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.
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
Over the course of a year my dear friends experienced marriage along with the arrival of their little one. They’ve had me out to their home in Oakland to document every step of the way and honestly it’s been such an amazing experience of growth for me. Being around their family has influenced me to try living in the moment, loving unconditionally and to cherish every single moment with my loved ones more than I have. Their love was wildly strong when they were married a year ago and I honestly didn’t think it could get any better before Olivia arrived. They are completely rocking this crazy life together and are the luckiest parents in the world. So here’s a little glimpse of how they are together on a daily basis. We started in their home like last time and eventually wandered into San Francisco where we found some steep streets and lush gardens.
The evening I joined Karen and Ed for engagements around Alta was simply breathtaking. We barely caught the end of wildflower season so crowds were mostly gone and the mountainside was ours. Being able to roam the landscape more freely made the whole experience feel even more special for these two than it already was. They were together alone without distractions and it couldn’t have been a better night.
We began near a stream where we found a patch of surviving wildflowers and lush greens which seemed to thrive in the shadows. Karen and Ed’s version of casual was a neutral colored button up shirt and floral dress which caught the light and wind in all the right ways which I loved. After a few calm moments here we journeyed up the mountainside where they changed in to their formal outfit for big open views of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Wind blew smoke from neighboring fires into the canyon which gave us the neatest haze till the sun set over the mountains. We photographed for a little over a couple hours yet I still wish we had more time because these two were incredibly romantic and wonderful to be around.
Karen and Ed – I can’t thank you enough for coming up here and trekking through the mountainside with me! You guys are such a kind and beautiful couple and I couldn’t be happier for you.
Being around Ellen and Quinn feels like pure happiness. For the first time ever I had the hardest time taking a few serious portraits because they are just so happy and playful together. And you know what? That’s exactly how their first look should be. I genuinely enjoyed every single moment of being around these two. Everything from their teary eyed first look to laughing and tossing the other over their shoulders and spinning around just felt like pure love. Scroll down and check out their smiley selves in one of my favorite corners of the mountains.
I first met Jenny years ago when she kindly modeled for a bridal inspiration shoot I put together. She was wonderful to photograph then so you can imagine how happy I was for the chance to connect with her and her husband Dave years later. They’ve been married a few years now and were looking for a natural documentation of themselves. Nothing too over the top or dramatic. Just simple portraiture of them in the present. They brought a very natural and calm vibe to the evening and I completely forgot this was their first time being professionally photographed together. These portraits have easily become some of my favorite this year.
Whether you’re engaged, growing your family, have a major life event or not, it’s always a great time for portraits with the one you love.
A few moments into Natalie and Tyler’s engagement session I found myself completely covered in a swarm of red fire ants. They immediately ran over to brush them away until they were all gone. If that’s not an indication of how kind and caring they are then I don’t know what is, but all I can say is that I genuinely enjoy being around them both. They were loving and close, they were happy and smiley. They were together and in love and it shined through so strongly as I spent these short hours with them.
We went up Big Cottonwood Canyon around the Jordan Pines Campground area to a few of my favorite spots. They kept things easy with one beautiful outfit that perfectly matched their personal style and the mountains surrounding them. If anyone is looking for engagement inspiration then I highly suggest taking some from these two.
Photography: Elisha Braithwaite | Location: Jordan Pines Campground, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
The morning of Liza and Aj’s wedding was spent at the Salt Lake City Lds Temple where they were sealed together in their church with close loved ones. Since they chose to be married on a Thursday, the temple grounds were fairly empty and they were able to enjoy themselves without the rush that commonly comes with a weekend wedding here. After they came out of the temple we took some quick family photos with extended family who attended the sealing, then took our time around the grounds for portraits.
After their sealing at the temple we headed to Red Butte Gardens where they had their ceremony with even more loved ones. The gardens had just barely turned green and they were the only wedding under the wisteria this year, which was gorgeous. Multiple friends and family gave speeches during the ceremony and afterward contributed to watering a beautiful rose bush that Liza and Aj would take home to care for. Their day was beautiful and full of so much emotion. We were so happy to see their cute selves together and married.
Last month we traveled to San Francisco, California to photograph our dear friends Torrie and Nick just a few weeks before their newborn baby arrives. I was only able to spend an evening with them and I came away from it feeling deeply inspired by the love they already have for their daughter. Pretty similarly to how their wedding day began, the first part of our time together was spent with them cuddled up together but this time in their Oakland home. They let me in on their thoughts of becoming new parents and spoke of their hopes and dreams of the kind of people they want to be for their daughter. They were excited and hopeful and these feelings were strongly felt by being near them.
After spending some time in their home they dressed up and ventured to the beach surrounding Sutro Baths in San Francisco, California. The weather was beautiful and the beach was less crowded than I’ve ever been able to experience it. Lucky for me they were up for crossing rocks to venture onto the beach and hike up through the trees to catch the prettiest evening light that shined off the water and through them.
Torrie and Nick – I truly can’t thank you enough for all the opportunities you’ve given Todd and I to be part of your lives. Being able to photograph your wedding celebration all the way to this moment of your little girl coming into this world has been an honor. We’ve learned to adore you both and the way you’ve inspired us with your love for each other and your family. Thank you so much my friends.