Patriotic Engagement Session

As a professional photographer dealing with folks who aren’t crazy wild about having their picture taken is just part of the deal.  It happens.  A lot of folks contact me and tell me that all the people on my website are incredibly photogenic, but that they never look good in photos.  (I think they must be telling me this to lower my expectations or something as if I would be upset with them if they didn’t perform in front of the camera with the irrepressible sexiness of an Abercrombie and Fitch model.)  However, I usually smile when people say that, because inevitably it’s those people that end up on my website or in sample albums.

So, I could only laugh then when I met Walter and Alexandra and Walter’s very first words to me were “I don’t want to be taking engagement photos, but she’s making me.”


He went on to ask if he could flip off the camera at some point during the shoot.  I told him I would be downright offended if he didn’t.  He didn’t disappoint.

Once I told him I was much more interested in photographing them just interacting together and that he had full permission to mess with his bride to be in anyway that he deemed fit, he seemed to open to the possibility that this wouldn’t be too terrible….  :)

It’s always fun when couples bring props to shoot.  Walter told me he used to be in the military and that they had brought a big US flag that they would love to incorporate into the shoot somehow.  We pulled some of the old nails off this old barn and used ‘em to hang the flag up against the old wood.  I’d say it worked out pretty well…  :)

While I normally like to shoot with a fairly shallow depth of field, I wanted to get one shot with some crazy sun flare going on across the image so I stopped down to f18 create this next image.  Love the feel…

Fall leaves are my happy place.  I pretty much wait around about 49 weeks out of the year for the 3 weeks when the leaves look like this.

Alexandra and Walter – Thanks so much for not being Abercrombie and Fitch models.  I like you both much better just for who you are, middle finger and all.  :)  Can’t wait for your wedding next year!

A Bride Who Found us in the Craziest of Ways

Howdy y’all!

I wanted to blog abut a wedding I did a few months back with a very cool backstory.  People find us all different ways.  A LOT of people get referred to us.  It’s always awesome when someone is so thrilled with the work that we provide them that they tell every engaged couple they know about us.  Referrals are probably the greatest form of flattery you can give anyone in the service industry.  We are always incredibly grateful when people come to us that way.  Other folks find us via search engines like Google or Bing. While not as common some people find us through places like Style Me Pretty or first saw our work in a magazine feature or something like that.  It’s always interesting to find out how people find us.  Looking back through 10 years of shooting weddings however, I don’t think anyone has found us in a more random (and cooler) way than Arian did.

Arian found us because she was our labor and delivery nurse when Vera was born.

You’re probably wondering how exactly she went from strapping a fetal heart rate monitor over Katie’s belly to being one of our brides… well it’s an interesting story…  ;)

We’ll travel back to Katie’s 39 week  OBGYN appointment.  We knew (or least were hoping!) that the baby would be coming soon and we were grateful that at the appointment everything looked right on track.  Healthy baby, healthy mama = two thumbs up.  The only issue the doctor saw was that Katie was borderline on having too high of blood pressure.  She was still in what was considered the healthy range, but high blood pressure can throw some wrenches into the birthing process and Katie’s levels were approaching the point where the doc wanted to keep an eye on it.  She told us that over the weekend we should go to one of those Walgreens where they have a free blood pressure monitor and if it was over a point to give them a call.  So we followed the doctors orders and of course Katie’s blood pressure was literally at the exact point at which she told us to call.  We rang up the on call doctor and they advised that we go to the hospital just to have everything checked out.

This is where things get interesting.

The date was Saturday October 27th 2012 and of course…I had a wedding.  Knowing that Katie was literally days away from her due date, I had told the couple months back about the situation and had an emergency backup photographer in place.  My couple that weekend was beyond amazing and completely understanding and knew that if I had to send my backup that they would be in excellent hands.  Well when we got to the hospital we got checked into a room and they started examining Katie and doing an ultra sound to see how the baby was doing.  This is when yours truly steps up to the plate and displays his unselfish, patient, and caring father side by asking the nurse if she thought the baby was coming right away because if not, I needed to hit the road and head off to work.  :)  I realized how that must have sounded and was panicked this nice lady would turn into Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and try to give me a full frontal lobotomy for seeming to care more about my job than my very pregnant wife.  I quickly explained that I was a wedding photographer and was contracted to be at a wedding in a few hours, but if it was baby time I had a backup and was completely ready to be a good husband and present father and ditch work.  The nurse smiled and said I was probably good to go and that they would call me if anything changed. After a quick call with our doctor, it was decided that they would give Katie 24 hours to see if she naturally went into labor . If not, we would come back to the hospital and start  inducing labor.  I raced back home, quickly changed into my wedding clothes, threw my camera gear into the car and photographed a wedding as if it was a totally normal day at the office.

The afternoon of the 28th we arrived at the hospital, this time knowing for sure we weren’t leaving without a baby (woah… crazy!).  By around 5AM on the morning of the 29th they decided it was time to induce.  Later that morning the nurses changed shifts and who comes in…. None other than the understanding nurse who watched me race out of the hospital two days earlier!  Arian was like a nurse super star.  It’s the labor and delivery nurses who are with you in the trenches checking your progress, administering any meds, and making sure you’re as comfortable as can reasonably be expected.  She was incredibly chill and laid back (which it turns out is exactly what you want from a labor and delivery nurse… you don’t need people who are gonna stress you out in the labor room.)  She was reassuring and funny, she knew her stuff, and without a doubt she made our whole experience amazing.  After Vera was born, it was Arian who first put a naked and screaming Vera into my arms.  A moment I will truly Never. Ever. Ever. Forget.

Fast forward about 10 months and we get an email from Arian.  She explains that she was our labor and delivery nurse (as if we needed reminding about who she was) and she had recently gotten engaged and remembered that we were wedding photographers and wanted to know if I would be open to shooting her wedding.

Ummmmmm YEAH!!  ;)

Now at this point I feel like I’ve already written a short novel up to this point so rather than continue to ramble on, I’ll get right to the pics from Arian and her amazing husband Cullen’s wedding. Truly, these two are both amazing people.

Arian and Cullen got married at Arrowhead Golf Course.   Once you see the following pics, you’ll understand why I would happily photograph 5 or 6 weddings a year here. It is amazing.

I love this picture of a couple stragglers showing up right before the wedding starts….

I love getting candid pics of guests at the reception.  Usually people are just talking and mingling.  In this case, I have absolutely no idea what was going on, but it made for a pretty funny picture….  ;)

I love getting shots like this.  There’s maybe a 10 min window where you can get the vibrant colors in the sky, so I kept an eye out on the light and was ready to race outside as soon as light was right.

Arian and Cullen… you guys are incredible.  Arian, words can’t thank you enough for the pure awesomeness you brought to Vera’s birth. You are simply amazing at what you do and we were so beyond thrilled to be there to document YOUR incredible day!

To not know what 9/11 is…

Be forewarned… the following has nothing to do photography.  :)  I posted this on Facebook this morning and people seemed to resonate with it, so I’m sharing it here….

The other day I was watching Vera play with her baby doll (affectionately named “Baby”) and was realizing just how innocent she was. I know it’s kinda cliche to talk about babies and very young kids being “innocent”, but it really struck me how Vera has no real concept of what being “mean” really is, much less things like murder, rape, torture, jihad, suicide bombs, Ebola, etc etc etc.

Someday, Vera and I will have a long talk about September 11th. We’ll talk about how scared everyone was, how there were national guard troops with M16s in the airports, and how fighter jets patrolled the skies for weeks after the attacks. I’ll share where I was when it happened, how I watched live along with millions of others the second plane crash into the South tower, what the world was like on September 10th, and what it was like growing up during a time when the United States wasn’t perpetually at war. We’ll discuss things like why people wanted to attack us in the first place, why there is such evil in the world, and how we as individuals can be a light, even in the midst of such darkness.

Every night right before we put Vera in her crib we whisper in her ear “Vera, you’re going to do good things for the world… and that’s why you need to GET YOUR REST!” It’s something we’ve told her every night almost since the day she was born. It makes me sad to realize that for her to do good things for the world, she must have some understanding of all the bad things in the world first.

Someday we’ll have this conversation. But I hope not for a long long time. Right now, I’m treasuring her innocence. I love her complete and utter ignorance of the nature of evil. Her total un-awareness of the harshness of the world around her.

For now, her ignorance is bliss.

NFL Week 1 Broncos vs. Colts

Well it seemed like it would never come (at least to us die hard football fans), but at last the NFL regular season is here!  Yours truly was there to cover the big Sunday night matchup between the Broncos and the Colts… here’s a couple highlights….

As usual, I arrived a couple hours before the game.  It’s often requested that we get a lot of fan action so I headed out to the parking lot grab a little tailgating action before the game…

Mr. DeMarcus Ware warming up before the game out on the field.

These types of moments happen really quick and you have to watch for ‘em.  Images like this though end up getting used all the time.

Peyton being Peyton….  :)

Near interception….

Julius Thomas had a great night last night…. The guy is a beast.

For this shot I was actually in the end zone shooting behind the offensive line.  I camped out back there, hoping to grab a shot of a sack.  Often times when quarterbacks go down, they end up turning around to protect the ball and you can get a cool shot of the QB as he gets brought down.  Didn’t happen here, but the shot works nonetheless.

These Andrew Luck TD images ended up getting used quite a bit…  It’s still amazing to me the speed at which digital images get used in sports.  As opposed to the film days (before I was shooting professionally) when a photographer would rush his film back to his newspaper get it developed and the next morning hours after the game people would see the image in their newspaper.  Now, this image was on ESPN and USA Today’s website just mins after it was shot.

Rahim Moore also ended up having a pretty decent night with two interceptions.

It’s pictures like this that remind me why players stretch so much before the games.  :)  (and why they wear pads).

Montee Ball making his diving second half TD…

Colts made the game a little more interesting than I would have liked, but in the end the Broncos held it together (unlike my hometown Chicago Bears… UGH!) and took care of business.

Next up Chiefs!

Documenting Families

My experience of family is difference now that I have one of my own.  I see how fast things change.  I understand a bit more how incredibly fulfilling and how unbelievably hard it is… often all at the same time.  When I was a kid I never thought about life from my parent’s perspective, but now that I’m a father I look at my parents and my in-laws and see them watching Katie and I, realizing that they were in our spot not all that long ago.   They don’t say anything, but I can tell that they remember what it was like when we were little.  When we sprung out of bed at 6AM with more energy than any sane person should reasonably be allowed to have.  Or when we would burst into tears over desires that we had that made absolutely no logical sense.  When Katie and I are grandparents and we smile and watch Vera as she struggles with the early stages of parenthood, I want to remember these days that we are going through right now.

Becoming a parent has greatly shaped how I approach family and kid portraits sessions.  I want, to the best of my ability, to create pictures that will remind parents of what this stage of life was like.  I want to create images that are authentic and genuine.  Never staged or forced.  A lot of times it makes sense to do these kinds of sessions at home.  Particularly if they are quite young, I just let the kids play with whatever toys they want to play with and allow them to direct a lot of the session…

Sometimes playing means just means eating.  Sometimes eating means eating chocolate ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.  And sometimes when you eat chocolate ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s you get it all over your mostly white clothes.  Sometimes you do this before you’ve taken any other photos.  So sometimes you go through an entire photo shoot with chocolate Ben and Jerry’s ice cream all over your mostly white clothes in every shot.

Awesome.  :)

Anyone who knows me and my philosophy regarding photography knows that I believe every person has a story worth telling and portraits are a way to tell that story.  Portraits of kids are no different.  For kids and babies they are literally discovering the world around them.  That is part of their story at this point in their lives.  When you make a picture that captures that discovery…….. Love.  Love.  Love.

The other part of their story is their community.  Children don’t live in isolation.  They live, eat, bath, read, play, in community.  A huge part of that community is their parents.  Capturing those relationships is so incredibly rewarding.

Of course… sibling interaction is pretty fun and awesome too.  It’s usually a different dynamic than child parent interaction, but it’s just as fun and just as sweet.  :)

Does that mean I don’t capture regular group shots?  Am I willing to capture pictures where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling nicely?  Sure, however the more authentic and genuine they can be the better.

If you’re interested in having your family captured in this way, please reach out to us.  Just as we are honored every time a couple asks us to document their wedding, we are equally honored and humbled whenever a family asks us to document whatever season of life they are currently in.