Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding Photography

Hi ya’ll!

As I finally come close to digging myself out of the mountain of weddings and I had in December and January I want to get back to blogging some of the weddings that took place last year.  This particular wedding took place in September last year at Spruce Mountain Ranch in Larkspur, CO.  This wedding fits the exact mold of every wedding I want to shoot… Super fun and laid back couple, great details, and small intimate feel.  Not only did I feel like we captured some wonderful portraits of Carl and Angie, as well as obviously coverage of all the main events during the day (ceremony, first dance, speeches, etc etc) but I really came away feeling like we captured a lot of those little moments and expressions that had there not been a photograph of them they would have been forgotten.  To me, that’s so much of what this job is about and when I look back at the photos from this wedding, I feel like we nailed it.

Without further ado a smattering of images from Carl and Angie’s wedding!  ;)

One of my all time favorite images from all of 2014.  Carl getting ready to see Angie at the first look.

This particular day was COLD.  Didn’t stop Carl and Angie from having an outdoor ceremony… people just made it work with blankets!  :)

I love capturing groom’s expressions when their brides are walking down the aisle.

Carl showing off his new piece of hardware.  :)

More posts showcasing some of our fun activities from 2014 to come!!  :)

Favorite Wedding Images From 2014

At the end of every year I have this grand idea of doing a post of my top 10 favorite wedding images from that year.  Essentially a great big “Look world!  Look what I did the last 365 days!”  I’m always very excited about this post right up until the point where I sit down to start it.  Then I realize the task at hand.  I have to go through literally thousands of images (every year I easily shoot around 50k wedding images).   Then to try to narrow it down to my favorite 10??  I think I’d prefer a root canal.  Each year I shoot an average of about 20 weddings a year, so a top 10 list would include about one image for every two weddings.  That’s way too tough to cull.  Then I start dreading the the e-mails I feel I would most certainly get from my couples whose weddings didn’t happen to make it into my top 10.  I end up procrastinating doing the post until around June or July where I rationalize that I’ve gotten to the point where I couldn’t possibly do a post about my favorite images from a year that ended 6 months ago.  And then 6 months later the cycle starts all over again.

Well this year I decided I’d actually do it.   With one caveat.  More than 10 images.  A lot more.  Essentially I’ve gone through and picked out a couple images from each wedding that for whatever reason stand out to me.  I’m sure many of these don’t represent my client’s favorite images, but the process of shooting a years worth of weddings is a journey and I feel like the following is an accurate representation of my journey for 2014.  These are in chronological order, not any sort of favorite to least favorite.  Some of these weddings have been blogged about, others I have’t had a chance to as of yet.  Some of these weddings towards the end I haven’t even finished editing, so for those couples here’s a little bit of a sneak peek!

Enjoy!

We start the year out in Florida.  Why did I pick this image?  Because I remember thinking when I shot it, that… they don’t make trees like this in Colorado.  :)  Colorado has exceptionally beautiful trees, but none (that I’ve seen anyways) that look quite like this.  I guess you gotta go the south to get married under this kinda tree!

One of my favorite portraits from the whole year.  Photographed with a soft box right outside of the frame in an exceptionally dark barn.  Love the softness and the character.  If Tori’s great great grandkids could only see one image of her from her wedding I hope this would be the one they would see.

I’m always drawn to images that show connections.  Like this one.

OK… next wedding.  Love this image Katie captured.  Not sure in 25 years if people will still be taking selfies (or group selfies…), but at least Allison and Teddy will remember that folks used to do it back in 2014 when they see this picture.  :)

Crazy snow capped mountains, beautiful dress, gorgeous bride… what’s not to love?  :)

Again connections.  Intimacy.  A moment in a ceremony that literally lasted one second.  Maybe two at the most.  Love it.

I don’t have a ton of detail shots in this post, but this one stands out to me.  The funny thing was that most of the seats for this reception were indoors and there were just a couple tables that got seated outdoors.  Personally, if I’d been a guest at this wedding, I’d have preferred the outdoor seating with a view like that….

Next wedding.  Another image from Katie.  Again… going after connections (are you seeing a theme??)  This time not a bride and groom, but a bride and her sister.

Everyone has different tastes when it comes to bouquets.  Personally, I love big bouquets with lots of color and vibrancy.  The kind that pops against a dress.  This one was pretty awesome.

What’s not to love with this?  Sweet barn, a field of purple wildflowers, amazing bride, awesome bouquet…

Laura had an infectious smile.  The kind that three days after the wedding my mouth was still sore from smiling and laughing so much on her day.  She basically had this look on her face the entire day.  It was awesome.

Fathers and daughters.  Now that I have a daughter of my own I can’t stop being amazed by the father/daughter relationship on a wedding day.  Truly truly special.

I love pictures that have depth.  All three layers of his photo work together, foreground, the middle, and the background.  Everything works to create a sweet image.

Another great image from Katie.  Love this moment right after the ceremony when Kylie and Chad were walking back up the aisle.  I was shooting this scene head on (Chad was basically looking right at me), but Katie totally ended up with the better image.  One of the great benefits of having two photographers,is to cover great moments like this from multiple angles.

Don’t know why exactly I’m drawn to this image, but there’s something about it that’s very real.  I didn’t ask them to kiss.  They just did.  And had I tried to stage a kiss it probably wouldn’t have looked this authentic.

Fathers and daughters…. Fathers seeing their daughters for the first time.  I swear I could just shoot scenes like this for the rest of my life and die a happy man.  :)

Ok… so apparently mom’s and daughters have a special bond too.  :)

Another one of my favorite portraits from this year.  The color, the light, the little bit of blue sky peaking through…. love love love.

After 10 years of shooting weddings you wouldn’t think I’d see many “firsts” but an officiant taking a selfie with the couple in the background during the first kiss.  Yep.  This was a first.

This was in the middle of Vail square.  Tons of people around, but I love the light, the color, the smile on Leslie’s face.  Beautiful picture from Katie.

If you haven’t already read the story about how Arian and Cullen found us, it’s worth the read.  Love this casual wedding party image from Civic Center Park.

A portrait that totally captures the very spirit of the subject.  That’s the goal of shooting a great portrait (or at least my goal anyways).  I feel I nailed it pretty well with this one.

Watching for moments in a ceremony when you can grab fun images of the wedding party are always great.

The day before Meredith and Chris’ wedding I did a quick engagement session in wash park.  I’m not really including engagement sessions in this post, but I loved this image and it was on their wedding weekend so technically I guess it counted.

While I’m sure these nice folks didn’t love having to run through this flash flood to get to Meredith and Chris’ ceremony, I certainly love the image that came from it.

About 15 mins after the rain started it stopped… and apparently this little guy wandered a little too far away.  Thankfully that’s why older sisters exist.  To bring ‘em back to the fold.

Just a cool spot to have a ceremony.  Not many places in Denver (or Colorado for that matter) look like this.

I love the symmetry and framing in this image.

I’m not generally a huge fan of shooting hotel ballroom receptions (I’ve shot A LOT of them over the years), but this room setup by Calluna Events was pretty freaking sweet.  Plus the view ain’t too shabby.

It’s always a little dangerous as a photographer when you shoot straight into your off camera flash like this.  A lot of times you get just totally washed out images that aren’t very usable, but there’s something about this image that really works for me.  Love the light, the interaction between the two of them, the other couple dancing in the background…

Next wedding.  When you show up to shoot the “getting ready” portion of the day you never know exactly what to expect.  You hope to get a few images of… well you know… the bride getting ready, but sometimes you also get surprised by capturing a random image of a bridesmaid getting licked by the bride’s dog and another bridesmaid laughing hysterically because of it.

I almost never use flash for outdoor portraits.  However, it’s something I’m starting to do every once in a while, particularly when I have Katie or another second shooter with me who can help with the additional gear.  For this shot, I love how just a little flash from a soft box provides that extra pop against the background of the dark mountains.

Love the color and the vertical lines in this image.  Love how the two of them pop out against the dark background of the trees.  Even though you can’t see the sun in this photo, this was taken during that “golden hour” actually more like “golden minutes” in this case… The sun went behind the mountain just minutes after taking this image and the entire area was dark.  As much as I’ve grown and evolved as a photographer over the last 10 years my love for the kind of light you get when the sun is low in the sky has never gone away.

Next wedding.  On top Vail mountain.  Without a doubt my most favorite place to shoot in Vail.

Love this image and even though Brad is clearly the subject of the image… I think it’s Liz in the background with her out of focus expression that really makes the image.

Brother and mom seeing the bride for the first time.

One of the smallest weddings I’ve ever photographed.  I don’t remember exactly, but maybe around 10 guests.  (Not my smallest wedding ever however… don’t think I’ll ever beat this one in terms of small guest list). Regardless of the size, hard to beat the view up at the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby.

Love the big sky in this image.  Actually love how everything in this image is big with the exception of them.  It’s rare that I use my super wide 16-35mm f2.8 for portraits, but it does come in handy every now and then.

I often tell prospective clients about how I love to capture candid photographs of guests and there’s something that I just love about this image.  Father of the bride talking with the best man.  Drink in hand, sitting by the fire, totally unaware of the photographer shooting the scene with a long lens.  These are the types of images I strive to capture at every wedding.

Can’t wait to do a longer post on Carl and Angie’s wedding up at Spruce Mountain Ranch.  But love this relaxed group portrait.  The guitar, the blue tie, the white sky, Carl fiddling with the buttons on his jacket.  All works for me.

One of my favorite images EVER from a first look.  Love this incredibly sweet moment.

Usually when the bride is coming down the aisle all eyes are on the bride, but I often love to quickly turn and grab an image of the groom seeing his bride coming his way.  Carl’s expression (much like in the above image) is priceless.

Off to California for the next wedding…  Anyone who knows Gloria will know this smile is very very much HER.  I love it.

These next two images always make me jealous.  When I photograph weddings by myself I always have to be down near the bottom of the aisle for the start of the ceremony capturing pictures of people coming down to start the ceremony.  When Katie is with me though, she hangs back with the bride and her dad as they wait to head down the aisle together and the images she gets are always so wonderful.  This is the type of scene, I almost never get to shoot, but always wish that I could.

We switch coasts for this next wedding. From California all the way to Virginia.  Love these next two images of the Sarah and her mom.

Sarah embracing both of her parents during the ceremony.

For this next wedding, we come back towards the middle of the country.  Good ol’ Tulsa!  :)  Now, grooms and groomsmen aren’t traditionally known for wanting to stand around doing a lot of group shots, so I often encourage couples that we can capture groomsmen without them standing around… let them go do something they’d enjoy like going to a bar.  And for Teresa and Luke they did exactly that.

The setup on this image might be a little tough to explain, but it’s cool if you understand what’s going on.  The wedding was out in front of this giant estate near downtown Tulsa.  While I was shooting folks coming down the aisle, I turned around and could see through some windows this scene of the bride walking out the back of the house about to come around the side and walk down the aisle.  Just love the light flowing through her veil and dress.

Sweet sweet light…. Who says you can only get awesome soft light in California??  :)

Cool first dance scene.

Next wedding.  Back in Denver!  (Yay!)  There’s something super classic about this image of Lauren getting ready.  Love everything about it.  Feels very timeless.

When people get married in a downtown location, I like to reflect that in the portraits. Love the view of downtown from the upper level of this parking garage.  (Who’d have ever guessed that a parking garage would make for a great spot to do wedding photos?)

Honestly, I kinda love group photos where nobody is paying any attention to the camera.  The craziness of this photo just works for me.

Another one of those rare instances where I decided to bust out a flash for an outdoor portrait.  For this one, I specifically wanted to darken the sky which means I’m essentially asking the four AA batteries inside my Canon 580 EX II flash to overpower the sun.  Not an easy task.  Katie is literally standing right outside of the left side of the frame maybe 3 or 4 feet away from Lauren and pointing the flash with no diffuser directly at her at full power.  Certainly, not a type of portrait I get all the time, but while shooting a bunch of natural light images I had a vision for this type of picture and we knocked it out pretty quick.  By and large I consider myself a natural light photographer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to use flash to make a cool image.  I feel I see a little too often photographers claiming to be natural light photographers only because they haven’t learned how to harness the power of flash.  For those photographer geeks curious about the EXIF data on this one it’s as follows:  Canon 1DX, 50mm, ISO 100, 1/160th, F13.

Silhouettes are something I rarely do, but sometimes the situation just calls for them.  This one just works.

Ok, nothing too crazy about the composition or emotion in this picture, but when you got a guy wearing an all orange suit with an orange top hat giving a toast against a bright red wall how does it not make it into a favorites post like this??  :)

Next wedding… Out in Rockton, Illinois!  When you ask little girls to be the flower girl you never know what’s gonna happen.  Sometimes they perform flawlessly, sometimes they get scared and cry, sometimes, they run down the aisle without dropping a single flower pedal.  No matter what they do it’s usually pretty cute.  However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one fall on her butt and then just fall lazily back spread eagle on the floor.  One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen at a wedding hands down.  (No she wasn’t at all hurt.  Just taking a little rest in the middle of the aisle.)

If this picture looks cold…. yep.  It was.  And yes, the sky REALLY was that kinda purple/magenta-ish color.  I didn’t do that in photoshop.

I’ve photographed a lot of mother son dances at receptions, but I don’t think I’ve ever photographed one where they both started dancing crazy!  :)  These two had some serious moves!

Next wedding.  Wisconsin!  (Also very cold!)  Again… fathers and daughters.  Again… don’t get me started.  I just love these moments.  I always have, but since having Vera was born these kinds of moments just get me more than just about anything else on a wedding day.

This is actually the bride from the above frame, but this wasn’t in Wisconsin.  The day after the wedding we all flew back to Colorado and and then on Monday met up in Beaver Creek and did a couple mountain photos.  Love both of these!

Ok… last wedding of the year.  December 29th.  Very special wedding.  Wonderful way to end the year.… Katie’s sister got married and of course I got tasked with shooting pictures.  (Secretly, I was hoping they’d ask me to perform the ceremony and I could wear a bloody solider uniform like Joey from Friends, but I digress…).  The funny thing about the date is that December 29th was also our anniversary.  Oh yeah…And also, Katie’s parent’s anniversary.  When they announced they wanted to have the wedding on December 29th I thought that was a wonderful idea because now going forward none of us will ever be able to babysit for each other on each other’s anniversaries.  :)

Also, kinda on a funny note when Katie and I got married part of the reason we picked December 29th was that we figured it was very unlikely I would ever get booked for a wedding on our anniversary and this was the 2nd time in the last 3 years I’ve photographed a wedding on December 29th.  Oh well!  Anyways, love this moment during their ceremony.  They got married in the Orthodox Church and anyone who has ever seen an Orthodox wedding ceremony knows that there is a lot of standing while the priest does a lot of chanting, praying, reading, etc etc.  They hadn’t seen each other before the ceremony so I knew I would be able to capture at least a couple images of them stealing glances at each other and this was one of my favorites.

There’s no way to really describe just how cold this next picture was.  It was literally about 7 degrees outside (with a bit of a consistent wind).  Annie was an absolute trooper and insisted she wanted a few pictures without her coat on.  Of course once she took her coat off, Jason (a former Marine mind you) felt the need to rub in just how warm his coat and scarf were.  Anyone who knows Jason or Annie at all will know this picture captures both of them and the very nature of their relationship so well.

So that’s it!  2014 summarized in about 95 images.  Bravo to those who read all the way through this!  Thank you to all who allowed Katie and I to enter into your lives and capture such a special day for you.  We never ever take for granted what an incredibly cool job we have.  Cheers to a just as wonderful 2015!

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.”

Wonderful….

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.