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 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.
2018. What a year! I’ve been working on curating some highlight posts from our 2018 wedding season. Stay tuned for some of our top fave candid moments, portraits, and detail photos of the year! In the meantime, I also decided to sort all of the photos of us (or our assistants!) that I set aside while culling wedding images. As I look through these - and a few definitely made me laugh out loud when I found them - it really captures how much fun we have doing this work. That even after hours and hours of work we feed off of the energy of weddings. In this post you’ll have the chance to see me shooting the styling skillz of the ELD planning team, wiping up the dance floor with Sincerely Ginger Weddings, adjusting a bride’s hair or veil or dress, and would ya just take a look at Michael’s squat form?! You’ll see the fine fashion stylings of our amazing photo friend, Chelsey, who grabbed her jacket for a drizzly day only to realize that she now had on competing and very dramatic floral prints. You’ll see a lot of crazy faces, our video assistant (Sawyer!) doing his best boy band pose, and tons of shots of me wildly gesticulating and pointing as I direct clients. There was also the morning that Michael had to hug all of the dresses as they hung from Starry Night Barn while waiting for the wind to die down! If you have the dedication to keep scrolling, you’ll even get a chance to see the time my mom photobombed my test shot of Michael at the one wedding we photographed this year where my parents were guests :) At the end of the day, I’m filled with warm fuzzies when I go through these. 2018 clients, we love you all. With deep sincerity - Thank you.
P.S. Most of these are shots to test lighting. So when you see Michael at your head table or standing behind your cake, he wasn’t doing it “just because”. He was there to make sure my lighting was correct - except he can’t seem to take a serious picture to save his life, so in most of them he is doing something weird or cheesin’ super hard.
Last week Ray and Mike headed to Northern Michigan for a little getaway and I was thrilled that the timing worked out so that I could join them for a photo session! The weather, as always, was unpredictable and we ended up with a cold day that felt absolutely frigid the moment the wind touched you. When I stepped out of my car at the beach in Glen Haven, the wind was whipping up huge icy blue waves and I was a bit worried. Despite conditions that make you want to curl up on the couch under a blanket, Ray and Mike were absolutely up for the adventure. Those blues of Lake Michigan came through, we walked through green forests with fat snowflakes coming down, and explored the vast expanse of sand at the dune climb - Northern Michigan’s color palette really came through for us. But the most important part was, of course, Ray and Mike. Their sense of humor and laughter was contagious. We were chatting and laughing as we walked down trails and hopped back in cars to warm up. Their smiles stole the show and I had an absolute blast. Thank you Ray and Mike for an awesome afternoon!
Jacquelyn & Doug. Oh where to start. We truly adore these two. From my first meeting with Jacquelyn and her parents, to photographing their engagement session in California, to the planning phone calls, and then of course their wedding - the entire process has been fun because these two are just wonderful. We've had so many laughs with them. It's not everyday that one of the bride's main requests is as follows: "Jacquelyn and her friends with their pizza friendship necklace. This is a photo we take at each person's wedding and it's imperative to capture". And then we joked about her use of the word imperative multiple times during the week leading up to the wedding. Pizza-themed necklace aside, Jacquelyn and Doug placed a high priority on food and wine in their wedding plans. It is a huge part of how their relationship has developed and grown, including where they have lived and their plans for the future. Capturing that aspect of their wedding day was a real treat - literally. The Boathouse did a fabulous job. This day was full. This day was full of love. Full of food. Full of wine. Full of family. Full of friends. Full of the good stuff.
Bride Prep Location: Brys Estate // Groom Prep Location: Chateau Chantal // Church: St. Joseph Catholic Church // Venue: The Cathedral Barn // Coodination: Sunrise to Sunset // Hair: Linda Sabbagh // Makeup: OnSite Bridal // Floral Design: Sweetwater Floral // Rentals: 307 Events, Monstrey MacDonald // Catering: The Boathouse // Cake: Top Tier Cakery // Band: Blue Water Kings // Bride's attire: The Gown Shop, Modern Trousseau // Groom's attire: Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren // Videography: Us! Stay Tuned! // Photography Assistance: The fabulous Lindsey Billings // Videography Assistance: The amazing Sawyer Harris.
When I grow up, I want to be as cool as this teenager. I'm not kidding.
Kyle is an incredibly talented young person who will be attending Interlochen Arts Academy for his senior year of high school. I'm so impressed by Kyle - both his passion for music, and how kind and fun he was to work with. Plus it's not every day that you get to set up a drum set in the middle of an orchard! Big thanks to Townline Ciderworks for having us!
I had the great pleasure of collaborating with Taste the Local Difference and Happy's Tacos for this year's Guide to Local Food in Northern Michigan! Happy's Tacos creates their own hot sauces using locally grown peppers when available and the rainbow of colors created such a fun set to style and shoot. Here's a look behind the scenes.
Last week Michael and I volunteered to photograph a few of the events hosted by Up North Pride: a vigil honoring the lives lost in the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the Pride Ride through downtown Traverse City, and a sign-making party at Rare Bird Brewpub (see the bottom of this post for a full list of contributors!). We were overwhelmed by the love we saw in this small town and felt an immense sense of joy to know that we don't need to live in a large urban area to support Pride. As people who document love for a living, our goal is to make everyone feel welcome and accepted. We want to work with loving people of all religious and non-religious backgrounds, all races, all sizes, all sexual orientations, and all gender identities. The vigil was a somber reminder that we have a long way to go to achieve peace and acceptance as a society, but the pride ride and sign-making party reminded us of how far we have come. It gave us hope for the future. One with more love and more parents teaching their little ones how to keep an open mind and open heart.
Cheers to Up North Pride!
Up North Pride & Michael Chetcuti Foundation // Vigil: Polestar LGBTQ + Community Center of Traverse City, Mom's Demand Action, Blackbird Arts, and New Waves United Church of Christ // Pride Ride: Norte! and One Up Web // Sign-Making Party: Rare Bird Brewpub, Blackbird Arts and Ampersand Lettering Lab
These beautiful women will be celebrating their love in Northern Michigan next October when they get married and I seriously can't wait! To celebrate their engagement, we took some photos around Old Mission Peninsula last weekend.
It feels like Spring has come early here in Northern Michigan, so finding patches of snow to make the landscape look 'Wintery' was actually a challenge. We ended up exploring some cool ice formations along the bay and discovered how beautiful grape vines and orchards can be even without any foliage. Just when I think that the seasons might be too in-between to look beautiful, that the scenery will be to drab to photograph well, I'm always reminded otherwise. I'm so happy that Stef and Jess were excited and up for the adventure!
When your clients request an engagement session at a hidden little lake with special meaning to them, you know it is going to be a good day. Despite some truly bone-chilling temperatures and a fresh dusting of snow from the night before, Erin & Shelby took the rowboat out with their pup. The late fall colors were subtle but beautiful and by the end of the session we were hiking with big fat snowflakes falling around us. It was such a pleasure to work with these two and I'm beyond excited to share a peek of the session here. Also, I have to mention that Shelby is a very talented woodworker - I had the chance to check out her products at Shop & Sip (a holiday craft market), but if you missed it I would highly recommend browsing her website... just in time for the holidays ;) wink wink ;) Cheers to Erin & Shelby!
Chelsea and Joris met in an airport. It truly sounds like the plot line from a movie. He's from the Netherlands and she's from the mitten. They've had to endure a lot of time away from each other - and coming from someone who lives and works with her husband almost 24/7, I can't imagine how difficult that must be. So you could basically feel the happiness radiating off of them on their wedding day. Not only about the fact that they would be getting married, but that they would no longer be living on SEPARATE CONTINENTS! It has truly been a pleasure to get to know these two. I couldn't be more honored that they chose us to document their wedding day. Oh, and P.S. it took place at one of our favorite spots - Brengman Brothers :) Cheers to Chelsea & Joris!
Lee and Amy asked a small group of their closest friends and family to gather at the Boathouse Restaurant in Traverse City for their wedding. It was such a privilege for us to document because it could have just been any old Tuesday night for us... and instead we watched two people make a commitment to each other in a beautiful place, with lovely people surrounding them. They drank champagne and ate delicious food and chatted together and watched the sunset over the water. Sometimes the simple things aren't really that simple after all - they can be filled with meaning and magic. Cheers to Lee and Amy!
Mike always jokes about how I tear up at every wedding. It might be during the ceremony, or maybe during a toast, and if none of that gets me then it will definitely happen when I see a cute older couple on the dance floor. I can't help it. Saturday was no exception. I don't think I've been to a single wedding - whether there are 30 people or 300 - where the realization of how important the day is doesn't hit me in a big way. I'm telling you - I get all the feels people! I'm so grateful that Stephanie and Jake chose us to document their wedding day, and what a happy day it was.
Hair & Makeup: Studio 415, Florist: Field of Flowers North, Ceremony: St. Mary's of Lake Leelanau, Reception: Kirkbride Hall, Transportation: Traverse City Limos, DJ: Pluister Entertainment, Caterer: Uptown Catering, Cake/Dessert: Cake Connection TC, Bride's Attire: Enzoani - Renee Austin, Groom's Attire: Kenneth Cole - Men's Wearhouse
We've been a bit absent from the blog for a while! That tends to happen as we wrap up our wedding season and move into a different phase of our work... this Winter we have stayed pretty dang busy though! We're communicating with 2017 and 2018 clients, wrapping up our remaining videography projects of 2016, creating new pieces of artwork, painting and organizing our home/office/studio spaces, generally scheming about the future, and working on editorial projects! For this particular project in the February issue of Traverse Magazine, I had the great opportunity to photograph dishes by Chef Myles Anton of Trattoria Stella (which just happened to be named the most romantic restaurant in Michigan by USA Today). I wanted to share the magazine spreads as well as a few outtakes. There's nothing like cooking in cast iron in the cold months - yum.
Fall has really been delivering some TRULY BEAUTIFUL STUFF lately. Seriously. I had such a blast roaming around the Historic Barns Park with Maren and Drew last week. These two are just super, super, sweet and I'm so excited for them! Eeekk! They are getting married next year in beautiful Northern Michigan - I can't wait!
WHAT. A. WEDDING. We had so much fun with these beautiful people. Blaire and Andrew grew up on the same street, but didn't really get to know each other until college. Their shared history created a close bond between their families that was apparent throughout the entire day. The energy and joy was contagious. And there were more than a couple extremely talented and entertaining dancers in this group ;) Cheers to Blaire & Andrew!
Prep Location: Hotel Indigo, Church: St. Mary's Lake Leelanau, Venue: Ciccone Vineyard, Makeup & Hair: Memorable Occasions, Floral Design: Field of Flowers, Catering: Chef's Pride, DJ: 2 Bays DJs, Videography: Leap Weddings, Transportation: Blue Lakes by the Bay & Celtic Shuttles & Tours, Dessert: Cake Connections TC & Moomers, Bride Attire: Bella Sposa, Groom Attire: Nordstrom
From the moment Alecia and Michael read their personal vows to each other during their first look, to the end of the night with wild dance moves flying, it felt like the real deal folks. Mike and I walked away at the end of the night feeling like we had known this group for years. Most of that might have been a certain Uncle Rocco ;) But it also didn't hurt that there were three other couples whose weddings we had either photographed already, or will be photographing later this year. This close knit wedding was a true pleasure to be a part of. To top it all off, the view of Torch Lake was pretty hard to beat. Congrats you two!!
This past winter my dear friend Dani and I had the opportunity to curate an art show at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Traverse City. We asked a group of Northern Michigan based artists to join us in the space. A huge variety of mediums were represented including photography, videography, sculpture, graphic design, embroidery, painting, and installation. Dani and I brought the amazing Erin Waineo into the mix not only as an artist, but to help create the branding for the show. She designed the logo, poster, window graphic and a number of other items including super fun custom buttons. After two great months, the show closes on May 14th, so stop in if you can!
The entry wall reads:
For this highly collaborative exhibition, emerging creative professionals and environmentally conscious artists bend convention with works of art that explore our relationship to the natural world, sense of place, seasonality, organic forms, water, and wilderness. As creative professionals we weave the natural world into our work to create a cultural legacy built on environmental stewardship, mindfulness, art, and design. These wildhearted works of art will inspire you to value and protect our land and water, with wisdom deep as Lake Michigan. Keep it wild.
A huge thank you to Crooked Tree Arts Center and all the participating artists:
Heather Gray, Erin Waineo, Dani Knoph, Aaron Dennis, Michael Kent, Nate Griswold, Nick Preneta, Katie Brines, Chelsea Dennis, Dan Shepler, Annie Lang, Jake Breed, and Deb Lanning.
It's April. It's snowing. There is a part of me that thinks - this sucks, I can't wait for Spring to actually be here - but then the other part of me realizes that this will be the last time for many months that I will be able to stand quietly in the woods while the snow falls around me. I love living in a place that has seasons. It's pretty magical.