It’s not often that a photographer gets to photograph a family member’s wedding (unless of course they have a huge family!). I was honored with the privilege of being able to capture my brother’s intimate backyard wedding to his sweetheart, Heather this past September. With a strict budget and a can do attitude they were able to put together a beautiful backyard BBQ at Heather’s parent’s home in Evans, Colorado. It was the perfect day with the perfect weather! Heather even included a bouncy castle to keep the many children in attendance entertained all day! I didn’t see much of my two boys because they were playing with their cousins all day! They also lucked out to have a sister and brother-in-law in the wedding industry that made sure their photo, video and DJ needs were met. My brother and his groomsmen also smoked all of the meat for this affair while other family members helped with side dishes. It was truly a community effort to send these two off on their life together.

It again just goes to show you that a wedding can be anything you want it to be. While I love beautiful ballrooms or majestic mountains as well, sometimes a simple event with family and close friends can be just as rewarding as an elaborate party.

Here are some tips for the “Do It Yourself” wedding planners:

1.) First set a budget and list items needed in the order of most importance to you. And plan on spending more for the things that are most important to you.

2.) If you are doing an event at a private home take into consideration add-on items needed to host an event that would otherwise be provided by a wedding venue such as: tents, tables, chairs, porta potties, serving items such as chaffing pans, etc. Sometimes these items can add-up quite quickly and it’s almost just as expensive to host your event at a venue that provides all of it. If you have ample resources and can keep under budget with an event on private property by all means take the leap!

3.) Consider how much of it you want to do yourself and how much help you will need from friends and family. Sometimes it’s less of a hassle to hire a caterer unless you have a lot of family members who want to help. Don’t just assume that people will just pitch in. It makes sense to sit down and chat with everyone involved to hand out duties and figure out what areas people are willing to help with. You want to avoid resentment from those who end up having to pick up the slack in areas that weren’t covered by coming up with a list of needs early on.

4.)  And have fun! Make sure to give yourself a lot of time to plan and put together all of your DIY items. Weddings can be stressful, but they don’t have to be. Most weddings are planned out a year or more in advance to allow a lot of time to get things just right and also spread out the expenses. But if you are itching to get hitched you also may be able to find a lot of savings out there for hosting events at venues with dates still available 1-2 months out from the big day. If you go that route be prepared to make quick decisions on everything from the dress down to the flowers.

Congrats again Heather & Cad! Here’s to a Happy and Successful Marriage!

Vendors who Made this Day Possible:

Disc Jockey: Digital DJ

Photography & Video: Crystaline Photography and Video

 

Here’s an in home newborn session I did before Thanksgiving…. this sweet little guy took a while to fall asleep for us… Sometimes come with the territory…. We tried just about everything, extra feedings, white noise, swaddling and even a car ride! Yes, dad took him for a ride around the block! Which was a first for me, typically all of my little tricks work to make baby sleepy, but this time around he was making us work for it. But I think it was worth it in the end what an adorable little guy! Congrats again to the Radcliffe family on your new addition!

Here’s another awesome Fall engagement session for a couple that we will be photographing their wedding next year! We went with a little rustic elegance at one of the best parks for engagement photos in Golden, Colorado. Katie & Ben have romance down! These two had a great time expressing their love and I’m so looking forward to their Spring wedding!

‘Tis the season for engagements! If you got engaged over the holidays and are looking at where to start with the wedding planning process one of the funnest things to do is a photography session! It commemorates the moment and gives you some amazing photos to share with the world your love of each other. It’s also a great way to try out a photographer that you are considering for your wedding coverage. Give us a call, we still have some p[rime dates in 2020 available.

With all of the relatives in town for the holidays you may be thinking that you’d like to take a group photo of everyone in the family! So if you can’t hire a professional either due to cost or availability the next best thing is doing it yourself! Here are some quick tips to help make your photo the best that it can be! And with a bunch of you getting the new iphone for Christmas you might want to even try this with your phones!

1.) Prepare! – Scout out the best location to do the photo ahead of time. Make sure your batteries are charged and your lenses are cleaned (including your phone lens)! It would be a real bummer if you couldn’t take the photo due to an empty battery or worse yet a big piece of dirt shows up in the middle of grandma’s face! Make sure everyone you want to be in the photo knows where and when you are taking it (I always ask them to be there 15-20 minutes earlier than needed to make room for late comers).

2.) Location – Make sure you choose the right spot for your photo. If you have to take the photo in the middle of the day scout out spots with open shade so that there are no harsh shadows and so people don’t have to squint in the photos. Make sure there are no distractions in the background such as signs, cars, etc. Or a window behind the group indoors where a flash can bounce back into the camera. If you are indoors I would avoid using a flash on your cell phone camera for the photo if at all possible. The low light capabilities are getting better on phones, but the flash settings are not.

3.) Take Multiple Shots! – One way to try and avoid getting eyes closed or people not looking at the camera is to take a lot of photos. The more you take the more chances you have for a good one. And trust me if you are also going to set the timer so that you can be in it you will more than likely have to take a few to get a good one! A wireless handheld remote for also really helps for this! Do not use the digital zoom feature on a cell phone because the photo will be too grainy, rather than using the zoom position yourself in a way that puts the entire group in the frame.

4.) Use a tripod –  Set your camera up on your tripod so that’s ready to take the shot in terms of framing, settings and focus and then it will be ready at an instant when you get the group looking just right to capture the moment.  It’s important to get the attention of your subjects early so that you can get them posed and take the photo quickly especially if you are working with short attention spans, especially those of children. Tripods also help prevent camera shake and keep the focus sharp!

5.) Posing – You want to make sure that you can see everyone. Taller people should be in the back and shorter in the middle or front. I like to put people in between the “V” of the people in front of them and ask everyone to make sure that they can see me because if they can’t see me I can’t see them. Try to compose in a triangle composition with the tallest members in the middle. When photographing a large family try to keep immediate families near each other, spouses and kids, etc. People also look better slightly angled (not straight on)  so I typically have the people turn slightly into the person next to them and have them either put their hands in their pocket or on their hip for women.  Before releasing the shutter take one last look over through the camera to make sure you can see everyone. And if the group is really large you might want to consider taking the photo from a higher perspective either from a balcony or ladder.

Best wishes and happy portrait taking!

I just received another amazing gift from Groovy Groomsmen Gifts – https://www.groovygroomsmengifts.com/products/personalized-docking-station to review. Are you looking for gift ideas for all of your groomsmen, but wanting something just a little bit different than the normal gifts. I highly suggest the products on this website.  I liked this particular item because it will look good on my husband’s bedside table. It gives him a place to store all of his important items like his keys, watch and of course a place to plug in his cell phone making it not only easier to remember where you put everything, but a nice way to display it. This site has a lot of other great goodies too and almost everything can be personalized! So while there are some great gifts for all of the groomsmen in your wedding party there are also some great thoughtful gifts for dads, grandparents and partners! Check them out!

 

I had a really busy Fall with a ton of bookings already for 2020 wedding couples which kept me busy doing engagement portraits while the weather was nice. I love doing engagement photos! It’s a great way to get to know the couple and how they photograph and it also allows me to find new and different spots to take photos! This location was one I had covered a previous small/elopement wedding at close to Denver and has an amazing mountain view! Rachel & Kyle will be tying the knot this Spring at one of our favorite venues, Willow Ridge Manor! Since they will have more of a red rock look to their wedding photos we were going for something with more pine trees and a view of the mountain range and this location just fit the bill! It’s the perfect way to share their new home off to all of their Chicago friends and family.

Very much looking forward to working with this laid back outdoorsy couple for their big day next year! Enjoy their romantic engagement photos below!

I photographed this lovely dusk maternity session with Becky and her family at the end of Summer. She was looking for a location that showed off the entire mountain range along with a lake in the background close to her home. Standley Lake checked all of the boxes for what she wanted. It had been a few years since I’ve taken a portrait session here. It was great getting back to this amazing spot. There had been so much rain over June and July and because of that the lake was so high that there wasn’t a beach that we could do photos on. Even though I was disappointed about a lack of a beach the location itself was still wonderful! It has a beautiful unobstructed view of the full mountain range and says “Colorado” in every sense of the word. We got some amazingly adorable photos with the kids and I was very happy with the results! Stay tuned for when I post some images from the newborn session!

Destination weddings in Colorado have become big business in the wedding industry. Couples from all over the world are imagining themselves saying their nuptials with majestic peaks in the background. Maybe the couples has previously vacationed here and fallen in love with the state or perhaps like one of the couples I photographed a couple years ago the bride had never seen snow before and had always wanted to get married on a snow covered mountain top! Whatever your reason for getting married in Colorado it’s now easier than ever to do! The internet has given everyone the key to searching out thousands of venues and vendors. Couples can check out photos and videos of properties, search by price point and even view reviews from others who have used the vendors in the past. Tools like email, FaceTime and Skype make is easier to do virtual meetings to discuss your needs and concerns that some couples choose to book some or even all their wedding vendors without ever meeting in person! If this is something you plan on doing here is some tips to help you navigate choosing the best vendors!

1.) Consider hiring a Wedding Planner – I’m all for do it “yourselfers” that want to save money, but sometimes a planner is a huge help in facilitating the wedding of your dreams; especially if you don’t live or know anyone where you plan on hosting your event. A planner can have more insight on particular venues and vendors and can even in some cases save couples money by helping them find the best value for what they want to spend. If hiring a planner isn’t in your budget, look for venues with amazing on-site coordinators. When booking a site that includes an on-site coordinator make sure you get a list of their duties so you know what you’re getting. Some venues provide a coordinator purely to  protect their own interests. The coordinator is just there to turn on and off the lights, show you what you can and can not do and make sure guests don’t destroy the property. Others offer full on planning services as well. They help with decorating, organizing guests and the wedding party and more. Just make sure you are aware of what they will and will not do especially if you are paying extra for them.

2.) Hiring Pros…when to choose someone from home and when to go with someone locally – Hiring some local vendors are much more obvious. Hiring a caterer from home and expecting them to haul out all of their gear etc. can become very cost prohibitive. So looking at local caterers is probably recommended. Others might not be so cut and dry… not to shoot myself in the foot, as I would love your photo and video business, but sometimes you have built a repertoire with a photographer who lives near you and you really want to use them. I completely get that! I myself have covered a number of destination weddings for people who have grown to love my work. I’ve covered weddings in Florida, the Virgin Islands and even Costa Rica! But sometimes choosing a photographer who lives and works in the area you’re getting married in can be very beneficial. They might work at your venue on a regular basis or know some amazing off the beaten path spots to take photographs. Consider the travel costs you might have to cover when bringing a vendor with you. Sometimes these costs can double the cost of the service they provide.

3.) Do your research and set a budget in advance – Talk with all the parties involved to set-up realistic budgets for each service you are looking for prior to meeting with venues and vendors.  In your research don’t be afraid to ask the business what their starting prices are and a rough estimate of what their services would cost for what you need. Caterers this might go off of an estimated guest count and food preference. Photographers and videographers might charge for how much time you want them to document your event and whether or not you want more than one cameraman present. Disc Jockeys and musicians usually start with the time-frame they will be playing music and then add-on for things like extra lighting. Once you have found a few vendors in your price range only set-up meetings (whether they are on the phone or in person) with vendors who are in the range of your budget.

4.) Visit your Destination Location – If at all possible schedule a scouting trip to the area you are looking to getting married at during the time of year that you plan on hosting your event. Photos of a property are great, but we all know that photographers have ways to take the photos showing the venue off in it’s best light and can doctor the images using Photoshop! It’s good to see and meet vendor in person whenever possible. Remember that great venues and vendors book up quickly so while I recommend doing your due diligence with all services, if you have a particular date in mind it might be wise to do this sooner than later because for most vendors once they are booked they’re no longer available to take on more work.  Don’t be afraid to ask for past client referrals!

5.) Get it in writing! – Make sure the vendors you hire always use a contract and be sure to review the contracts before signing. Bring up any concerns to the vendor before you sign and give them a deposit. If the vendor doesn’t provide it for you, ask them for an itemized list of everything that is included in the quoted price. At a destination wedding, it’s especially important to make sure things like pick up and drop off of items are being handled by the vendor and everyone is on the same page of timing and what’s included. Be sure to think about things that make it easier for guests traveling to your destination like room blocking at hotels and shuttle service to and from ceremony and reception locations.

6.) Go with your Gut – If after meeting with a vendor for any service something feels “off”, but you can’t put your finger on it listen to what your subconscious is trying to tell you.  Some red flags to consider: disparaging talk about a current or past clients (unless it’s to explain how they handled a challenging situation without naming the clients), how quickly they return emails and phone calls (sometimes with emails it’s just technology failing, don’t hesitate to pick up a phone and call them), trying to strong arm you into features or add-ons that you might not need or judgemental comments about your budget and an unwillingness to work within it. While vendors all understand budgets please don’t call a vendor that says their prices start at “X” price expecting them to do basically the same service they are advertising for at a 1/3 of the price! There may be a little wiggle room in some vendors prices, but don’t expect over a 5-10% difference.

Finishing up on our final Willow Ridge Manor wedding for the year… this amazing wedding of a couple that has shared 29 years of their life together before they were able to finally tie the knot! Marta and Sheri had an amazing wedding with a ceremony that started out with pure entertainment from a flash mob as they walked in. I’m not sharing the music that they danced into in their highlight video due to copyright concerns from the big league artist’s songs they used, but it was awesome! It was the first time we’ve captured a scene like that for a couple. I’m guessing it took lots of practice not only for the dancers, but for the lovely ladies as too.  I also wanted to mention their floral arrangements as well. The couple chose to go with eco friendly alternative flowers that were absolutely stunning and did not look like “fake” flowers at all. I was quite impressed with both the style and quality of these arrangements. Chris and I had a blast doing photos and video for this happy couple! Enjoy some of my favorite photos below.

 

Vendors Who Made This Day Possible:

Venue: Willow Ridge Manor

Caterer: Fresh Tracks

Disc Jockey: DJ Guy

Cake: Nothing Bundt Cakes

Favors: PB Love CO and MODma

Florist: Flintwood Floral and Design

Photography & Video: Crystaline Photography & Video

Senior portrait season is pretty much over for the year… yeah, we may get one or two that still have a later yearbook deadline date or someone who never got their photo taken, but would like to have something before their commencement ceremony, but otherwise it’s over. I thought I would post a few of this Brighton High School’s senior session. We did an early morning session just a week before they were due, he was a great subject and I had an awesome time photographing him! Hope these will be some great memories for the years to come! Enjoy!