I'm Published, Ya'll!

Guess who got their first article published with a pretty awesome website? THIS PHOTOGRAPHER DID. Carrie over at Photography Awesomesauce asked me to become a guest blogger on her awesome website, and I'm SO happy to say that I've accepted it. I was so stoked, I sat down right afterwards, and started writing articles like crazy, trying to think of all the things I wanted to share to those just starting out, or even, those who have hit a lull--I want to encourage and build up my awesome photographer peeps, and having this exposure to do so makes my heart so happy!!!

Check out the blog post here!

MY FIRST ARTICLE! *sniff* It's so beautiful!

P E R S O N A L || Weight Loss Journey :: Update

It's been about a month since I decided to be transparent about my struggle with losing weight and keeping it off. When I started, I had lost 14 lbs. That number remains the same. Even with cutting out most gluten (except for rare splurges with friends.....very rare) and eating masses of lean proteins and vegetables, AND adding in 20 minute walks with Liam twice a week, (I'd do more, but my knee already hates this part!) I'm just chilling there, in the same spot.

It got so distressing and discouraging I spoke with my doctor, who recommended that we get a dietician that he trusted on board, as well as run tests to see if my body is trying to tell me something! He's a pretty smart doctor, you guys, and I'm a fan of him, so we'll see what he says.

In the meantime, I'm feeling discouraged. And, frankly, I'm bored. I spend hours and hours in the kitchen juicing, slicing, dicing, cleaning vegetables, cleaning the kitchen, and frankly, it's killing me. Liam absolutely *hates* it.

I wish there was an easier way to do this that didn't involve taking tons of time to make all these dishes and foods, you know? I'm a mom with two businesses and a husband in school--this is really beginning to hinder me! My doctor asked about my eating and exercise history, and agrees that most of my work should be directed and continuing to eat healthy, and as I lose weight, my knee will no doubt be more capable of handling more work.

You can keep up with my food-eating adventures on Instagram!

http://www.instagram.com/shmilyface

And here's a look back at some of my favorite captures from last month!

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What about you guys? Anyone ever find themselves so close the beginning, but struggling so hard? What do you do? How do you change up your routine? And do you have any time-saving tips? I'm scouring the internet anyways, but I'd love your thoughts and tips and personal stories of success OR failure! I think there's an amazing opportunity to learn from both!

P E R S O N A L || Liam and Spring Break

TJ finished his Winter Quarter, Spring Break is underway, and Liam and I have been soaking up our time with the sunshine as often as we can! This is my final weekend before being slammed with 6 weddings over this month, and I tell you, though I'm thoroughly enjoying every minute with my beautiful family, I can't wait to dive headfirst into these weddings! They are my second great passion! (Family is first you guys, duuuuuuh) We love to share little moments with our family, and some of you have seen some of these on our personal pages, some on our business page, but here's the whole collection from the last week for you to peruse. Momo makes several adorable appearances, and Liam's eyes (which seemed green a few days ago, and are now more of a hazel color, causing mass confusion as to which eye color he'll end up with) and thick lashes will be seen often. I can't tell if his eyes, his toothy smile, his chubby cheeks, or his chubby little legs are my favorite. Probably all of them! <3

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Fusion Videos: What They Are, How They Work

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After United, I realized I had a lot of new, interesting ways to improve my business and differentiate myself from local competition. Fusion Videos, a concept I learned from Isaac and Karen Stott in their class at United,one of the latest trends in the -ography field, is just such a way.

Here's my experience with it:

First of all, the most important thing for me was ease of implementation. I'm a busy mom, I own two businesses, and my husband is a full-time engineering student--so we've got a lot on our plate. What I did may not work for you, and that's totally okay. Tweak as fits your needs, peeps!

What it is: Fusion Videos combine small video clips with your portraits in a slideshow with music to provide a different way to share images with your bride and groom. It's emotional, it's easy to put together, and it involves a little extra time, and basic knowledge of changing your camera to video, knowing how to change your portrait settings to Monochrome (for those inside videos with crazy lighting), and knowing when to get video clips, and when to get pictures.

1. Always Get The Picture First. ALWAYS. You're hired as a photographer, not a videographer, and unless you're used to toggling back and forth, it's best to get the shots you want first, and then switch to video for the clips you need. They're a perk, but again, not what you're hired for.

2. Have A Second Shooter I'm of the opinion that this is pretty much necessary, if you want to succeed at fusion videos. While I shot artistically, my second shooter (read: indentured husband) took back up pictures, grabbed candid shots, and got videos. If it had just been me, there would have been 3 videos. But with my husband TJ with me, we ended up with close to 70 to chose from.

3. Shoot Black and White Inside, Color Outside. Remember how I said keep it simple? Shooting in Black and White inside makes it simple. You don't want to take the video home, upload it, edit it (which takes in INSANE amount of time) and then make a Fusion Video--unless you're making a high, high end product. In which case, knock yourself out. But for the rest of us that just want something with a bit of an extra spark, shoot B&W indoors, and you're welcome.

4. Shoot Video In 5 Second Increments You want to have just enough emotion to tie the story together--not just enough pictures to tide the viewer over until the next clip plays. 5 or 10 second increments work perfectly to get the movement/emotion you want, without overwhelming or downplaying your amazing photography.

6. What Do You Use For The Slideshow? I use Animoto for my Fusion Videos. If you're willing to shell out 30 bucks a year, you can upload 10 second video clips, and your choices are incredibly limited. But if you want complete freedom, you can upgrade to their Pro package, which is closer to 260.00 a year. Pricey, but then you can have multiple songs, access to more songs, access to all their slideshow templates, and HD quality slideshow videos. It's worth it, if you have the moolah to do it, but if you don't, the 30.00 option works for just starting out.

7. So How Do You Put It Together? This is actually a mix of advice from the Stott's, and Katelyn James. On Saturday, I shoot the wedding. On Saturday Night, or Sunday morning, I cull the images, and pick the ones I want to use for the blog post/fusion video. For this wedding, it was close to 200, but to be fair, It was my first wedding fusion video, and I got carried away. You could probably get away with 100, or 50. <.< Once I get those edited, I upload them to Animoto, along with my video clips, arrange them until they're pleasing, add a text box to the beginning with the information about the wedding, tag the vendors, and share it on Monday. On Tuesday, I cull my favorites a little more, Blogstomp them, and share my blog post. By Wednesday, the rest of my images are edited, and by Thursday, I have the PASS Gallery up, I've sent a separate gallery for the vendors from the wedding, the bride has seen the Fusion Video, had blog post, and now has all of her pictures, and I'm done with that wedding.

Transparency is important, and so is keeping true to who you are and what you can handle. If I was being honest, I'd say I need to work on making sure my videos are black and white while inside (as you'll see in the video), making sure I'm not moving all over the place, and making sure I keep my focus on photography first. I'm hoping to improve on those in the next wedding.

I heard a few people asking for more information, but I'm definitely not the authority on the subject, I just wanted to share my experience, and hopefully, help those of you interested in it get more comfortable with the process!

W E D D I N G || Brina & Shane Carrigan - Commellini's Estate

In school, they promised they'd only date as long as it was fun. Shane has one of the best laughs ever, and an easy smile. Brina is one of the most compassionate, encouraging, hilarious friends I've ever made. And when they get close to each other, you'll often find them absent-mindedly intertwining fingers and propping each other up, constantly seeking each others eyes and smiles. It's the most adorable relationship ever. Their wedding was incredible. Brina has a gift for decorating and creating an atmosphere that's warm, inviting, and full of laughter and friends. Beyond the gorgeous floral decor (from the talented Just Roses Plus), Brina infused a delicate, classic theme into every aspect of her day, which fit perfectly with the timeless, polished look of the Commellini's Estate. Couple that with amazing, customer-driven service from the wonderful event coordinators of Commellini's, and the fantastic DJ from Ruby Frog Entertainment, plus the amazing cake from Celebrations Bakery (shout out for your pink champagne cupcakes, Celebrations, they are soul-shatteringly good) it was the best kick off to our 2014 wedding season EVER.

Our favorites from the day are below--but we also want to share something new and exciting that we're offering with all of our packages, our Fusion Videos. What is a Fusion Video? It's where we incorporate gorgeous music with our favorite portraits, and also some sneaky video clips from the day. If you have family that couldn't make it, or you just want to relive your day, we have the perfect way for you to share the essence of your incredible day. Check out Brina & Shane's Fusion Video at the end of the blog post, and let us know what you think!

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Check out their Fusion Video Below!! Untitled

Pinspiration Abounds!!!

If you've ever been on the Internet, chances are, you've heard of Pinterest. The chances that you've fallen in love with Pinterest apparently rises sharply if you're a woman. The chances skyrocket if you're getting married, love crafting, love photography, love plants, love making your house pretty, etc.

So basically, I'm on there about 2 hours a day, mostly in the evenings. Sometimes, after Liam goes to bed, I relax my sore muscles by languishing on my ultra-plushy couch (read: it swallows you whole when you sit on it), sip some bubbly (read: Ginger Brew), and slowly flip through the Pinterest boards, lovingly curating a selection of my favorite laughable moments, gorgeous portraits, nifty posing techniques, and hairstyles I'll never, ever have the upper arm endurance to complete (read: waterfall braid). It's how I wind down.

It was inevitable, really, that I would find a few boards that become a special arsenal for me. Gorgeous bouquets, stunning dresses, fantastic foods, HAIRSTYLES. So, because I love all of you, and because my toddler is making it difficult for me to edit these last two days (read: I'm furtively editing at 4:30 in the morning, praying he'll sleep in, just to make it happen), today, I'm gonna share a couple of these beloved treasure troves with you in the weeks to come. Today's trove is this fantastic Pinterest board from Flower Bar, located in Scottsdale, AZ.

http://www.pinterest.com/azflowerbar/wedding-trends-2014/

This gorgeous board has a collection of my favorites, but I selected a few that I couldn't help falling in love with, and shared my personal thoughts on them below. Because my thoughts are super valuable, and you all listen to me all the time. Right? RIGHT? Right.

**DISCLAIMER: I do not know who took all these gorgeous portraits, nor do I claim to have taken ANY of them. This is simply me sharing Pins**

||R I N G . S A G E S ||

Shut the front door. I dunno about you guys, but I'd rather have a ring sage than a bracelet on my other hand ANY DAY. How gorgeous is THIS.

|| C A S C A D I N G . T A B L E . R U N N E R S ||

Move aside mason jars and vases, the cascading table runner creates a lush, natural bohemian vibe that's perfect for any wedding. Just mix and match your favorite flowers (but we recommend you talk to your florist to make sure they can put it together for you <3)

|| P O C K E T . S Q U A R E ||

Just when we thought we had the boutonniere (I have to spell check that word EVERY. TIME) down to a SCIENCE, they come along and create the absolutely AWESOME POCKET SQUARE. Besides, most of the time, those pockets are sewn shut anyways, right? Put the handkerchief in your pants pocket, grooms, this pocket has a greater purpose!

|| J U S T . A D D. P E A R L S ||

If you're having a romantic wedding, a classic wedding, or a vintage wedding, pearls are your secret weapon. Wear them like a badge, my sisters, and then add them into your decor. Use them in the bottoms of vases to stabilize flowers, hang them delicately to add a sense of whimsy to your centerpieces, even purchase long strands and hang them from one side of the reception to the other, for a gorgeous, textural look. *swoon*

|| C A S C A D I N G . O M B R E . B O U Q U E T S ||

Two things: First of all, the headpiece is just as stunning as the bouquet, but I personally probably wouldn't do both. One or the other is probably best, unless you have severe allergies, then maybe neither. Secondly, I didn't think the ombre trend could get any better, and then they did this. I'm considering renewing my vows every 6 months to keep up with all the gorgeousness.

These are just a few of the ideas on this board, and I *love* going back through and seeing when they add new ones. If you're a lover of geometrics, modern weddings, or unique backdrops, be sure to also check out their gorgeous geometric backdrop pins!

S T Y L I Z E D . S H O O T || OffBeat Brides Concept Shoot

It's been almost a month since I went to United, and I've been holding on to these shoots jealously, because after I publish each one, I get to spend the whole day reminiscing about the amazing, sometimes surreal setting for the United conference I attended. And with only a couple more shoots to share, and wedding season starting this weekend, it's a bittersweet post I write. 2014-03-19_0001

I've heard over and over from friends, family, and my brides that I seem softer and more at peace since I came back. My outlook seems brighter, my photography is much more organic and emotional, and my feelings of heart-bursting joy for the people in my life has come to the front--I'm not nearly as reserved with my enthusiasm for the people I adore anymore.

These people are the reason why. They broke me down, reminded me of why I started shooting, and gave me my passion back--but more than that, they showed me, by leading from example, how to give that passion away and multiply it's return. When you have kindness and a giving nature on a scale of over 400 people, well....that's a lot of passion and heart to soak in--and I was the best sponge ever.

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One such example is our Offbeat Brides Shoot--a really amazing shoot that focused on showcasing brides that went off the beaten path. So often, we focus on the model brides with the million dollar weddings and amazing soirrees, but the truth is, these brides have a completely different aesthetic to what they love about their relationship and wedding--and man oh man, do I love that about them. There were three couple total, and the first pair, rocking the epic sunglasses, was my soulmate couple. Fiesty, funny, and rocking every tattoo they had, I wanted to capture them all day. Then I got sidetracked by a conversation with another photographer, and when I turned around, they had disappeared down the stretch of the beach--and I dunno about you, but walking through the sand is hard enough when you're just holding a towel, but I had all of my gear with me. So I peace'd out that rad couple. Then there was this other couple that I literally only got one shot of, but wanted a zillion more, because the bride was an absolute SIREN you guys, she was drop-dead gorgeous, and her groom had an epic beard.  But again, I was sidetracked by conversations. In fairness to me, my husband is quiet, my son isn't talking yet, and I was geeking out about gear, shooting in direct sunlight, and the perils of shooting on a beach. It's rare for me, okay? Okay.

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Here's a few more shots to share with you, and credit absolutely has to go to the creator and leader of our shoot, Carrie Swails. She's an amazing teacher and mentor, and everyone goes away from her knowing something new that can help them. She's amazing.

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In any case, you can bet that I'll be going back again next year, but this time, with TJ. And we aren't done yet! I still have MY shoot to share with ya'll, and the Great Gatsby shoot, which you might die of happiness from looking at. Those will be coming up in the foreseeable future, friends!

Models:

Jamie Ivins - jamieivins.com Julie Wilmes - juliewilmes.com Mycah and Bobby Burns - redmonddigitalmedia.com Lauren and Seth Pinson - laurenpinson.com

Outfits: Julie Wilmes - Corset Lauren Pinson - Dress and shoes 

Shoot Organizer: Carrie Swails - carrieswailsphotography.com

S T Y L I Z E D . S H O O T || Sugar & Spice Concept Shoot

When I was little, I used to achingly wish that I was a princess with my whole heart. They had it *made*, don't you think? I mean, sure, most Princesses had it rough for a bit (Princess Odette was turned into a swan after being forced into a marriage arrangement from childhood, only to realize she did love the guy who didn't know she needed to be more than beautiful, and then he declared his love for the wrong person, and she basically died, but he saved the day in the end, and they got all married anyways; Princess Jasmine fell in love, mourned his death, fell in love again with a different guy, found out he was the same guy, then got enslaved by his nemesis, and then finally got to keep dating him after her dad changed laws for it to happen; then there's Rapunzel who lived her entire life shoved into a tower with a woman who emotionally abused her while forcing her to wear a hair style that was impractical and probably gave her wicked migraines, only to fall in love with a wanted thief who wanted nothing to do with her for quite a while, and then willingly gave up her freedom to save his life, only to have him die in her arms saving her, only to find out she had magical tears--and then she was abruptly reunited with her parents, and the responsibilities of an entire kingdom where thrust upon her now light-headed shoulders) but in the end, they had gorgeous clothing, fantastic, smooth skin, and droves of admirers. C'mon, what little girl doesn't want that?! We know a lot of women reminisce fondly about the time when they were little girls, dreaming of being a princess, or a warrior princess, or a punk princess (whatever your favorite might be!) but how was that captured and recorded? Did you write your dreams in journals? Did your mom sneak pictures of you while you played? What about your daughter? How have you captured that whimsical, fleeting stage of her self-awareness?

Enter the Sugar & Spice Shoot, coming up on May 3rd. Shmily Face Photography has teamed up with 3 amazing small businesses to give a one of a kind, fairy tale experience to little princesses everywhere. So what's included in the shoot, you ask? Weeeellllll, I'm glad you asked!

 

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Though there are 10 time slots total, we are officially down to 9 slots left, with several in the works to being booked. The sooner you book, the more options on time slots you have, and the more time you have to plan for outfits! So if you're on the fence, remember, these slots will be selling out quickly-and this is a limited edition shoot--meaning that while we'll explore other themes for down the road, we don't know that we'll be doing a princess-themed shoot again anytime soon. And seeing as we only plan on doing one stylized shoot a year.....it could be 5 or 6 years. Or longer.

In the mean time, we'd love if you'd also take a look at some of our favorites we got on our shoot. While the shoot wont be in this exact location, we're excited to give you an idea of how gorgeous taking pictures of little girls in tall grass can be. The inside pictures are gorgeous, we know, but until we can get a location that allows us to have old, vintage floors, we'll have to make do with blossoming meadows and country roads, *sigh*. I don't think we can lose ;)

Spokane Family Photography 2014-03-11_0040 2014-03-11_0044 2014-03-11_0041 2014-03-11_0042 2014-03-11_0043 2014-03-11_0045 2014-03-11_0046 2014-03-11_0050 2014-03-11_0047 2014-03-11_0048 2014-03-11_0049 2014-03-11_0051 2014-03-11_0052 2014-03-11_0053 2014-03-11_0056 2014-03-11_0054 2014-03-11_0055 2014-03-11_0057Special thanks to the small businesses that came together to make both our concept shoot a success, and the real deal and May come to life in an amazing way:

Tutu's - Little Blooms Lace Crowns: Snickerdoodle  Cupcakes & Vintage Props : Batch Bakeshop

And a special thank you to our gorgeous models: Mary, and her two little ones, Miss J and Miss M, and Melissa's sweet little one, Miss K.

Thank you Princesses for sharing your beauty and curiosity with us! It was a privilege to capture you as you are!

And finally, a very special thank you to Staci Lewis, for her unwavering support, her last minute rescuing a rained out shoot, her wonderful companionship, and her amazing talent with film photography. You're awesome, Staci!!!

What Shmily Face Stands For

I love telling people about my photography business. I’m all about hidden meanings and crazy ideas, which is probably why I like the Indiana Jones and the Oceans movie collections so much. So when I was thinking about making my passion into something that had a banner that would give people a glimpse into the heart of what the business was about, I knew I wanted to convey three things in one. 1. I wanted to show people that *I* love them. I’m not talking like your Mom, or your Spouse, or your Children, but as someone who genuinely thinks you are WORTHY, and VALUED, and worth CELEBRATING. I love that everyone has a story, and everyone has battle scars and victories. I wanted my clients to feel that, and I wanted my name to be a warmth you felt when you read it—something that made you smile, made you maybe even want to look a little further.

2. I wanted to show people how much God loved them. Every time the sun peeked up over those hill tops, every time a bird made the perfect edition to my portraits, every wrinkle and laugh line and tendril of hair that sways in the wind that I can catch—I can personally say that I feel like that is God, or Energy, or the Earth, or whatever you want to call it—but it’s the heart of what gave us our emotive and spiritual side, and I wanted to showcase *THAT* while also showcasing how much I loved them as well.

3. I wanted people to be able to show *other* people that they loved them. That’s why we get pictures done, right? You get wedding pictures to celebrate and immortalize your love. You get family pictures to celebrate and immortalize your memories of that time of growth in your lives. When ever you take a picture, or get your picture taken, it’s because you’re passionate about something, and you want to share it with someone else. And I wanted to be helping you show love. And it’s a humbling aspect, a beautiful and tremendous responsibility, and a great task that I take on PROUDLY. And every time able to share that for you, because that’s what my gift is.

2013-11-04_0026.jpg So when I was thinking of the name of my business, I realized all three things were so incredibly important, so perfectly aligned with my heart, I couldn’t downplay any of them. And a phrase that had been uttered to me by important people in my life came to mind. SHMILY. 2013-09-27_0035.jpg SHMILY is actually an acronym. It means See How Much I Love You. You see what I did there? I made it a point to keep the things that were important to me IN the name of my business, as a beacon to those souls that would connect with mine. I’m not just a photographer. I’m a story teller. I’m immortalizing you at a point in your life. I’m showing you love, sharing love,helping you share your love to.  So now, when someone asks me the name of my business, now you know that I’m saying  “I love you, He loves you, and it’s awesome that you want to share your love in this way.”

S T Y L I Z E D . S H O O T || Tori & Brett || Grassini Family Vineyards

I've been editing like a mad woman since I came back from Santa Barbara, home of the gorgeous, aesthetically themed Spanish-Villa town on the ocean front, and home of the best photography conference in the world, United. It was such a treat to go down there, and be with a ton of photographers who believe in the same philosophy that I have, in regards to photography, in that we all believe that once we give you the pictures, you should be able to have them both digitally, and physically, as you desire--because they belong to YOU. While it's a controversial business method, I believe that with the rise of technology, and the rise of sharing more of our lives online, it seems silly to make you pay to have the images you already paid for -- and that's the philosophy shared by this conference. Further, our goal was to get down to the nuts and bolts of celebrating stories, organically. For me, something I wanted to get more in tune with was telling the love story of my brides and grooms without crazy posing and tons of props. I want to be able to share the way my couples look deep into each others eyes, I want her smile when he tells her he loves her to be captured for him to see. That is the real couple--not making them stand back to back, and hold hands, haha.

This shoot, done at the gorgeous Grassini Family Vineyards, was a gorgeous 50 minute drive away from the hotel. We first stopped at the ridge before the vineyard, to capture the sunrise--and even though large clouds snuffed out those lovely golden rays only seconds after that sun came up over the hills, we still had enough time to capture these gorgeous moments:

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Gah, that sun, and this couple. Augh. So gorgeous.

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After we lost our rays of sun, we focused on using the couples knowledge of each other to create real, organic moments that resulted in absolutely gorgeous portraits.

2014-03-03_0004Brett and Tori were such an amazing couple to work with. Seriously, they were so comfortable in front of the camera, which, believe it or not, isn't very easy to be with several dozen photographers staring at you.

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2014-03-03_0006When I saw her hair fluttering in the breeze in that shot, I said "Shut. Up. NO." Apparently, it's becoming a habit of mine, because I also said it to a couple other models I worked with, haha.

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2014-03-03_0008Special shout out to Rincon Floral for the absolutely stunning white bouquet. I love the texture and consistent creamy look, and the floral scents were heavenly!

After we finished shooting on a simple dirt road, (yes, those were all shot on a dirt road, which just goes to show, emotion trumps background any day!) we loaded back up and drove down to the vineyard--a stunning, well-loved vineyard. The trees were gorgeous, and HUGE, a testament to the attention they had received at the hands of the family that had worked and lived on those rolling vineyard hills for 4 generations. Even as we worked with our bride and groom, I could see the people carefully tending to the vines several hills away.

Speaking of their gorgeous, large trees, they immediately captured the attention of my lens, and the pictures that we captured under those weaving, thick branches were jaw-dropping. I actually had a incredibly hard time finding a way to share what I saw, and the emotion that was shared under that tree, because there were SO. MANY. GOOD ONES. But here are a few of my favorites, because there's still MORE.

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And then we watched them wander through a row of the vineyard, intertwined and focused only on holding one another, and my heart hurt from how sweet the entire shoot had been. This is what I want to capture in my clients! This sort of organic emotion and love! And, thanks to our amazing instructor, Montana Dennis (yes, that's his name, yes, he can grow a beard, and yes, he is awesome) we were able to learn exactly how to guide our couples into that sort of posing. It was so magical, out there in the vineyards, with huge, desert mountains around us, and large grey clouds hanging low over our heads.

2014-03-03_0018 2014-03-03_0019 2014-03-03_0020 2014-03-03_0021 2014-03-03_0022 It was such an awesome, deep experience, and it's transformed my way of capturing my brides, and I think it's actually better, wouldn't you agree? :) I'd love to know what you think!

Stay tuned for next week, when I'll share the shoot that *I* led, using simple paper cranes, some fishing line, two gorgeous models, and some gorgeous paper bouquets.

Instructor: Montana Dennis

Venue: Grassini Family Vineyards http://www.grassinifamilyvineyards.com

Production Coordinator: Kristin Renee https://www.facebook.com/santabarbaraweddingphotographer

Floral bouquet by Rincon Floral http://www.rinconfloral.com https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rincon-Floral/63226356664

Models:

Tori Benham Brett Benham

P E R S O N A L || Battling My Weight and Finding Myself

It was in 5th grade that I was first told I needed to lose weight. My sisters were all blessed with athletic bodies and a far better understanding on how to maintain that. I, on the other hand, had developed a deep and abiding love for the glorious flavors that danced on my taste buds, and reveled in it. And food loved my hips, my thighs, well....all of me as well. That story continued throughout middle school, throughout high school, and until now, I just accepted this lie that I was an overweight photographer that was lucky to get a husband. I’m not even kidding. That was where my self-esteem was at. And I don’t blame my childhood. I don’t blame anyone. I know now that what I needed was education. I had no idea why pasta and potatoes weren’t good for me—only that they weren’t. It seemed stupid that I couldn’t eat ice cream and fried oreos and gelato every day. YOLO, you know?

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But you know when you shop around on Netflix, and you can’t find a good movie, and the only Liam Neeson movie is the one with the wolves and you don’t like blood, so you find yourself in the documentary section deciding if you want to see something about losing weight or watching grown men go to a My Little Pony Convention?  So after you watch the My Little Pony documentary, you decide you need to bleach your brain with another documentary, so *then* you watch the other one?

That happened to us. Well, me, but TJ watched the first one with the same horrified/amused fascination that I did. The second one he watched because, well, he had already grabbed a blanket and pillow, and if there’s one thing we should know about TJ, it’s that he hates being uncomfortable, or moving from his couch, or being called a hipster, even though he’s totally a hipster. (Love you, honey! <3)

Anyways, so I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and then the other one (Time for Change?) and I was so inspired (seriously, watch them!) that I started juicing THE NEXT DAY. And at first, it was SO. Hard.

I won’t get into ALL the nitty gritty, because this is a blog post, not a novel, and because the detox, the subsequent love-affair with Mint Tea and Wheat Grass, and the questionable juicing my husband did is really for another time. But I will say that something shifted. I realized I *could* eat without pasta and spuds all up in my diet. I *could* be okay with eating HUGE salads.

And just like that, I realized I had found my success story.

We all dream for that, right? That moment when you find “The Diet” that gets you back to your high school size? Or even lower? It’s actually not said until after you do it, until after you’ve lost the weight and kept it off, but I’m daring myself to make the commitment and stick with it. I know that if I say “this is my success story,” on the internet, in front of a ton of people who may think I’m a little hasty, I risk failing out loud, which is a huge fear.

But I also know that it gives me a reason to choose to eat my orange—instead of my cookie. And it gives me a reason to keep at it, even when I do (inevitably, by the way) mess up and sneak a Ferrero Rocher or 4. I know that by telling my friends, my family, and my brides that I’m trying something scary that’s marred with failure, I’m giving them (you) an opportunity to help me succeed.

So here’s where I tell you what I need from you:

Follow me on Instagram: @shmilyface

Painless, right?

I’ll be sharing my meals and stuff there. And occasionally, you’ll hear back from me *here* on the blog, and I’ll tell you what I’ve learned, what I’ve struggled with, and what I want to do better.

Now, if the incentive of staring at cell phone pictures of poorly lit meals isn’t enough for you to make the right choice, I also share sneaky peeks of my photo shoots there, AND I also share pictures of Liam and Momo. And I occasionally share pictures of TJ’s beard!

So follow me, encourage me, and forgive me when I fumble, and help me to get down to a healthy weight—because even though I’m doing it for myself, it doesn’t mean I have to be by myself. <3

E N G A G E M E N T || Miranda & Robert

Miranda and Robert met and fell in love at Fast Kart Racing, here in Spokane. She knew the place like the back of her hand, because her Family owned and lovingly ran the tracks day in and day out. Robert came on to the team looking for a solid job--and found the love of his life. This was an engagement session that was full of laughter, sweet glances, perfect moments, and love. SO. MUCH. LOVE. When we were shooting in the woods, an older gentlemen and his gorgeous husky wandered over, and quietly asked if we had seen the Bucket Tree. At first, I was a little confused, but when we made our way up the trail, we found this amazing sight: A tree covered in small disks of wood tied up with twine, and a small, sharpie'd prompt on each disk: "Before I Die...."

The wishes we found were very different, an array of hopeful to tongue in cheek, some deep and full of hope, others full of anger and reform. And there, Miranda and Robert added their Bucket Wish: To be married this upcoming September. After a few more pictures in the incredibly brisk morning air, we headed inside, where Miranda and Robert took the petal to the metal in Go Karts they had watched after for who knows how long. We had SOOOO much fun!!! TJ was floating on air by the time we had finished from the contact high to go karts, and I couldn't wait to get back home to edit. It was an awesome session.

Take a look at the shoot we had with them, and be sure to leave them a note of congratulations!!! ^.^

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W E D D I N G || Camp Four Echoes || Ashley & Blake

I met Ashley at her Matron of Honor's wedding a couple years back, and liked her instantly. Besides having a tattoo of Chip from Beauty and the Beast on her shoulder, she had an effortlessly beautiful smile, gorgeous blue eyes, and a equally immature sense of humor. We became fast friends. Fast forward to her meeting Blake, the love of her life. Patient, funny, sweet, and laid back, Blake looked at Ashley with love and thankfulness in his eyes, and I squee'd behind my camera as we did their engagement shoot.

Fast forward again, if you will, to this last weekend, when Ashley and Blake said their Forever Vows in Camp Four Echoes, just off the Bay of Coeur d Alene Lake. The view was STUNNING, even if it was a chilly 14 degrees with the sun up. Ashley loved having her winter wedding, complete with a luxurious shawl draped around her freckled shoulders and bow ties on every groomsmen there, as well as the men who helped raise her. It was a ceremony full of love and real life. Their vows made us chuckle and their kiss was sweet.

With a reception and exit that left us smiling the whole way home, we decided there was no better way to begin our 2014 wedding season.

Thank you Ashley & Blake for trusting us with your incredible day--we had an absolute blast!

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A N I M A L || Bailey the Chiweenie

In case you wondered, I LOVE PUPPIES. Puppies, and owls, and mustaches, and coffee, and flowers, and photography, and people, and life, and my baby, and chocolate. But I really, really love puppies.

Meet Bailey. She was rescued at 4 weeks old, and she couldn't take care of herself at all. Squirmy, wiggly, happy-go-lucky Bailey found her Forever Home with the Leonard Family. Two sweet little girls, and an older Chiweenie named Molly took Bailey under their wing, and nurtured her into a roly-poly kibble-eating machine. Oh, my heart melted. MELTED.

Seriously. I want 10 of them--preferably potty-trained, and up to date on shots. BUT I WANT THEM ALL.

Enjoy this sweet look at Bailey, the two girls that spoil her rotten, and her mothering companion Molly, who puts up with waaaaay more ear chewing then I ever could.

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Oh, and finally, TJ, (the other half of the brains and beauty of SFP) came back to where we were shooting, and met Bailey for the first time, and I'll tell you something: He can say he doesn't want any more dogs all he wants, the look on his face when teeny li'l Bailey bounced into his arms and beard, I knew then and there, he wouldn't turn a new dog away. <.< *plots*

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