Lumpy Ridge Engagement | Estes Park, CO | Kristen + Blake

Just figured I’d post a few pictures of Kristen and Blake’s engagement session here in Estes Park from a few weeks ago. I shot engagement pictures a few years ago for Blake’s sister, Taylor, which you can check out here. The family was back for another session now that Blake has popped the question.

The two flew in from Texas to visit Taylor and Cory, and were here during a super wet weekend that threatened our photo date. Kristen and Blake drove up from the Front Range during a break in the bad weather, but the skies clouded up and began dumping like crazy as soon as they got to Estes. It reminded me of a ridiculously rainy portrait session I shot with a different family last summer! I don’t think I’ll pursue a career in meteorology any time soon.

No big deal though — we just hung out in the car and chatted, and in about a half hour, the sun came out, the clouds magically vanished, and off we tromped into the woods. Lumpy Ridge is one of the icons of Estes Park — it’s a huge cliff band a few miles long, dotted with granite monoliths towering over the meadows and fields below. It’s got some of the best rock climbing in the area, and it’s amazingly beautiful. On top of it all, the wild flowers were going nuts, so we had a lot to work with.

Kristen and Blake were so easy to photograph. They basically laugh the entire time they’re around each other, and they really bring out the best in each other. I’m sure a shared love of travel and adventure is going to take them to some pretty crazy places in the coming years.

Kristen, Blake, it was a ton of fun getting to meet you guys and working together! I hope your wedding is incredible!!


estes park colorado engagement Lumpy Ridge Engagement Engagement in field Soon to be bride with groom Laughing couple Couple in front of tree Engagement photo in RMNP

ISPWP Spring 2014 Contest | Awards

One of my favorite images of my career won a first place in the pure art division in the latest contest from the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers, a great organization I joined a few months ago. The ISPWP is one of the three big photographer organizations I’m a part of, in addition to Fearless and the Wedding Photojournalist Association. I like these three because the contests they run are juried by my peers, and I get psyched to see all the amazing work from all the other photographers from around the world.

This is a shot from Sarah and Nick’s engagement session in Estes Park of the two of them kissing under the Milky Way just after sunset.

The trick to these sorts of shots is to get lucky on timing. The Milky Way rises and sets just like the sun and the moon, and you need a situation where the moon has not yet risen but the Milky Way has. You can also make an image like this during the new moon. The point is to have no other light in the sky aside from the stars. Being too close to the city won’t work either, since the city lights tend to pollute the sky and you’ll get a strange yellow glow down near the horizon.

Then you’ll need a super fast wide angle lens that retains its sharpness on the corners when shot relatively wide open. The best lens I’ve used for this was during my Nikon days, when I had the 14-24 f/2.8. The edges were sharp and distortion free, rendering very detailed stars. The original Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L lens didn’t cut it, but the new one, which I highly recommend, does a pretty good job.

Then you need to pay attention to your focal length and exposure time — too long a lens and/or too short an exposure will result in star trails, which are cool if it’s what you’re going for and pretty annoying if not. I wanted the stars to not be moving, so I had to expose properly to freeze the action given my focal length.

Next time I mix wedding and astrophotography together like this, it would be cool to see the stars moving completely across the sky, so I will need to ask my couple to stay completely still for 5 or 6 hours… :)

I guess there are easier ways to accomplish this, but that’s no fun.

Who’s up for it?


ISPS Spring 2014 contest

Breckenridge Wedding Sneak Peek | Gail + David

Gail and David were high school sweethearts and eventually reconnected about 40 years later. They had an intimate wedding on the side of a creek in Breckenridge, celebrating with just their immediate families. I was lucky enough to photograph this very, very special wedding, and here’s one image I liked. These poppies bloom once a year, and they just happened to be flowering on the wedding day. More to come soon!

Wedding couple on the side of a creek in Breckenridge, Colorado

Passion Island Wedding | Mexico | Kelly + Jason

Here are some favorites from Kelly and Jason’s wedding on Passion Island, a tiny private island off the coast of Cozumel. It is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen for a beach wedding, and it’s also a great place for adventurous travelers to tie the knot, since getting there from the mainland requires two taxi trips and two boat rides. Thus it seemed the perfect venue for Kelly and Jason, whose relationship blossomed while Jason was working on boats in Thailand. Kelly flew across the ocean a half dozen times to visit him as their romance blossomed, and then Jason moved back to California to be with her. Their love of adventure and travel is almost as palpable as their love for each other.

Their wedding weekend was punctuated by the unexpected, which would have been calamitous if it weren’t for Kelly and Jason’s ability to go with the flow — even if that flow included a lost wedding ring, a storm shuttering a sky lantern ceremony, a bunch of confiscated kegs that were supposed to fuel a party boat, a broken generator, and a hair and makeup team getting stranded in a swamp. Kelly and Jason managed it all with smiles. And rum.

The day before the wedding, I cruised out with the men to  shoot a day of beer drinking (mixed with a little deep sea fishing), and then photographed Kelly’s parents renewing their vows for their 40th wedding anniversary. This was a really touching evening and I’m super glad I got to shoot these two — it seemed like they’re more into each other now than ever before.

The makeup team got stuck in a swamp on the wedding day, but the ladies rallied hard with what little they had in their bags, and none of the guests had any idea that anything had gone wrong. The ceremony went off without a hitch, and an awesome party followed. Toward the end of it all, a freak storm blew in and an epic tropical rainfall began… while everyone was way out on the beach, trying to light sky lanterns for a ceremony. In the hustle to get everyone off the beach and back into the palapa, Jason’s ring fell off and vanished in the sand. D’oh! I asked them about it all, and they said it was par for the course for them. It wouldn’t have felt right if things had gone perfectly, which, in a weird way, means things did go perfectly.

The day after the wedding, we completed a marathon trash the dress session at the mainland resort they were staying at (Azule Fives) and along the Cenote Road that goes inland from Playa del Carmen.

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Dreams Cancun Wedding | Cancun, Mexico | Andrea + Andy

I spent a few days shooting Andrea and Andy’s wedding in Cancun recently at the Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa. They had an international crew from Ireland, and they passed their time thoroughly enjoying themselves. We spent the day before the wedding on a boat called The Dancer, which involved lots of tequila, oversized syringes filled with some sort of Technicolor mystery booze, and a bunch of deck hands who were salsa dancing in superhero and elephant costumes.

The wedding day weather seemed ominous at first, and while Andrea was getting ready, her bridesmaids were staring out the window at the ceremony site, a little worried. The chairs were blowing away, the linens were flying off, and a little further down the beach, and entire 6-foot-wide umbrella launched into the Atlantic and floated out to sea. Andrea was completely unbothered, and remained so during the ceremony itself, which was marked but sideways rain and lashing wind.

Afterward, her, Andy and me took off for a little couples photo session, and somehow wound up on top of a breezeway where I was shooting them in front of the Cancun skyline. Pulses of light from my strobes alerted security, and we were soon greeted by an annoyed guard trying to coax us off the roof. Andrea turned on her charm, diffused the situation, and insisted that the guard hang out for a photo. He obliged, with a huge smile on his face.

After a rowdy reception, we took off in search of some cool cenotes for a day-after portrait session, but the ones I often go to were flooded. Recent rains had caused the river that flows underneath Riviera Maya to flood (I’m so over floods!) but we thankfully found some others to shoot in.

All in all, good times and an awesome group of people. Congrats, you two! Hope to see you soon in Colorado!

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