Whether it's a family session and you're struggling to coordinate everyone's outfits, an engagement session where you're trying to capture your best selves in the most special season of your lives so far, or individual portraits like a senior session, these tips will give you a good place to start in order to stop the overwhelm and help you make decisions with a vision in mind.Read More
Meet my sweet friend, Emily! We played volleyball together during high school in Colorado and have had the great pleasure of reconnecting as adults, particularly because of our shared love for photography. She lives in Denver now and specializes in wedding & lifestyle photography. In fact, if you've seen the lifestyle session of my husband and I in Buena Vista, CO (the one with my pink floral dress), Emily is the one who took those for us!Read More
I learned two things yesterday at this maternity photo session in Downtown Kansas City. 1) Brittany looks better pregnant with twins than I do without being pregnant at all. 2) When it comes to photo locations, you never know unless you ask!Read More
A Colorado Springs stylist and owner of Lush & Lather.Read More
A recap video of some of my favorite wedding and portrait images from 2017Read More
The first time I met Valerie and Isaac was at a consultation after they inquired about having me photograph their wedding in 2018. We met at a restaurant and, after they both gave me a big hug, Isaac insisted on buying my meal too instead of letting me buy theirs (like it's supposed to work!). These two are so easy going and goofy enough that I fit right in. We had so much fun at their engagement session that I guess it was a good thing the sun set or we might have been shooting the whole night! Isaac grew up in Bucyrus, Kansas so it was only fitting that we were able to shoot on some (GORGEOUS) property out there.
We couldn't have asked for a more perfect night, despite being a little chilly... the fall colors, the barn, the pond with a bridge and their fishing poles... they even brought beer cans with the Chiefs and Broncos logos on them since they are a "house divided" when it comes to team affiliations!! Not only that, but the Chiefs and Broncos played here in Kansas City only a couple days after our session! I couldn't plan those things if I tried :D
Next September I'll get to shoot Val and Isaac's wedding at the Barn at Schwinn Produce Farm and it just feels so far away still - I can't wait!!
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Audrey had her senior photos taken several weeks back, but when her and her mom found this incredible location they couldn't resist taking a few more! Lucky for me they were willing to wait until I was in town (I have family in the Bentonville area) and trusted me to capture them on this gorgeous dock! With the sun so bright on the water behind her, my off-camera flash (OCF) with a portable soft box saved the day yet again :)
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Kristi Rose and Andrew are two of the coolest, most hilarious, most genuine people I know. Ten short days are all I have left of this incredible couple before they move to California for the next chapter in their lives. It is bittersweet for sure. They have added so much joy to my life and will leave a gaping hole in their absence, but in the same breath, Kristi Rose is fulfilling her lifelong dream of going to Physician's Assistant School so I'm incredibly excited for them! In honor of the time they have spent here in Kansas City (for Kristi, most of her life), we did a sort of "Classic KC" session... starting with the STREETCAR and ending with the skyline :D
This was a session to remember, and hopefully one that will help them remember Kansas City and the people here!
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It's so interesting to see which people you stay connected with from your home town as the years pass by. In this case, Kelsey and I are actually closer than we ever were when I lived there! Her and her husband, Wade, live in Colorado Springs, about 25 minutes from the house I grew up in Woodland Park. Kelsey is a very talented film photographer (see her work here) and Wade is the worship pastor at a church there. This sweet couple has been married for five years and I had the pleasure of doing their first photo session since their engagements! We ALSO had the pleasure of being photographed by Kelsey for the first time since OUR engagement session three years ago! I promise to share them once she gets them developed, can't wait! :D
Meghan has the sweetest disposition to accompany her incredibly good looks and rockin hair. Can you believe her little one was hanging onto her legs during these head shots!! I can't help but smile. Meghan is training for her next fitness competition, her first since pregnancy... follow her story and progress on Instagram and cheer her on!
I'll admit it...I am INCREDIBLY late in the game to be taking senior representative photos...but I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to make a new connection so I'm glad I still went for it! Meet the beautiful Shelby. She goes to high school in Olathe but was kind enough to meet me downtown for some photos at the Liberty Memorial/Crown Center area of Kansas City.
Shelby was such a trooper, finding random restrooms to change in and hiking up the massive hill in her high heels... I couldn't have asked for an easier person to work with :) Shelby loves music, pours herself into her two jobs and says she is known to be a crazy cat lady (although I thought she was very normal haha). She'll be attending Kansas University in the fall and I'm so excited for all the opportunities she will run into in this next stage of life. My younger sister is graduating high school this year as well so I have a special place in my heart for all those making the plunge into college or jobs or whatever dreams they have for their lives. It's such a time of adventure and change and I love seeing them be bold, take risks and enter into the first stage of adulthood! Congratulations to the high school class of 2016 - you've almost made it!
Oh and I forgot to mention, we certainly weren't the only ones out taking senior photos that evening...it was too beautiful not to. How adorable was this scene we ran into?!? Unfortunately this was moments before the 0 balloon floated away......
I can't BELIEVE my little sister is a senior in high school already!! She is my mini-me and it was my favorite to get to take her photos a couple weeks ago in our beautiful hometown, Woodland Park, Colorado. We went to my favorite old barn and brought our mom along with us which mostly was perfect because she made Shanae laugh a lot :)
Shanae has a beautiful, positive spirit and is so dedicated to whatever she puts her mind to. She is an incredible artist (check out some of her work here), a talented musician, and most likely a soon to be published author (check out her Facebook page). She is also an animal lover at her very core (the last photo is of her puppy, not her, in case you couldn't tell). She has always been mature for her age and it is such a privilege to be her sister. Love you nina!!
I had the privilege of being raised in in the same little mountain town and of knowing Caitlin during high school when she was friends with my sister. I have been inspired by her heart and hard work and creative spirit so I wanted to share her story with you! Obviously life stories could take up pages and pages of words, but I asked Caitlin to give me a quick summary of what shaped her growing up. Her life story snapshot:
I was born and raised in a small mountain town 30 minutes west of Colorado Springs called Woodland Park. I spent my entire childhood in a small log cabin that my grandpa built when my dad was a child. Because it sits on 5 acres of land that backs up to national forest, my younger sister and I spent much of our childhood in the woods -- pretending we were being chased by dinosaurs (Jurassic Park was a big deal back then), racing around in our go-cart, building forts, and occasionally picking the wild strawberries and rhubarb as we came across them.
When we weren't outside, I loved to do art -- any kind, really. My dad worked as a Creative Director at a large ad agency in Colorado Springs, and when we got old enough, my dad would bring us to his office and allow us to "play" on Photoshop. At the end of the day, he'd print out our digital masterpieces, cut them into bookmarks, and laminate them. We felt so proud of our creations. My parents were always so supportive and nurturing, no matter what was going on in their own lives. To this day they still have one of my paintings framed in the guest room -- a red tulip (shaped like a heart) in front of a blue sun. I believe that their unconditional support and love for us gave us both a really safe place to grow and explore our interests.
On education and that dreaded word: work….
Growing up with a graphic designer for a Dad, I always had a feeling that I would end up in a similar field. In summer of 2008 I was actually enrolled for classes at CSU in Fort Collins, but at the prodding of my then-boyfriend I looked up Full Sail University, and ended up switching at the last moment when I saw how much better their graphic design program was. The week of Christmas my family drove down to Florida with me and we spent the holiday setting up my apartment. The day they left was the first time that I ever saw my dad cry. I spent the next year in their accelerated design program, graduating with an associates of science as Valedictorian. It was a tough year, but extremely valuable. I wouldn't change it for the world.
When I moved back to Colorado I got connected with a local company (Westone Laboratories) for some contract design work, and after a year of exploring a couple other job opportunities (and spending three months in Thailand), they ended up asking for me to come back and join the marketing team full-time. That was over four years ago, and while there have definitely been some bumps in the road, I am enjoying my role there more than ever.
I also have a freelancing business on the side that has been growing organically (through references and word of mouth) over the last five years. Sometimes it gets a little crazy. Last year I had 17 freelance clients (some with ongoing projects) on top of my full-time job, and I love almost every one of them. I've learned a lot and the extra income has helped tremendously with my student loan debt, which is nearly $600/month. I think I will cry for joy the day I pay those off!
My dad always told me to find the combination between what I like and what I’m good at...and figure out how to make money doing it. I’m still working on that as I grow my photography business and hope to do it full-time someday, but I think I have followed his advice so far and am on my way! Caitlin has mastered this concept as she follows her dreams with graphic design; I loved hearing about some of the reasons she loves it and the impacts it has on her life.
I think the thing I love most about graphic design is the way that it blends creativity and intentionally. It requires an eye for beauty and balance, but also a deep understanding of people and communication. When you're designing, every movement and stroke needs to have a purpose. It's made me a better listener, since so much of my job involves asking the right questions and genuinely seeking to understand the response. I view design as a service in a lot of ways, which provides a lot of purpose to my everyday work. I love to see a client's (or coworker's) face light up when I'm able to provide them with a design that brings life to their ideas, and the excitement that it often sparks. Between my full-time job on a marketing team and my part-time job as an independent freelancer, I've been given a vast variety of experiences. Working on a team has taught me how important it is to enjoy the people you work with every day, and how transformative it is when you have a boss that you are genuinely inspired to follow and learn from. My freelancing has taught me the importance of personal accountability and efficient time management. Sometimes, holding up both jobs gets challenging. There are days that I wake up at 4:30am to spend three hours on freelancing at a coffee shop, then head to my full-time job for another eight or nine hours, then home to my husband to cook dinner and attend to other obligations. There was a day not long ago that I worked 18 hours. There are also months that my freelancing is slow and I only focus on my full-time job.
It’s also taught me a lot about myself and my limits. Sometimes it's important to find the humility to admit when it's too much, or when I need to let go of other obligations to make room for rest. The other day I had a bit of an emotional breakdown and my husband had to remind me that it's okay to fail sometimes, to learn your limits and embrace imperfection. That has always been hard for me, as I like to think that I can do it all -- be the perfect employee and perfect freelancer and perfect wife. Sometimes I just can't be, and I'm learning that that's okay.
Goals, dreams, and hopes for the future...
To be honest, I really thought I had my life all planned out up until about six months ago. I had told my full-time employer that I was going to leave at the end of the year to take on freelancing full-time -- then my new boss joined the team and we hired another teammate and I went from a marketing "army of one" (as they liked to call me), to working with a team that I genuinely adore. Now I'm not really sure where I want to take my career. There are pros and cons to in-house graphic design and freelance design, and I love both for different reasons. I do have hopes of starting a family someday, and perhaps my career will naturally evolve when that time comes. For the time being, I'm just focusing on continually growing my skills as a designer and infusing as much passion as possible into what I work on every day. I also like to focus on being a genuinely great human being, because that's important. Always.
For those interested in the graphic design world…
There is something to be said for natural talent, but it's also a lot of tough work. Joe Sparano once said that “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” The best designs are often deceiving simple. When they created the latest refresh of the Google logo, they sent their entire creative team on a week long retreat to develop it. There needs to be intention and purpose in everything that you create. According to Paul Rand "Design is the silent ambassador of your brand," which means that you need know your client's brand and their consumer almost better than they do, so that you can create a design that genuinely represents their brand and the need they're filling for their target audience. Graphic design is an ever-changing field, it really keeps you on your toes. It's important to stay relevant and up-to-date if you want to build your career and do work that will continue to delight and enchant. You can't ever really get comfortable. But you also need to make sure that you're genuinely having FUN, no matter what you're doing. It can be hard work, but at the end of the day, the most effective design has the most passion and heart behind it.
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Caitlin shared with me that the inspiration for the “be the bee” design comes from the excerpt below:
"I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories. A third category does not exist; people either belong to one or the other. The first one resembles the fly. The main characteristic of the fly is that it is attracted by dirt. For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and will go sit on top of some dirt found on the ground. It will start messing around with it and feel comfortable with the bad smell. If the fly could talk, and you asked it it show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: "I don't even know what a rose looks like. I only know where to find garbage, toilets, and dirt." there are some people who resemble the fly. People belonging to this category have learned to think negatively, and always look for the bad things in life, ignoring and refusing the presence of good.
The other category is like the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and nice to sit on. When a bee is found in a room full of dirt and there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on top of the sweet. Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is, it will answer: "I don't know. I can only tell you where to find flowers, sweets, honey and sugar;" it only knows the good things in life and is ignorant of all evil. This is the second category of people who have a positive way of thinking, and see only the good side of things. They always try to cover up the evil in order to protect their fellow men; on the contrary, people in the first category try to expose the evil and bring it to the surface.
When someone comes to me and starts accusing other people, and puts me in a difficult situation, I tell him the above example. Then, I ask him to decide to which category he wishes to belong, so he may find people of the same kind to socialize with."
From Elder Paisios on the Holy Mountain