Karin and Nate’s engagement session last weekend turned into an awesome Traverse City adventure complete with wine and snowshoeing. Bonobo Winery really spoiled us with an unexpected little wine tour down to the barrel room. It was the perfect place to start off the session and then we headed down to the lighthouse at the point of Old Mission Peninsula. Karin and Nate brought along snow shoes (because they’re awesome) so we had a blast exploring the remaining ice and our timing couldn’t have been more perfect - the sunset was absolutely stunning. The sunshine here in Northern Michigan has been magical lately and I’m glad it showed off for Karin & Nate. Cheers!
When Cammie from Epicure Catering reached out to me asking if I would be available to photograph this dinner it was truly an honor. The Birds of a Feather dinner began last year and the idea is to celebrate women in the food and beverage industry in Traverse City. So female chefs, servers, bartenders, designers, managers, and more come together to put on a multi-course menu for 60+ guests. The dinner was hosted at one of my very favorite TC spots, The Little Fleet. The menu featured a passed appetizer from Katy Viswat of 7 Monks, an appetizer course from Kristen Karam of K2 Edibles, a salad course from Becky Tranchell of Rose & Fern Cafe, the main course by the season 16 winner of Hell’s Kitchen, Kim Ryan, and the dessert course by Becca Snook of Alliance. Unique cocktails were created by a number of female bartenders, staff members, and owners of local restaurants. The design concept and decor came to life thanks to Darling Botanical and the entire event was supported by a number of other amazing hardworking women. A portion of the proceeds even went to the Women’s Resource Center. It was truly a pleasure to be a part of this event. Stay connected via a new FB group for Northern Michigan Women in Hospitality.
If I have clients as fun loving and awesome as Sarah and Travis for the rest of my days I will be one happy camper. They brought a 6 pack of Stella, their crazy lovable pup (also named Stella), and multiple hat options to their engagement session. We hiked the Empire Bluff Trail and headed down to the beach where the ice formations were just unbelievable! It was brutally cold, but the sun came out giving us some gorgeous light to work with. I certainly can’t complain. Cheers to Sarah & Travis!
There’s nothing quite like walking out into the woods with everything you need for the night on your back. All of your food. The tent and sleeping bag you’ll sleep in. An extra layer of clothing. A baseball hat snapped onto the back of your pack. And then you walk. Through forest with tall trees. Over a wooden boardwalk elevated over swampy terrain. Along a cold and clear river. Through berry bushes taller than you are. Your feet get tired, but the sun is warm and you chat with each other about anything and everything. Then for some stretches it’s ok to be silent. To get into a rhythm. My short legs make me a pretty slow backpacker, so I just try to go with the flow. But trips like this provide me with little jewels in my memory. These are little glowing days that stand out compared to the rest of my year. It wasn’t because it was easy. No. It was definitely not a breeze. My body was pretty exhausted after this trip on the Jordan Valley Pathway, but a couple of days in the woods makes your mind slow down. After a trip like this I seem to be able to refocus on the things that are truly important. I can’t wait to plan our next outdoor adventure - I’m already brainstorming ideas for this Summer…
In 2015, our family spent Christmas together in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had briefly been through New Mexico on a road trip when I was 10 years old, but other than that I had no real knowledge of the area. I didn’t know what to expect, and I certainly didn’t predict that the landscape would captivate me as much as it did. I think about this trip often. I can’t even fully explain it. As I walked through Bandelier National Monument, there was just something so overwhelmingly powerful and beautiful about it. The colors of the rock and moss and cactus against the overcast Winter sky were creating the most incredible color palette. The evidence of human presence in the region that goes back at least 11,000 years. The way the rock became large scale abstract sculpture - some carved by humans and some carved by wind and rain and time. Between our time spent here, as well as exploring the food and art and textures in the area, it was a trip I’ll never forget and a place that I hope we are lucky enough to visit again.
These are just some of the images from this trip, and they make up this week’s “From the Archives” post.
If you are really, really, lucky you will have a couple friends who have been there for your whole life. Who you played power rangers with. Who you spent months with in the summer living out of your bathing suits and throwing fishing lines over the side of old pontoon boats. They grew up with you and witnessed your adolescent shenanigans and still love you. They aggressively rooted for college sports with you. And then when everyone had graduated from college and moved onto other adventures, and moved long distances, there was always that phone call, that random text, that email, just checking in. I’m so so grateful to have a couple of these people in my life, and now we’re all “grown up” and either married or about to be married.
Even though we don’t always see each other as much as we might like, when we are together it’s pretty special. Last Summer we found one weekend that worked for all of our schedules. We went camping and made meals over the fire. We passed around bottles of beer and bubbly. We ate snacks on the beach and fell asleep in the sand. I almost got hit in the face with a frisbee - instead I ended up with a welt on my collarbone. We all laughed so hard we cried. We took a kayak out into Lake Michigan and the early Summer water was crystal clear. We watched the sunset and then made our way back to the fire. The best part? We were unplugged. If you only have a couple days out of the year to spend uninterrupted with some of your favorite people, I highly, highly, recommend doing something like this. Find a place where your phones don’t work - it will be great.
This is the first post in a series that I have found myself calling “Blogging the Backlog”. There are so many fun personal projects, images from our travel, or commercial and editorial projects from the past few years that I haven’t found the time to blog. Some of them I haven’t even truly had time to edit! Yikes. During the weeks of February and March I’m going to try to have one scheduled each week. You’ll see images from Santa Fe, Summer backpacking in Northern Michigan, exploring and scuba diving in Bali, and hiking in Asheville. Those are just the things that are popping into my head that I know I’m planning to share, but I’m sure that I’ll find more to post as I delve deep into our hard drives.
Last Winter I had the great opportunity to join Kendall from Wild Banshee Adventure Co. (and The Revel Rose), Lee from Fieldguide Farmhouse, Heather from Ampersand Lettering Lab, the fine ladies of Juniper & Lace, and the one and only Sandy Michalik, i.e. my mom on a Winter Rafting trip down the Jordan River. Jordan Valley Outfitters led the trip and I would highly, highly recommend it!
We’ve made it to part three of my 2018 highlight series and let me just say - the candids are what really spark joy for me (anyone else out there binging the new Marie Kondo series on Netflix?!). The unplanned moments, the dynamic emotions, the chance to capture fleeting things that can’t be recreated.
This is why I’m a wedding photographer. This is what keeps me motivated season after season. It was always what drew me to weddings, and it continues to inspire and challenge me today.
If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that even if you try as hard as you can to plan every aspect of your life… you simply can’t. Shitty, deeply tragic, things happen. AMAZING things happen. So when you can feel happiness and joy, feel it deeply. Set that time aside to celebrate. Sing loudly, laugh with your favorite people, and DANCE.
This is a long post, but I promise you it’s worth it for a lot of reasons, but definitely the dancing. Stay for the dancing.
Forget everything else. Forget the discussions about money, family dynamics, and logistics. It’s hard, I know. But try for a minute. Forget the decor, the menu, the venue. Forget the magazines and blogs (ironic, I know, since this is a blog post). Definitely forget the awards, and features, and pins, and posts. Take everything away and your wedding is about your marriage. Your marriage is about you and your partner. This is where the magic in the portraits live.
These are the amazing partnerships we photographed last year.
We worked with an unbelievable number of talented people this year. I hope I’m not missing anyone!
Venues: The Inn at Bay Harbor, Shanahan’s Barn, Ciccone Vineyard, Starry Night Barn & Studios, Brengman Brothers Winery, Sojourn Lakeside Resort, The Garvey Family Wedding Barn, The Cathedral Barn, Aurora Cellars , Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Ecco Event Space, Pierce Stocking Drive, Sleder's Family Tavern, Blue Bridge Event Center, Bay Harbor Yacht Club
Hair & Makeup: M.O. Hair & Beauty, OnSite Bridal , M Salon, Simplicity Hair & Makeup Studio, Pavlova Salon & Spa, Bliss Salon, Signature Salon TC, Brittany, Elegant Bridal Designs, Jess Klaas, Mario Tricoci, Lysette Nazworth, Northern Michigan Beauty
Floral Design: Sweetwater Floral, Bloom Floral Design, Field of Flowers North, Hooper Farm & Gardens, Lilies of the Alley, Martin's Flowers on Center, Premier Floral Design, Omena Cut Flowers, Blue Bridge Floral
Favors: A Signature Welcome
Videographers: Mandie Forbes
Video Assistance: Sawyer Harris
Whether it’s a platter filled with delicious grilled sausages, or your custom designed wedding bands, there will be little details that help tell the story of your wedding day. They give us a sense of place. They bring us back to the specific time of year, to the specific location. They help round out how it felt to be there.
In 20 years some of these small aspects of your day might fade in your memory, but the photos keep them alive. You chose amazing vendors to work with. You picked stationary, and flowers, and linens, and desserts that captured your taste at this time in your life. Or maybe you didn’t do any of those things. Maybe you picked up a sheet cake and got married at City Hall. I don’t care how large or small your wedding is, or how much money and time you spent on decor. There are still detail photos to be captured no matter what. That’s why I try to pay attention to them. Here are some that really stood out to me this year.