Granby Wedding Photography

If you’re having wedding it’s a pretty safe bet.  Something is going to go wrong.

Usually it’s a pretty minor thing, like a mountain thunderstorm forces an outdoor ceremony to start 10 minutes late, or the shuttle picking up guests to bring them to the ceremony site runs a few behind.  Occasionally (but not very often) it’s a bigger thing.  At the very first wedding I ever photographed back in 2004 TWO members of the wedding party fainted during the ceremony.  It was well over 100 degrees inside the church and the pastor’s sermon on Corinthians 13 was getting shall we say a tad long winded.  First a ring bearer who was standing next to the best man went down.  A few minutes later a groomsman collapsed to the floor and as a couple of family members helped him to a seat, the bride glanced around at the rest of the wedding party that was still standing and joked “Bend your knees everyone!”  The place erupted in laughter.

At another wedding I photographed several years ago the groom’s ring somehow got lost before the ceremony.  They turned the place absolutely upside down looking for it, but never did rediscover it.  These kinds of things happen despite the best of planning.  I always remind brides and grooms that in reality, nothing can really go wrong a wedding.  ”The bride is gonna say ‘I do’, the groom is gonna say ‘I do’, and everything else is just a good story for the grandkids” is my general line when talking about things going awry on a wedding day.  In the case about the missing ring, a bridesmaid ran out to Walmart the morning of the wedding and bought a new one less than an hour before the ceremony.  The original ring was never found and years later the marriage is still thriving despite the ring fiasco and the groom is still wearing the Walmart emergency replacement.  If that’s not a great story for the grandkids I don’t know what is.  All this to say, there’s little reason to stress out about trying to make a wedding day go perfectly because, as a general rule, inevitably something always seems to go not quite according to plan.

Laura and Shaun’s wedding is the perfect exception to that rule.

The weather was perfect, the bride was beautiful, nobody fainted, and no rings were lost.  It was a truly the perfect wedding.  :)  In all seriousness though, this was the kind of wedding I wish I could shoot over and over.  Everything went incredibly smooth, Laura and Shaun are quite possibly the nicest and sweetest people you could ever hope to meet, and the wedding took place on top of Granby mountain.  Quite possibly the best kept secret of the most scenic places to get married.

Here’s a couple of my favorite images from the day….

Loved this sweet little Aspen grove we found.

This picture seriously doesn’t do justice to how amazing this vista was.

Laura’s brother Jimmy performed the ceremony.  Personally, I’m always a big fan when family members or close friends perform ceremonies.  Just makes it that much more personal.

Great details and event planning by Melanie Hankins of Hands Down Event Planning.

Loved this little detail… instead of a normal guestbook, Shaun and Laura had everyone take a Polaroid picture of themselves and put it where their table assignment was.  Very cool.

Laura and Shaun, you two are incredible.  Even more incredible than your “perfect wedding.”  I was incredibly blessed to be there and to grateful to have met you both.  I truly hope that we will remain friends  over the years.  It was an honor to have documented your day!

The Faces of Refugees

Read the bios on our site and you’ll discover the importance that storytelling is to our vision of what photography is and should be.  Every person has a story worth telling.  Every person.

Most of the stories that we tell are happy stories.

People falling in love.

People finidng their soulmate.

People making a life commitment to another person.

Those are great stories and we’re honored every time a client hires us to tell their story.  It’s a privilege we take very seriously.

But those aren’t the only stories that are asking to be told.

Shortly after I started shooting professionally I was introduced to an organization called Exodus.  Their mission is to help refugees that have been forced to leave their home countries and start new lives here.  Exodus hooks the refugee families up with volunteers who help them get used to life in America.  Often people come here not knowing English, or how to get a job.  Sometimes they’ve never even seen a grocery store.  It can be a daunting transition and Exodus serves this community of refugees in an amazing way.   Over the years I’ve done a number of shoots for them helping provide images that they use on their website and in marketing materials, etc etc.  A few weeks ago they asked if I would be willing to come help them out again and we figured out a date that would work for us both.

Many of the images I captured for them showed the relationship that they have with their volunteers.  They need these types of images to help recruit new volunteers and to give them a visual idea of the kinds of things that they’d be doing to serve refugees.  Helping with paperwork.  Playing with their kids.  Helping them navigate a supermarket, etc etc.  I loved capturing those kinds of images, but I also decided on this trip I wanted to make a point of creating a few portraits of each refugee that we met.

I consider myself much more of a photojournalist than a portrait photographer.  To be honest, I’m really not even crazy about the word “portrait.”  To me, it harkens back to the days when my parents would drag me and my siblings to Sears or Olan Mills and a photographer would set us up with a fake background maybe of a bridge and a tree  in soft focus and the well meaning photographer would position us in completely unnatural ways telling us to lift our chin or twist our shoulders or move our pinky finger just so to create the perfect pose that didn’t resemble anything of how I (or any other human being I’ve ever met) might look in real life.  No offense to those who dig that kind of photography, it’s just not for me.  (Don’t worry mom and dad, I forgive you).

However, I really wanted to tell the story of these refugees the very best that I could, to create an image that would perhaps give a little bit of insight into who these people are, and if I was lucky maybe even a little bit of what they had gone through before they came here.  Not an easy goal, but a portrait seemed the best way to do it.  I didn’t have tons of time.  Actually, I had very very little time.  Our schedule with each family was extremely tight and we couldn’t spend all of the time that we had just shooting portraits.  I had on average less than a minute with each person in front of the camera.  This was down and dirty picture making at it’s best.  I’d quickly find a spot in their house to shoot, setup a single small soft box on a light stand and would usually ask them to tell me a little bit about their story or about their family.  Often this wasn’t possible as they wouldn’t be able to speak enough English to communicate it with me.  In a few instances, we weren’t really able to speak at all, but I think they all understood what I was trying to accomplish and we came away with some pretty interesting images (or at least I think so.)

For their privacy, I’m omitting their names.

Here we go….

Absolutely loved this Iraqi family.  If we lived closer, we’d seriously be friends with them.

I kept telling this kid’s parents that this guy was TROUBLE.  The wonderfully awesome kind of trouble.  With a smile and enthusiasm like this, this kid is surely going places.

She became a mom at 16.  Her two boys are pictured behind her.

This man spoke very little English, but I love this picture.

This isn’t really a portrait, or at least not like the others, but as I was packing my gear up these two guys crawled up on the bed behind me to check out what I was doing and I snagged this picture.

This man and his family came to the United States about a year ago.  Before that he had fled his home in Ethiopia and had been in a refugee camp since 1998.  It was in the camps that he met and married his wife, and in the camps that all three of his sons were born.

If you’re interested in learning more about Exodus and the great work that they do here, visit their site here.

The Exodus team is consists of lots of volunteers lead by just a handful of incredibly hardworking folks who are extremely dedicated to their cause.  Helping refugees isn’t exactly a glamorous life, but the amount of effort and and compassion that both the volunteers and the staff have is absolutely inspiring.  If you’d like to donate to help their cause, I know they’d be eternally grateful.  You can donate here.

The Last 4 Days

So the past four days were a little crazy and intense (even for wedding season standards, which is really saying something.)

Here was the last 4 days by the numbers.

4 shoots

8,363 files

173.18 gigs worth of files

2 thunderstorms.

1 exhausted photographer.

Most of these shoots will get their own dedicated posts in the weeks to come, but for now here’s a couple highlights from a jam packed last couple days.

Thursday started the madness rather easy enough with a simple engagement session from the couple whose wedding I would go on to shoot on Saturday.  Meredith and Chris live in Texas and we’d had some rough luck finding a time that worked for all three of us to do the engagement session, so we ended up fitting it in 2 days before the weddings.  We ended up choosing Wash Park which is beautiful this time of year with all the flowers they plant around the park.

Friday was a wedding I’ve been looking forward to for months.  (Yes, I look forward to all of my clients weddings, but this one gets special emphasis because the bride was one of the labor and delivery nurses who helped deliver our daughter Vera back in October of 2012.  Mega cool.  I’ll go into the whole story a in a later post when all of their pictures are edited, but suffice to say Arian and Cullen’s wedding was one that we had been looking forward to for quite some time!)

Love this picture of Arian.  Anyone who has been blessed to spend even a little time around her, will immediately realize this picture sums up her zest for life and the positive energy she carries perfectly.  :)

Earlier in the day we had a pretty wicked thunderstorm come through.  For a little while we weren’t sure whether the the weather would hold off long enough for us to be able to do the ceremony outside.  Thankfully the rain ended up not disrupting the day too much, but the clouds looked great hovering above the tented reception!

Where Arian and Cullen’s wedding was set against the beautiful backdrop of Arrowhead golf course, Meredith and Chris’ wedding had a decidedly more urban feel.  The ceremony took place at the Cheesman Park pavilion which gave us some great lines and architecture to play with in the photos.

The wicked thunderstorms returned Saturday and gave quite the scare right before the ceremony as the guests were arriving at the pavilion.  Thankfully the rain stopped before the ceremony began.

The reception took place 38 floors up on the Pinnacle club of the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver.  Their coordinator Jolene Greenbaum Peterson of Calluna Events and the always amazing work from The Perfect Petal made everything look absolutely stunning.

More pictures to come in a future post!

Sunday, I took off my wedding photographer hat and headed out to photograph the Rockies and Twins game at Coors Field.  If you were a Rockies fan the game was pretty ugly.  They gave up 5 runs in the first inning and went on to loose 13-5.

These types of “go go go” stretches are interesting.  On the one hand, I’m pretty tired.  My back and shoulders need a massage after carrying around heavy gear the last couple days.  But on the other hand, they make me realize again how blessed I am to do what I do.  Picking up a camera and being able to photograph beautiful things (and even not so many beautiful things like a Rockies blowout loss) is an blessing.  A lot of people look down on Mondays, but it’s Mondays like these that find me feeling thankful.  Thankful for a rest… but mostly thankful I get to do what I do.

What a ride.  :)

Chatfield Botanic Gardens Wedding Pictures

A few weeks ago Katie and I headed out to the Chatfield Botanic Gardens for Kelly and Brendan’s wedding.  Kelly and Brendan were one of those great laid back, easy going couples, who you could tell wanted a very nice, but also laid back and no stress wedding. Chatfield is not only a great venue for a laid back wedding, but even though it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere it’s really only 25 mins from downtown Denver which is great!

Here are a few of our favorite images from the day.

Love this moment between Kelly and her mom and sister right after she put her dress on.

Don’t know that I had ever seen this before, but right before Kelly came down the aisle with her dad, Brendan’s brother (and best man) put a blindfold on him!  

Awesome light make me happy.  :)  Couples will ask our advice all the time on when (during their wedding day) they should do their photos.  My recommendation is always to shoot as close to sunset as possible.  I always make very clear that, that that is only my recommendation, and that ultimately I want them to have the wedding that they want to have and if logistics don’t allow that, then they just don’t allow it and that’s fine.  We’re here to serve the couple however we can and to help them have the best day possible.  While we feel photography should be a big part of the day, it’s certainly not the only consideration you have to factor in and if someone wants to do their photos at 4PM and the sunset isn’t until 8:00 that’s fine, we’ll still capture some great photos.  However, it’s impossible to get this kind of great light 4 hours before sunset. It’s just not gonna happen.  Thankfully with Kelly and Brendan their timeline allowed us to shoot a lot of the photos of the two of them and their wedding party within an hour or so of sunset which was great!

The big red barn at the Chatfield Botanic Garden isn’t just a great place to hold a reception, it makes a great background for photos!  ;)

While I photographed the last couple mins with Kelly and Brendan Katie headed over to the cocktail hour and grabbed some fun candid shots of guests mingling.  This was one of my favorites.

Snuck outside during dinner to grab a fun shot of the barn as the sky started to grow dark.  I positioned my off camera flash right in the doorway and pointed it straight back towards me just to add a little extra flare to the image.  By closing down the aperture to f11 you can get a little bit of that star pattern to the flash.

A few from the reception….

Kelly and Brendan, thanks so much for being such fun clients!  Katie and I enjoyed not just your beautiful wedding, but getting to hang out and to get to know you both!  We’ve said it a million times before, but it’s the people that we photograph that make this business so rewarding and you two are prime examples of folks that we feel honored and lucky to have worked with!  :)

Happy 4th of July!!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Here’s a quick image from the fireworks show after the Rockies game (on July 3rd).  I’ve been covering the Rockies for USA Today Sports for a few years now and seems every year shoot at least one game during the 4th of July weekend meaning I cover the fireworks show after the game.  In truth, the images from the fireworks show almost never get used in many places, but it’s still fun to shoot.  This year I decided to go a little above what I normally do, and brought a tripod and a remote trigger so I could play with some longer exposures.

Here’s my favorite image from the show.  For those who are interested in the technical data, I put the EXIF data into the image.

Canon 1DX, 16mm, 20 seconds, f22, ISO 100