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Category Archives: business & life

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you may have noticed that I traveled to California at the end of January with my bestie!  And, by “noticed,” I mean “been bombarded by a continuos, never-ending slew of pictures in your newsfeed.” My apologies- I couldn’t help myself.  This trip was a photographer’s dream.  We flew into Los Angeles, drove to Mojave, Red Rock, Death Valley National Park, Rhyolite Nevada, back to Death Valley, Amboy (via Route 66), Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and back to LA. In that order!  I traveled light, carrying only my favorite medium format film camera, 10 rolls of film, and my iPhone 5.  I packed light too- as you may notice by the one jacket, one scarf, one pair of sneakers, and several pairs of yoga pants below!  This trip was so refreshing.  It was one of the most active trips I’ve taken.  For all the driving we did, we did equal amounts of hiking and other outdoor activities.  We also ate well (well meaning healthfully).  Again, my Insta feed gives me away; I’m a very health conscious vegan/vegetarian eater, but on the typical vacation I’d indulge.  At every single meal.  I certainly indulged on this vacation, but in a different way.  We dined on fresh, local produce and ate primarily vegan meals.  We drank freshly made juice on several occasions!  Usually when I return home from a vacay, I feel like I need a detox, but after this I felt light as air.

If you ever get a chance to go to Death Valley, please take it.  I think you’ll be amazed by the fantastic hiking, gorgeous vistas, perfect temps (in January!), straight-outta-a-video-game roads, and peacefulness.  This entire trip was inspired by a single pic on a friend’s Instagram feed.  The power of social media!  Pretty amazing to think that we never would’ve thought to visit Death Valley if not for that one picture.

Most of these images were captured on film, but I snuck in several iPhone pics (including a selfie)!  This was my first trip with my newly upgraded iPhone 5 and the camera is a HUGE improvement from the last model, so I found myself taking A LOT more phone pics than usual.  I also learned of the panorama feature a few days into the trip.  I’ll spare you a blog post of 2,916 panoramas, but suffice it to say, I almost filled my brand new phone.  Next week I’ll share images from Palm Springs and Joshua Tree.  Enjoy!!

Happy Friday everyone!! I’m so excited to share this beautiful little blog post with you today! My husband and I (and our pup!) recently had the oppurtunity to be photographed by Kelsy & Butch of The McCartneys Photography. We are so smitten with them and so excited about our gorgeous images!! I thought it’d be fun to share our experience on the other side of the camera and give you some tips for your own session!

1.  CHOOSE THE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHER.  Take the time to search for the perfect photographer- one who’s vision you love, and equally importantly, someone who you can have fun with!  Browse through potential photographers portfolios and make sure you love their work and you can picture yourself in their photos.  Can you envision them hanging in your home?  Are your styles a good match?  After you’ve determined a good fit, take the time to connect with your photographer on a personal level.  For my husband and I this was just as important as the photos themselves.  We feel awkward being photographed.  It’s just not natural to have someone capturing your every move!  It was really important to us to have a photographer(s) who could help us relax, make us laugh, and make the process light and fun!!  Kelsy and Butch were the perfect choice for us- because we love their work and trust them 100%, we were able to just focus enjoying the moment, and didn’t have to think about where to put our hands, or if my hair was out of place.

2. SCHEDULE YOUR SESSION. I decided on about November 20th that we needed updated pictures for our annual holiday card. This really isn’t adequate time. {I’m hanging my head in shame.}  Do yourself a favor, lower your stress levels, and plan in advance!  It’s never too early to book your session, and of course, be sure to consider what you’ll be using the photos for.  Maybe you’re engaged and want to use them for save-the-dates, which generally go out about 6 months before your wedding date.  Maybe you want updated images for holiday cards.  Consider the date you want the photos in your hands, and be sure to let your photographer know when scheduling so your session date can planned accordingly.  Build in extra time so there is no rush.  Keep in mind that fickle weather may also call for rescheduling.  If this is the case, rain, snow or otherwise unpleasant weather could mean your session occurs later than originally planned.

3.  HIRE A HAIR & MAKEUP ARTIST.  Ladies, trust me, this is a must.  Don’t even think about skimping here!!  I cannot understate the value of hiring a really talented hair and makeup artist to help you look your best.  It’s pretty rare to get your hair and makeup done, but I think a photo session with your significant other is certainly a special occasion.  It’s so fun to be pampered and if you look your best you’ll feel much more confident in front of the camera.  Big, big thanks to my lovely friend Julie of Julie Swenson Beauty for my hair and makeup for my shoot.  Bridal bonus: use this as a time to get to know the artist that will be beautifying you on your big day!!

Also, as a side note, the day of your session is NOT the time for a new haircut or highlights, just in case anything goes awry.  I’d recommend doing these services at least 3-4 days prior to your session unless you really know and trust your hair stylist.

4.  STYLE YOUR SHOOT.  Start planning the overall look and feel of your session.  It’s NOT too early to start a pinboard or begin communicating with your photographer.  Maybe you have a strong vision in your head, or maybe you don’t.  Either way, open up a dialogue with your photographer (and your significant other).  You’ve chosen to hire a professional and they are there to help you!  If you need suggestions, your photographer should have ideas.  Personally, I love when my clients share their pinboards or images they like.  Usually when we brainstorm together, we come up with the best ideas.  It’s always fun to incorporate meaningful locations (if you find them visually beautiful) like your alma mater campus, the park where he proposed, your first date spot, etc.  If your location doesn’t have meaning, that’s ok too.  It’s ok to pick something just because it’s pretty.  After all, the photos are more about the subject, less about the background.

Once you have a general idea for the overall look & location(s) (whether it be urban, farm, grassy fields, lakeside, etc.) start to think how your wardrobe, hair & makeup, (and potential props) will tie in.  For our session, I knew I wanted to do two different looks and I wanted them to be soft and neutral with pops of pattern.

5.  SHOP TIL YOU DROP!  This is the fun part, but it can be stressful if you wait until two days before your shoot.  DO NOT WAIT UNTIL LAST MINUTE to start shopping!  {Again, I hang my head in shame.  Totally guilty.  And it caused me so much stress and scrambling.} Even if you have a vision, you may not be able to find exactly what you’re looking for, so you need to be flexible and give yourself time.  I wanted our two separate looks to still be cohesive so the images from the entire session would flow together.  Unfortunately, the weather on the day of our session was chilly to say the least, so we only had a few minutes with our second look (see #7!).  It’s ok if the two looks aren’t cohesive, in fact, some couples want completely different looks, but for me, I wanted consistency.  Regardless of the look you’re going for, shopping in advance and actually trying on the selected outfits with your significant other will save a lot of stress.  I went shopping with my bestie (a far superior option to dragging my husband to the mall) and we had so much fun picking out outfits.  I found that it was easy to shop for my wardrobe (hello Jcrew), but a bit harder to find coordinating clothes for my hubby.  I ended purchasing several options for him and trying them on together when I brought them home.  (We kept the tags on so we could return the items we didn’t want.)  We were so glad we tried on the items the day before the shoot, because when we stood together in the mirror, some options just didn’t work like I thought they would in the store.  It’s much better to see this in person, at home, rather than on location at your session.

6.  DON’T FORGET ACCESSORIES.  The icing on the cake.  I think accessories add so much to a shoot, and life in general!  This doesn’t just apply to the ladies.  Guys, make sure your shoes coordinate with your looks and don’t be shy about adding little touches like your favorite watch or Ray Bans.  Girls; scarves, jewelry, or the perfect shoes can really complete the look, so don’t forget about styling from head to toe.  Another tip, if you’re going to be walking from location to location, save your strength for looking fab in the photos and bring along a comfortable pair of shoes to walk in.

7.  BE FLEXIBLE.  Things may not go according to plan.  Just laugh it off and enjoy your session.  Relax.  For example, the day of our session it was probably about 30 degrees; quite chilly for fall!  Our second look involved me in an adorable Alexa Chung silk polka dot blouse (there is one pic below).  The wind cuts through silk like a knife, so I lasted about 3.5 minutes outside in that outfit.  Rather than torturing ourselves and our lovely photographers, we decided to be flexible and end the session a bit earlier than planned.

I have lots more tips for a successful session, but I hope these little tidbits help.  If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.  I am happy to share my experience in front of, and behind, the lens!!  It’s good for me to be in front of the camera every once in a while so I know how it feels for my clients.

Here are a few favorites from our session!!  Of course, if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you know that we recently added a new (doggie) member to the family, so I’m sure I’ll have new photos to share when the weather gets a bit warmer.  Another big, huge thank you to our friends Kelsy & Butch for capturing these images we will treasure forever!!

Best year ever.  How did 2012 fly by so quickly?!  I think I was warned that time starts to go faster as you get older. ;) I wanted to write a little post to close out 2012 and thank you, my amazing clients, friends, and family for your unending support. I know I wax poetic about this, but I am a lucky gal. I absolutely love being a photographer and my heart is filled to the brim with emotion for all the amazing people I’ve met along the way.  I love the beginning of a new year because not only is it the perfect time to plan and make goals (and, boy do I love planning!), but it’s also a great time for reflection.

It’s so hard to succinctly represent an entire year of really important moments in peoples’ lives, but I wanted to share some of my film favorites from 2012.  (I apologize if this mega long post kills your internet!) I’m going to try to do this every year, because even if it’s just for my own personal reference, I really enjoyed looking back at 2011 and 2009 (and wish I would’ve done this in 2010, 2008, and 2007!!).  While I was going through the archives and gathering these images, I thought back to each and every one of these weddings and sessions and I have a HUGE smile on my face because of my fabulous, joyful, thoughtful, stylish clients.  I can’t adequately express how amazing you all are.  Not only that, but you all plan such gorgeous weddings!  WOW!!!

I also have to thank my team, Whitney, Mandi, and Jill for everything they do. I love these gals to pieces and am so thankful for their talent and friendship. Photographing weddings is even more fun with them by my side. In 2012, we had adventures in Minneapolis, New York, Chicago, Mexico, road trips up north, flights to Boston, road trips around New England, and we had too much fun along the way.  We also ate copious amounts of cake, and sweets.  (Brides and grooms, we are still loving dessert tables.  I think we starting seeing these a couple years ago and we seriously hope this delicious trend never ends!!)

Personally, I traveled a lot too (sometimes with my husband, a rare bonus!!) and visited some really amazing places on this little globe like Bulgaria, Paris, Portland, Bayfield, Boston, Cape Cod, Chicago, and New Orleans to name a few.  I have lots of exciting travels and destination weddings planned for 2013 and can’t wait to share.  Big things are happening.

Cheers to a fresh new year and I’m wishing you all lots of love, joy, and light in your life.

Gosh, is my heart full.  And, my stomach! ;)  I spent the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday with surrounded by some of the most important people in my life.  I am pretty darn thankful for my family.  I have to just take a minute to brag about them, because  I love them so much!!  I don’t ever want to take them for granted.  Growing up, I was taught morals and values, but also encouraged to think for myself.  I was shown by actions, not just words.  I was raised with strong examples of marriage and love, not only from my own parents, but my 11 sets of aunts and uncles and 2 sets of grandparents, all amazing examples of enduring, loving relationships, all still married (except for grandma who is widowed).  I also have a brother and 30 first cousins (yes 30!!) who are talented, successful, brilliant people, or children with really bright futures (I’m the 4th oldest, so many are still quite young!).  My in-laws are pretty amazing too. I feel lucky to be a part of this family and I feel lucky to have an amazing husband who is like my father in so many ways.  I have equally important friends in my life.  Oh, and not to brag, but I have the best dog in the world.  Ok, ok, fine, I won’t be that person.  One of the best dogs in the world.

I am also beyond thankful for my clients.  For you.  I really am living the dream.  I can’t describe how lucky I feel to wake up every morning and spend my days doing something I love.  I am privileged and honored to do what I do and to have been a part of so many fantastic wedding celebrations.  It’s truly one of the happiest days of a person’s life and I get to be a part of that.  I get to photograph.  I get to do something I truly feel passion for.  I’m definitely a lucky girl and though any business owner will tell you it’s hard work (like super hard), it doesn’t feel like it when you truly love it in your heart.

I am thankful for all the people in the my life.  I am thankful for the experiences I have had.  I am thankful that I have the ability to make time for my other passions in life like cooking, running, hanging out with friends, traveling, reading, organizing my house (yes, I love organizing!!), talking leisurely walks around this neighborhood that I love (NE Minneapolis!) with a great playlist on my iPod shuffle, group fitness classes at my gym, dinners and wine dates with photographer friends, and so much more.  As much as it’s a love/hate relationship, I am also thankful for social media and the capability to connect with people I would’ve otherwise likely lost touch with.  (See some of my favorite iPhone pics from the from the past year or check out my passions on Instagram!)

What are you thankful for?  Whatever it is, I hope you enjoyed the holiday yesterday and had a chance to reflect on all the wonderful things in your life.

  • Caitlin Sullivan - I’m thankful I found you : ) Hope we can meet someday soon!

  • Tiffany Kay - I know I speak for so many people when I say I am very thankful for people like you whose work shows real love and the care you put into each shot. You captured our wedding beautifully and for that we are so thankful! Happy Holidays!

My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been! I absolutely love traveling and feel so invigorated, inspired, excited, and privileged to experience all the different cultures that this lovely planet has to offer. My husband is from Bulgaria and grew up in Bulgaria, and we try to visit his homeland as often as we can. Unfortunately, since 2004, that has only equated to a trip every two years, but I think everyone can understand how life just gets in the way. A trip to Eastern Europe (or anywhere!) involves coordinating schedules, taking time off work, not booking weddings, saving money, flying half way around the world. There are always dozens of excuses why we can’t travel, but we’ve really tried to make it a priority in our lives. Even though every two years is sporadic, to say the least, I feel lucky that we’ve been able to travel to Bulgaria so many times. It makes the visits really special and I can’t even imagine how much it means to my husband, who only sees his parents and the rest of his family every two years, or for special occasions, like weddings in Africa! These trips are a really big deal, so I appreciate all of my clients who have been so supportive when I jet off for 2-4 weeks during the middle of wedding season. Whenever we visit BG, we try to see new places within the country, as there is so much diversity and so much to see.

I realized while looking through these photos, and my photos from our last trip in 2010, that I barely take any pictures of my husband’s hometown, Sofia; the capital city. I’m not sure exactly why, but I think it’s because it sort of feels like home to me. I rarely take pictures in Minneapolis or NYC any more (unless you count Instagram, which I do, of course) because I guess the novelty has worn off, so to speak. My next trip in 2014, I promise I’ll capture images that show a different side of Bulgaria! My husband wanted me to note that the images that I so love capturing, do not accurately depict life for the majority of Bulgarians. He was not a big fan of the car pic below (one of my favs!), but I happen to love those old villages, old junky cars, and those mountains. :)

Here are a few of my favorites from 2012. All of these images were captured on my favorite, my Contax 645, with Fuji Pro 400H film.  Enjoy!