It was a rainy day when Minji and Paul were married at Log Haven in Millcreek Canyon. Days like this will forever be my favorite, when the rain amplifies the lush green trees around us and the smell of damp pine is in the air. The canyon was pretty peaceful and quiet, leaving these two alone to celebrate and be close with loved ones.
They chose to have a late evening wedding followed by dinner and late night dancing. One of my favorite things about them though is how they began the evening with a first look alone together near the lake. The fact that they chose to begin together rather than spend hours on end apart says so much about them and their relationship. They were able to take their time to emotionally connect before jumping into the festivities which set such a lovely tone for the ceremony and rest of the evening. We spent a few moments here before joining loved ones across the road for the ceremony. Loved ones gave readings, family married them, and the evening was easygoing and everything a part should be.
We were driving through Big Cottonwood Canyon for Sidney and Matt’s first look when rain turned to snow and we were suddenly engulfed in thick fluffy flakes. The storm calmed just long enough for them to see one another before picking right back up forcing us into my favorite grove of pines. They partially planned their wedding for October in hopes of getting some weather and it definitely delivered. I’m so happy they set aside time that morning to experience the start of their day together in weather most cross their fingers to avoid.
After some time in the mountains we all made our way to the neighboring canyon for their wedding at celebration at Millcreek Inn. Sidney’s father walked her down the aisle to live music, her sister kept an eye on her train and brother brought up the rings. They had an intimate gathering of close loved ones and what stood out was how important it was to center their celebration around family. More and more we are seeing couples keep things smaller with a unique feeling of intimacy. After their ceremony they had a relaxing dinner and a small dance party to wrap the night.
Sidney and Matt, we truly can’t thank you enough for having us along especially for every beautiful moment of the day. Thank you for the trust you gave in our image style, for allowing us to be so hands on and for rolling with every bit of weather and sticking to your plan anyway. Yours is one we’ll always remember.
Torrie and Nick were married in San Francisco, California where they first met and shortly after fell in love. Naturally this beautiful city where their relationship began is where they chose to celebrate their wedding. We can’t thank them enough for having us along!
Their day began while cozied up in bed together during the sunrise. It set a very calm and peaceful feel to the day and a common theme of togetherness that was important to them as they got ready and went about the rest of the day. They gushed over each other while getting ready, helped one another dress and spent every moment that morning together like this. Then they drove from San Francisco to Muir Woods where they found a quiet area to read their vows. Both had pages and pages, all full of specific words of love and support.
After their vows we made our way to the San Francisco City Hall where their parents and friends joined them for their ceremony. One of our favorite things was seeing them really enjoy their date together while still having plenty of time to celebrate with close loved ones later on. Following their ceremony everyone joined them for dinner and rinks at West of Pecos in downtown, ate way too much food and had informal speeches at their parents hotel.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for having us out to celebrate with the two of you. The weekend was amazing and the love we’ve seen you share together is inspiring. You two deserve all the happiness you’ve found in one another.
Jen and Juri and many of their loved ones traveled into Utah with loved ones all the way from San Francisco to Sweden, so they could celebrate their love in the mountains. For the large majority it was their first time visiting Utah which made for an incredible experience. All they wanted for their wedding was for everyone to have a good time creating new memories with them and because of that the entire day couldn’t have been any better. They laughed, cried, and truly showed everyone the best time.
Our favorite moments from the wedding were mostly during the ceremony. They merged their two families by pouring water from here and Sweden into a glass that they both took a drink from. The way they mixed different traditions and made a few of their own was so personal and special.
My first time photographing around Mount Tamalpais State Park was amazing. I can’t thank Eunice and CY enough for inviting me out to experience more gems around the bay area. Being secluded on a mountaintop surrounded by vast hillside and damp mossy woods while still spotting downtown San Francisco and ocean views was an experience.
What makes these engagements truly beautiful though are Eunice and CY and the energy they brought with them. Going into the session they had a good idea of what they wanted which we communicated beforehand so we could simply show up, experience our environment, and create. We spotted deer, embraced a few silly moments here and there, and photographed well into sunset when fog rose and rain fell. They allowed themselves to feel vulnerable and interact with little guidance, while also taking my direction for any and all ideas. I can’t thank them enough for the energy and trust they brought to these engagements.
Special thanks to Eunice and CY for having me out! San Francisco is one of my favorite cities to visit and I love every opportunity to visit. Check out my travel dates and reach out if you’re in the bay area.
Katy and Bart’s River Bottoms Ranch wedding didn’t disappoint! Loved ones traveled in from all over, including their sweet goldendoodle pup named Noodle. Mountain views offered an incredible experience and their vendors created a lovely mix of natural yet elegant vibes inside the light filled barn where they enjoyed dinner and partied. Visually and emotionally their wedding was incredible and one I’ll never forget.
One of my favorite parts of the wedding was how their day began. Upon arrival Katya’s friend, Yael, guided the bridal party in meditation. Their intent was to begin the day in a way that was both energizing and nurturing for Katya. She also wanted to give back to her loved ones who have loved and supported her. During the meditation each bridesmaid would sit across from her, hold hands, and give her a blessing. A good vibe, wish, optimistic hope. In the Jewish tradition brides have an extra special power on their wedding day, so Katya gave right back. She welcomed her bridesmaids to ask for something they needed in their own lives. This set a beautiful tone that remained through the day.
Their ceremony was emotional with many readings from loved ones and personalized vows. The overall vibe of their wedding felt very calm and natural, progressing into a full on party as the day went on. They even invited us along to their after party where they treated us as friends and let us capture some of the craziness that followed.
I’m deeply grateful for clients like Katya and Bart who want loved ones to have just as great of a time celebrating as they’re having. Couples who fully live in the moment and celebrate with meaning and passion. It was a day where we celebrated with them well past midnight and didn’t want it to end.
Hours after their wedding Dawn and Isaac invited loved ones to watch and take part in their Korean Tea Ceremony at the Grand America Hotel. All watched as they showed their love and respect to elders and loved ones, serving tea and hearing heartwarming words of love and wisdom from them. This was easily one of my many favorite parts of the wedding which is why I’ve chosen to share their day in two parts because there’s so much I want you to see. Their day was easily very sacred and special and I enjoyed seeing them celebrate their religion, culture and loved ones. Thanks again for having us so involved in your day and lives you two.
Dawn and Isaac’s wedding was one I couldn’t wait to begin and once it did, I honestly didn’t want it to end. They had a full day of celebrating with an early morning first look together at the Grand America Hotel just before heading to the Salt Lake City Lds Temple where they were married. After spending some time creating some of my favorite fine art portraits from a wedding, we made our way back to Grand America to witness quite a production of an evening. They began with a cultural Korean Tea Ceremony followed by a reception/dinner which was full of surprise musical performances by both the bride and groom to one another and a wild night of dancing. Visually and emotionally their day was amazing. I couldn’t quit smiling as I edited through their images and still wish to relive the day. Dawn and Isaac – I truly can’t thank you enough for being fully honest and trusting when it came to how I documented your day. Thank you for trusting my process and vision. Most importantly though, thank you for sharing your friendship and love.
Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine released their 2019 Utah issue today and it’s dreamy! Our feature is a collaboration with the Blended Table to show you how to have an intimate anniversary or date night at home vs. hitting the town. My favorite part? These recipes the Blended Table crafted are easy for all to recreate together at home. My love and I prefer staying in and cooking together vs. going out and we liven up our meals with locally sourced produce and splurge on tasty cheese. Most importantly though when we cook together at home we are connecting and learning new skills that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. This editorial goes right along with something we would enjoy ourselves which is why I enjoy it so much.
Big thank you to the ladies at Rocky Mountain Bride and the Blended Table team! Our engaged couple Madison and Chris were also fantastic for bringing all of their loving vibes. They were naturals.
Instead of a lively outing on the town, opt for a romantic night for two in the comfort of your own kitchen. Splurge on the finest ingredients, light the candles and turn up your favorite playlist, darling. The Blended Table will take care of the rest! From curated cocktails to crush worthy recipes, staying in just got a little sweeter.
We have all been photographed at some point in our lives right? Hello school picture day and yearly family photos! These experiences all add up and contribute to how we view being photographed now. Many of us don’t have much experience in front of the camera either let alone with another human being. Maybe it’s an exciting experience you look forward to or maybe it’s painfully vulnerable. My love and I recently had our own engagements taken and even though we are photographers I still felt nervous. We all experience this differently and that’s completely okay! It’s normal to feel nervous and to not know what to do. However, with a little planning and an experienced photographer this doesn’t have to be a painful experience.
1. Talk With Your Partner
Engagement sessions should be a reflection of you as a couple! Those who communicate and manage their expectations well beforehand tend to feel more connected and comfortable during their engagements. Encourage your partner to voice their ideas and communicate what you hope to gain from your time being photographed. Listen to their ideas and meet halfway when you have different ideas for things such as clothing, locations, etc. Here are some prompts to get you started.
How do you feel about being photographed? Understanding each others mindset allows you to support one another in the moment.
What is the purpose of your engagements? Are you interested in a gallery of intimate moments vs. a gallery of well posed formal portraits together?
How do you feel about expressing affection in photographs?
How do you want to feel later on while viewing your engagements? Beautiful? Adventurous? Intimate and in love?
Keep in mind that not all partners care to plan photography as much as other aspects of the wedding. A super quick conversation about what you want to gain from this time together is still very helpful.
2. Plan with Your Photographer
It’s helpful to discuss your ideas with your photographer! Rather than asking friends or the internet for advice on locations, clothing, when to photograph, etc., it’s always best to go directly to the photographer you’re working with. Experienced photographers will guide you through the process and offer their advice so your session goes well for everyone involved. I personally enjoy when couples have a rough idea of what they would like and allow me to fine tune their plan to fit great light, etc. Sometimes couples have no idea what they want and would prefer leaving all decisions up to their photographer. They should be able to hear your ideas and offer suggestions.
3. Keep It Simple
My favorite engagement sessions happen between couples who keep things simple and centered around being together. Stick to one location which offers variety and leave the piles of clothes, furniture and props at home. Just be on time with your love and ready to go. Maybe you’ll have an outfit change or keep it even more simple with a trendy hat or cardigan. Maybe you’ll bring along a small object that holds significance to your relationship. Just think of it this way: We can spend hours fussing over clothing, driving across town or trying to get that pinterest shot. Or we can spend hours focusing on you interacting with the one you love in the environment around you. Eliminate distractions and any elements that don’t contribute to your relationship.
4. Avoid Crowds
My advice to those wanting an intimate engagement session experience is to avoid crowded locations as often as possible. Consider places that have little to no crowds such as nature, our homes, reserved studio spaces, quieter streets, etc. Photographing in busy spaces such as local businesses, parks, etc., can result in more distractions and significantly less intimacy as we move around people and are watched by curious nearby strangers. We can spend hours moving in an out of others way or we can spend hours moving about freely and having complete control over our environment so you can become even more focused on being together. Fortunately for us Utah has an endless amount of low trafficked landscapes at our fingertips.
5. Encourage Loved Ones To Stay Home
Many of us are fortunate to have supportive (and excited) loved ones come along to help navigate this crazy adventure of wedding planning. Maybe they joined you for your cake tasting, dress shopping and venue site visits. There’s definitely a time and place for them to come along and join in on the fun. I strongly recommend encouraging loved ones to stay home during your portrait session and celebrate with you afterward. Past experiences have shown me that couples tend to tense up when being watched by anyone whether they’re strangers, friends or family. Minimizing your audience to just your photographer is a guaranteed way to feel more comfortable without anyone else influencing your time together. You can always snap some cell phone pictures or share the professional photos afterward.
If you need someone to come along to help with clothing, driving, etc., try to see if your partner or photographer can fill that roll first. If you genuinely want a loved one to come along just be aware that it could influence how comfortable you and your partner feel. Definitely communicate this with your partner and photographer beforehand so everyone can plan.
6. Have a Great Time!
Perspective is everything. Realize that even though photographers are important it’s even more important to have a great time. How you felt during your engagement session will be remembered when viewing your photographs later on. Try to stay in the moment with your partner and have a positive experience together. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through and encourage your partner to do the same. Rather than scolding them for pulling a goofy face try to encourage it by giving a funny face back. Leave the “picture perfect” posing to your photographer and stay in the moment with your love. Forget the entire idea that you need to perform and be picture perfect models. Come as you are. Focus on being together and you’ll have a great time.
7. Realize Your Strength
Toss out your self doubt and channel in on your strengths! What makes you unique? What is it about your partner that drives you absolutely wild in all good ways? What is it about you that drives them wild? You guys are with one another for so many reasons! What are your physical strengths? What is it about your partners character that you adore? Maybe the things we feel most self conscious about are the attributes our partners enjoy most about us. It’s going to take a bit of work and honestly doesn’t come easily. However, setting aside our insecurities is doable. I’ve done it. I’ve seen others do it. When we get out of our own heads and focus on our love it gets so much easier. Every single couple I photograph expresses feeling nervous, awkward or like they aren’t photogenic people. In my 6+ years of photographing daily I can honestly say I’ve never come across someone who wasn’t photogenic. When we are happy and focus on the love we have then how could we possibly look or feel anything other than amazing?
8. Feel good afterward!
Allow yourselves to feel proud my friend! You just experienced something that isn’t always easy and better yet you did this together. You are that much closer to your celebration and now have a loving set of photographs to cherish forever.
Shop early and prepare the day before. Gather clothes and shoes. Clean your ring and fill your gas tank.
Have everything in one place so you can grab and go.
Spend the day of your session doing something low-stress together. Maybe Netflix and chill, cook an early dinner or arrive early and enjoy the scenery.
Run your clothing choices by your photographer beforehand.
Eat healthy and drink plenty of water the day of. Don’t arrive on an empty stomach.
Hopefully these tips help! If you’re reading this and need any advice planning your engagement session you’re always welcome to reach out and ask me more.
Toward the end of summer we packed up to spend a full weekend in Ukiah, California with Alicia and Taylor and honestly they were some of our favorite people to meet and be around. Their celebration could have easily extended into a full week and everyone would have been thrilled to stick around with them. Not only are they incredible designers, makers and event planners, they also knew what was most important for their wedding other than the marriage aspect.
When planning our wedding day, Taylor and I focused most on guest experience and working to show our guests how grateful we were for their effort to come to our big day, their presence in our lives, and our hope for their continued support throughout our marriage.
On Friday they hosted a welcome party inspired by the first time they met back in the 1st/2nd grade. Their class spent weeks preparing for a play called Bleezer’s Pizza Parlor, so they ordered a ton of pizza, transferred it to custom designed Bleezer’s Pizza Parlor boxes and screened the play for all of us to join in and watch their beginning. It was the perfect way to kick off a weekend celebrating them.
The next day was wedding time. Every little detail from the custom wood signage, maps, stationary, escort card wall, etc., was designed, welded, and hand created by them. The amount of detail they personally put into their wedding along with their impeccable taste was overwhelming in all good ways. They even went to the length of writing every guest a handwritten letter for their escort cards. Their wedding was a labor of love and together they gave loved ones an unforgettable experience.
Snow fell heavily in Big Cottonwood Canyon with Dawn and Isaac the other day. Once we made our way through the canyon and arrived to the spot we first took a few moments to admire the weather. Snowflakes grew thicker and heavy, blanketing the mountains surrounding us in moments. They happy embraced the conditions, living in the moment with each other and helping me create some gorgeous portraits of their loving selves. They allowed me to get to know them as a couple along with treated me like a dear friend. I’m so proud of the photographs we created together that evening and can’t wait for you to scroll down and view.
Before you check them out I want to share a few quick words from the email they first sent my way.
We love how candid and honest your photos are, it was like a glimpse into an intimate moment. In short, we’ve somehow managed to find our dream photographer before, well, anything else. But perhaps it makes sense to feel connected to you, another human being, before places or things.
That last line warmed my heart. After spending these few hours with them I’m fairly certain there isn’t a superficial bone in their body. I’m constantly grateful toward those of you who choose to work with me. Your kindness and generosity goes such a long way and makes me grateful to do what I do. Alright that’s enough rambling. Scroll on down and check out this snowy goodness.
Photography: Elisha Braithwaite | Location: Jordan Pines Campground, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah