Wander With Me | Utah National Parks

Over April vacation, we decided to travel out to Utah. It’s no secret that we are serious national parks lovers and Utah has lots of national parks to offer!  I have serious travel OCD, so I had preplanned out the whole trip with hikes I wanted to see and things I wanted to do all along the way.  We flew into Denver International, and started the winding drive through the Rocky Mountains to Utah.  The drive was breathtaking, it was amazing to start off in the hot desert and travel up to the snowy mountains in a matter of hours.  Our first stop along the way was Arches National Park, oh my goodness!  This was my husband’s favorite park, he has never been out west to the desert before and was speechless.  My only letdown of the whole trip was that we didn’t get to this park early enough, the Fiery Furnace hike was full for the day.  We did all of the small hikes to the arches, but our favorite was the hike to Delicate Arch….this is absolutely a must see!

After grabbing some yummy lunch in Moab, we headed to Dead Horse State Park in the hopes of a desert sunset.  Unfortunately, it was too cloudy for a sunset, but we did the rim trail to the point and enjoyed the gorgeous views.  My kids loved climbing in all the caves and just running wild.  This is one of the most underrated parks in Utah, I think the view from the point rivals Horseshoe Bend.

Our next park was Bryce National Park, I was in love!  The tall, red, towering hoodoos were incredible!  We did the Navajo Loop trail, which I highly recommend!  Wallstreet was closed due to a landslide, but the loop was still awesome!  We saw all of the famous points, and sooo much wildlife!  We saw mule deer, the adorable prairie dogs, and lots of chipmunks and squirrels.  We ended up the day with the Mossy Cave trail, the river through the hoodoos was super neat and my kids couldn’t believe how cold the water was in the middle of desert.

After Bryce, we headed to Zion…my favorite national park so far!  I loved how lush and full of life this park was!  Zion was the park that I was looking forward to the most, and I was not disappointed!  We started off by climbing around the Checkerboard Mesa and driving the tunnel, which was super neat!  Our first hike was the Canyon overlook trail, and it was my favorite hike of the whole trip.  It was such a neat trail, cutting through the side of the mesa…and it was where we got our first glimpse of the big horned sheep….they walked feet in front of us!  It ends with the most iconic view of Zion, the gorgeous green valley surrounded by tall red rock.  We did the popular emerald pools and weeping rock trails, which were ehh, lots of people and not as beautiful as some of the other trails.  We ended the day with the Hidden Canyon Trail, one of my kids favorites, and definitely not for the faint of heart.  You hang onto chains on the side of the mountain sometimes, but you end up at this awesome canyon on the top a mountain.  My kids even found tarantulas on the way, which they loved…me, not so much!

The next day we headed over to Grand Staircase Escalante and the Willis Slot Canyon.  The road to the canyon is a dirt road that was all offroading.  This one of of the most surprising parts of the trip, I had no idea how much I would enjoy this!  I think that this would rival Antelope Canyon, the tall sides and narrow path were so neat!  This is definitely a must do if you are in the area!  We spent the evening, caving in the Mammouth Caves, I didn’t take any pictures…it was a little bit dark 🙂  My kids thought this was so neat, literally crawling through ancient lava tunnels and seeing the bats hanging from the cave roof.

We headed back to Bryce the next day to finish seeing the sites, we did the Queen’s Garden trail…which I loved!  I would recommend adding it to the Navajo Loop, the terrain is unlike anything else I have ever seen! Afterwards, we did a bunch of the small trails at Red Canyon, a small part of Bryce National Park

My husband and I got up super early the next day to do Angel’s Landing, we were super excited to do this!  Make sure to get there early, since you have to take the shuttle into the park and it gets really crowded!  The hike was unlike anything else….we loved it!  It was so exhilarating hanging onto the chains and literally climbing with huge drop offs next to you.  The view from the top was gorgeous!  I would highly recommend this hike to anyone who loves adventure!

Our next park was Capitol Reef National Park, if you go get some ice cream and pies at the Fruita area…it is stunning and delicious!  We drove the scenic drive, and headed over to the Cassidy Arch hike.  This park was so quiet, especially after Zion and Bryce.  I loved the hike to the Cassidy Arch, and it was such a neat feeling to be on top of an arch after seeing all of the arches on our trip.

Our last park was Canyonlands, we only had time to do the north Canyonlands.  We did the short hike to the Mesa Arch, and then the longer hike to the Canyon Overlook.  The weather was gorgeous, and the hikes were both beautiful.  I would highly recommend doing all of the national parks, they are all so different and unique.  My kids got national park passport books and collected stamps at all of them.  On the way back to Denver, we made a quick stop at a natural hot spring…which was really neat to see!  I absolutely loved this vacation,  I love adventure, hiking, and seeing everything!

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Max and Sophie’s Schroon Lake Engagement Session

Ahh!  My sister in law is getting married, you can not understand how excited I am!  So excited that I drove three hours to upstate New York to do her engagement session 😉  They both attend college at Word of Life Bible College, in Pottersville, NY; so it seemed like the perfect place to do their engagement photos.  The day started off a little rough with rain and having a hard time finding a spot we loved to do pictures.  But once we found our grove and the Pines, it was magic.  Also, I am totally convinced that everyone should take pictures in a boat…love it!  So enjoy the total oversharing of images, and all of the love I have for these two fantastic people!

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Helping Your Groom-To-Be Feel More Comfortable For Your Photos

If your groom-to-be has been dragging his feet an ho-humming about your upcoming engagement photo session, trust me… you are not the only one who has seen this kind of resistance! In fact, I have had many brides-to-be ask me how they can get their future husbands more excited about taking photos together. It can be a little bit frustrating, but I bet when it comes time for your session, he’s going to be excited and he’ll have so much fun.

The very first thing you need to do if you feel your husband-to-be is ambivalent about the upcoming photo session is just listen to him. Without getting defensive or responding immediately, ask him what his fears or hesitations are. Does he feel uncomfortable in front of a camera? Does he feel weird posing in front of a stranger? Does he feel awkward wearing a suit? Make it a safe space for him to open up and let him talk it out.

I put together a few of the most common fears men have when it comes to getting their photos taken. Chances are, your hesitant fiance is feeling one or more of these, and I’m here to help give you the tools to work through it together!

He Doesn’t Feel He’s Photogenic

He might be worried he’ll hate the pictures because he’s never liked photos of himself. I can say with absolute confidence that you are both more photogenic than you realize! So many couples I have photographed start the session telling me they don’t look good in photos, and they’re instantly surprised at how well they’re turning out. I like to think I have a talent for bringing out the best in people and making them feel totally comfortable… it’s why I’m a photographer, after all! I’ve even had a groom say to me, “that wasn’t as bad as I thought… it was actually fun!” I just love that!

Let him know that he’s not alone, and that lots of people feel they’re not photogenic, but a professional photographer can help him feel more comfortable. Your engagement session is supposed to be fun and relaxed, and I go out of my way to make sure both you and your fiance are having a blast from start to finish!

He’s Nervous About Posing

No one really knows how to intuitively position their body for photos, unless you’re a professional model. I don’t do rigid poses. Instead, I simply couples in a setting that’s beautiful with great lighting, then I give cues to create natural movements and reactions. I might tell you to kiss (slowly so I can grab the shot) or I might tell him to come up behind you and give you a big bear hug. The natural smiles and the playfulness between the two of you is going to create a MUCH better photo than if I positioned you and told you to hold the pose while I snapped photos.

In preparation for your session, you might want to sit down together and look at my engagement sessions to get some ideas for shots you like and connect with. Doing this will help him feel more in control of how the session will go and know what to expect, not to mention, he’ll be excited to know that his preferences were incorporated into the session!

A lot of guys feel a little left out of the decision-making process, and they feel like the bride and the photographer have the ultimate say in what happens during the photo session. If your guy has an opinion he wants to share, that’s amazing! I love when the men contribute their ideas and get involved!

Leave a Little Early

I recommend that couples leave a little earlier than normal when it comes time for their engagement session. You want to be prepared for traffic or backups, because running late can be a stressful situation for both of you, and it can lead to bickering and fights, which is NOT a great situation right before your photo shoot.

On the same note, make sure if it’s an evening shoot that you have time to eat something beforehand and that he doesn’t feel rushed. Sometimes, we have a tendency to hoard the bathroom while we’re getting ready and our guy doesn’t have enough time to shave, brush his teeth, and fix his hair. The last thing you want is to have him feeling uncomfortable or rushed in any way. These photos are important to him, too! Just allow a little extra time for everything, and you should be just fine. Oh, and consider bringing some wine or champagne to the session. They make great props for photos and having a glass of your favorite beverage may help you both relax and loosen up!

My goal is to make your engagement session a super fun time for the both of you! I have had so much success doing this, I just know your husband-to-be will enjoy himself and get into it just as much as you will. If you have specific questions about how to prepare or if your groom wants to discuss the upcoming session, feel free to email or call me and I’d be more than happy to help!


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10 Things To Do Before Your Engagement Photo Session

You’re probably having mixed emotions when it comes to having your engagement photos taken. I’m sure on one hand, you’re feeling super excited to work with a professional photographer who can capture the love between you and your fiance and create heirlooms that you can treasure for the rest of your life. On the other hand, getting your pictures taken can be intimidating, awkward, and a little bit stressful.

Most of us don’t have a modeling background, so we don’t feel totally comfortable in front of a camera. What do you do with your arms? Which direction should you face? Chin up or chin down? It’s so much to worry about and you’re probably thinking if you do the “wrong” thing, your pictures will come out awful.

Look, I know exactly how you’re feeling. Everyone feels this way! It’s my job as a photographer to make you feel comfortable and direct you so there’s no second guessing on your part. In fact, I like to help couples prepare for their photos well before we even meet for the shoot. Here’s 10 simple things you can do before your session to ensure breathtaking photos:

Plan what you’re going to wear – This can take some time, so start early… not the night before. Generally, couples like to tie in some or all of their wedding colors, since the engagement photos are often used for save the dates or other wedding announcements. Resist the urge to match each other, and focus on coordinating your colors instead.

  1. Don’t shy from bold accessories – If you’re someone that expresses yourself with fun clothing or accessories, be sure to do so in your photos, too. Wear bold shoes, a scarf, a hat, or a statement necklace that really shows off your personality.
  2. A little goes a long with with patterns – Some people think you can’t do patterns at all in photos, but that’s not true. Stick with large patterns like florals, oversized gingham, or plaid. Stay away from small stripes, busy geometric patterns, or any kind of writing. If one of you is going with a pattern, make sure the other wears solid colors to avoid clashing.
  3. Empty those pockets – A lot of people, men specifically, forget to remove items from their pockets before their session, and I’ll just stop and remind them to do so. The outline of your keys, wallet, or cell phone can often be seen in photos if left in your pockets.
  4. Start with formal – If you’re doing two looks, always start with the formal look first. It’s much easier to transition into a more casual look, and this will ensure your hair stays exactly the way you want it for your dressier shots.
  5. Turn to Pinterest for ideas – If you’re totally stuck on what to wear for your engagement photos, head on over to Pinterest! You will find so many amazing ideas, your only trouble will be choosing one (or two) favorites.
  6. Watch the neckline, ladies – I have nothing against a beautiful low-cut top, but it does limit the poses I can do with you. You don’t have to wear a turtleneck, but just know that if you can’t lean comfortably, it will affect my ability to try certain things.
  7. Be comfortable – This is the last thing I’m going to say about clothes: just be comfortable. If you or your man never get dressed up, consider keeping it casual for your photos. Just because other people choose to do things one way doesn’t mean you have to. This session is all about you and staying true to who you are as a couple!
  8. Make that ring sparkle – Inevitably, we’re going to be doing some close-up shots of the ring, so make sure to give it a good cleaning before your engagement session! We want it to sparkle and look its best in your photos.
  9. Make a plan to be on time – Despite our best efforts, sometimes we just run late. I get it! However, I schedule engagement shots in a very short window of time to take advantage of the best lighting of the day. If you’ve never been to the location at that time of day, it might be good to do a test run to see exactly how long it’s going to take you with traffic.

BONUS TIP – Just relax! Like I said before, it’s my job to make you feel comfortable, to suggest poses, and to take the pressure off you during your engagement shoot. If you go into it thinking it’s going to be fun, it will be! Remember to be open minded and go with the flow. Enjoy your time together and think of it like a date. After your photos are done, you can go have dinner and a glass of champagne to celebrate this major step toward your future life together!

If you have any questions about preparing for your engagement session, please email me or call me. I am always happy to help, and I have lots of practice so I can definitely share some ideas with you or give you some inspiration if you need it!

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10 Tips for Finding the Right Wedding Videographer

Today I am sharing some insider advise from Dmitry, owner and videographer of Embark Films.  I love working with him and highly recommend him, his style is so similar to mine and we work together really well.  He is talking about his 10 tips to find the right videographer for you:

1. Research! There are tons of videographers in your area that all have unique and different creative styles when it comes to filming and editing your wedding day. Take the time to do some research. It will save you a lot of stress in the end after you wedding day is over.

2. Figure out your style. Is the relationship between you and your fiancé fun and quirky? Is it romantic? Maybe dramatic? or are you two a more serious couple? Do you prefer someone who films everything candidly or maybe someone who is up close and personal? Figuring out your style will help you weed out the wrong videographers from the right ones.

3. Consistency is key. When scouting out the perfect videographer, check out their portfolio. Are they creating great wedding films on a regular basis and if so, are they producing consistently? If so, this means they know what they are doing when it comes to the editing process. You want to make sure this videographer does a great job at EVERY wedding they film, not just one good film out of 10 clients.

4. TRUST! You want a videographer you can trust. The last thing you need is to stress on your wedding wondering if your videographer is doing a good job and getting everything you expect. If you have a bad gut feeling when viewing their portfolio or when you meet them, move on immediately.

5. Price. This is pretty much the deal breaker for most couples but it shouldn’t have to be. Videographers who value their time and work price their services accordingly. If you are hiring a $4000 videographer, you are hiring someone who understands your needs, wants, and expectations. If you hire a $1000 videographer, you are hiring someone who will use your wedding as a learning experience. Do you want to hire someone to use your wedding day as a learning experience? Or someone who who will capture the entire day for what it is, a once in a life time, joyous, celebratory experience.

6. Compare Prices. Don’t be fooled by a cheap website and a few videos. I’ve seen videographers charge insane prices for their services because they know they can even though their work doesn’t match their price. But whats it to them if you decide to book them right? Compare prices and portfolios. Videographers charge $4000 for work that looks like $1000 and others charge $2000 for work that looks like $10,000. Do some research and you’ll find a diamond in the rock.

7. Stop negotiating. This should be a no brainer but it happens everyday with every vendor. Videographers sacrifice a lot just to be a part of your wedding and take on the responsibility of capturing your entire day. They sacrifice weekends, time with friends, family, loved ones, and spend countless hours editing your film. Videographers also have A LOT of expenses to pay for such as sales tax, business tax, traveling, lodging, music licenses, packaging, business insurance, etc. If you respect their price, they will respect you.

8. Professionalism. This is huge. When meeting the videographer, get a feel for their character. Do they take their job seriously? Do they strive to become better? What separates them from other videographers? What do their reviews say about them? Is their contract honest and straightforward or is it sketchy? Do they put in an effort to calling you or meeting with you? Search for videographers who are very humble and strive to become better and better. The last think you need is someone who thinks they are a celebrity because you are interested in their services. You are no peasant. Videographers should be grateful to be a part of your wedding day.

9. Music preference. The backbone of your wedding film, music will be the deciding factor if your wedding film will make you cry tears of joy or make you cringe and hide in a corner. Music is usually 100% chosen by the videographer but you should recommend some of your favorite styles of music so the videographers gets a feel for what your into. I’ve seen countless wedding films where videographers simply film a wedding, slap the footage to some typical main stream song and call it a wedding film. This is a cardinal sin and some couples don’t know the difference. Folk, cinematic, dramatic, indie, pop, rock, etc, there are plenty of styles, make sure you know what attracts you when it comes to watching a wedding film.

10. Hire with confidence. You are choosing someone to be a part an intimate part of your life. You are hiring someone who will be their with you from beginning of the day to end. You are entrusting someone with all your most important and precious moments of your wedding day. You want to laugh with this person and feel safe knowing this person is around you taking care of everything.

You can learn more about Dmitry, view his work, and see if he might be the right fit for you and your wedding; here.



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