FIND THE LOVE

FIND THE LOVE

I prefer to go into a shoot with zero expectations and having done little to no research. I’ve found that no matter how much I think I know about what’s going to happen during a particular session – what events are going to unfold, what the scene will look like, what challenges I’ll face – I’m always wrong. And those expectations can cloud my judgment in the moment. So I usually opt to go in cold, knowing that I have the experience to adapt in whatever ways necessary without any problems. And if something does go wrong, it’s not a big deal.

But this was different. Because this was a funeral.

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THE GHOST AND MR. (AND MRS.) RAGEN

THE GHOST AND MR. (AND MRS.) RAGEN

Ever heard of Okawville, Illinois? I hadn’t either until my friend (and first boss ever!) Tracey assured me that not only is it a real place (where 990 people live!) but that it was the place she was going to be celebrating her wedding.

A year before, she’d messaged me to see if I’d be available to cover the wedding that she was sure would be coming in the next year (she had a sneaking suspicion that a proposal was on the way – and she was right!) I hadn’t shot any weddings at that point (and hadn’t really planned on it) but she was quite insistent that she wanted NO posed photos, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. So, December of 2018, I loaded up the gear and headed out to Illinois, unsure of what I’d find.

And what I found was the coolest flippin’ wedding venue in the world: The Original Springs Hotel in Okawville, IL. The bonus? It was hauuuunted ooooooooooooo!

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A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

Those who know me well know that I’m a singing fool. I sing in the shower. I sing while I’m cleaning. I make up songs for and about my son. And my husband. And my cat (my favorite of which uses the ingenious couplet “kitty cat/stinky fat”).

I’d never met anyone who sings quite as much as I do, that is, until this family shoot. A sort of hybrid family-slash-event session, whether they were carving pumpkins during the day or partying with their guests at night, the whole family was endlessly wrapped up in song.

When they’re not making music, they’re listening to it. And when they’re listening to it they’re singing along – in absolute perfect harmony.

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PUMPKIN PATCH PLUS

PUMPKIN PATCH PLUS

When one of my favorite clients, Audrey, said she wanted to go to the Flat Acres Farm pumpkin patch for this year’s documentary photo session, I was stoked. Pumpkin patches are rad. But I honestly hadn’t realized HOW rad pumpkin patches had become. When I was a kid, I don’t remember them having bouncy houses and petting zoos and ice cream stands.   

And whoever came up with the idea to fill a giant vat with dried corn kernels? Someone give that fool a medal.

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WEDDING IN THE WOODS

WEDDING IN THE WOODS

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I don’t second shoot for other photographers because I’m just not a big fan of it. With this one exception, that is (or two, rather). A while back, Cody Sowa made a post online asking for second shooting/possible lead photography help as he’d just been diagnosed with cancer and would need to do chemotherapy around the time of two weddings he’d already booked. So I decided to ignore my no second shooting rule just this once. And I’m so glad I did.

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My bride upon my biiiiiiicycle! Biiiiiiicycle! Biiiiiiicycle!

My bride upon my biiiiiiicycle! Biiiiiiicycle! Biiiiiiicycle!

I really don’t like second-shooting for other photographers (which is why I never do) because I’m a gigantic control freak. GIGANTIC. It’s my art, and the thought of someone else telling me HOW to art or of them editing the photos I’ve taken the way that THEY prefer to edit them irks me all the way to the very core of my person.

But when Cody Sowa posted in a photography group asking for help second-shooting (and possibly taking over as lead photographer) for weddings he’d booked prior to discovering he had cancer and would need to do chemotherapy, I didn’t hesitate to offer my help. And I’m so glad I did. Because not only did I get to help someone who turned out to be a super kind, rad dude who I now consider a friend, I also got to shoot my first bike wedding.

Yeah that’s right. A bike wedding

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HOME IS WHERE THE SHOOT IS

HOME IS WHERE THE SHOOT IS

So the original plan was to shoot Heather and Terrence’s documentary engagement session at Lakeside Amusement Park. Unfortunately, the weather forecast called for storms that evening and since Heather and Terrence are super busy photographers themselves, rescheduling would have been difficult so we decided instead to switch to plan B: an intimate evening at their home in Arvada. And even though the weather forecast ended up being a filthy liar (nary a drop of rain fell that day), I’m so glad it was. The session ended up being not only an absolutely perfect celebration of the beauty in their everyday life, it ended up being taken at the absolutely perfect time in their lives.  

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WALK WITH AUTISM

WALK WITH AUTISM

As I entered the event space at Sloan’s Lake, I stared in wonder. Colossal bubbles wafting through the air, wriggling reptiles roaming free, eight-foot-tall pioneers moseying through the crowd, blinding white stormtroopers and some other kind of masked sci-fi character dealies I’m either too old or too unhip to have heard of. Where to even start? What kind of photographer’s dream had I just wandered into?

Another Autism Society event, that’s what.

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PREGAME GAME IS STRONG

PREGAME GAME IS STRONG

When Suman contacted me to ask if I could photograph her birthday festivities, she told me I’d be documenting her and her friends getting ready together and drinking before going out to the club (otherwise known as, in the parlance of our times, “pregaming”). I began to picture a few girls gathered in front of the mirror together, giggling and sipping on Cosmopolitans.

Naw.

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WITH HONORS

WITH HONORS

Even though I’ve only been in Denver a little less than a year, I am so lucky to have already made incredible friends. I was so beyond honored when one of these dear friends, fellow documentary family photographer Lori McCurdy, asked me to photograph the high school graduation of her oldest child. Lori has four children (FOUR!) so as you can imagine, having the first one getting ready to leave the nest was a super big deal.

Tears were shed, friends.

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MINI ADVENTURE - IN MEMORIAM

MINI ADVENTURE - IN MEMORIAM

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera” – Lewis Hine 

Every time I sit down to write a blog, this is how I feel. It takes me eons to figure out how to put into words what it is I’m trying to express and most of the time what I come up with fails to truly capture it. At no time has this been more the case than in this particular blog. There is no way that what I’m about to write will do any kind of justice to what Nicole and her family are going through or to what this photoshoot surely meant to them. I just hope that the photos I captured suffice to fill in where my words fail.

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MADE WITH LOVE

MADE WITH LOVE

Alexandra Bagley knows how to party. If I were to ask you to list all of the items that should ideally be present at a 5-year-old kid’s birthday party, I guarantee you that Alex made sure they were present for her son’s celebration (and half of it she made by hand!) Lego-man shaped crayons: check. Party blowers: check. Homemade piñata: check. A trillion balloons, all of which the children dragged into the birthday boy’s room and freaked out about, causing a beautiful chaos that most photographers only dream of: check and check, my friends. 

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PAS DE CHAT

PAS DE CHAT

How is Emmy a documentary photographer’s dream? Let me count the ways. A ballerina through and through, Emmy doesn’t walk, she leaps and pirouettes through her day, her every movement a photo just waiting to be captured. She radiates 100% confidence and personality and is a nonstop source of hilarious faces… 

...oh, and also she thinks she’s a cat.   

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AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE AN ASC PARTY

AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE AN ASC PARTY

There are two great reasons to attend an Autism Society of Colorado fundraising event: the first being that it’s an incredible non-profit that makes a huge impact in the autism community by providing services and support to individuals and families affected by autism as well as education and advocacy to providers, caregivers, educators, and businesses. They truly make a difference.

And the second reason to attend an ASC fundraiser? They are SO. SUPER. LIT.

 

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ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

At the end of a fun-filled day in San Francisco – frolicking on the beach as the Golden Gate Bridge loomed bright and bold in the background, visiting “Smitten”, where the liquid nitrogen they use to make their famous ice cream sinks eerily underneath the glass partition and bellows out like a ghost – I asked my client’s 8-year-old son Donovan, “What was your favorite part of the day?” His answer: “Being with you.”

And then my heart exploded.

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NAKED BAYKID TIME!

NAKED BAYKID TIME!

Even before what turned out to be my very favorite part of the Ryan’s mini documentary photography session in Denver, I’d already captured so many wonderful, beautiful moments that I knew the family (and I!) would love. So when they told me it was naked baykid jump on the bed time? Well that was just the cherry on top.   

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THINGS TO DO DURING A DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION

THINGS TO DO DURING A DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION

When I tell people that my photo sessions are neither posed nor directed, the first thing they ask is: "Okay, then what should we do?" The short answer is: whatever you want! The goal of my photography is to capture your family being themselves, no matter where you are or what you're doing. What we do is up to you!

So here are some ideas about what to do during a documentary family photography session.

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