The Lights of Las Vegas




I have not always loved Vegas.  I used to think it was tacky.  And my opinion of its tacky-ness has not exactly disappeared.  As a photographer, though, I've learned to see it in a new light each time I visit (and I've visited often since a couple years ago when I started shooting weddings in Southern California!  It's the halfway point, made my drive much easier.)  And now I love it.  So much art, music, and people watching!  Even nature, believe it or not.  The Vegas area has a lot to offer.





So much discovery and adventure - something new every time.  My last visit was no exception.  The highlight of my trip was definitely Valley of Fire!  But I will get to that later.



First, a selfie:









And now, the lights of the Las Vegas Strip.










One of my favorite things walking through all the Casinos is looking up.  The light fixtures, the textures, the colors, there's an unbelievable amount of details that most people never even see (like the photo above, at the Encore).












And this next photo has an interesting story behind it.  It was one of my... well...  less-than-graceful moments.


Here's the boring setup to the story:  An amazing night - dancing to a jazz trio at Tuscany Suites, then a peaceful hour walk (yes, I walked alone and accidentally had to cross I-15 on foot.  But it was peaceful, I promise!) to see a funk/soul band called Sante Fe and the Fat City Horns (there will be photos tomorrow).  I was at the concert with my friend Wyatt and he offered to give me a ride back to my hotel, but I just wanted to jump out at the corner on the strip so I could do more photography that night.  The city never sleeps, right?



Well, here's where it gets interesting:  There is a railing in between the sidewalk and the street.  For good reason.  Way too many drunk tourists would be happy to take their stilettos right into the road without thinking twice about the cars or, you know, potential death.  So, dozens of cars on the road, hundred of people on the sidewalk... I hop out of the car at a red light and say goodbye, then climb through the railing to get to the sidewalk.  Yes, you can probably see where this is going.  Sigh... I forgot about my photography backpacking backpack ON MY BACK (it's a fantastic backpack, by the way.  Every photographer should have one)  as I try to climb through the railing.  Yeah, that was an oops.   After a few seconds, there's a semi circle of drunk pedestrians on the sidewalk staring at me and wondering how to help get me out of the railing.  That was my assumption, at least, I have no clue what they were really thinking!  Maybe they were seeing three cherries in a row...  And I'm wondering which side would be the least embarrassing to roll towards - back to the cars still waiting at the red light or forward to the sidewalk of people?  Eventually, I shimmied my way through and did a little summersault onto the sidewalk.  It was the strangest thing, though, they were all standing there, still staring like deer in the headlights. It was as if they were waiting for me to say something before they had permission to move on.  So I said "Well, that was graceful!"  and apparently it was sufficient direction for the masses to move forward.



To hide my embarrassment and to redeem myself and the camera gear on my back, I pulled out a tripod, tried to look as official as possible, and started working.  This (below) is the photo that came from it:







They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, I got a story AND a photo out of that one!





Check back tomorrow for photos of the concert with Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns.







Engagements - Becca and Todd






Engagements at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and surrounding areas.  Becca and Todd were delightful - they were dancing and laughing... made me smile throughout the whole session.  If we can all be happy, photoshoots are fun!  It doesn't even feel like work.







Here's a fun story:  These two met online (rather common for many of the couples I come across these days!) and there first date was ... wait for it ... to the DMV.  They renewed their licenses together at the start of the relationship.  I think that's kind of adorable!












Lindy Hop

  There is a sense of community among swing dancers across the world.  We are all like family in a way.  I can travel anywhere in the world and be part of the club with instant friends.  These people are fun.  Interesting, adventurous, stylish, friendly, and everyone feels passionately about the emotions in the music.  That's what we share.  When that perfect song is playing, it's almost impossible to stay in your chair.  Everyone dances with everyone, and you don't have to know each other.  Here are the photos from day 2 of the Galway Lindyfest 2012.





Chris and Hazel (above right and below) were two of my favorite people from Ireland.  Hazel is an amazing dancer and actually an instructor for circus. Very talented girl!  And Chris was one of the first people Annie and I met in Dublin. If you look really closely, you can see that his bow tie is actually made out of wooden dice.  So classy, I love it :)





WIth this kind of dance, the choreography isn't planned out ahead of time, you don't even need to "learn the moves."  Everything is about connection.  When the lead moves this direction, the follow can feel it, so she moves as well.  In this way, I've found that the dancers are like two more musicians added into the music.  They can add embellishments or keep things simple, but they are contributing something to the feeling and style of the song.  It's difficult to find the right words to describe this feeling accurately, but it's the number one reason I love dance.  10 talented dancers at the same skill level will each have a completely different dance to the same song.





Below is Annie dancing with another of my favorite Irishmen, named Oisin. He is a professional traditional Irish musician and only got into swing dance about 6 months ago.  But he's doing so well and was a pleasure to be around.  It's funny though, because technically I know English but several times I had no idea what these people were saying because of their Irish accents!  Oisin joked that they should have streaming subtitled for us Americans.  I'll definitely have to look into that next time I come back!  I found myself smiling and laughing and nodding often... and having no clue what I was responding too.  Oh well.





I pulled out my camera to get a shot of the room and didn't realize that all the humidity and body heat from the dancing had fogged up my lens.  I'm thinkin' maybe I should charge extra for the not-quite-intentional-but-pretty-cool-anyway effect it created for the photo below!



Thank you dancers and friends from Ireland for making me feel welcome.  Check out the galleries of photos and feel free to purchase prints or right click and download for facebook here:


May 11 Galway Lindyfest

May 12 Galway Lindyfest




Princess in Pearls


Life to me is about perspective.  I love the discovery - learning to see the same old things in my life through someone else's eyes.  This is why photographing children is so darn fun for me!  They take the normal, everyday object or activities and make an adventure of it.  All these things we take for granted, they get excited about.  I've spent all my life trying to be an adult, but not I just want to be young again and see the world the way these little kids do!



This little girl was so sweet, she wanted to get dressed up and wear the pearls (and didn't want to give them back when it was time!  But I don't blame her... they looked better on her anyway!).




One of the games she played (below) was "take the pearls off... then put them back on... repeat over and over again."  Sometimes it was difficult to figure out how to fit her head through, but she was determined!



And then we played on Mommy's beautiful hardwood floors!  It reminded me of a dance studio.








Joelle & Brett- The Reception

  Before the reception, we got a couple of additional newlywed photos on the grounds around Magnolia Grove.














...and then the party got started!













Be sure and check out the full galleries for Brett and Joelle's wedding day and reception here.



Contest for free photo session!

  Doesn't matter if you are one, two, or 5 people, wearing wedding clothes, street clothes, or halloween costumes, this contest is open to everybody.  Here's the deal though, this is not for traditional portraits, this photo session is a themed shoot.  The challenge: suggest a unique and interested idea.  Based on the outfits, the activity, the location... something's got to be unique, but it's up to you.  Here are some ideas from shoots I've done in the past:


Halloween costumes:



Career photos:



Destroying a cake:








Playing in water:















Cool cars:





Please post your idea as a comment to this blog below. We will choose the best 10 ideas, and then there will be a vote for the winner on our Facebook page.


Here're the deadlines:

Monday Dec 12 at 6am - all comments must be posted on the blog, this is the cut off time for new entries.

Monday Dec 12 at 11pm - the top 10 will be posted on Facebook.  Tell all your friends to vote for your idea (we'll have details on the facebook page on how to do that).

Thursday Dec 15 at 6am - the voting ends, we will review the number of votes for each idea and...

Thursday Dec 15 at noon - We will announce a winner.



We're excited to see what ideas you come up with!




The Grand Finale: Wedding Reception at Vineyards at Chappel Lodge

  Here are the final set of photos from the amazing wedding festivities in Austin.



The grand entrance!



The toasts!





Katherine sang the song she wrote for Matt.  She really is an amazing songwriter!



Katherine's brothers also sang a song for Katherine.  This family is so unbelievably talented, it's not even funny.



Ok, maybe it's a little funny.



Wedding Pie.  It's where it's at.  Tell your friends, it's like liquid cake.



The first dance.



Daddy-daughter dance!



Now it's time to party.





The grand exit.  Bubbles!



That's all folks!  Be sure to check out all the different galleries here.










Kandis & Greg: Sleepy Ridge Soiree

  Before Kandis and Greg's wedding reception started, we took some extra group shots on the grounds at the Sleepy Ridge Golf Course.  I loved the arches and landscaping they have just outside of the reception building.  You can really see why they call this the entrance to the "Garden Room"!




Greg has one of the best laughs I've ever seen.  He is always natural, and you can almost hear it, bubbling up out of the photo.  It's always great to work with grooms who are outwardly as happy as they are inwardly.



Bond.  James Bond.




Now these folks didn't mess around when it came to boogying down to the music.  I guess you can say they put the ...PARTY... in wedding party! ::insert courtesy laugh  here::








Thank you so much guys for letting me be a part of your wedding!  I had the best time, and you two were some of the best clients a girl could hope for.    Congratulations on finding each other!