. We were ready for an adventure but I’m not sure any of us were prepared for just how cold it was going to be!

I like cold weather and I adore shooting in the snow. I love how everything is naturally cuddly. I don’t have to tell people to act like they are keeping each other warm because that’s what they’re already doing. I’m all about shooting in the cold. But this? This was something altogether different.

It was 30-something degrees at the trailhead but as soon as we started hoofing it up the hill the temperature started dropping fast. And the wind was howling. By the time we got to the top and started shooting we were all frozen and shivering. I couldn’t feel my fingers – even with gloves on and I’m pretty sure I didn’t warm up until sometime the next day.

So yeah, it was COLD. But yanno what we did? We made the most of it. Eric and Donna brought a flask of whiskey and a big thermos of hot Skratch cider (new rule: from now on all cold shoots will involve whiskey and hot cider!).  We kept their coats on for pretty much the entire shoot and we cuddled them up as much as possible. And they were total troopers.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that they were up for anything. These two are no strangers to the outdoors. They met at a bike race and got engaged two days into a 15 day bikepacking trip on the Colorado Trail. Their dog Icarus (aka “Lick-arus”) is their mountain biking and skiing buddy. They’re pretty much totally down with going on adventures and all that it entails. In other words, they’re totally my kind of people.

I had a blast hanging out with them last weekend and I’m so excited to shoot their wedding at Strawberry Creek Ranch this summer – especially since it should be WAY warmer.

Enjoy! 🙂

 

I’m probably a little biased but I think picking a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions you will make about your day. Few things can make or break your wedding – and the way you remember it – like the person who takes your photos. But the decision can be incredibly hard. Believe me, I get it.

There are loads of articles floating around giving advice on what to ask a potential photographer. How many photos will I get? How do you back up your photos? Do you have insurance? And while all those are important and certainly worth asking, I’d encourage you to go a little bit deeper than that.

Photographers are a dime a dozen these days and a whole lot of them are turning out incredible work. If you want light and bright shots – there’s a photographer (or several hundred) who can do that. If you’re into a darker, moodier vibe? It’s the same deal. So how in the hell do you chose?

I’m here to tell you that at the end of the day it comes down to more than just the photos.

Of all the vendors you choose for your wedding or elopement, your photographer is the one you will be spending the most time with. They’ll be hanging out with your friends while you all get ready, following you around like paparazzi for six or eight hours, and wrangling your drunk uncle when he doesn’t want to take another photo. If you’re having an adventure elopement and the plan is to say your vows on top of a mountain with just the two of you (which is totally legal in Colorado, by the way!), your photographer will be 1/3rd of the people that are there.

You’re going to be spending a ton of time together so it’s important that you click.

I’ve been involved in dog rescue off and on for the better part of a decade. There’s a saying in the rescue world that goes something like “not every dog is right for every person but every dog has a person that is right for it.”. Those might to be the exact words but you get the gist. It applies to wedding photographers too.

If you’re the type of couple who wants everything to be perfect on their wedding day – and defines “perfect” as polished, clean, and formal, I’m probably not for you. And that is totally, TOTALLY ok. There are plenty of photographers who are more than happy to help you capture those memories and at the end of the day you will love their work. They’ll make it look like the high-glam event that it was and you’ll walk away with photos that you love. Everyone will be happy.

If you’re the type of couple who isn’t afraid of getting your dress a little bit dirty for a chance at an amazing shot (or just to watch a killer sunset on the most important day of your life) you want someone who is down with that – and may even encourage it. If you have to pry your friends (and maybe yourself!) off the ski slopes to get them to come to your wedding, you want a photographer who gets it. If you have a dog or kids that might cause some chaos, you want someone who will roll with it – not get flustered.

 

Obviously you need to figure out if your photographer is legit (that’s a subject for a different day) but once you’ve done your homework I think the decision can come down to two very important questions. Do I love this person’s work? and Is this someone I’d want to have a few beers with?

Because at the end of the day it’s important to connect with your photographer’s work – but also with them as a person.

What do you guys think? Any other advice? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

 

When Jess contacted me about doing a family photo session during their Colorado vacation I knew I was in. Jess and Ross were coming with their two 18 month old twins all the way from Tampa … and none of them had ever seen snow.

As a former Floridian who didn’t really experience snow until my senior year of high school, I totally got it.

They rented a VRBO up in Georgetown which is a cute little town right at the entrance to our mountains. Our plan was to shoot at Sapphire Point in Breckenridge. I headed up to the mountains early thinking I’d get in some cross-country skiing before the shoot but as soon as I got into the high country I knew we were in for an adventure.

It was dumping snow at the Eisenhower Tunnel – like, almost a total whiteout. The roads were slick as snot and I wasn’t surprised when I got a text saying they weren’t going to head west in their rental car. I didn’t blame them one single bit. Heck, I didn’t even really want to drive in that weather and I’ve been doing it for a long time!

I backtracked and we met over coffee in Idaho Springs (where it was warm and sunny, go figure!) to decide what to do next. Eventually we headed to Elk Meadows Open Space which turned out to be the PERFECT spot for this family shoot.

I had a blast with these guys and am so excited that they’re going to be spending a lot more time in Colorado in the future!

Enjoy! 🙂

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a little bit passionate about the place where I live and I LOVE showing new people around. Visiting Colorado sometime soon? I’d be thrilled to set up a family vacation session with you!

 

 

Mindy and Taylor’s Brainard Lake wedding is probably one of the days that I get asked about the most. They chose this location, about 45 minutes from Boulder, for their laid-back boho inspired day – and it was perfect.

This was an itty bitty super non-formal affair. The groom and his guys arrived that morning to pick out a spot right next to the lake. The “aisle” was a the edge of the lakeshore. August is typically warm and sunny in Colorado but on this day the 13,000 foot peaks that were behind that surrounded us were hidden in the clouds. It was cold and misty and felt a little more like the Pacific Northwest than Colorado … but it couldn’t have been better.

After the ceremony we wandered around the area, taking pictures and enjoying the views. This place is crawling with moose and I was half hoping that one would crash the party (because how epic would that be?!) but it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, this day was an adventure and everyone involved were total troopers despite the wet, cold weather.

Mindy and Taylor had their reception back in Kansas City where their families live so there are no photos from that but we did manage to make it over to Nederland to goof around a bit. If you come to Boulder and don’t go to Nederland, you’re totally missing out! We rode the Carousel of Happiness, took photos in front of old buildings, and had a blast.

Here are some pictures from their day. Enjoy!

Andrea and Adam’s intimate Estes Park wedding was about as cozy as it gets. With a foot of fresh snow on the ground and temperatures hovering below zero, this was the kind of day that makes you want to curl up in a cozy mountain lodge with the people you love – and that’s just what they did.

The day wasn’t without adventure. Most of the guests’ cars couldn’t make it up the steep, slippery hill to the cabin so I did double duty as photographer AND gear sherpa, running food up the hill in my trusty Subaru. This is a full service operation, guys!

Once everyone finally made it to the cabin, the party started! It was literally ZERO degrees when we snuck outside for the first look so we snapped a few shots and then headed back inside where Adam and his family played a song for his bride. Vows were said in front of a cozy fire and things couldn’t have been more perfect.

This was the perfect little intimate winter wedding and I was so honored to get to be a part of it!

Mandy and David are adventurers at heart – which is a good thing too. This session would have never turned out as awesome as it did if they hadn’t been up for anything!

If our planning conversations could be summarized in just a few sentences it would go something like this:

Me: Hey guys, I was thinking maybe we’d meet at the trailhead (an hour from where you live …) at 6 a.m. And then we can hike for 45 minutes or so and then I’m going to have you crawl around on some icy, frozen rocks, and it might be really cold. Oh, and it might snow. Uh, is that ok?

Them: Yes. Let’s do it. Can we bring our dog?

As you all know, my answer to “Can I bring my dog?” is never “no”!

So the four of us (including Cascade the pup, obviously!) hit the trail on a cold early winter day just after sunrise. And it was totally worth it. Enjoy!

Colorado engagement photographer
Colorado engagement photographer
My Best Advice for New Photographers

I’ve been shooting for a long time but it was only recently that I made the jump from doing this for fun to doing this for work. The transition went far more smoothly than I expected – mostly because I’ve gotten a lot of really good advice from some really smart people. If you’re wondering how to make photography a business, not just a hobby, I know what you’re going through. I was there too … and it wasn’t all that long ago.

I’m far from an expert on any of this stuff but I’ve learned some things along the way – and I wanted to share them with all of you. I’m not trying to sell you anything – this post doesn’t include a sales pitch or affiliate link. I’m just sharing the love because I’m 100% on the “community over competition” train.

So with all that in mind, here are some things that I’ve learned:

Don’t be afraid to invest in your business.

Yes, I own a lot of bikes and camera gear but the reality is that I’m pretty freaking thrifty. I have a hard time parting with my money but pretty early on in this adventure I realized that if I wanted to be successful, it was going to cost me. Especially early on. I’ve enrolled in workshops (more on that later), upgraded equipment, paid for software, ordered samples, bought presets, and done all the boring things necessary for starting a business (hello liability insurance, registering an LLC, etc.)*. I’m not telling you to start throwing money around wildly (please don’t do that) but I am saying that you’re going to have to be ok with spending some cash.

*As a side note, if you’re wondering why photography is so expensive, this is why.

Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.

Shortly after I started taking this thing super seriously a spot opened up in a popular, sold out workshop. It was expensive and on the other side of the country. I sucked it up and registered anyway. It felt indulgent at the time but I am SO glad I did it. Yes, I learned a ton (OMG did I learn a ton!) but also? It was a commitment of time, money, and energy and once I had made it I felt like there was no going back. I was all in. I’m hoping to make this an annual thing (I’m dusting off my passport for next year’s workshop!). I’ve also spent money on online classes, local workshops, and shootouts and I’ve never regretted any of it. You are not throwing money away. You are investing in yourself.

Find your tribe.

I was going to title this “network” but, to be honest, it never really feels like networking to me. I’m an introvert (a very outgoing one, but an introvert nonetheless) and everything about “networking” kind of gives me hives. I initially found my tribe online (which was perfect for a quasi-hermit). I joined photography groups on Facebook which led to other photography groups on Facebook. I learned stuff. I met people. I got clients. I got inspired. And oh yeah, I also made friends. Having people to go to for advice, critiques, and inspiration? It’s been invaluable. This leap would have been a lot slower and harder without getting help along the way.

Find your niche.

Look you guys, there are a lot of freaking photographers out there – and a lot of them are very good. It’s competitive. You don’t want to compete on the quality of your photos alone (not because you’re not good but because A LOT of people are good) and you don’t want to compete only on price (the race to the bottom is one you don’t want to win) . You need to find what you’re good at and what you love and then foster the hell out of it. For me, I love photographing authentic connections between fun, adventurous people in the outdoors – and that is what all of my efforts are geared towards. And while you’re finding your niche? Make sure it’s authentic. Because clients are smart and can see right through it when it’s not. Be you – even if “you” is someone who is pretty informal, is obsessed with dogs, and really loves “that’s what she said” jokes. (Hi, I’m Jen. Have we met?). Your clients will appreciate who you are and the ones who don’t are not your clients.

Shoot with other photographers.

I don’t think this can be said enough. SHOOT WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS. Do it at workshops. Second shoot at weddings. Sign up for shootouts. Meet up with randos you met online and go take pictures of each other. Shooting with other people was super intimidating for me at first. To be honest, I was sort of terrified. But now I realize the value in it and I do it every chance I get. You will learn SO MUCH about how to shoot, how to pose, and how to connect with your clients. You will learn how you like to shoot … and how you don’t. And all of it will be helpful.

Colorado engagement photographer

Shoot with other photographers.

I don’t think this can be said enough. SHOOT WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS. Do it at workshops. Second shoot at weddings. Sign up for shootouts. Meet up with randos you met online and go take pictures of each other. Shooting with other people was super intimidating for me at first. To be honest, I was sort of terrified. But now I realize the value in it and I do it every chance I get. You will learn SO MUCH about how to shoot, how to pose, and how to connect with your clients. You will learn how you like to shoot … and how you don’t. And all of it will be helpful.

Be prepared to work your ass off.

I used to have a regular 9-5 job. I sat at my desk, put in my hours, and at the end of the day I’d go home and not work again until I went back in the next morning. That’s not the case anymore. If you follow me on social media you see that I spend a lot of time outside during normal “working” hours – hiking, mountain biking, hanging out with my kid and my dogs – but don’t let that fool you. I work way harder now than I ever did before – I just do it at different times of the day, on different days of the week, and on my own schedule. I heard someone say that you have to work 16 hours for yourself for every 8 hours you worked for someone else. It’s true – and it takes a boatload of discipline. But don’t let that scare you because it’s also super satisfying.

Be good at being uncomfortable.

You guys, I was so anxious before my first paid shoot. The day leading up to it was pretty much ruled by fear and anxiety. I was scared. And while the nerves have subsided a good amount, they are still there. If you get nervous before a shoot I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. I still get nervous (although much less so now) every single time. And ya know what? I’m ok with that, mostly because I believe the nerves actually help. They keep you on your toes. They keep you constantly pushing to be better. They mean that you care. I’ve heard photographers who I look up to who have been doing this for years say that they’re still terrified every single time. Maybe it will get better. Maybe it won’t. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. So ya know what? Embrace it. Be good at being uncomfortable – learn how to deal with fear. And yes, this applies to way more than just photography.

I hope this was helpful to someone out there in internet land. What did I miss? What advice do you have? And if you’re new and trying to make the leap, tell me what your biggest struggle is. Maybe we can help. We’re all in this together, y’all.

I met up with Ashley and Joseph for their engagement session at St. Mary’s Glacier on a cold early winter afternoon. We had received our first snow for theyear the day before and things suddenly felt a lot like winter – which was perfect for these photos!

Ashley lives in Michigan. Joseph is stationed in Colorado and has done two tours in Afghanistan. They’ve spent more time apart than together. Getting to capture these photos for them was an honor!

We hiked up the slippery trail to the lake below St. Mary’s Glacier and then froze our fingers off for the next hour … and it was totally worth it. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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